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The Buddha's Path of Virtue A Translation of the Dhammapada   By:

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Translator's Preface

I. The Pairs II. Heedfulness III. The Mind IV. Flowers V. Fools VI. The Wise VII. The Arahat The Worthy VIII. The Thousands IX. Evil X. Punishment XI. Old Age XII. The Self XIII. The World XIV. The Awakened One XV. Happiness XVI. Affections XVII. Anger XVIII. Impurity XIX. The Just XX. The Path XXI. Divers Verses XXII. The Evil Way XXIII. The Elephant XXIV. Craving XXV. The Mendicant XXVI. The Brahmana

[Note on Pali transcription: [x.] is character with dot under [.x] is character with dot above characters with macron get circumflex.]


The Dhammapada, of which a metrical translation by Mr. Woodward is here presented, is a precious Buddhist Scripture which deserves to be widely known. The Theosophical Society is to be congratulated on securing so competent and sympathetic a translator and on publishing it in a popular form.

The Dhammapada is a part of the Khuddaka Nikâya of the Buddhistic Canon and consists of about 420 stanzas in the sloka metre. Every fully ordained bhikkhu [1] is expected to know the book by heart, and its verses are often on the lips of pious laymen. The beginner of Buddhist studies can have no better introduction to Buddhism and must go back to it again and again to enter into the spirit of Buddha and his apostles.

The Scriptures of the Buddhist Canon are known collectively as the Ti pi[t.]aka (Sansk. Tri pi[t.]aka ), "the Three Baskets or Treasuries". These divisions correspond to the two Testaments of the Christian Bible and contain (excluding repetitions) more than twice as much matter. They are known separately as the Vinaya pi[t.]aka , Sutta pi[t.]aka and Abhidhamma pi[t.]aka , the Basket of Discipline, the Basket of Discourses and the Basket of Metaphysics. These scriptures are regarded with the utmost veneration by Buddhists as containing the word of Buddha ( Buddha vacanam ), and are reputed to have been recited at the first Council held, according to tradition, at Râjagaha immediately after Buddha's death circa 540 B.C.

It seems more probable that they grew up gradually and did not receive their final shape till about three centuries later, at the Council held under the auspices of the Emperor Asoka at Pâ[t.]aliputra circa 247 B.C. The account given of the First Council in the closing chapter of the Culla vagga seems to indicate that the Basket of Metaphysics was then unknown or unrecognised, and that the scriptures were then a Dvi pi[t.]aka (Two Baskets) rather than a Ti pi[t.]aka (Three Baskets).

If the Culla vagga account is accepted, it would appear that at this Council, expressly held by the Emperor for the consecrative settlement of the holy texts, the five Nikâyas or divisions which constitute the second Basket formed the subject of discussion between the President Kassappa and Buddha's favourite pupil Ânanda. The Dhammapada is a book of the fifth Nikâya. The Mahâvansa (Ch. v, 68) carries it back a few years earlier than the Council, to the time of the Emperor's conversion to the Buddhist faith, for on that occasion his teacher, Nigrodha, is said to have explained to him the Appamâda vagga , which is the second chapter of the work. It was therefore known in the middle or early part of the third century B.C.

It seems to be an Anthology, prepared for the use of the faithful, of verses believed to be the real words of Buddha, short improvisations in which he expressed striking thoughts and embellished his preaching. They were current among the early Buddhists, and have been culled from the other scriptures as of high ethical and spiritual value... Continue reading book >>

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