Dhammapada 10: The Rod Or Punishment
(Daṇḍavaggo)

Translated by Ven Nārada

129. All tremble at the rod. All fear death. Comparing others with oneself, one should neither strike nor cause to strike. 1

130. All tremble at the rod. Life is dear to all. Comparing others with oneself, one should neither strike nor cause to strike.

131. Whoever, seeking his own happiness, harms with the rod other pleasure-loving beings experiences no happiness hereafter.

132. Whoever, seeking his own happiness, harms not with rod other pleasure-loving beings, experiences happiness hereafter.

133. Speak not harshly to anyone. Those thus addressed will retort. Painful, indeed, is vindictive speech. Blows in exchange may bruise you.

134. If, like a cracked gong, you silence yourself, you have already attained Nibbāna: 2 no vindictiveness will be found in you.

135. As with a staff the herdsmen 3 drives his kine 4 to pasture, 5 even so do old age and death drive out the lives of beings.

136. So, when a fool does wrong deeds, he does not realize (their evil nature); by his own deeds the stupid man is tormented, like one burnt by fire.

137. He who with the rod harms the rodless and harmless, 6 soon will come to one of these states:-

138-140. He will be subject to acute pain, 7 disaster, bodily injury, or even grievous sickness, or loss of mind, or oppression by the king, or heavy accusation, or loss of relatives, or destruction of wealth, 8 or ravaging fire that will burn his house. Upon the dissolution of the body such unwise man will be born in hell.

141. Not wandering naked, 9 nor matted locks, 10 nor filth, 11 nor fasting, 12 nor lying on the ground, 13 nor dust, 14 nor ashes, 15 nor striving squatting on the heels, 16 can purify a mortal who has not overcome doubts. 17

142. Though gaily decked, if he should live in peace, (with passions) subdued, (and senses) controlled, certain 18 (of the four Paths of Saint-hood), perfectly pure, 19 laying aside the rod (in his relations) towards all living beings, 20 a Brāhmaṇa 21 indeed is he, an ascetic 22 is he, a bhikkhu 23 is he. 24

143. (Rarely) is found in this world anyone who, restrained by modesty, avoids reproach, as a thorough-bred horse (avoids) the whip. 25

144. Like a thorough-bred horse touched by the whip, even so be strenuous and zealous. By confidence, by virtue, by effort, by concentration, by investigation of the Truth, by being endowed with knowledge and conduct, 26 and by being mindful, get rid of this great suffering.

145. Irrigators lead the waters. Fletchers bend the shafts. Carpenters bend the wood. The virtuous control themselves. 27

End Notes

1 Na haneyya na ghātaye = na pahareyya na paharāpeyya (Commentary).

2 One who follows this exemplary practice, even though not yet having attained Nibbāna, is regarded as having attained Nibbāna.

3 Here the herdsman resembles decay and death.

4 The cattle resemble life.

5 The pasture ground resembles death.

6 Namely: the Arahats who are weaponless and innocent.

7 That might cause death.

8 Loss in business transactions, loss of wealth etc.

9 Gymnosophism is still practised in India. External dirtiness is regarded by some as a mark of saintliness. The Buddha denounces strict asceticism confined to such externals. The members of His celibate Order follow the middle path, avoiding the extremes of self-mortification and self-indulgence. Simplicity, humility, and poverty should be the chief characteristics of bhikkhus as much as cleanliness.

10 Unwashed matted hair is regarded by the foolish as a mark of holiness.

11 The non-cleansing of teeth, smearing the body with mud, etc.

12 Fasting alone does not tend to purification. The bhikkhus too fast daily between midday and the following dawn.

13 Sleeping on the ground. Bhikkhus only avoid luxurious and high couches.

14 Through not bathing.

15 Rubbing the body with ashes is still practised by some ascetics.

16 Continually sitting and wandering in that posture.

17 With regard to the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, etc.

18 Niyata. The four Paths are: Sotāpatti (Stream-Winner), Sakadāgāmi (Once-Returner), Anāgāmi (Never-Returner) and Arahatta (Worthy).

19 Mrs. Rhys Davids: "Walking in God", a very misleading phrase, totally foreign to Buddhism. The commentarial explanation is seṭṭhacariya - highest conduct.

20 Absolutely harmless towards all.

21 Because he has cast aside impurities.

22 Samaṇa, because he has cleansed himself of all impurities.

23 Bhikkhu, because he has destroyed passions.

24 A gaily decked minister, stricken with grief, listened to the Buddha, seated on an elephant. On hearing the discourse, he realized Arahantship. Simultaneous with his realization his death occurred. The Buddha then advised his followers to pay him the respect due to an Arahant. When the bhikkhus questioned him how the minister could have attained Arahantship in such elegant dress the Buddha uttered this verse to show that purity comes from within and not from without. In striking contrast to the former this verse clearly indicates the Buddhist view of a holy person. It is not the apparel that counts but internal purity.

25 A self-respecting bhikkhu or layman, when obsessed with evil thoughts, tries to eradicate them there and then. This verse indicates that such persons are rare.

26 vijjācaraṇa. Eight kinds of Knowledge and fifteen kinds of Conduct.

The eight kinds of Knowledge are: (1) Psychic Powers (iddhividha), (2) Divine Ear (dibba-sota), (3) Penetration of the minds of others (ceto-pariya-ñāṇa), (4) Divine Eye (dibba-cakkhu), (5) Remembrance of former births (pubbe-nivāsanussati), (6) Extinction of corruptions (āsavakkhaya), (7) Insight (vipassanā) and (8) Creation of mental images (manomayiddhi).

The fifteen kinds of Conduct are:- Moral restraint, sense-restraint, moderation in eating, wakefulness, faith, moral shame, moral dread, great learning, energy, mindfulness, wisdom and the four Jhānas.

27 Cf. v. 80.