Dhammapada Verses 379 and 380
so attagutto satima
sukham bhikkhu vihahisi.
Atta hi attano natho
(ko hi natho paro siya)1
atta hi attano gati
assam bhadramva vanijo.
Verse 379: O bhikkhu, by yourself exhort
yourself, and examine yourself; thus guarding yourself and being mindful, you
will live in peace.
Verse 380: One indeed is one's own refuge,
(how could anyone else be one's refuge?)1 One indeed is one's own
heaven; therefore, look after yourself as a horse dealer looks after a
1. Not found in some foreign versions.
The Story of Thera Nangalakula
While residing at the Jetavana
monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (379) and (380) of this book, with
reference to Thera Nangala.
Nangala was a poor field labourer
in the service of a farmer. One day, a bhikkhu, seeing him ploughing a field in
his old clothes, asked him if he would like to become a bhikkhu. When he replied
in the affirmative, the bhikkhu took him along to the monastery and made him a
bhikkhu. After the admission to the Order, as instructed by his teacher, he left
his plough and his old clothes in a tree not far away from the monastery.
Because the poor man had left his plough to join the Order, he was known as
Thera Nangala (nangala = plough). Due to better living conditions at
the monastery, Thera Nangala became healthier and soon put on weight. However,
after some time, he grew tired of the life of a bhikkhu and often felt like
returning to home-life. Whenever this feeling arose in him, he would go to the
tree near the monastery, the tree where he had left his plough and his old
clothes. There he would reproach himself saying, "O you shameless man! Do
you still want to put on these old rags and return to the hard, lowly life of a
hired labourer ?" After this, his dissatisfaction with the life of a
bhikkhu would disappear and he would go back to the monastery. Thus, he went to
the tree at an interval of every three or four days, to remind himself of the
wretchedness of his old life.
When other bhikkhus asked him
about his frequent visits to the tree, he replied, "I have to go to my
teacher." In course of time, he attained arahatship and he stopped going to
the tree. Other bhikkhus, noticing this, asked him teasingly, "Why don't
you go to your teacher now?" To those bhikkhus, he replied, "I used to
go to my teacher because I had need of him; but now, I have no need to go to
him." The bhikkhus understood what he meant by his answer and they went to
the Buddha and reported, "Venerable Sir! Thera Nangala claims to have
attained arahatship. It cannot be true; he must be boasting, he must be telling
lies." To them the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! Do not say so; for
Nangala is not telling lies. My son Nangala, by reproaching himself and
correcting himself, has indeed attained arahatship."
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as
Verse 379: O bhikkhu,
by yourself exhort yourself, and examine yourself; thus guarding
yourself and being mindful, you will live in peace.
Verse 380: One indeed
is one's own refuge, (how could anyone else be one's refuge?) One
indeed is one's own heaven; therefore, look after yourself as a horse
dealer looks after a thoroughbred.