Dhammapada Verse 56
Appamatto ayam gandho
yo ca silavatam gandho
vati devesu uttamo.
Verse 56: The scents of rhododendron and of sandal wood are very faint; but
the scent (reputation) of the virtuous is the strongest; it spreads even to the
abodes of the deva.
The Story of Thera Mahakassapa
While residing at the Veluvana monastery in Rajagaha, the Buddha uttered
Verse 56 of this book, with reference to Thera Mahakassapa.
Arising from nirodhasamapatti*, Thera Mahakassapa entered a poor
section of the city of Rajagaha for alms-food. His intention was to give a poor
man an opportunity of gaining great merit as a result of offering alms-food to
one who had just come out of nirodhasamapatti. Sakka, king of the devas,
wishing to take the opportunity of offering alms-food to Thera Mahakassapa,
assumed the form of a poor old weaver and came to Rajagaha with his wife Sujata
in the form of an old woman. Thera Mahakassapa stood at their door; the poor old
weaver took the bowl from the thera and filled up the bowl with rice and curry,
and the delicious smell of the curry spread throughout the city. Then it
occurred to the thera that this person must be no ordinary human being, and he
came to realize that this must be Sakka himself. Sakka admitted the fact and
claimed that he too was poor because he had had no opportunity of offering
anything to anyone during the time of the Buddhas. So saying, Sakka and his wife
Sujata left the thera after paying due respect to him.
The Buddha, from his monastery, saw Sakka and Sujata leaving and told the
bhikkhus about Sakka offering alms-food to Thera Mahakassapa. The bhikkhus
wondered how Sakka knew that Thera Mahakassapa had just come out of nirodhasamapatti,
and that it was the right and auspicious time for him to make offerings to the
thera. This question was put up to the Buddha, and the Buddha answered, "Bhikkhus,
the reputation of a virtuous one as my son, Thera Mahakassapa, spreads far and
wide; it reaches even the deva world. On account of his good reputation, Sakka
himself has come to offer alms-food to him."
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
|Verse 56: The scents of rhododendron and of sandal wood are very
faint; but the scent (reputation) of the virtuous is the strongest; it
spreads even to the abodes of the deva.
* Nirodhasamapatti: sustained deep mental absorption following
the attainment of nirodha, i.e., temporary cessation of the four mental