Dhammapada (Illustrated)

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

This page describes The Story of King Pasenadi of Kosala which is verse 325 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 325 is part of the Nāga Vagga (The Great) and the moral of the story is “The stupid, slothful and greedy ones, like hogs fattened on swill, repeat births”.

Verse 325 - The Story of King Pasenadi of Kosala

Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 325:

middhī yadā hoti mahagghaso ca niddāyitā samparivattasāyī |
mahāvarāho'va nivāpapuṭṭho punappunaṃ gabbhamupeti mando || 325 ||

325. A sluggard stupid, steeped in gluttony, who’s sleep-engrossed, who wallows as he lies, like a great porker stuffed, engorged with swill, comes ever and again into a womb.

The Slothful, Greedy Sleeper Returns To Saṃsāra, Over And Over‌‌
The stupid, slothful and greedy ones, like hogs fattened on swill, repeat births.

The Story of King Pasenadi of Kosala

While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to King Pasenadi of Kosala.

One day, King Pasenadi of Kosala went to the monastery to pay homage to the Buddha soon after having a heavy meal. The king was in the habit of taking one-quarter basketful (half a bushel of) cooked rice and meat curry. While he was in the presence of the Buddha, the king felt so drowsy that he kept on nodding and could hardly keep himself awake. Then he said to the Buddha, “Venerable! I have been in great discomfort since I have taken my meal.” To him the Buddha replied, “Yes, O’ king! Gluttons do suffer in this manner.”

After hearing the discourse the king, having understood the message, gradually lessened the amount of food he took. As a result, he became much more active and alert and therefore also happy.

Explanatory Translation (Verse 325)

yadā middhī hoti mahagghaso ca nivāpapuṭṭho mahāvarāho iva
niddāyitā samparivattasāyī hoti mando punappunaṃ gabbham upeti

yadā: if at any time; middhī hoti: if man becomes lethargic; mahagghaso ca: if he also tends to over-eat; nivāpapuṭṭho [nivāpapuṭṭha]: fattened on grain; mahāvarāho iva: like a great pig; niddāyitā: if he sleeps; samparivattasāyī: rolling about; mando [manda]: that ignorant person; punappunaṃ [punappuna]: repeatedly; gabbham: to the womb; upeti: keeps on coming back

The stupid one who is lazy, gluttonous, and drowsy, who just wallows like a well-fed pig, is subject to repeated rebirths.

Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 325)

This stanza was occasioned by the sleepiness displayed by King Pasenadi of Kosala, when he met the Buddha after a heavy meal.

King Pasenadi Kosala, the son of King Mahā Kosala, who reigned in the kingdom of Kosala with its capital at Sāvatthi, was another royal patron of the Buddha. He was a contemporary of the Buddha, and owing to his proficiency in various arts, he had the good fortune to be made king by his father while he was alive.

His conversion must probably have taken place during the very early part of the Buddha’s ministry. In the Saṃyutta Nikāya it is stated that once he approached the Buddha and questioning Him about His perfect Enlightenment referred to Him as being young in years and young in ordination.

The Buddha replied–‘There are four objects, O mahārāja, that should not be disregarded or despised. They are a khattiya (a warrior prince), a snake, fire, and a monk.

Then He delivered an interesting sermon on this subject to the king. At the close of the sermon the king expressed his great pleasure and instantly became a follower of the Buddha. Since then till his death he was deeply attached to the Buddha. It is said that on one occasion the king prostrated himself before the Buddha and stroked His feet covering them with kisses.

His chief queen, Mallikā, a very devout and wise lady, well versed in the Dhamma, was greatly responsible for his religious enthusiasm. Like a true friend, she had to act as his religious guide on several occasions.

One day the king dreamt sixteen unusual dreams and was greatly perturbed in mind, not knowing their true significance. His brāhmin advisers interpreted them to be dreams portending evil and instructed him to make an elaborate animal sacrifice to ward them off. As advised he made all necessary arrangements for this inhuman sacrifice which would have resulted in the loss of thousands of helpless creatures. Queen Mallikā, hearing of this barbarous act about to be perpetrated, persuaded the king to get the dreams interpreted by the Buddha whose understanding infinitely surpassed that of those worldly brāhmins. The king approached the Buddha and mentioned the object of his visit. He related the sixteen dreams and the Buddha explained their significance fully to him.

Unlike King Bimbisāra, King Pasenadi had the good fortune to hear several edifying and instructive discourses from the Buddha. In the Saṃyutta Nikāya there appears a special section called the Kosala Saṃyutta in which is recorded most of the discourses and talks given by the Buddha to the king.

Once while the king was seated in the company of the Buddha, he saw some ascetics with hairy bodies and long nails passing by, and rising from his seat respectfully saluted them calling out his name to them: ‘I am the king, your reverences, Pasenadi of the Kosala.’ When they had gone he came back to the Buddha and wished to know whether they were arahats or those who were striving for arahatship. The Buddha explained that it was difficult for ordinary laymen enjoying material pleasures to judge whether others are arahats or not and made the following interesting observations:

‘It is by association (saṃvāsena) that one’s conduct (sīla) is to be understood, and that, too, after a long time and not in a short time, by one who is watchful and not by a heedless person, by an intelligent person and not by an unintelligent one. It is by converse (saṃvohārena) that one’s purity (soceyyaṃ) is to be understood. It is in time of trouble that one’s fortitude is to be understood. It is by discussion that one’s wisdom is to be understood, and that, too, after a long time and not in a short time, by one who is watchful and not by a heedless person, by an intelligent person and not by an unintelligent one.’

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