Just as an evil thought is followed by suffering, so also pure thought is followed by happiness. Those who think, speak and act with pure thought build up good kamma sankhara. Good kammas invariably lead to happiness in the present life and hereafter. This was emphasized by the Buddha in the story of Matthakundali.
Matthakundali was the son of a brahmin who never gave alms. When he became severely ill, his father left him to his fate as he did not want to spend any money for his cure. He removed his dying son outside the house to prevent those who came to inquire after the patient from seeing his possessions.
On that very day at dawn the Buddha saw the dying boy with his divine eye. He knew how it would benefit many people spiritually if the boy saw him before his death. So, while going round for the collection of food with other bhikkhus, the Lord passed by the brahmins house. At the sight of the Lord, the boy was filled with deep devotion and shortly after the Lords departure he died and landed in Tavatimsa heaven.
Reviewing his past, he saw how devotion to the Buddha had led him to the deva world and he saw too, his father mourning at the cemetery. As he wished to teach his father a lesson, he came to the cemetery and posing as a boy who resembled Matthakundali, he started crying. Questioned by the old brahmin, he said that he needed a pair of wheels for his golden chariot and that he wanted the wheels to be made of the sun and the moon. The brahmin pointed out the futility of his desire but the boy said that the objects of his desire were visible whereas the brahmin was mourning for his dead son who could be seen no longer. He asked who was more foolish, he or the brahmin. This brought the brahmin to his senses. The deva revealed his identity and told him how adoration of the Buddha on his death bed had benefited him. He urged his father to seek refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha and observe the five precepts.
The brahmin invited the Buddha and the bhikkhus to morning meal at his house. There were present believers and non believers alike at the feast. After the feast, the brahmin asked the Lord whether there was anybody who had never heard the Dhamma, never offered food to the bhikkhus and never kept sabbath and yet attained the deva world through his devotion to the Buddha. The Lord replied that there were many such people. At that moment Matthakundali deva arrived with his mansion. He told the Lord how his devotion on his death bed had landed him in heaven. All the people were much impressed by the power of faith in the Buddha that had so immensely benefited the young man who did not care much for deeds before his death. Then the Buddha uttered the verse: “Manopubbangama dhamma...” that we have explained before.
According to the Dhammapada commentary, the brahmin and the deva attained the first stage on the holy path after hearing the verse. It is worthy of note that it was just the mere thought about the Buddha that led to the young mans rebirth in the deva world. He did not seem to have any hope or desire for Nibbana. His rebirth as a deva was indeed devoid of intelligence but hearing a verse made him a sotapanna. These two verses from Dhammapada echo the Paticcasamuppada teaching that vinnana is conditioned by sankhara. For the verses say that happiness or misery arises from kamma sankhara, and in fact sukha or dukkha occurs together with vinnana. Again, vinnana implies the associated mental factors and its physical basis viz., rupa. Hence, the teaching that vinnana conditions nama rupa.