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Dhammapada 9: Evil
Translated by Ven Nàrada


P1    P2    E1  116. Make haste in doing good; 1 check your mind from evil; 2 for the mind of him who is slow in doing meritorious actions 3 delights in evil.

P1    P2    E1  117. Should a person commit evil, he should not do it again and again; he should not find pleasure therein: painful is the accumulation of evil.

P1    P2    E1  118. Should a person perform a meritorious action, he should do it again and again; he should find pleasure therein: blissful is the accumulation of merit.

P1    P2    E1  119. Even an evil-doer sees good as long as evil ripens not; but when it bears fruit, then he sees the evil results. 4

P1    P2    E1  120. Even a good person sees evil so long as good ripens not; but when it bears fruit then the good one sees the good results. 5

P1    P2    E1  121. Do not disregard evil, saying, "It will not come nigh unto me"; by the falling of drops even a water-jar is filled; likewise the fool, gathering little by little, fills himself with evil.

P1    P2    E1  122. Do not disregard merit, saying "It will not come nigh unto me"; by the falling of drops even a water-jar is filled; likewise the wise man, gathering little by little, fills himself with good.

P1    P2    E1  123. Just as a merchant, with a small escort and great wealth, avoids a perilous route, just as one desiring to live avoids poison, even so should one shun evil things.

P1    P2    E1  124. If no wound there be in one's hand, one may carry poison in it. Poison does not affect one who has no wound. There is no ill for him who does no wrong. 6

P1    P2    E1  125. Whoever harms a harmless person, one pure and guiltless, upon that very fool the evil recoils like fine dust thrown against the wind.

P1    P2    E1  126. Some are born 7 in a womb; evil-doers (are born) in woeful states; 8 the well-conducted go to blissful states; 9 the Undefiled Ones 10 pass away into Nibbàna.

P1    P2    E1  127. Not in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, nor in a mountain cave, is found that place on earth where abiding one may escape from (the consequences) of one's evil deed. 11

P1    P2    E1  128. Not in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, nor in a mountain cave, is found that place on earth where abiding one will not be overcome by death.


End Notes

1 There should be no delay in doing good deeds. One must avail oneself of every opportunity to do good. Such good actions redound to one's eternal happiness. Every effort also should be made to control the mind as it is prone to evil. The impure mind rejoices in evil thoughts.

2 Pàpa, evil, is that which defiles one s mind. It is that which leads to woeful states. "Sin", purely a Christian term is not a good English equivalent for pàpa. What is associated with the three immoral roots such as lust (ràga), anger (dosa), and delusion (moha) is evil. There are ten kinds of evil. They are killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct (which are committed by deed); lying, slandering, harsh speech, and frivolous talk (which are committed by word); and covetousness, ill-will, and false views (which are committed by mind).

3 Pu¤¤a, merit is that which cleanses the mind. Kusala is another term for pu¤¤a. There are ten kinds of meritorious deeds. See notes on vv. 42, 43.

4 A wicked person may lead a prosperous life as the result of his past good deeds. He will experience happiness owing to the potentiality of his past good over the present evil, a seeming injustice which often prevails in this world. When once, according to the inexorable law of kamma, his evil actions fructify, then he perceives the painful effects of his wickedness.

5 A virtuous person, as often happens, may meet with adversity owing to the potentiality of his past evil actions over his present good acts. He is convinced of the efficacy of his present good deeds only when, at the opportune moment, they fructify, giving him abundant bliss. The fact that at times the wicked are prosperous and the virtuous are unfortunate is itself strong evidence in support of the belief in kamma and rebirth.

6 That is, for one who has no evil intention.

7 According to Buddhism there are four kinds of birth - namely: egg-born (aõóaja), womb-born (jalàbuja), moisture-born (saüsedaja) and spontaneous birth (opapàtika).

8 Niraya = ni + aya = devoid of happiness. There are four kinds of niraya - namely: woeful state (apàya), the animal kingdom (tiracchànayoni), the plane of Petas (petayoni) and the plane of Asura-demons (asurayoni).

None of these states is eternal. According to their evil kamma beings may be born in such woeful states. Departing from those states they may be born in blissful states according to their past good kamma.

9 Sagga = su + agga = full of happiness. In the sense-sphere (kàmaloka) the human plane and the six celestial planes are regarded as blissful states. They too are not eternal.

10 Arahants, after death, are not born any more, but attain Parinibbàna.

11 The Buddhist law of moral causation cannot be bribed, nor can one escape the evil consequences of kamma by seeking refuge in any place on earth. No god, not even a Buddha, can intervene in the operation of kamma.


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