Buddhist Wisdom Verses

19: Bhāsanavaggo
Speech

download

Jā 98 Kūṭavāṇijajātakaṁ
Deception

A merchant named Superwise tries to cheat his partner (named Wise) by having his Father pose as a Tree-Deva. Wise sets fire to the tree, and out scampers the Father.

358. Sādhu kho Paṇḍito nāma, na tveva Atipaṇḍito,
Atipaṇḍitena puttena, manamhi upakūḷito.

Good is the name that Wise has got,
But not the name of Superwise,
Through my foolish son Superwise,
I am roasted to a cinder.

Jā 331 Kokālikajātakaṁ
Correct and Timely Speech

A young cuckoo is being fostered by a crow but gives his identity away when he cries out. The crow kills him and throws him out of the nest.

359. Yo ve kāle asampatte, ativelaṁ pabhāsati,
Evaṁ so nihato seti, kokilāyi va atrajo.

He who talks for too long
And talks at the wrong time,
Like the cuckoo's fledgling,
He is quickly destroyed.

360. Na hi satthaṁ sunisitaṁ, visaṁ halāhalām-iva,
Evaṁ nikaṭṭhe pāteti vācā dubbhāsitā yathā.

Neither a sharpened sword,
Nor can deadly poison,
Destroy quite as quickly
As badly spoken words.

361. Tasmā kāle akāle vā vācaṁ rakkheyya Paṇḍito,
Nātivelaṁ pabhāseyya, api attasamamhi vā.

The Wise protect their words
At the right and wrong time,
And will not talk too long,
Even to their equals.

362. Yo ca kāle mitaṁ bhāse matipubbo Vicakkhaṇo,
Sabbe amitte tarati, Supaṇṇo uragaṁ iva.

The Wise speak suitably
And in a measured way,
Having thought aforehand,
And thus defeat their foes
As bird overcomes snake.

SN 1.6.9 Tudubrahmasuttaṁ
The Dangers of Wrong Speech

The High Divinity Tudu approaches Ven. Kokālika and advises him to have respect for the two Chief Disciples, but he is rebuked by the Venerable who is intent on blaming them.

363. Purisassa hi jātassa, kuṭhārī jāyate mukhe,
Yāya chindati attānaṁ bālo, dubbhāsitaṁ bhaṇaṁ.

When a man is born in this world,
There is a hatchet in his mouth,
With that the fool cuts himself up,
Speaking what is badly spoken.

364. Yo nindīyaṁ pasaṁsati,
Taṁ vā nindati yo pasaṁsiyo,
Vicināti mukhena so kaliṁ,
Kalinā tena sukhaṁ na vindati.

He who praises the blameworthy,
And he who blames the praiseworthy,
Piles up bad fortune with his tongue,
And therefore finds no happiness.

SN 1.8.5 Subhāsitasuttaṁ
The Qualities of Good Speech

The Buddha explains the four qualities that make for good speech, and summarises them with a verse, which is followed by another improvised by Ven. Vaṅgīsa, who was considered the foremost disciple in extemporary composition.

365. Subhāsitaṁ uttamam-āhu santo,
Dhammaṁ bhaṇe nādhammaṁ – taṁ dutiyaṁ,
Piyaṁ bhaṇe nāppiyaṁ – taṁ tatiyaṁ,
Saccaṁ bhaṇe nālikaṁ – taṁ catutthaṁ.

What is well spoken is the first
Quality of speech that is good,
Speaking on Dhamma is second,
Speaking with pleasant voice is third,
Speaking with truth in mind is fourth.

366. Tam-eva vācaṁ bhāseyya yāyattānaṁ na tāpaye,
Pare ca na vihiṁseyya – sā ve vācā subhāsitā.

He should only speak a good word
Which will not cause him torment,
And does no harm to another –
Those words are truly well spoken.

Jā 88 Sārambhajātakaṁ
Speaking Kindly

A bull wishes to repay his master and has him wage a bet he can draw a 100 wagons. But when the time comes the master scolds him, and he doesn't make an effort. Later the master speaks kindly and the bull draws the wagons, earning his master a fortune.

367. Kalyāṇim-eva muñceyya, na hi muñceyya pāpikaṁ,
Mokkho kalyāṇiyā sādhu, mutvā tappati pāpikaṁ.

He should speak those words that are good,
He should not speak words that are bad,
He who has spoken well is good,
But speaking badly he suffers.

Jā 537 Mahāsutasomajātakaṁ
Truth is the Sweetest Thing

The Bodhisatta gives and keeps his word to return to a man-eating King, who is threatening to eat him. In part of the dialogue which follows the Bodhisatta preaches on the virtue of keeping to one's word.

368. Ye kecime atthi rasā Pathavyā,
Saccaṁ tesaṁ sādhutaraṁ rasānaṁ,
Sacce ṭhitā samaṇabrāhmaṇā ca,
Taranti jātimaraṇassa pāraṁ.

Of whatever kinds of tastes there are on the Earth
Truth is the sweetest and the best of all.
Know that monks and priests steady in the truth,
Cross to the further side of birth and death.

SN 1.8.5 Subhāsitasuttaṁ
Truth is Immortal

Ven. Vaṅgīsa speaks another verse inspired by a teaching of the Buddha about truth.

369. Saccaṁ ve amatā vācā, esa Dhammo sanantano,
Sacce atthe ca Dhamme ca, āhu santo patiṭṭhitā.

Truth consists of immortal words,
This good Dhamma is eternal,
Well-established is truth, goodness
And Dhamma, say those who are good.

Jā 320 Succajajātakaṁ
Only Promise what can be Done

A Queen asks the King if the mountain they see ahead were made of gold would he give her some. He says he would not.

370. Yaṁ hi kayirā taṁ hi vade, yaṁ na kayirā na taṁ vade,
Akarontaṁ bhāsamānaṁ parijānanti Paṇḍitā.

When it can be done then speak up,
When it cannot be done speak not,
Not doing after promising
The Wise know is speaking falsely.

Jā 499 Sivijātakaṁ
Keeping One's Promises

King Sivi is very generous and resolves to give even his body parts away if asked. Sakka decides to test him and dressed as a brāhman asks for his eye to which the King agrees; the townsfolk try to persuade him to change his mind, and this is part of his reply.

371. Yo ve Dassan-ti vatvāna, adāne kurute mano,
Bhūmyā so patitaṁ pāsaṁ gīvāyaṁ paṭimuñcati.

He who, having said he will give,
Makes up his mind not to give it,
Fastens his own neck in a snare
That has fallen down on the ground.

372. Yo ve Dassan-ti vatvāna, adāne kurute mano,
Pāpā pāpataro hoti, sampatto Yamasādhanaṁ.

He who, having said he will give,
Makes up his mind not to give it,
Is the most wicked of wicked,
He falls into Yama's armies.

Jā 422 Cetiyajātakaṁ
The Results of Lying

Despite being warned of the dire consequences a King of old, desiring to raise a younger brother above an older one, tells a lie, and not only looses his magical powers, but is swallowed up by the Earth when he repeats it.

373. Aḷikaṁ bhāsamānassa apakkamanti devatā,
Pūtikañ-ca mukhaṁ vā ti, sakaṭṭhānā ca dhaṁsati,
Yo jānaṁ pucchito pañhaṁ aññathā naṁ viyākare.

When speaking a lie or falsehood
The gods depart and go away,
The mouth becomes putrid and foul,
And he destroys his own position,
This happens to that person who,
When asked, answers with something false.

374. Akāle vassati tassa, kāle tassa na vassati,
Yo jānaṁ pucchito pañhaṁ aññathā naṁ viyākare.

It rains for him at the wrong time,
And doesn't rain at the right time,
This happens to that person who,
When asked, answers with something false.

375. Jivhā tassa dvidhā hoti, uragasseva Disampati,
Yo jānaṁ pucchito pañhaṁ, aññathā naṁ viyākare.

The one endowed with a forked tongue,
O King, is likened to a snake,
This happens to that person who,
When asked, answers with something false.

376. Jivhā tassa na bhavati, macchasseva Disampati,
Yo jānaṁ pucchito pañhaṁ, aññathā naṁ viyākare.

The one not endowed with a tongue,
O King, is likened to a fish,
This happens to that person who,
When asked, answers with something false.

377. Thiyo na tassa jāyanti, na pumā jāyare kule,
Yo jānaṁ pucchito pañhaṁ, aññathā naṁ viyākare.

To him females will not be born,
And nor will males be born to him,
This happens to that person who,
When asked, answers with something false.

378. Puttā tassa na bhavanti, pakkamanti disodisaṁ,
Yo jānaṁ pucchito pañhaṁ, aññathā naṁ viyākare.

To him there will be no children,
Or they will move away from him,
This happens to that person who,
When asked, answers with something false.

Dhp 176 Ciñcamāṇavikāvatthu
The Liar is capable of all Wrong-Doing

Ciñca Māṇavikā falsely accuses the Buddha of impregnating her. The gods help reveal the lie, and Ciñca falls into the Avīci hell.

379. Ekaṁ dhammaṁ atītassa, musāvādissa jantuno,
Vitiṇṇaparalokassa, natthi pāpaṁ akāriyaṁ.

For the person who transgresses
One thing, that of speaking falsely,
Who has abandoned the next world,
There is no bad thing left undone.