The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories

Dhammapada Verse 75
Vanavasitissasamanera Vatthu

Anna hi labhupanisa
anna nibbanagamini
evametam abhinnaya
bhikkhu Buddhassa savako
sakkaram nabhinandeyya

Verse 75: Indeed, the path that leads to worldly gain is one and the Path that leads to Nibbana is another. Fully comprehending this, the bhikkhu, the disciple of the Buddha, should not take delight in worldly gain and honour, but devote himself to solitude, detachment and the realization of Nibbana.

1.Vivekamanubruhaye (vivekam + anubruhaye): Viveka - solitary seclusion. According to the Commentary, the three kinds of vivekas are kayaviveka (seclusion of the body or solitude); cittaviveka (detachment of the mind from human passions) and upadhiviveka (Nibbana).

The Story of Samanera Tissa of the Forest Monastery

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (75) of this book, with reference to Tissa, a samanera, who dwelt in a forest monastery.

Tissa was the son of a rich man from Savatthi. His father used to offer alms-food to the Chief Disciple Sariputta in their house and so Tissa even as a child had met the Chief Disciple on many occasions. At the age of seven he became a novice (samanera) under the Chief Disciple Sariputta. While he was staying at the Jetavana monastery, many of his friends and relatives came to see him, bringing presents and offerings. The samanera found these visits to be very tiresome; so after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, he left for a forest monastery. Whenever a villager offered him anything, Tissa would just say 'May you be happy, may you be liberated from the ills of life,' ("Sukhita hotha, dukkha muccatha"), and would go on his own way. While he stayed at the forest monastery, he ardently and diligently practised meditation, and at the end of three months he attained arahatship.

After the vassa, the Venerable Sariputta accompanied by the Venerable Maha Moggallana and other senior disciples paid a visit to Samanera Tissa, with the permission of the Buddha. All the villagers came out to welcome the Venerable Sariputta and his company of four thousand bhikkhus. They also requested the Venerable Sariputta to favour them with a discourse, but the Chief Disciple declined; instead, he directed his pupil Tissa to deliver a discourse to the villagers. The villagers, however, said that their teacher Tissa could only say "May you be happy, may you be liberated from the ills of life", and asked the Chief Disciple to assign another bhikkhu in his place. But the Venerable Sariputta insisted that Tissa should deliver a discourse on the dhamma, and said to Tissa, "Tissa, talk to them about the dhamma and show them how to gain happiness and how to be liberated from the ills of life."

Thus, in obedience to his teacher, Samanera Tissa went up the platform to deliver his discourse. He explained to the audience the meaning of the aggregates (khandhas), sense bases and sense objects (ayatanas), elements of the perpetuation of the Teaching (Bodhipakkhiya Dhamma), the Path leading to arahatship and Nibbana, etc. Finally he concluded, "And thus, those who attain arahatship are liberated from all the ills of life and have Perfect Peace; all the rest will still wander about in the round of rebirths (samsara)."

The Venerable Sariputta praised Tissa for having expounded the dhamma so well. Dawn was approaching when he finished his exposition, and all the villagers were very much impressed. Some of them were surprised that Samanera Tissa knew the dhamma so well, but they were also dissatisfied with him because formerly he had talked so little about the dhamma to them; the others were happy and contented to find the samanera to be so learned and felt that they were very lucky to have him amongst them.

The Buddha, with his supernormal power, saw from the Jetavana monastery these two groups of villagers and appeared before them. His intention in coming to the village was to clear up the misunderstanding amongst the first group of villagers. The Buddha arrived while the villagers were preparing alms-food for the bhikkhus. So, they had the opportunity to offer alms-food to the Buddha as well. After the meal, the Buddha addressed the villagers, "O lay disciples, all of you are so lucky to have Samanera Tissa amongst you. It is on account of his presence here that I myself, my Chief Disciples, senior disciples and many other bhikkhus now pay you a visit." These words made them realize how fortunate they were to have Samanera Tissa with them and they were satisfied. The Buddha then delivered a discourse to the villagers and the bhikkhus, and consequently, many of them attained Sotapatti Fruition.

After the discourse, the Buddha returned to the Jetavana monastery. In the evening, the bhikkhus said in praise of Tissa to the Buddha, "Venerable Sir, Samanera Tissa had performed a very difficult task; he was so well provided with gifts and offerings of all kinds here in Savatthi, yet he gave up all these to go and live austerely in a forest monastery." To them the Buddha replied, "Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, whether in town or in village, should not live for the sake of gifts and offerings, if a bhikkhu renounces all good prospects or worldly gain and diligently practises the dhamma in solitude, he is sure to attain arahatship."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 75: Indeed, the path that leads to worldly gain is one and the Path that leads to Nibbana is another. Fully comprehending this, the bhikkhu, the disciple of the Buddha, should not take delight in worldly gain and honour, but devote himself to solitude, detachment and the realization of Nibbana.

End of Chapter Five: The Fool (Bilavagga)



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*Verse 416
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*These two stories have the same verse.