Dhammapada (Illustrated)

by Ven. Weagoda Sarada Maha Thero | 1993 | 341,201 words | ISBN-10: 9810049382 | ISBN-13: 9789810049386

This page describes The Story of Kaliyakkhini which is verse 5 of the English translation of the Dhammapada which forms a part of the Sutta Pitaka of the Buddhist canon of literature. Presenting the fundamental basics of the Buddhist way of life, the Dhammapada is a collection of 423 stanzas. This verse 5 is part of the Yamaka Vagga (Twin Verses) and the moral of the story is “Hatred never conquers hatred. Only non-hatred conquers hatred”.

Verse 5 - The Story of Kāliyakkhinī

Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 5:

na hi verena verāni sammantīdha kudācanaṃ |
averena ca sammanti esa dhammo sanantano || 5 ||

5. Never here by enmity are those with enmity allayed, they are allayed by amity, this is a timeless Truth.

Hatred is overcome only by non-hatred
Hatred never conquers hatred. Only non-hatred conquers hatred.

The Story of Kāliyakkhinī

While residing at the Jetavana Monastery in Sāvatthi, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to a certain woman who was barren and another capable of bearing a child.

Once there lived a householder, whose wife was barren. Being unable to bear a child and afraid that she would be mistreated by her husband and her mother-in-law, she arranged for her husband to marry another woman. But on two occasions, as soon as she knew the second wife was pregnant, the barren wife gave her food mixed with drugs causing her to have a miscarriage. On her third pregnancy, the pregnant wife kept it to herself without informing the barren wife. But when the latter came to know about it, she again caused an abortion. Eventually the second wife died in childbirth. Before her death, the unfortunate woman was filled with hatred and vowed vengeance on the barren wife and her future offspring. Thus a feud started.

Among their later existences the two were reborn as a hen and a female cat; a doe and a leopard; and finally as the daughter of a nobleman in Sāvatthi and a female evil spirit. One day she (Kāli Yakkhinī) was in pursuit of the nobleman’s daughter and her baby. When this lady heard that the Buddha was giving a religious discourse at the Jetavana Monastery, she fled to him and placed her son at his feet for protection. The evil spirit was prevented from entering the Monastery. She was later called in and both the lady and the evil spirit were admonished by the Buddha. The Buddha told them about their past trouble as rival wives and how they had been harboring hatred towards each other. They were made to see that hatred could only cause more hatred, and that it could only cease through friendship, understanding, and goodwill. Both realised their mistake, and on the admonition of the Buddha, made their peace with each other.

The Buddha then requested the woman to hand over her son to the evil spirit. Fearing for the safety of her son, she hesitated, but because of her devotion and confidence in the Buddha she did hand over her son.

The child was warmly received by the evil spirit. After kissing and caressing the child tenderly like her own son, she handed back the child to his mother. As a result, there was no more hatred.

Explanatory Translation (Verse 5)

idha verena verāni kudācanaṃ na hi saṃmantī
averena ca saṃmanti esa sanantano dhaṃmo

idha: in this world; verāni: hatred (enmity); verena: through hatred; kudācanaṃ [kudācana]: at no time; na hi saṃmantī: not subsided; averena ca: only by non-hatred; saṃmanti: are pacified; esa: this (is); sanantano [sanantana]: ageless; dhaṃmo [dhaṃma]: wisdom.

Those who attempt to conquer hatred by hatred are like warriors who take weapons to overcome others who bear arms. This does not end hatred, but gives it room to grow. But, ancient wisdom has advocated a different timeless strategy to overcome hatred. This eternal wisdom is to meet hatred with non-hatred. The method of trying to conquer hatred through hatred never succeeds in overcoming hatred. But, the method of overcoming hatred through non-hatred is eternally effective. That is why that method is described as eternal wisdom.

Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 5)

The principle revealed in this verse is clear. Quarrels can never come to an end by quarrelling. War can never end through further wars. Enmity never ends by returning enmity for enmity. Only by giving up anger, enmity, quarrelling and wars can these evils be stopped. It is through friendliness, forgiving and forgetting that enmity ceases.

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