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Chapter 4

Puppha Vagga
(Text and Translation by Ven. Nàrada)


1. Ko ima§ pañhavi§ vijessati Þ
            yamaloka¤ ca ima§ sadevaka§
Ko dhammapada§ sudesita§ Þ
            kusalo puppham'iva pacessati 44.
2. Sekho pañhavi§ vijessati Þ
            yamaloka¤ ca ima§ sadevaka§.
Sekho dhammapada§ sudesita§ Þ
            kusalo puppham'iva pacessati 45.


1. Who will comprehend 1 this earth (self 2), and this realm of Yama, 3 and this world 4 together with the devas? 5 Who will investigate the well taught Path of Virtue 6, even as an expert (garland maker) will pick flowers? 44.

2. A disciple in training (sekha 7), will comprehend this earth, and this realm of Yama together with the realm of the devas. A disciple in training will investigate the well-taught Path of Virtue even as an expert (garland-maker) will pick flowers. 45.


    On hearing that His monks were discussing the extent of the earth, the Buddha advised them to meditate on the personal earth-element.


3. Pheõåpama§ kàyamima§ viditvà Þ
            marãcidhamma§ abhisambudhàno
Chetvàna màrassa papupphakàni Þ
            adassana§ maccuràjassa gacche. 46.


3. Knowing that this body is like foam, 8 and comprehending its mirage-nature, 9 one should destroy the flower-shafts of sensual passions (Màra), and pass beyond the sight of the king of death. 10 46.


    The sight of a mirage and bubbles of foam induced a monk to meditate on the impermanence and non-substantiality of life. The Buddha read his thoughts and, appearing before him, confirmed his views.


4. Pupphàni h'eva pacinanta§ Þ
            byàsattamanasa§ nara§
Sutta§ gàma§ mahogho'va Þ
            maccu àdàya gacchati. 47.


4. The man who gathers flowers (of sensual pleasure), whose mind is distracted, death carries off as a great flood sweeps away a sleeping village. 47.


    Provoked by a disparaging remark, king Vidådabha wreaked vengeance on the Sakyas, kinsmen of the Buddha, by killing them wholesale. On his return journey he camped with his followers on the bed of a river. At night an unexpected flood swept them all to the sea. Hearing of their tragic end, the Buddha remarked that people come to ruin without accomplishing their objects.


5. Pupphàni h'eva pacinanta§ Þ
            byàsattamanasa§ nara§
Atitta§ yeva kàmesu Þ
            antako kurute vasa§. 48.


5. The man who gathers flowers (of sensual pleasure), whose mind is distracted, and who is insatiate in desires, the Destroyer 11 brings under his sway. 48.


    A woman offered alms to the monks in the morning and died in the evening of that very day. When this pathetic incident was reported to the Buddha He spoke on the fleeting nature of life and added that men succumb to death with insatiate desires.


6. Yathà'pi bhamaro puppha§ Þ
            vaõõagandha§ aheñhaya§
Paëeti rasam'àdàya Þ
            eva§ gàme munã care. 49.


6. As a bee without harming the flower, its colour or scent, flies away, collecting only the honey, even so should the sage wander in the village. 12 49.


    The Venerable Moggallàna exercising his psychic powers, brought a niggardly treasurer and his wife to the presence of the Buddha. Hearing the doctrine they became converts. When the monks extolled the virtues of the Venerable Moggallàna the Buddha remarked that good monks like the Venerable Moggallàna should induce people to repose confidence in the Teacher, causing no inconvenience to any.


7. Na paresa§ vilomàni Þ
            na paresa§ katƒkata§
Attano'va avekkheyya Þ
            katàni akatàni ca. 50.


7. Let not one seek others' faults, things left done and undone by others, but one's own deeds done and undone. 50.


    A naked ascetic through jealousy, prevented a female follower of his from listening to the Teaching of the Buddha. She, however, invited the Buddha to her house through her son. When she was hearing the Dhamma from the Buddha the ascetic suddenly appeared on the scene and abused her and the Buddha. As the woman was perturbed in mind at this sudden outburst the Buddha advised her not to seek the faults of others but her own.


8. Yathà'pi rucira§ puppha§ Þ
            vaõõavanta§ agandhaka§
Eva§ subhàsità vàcà Þ
            aphalà hoti akubbato. 51.
9. Yathà'pi rucira§ puppha§ Þ
            vaõõavanta§ sagandhaka§
Eva§ subhàsità vàcà Þ
            saphalà hoti sakubbato. 52.


8. As a flower that is lovely and beautiful but is scentless, even so fruitless is the well-spoken word of one who does not practise it. 51.

9. As a flower that is lovely, beautiful, and scent-laden, even so fruitful is the well-spoken word of one who practises it. 52.


    Two ladies of the court studied the Dhamma under the Venerable ânanda. One studied well, but the other made little progress. The Buddha declared that like a scentless flower, fruitless becomes the Dhamma to the person who makes no effort to study it well.


10. Yathà'pi puppharàsimhà Þ
            kayirà màlàguõe bahå
Eva§ jàtena maccena Þ
            kattabba§ kusala§ bahu§. 53.


10. As from a heap of flowers many a garland is made, even so many good deeds should be done by one born a mortal. 53.


    Visàkhà, the chief benefactress of the Buddha, erected a monastery at great expense. So great was her delight that, with her children and grandchildren, she went round the monastery singing paeans of joy. When this was reported to the Buddha He remarked that Visàkhà was doing so as she had fulfilled a past aspiration of hers and added that much merit should be done by all.


11. Na pupphagandho pañivàtam eti Þ
            na candana§ tagaramallikà và
Sata¤ ca gandho pañivàtam eti Þ
            sabbà disà sappuriso pavàti. 54.
12. Candana§ tagara§ và'pi Þ
            uppala§ atha vassikã
Etesa§ gandhajàtàna§ Þ
            sãlagandho anuttaro. 55.


11. The perfume of flowers blows not against the wind, nor does the fragrance of sandalwood, tagara 13 and jasmine but the fragrance of the virtuous blows against the wind; the virtuous man pervades every direction. 54.

12. Sandalwood, tagara, lotus, jasmine: above all these kinds of fragrance, the perfume of virtue is by far the best. 55.


    The Venerable Ananda wished to know whether there was any fragrance that wafted equally with and against the wind. The Buddha replied that the fragrance of virtue wafts in all directions.


13. Appamatto aya§ gandho Þ
            yà'ya§ tagaracandanã
Yo ca sãlavata§ gandho Þ
            vàti devesu uttamo. 56.


13. Of little account is the fragrance of tagara or sandal; the fragrance of the virtuous, which blows even amongst the gods, is supreme. 56.


    Sakka king of the gods, disguised as a poor weaver offered alms to the Venerable Kassapa, who had been looking for a poor person to whom he might give the privilege of giving him alms. The Buddha stated that Sakka, attracted by the perfume of virtue of the Venerable Kassapa, gave him alms.


14. Tesa§ sampannasãlàna§ Þ
Sammada¤¤àvimuttàna§ Þ
            màro magga§ na vindati. 57.


14. Màra 14 finds not the path of those who are virtuous, careful in living, and freed by right knowledge. 57.


    The Venerable Godhika, impeded by a certain disease, cut his throat with a razor; but immediately before his death cultivated insight and realized Nibbàna. The Evil One was searching for his rebirth- consciousness. The Buddha remarked that the Evil One cannot trace the rebirth-consciousness of an Arahant.


15. Yathà saïkàradhànasmi§ Þ
            ujjhitasmi§ mahàpathe
Paduma§ tattha jàyetha Þ
            sucigandha§ manorama§. 58.
16. Eva§ saïkàrabhåtesu Þ
            andhabhåte puthujjane
Atirocati pa¤¤àya Þ
            sammàsambuddhasàvako. 59.


15-16. As upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, a sweet-smelling lovely lotus may grow, even so amongst worthless beings, a disciple of the Fully Enlightened One outshines the blind worldlings in wisdom. 15 58-59.


    A devotee of an alien sect devised a means to humiliate the Buddha and His disciples. The Buddha discovered it and succeeded in converting him to His Teaching. Due to lack of wisdom, the Buddha remarked, some could not realize the goodness of His disciples and He compared the ignorant to the blind and the wise to those who have eyes.

End Notes

1 Vijessati = attano ¤àõena vijànissati - who will know by one's own wisdom? (Commentary).

2 That is one who will understand oneself as one really is.

3 By the realm of Yama are meant the four woeful states - namely hell, the animal kingdom, the Peta Realm, and the Asura Realm. Hell is not permanent according to Buddhism. It is a state of misery as are the other planes where beings suffer for their past evil actions.

4 Namely: the human plane and the six celestial planes. These seven are regarded as blissful states (sugati).

5 Devas, lit., sporting or shining ones. They are also a class of beings who enjoy themselves, experiencing the effects of their past good actions. They too are subject to death.

6 Dhammapada. The Commentary states that this term is applied to the thirty-seven Factors of Enlightenment (Bodhipakkhiyadhamma). They are:-

I. The four Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipaññhàna) - namely:

1. contemplation of the body (kàyànupassanà), 2. contemplation of the feelings (vedanànupassanà), 3. contemplation of thoughts (cittànupassanà), and 4. contemplation of phenomena (dhammànupassanà).

II. The four Supreme Efforts (Sammappadàna) - namely: 1. the effort to prevent evil that has not arisen, 2. the effort to discard evil that has already arisen, 3. the effort to cultivate unarisen good, and 4. the effort to promote good that has already arisen.

III. The four Means of Accomplishment (iddhipàda) - namely: will (chanda), energy (viriya), thought (citta), and wisdom (vima§sà).

IV. The five faculties (Indriya) - namely: confidence (saddhà), energy (viriya), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samàdhi), and wisdom (pa¤¤à).

V. The five Forces (Bala), having the same names as the Indriyas.

VI. The seven Constituents of Enlightenment (Bojjhaïga) - namely

mindfulness (sati), investigation of the Truth (Dhammavicaya), energy (viriya), joy (pãti), serenity (passaddhi), concentration (samàdhi), and equanimity (upekkhà).

VII. The Eightfold Path (Aññhaïgikamagga) - namely: right views (sammà diññhi), right thoughts (sammà saïkappa), right speech (sammà vàcà), right actions (sammà kammanta), right livelihood (sammà àjãva), right endeavour (sammà vàyàma), right mindfulness (sammà sati) and right concentration (sammà samàdhi).

7 The term sekha, lit., one who is still under going training, is applied to a disciple who has attained the first stage of Sainthood (Sotàpatti = Stream-winner) until he attains the final Arahatta fruit stage. When he totally eradicates all fetters (sa§yojana) and attains the fruit stage of an Arahant, he is called an Asekha, as he has perfected his training. It is an asekha disciple who understands him self and the whole world as they really are. There is no graceful English equivalent for this difficult Pali term. "Adept" (= one who has attained) may be suggested as the closest rendering.

8 Owing to its fleeting nature.

9 Because there is nothing substantial in this body.

10 Namely life's sorrow, born of passions. An Arahant destroys all passions by his wisdom and attains Nibbàna where there is no death.

11 Antaka, lit., Ender, which means death.

12 Seeking alms, without inconveniencing any.

13 A kind of shrub from which a fragrant powder is obtained.

14 The personification of evil. See note on vs. 8.

15 Nobody is condemned in Buddhism, for greatness is latent even in the seemingly lowliest just as lotuses spring from muddy ponds.