Dhammapada Verses 143 and 144
koci lokasmi vijjati
yo niddam apabodheti
asso bhadro kasamiva.
Asso yatha bhadro kasanivittho
atapino samvegino bhavatha
saddhaya silena ca viriyena ca
samadhina dhammavinicchayena1 ca
jahissatha dukkhamidam anappakam.
Verse 143: Rare in this world is the kind of person who out of a sense of
shame restrains from doing evil and keeps himself awake like a good horse that
gives no cause to be whipped.
Verse 144: Like a good horse stirred at a touch of the whip, be diligent and
get alarmed by endless round of rebirths (i.e., samsara). By faith, morality,
effort, concentration, discernment of the Dhamma, be endowed with knowledge and
practice of morality, and with mindfulness, leave this immeasurable dukkha (of
1. dhammavinicchayena (dhamma + vinicchaya): discernment of the
Dharnma or Law. It is explained by the Commentary as karanakarana jananam,
knowing right and wrong causes of things.
The Story of Thera Pilotikatissa
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (143) and
(144) of this book, with reference to Thera Pilotikatissa.
Once, Thera Ananda saw a shabbily dressed youth going round begging for food;
he felt pity for the youth and made him a samanera. The young samanera left his
old clothes and his begging plate on the fork of a tree. When he became a
bhikkhu he was known as Pilotikatissa. As a bhikkhu, he did not have to worry
about food and clothing as he was in affluent circumstances. Yet, sometimes he
did not feel happy in his life as a bhikkhu and thought of going back to the
life of a lay man. Whenever he had this feeling, he would go back to that tree
where he had left his old clothes and his plate. There, at the foot of the tree,
he would put this question to himself, "Oh shameless one! Do you want to
leave the place where you are fed well and dressed well? Do you still want to
put on these shabby clothes and go begging again with this old plate in your
hand?" Thus, he would rebuke himself, and after calming down, he would go
back to the monastery.
After two or three days, again, he felt like leaving the monastic life of a
bhikkhu, and again, he went to the tree where he kept his old clothes and his
plate. After asking himself the same old question and having been reminded of
the wretchedness of his old life, he returned to the monastery. This was
repeated many times. When other bhikkhus asked him why he often went to the tree
where he kept his old clothes and his plate, he told them that he went to see
his teacher.* Thus keeping his mind on his old clothes as the subject of
meditation, he came to realize the true nature of the aggregates of the khandhas
(i.e., anicca, dukkha, anatta), and eventually he became an arahat. Then, he
stopped going to the tree. Other bhikkhus noticing that Pilotikatissa had
stopped going to the tree where he kept his old clothes and his plate asked him,
"Why don't you go to your teacher any more?" To them, he answered,
"When I had the need, I had to go to him; but there is no need for me to go
to him now." When the bhikkhus heard his reply, they took him to see the
Buddha. When they came to his presence they said, "Venerable Sir! This
bhikkhu claims that he has attained arahatship; he must be telling lies."
But the Buddha refuted them, and said, "Bhikkhus! Pilotikatissa is not
telling lies, he speaks the truth. Though he had relationship with his teacher
previously, now he has no relationship whatsoever with his teacher. Thera
Pilotikatissa has instructed himself to differentiate right and wrong causes and
to discern the true nature of things. He has now become an arahat, and so there
is no further connection between him and his teacher."
Then the Buddha spoke in Verse as follows:
Verse 143: Rare in this world is the kind of person
who out of a sense of shame restrains from doing evil and keeps
himself awake like a good horse that gives no cause to be whipped.
Verse 144: Like a good horse stirred at a touch of
the whip, be diligent and get alarmed by endless round of rebirths
(i.e., samsara). By faith, morality, effort, concentration,
discernment of the Dhamma, be endowed with knowledge and practice of
morality, and with mindfulness, leave this immeasurable dukkha (of
*teacher: here refers to Pilotika's old clothes and his
begging plate; they are like a teacher to him because they imbued him with a
deep sense of shame and put him on the right track.