Dhammapada Verse 32
pamade bhayadassi va
Verse 32: A bhikkhu who takes delight in mindfulness and sees danger in
negligence will not fall away; he is, indeed, very close to Nibbana.
1. abhabbo parihanaya: Unable to fall away; here it means, unable to
fall away from the practice of Tranquillity and Insight Development and the
benefits thereof, i.e., Magga and Phala. (The Commentary)
The Story of Thera Nigamavasitissa
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (32) of
this book, with reference to Thera Nigamavasitissa.
Nigamavasitissa was born and brought up in a small market town near Savatthi.
After becoming a bhikkhu he lived a very simple life, with very few wants. For
alms-food, he used to go to the village where his relatives were staying and
took whatever was offered to him. He kept away from big occasions. Even when
Anathapindika and King Pasenadi of Kosala made offerings on a grand scale, the
thera did not go.
Some bhikkhus then started talking about the thera that he kept close to his
relatives and that he did not care to go even when people like Anathapindika and
King Pasenadi were making offerings on a grand scale, etc. When the Buddha was
told about this, he sent for the thera and asked him. The thera respectfully
explained to the Buddha that it was true he frequently went to his village, but
it was only to get alms-food, that when he had received enough food, he did not
go any further, and that he never cared whether the food was delicious or not.
Whereupon, instead of blaming him, the Buddha praised him for his conduct in the
presence of the other bhikkhus. He also told them that to live contentedly with
only a few wants is in conformity with the practice of the Buddha and the Noble
Ones (Ariyas), and that all bhikkhus should, indeed, be like Thera Tissa from
the small market town. In this connection, he further related the story of the
king of the parrots.
Once upon a time, the king of the parrots lived in a grove of fig trees on
the banks of the Ganges river, with a large number of his followers. When the
fruits were eaten, all the parrots left the grove, except the parrot king, who
was well contented with whatever was left in the tree where he dwelt, be it
shoot or leaf or bark. Sakka, knowing this and wanting to test the virtue of the
parrot king, withered up the tree by his supernormal power. Then, assuming the
form of geese, Sakka and his queen, Sujata, came to where the parrot king was
and asked him why he did not leave the old withered tree as the others had done
and why he did not go to other trees which were still bearing fruits. The parrot
king replied, "Because of a feeling of gratitude towards the tree I did not
leave and as long as I could get just enough food to sustain myself I shall not
forsake it. It would be ungrateful for me to desert this tree even though it be
Much impressed by this reply, Sakka revealed himself. He took water from the
Ganges and poured it over the withered fig tree and instantly, it was
rejuvenated; it stood with branches lush and green, and fully decked with
fruits. Thus, the wise even as animals are not greedy; they are contented with
whatever is available.
The parrot king in the story was the Buddha himself; Sakka was Anuruddha.
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
|Verse 32: A bhikkhu who takes delight in mindfulness and sees danger
in negligence will not fall away*, he is, indeed, very close to
At the end of the discourse, Thera Tissa attained arahatship.
* will not fall away: It means, will not fall away from Tranquillity and
Insight Development Practice and is assured of attaining Magga and Phalla. (The
End of Chapter Two: Mindfulness (Appamdavagga)