Dharmapada Sutra

Sayings of The Buddha from the Pali Tipitaka (Three Baskets) Canon, Circa 100 BCE
Siddhārtha Gautama, The Buddha (563-483 BCE)


Research by
Michael P. Garofalo
Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California

September 13, 2009


Introduction     Bibliography     Links     Resources     Chapter Topics (1-26)     Notes     General Subject Index









Dharmapada Sutra

Siddhārtha Gautama lived from around 563 to 483 BCE in India.  After an intense spiritual quest as a young man, he became "enlightened," and is still called "The Buddha" - The Enlightened or Awakened One. 

The followers of the Buddha collected and recorded his talks and sayings; and, of course, later Buddhists added to these spiritual riches with commentaries, compilations, summaries, interpretations, revelations and insights.  By 400 BCE, there was an extensive collection of handwritten Buddhist scriptures in both the Sanskrit and Pali languages, and some contend (e.g., Georg Feuerstein)that compilations of the Sayings of the Buddha, like the Dhammapada, were in existence.  By 100 BCE there were organized and "standardized" or "approved" collections of these handwritten scriptures, including the Dhammapada. 

The collection in the Pali language, the canonical language of Buddhism in Southeast Asia, is called the Tipitaka (Three Baskets) Canon.  The Abdhidharma and Dharmapada writings are included in the Tipitaka Canon.  After nearly 2,300 years the standard Pali Tipitaka Canon has become very large.  The Pali Text Society version of the Tipitaka, printed in 1877, consists of 57 large volumes. 

For over twenty centuries, the most quoted scripture (Sutta) from the Three Baskets Canon (Tipitaka) has been the "Dhammapada Sutta."  In the Pali language, Dhamma means truth, principles, Buddhist doctrine, law, and discipline; and, Pada means path, way, step, foot.  Sutta means threads, terse sayings, proverbs, wisdom, scripture, holy book, etc..  Dhammapada Sutta is the Pali name for the scripture, and Dharmapada Sutra is the Sanskrit name of the collection of verses.  Thus, this traditional Buddhist teaching text and revered scripture tells us how to walk the path of truth, or follow the path of wisdom.    

The Dhammapada Sutta has a long and vibrant oral tradition.  Serious followers of Buddhism, and many Southeast Asian monks, would memorize the Dharmapada Sutra.  The sayings, or "threads (sutras) of wisdom," were widely repeated for teaching and inspiration in East Asian Buddhist cultures for over twenty centuries.  Many verses are part of the folk wisdom, and some verses are clichés in those cultures. 

The earliest extant handwritten version of the Dhammapada Sutta is on birch bark scrolls found in clay jars buried in a monastery in Eastern Afghanistan.  These ancient manuscripts, called the "Gandhāran Buddhist Texts" or the "Kharosthi Manuscripts" are now in the possession of the British Museum Library.  It has been estimated by archeologists and Buddhist scholars that these manuscripts come from around 100 CE.  

One influential commentary on the Dhammapada Sutta by the Buddhist monk and scholar, Buddhaghosa, circa the Fifth Century CE, arranged the Sutta into 423 verses arranged into 26 chapters, and provided 305 stories or parables which give some context for each of the verses.  There are Tibetan versions of the Dharmapada Sutra which include up to 1,000 verses, arranged in 33 chapters.  Today, nearly all translations of the Dhammapada Sutta include 423 verses arranged into 26 chapters.   

Initially, the Tipitaka Canon in the Pali language represented the Theravada, rather than Mahayana, traditions of Buddhism.  However, over many centuries, aspects of the Mahayana and Tibetan Schools of Buddhism appeared in a number of the sayings included in the later Dhammapada and Udanavarga compilations in other languages.  For example, vivid ideas of rewards in heaven and punishment in hell are more rooted in the lay person's Mahayana traditions, as well as Hindu and Islamic religions, rather than the early Theravada Buddhism.  Even the Buddha himself kept a polite silence about supernatural realms, so as to avoid theological disagreements that did not contribute to the quest for enlightenment.  On the other hand, the Dhammapada still lacks emphasis upon the Mahayana vision of bodhicitta - the altruistic motivation to become a Buddha for the sake of others.  

There are many translations of the Dhammapada Scripture from the Pali or Sanskrit languages into the English language, and, of course, into all other major languages.   One of the earliest published translations of the Dhammapada Sutta from the Pali language into the English language was prepared by the scholar Friedrich Max Müller in 1869.  There is a Tibetan version of the Dharmapada Sutra, from Sanskrit sources, called the Udanavarga, compiled by a scholar-monk named Dharmatrata, from around 200 CE; which was first translated into English in 1892 by W.W. Rockhill.  The Chinese version of the Dhammapada was translated into English by Samuel Beal in 1878.

In the English translations of the Dharmapada Sutra that I have studied, there are some verses that have considerable literary elegance and poetic force, while the majority of the verses favor a plain and matter of fact prose style.  There is some repetition of specific verses, and extensive repetition of the central ideas, e.g., "do good and avoid evil; or, pacify and purify the mind."  

The primary emphasis in the Dhammapada is on personal behavior, morals, Buddhist precepts, ethics, rightness, personal responsibility, living a good life, control of the emotions and desires, reducing suffering and sadness, and cultivating a tranquil mind.  I have included a number of publications in the bibliography below that deal with these topics, but are not specifically related to the Dhammapada. 

For readers who want a good introduction and informative guide to the chapters, may I suggest The Dhammapada: Verses on the Way by Glen Wallis.  Juan Mascaro's translation includes a longer introduction, in the spirit of R. H. Blyth, with many cross-cultural comparisons.  Osho has given a series of 12 longer lectures on the Dhamapada Sutta.  There is an online commentary on each verse based on Mr. Burlingame's commentary (2 volumes) on the Dhammapada Sutta for the Pali Text Society.  There is also a commentary by the Venerable Narada available online.  There is an illustrated version of the Dhammapada Sutta with a color painting for each verse.  The stories and parables included in Buddhagosha's commentary in the 5th Century CE are best presented by Daw Mya Tin

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Bibliography, Links, Resources
Dhammapada Sutta  (Dharmapada Sutra) 


Access to Insight: Readings in Theravāda Buddhism 

Alphabetical Subject Index to the Dharmapada Sutta  

Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts.    By Reb Anderson.   Rodmell Press, 2001.  288 pages.  ISBN: 0962713899.

Bibliography of English Translations of the Dhammapada Sutra 

Buddha and the Path to Enlightenment: IV. The Dhammapada and the Udanavarga.  By Raghavan Iyer. 

Buddhagosha's Parables.  305 stories and parables in a commentary on the Dhammapada Sutta provided by Buddhagosha in the 5th Century CE.  Translated from the
Burmese by Captain T. Rogers.   Translated by Daw Mya Tin, 1986.

BuddhaNet: Worldwide Buddhist Information and Education Network 

Buddhist Glossary  

Buddhist Glossary - Purify Our Mind 

Buddhist Scriptures Online 

Chanting from the Heart: Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practice.  By Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village.  Berkeley, California, Parallax Press, 2007.  Index, 431 pages.  ISBN: 1888375639.  VSCL. 

A Comparative Edition of the Dhammapada.  By Anandajoti Bhikkhu.  2nd Edition, 2007, 198 pages.   

Commentary on the Dhammapada, Including 305 stories, by the Fifth Century CE scholar, Bhadantācariya Buddhaghosa.  "A 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar.  His name means "Voice of the Buddha" in the Pāli language.  His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation. The interpretations provided by Buddhaghosa have generally constituted the orthodox understanding of Theravada scriptures since at least the 12th century CE.  He is generally recognized by both Western scholars and Theravadins as the most important commentator of the Theravada."  Answers: T"he commentary on the Dhammapada, a text containing stories similar to those of the Jātakas and explaining the occasions on which the verses contained in the Dhammapada were uttered. A considerable number of these stories are found in various parts of the Pāli Canon and several are either directly derived from the Jātaka commentary or are closely parallel to them. The work, by an anonymous author, is usually ascribed to Buddhaghosa. It was apparently compiled in Sri Lanka, as stated in the book, and its date is unknown."

Commentary on the Dhammapada.  By Swami Mirmalananda Giri.  A detailed and extensive commentary by Swami Mirmalananda Giri.  Hosted by the Atma Jyoti Ashram website. 

Commentary on the Dhammapada.  By OshoOsho is one of the names of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931-1990).  The published work of his commentary on the Dharmapada Sutra consists of 12 volumes, and CD versions of his lectures are also available.  You can read, online, the transcriptions of these lectures on the Dhammapada Sutra by Osho: 

    Index to the Lectures 

    Volume 1, Chapters 1-   Lecture on 21 June 1979, by Osho

Commentary on the Dhammapada.   By Narada Maha Thera.  Pali Text and Translation with Brief Stories and Notes.  Both Pali and English language versions for each verse are provided.  Photograph of the Venerable Narada. 

A Comparative Edition of the Dhammapada.  With with parallels from Sanskritised Prakrit edited together with A Study of the Dhammapada Collection.  By ânandajoti Bhikkhu, 2007. 

The Dhammapada: An Introduction   Bibliography of works in English, sources, citations, quotations, links. 

Dhammapada: Essential Teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.  Translation by Dge-dun-chos-phel.  Tibetan Translation Series.  English and Tibetan on facing pages.  Dharma Publishing, 1985.  381 pages.  ISBN:  0913546984. 

The Dhammapada.  Translated by Thomas Byrom.  Shambhala Pocket Classics.  Shambhala, 1993.  113 pages.  ISBN: 0877739668.  VSCL. 

The Dhammapada.  Translated with an introduction by Eknath Easwaran.  Classics of Indian Spirituality.  Nilgiri Press, 2nd Edition, 2007.  256 pages.  ISBN: 1586380206. 

.  Translated into Pali by dGe'dun Chos-'phal. Translated into English from the Tibetan by Dharma Publishing staff.  Berkeley, CA: Dharma Publishing, 1985.

The Dhammapada.  Translated by The Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya.  Revised by Rose Kramer.  Foreword by Tich Nhat Hanh.  Berkeley, California, Parallax Press, 1995.  ISBN: 0938077872.  VSCL. 

Dhammapada: Annotated and Explained.  Edited by Jack Maguire.  Translation by Max Muller.  Skylight Paths Publishing, 2002.  129 pages.  ISBN: 189336142X. 

The Dhammapada: Classics of Indian Spirituality.  Translated with an Introduction by Eknath Eswaran.  Nilgiri Press, 2nd Edition, 2007.  256 pages.  ISBN: 1586380206. 

Dhammapada: Essential Teachings of  Shakyamuni Buddha.  Translation and commentary by Dge-dun-chos-phel.  Dharma Publishing, 1985.  381 pages.  ISBN: 0913546984. 

The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations.  Translated by Gil Fronsdal.  Shambhala, 2006.  192 pages.  ISBN: 1590303806. 

Dhammapada Sutta.  Translated by W. D. C. Wagiswara and K. L. Saunders.  The Buddha's "Way of Virtue"; edited by L. Cranmer-Byng and S. A. Kapadia.  A translation of the Dhammapada from the Pali text by W. D. C. Wagiswara and K. L. Saunders, Members of the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch.  London, John Murray, 1912.  

The Dhammapada: Teachings of the Buddha.  Book and Audio CD Set.  Translated by Gil Fronsdal, Readings by Jack Kornfield.  Shambhala, 2008.  192 pages.  ISBN: 1590306414.  VSCL. 

The Dhammapada: The Path of Perfection.  Translated with an introduction by Juan Mascaro.  New York, Penguin Classics Books, 1973.  93 pages.  ISBN: 0140442847.   VSCL.  This book was the first version of the Dhammapada that I purchased back in 1974; and I have reread this inspirational book many times since then.   VSCL. 

The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha.  A Rendering by Thomas Byrom.  Boston, Shambhala, 1976, 1993.  Foreword by Ram Dass.  ISBN: 978087739661.  A Shambhala pocket classic.  VSCL. 

The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha.  Translated with and Introduction and Notes by John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana.  Oxford World's Classics, Oxford University Press, 1987, 2008.  84 pages.  ISBN: 97801995551330.  VSCL. 

Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha.  Translation and Commentary by Thomas Cleary.  New York, Bantam Books, 1994.  134 pages.  ISBN: 0553373765.  The commentary is quite good and draws on Mr. Cleary's wide knowledge of Eastern wisdom.  VSCL. 

Dhammapada:  Translation of Dharma Verses.  Translation by Bendun Chos 'phel. 

The Dhammapada: Verses on the Way.  By Glenn Wallis.  A new translation of the Teaching of the Buddha with a guide to reading the text.  New York, The Modern Library, 2007.  Translation in 2004, Random House.  Index, 202 pages.  ISBN: 9780812977271.  VSCL. 




Dhammapada Sutta (Dharmapada Sutra)
Online Translations and Renditions 

Dhammapada Sutta.    Buddharakkhita 1985.    Translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita.  "The Dhammapada: The Buddha's Path of Wisdom," Buddhist Publication Society, 1985.    
Source 1     Source 2      Source 3     Source 4    Source 5    

Dhammapada Sutta.  Byrom 1993.  Translated by Thomas Byrom, 1993.   Book 

Dhammapada Sutta.  With explanatory notes, and a short essay on Buddha's Thought.  The Cunningham Press, Alhambra, California, 1955. 

Dhammapada Sutta.  Translation Albert J. Edmunds, 1902.  "Hymns of the Faith," Being an Ancient Anthology Preserved in the Short Collection of the Sacred Scriptures of the
Buddhists.  Chicago, Open Court Publishing, 1902.  Some interesting comments in the introduction about the Chinese versions of the Dharmapada Sutra.  Includes a glossary,
notes and index.   Source 1     Source 2    

Dhammapada Sutta.  Compiled by E-Sangha Buddhism Portal.  Source for the translation in English is not provided. 

Dhammapada Sutta.  Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo.  First posted in August of 2009.  Includes selected translations, a general subject index, a chapter index, an introduction, notes, a detailed bibliography, and commentaries on the verses.  Hosted by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California.   

Dhammapada Sutta.  An Illustrated Version with color paintings for each verse. 

Dhammapada Sutra.  Interfaith Version.  Translator not listed. 

Dhammapada Sutta.  Jung 2009.  Translated by Chng Tiak Jung and Tan Chade Meng.   The Path of the Dhamma.  

Dhammapada Sutta.  Kaviratna 1980.  Translated by Harischandra Kaviratna, 1980.  "Dhammapada, Wisdom of the Buddha.  Theosophical University Press Online Edition. 

Dhammapada Sutta.  Translated by P. Lal.    Source 2

Dhammapada Sutta.  Mascaro 1973.  Translated by Mascaro, Juan, 1973.  "Dhammapada." Penguin Classics Books, 1973.  96 pages.  ISBN: 0140442847.   The online version includes selected verses.  This book was the first version of the Dhammapada that I purchased back in 1974; and I have reread this inspirational book many times since then. 

Dhammapada Sutta.   Narada 1959.   Translated by the Venerable Nārada, Narada Maha Thera (1898-1983).  "Dharmapada Sutra."  Published by John Murray in 1959.    Source 1     Source 2    Source 3     [Source 4: Includes a hypertext glossary.]     [Source 5: This website includes a rough subject index, commentary on the verses, and .pdf files.]    Source 6   [Source 7:  Includes Pali and English, brief stories, and a commentary by Narada Thera.]

Dhammapada Sutta.    Muller 1881.   Translated by Muller, Freidrich Max, 1881.  Friedrich Max Müller (December 6, 1823 – October 28, 1900).   Müller, M., (1870), Buddhaghosha's Parables, translated from Burmese by Captain T. Rogers, R. E. With an Introduction, containing Buddha's Dhammapada, translated from Pâli by F. Max Müller, London. "The Dhammapada, Translated from the Pâli by F. Max Müller; The Sutta-Nipâta, Translated from the Pâli by V. Fausböll.  Oxford, the Clarendon Press, 1881.  Vol. X of The Sacred Books of the East."  [Source 1: Full Text at Internet Archive]    Source 2     Source 3    Source 4    Source 5    Source 6 Gutenberg Project    Source 7 Google Books    Source 8    Source 9    Source 10    Source 11    Source 12     [Source 13:   Includes 1881 Notes and Comments.]    Source 14.    "
Tr F. Max Müller, in Buddhist Parables, by E. W. Burlinghame, 1869; reprinted in Sacred Books of the East, volume X, Clarendon/Oxford, 1881; reprinted in Buddhism, by Clarence Hamilton; reprinted separately by Watkins, 2006; reprinted 2008 by Red and Black Publishers, St Petersburg, Florida, ISBN 978-1-934941-03-4; the first English translation (a Latin translation by V. Fausböll had appeared in 1855)."Muller's translation is the starting point for most online readers. 

Dhammapada Sutta.   Richards 1993.   Translation by John Richards, 1993.  An anthology of 423 Buddhist verses embodying ethical and spiritual precepts arranged by subject. Translated from Pali by John Richards. Copyright (c) 1993 John Richards, Pembrokeshire (UK) Internet - jhr@elidor.demon.co.uk, CompuServe ID - 100113,1250.  This document was originally distributed on Internet as a part of the Electronic Buddhist Archives, available via anonymous FTP.   Source 2: Sayings of the Buddha     Source 3     Source 4     Source 5     Source 6   

Dhammapada Sutta.   Thanissaro 1997.   Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff), 1997.  "Dammapada: The Path of Damma." 
Source 1    Source 2    Source 3    Source 4    Source 5 

Dhammapada: Verses and Stories.  Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.  Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon, Burma, 1986.  Courtesy of Nibbana.com.
For free distribution only, as a gift of dhamma.  Includes translation of the 305 stories provided by
Buddhaghosa in the 5th Century CE.  Pali text included. 

Dhammapada Sutta.  Vardo 2008.  Translated by Bhante Vardo and Samanera Bodhesako, 2008.  A verse translation. 

Dhammapada Sutta.   Wagiswara 1912.   Translated by W. D. C. Wagiswara, 1912.  Wagiswara, W. D.C., & Saunders, K. L., (1912), The Buddha's "Way of Virtue"; edited by L. Cranmer-Byng and S. A. Kapadia.  A translation of the Dhammapada from the Pali text by W. D. C. Wagiswara and K. L. Saunders, Members of the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch.  London, John Murray, 1912. (Source 1: Full text at Internet Archive)     Source 2 

Dhammapada Sutta.  Treasury of Truth,  The Dhammapada - Text Version Venerable Weragoda Sarada Ther.    Source 2

Dhammpada Sutta.   Wannapok 1998.  Translated by Wannapok, S., 1998.  This translation presents each verse as a quatrain, mostly unrhymed. 




Dharmapada - Wikipedia 

The Dharmapada in a Practical Order, Part I.  An eight part arrangement by the Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen.   2000 

The Dharmapada in a Practical Order, Part II.  An eight part-arrangement by the Buddhist Yogi C.M. Chen.  2000  

Dharmapada Sutra.  Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo.  First posted in August of 2009.  Includes selected translations, a general subject index, a chapter index, an introduction, notes, a detailed bibliography, and commentaries on the verses.  Hosted by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California.   

English Translations of the Dhammapada Sutra in English 

The Five Precepts of Buddhism

Green Paths in the Valley Blog 

"Hymns of the Faith: The Dhammapada; Being an Ancient Anthology Preserved in the Short Collection of the Sacred Scriptures of the Buddhists."  Translation and comments by Albert J. Edmunds.  Chicago, Open Court Publishing, 1902.  Includes a Pali-English glossary and an index.   

Index to the Dharmapada Sutra

Lifesytle Advice for Wise Persons  

Gandharan Buddhist Texts, Circa 100 CE

The Gāndhārī Dharmapada   Edited with an introduction by John Brough, London, 1962.  London Oriental Series, #7.  Titus Texts Online.  English Translation

Illustrated Dhammapada

List of Dhammapada Translations  Detailed bibliography, by Peter Friedlander, 2007.  80 translations into English. 

Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics.   Robert Aitken.   North Point Press, 1984.  199 pages.  VSCL. 

Minor Anthologies, Volume I.  Edited by Mrs. C.A.F. Rhys Davids.  

A New Version of the Gandhari Dharmapada and a Collection of Previous-Birth Stories.  By Timothy Lenz and Andrew Glass.  University of Washington Press, 2003.  296 pages. 

Pali-English Dictionary.  By Thomas William Rhys Davids and William Stede.

Patna Dharmapada.  Critical studies by Margaret Cone, 1989. 

Sacred Books of the East Index 

Sanskrit-English Dictionary.  By Vāman Shivarām Āpte.

Spirit of Gardening 

The Still Point Dhammapada: Living the Buddha's Essential Teachings.  By Geri Larkin.  Harper/Collins, 2003.  Includes chapter introductions based on events at the
Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple in Detroit, Michigan. 

Subject Index to the Dhammapada Sutta

Sutra Reading with Multi-Media Dictionary  

Taking the Path of Zen.   By Robert Aitken, Roshi.  San Francisco, North Point Press, 1985.  149 pages. ISBN: 0865470804.  VSCL.

Taoism (Daoism)  

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu 

The Ten Precepts of Buddhism 

The Tibetan Dhammapada.  Complied by Dharmatrata.  Translated from Tibetan and with an introduction by Gareth Sparham.  With guidance from Lobsang Gyatso and Ngawang Thekchok.  Edited by Beth Lee Simon.  New Deli, Mahayana Publications, 1983.  198 pages.  ISBN: 0861710126.  [Also, "The Tibetan Dhammapada: Sayings of the Buddha."  A translation of the Tibetan version of the Udanvarga.  Complied by Dharmatrata.  Translated and Introduced by Gareth Sparham with guidance from Lobsang Gyatso and Ngwang Thekchok.  London, Wisdom Publications, Revised Edition, 1986.  ISBN: 0861710126.]   Translation of "Udanavarga" or "Compilation of Indicative Verse."  Dharmatrata lived in the 1st Century CE, complied verses from the Dharmapada into the Udanavarga.  The Udanavarga has 1100 or 1050 verses in 33 Chapters.  Wikipedia: "The Udānavarga is attributed to the Sarvāstivādins.  Hinuber suggests that a text similar to the Pali Canon's Udāna formed the original core of the Sanskrit Udānavarga, to which verses from the Dhammapada were added.  Brough allows for the hypothesis that the Udānavarga, the Pali Dhammapada and the Gandhari Dharmapada all have a "common ancestor" but underlines that there is no evidence that any one of these three texts might have been the "primitive Dharmapada" from which the other two evolved.  The Tibetan Buddhist and Chinese Buddhist canons' recensions are traditionally said to have been compiled by Dharmatrāta."  The Udanavarga was compiled not later that the Fourth Century CE.  VSCL. 

The Tibetan Dhammapada: Sayings of the Buddha - A Translation of the Tibetan Version of the Udanavarga.  Translated with an introduction by Gareth Sparham,  Wisdom Publications, Revised Edition, 1995; Delhi, 1982.  240 pages.  ISBN: 0861710126.  VSCL. 
W. W. Rockhill, Udanavarga. A Collection of Verses from the Buddhist Canon. London 1892: (reprinted Delhi 1982); The Tibetan Dhammapada. Translated and edited by Gareth Sparham, Delhi 1982.

Udanavarga: Der Tibetische Text, Vol. 3.  Journal of the American Oriental Society, The, Jan-March, 1994 by Leonard W. van der Kuijp

Treasury of Truth: Dhammapada Text.  Translated with commentary by the Venerable Weragoda Sarada Thero.  E-book published by the
Buddha Dharma Education Association.  An illustrated version is also online.   

20 Sayings of the Buddha

VSCL = Valley Spirit Center Library, Red Bluff, California.  Mike Garofalo teaches classes in Yoga, Taijiquan and Qigong; and is an
avid gardener and walker.  My blog, Green Paths in the Valley, covers my ongoing interests. 

Which Dammapada?  By Colin Dale. 

ZenCast.Org   Includes audio recordings of the Dhammapada Sutra. 

Zen Poetry


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                             The Gandhāran Buddhist Texts (circa 100 CE)
                                       Held by the British Museum Library
                                 Earliest version of the Dhammapada Sutta






Chapter Topics and Keywords 
Dhammapada Sutta  (Dharmapada Sutra)


Chapters 1-4, Verses 1-59

I.    Twin Verses, Mind, Anger and Hatred, Discernment, Practice, Contrary Ways, Contrasting Pairs, Yamakavagga   Verses 1-20

II.   Vigilance, Watchfulness, Earnestness, Diligence, Zeal, Self-Control, Joy, Nirvana, Appamadavagga   Verses 21-32

III.  The Mind, Thoughts, Citta, Cittavagga   Verses 33-43

IV.  Flowers, Blossoms, Things of the World, The Flowers of Life, The Fragrance of Good Deeds, Pupphavagga   Verses 44-59


Chapters 5-8, Verses 60-115

V.     Fools, Evil Fruit, Ambition, The Childish Person, Balavagga   Verses 60-75  

VI.    The Wise Man (Pandita), The Skilled Person, The Wise, Panditavagga   Verses 76-89 

VII.   Infinite Freedom, The Venerable (Arhat), The Accomplished Person, Arahant, Arahantavagga   Verses 90-99 

VIII.  Better Than a Thousand, Thousands, Sahassavagga   Verses 100-115


Chapters 9-12, Verses 116-166  

IX.   Good and Evil, Avoid Evil Deeds and Do Good, Consequences of Evil, Detriment, Papavagga   Verses 116-128  

X.    Don't Punish or Kill, Don't Inflict Pain on Others, Overcome Desires, Train Yourself, 
        Avoid Violence, Evil Returns Evil, Dandavagga   Verses 129-145 

XI.   Beyond Life, Old Age, Broken Down House, Illness, Death,  Jaravagga   Verses 146-156 

XII.  Self-Possession, Self Control, Propriety, Duty, Oneself, The Self, Attavagga   Verses 157-166 


Chapters 13-16, Verses 167-220

XIII.   The World, Illusions, Neglect, Practice, Lokavagga   Verses 167-178  

XIV.   The Buddha, The Awakened, Restrained, Unbound, Refuge, Buddhavagga   Verses 179-196 

XV.    Happiness, Being at Ease, Bliss, Follow the Wise, Sukhavagga   Verses 197-208

XVI.   Affection, Pleasing, Sorrow, Attachments, Piyavagga   Verses 209-220 


Chapters 17-20, Verses 221-289

XVII    Guarding One's Character , Daily Efforts, Controlling Emotions, Anger, Kodhavagga   Verses 221-234 

XVIII   Impurities, Faults, Ignorance, Envy, Malavagga   Verses 235-255  

XIX     The Righteous , True Sages, Wise Elders, Monks, The Just, Dhammatthavagga   Verses 256-272 

XX      The Eightfold Path, Impermanence, Meditation, Death, The Path, Maggavagga   Verses 273-289      


Chapters 21-24, Verses 290-359

XXI     Disciples of the Buddha, Contemplation, Forest Solitude, Miscellaneous, Pakinnakavagga  Verses 290-305  

XXII    Woeful State , Sinfulness, The Results of Evil, Hell, Nirayavagga   Verses 306-319  

XXIII   Elephant, Self-Training, Fellowship, Nagavagga   Verses 320-333 

XXIV   Cravings , Bondage, Uprooting Evil, Weeds, Tanhavagga   Verses 334-359    


Chapters 25-26, Verses 360-423

XXV    Refine Conduct, Bhiksu, Calm the Mind, The Five, The Monk, Bhikkhuvagga   Verses 360-382 

XVI     A Brahmin, A Buddha, An Enlightened Person, The Holy Man, Brahmanavagga   Verses 383-423  



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General Index to the Dhammapada Sutta
Keywords, Themes, Terms, Subjects, Topics of the Dharmapada Sutra
Prepared by Michael P. Garofalo


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Quotations, Sayings, Insights, Notes
Dharmapada Sutra (Dhammapada Sutta)


"The Dhammapada is only a tiny part of the Buddhist canon of scripture, but it has long been the part most popular, and most translated, in the West. This slim volume of 423 short verses from the Pali Tripitaka is sometimes called the Buddhist Book of Proverbs. It is a treasury of gems that illuminate and inspire.  The Dhammapada is part of the Sutta-pitaka (collection of sermons) of the Tripitaka and can be found in in the Khuddaka Nikaya -- "collection of little texts" -- a section that was added to the canon about 250 BCE.  The verses, arranged in 26 chapters, are taken from several parts of the Pali Tripitaka and a few other early sources. In the 5th century the sage Buddhaghosa wrote an important commentary that presented each verse in its original context to shed more light on the verses' meaning.  The Pali word dhamma (in Sanskrit, dharma) in Buddhism has several meanings. It can refer to the cosmic law of cause, effect and rebirth; the doctrines taught by the Buddha; a thought object, phenomenon or manifestation of reality; and more. Pada means "foot" or "path."  In 1881, Clarendon Press of Oxford (now Oxford University Press) published what were most likely the first English translations of Buddhist sutras. All were from the Pali Tripitaka. One of these was T. W. Rhys Davids's Buddhist Suttas, selections that included the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Buddha's first sermon. Another was Viggo Fausboll's Sutta-Nipata. The third was F. Max Muller's translation of the Dhammapada. (In 1855 Fausboll had published the first translation of the Dhammapada into a western language; however, that language was Latin.)"
The Dhammapada


"The Prakrit Dhammapada was discovered recorded on ancient prepared birch bark. Written in the Karosthi script, it is in the Prakrit dialect generally called Gandhari, after the Gandhara region where early Buddhist art and civilization flourished. The Gandhari Dhammapada has the distinction of being the oldest known Indian manuscript and the only text which survives in this language and script. Unfortunately, the Dhampiya, a Sinhalese version brought to Sri Lanka by Ashoka's son Mahinda, has been lost to history. Despite the destruction of most of the sacred texts belonging to groups and schools which did not survive into modern times, these varying recensions are sufficient to suggest that there may not have existed a single, original Dhammapada text. For example, although the Gandhari text is close to the Pali in length, its contents are on the whole more like the much longer Udanavarga. Whilst there are nearly identical verses which can be found in all surviving versions, yet they are ordered differently in each one. Rather than thinking in terms of a complete original of which others are supposed derivations, one might more profitably think of a dharmapadani literature, a kind of scriptural text analogous to a sutra or a discourse, and see the surviving Dhammapadas as worthy examples of that kind of text cherished by different schools and traditions."
Buddha and the Path to Enlightenment: IV. The Dhammapada and the Udanavarga.  By Raghavan Iyer. 


"Later, after the Buddha passed into nirvana, his disciples met together to recite the teaching of the Buddha that each had memorized.  The reciter of the moment would sit on a throne made up of all the mats of the assembled monks.  It is said that all of those present at the convocations were Foe Destroyers, each of whom had achieved the last body.  These memorized teachings of Buddha were then handed down orally from generation to generation until they were put into written form.  The structure of the Compilations [Udanavarga] is primarily determined, then, by a pattern of oral transmissions within a religious context.  The Compilations are not a single or even ongoing discourse of the Buddha faithfully recorded by a scribe.  Nor does it consist of the words of the Buddha in the order in which they were recited by the Foe Destroyers at that first convocation after the Buddha's parinirvana.  It is, rather, a compilation of verses taken from the words of Buddha and arranged later into a string of thirty-three topics, following a loose but not entirely arbitrary order.  This method of compilation explains similarities between this book [Udanavarga: Tibetan Compilation of Sayings] and the Dhammapada of the Pali Canon.  Although, as W. W. Rockhill has show, all the verses of the Dhammapada are included in the Compilations (although sometimes with slight variations) their order is different.  Also, the Dhammapada does not include some of the verses in the Udanavarga."
-  Gareth Sparham, The Tibetan Dhammapada, p. 18   


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Chapters 1-4, Verses 1-59  
Chapters 5-8, Verses 60-115
Chapters 9-12, Verses 116-166
Chapters 13-16, Verses 167-220    
Chapters 17-20, Verses 221-289   
Chapters 21-24, Verses 290-359
Chapters 25-26, Verses 360-423  
Chapter Topics (1-26)  
General Subject Index    

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Michael P. Garofalo's E-mail

Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California, 2009
Green Way Research has been online on the WWW since 1996

This webpage was first posted on the Internet on August 13, 2009. 


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Comments about the Development Plan for this Website:

This website on the Dhammapada Sutra will take approximately three years to develop.  I started the project in August of 2009.  Phase 1 will involve adding public domain, out of print, non-copyrighted translations of verses.  Thus, far, I have determined that versions of the Dhammapada Sutta by the following translators are in the public domain and/or have been approved for online distribution for non-commercial purposes:  Acharya Buddharakkhita 1985, Daw Mya Tin 1986, Albert J. Edmunds 1902, Friedrich Max Müller 1881, Thanissaro Bhikku 1997, Narada Maya Thera 1959, and W. D. C. Wagiswara, 1912.  If anyone has done a translation of the Dhammapada Sutra they can give me permission to add, I may do so.  Phase 2 will involve reading and studying all the translations I can afford to purchase and/or obtain from libraries to study.   Phase 3 will involve study, reflection, and collateral research on Buddhist ethics and self-cultivation.  Phase 4 will involve adding comments to the verses, including quotes and references to related thoughts and cross-cultural comparisons from other sources and spiritual traditions.  Phase 5 will involve my creating renditions of verses based on my knowledge of the text and the spirit of the sutra.  Phase 6 will involve preparing a detailed subject index to the Dharmapada Sutra.  Readers can expect to see results from Phases 1-6 for a few selected verses from the very start of the project. 

Copyright Issues:  Many publications of translations of the Dharmapada Sutra are, of course, copyrighted by the respective translators and publishers.  I have not included in this document any more than 26 verses from any translator, often less, and no more than one verse per Chapter; or, not more than 26 verses maximum out of the 423 verses in the Sutra, or 6%.  These selected quotations form part of a very large website on the Dharmapada Sutra with an extensive bibliography, links list, research notes, commentary, a detailed subject index, and an organized collection of verses.  This website is not being used for any commercial purpose.  Bibliographic citations and links to all publications that have been quoted from are provided on each webpage.  Therefore, I believe that my inclusion in this document of selected verses from copyrighted publications constitutes "fair use" for academic purposes.  If any author or publisher objects this use of his translated verses, please inform me of their objection and I will immediately remove from this website any selected quotes from their copyrighted publication.   

Hopefully, by comparing different translations, readers will, like myself, purchase a number of different translations of the Dharmapada Sutra.  Having a few printed copies of the Dhammapada Sutta available around your home or office to read for inspiration is a good idea.  Purchasing printed copies encourages scholars and spiritual persons to continue their research on the Dharmapada Sutra.  Also, please purchase a few extra copies of your favorite translation of the Dhammapada Sutta and give them to public libraries, church libraries, school libraries, friends and seekers.  Libraries prefer hardbound copies. 

Again, to repeat, this website is not being used for any commercial purpose.

This document was produced using Microsoft FrontPage 2003, using simple HTML code.  I preview this document with Mozilla Firefox at a screen resolution of 1440x900 pixels.  Readers, of course, can change the font or font size with their web browser to improve readability. 

When this project is completed, in August of 2012, others are welcome to host this website on another server (after basic HTML changes to internal links have been made).  Mirrored websites are a  useful way for non-commercial websites to carry on "the good work" after a website creator and/or publisher has "passed away" from the WWW of  Cyber Space, or has been hacked by pranksters.   


Since I began publishing on the Internet in 1996, I have received over three thousand email messages from people all around the world telling me that something that they read on one of my webpages inspired them, uplifted them, benefited them, helped them learn something, encouraged them, was useful to someone they knew, or helped them in a time of need.  I know that many thousands of other readers felt the same way but never wrote to me.  What more reason than this beautiful stream of kind feedback and wholesome effects do I need to encourage me to continue to make daily efforts to spread good will and positive thoughts around the world, and by hosting and serving up more than 18 million of my webpages.   


"Reciting the sutras, practicing the way of awareness
gives rise to benefits without limit.
We vow to share the fruits with all beings.
We vow to offer tribute to parents, teachers, friends,
and numerous beings
who give guidance and support along the path."
Sharing the Merit

Best wishes to all the readers of this webpage.  May you become wiser, and cultivate a good heart. 

Michael P. Garofalo
   Red Bluff, California
   August of 2009 


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Dhammapada Sutta