Dhammapada Verse 100
Tambadathika Coraghataka Vatthu
Sahassamapi ce vaca
ekam atthapadam seyyo
yam sutva upasammati.
Verse 100: Better than a thousand words that are senseless and unconnected
with the realization of Nibbana, is a single word of sense, if on hearing it one
The Story of Tambadathika
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (100) of
this book, with reference to Tambadathika, the executioner of thieves.
Tambadathika served the king as an executioner of thieves for fifty-five
years; he had just retired from that post. One day, after preparing rice gruel
at his house, he went to the river for a bath; he had intended to take the
specially prepared rice gruel on his return. As he was about to take the rice
gruel, Thera Sariputta, who had just arisen from sustained absorption in
Concentration (jhana samapatti), stood at his door for alms-food. Seeing
the thera, Tambadathika thought to himself, "Throughout my life, I have
been executing thieves; now I should offer this food to the thera." So, he
invited Thera Sariputta to come in and respectfully offered the rice gruel.
After the meal, the thera taught him the Dhamma, but Tambadathika could not
pay attention, because he was so agitated as he recollected his past life as an
executioner. When the thera knew this, he decided to ask Tambadathika tactfully
whether he killed the thieves because he wished to kill them or because he was
ordered to do so. Tambadathika answered that he was ordered to kill them by the
king and that he had no wish to kill. Then the thera asked, "If that is so,
would you be guilty or not ?" Tambadathika then concluded that, as he was
not responsible for the evil deeds, he was not guilty. He, therefore, calmed
down, and requested the thera to continue his exposition. As he listened to the
Dhamma with proper attention, he came very close to attaining Sotapatti Magga,
and reached as far as anuloma nana.* After the discourse, Tambadathika
accompanied Thera Sariputta for some distance and then returned home. On his way
home a cow (actually a demon in the guise of a cow) gored him to death.
When the Buddha came to the congregation of the bhikkhus in the evening, they
informed him about the death of Tambadathika. When asked where Tambadathika was
reborn, the Buddha told them that although Tambadathika had committed evil deeds
throughout his life, because he comprehended the Dhamma after hearing it from
Thera Sariputta and had already attained anuloma nana before he died, he
was reborn in the Tusita deva world. The bhikkhus wondered how such an evil-doer
could have such great benefit after listening to the Dhamma just once. To them
the Buddha said that the length of a discourse is of no consequence, for one
single word of sense can produce much benefit.
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
|Verse 100: Better than a thousand words that are
senseless and unconnected with the realization of Nibbana, is a single
word of sense, if on hearing it one is calmed.
*anuloma nana: Vipassana Insight which causes the namarupa
process of the yogi to become fully adapted for Magga Insight.