Ja 96 Telapattajātaka
The Story about the Bowl of Oil

In the present the Buddha gives a teaching on how mindfulness would be established in one threatened by death, and exhorts the monks to do likewise. He then tells a story of how he once guarded himself even from heavenly charms and gained a kingdom, while others, lacking mindfulness perished.

⏑⏑−¦⏑−⏑¦⏑⏑−¦−,−⏑¦−−¦⏑−⏑¦⏑⏑−¦− Old Gīti
1. Samatittikaṁ anavasekaṁ, telapattaṁ yathā parihareyya,
Like one would take care of a bowl of oil, one which is completely full to the brim,

−−¦⏑−⏑¦⏑⏑−¦−,−⏑¦−−¦⏑−⏑¦⏑⏑−¦− Old Gīti
Evaṁ sacittam-anurakkhe, patthayāno disaṁ agatapubban-ti.
So should one protect one’s own mind, (like one) wishing for a goal not gone to before.

Tattha, {1.400} samatittikan-ti
In this connection, full to the brim means

antomukhavaṭṭilekhaṁ pāpetvā samabharitaṁ.
evenly filled, having reached the rim on the inside.

Anavasesakan-ti anavasiñcanakaṁ, aparissāvanakaṁ katvā.
Completely means without having made it overpour, overflow. This translation is based on a comment in PED: Ja.i.400 (so read for ˚ssavanaka). Or is it “not overflowing”? fr. parissāvana.

Telapattan-ti pakkhittatilatelapattaṁ.
A bowl of oil means a bowl into which sesame oil is dropped.

Parihareyyā ti hareyya, ādāya gaccheyya.
Would take care means would care for it, would depart, having taken it up.

Evaṁ sacittam-anurakkhe ti taṁ telabharitaṁ pattaṁ viya,
So should one protect one’s mind means just as that bowl is filled with oil,

attano cittaṁ kāyagatāsatiyā, gocare ceva sampayuttasatiyā cā ti
one should protect one’s own mind, should watch over The verbs are at the end of the sentence, rakkheyya gopeyya. it with mindfulness related to the body, being connected to mindfulness in one’s environment,

ubhinnaṁ antare pakkhipitvā,
having established both on the inside,

yathā muhuttam-pi bahiddhā gocare na vikkhipati,
like someone who is not scattered even for a moment by the outside,

tathā paṇḍito yogāvacaro rakkheyya gopeyya.
just like a wise meditator would guard and watch over.

What is the reason?

Etassa hi:
For this reason:

Dunniggahassa lahuno, yatthakāmanipātino,
For the mind, difficult to subdue, The next five verses equal Dhp 35-39, which is followed by Dhp 33. flighty, flitting where it will,

Cittassa damatho sādhu, cittaṁ dantaṁ sukhāvahan-ti.
Restraint of the mind is good, (for) a restrained mind brings happiness.


Sududdasaṁ sunipuṇaṁ, yatthakāmanipātinaṁ,
It is difficult to see, very subtle, flitting where it will,

Cittaṁ rakkhetha medhāvī, cittaṁ guttaṁ sukhāvahaṁ.
The intelligent should guard the mind, a guarded mind brings happiness.

Because of this:

Dūraṅgamaṁ ekacaraṁ, asarīraṁ guhāsayaṁ,
Those who will practice control of the mind that roams far, is lonesome,

Ye cittaṁ saṁyamessanti, mokkhanti mārabandhanā.
Bodiless, laying hidden, gain release from the bonds of Māra.

Itarassa pana:
But for the other:

Anavaṭṭhitacittassa, Saddhammaṁ avijānato,
For the one with unsettled mind, who does not know the True Dhamma,

Pariplavapasādassa, paññā na paripūrati.
Whose confidence is wavering, their wisdom remains unfulfilled.

Thirakammaṭṭhānasahāyassa pana:
But for the one firm in his meditation object:

Anavassutacittassa, ananvāhatacetaso,
For the one with mind free of lust, for the one with mind unperplexed,

Puññapāpapahīnassa, natthi jāgarato bhayaṁ.
for the one who has abandoned making merit and demerit, for the watchful, there is no fear.

Tasmā etaṁ:
Therefore this:

Phandanaṁ capalaṁ cittaṁ, dūrakkhaṁ dunnivārayaṁ,
An agitated, unsteady mind, which is hard to guard, hard to ward,

Ujuṁ karoti medhāvī, usukāro va tejanaṁ. {1.401}
The intelligent one makes straight, just as a fletcher his arrow.

Evaṁ ujuṁ karonto sacittam-anurakkhe.
So should one protect one’s mind, making it straight.

Patthayāno disaṁ agatapubban-ti,
(Like one) wishing for a goal not gone to before,

imasmiṁ kāyagatāsatikammaṭṭhāne kammaṁ ārabhitvā,
having undertaken the work in this meditation subject on mindfulness related to the body,

anamatagge saṁsāre agatapubbaṁ disaṁ patthento pihento,
wishing for, yearning for a goal not gone to before in this endless transmigration,

vuttanayena sakaṁ cittaṁ rakkheyyā, ti attho.
he would protect his own mind in the way described, this is the meaning.

Kā panesā disā nāma?
But what are known as the directions? DN 31 Siṅgālasutta. The text plays on the various meanings of disā in Pāḷi, which can means direction, region, as well as goal.

Mātāpitā disā pubbā, ācariyā dakkhiṇā disā,
Parents are the east direction, teachers are the south direction,

Puttadārā disā pacchā, mittāmaccā ca uttarā.
Children and wife the west direction, friends and advisors the north.

Dāsakammakarā heṭṭhā, uddhaṁ samaṇabrāhmaṇā,
Servants and workers are below, ascetics, brahmins are above,

Etā disā namasseyya alamatto The correct form is probably alamattho, as noted in CPD: alamatta: alam-atta, mfn. v. r. for 2 alam-attha (see pt ad DN III 188, 16* below). I translate it as such: alamattha: 2 alam-attha, mfn. [sa. alam-artha], able, capable, clever. kule gihī ti.
The able householder in his clan should honour these directions.

Ettha tāva puttadārādayo disā ti vuttā.
Here your children, wife and so on are said to be the direction.

Disā catasso, vidisā catasso,
Four directions, Ja 514 Chaddantajataka, vs 8. and four median directions,

Uddhaṁ adho, dasa disā imāyo,
Above and below, these are the ten directions,

Katamaṁ disaṁ tiṭṭhati nāgarājā,
At which direction stands the king of elephants,

Yam-addasā supine chabbisāṇan-ti?
Having six tusks, which you saw in a dream?

Ettha puratthimādibhedā disā va disā ti vuttā.
Here, dividing into the east direction and so on, these are said to be the directions.

Agārino annadapānavatthadā,
The lay man Ja 377 Setaketujātaka, vs. 2. who gives food and drinks and clothes,

Avhāyikā tam-pi disaṁ vadanti,
Who invites, this they say is the goal,

Esā disā paramā setaketu,
These goals are the highest of white ensigns,

Yaṁ patvā dukkhī sukhino bhavantī ti.
Attaining which, out of suffering they become happy.

Ettha pana Nibbānaṁ disā ti vuttaṁ.
But here Nibbāna is said to be the goal.

Idhāpi tad-eva adhippetaṁ.
Here also this is the intention.

Tañ-hi: “Khayaṁ virāgan,”-ti ādīhi dissati apadissati,
Indeed: “(Pollutants’) end, dispassion,” Khp 6, Snp 2.1 Ratanasutta. and so on is seen and pointed out

tasmā disā ti vuccati.
therefore the goal is said.

Anamatagge pana saṁsāre
But in this endless transmigration

kenaci bālaputhujjanena supinena pi
any foolish worldly person’s dream is also

agatapubbatāya agatapubbā disā nāmā, ti vuttaṁ.
known as a direction not gone to before, out of those not gone to, this is what is said.

Taṁ patthayantena, kāyagatāsatiyā yogo karaṇīyo ti.
Because of wishing for this, the meditator should do mindfulness related to the body.