Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 146:
ko nu hāso kimānando niccaṃ pajjalite sati |
andhakārena onaddhā padīpaṃ na gavessatha || 146 ||
146. Why this laughter, why this joy, when it’s ever blazing? Shrouded all about by gloom won’t you look for light?
The Story of the Companions of Visākhā
While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this Verse, with reference to companions of Visākhā.
Five hundred men from Sāvatthi, wishing to make their wives to be generous, kind-hearted and virtuous like Visākhā, sent them to Visākhā to be her constant companions. During a drunken festival which lasted for seven days, the wives of those men took all the drinks left by the husbands and got drunk in the absence of Visākhā. For this misbehaviour they were beaten by their husbands. On another occasion, saying that they wished to listen to the Buddha’s discourse, they asked Visākhā to take them to the Buddha and secretly took small bottles of liquor hidden in their clothes.
On arrival at the monastery, they drank all the liquor they had brought and threw away the bottles. Visākhā requested the Buddha to teach them the Dhamma. By that time, the women were getting intoxicated and felt like singing and dancing. Māra, taking this opportunity made them bold and shameless, and soon they were boisterously singing, dancing, clapping and jumping about in the Monastery. The Buddha saw the hand of Māra in the shameless behaviour of these women and said to himself, “Māra must not be given the opportunity.” So, the Buddha sent forth dark-blue rays from his body and the whole room was darkened;the women were frightened and began to get sober. Then, the Buddha vanished from his seat and stood on top of Mt. Meru, and from there he sent forth white rays and the sky was lit up as if by a thousand moons. After thus manifesting his powers, the Buddha said to those women; “You ladies should not have come to my monastery in this unmindful state. Because you have been negligent Māra has had the opportunity to make you behave shamelessly, laughing and singing loudly, in my monastery. Now, strive to put out the fetters of passion (rāga) which is in you.” At the end of the discourse, those women attained sotāpatti fruition.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 146)
niccaṃ pajjalite sati ko nu hāso kiṃ ānando
andhakārena onaddhā padīpaṃ na gavessatha
niccaṃ [nicca]: constantly; pajjalite sati: burning; ko nu hāso: what laughter; kiṃ ānando [ānanda]: what pleasure; andhakārena: with the darkness; onaddhā: enveloped; padīpaṃ [padīpa]: a light; na gavessatha: why don’t you seek
When you are perpetually burning with the flames of passion, what laughter, what pleasure? When you are enveloped in the darkness of ignorance, why do you not seek the light of Wisdom to dispel that darkness?
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 146)
Special Note: In most of these background stories, the utterance of the stanzas by the Buddha results in people attaining sotāpatti fruition. The status of a stream-winner (sotāpatti): The sotāpanna, i.e., the streamwinner, is the lowest of the eight noble disciples. Three kinds of stream-winners are to be distinguished: the one with seven rebirths at the most (sattakkhattu-parama), the one passing from one noble family to another (kolankola), the one germinating only once more (eka-bījī).
(1) If a man after the disappearance of the three fetters (personality-belief, skeptical doubt, attachment to rules and ritual) has entered the stream (to Nibbāna), he is no more subject to rebirth in lower worlds, is firmly established, destined to full enlightenment. After having passed amongst heavenly and human beings only seven times more through the round of rebirths, he puts an end to suffering. Such a man is called one with seven rebirths at the most (sattakkhattu-parama).
(2) If a man after the disappearance of the three fetters is destined to full enlightenment, he, after having passed among noble families two or three times through the round of rebirths, puts an end to suffering. Such a man is called one passing from one noble family to another (kolankola).
(3) If a man after the disappearance of the three fetters is destined to full enlightenment, he, after having only once more returned to human existence, puts an end to suffering. Such a man is called one germinating only once more (eka-bījī).