Dhammapada Verse 174
Andhabhuto ayam loko
appo saggaya gacchati.
Verse 174: Blind are the people of this world: only a few in this world see
clearly (with Insight). Just as only a few birds escape from the net, so also,
only a few get to the world of the devas, (and Nibbana).
The Story of the Weaver-Girl
While residing at the monastery near Aggavala shrine in the country of Alavi,
the Buddha uttered Verse (174) of this book, with reference to a young maiden,
who was a weaver.
At the conclusion of an alms-giving ceremony in Alavi, the Buddha gave a
discourse on the impermanence of the aggregates (khandhas). The main points the
Buddha stressed on that day may be expressed as follows:
"My life is impermanent; for me, death only is permanent. I must
certainly die; my life ends in death. Life is not permanent; death is
The Buddha also exhorted the audience to be always mindful and to strive to
perceive the true nature of the aggregate. He also said,"As one who is
armed with a stick or a spear is prepared to meet an enemy (e.g. a poisonous
snake), so also, one who is ever mindful of death will face death mindfully. He
would then leave this world for a good destination (sugati)." Many
people did not take the above exhortation seriously, but a young girl of sixteen
who was a weaver clearly understood the message. After giving the discourse, the
Buddha returned to the Jetavana monastery.
After a lapse of three years, when the Buddha surveyed the world, he saw the
young weaver in his vision, and knew that time was ripe for the girl to attain
Sotapatti Fruition. So the Buddha came to the country of Alavi to expound the
dhamma for the second time. When the girl heard that the Buddha had come again
with five hundred bhikkhus, she wanted to go and listen to the discourse which
would be given by the Buddha. However, her father had also asked her to wind
some thread spools which he needed urgently, so she promptly wound some spools
and took them to her father. On the way to her father, she stopped for a moment
at the outer fringe of the audience, who had come to listen to the Buddha.
Meanwhile, the Buddha knew that the young weaver would come to listen to his
discourse; he also knew that the girl would die when she got to the weaving
shed. Therefore, it was very important that she should listen to the Dhamma on
her way to the weaving shed and not on her return. So, when the young weaver
appeared on the fringe of the audience, the Buddha looked at her. When she saw
him looking at her, she dropped her basket and respectfully approached the
Buddha. Then, he put four questions to her and she answered all of them. The
questions and answers are as given below.
|(1) Where have you come from?
||(1) I do not know.
|(2) Where are you going?
||(2) I do not know.
|(3) Don't you know?
||(3) Yes, I do know.
|(4) Do you know?
||(4) I do not know, Venerable Sir.
Hearing her answers, the audience thought that the young weaver was being
very disrespectful. Then, the Buddha asked her to explain what she meant by her
answers, and she explained.
"Venerable Sir! Since you know that I have come from my house, I
interpreted that, by your first question, you meant to ask me from what past
existence I have come here. Hence my answer, 'I do not know.' The second
question means, to what future existence I would be going from here; hence my
answer, 'I do not know.' The third question means whether I do not know that I
would die one day; hence my answer, 'yes, I do know.' The last question means
whether I know when I would die; hence my answer, 'I do not know.
The Buddha was satisfied with her explanation and he said to the audience, "Most
of you might not understand clearly the meaning of the answers given by the
young weaver. Those who are ignorant are in darkness, they are just like the
The Buddha then spoke in verse as follows:
|Verse 174: Blind are the people of this world: only a
few in this world see clearly (with Insight). Just as only a few birds
escape from the net, so also, only a few get to the world of the
devas, (and Nibbana).
At the end of the discourse, the young weaver attained Sotapatti Fruition.
Then, she continued on her way to the weaving shed. When she got there, her
father was asleep on the weaver's seat. As he woke up suddenly, he accidentally
pulled the shuttle, and the point of the shuttle struck the girl at her breast.
She died on the spot, and her father was broken-hearted. With eyes full of tears
he went to the Buddha and asked the Buddha to admit him to the Order of the
bhikkhus. So, he became a bhikkhu, and not long afterwards, attained arahatship.