Dhamma Verses

2. The Chapter about Heedfulness

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The Heedful Attain Nibbāna

King Udena had two queens, Sāmāvatī, who was a follower of the Buddha, and Māgandiyā, who was spurned by the Buddha; out of jealousy Māgandiyā brought about the destruction of Sāmāvatī and her five hundred followers, all of whom had attained stages of Awakening; Māgandiyā and her family, who were full of defilements, were put to death by the king; when what had happened was reported to the Buddha he spoke these verses about them.

21. Appamādo amatapadaṁ, pamādo maccuno padaṁ,
appamattā na mīyanti, ye pamattā yathā matā.

Heedfulness is the deathless state,
heedlessness the state of the dead,
the heedful do not die, (but) those
who are heedless are as if dead.

22. Etaṁ visesato ñatvā appamādamhi paṇḍitā,
appamāde pamodanti, Ariyānaṁ gocare ratā.

The wise, fully understanding
this in regard to heedfulness,
rejoice in heedfulness, delight
in the domain of Noble Ones.

23. Te jhāyino sātatikā, niccaṁ daḷhaparakkamā,
phusanti dhīrā Nibbānaṁ, yogakkhemaṁ anuttaraṁ.

Those who meditate all the time
constant and firm in their effort,
those wise ones will reach Nibbāna,
the unsurpassed release from bonds.

The Fame of the Good Increases

Kumbhaghosaka was a rich man’s son who escaped his afflicted household during a plague; later he disguised himself as a poor man and worked for his living, but was recognised by the king, who honoured him and gave him his daughter in marriage; when he heard the story the Buddha spoke this verse about him.

24. Uṭṭhānavato satīmato sucikammassa nisammakārino,
saññatassa ca Dhammajīvino appamattassa yasobhivaḍḍhati.

For he who is active, mindful,
pure in deeds and considerate,
self-controlled, living by Dhamma,
heedful, fame greatly increases.

The Intelligent Make an Island

When Elder Culla Panthaka could not remember even four lines of verse after three months trying, the Buddha asked him to rub a white cloth, which subsequently became soiled and gave him initial insight into impermanence; the Buddha then taught him that the mind is also defiled and must be cleansed, and he soon attained deliverance, after which the Buddha spoke this verse about him.

25. Uṭṭhānen’ appamādena saṁyamena damena ca,
dīpaṁ kayirātha medhāvī yaṁ ogho nābhikīrati.

Through activity, heedfulness,
through self-control and through restraint,
the sage should make an island that
no flood waters can overcome.

Heedfulness Is Our Greatest Wealth

During a seven-day festival of fools in Sāvatthi the people used to go round insulting and disrespecting everyone they met; the Buddha’s supporters asked him to stay at the monastery for the duration and they sent almsfood there; this is the teaching the Buddha gave them when it was over.

26. Pamādam-anuyuñjanti bālā dummedhino janā,
appamādañ-ca medhāvī dhanaṁ seṭṭhaṁ va rakkhati.

Foolish, stupid people
cultivate heedlessness,
the sage guards heedfulness
just as his greatest wealth.

27. Mā pamādam-anuyuñjetha mā kāmaratisanthavaṁ,
appamatto hi jhāyanto pappoti vipulaṁ sukhaṁ.

Do not cultivate heedlessness,
do not take delight in pleasure,
the heedful one, meditating,
surely attains great happiness.

The Heedful Stand on Heights

Elder Mahākassapa, after collecting his almsfood, sat in meditation and tried to understand in all its breadth the rising and falling away of living beings; the Buddha advised him that only Buddhas have such thorough knowledge, and then he spoke this verse.

28. Pamādaṁ appamādena yadā nudati paṇḍito,
paññāpāsādam-āruyha, asoko sokiniṁ pajaṁ,
pabbataṭṭho va bhummaṭṭhe dhīro bāle avekkhati.

When the wise one eliminates
heedlessness with his heedfulness,
and mounts the palace of wisdom,
griefless, he looks on grieving people;
the wise one, like one standing on
a mountain, looks down on the fools,
who are standing on the plains.

The Heedful Speed Ahead

Two monks were given a meditation subject by the Buddha; one spent his time on monastic duties like sweeping, while the other was diligent and became an Arahat; after the Rains Retreat the Buddha commended him and spoke this verse about him.

29. Appamatto pamattesu, suttesu bahujāgaro,
abalassaṁ va sīghasso hitvā, yāti sumedhaso.

Heedful amongst the heedless ones,
wakeful amongst the ones who sleep,
like a swift horse who abandons
a weak horse, the true sage moves on.

Heedfulness Is Praised

Prince Magha did good works in his village and inspired thirty-three others to join him; later they were reborn as Sakka and his company; the Buddha spoke this verse explaining what had happened.

30. Appamādena Maghavā devānaṁ seṭṭhataṁ gato,
appamādaṁ pasaṁsanti, pamādo garahito sadā.

Through heedfulness did Maghavā
attain leadership of the gods,
the good always praise heedfulness,
but heedlessness is always blamed.

Heedfulness Consumes the Fetters

A monk was given a meditation subject but could make no progress, so he determined to return to the Buddha; on his way he saw a great fire burn down a forest, and the Buddha appeared to him and taught him with this verse.

31. Appamādarato bhikkhu, pamāde bhayadassivā,
saṁyojanaṁ aṇuṁ-thūlaṁ ḍahaṁ aggīva gacchati.

A monastic who delights in
heedfulness, seeing danger in
heedlessness, advances like fire
against the fetter, small or large.

The Heedful Are Close to Nibbāna

Nigamavāsī Tissa lived near Sāvatthi and after he ordained he only went to his local village for alms; the monks blamed him but the Buddha praised him for being frugal and content, and spoke this verse praising his way of life.

32. Appamādarato bhikkhu, pamāde bhayadassivā,
abhabbo parihānāya: Nibbānasseva santike.

A monastic who delights in
heedfulness, seeing danger in
heedlessness, does not fall away:
he is well-nigh to Nibbāna.

Appamādavaggo Dutiyo
The Chapter about Heedfulness, the Second