Buddhist Wisdom Verses

15: Kammavaggo
Deeds

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Dhp 127 Suppabuddhasakyavatthu
Deeds and their Results

Three different groups of monks see a crow die, a woman drowned and themselves buried alive on their way to the Buddha. They decide to ask him why it happened, and he explains there is nowhere to escape from the results of bad actions.

274. Na antalikkhe, na samuddamajjhe,
Na pabbatānaṁ vivaraṁ pavissa:
Na vijjatī so jagatippadeso,
Yatthaṭṭhito muccĕyya pāpakammā.

Neither in the sky, nor in the ocean,
Nor after entering a mountain cleft:
There is no place found on this earth where one
Is free from the results of wicked deeds.

SN 1.3.15 Dutiyasaṅgāmasuttaṁ
The Revolution of Deeds

King Pasenadi defeats King Ajātasattu in battle, takes his four-fold army from him, and, showing mercy, releases him with his life.

275. Hantā labhati hantāraṁ, jetāraṁ labhate jayaṁ,
Akkosako ca akkosaṁ, rosetārañ-ca rosako,
Atha kammavivaṭṭena, so vilutto vilumpati.

The killer finds one who kills him,
The victor will find a victor,
The abuser an abuser,
The wrathful finds one full of wrath,
So too as deeds return to one,
The robber will find himself robbed.

Dhp 125 Kokasunakhaluddakavatthu
Offending the Inoffensive

A hunter blames a monk for his failure to catch game and he sets his dogs on him, chasing him up a tree. The monk's robe falls over the hunter and the dogs devour him instead.

276. So appaduṭṭhassa narassa dussati,
Suddhassa posassa anaṅgaṇassa,
Tam-eva bālaṁ pacceti pāpaṁ,
Sukhumo rajo paṭivātaṁ va khitto.

He offends against the inoffensive,
A purified and passionless person,
That wicked deed will return to the fool,
Like fine dust that is thrown against the wind.

Dhp 137-140 Mahāmoggallānattheravatthu
The Fruit of Unjust Punishment

Being fooled by his wife a young man, who was faithfully performing his duty before, murders his parents.

277. Yo daṇḍena adaṇḍesu appaduṭṭhesu dussati,
Dasannam-aññataraṁ ṭhānaṁ khippam-eva nigacchati:

He who offends with punishment
One who is quite inoffensive,
One who does not punish others,
Will quickly fall into one of ten states:

278. Vedanaṁ pharusaṁ, jāniṁ, sarīrassa ca bhedanaṁ,
Garukaṁ vāpi ābādhaṁ, cittakkhepaṁ va pāpuṇe,

Harsh feelings and loss of his wealth,
And the break up of his body,
Or maybe heavy affliction,
Or perhaps he will loose his mind,

279. Rājato vā upassaggaṁ, abbhakkhānaṁ va dāruṇaṁ.
Parikkhayaṁ va ñātīnaṁ, bhogānaṁ va pabhaṅguraṁ,

There may be some danger from Kings,
Or slander that is terrible,
He may suffer from loss of kin,
Or from the destruction of wealth,

280. Atha vāssa agārāni aggi ḍahati pāvako,
Kāyassa bhedā duppañño Nirayaṁ so upapajjati.

Then his houses will be consumed
By fire, and then at the break-up
Of the body that foolish one
Will arise in the Lower Realms.

Dhp 121 Asaññataparikkhārabhikkhuvatthu
Do not Despise Wickedness

A monk refuses to look after his requisities, thinking them not worth the trouble. The Buddha admonishes him.

281. Māpamaññetha pāpassa: Na maṁ taṁ āgamissati,
Udabindunipātena udakumbho pi pūrati,
Bālo pūrati pāpassa, thokaṁ thokam-pi ācinaṁ.

He should not despise wickedness
Thinking: It will not come to me,
Through the falling of water drops
The water-pot is quickly filled,
The fool, gathering gradually,
Soon becomes full of wickedness.

Dhp 69 Uppalavaṇṇattherīvatthu
The Ripening of Wickedness

A cousin of the nun Uppalavaṇṇā hides in her forest dwelling and rapes her when she returns. This is told to the Buddha.

282. Madhuvā maññati bālo, yāva pāpaṁ na paccati,
Yadā ca paccati pāpaṁ, bālo dukkhaṁ nigacchati.

The fool thinks it sweet, as long as
His wickedness does not ripen,
But when his wickedness ripens,
Then the fool falls into suffering.

Dhp 71 Ahipetavatthu
Deeds do not Ripen at Once

A man burns down the hut of a Paccekabuddha and eventually is reborn as a snake-ghost, burning the whole length of his long body. He is seen by Mahāmoggallāna, who relates it to the Buddha.

283. Na hi pāpaṁ kataṁ kammaṁ, sajju khīraṁ va muccati,
Ḍahantaṁ bālam-anveti, bhasmacchanno va pāvako.

A wicked deed that has been done,
Like milk does not turn all at once,
Rather it will stay with the fool,
Smouldering under the ashes.

Dhp 123 Mahādhanavāṇijavatthu
Avoiding Wickedness

A merchant sets out with 500 wagons but learns there are thieves ahead and thieves behind, and so stays put in a village. This is told to the Buddha who draws the lesson therefrom.

284. Vāṇijo va bhayaṁ maggaṁ, appasattho mahaddhano,
Visaṁ jīvitukāmo va, pāpāni parivajjaye.

As merchants on a fearful path,
With few friends and great wealth, as one
Loving life would avoid poison,
So should one avoid wicked deeds.

SN 1.2.22 Khemasuttaṁ
Experiencing the Results of Deeds

285. Caranti bālā dummedhā amitteneva attanā,
Karontā pāpakaṁ kammaṁ yaṁ hoti kaṭukapphalaṁ.

Foolish, unintelligent folk
Behave like their own enemies,
Doing deeds full of wickedness
That have painful consequences.

286. Na taṁ kammaṁ kataṁ sādhu, yaṁ katvā anutappati,
Yassa assumukho rodaṁ vipākaṁ paṭisevati.

That deed is not a deed well done,
Which having done he will regret,
For he cries with a tearful face
When the result returns to him.

287. Tañ-ca kammaṁ kataṁ sādhu, yaṁ katvā nānutappati,
Yassa patīto sumano vipākaṁ paṭisevati.

But that deed is a deed well done, which
Having done he will not regret,
He is delighted and happy
When the result returns to him.

288. Paṭikacceva taṁ kayirā, yaṁ jaññā hitam-attano,
Na sākaṭikacintāya Mantā Dhīro parakkame.

Cautiously he will do his deeds,
Knowing what benefits himself,
Not with thoughts wrongly directed
Should the Wise One make his effort.

289. Yathā sākaṭiko mattaṁ samaṁ hitvā mahāpathaṁ,
Visamaṁ maggam-āruyha, akkhacchinno 'vajhāyati,

For the drunken carter who has
Abandoned the even highway
And mounted an uneven road,
Will brood on his broken axle,

290. Evaṁ Dhammā apakkamma, adhammam-anuvattiya,
Mando Maccumukhaṁ patto, akkhacchinno va jhāyati.

So too the one who leaves the Dhamma,
And follows what is not Dhamma,
Falls into Death's mouth, like the one
Brooding on his broken axle.

Dhp 246-7 Pañca-Upāsakavatthu
The Result of not Keeping the Precepts

Laymen are arguing as to which of the precepts is hardest to keep. The Buddha tells them they all are hard, but explains further.

291. Yo pāṇam-atipāteti, musāvādañ-ca bhāsati,
Loke adinnaṁ ādiyati, paradārañ-ca gacchati,
292. Surāmerayapānañ-ca yo naro anuyuñjati,
Idhevam-eso lokasmiṁ, mūlaṁ khaṇati attano.

He who kills a living being,
And speaks a word that is not true,
Who takes from what is not given,
And who goes to another's wife,
That person who is devoted
To drinking liquor, beer and wines,
Digs up his own root in the world.

Dhp 16 Dhammika-Upāsakavatthu
Rejoicing Here and Hereafter

A layman who has long been a supporter lies dying and the monks go to chant for him. Seeing celestial chariots coming to take him away he asks them to wait until the monks finish chanting, but the monks think he is asking them to stop and go away. Later the Buddha explains.

293. Idha modati, pecca modati,
Katapuñño ubhayattha modati,
So modati, so pamodati,
Disvā kammavisuddhim-attano.

Here he rejoices, after death he rejoices,
The meritorious one rejoices both times,
He surely rejoices, he greatly rejoices,
After seeing the purity of his own deeds.

SN 1.3.4 Piyasuttaṁ
Holding Oneself Dear

King Pasenadi reflects that if one holds oneself dear he would not engage in what is wrong but do what is right. The Buddha concurs.

294. Attānañ-ce piyaṁ jaññā na naṁ pāpena saṁyuje,
Na hi taṁ sulabhaṁ hoti sukhaṁ dukkatakārinā.

If one holds oneself dear one should
Not engage in a wicked deed,
For joy is not easily gained
By those who do that which is wrong.

Jā 382 Sirikālakaṇṇijātakaṁ
Fortune and Misfortune

Two Goddesses, who cannot decide precedence, vie with each other for lying on a virtuous householder's couch. The one who is even more virtuous than the householder wins.

295. Attanā kurute lakkhiṁ, alakkhiṁ kurutattanā,
Na hi lakkhiṁ alakkhiṁ vā añño aññassa kārako.

By oneself is one's fortune made,
Misfortune is made by oneself,
No one can make for another
Their fortune or their misfortune.

Jā 537 Mahāsutasomajātakaṁ
Consequences of Indulgence and Duty

Yet more verses by which the Bodhisatta eventually persuades the man-eating King to give up his bad habit.

296. Yo ve Piyaṁ me ti piyānurakkhī,
Attaṁ niraṁkacca, piyāni sevati,
Soṇḍo va pitvā visamissapānaṁ,
Teneva so hoti dukkhī parattha.

He who, being attached to what he craves,
And disregards his true self-interest,
Like a drunkard who has drunk some poison,
Will be the one who suffers hereafter.

297. Yo cīdha saṅkhāya piyāni hitvā,
Kicchena pi sevati Ariyadhammaṁ,
Dukhito va pitvāna yathosadhāni,
Teneva so hoti sukhī parattha.

He who, having abandoned what he likes,
And with difficulty does the right thing,
Like one sick who has drunk the medicine,
Hereafter will be the one who rejoices.

Jā 386 Kharaputtajātakaṁ
Protecting Life First

A King is willing to give up a charm to his wife even though it will cost his life. The Bodhisatta as Sakka, in the form of a goat, persuades him not to be so foolish.

298. Na ve Piyaṁ me ti Janinda tādiso,
Attaṁ niraṅkatvā piyāni sevati.
Attā va seyyo: paramā va seyyo?
Labbhā piyā ocitatthena pacchā.

O King, do not think: It is dear to me,
You should not do what is pleasing to you.
Understanding one's own interest is best,
Later one gains what is truly pleasing.

Dhp 163 Saṅghabhedaparisakkanavatthu
Good is hard to Do

Devadatta causes a split in the Community and informs Ānanda. The Buddha explains how easy it is to do what is wrong.

299. Sukarāni asādhūni, attano ahitāni ca,
Yaṁ ve hitañ-ca sādhuñ-ca taṁ ve paramadukkaraṁ.

Easily done are things not good,
Unbeneficial for oneself,
But that which is beneficial
Is exceedingly hard to do.

Ud 5.8 Ānandasuttaṁ
The Good Easily Do Good

Devadatta causes a split in the Community and informs Ānanda. The Buddha explains how easy it is to do what is wrong.

300. Sukaraṁ sādhunā sādhu, sādhu pāpena dukkaraṁ.
Pāpaṁ pāpena sukaraṁ, pāpam-ariyehi dukkaraṁ.

Done with ease by the good is good,
But the bad find good hard to do,
Bad is done by the bad with ease,
But the good find bad hard to do.

The Third Hundred