Dhammapada (Illustrated)

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

This page describes The Story of Novice Monk Tissa of the Forest Monastery which is verse 75 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 75 is part of the Bāla Vagga (Fools) and the moral of the story is “The true disciple should know the path to worldly gain as one and that to Nibbana as another”.

Verse 75 - The Story of Novice Monk Tissa of the Forest Monastery

Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 75:

aññā hi lābhūpanisā aññā nibbānagāminī |
evametaṃ abhiññāya bhikkhu buddhassa sāvako |
sakkāraṃ nābhinandeyya vivekamanubrūhaye || 75 ||

75. Clearly comprehending this the bhikkhu, Buddha’s follower should wallow not in proffered gifts, surrendering instead to solitude.

Path To Liberation‌‌
The true disciple should know the path to worldly gain as one and that to Nibbāna as another.

The Story of Novice Monk Tissa of the Forest Monastery

While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Tissa, a novice monk, who dwelt in a forest monastery.

Tissa was the son of a rich man from Sāvatthi. His father used to offer alms-food to the chief disciple Sāriputta in their house and so Tissa even as a child had met the chief disciple on many occasions. At the age of seven he became a novice under the chief disciple Sāriputta. While he was staying at the Jetavana Monastery, many of his friends and relatives came to see him, bringing presents and offerings. The novice monk found these visits to be very tiresome; so after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, he left for a forest monastery. Whenever a villager offered him anything, Tissa would just say ‘May you be happy, may you be liberated from the ills of life,’ (“Sukhitā hotha, dukkhā muccatha”), and would go on his own way. While he stayed at the forest monastery, he ardently and diligently practiced meditation, and at the end of three months he attained arahatship.

After the vassa (the rainy season), the Venerable Sāriputta, accompanied by the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna and other senior disciples, paid a visit to novice monk Tissa, with the permission of the Buddha. All the villagers came out to welcome the Venerable Sāriputta and his company of many monks. They also requested the Venerable Sāriputta to favour them with a discourse, but the chief disciple declined; instead, he directed his pupil Tissa to deliver a discourse to the villagers. The villagers, however, said that their teacher Tissa could only say “May you be happy, may you be liberated from the ills of life,” and asked the chief disciple to assign another monk in his place. But the Venerable Sāriputta insisted that Tissa should deliver a discourse on the Dhamma, and said to Tissa, “Tissa, talk to them about the Dhamma and show them how to gain happiness and how to be liberated from the ills of life.”

Thus, in obedience to his teacher, Novice Monk Tissa went up the platform to deliver his discourse. He explained to the audience the meaning of the aggregates (khandhās), sense bases and sense objects (āyatanas), elements of the perpetuation of the Teaching (Bodhipakkhiya), the path leading to arahatship and Nibbāna, etc. Finally he concluded, “And thus, those who attain arahatship are liberated from all the ills of life and have perfect peace; all the rest will still wander about in the round of rebirths.

The Venerable Sāriputta praised Tissa for having expounded the Dhamma so well. Dawn was approaching when he finished his exposition, and all the villagers were very much impressed. Some of them were surprised that novice monk Tissa knew the Dhamma so well, but formerly he had talked so little about the Dhamma to them; the others were happy and contented to find the novice monk to be so learned and felt that they were very lucky to have him amongst them.

Explanatory Translation (Verse 75)

lābhūpanisā aññā hi nibbānagāminī aññā hi evaṃ
buddhassa sāvako bhikkhu etaṃ abhiññāya
sakkāraṃ na abhinandeyya vivekaṃ anubrūhaye

lābhūpanisā: the strategy to earn worldly profit; aññā hi: is one; nibbānagāminī: the path to liberation; aññā hi: (is) certainly yet another; evaṃ Buddhassa sāvako [sāvaka]: thus Buddha’s disciple; bhikkhu: the monk; etaṃ: this matter; abhiññāya: appreciating well; sakkāraṃ [sakkāra]: undue adoration and offers of gifts; na abhinandeyya: should not entertain; vivekaṃ [viveka]: tranquility; anubrūhaye: should be pursued

There is one way to worldly and material progress and profit. But the way to Nibbāna is quite different from that. The monk, who is the Buddha’s disciple, should be clearly aware of this difference. He must not take delight in the worldly gifts with which he is being enticed. He must on the other hand seek solitude.

Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 75)

viveke: detachment, seclusion. According to Niddesa, it is of three kinds:

  1. bodily detachment, i.e., abiding in solitude free from alluring sensuous objects;
  2. mental detachment, i.e., the inner detachment from sensuous things;
  3. detachment from the substrata of existence.

In the description of the first absorption, the words ‘detached from sensuous things’ refer to ‘bodily detachment’, the words ‘detached from karmically unwholesome things’ refer to ‘mental detachment’; the words ‘born of detachment’, refer to the absence of the five hindrances.

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