Dhammapada Verse 101
Sahassamapi ce gatha
ekam gathapadam seyyo
yam sutva upasammati.
Verse 101: Better than a thousand verses that are senseless and unconnected
with the realization of Nibbana, is a single verse, if on hearing it one is
The Story of Bahiyadaruciriya
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (101) of
this book, with reference to Bahiyadaruciriya.
A group of merchants went out to sea in a boat; their boat was wrecked at sea
and all, except one, died. The only survivor got hold of a plank and eventually
came to land at the port of Supparaka. As he was naked, he tied the plank to his
body, got hold of a bowl, and sat in a place where people could see him.
Passers-by gave him rice and gruel; some took him for an arahat and talked in
praise of him. Some brought clothes for him to wear but he refused, fearing that
by wearing clothes, people would give less to him. Besides, because some said
that he was an arahat, he mistakenly came to think that he really was one. Thus,
because he was a man of wrong views who was wearing a piece of wood as his
clothing, he came to be known as Bahiyadaruciriya.
At about this time, Mahabrahma, who had been his friend in one of his
previous existences, saw him going astray and felt that it was his duty to put
Bahiya on the right path. So, Mahabrahma came to him in the night and said to
him "Bahiya, you are not an arahat yet, and what is more, you do not have
the qualities that make one an arahat." Bahiya looked up at Mahabrahma and
said, "Yes, I must admit that I am not an arahat, as you have said. I now
realize that I have done a great wrong. But is there anyone else in this world
now who is an arahat?" Mahabrahma then told him that there lived in
Savatthi Gotama Buddha, an arahat, who was perfectly self-enlightened.
Bahiya, realizing the enormity of his guilt, felt very much distressed and
ran all the way to Savatthi. Mahabrahma helped him by his supernormal power, so
that the whole stretch of one hundred and twenty yojanas was covered in
one night. Bahiya found the Buddha going on an alms-round with other bhikkhus
and respectfully followed him. He pleaded with the Buddha to teach him the
Dhamma, but the Buddha replied that since they were on an alms-round it was not
yet time for a religious discourse. And again, Bahiya pleaded, "Venerable
Sir, one cannot know the danger to your life or to my life, so please talk to me
about the Dhamma." The Buddha knew that Bahiya had made the journey of one
hundred and twenty yojanas in one night, and also that he was overwhelmed with
joy at seeing the Buddha. That was why the Buddha did not want to talk about the
Dhamma immediately but wanted him to calm down to enable him to take in the
Dhamma properly. Still, Bahiya persistently pleaded. So, while standing on the
road, the Buddha said to Bahiya, "Bahiya, when you see an object, be
conscious of just the visible object; when you hear a sound, be conscious of
just the sound; when you smell or taste or touch something, be conscious of just
the smell, the taste or the touch; and when you think of anything, be conscious
of just the mind-object."
After hearing the above discourse, Bahiya attained arahatship and he asked
permission from the Buddha to join the Order. The Buddha told him to get the
robes, the bowl and other requisites of a bhikkhu. On his way to get them, he
was gored to death by a cow which was, in fact, an ogress in the likeness of a
cow. When the Buddha and the other bhikkhus came out after having had their
meal, they found Bahiya lying dead on a rubbish heap. As instructed by the
Buddha, the bhikkhus cremated the body of Bahiya and had his bones enshrined in
Back at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha told the bhikkhus that Bahiya had
realized Nibbana. He also told them that as far as speed was concerned in
attaining Magga Insight (abhinna), Bahiya was the fastest, the best (Etadaggam).
The bhikkhus were puzzled by the statement made by the Buddha and they asked him
why and when Bahiya became an arahat. To this, the Buddha replied, "Bahiya
attained arahatship while he listened to my instructions given to him on the
road when we were on the alms-round." The bhikkhus wondered how one
could attain arahatship after listening to just a few sentences of the Dhamma.
So, the Buddha told them that the number of words or the length of a speech did
not matter if it was beneficial to someone.
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
|Verse 101: Better than a thousand verses that are
senseless and unconnected with the realization of Nibbana, is a single
verse, if on hearing it one is calmed.