Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 168-169:
uttiṭṭhe nappamajjeyya dhammaṃ sucaritaṃ care |
dhammacāri sukhaṃ seti asmiṃ loke paramhi ca || 168 ||
dhammaṃ care sucaritaṃ na naṃ duccaritaṃ care |
dhammacārī sukhaṃ seti asmiṃ loke paramhi ca || 169 ||
168. Rouse yourself, be diligent, in Dhamma faring well. Who dwells in Dhamma’s happy in this birth and the next.
169. Fare in Dhamma coursing well, in evil courses do not fare. Who dwells in Dhamma’s happy in this birth and the next.
The Story of King Suddhodana
While residing at the Banyan Grove, the Buddha spoke these verses, with reference to his own father.
For a certain time the Buddha made his first journey to the city of Kapila, and when he arrived there, his kinsmen came forth to meet him and to greet him. On that occasion, in order to break the overwhelming pride of his kinsfolk, he created by supernormal psychic power a cloister of jewels in mid-air, and in this cloister walked up and down preaching the Dhamma. The hearts of his kinsfolk were straightaway endowed with faith, and beginning with the great king Suddhodana, all did reverence to him. Thereupon there fell upon the assemblage of his kinsfolk a shower of rain, with reference to which there arose a discussion among the multitude. Said the Buddha, “Monks, this is not the first time a shower of rain has fallen upon an assemblage of my kinsfolk: the same thing happened in a previous state of existence also.” So saying, he related the Vessantara Jātaka. Having heard him preach the Dhamma, his kinsfolk departed, not even one extending an invitation to the Buddha. Likewise, the king, although the thought occurred to him, If my son does not come to my house, where will he go?”, went home without inviting him. When he reached the royal residence, however, he caused rice-gruel and other kinds of food to be prepared for twenty thousand monks, and likewise seats to be provided for them.
On the following day, as the Buddha entered the city to receive alms, he considered within himself, “Did the Buddhas of the past, upon entering the city of their father, straightaway enter the house of their kinsfolk, or did they go from house to house in regular order receiving alms?” Perceiving that they always went from house to house, the Buddha, likewise, began at the first house and went from house to house receiving alms. They brought word of this to the king. The king went quickly out of his residence, adjusting his cloak as he went, and prostrating himself before the Buddha, said, “Son, why do you mortify me? I am overwhelmed with shame to see you going from house to house receiving alms. In this very city where you used to go in a golden carriage it would be improper for you to go from house to house in a golden litter receiving alms. Why do you put me to shame?” “Great king, I am not putting you to shame: I am merely keeping up the tradition of my lineage.” “But, my dear son, is it a tradition of my lineage to gain a livelihood by going from house to house receiving alms?” “No, great king, that is not a tradition of your lineage. But it is a tradition of my lineage, for countless thousands of Buddhas have gone from house to house receiving alms, and have so gained their sustenance.”
Explanatory Translation (Verse 168)
uttiṭṭhe nappamajjeyya dhammaṃ sucaritaṃ care
dhammacāri asmiṃ loke paramhi ca sukhaṃ seti
uttiṭṭhe: wake up to reality; nappamajjeyya: do not be deluded; dhammaṃ [dhamma]: in reality; sucaritaṃ care: live correctly; dhammacāri: one who lives realistically; asmiṃ loke: in this world;paramhi ca: and in the next; sukhaṃ [sukha]: in comfort; seti: lives
Wake up to reality: do not be deluded. Live in accordance with reality. The realistic person lives happily in this world and in the next.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 169)
dhammaṃ sucaritaṃ care naṃ duccaritaṃ na care
dhammacāri asmiṃ loke paramhi ca sukhaṃ seti
dhammaṃ [dhamma]: within reality; sucaritaṃ care: live correctly; naṃ: that; duccaritaṃ [duccarita]: in a wrong way; na care: do not live; dhammacāri: he who lives realistically; asmiṃ loke: in this world; paramhi ca: and in the next; sukhaṃ [sukha]: in comfort; seti: lives
Practice the dhamma to perfection. Do not practice it in a bad, faulty manner. He who follows the teaching in the proper manner will live in peace and comfort both in this world and in the next.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 168-169)
King Suddhodana: News that the Buddha was residing at Rājagaha and was preaching the Dhamma reached the ears of the aged King Suddhodana, and his anxiety to see his enlightened son grew stronger. On nine successive occasions he sent nine courtiers, each with a large following, to invite the Buddha to Kapilavatthu. Contrary to his expectations, they all heard the Dhamma and, attaining arahatship, entered the Sangha. Since arahats were indifferent to worldly things they did not convey the message to the Buddha. The disappointed king finally dispatched another faithful courtier, Kāludāyi, who was a playmate of the Buddha, Like the rest he also had the good fortune to attain arahatship and joined the Sangha. But, unlike the others, he conveyed the message to the Buddha, and persuaded Him to visit His aged royal father. As the season was most suitable for travelling, the Buddha, attended by a large retinue of disciples, journeyed in slow stages delivering the Dhamma on the way, and in due course arrived at Kapilavatthu in two months.
Arrangements were made for Him to reside at the Park of Nigrodha, a Sākya. The conceited elderly Sākyas, thinking to themselves, “He is our younger brother, our nephew, our grandson,” said to the young princes: “You do him obeisance: we will sit behind you.” As they sat without paying Him due reverence he subdued their pride by rising into the air and issued water and heat from his body. The king, seeing this wonderful phenomenon, saluted Him immediately, saying that it was his third salutation. He saluted Him for the first time when he saw the infant prince’s feet rest on the head of ascetic Asita whom he wanted the child to revere. His second salutation took place at the ploughing festival when he saw the infant prince seated cross-legged on the couch, absorbed in meditation. All the Sākyas were then compelled to pay Him due reverence.
Thereupon the Buddha came down from the sky and sat on the seat prepared for him. The humbled relatives took their seats eager to listen to His Teachings. At this moment an unexpected shower of rain fell upon the Sākya kinsfolk. The occurrence of this strange phenomenon resulted in a discussion amongst themselves. Then the Buddha preached the Vessantara Jātaka to show that a similar incident took place in the presence of His relatives in a previous birth. The Sākyas were delighted with the discourse, and they departed, not knowing that it was their duty to invite the Buddha and the disciples for the noonday meal. It did not occur to the king to invite the Buddha, although he thought to himself. “If my son does not come to my house, where will he go?” Reaching home, he made ready several kinds of food expecting their arrival in the palace.
As there was no special invitation for the noon-day meal on the following day, the Buddha and His disciples got ready for their usual almsround. Before proceeding He considered to Himself: “Did the sages of the past, upon entering the city of their kinsfolk, straightaway enter the houses of the relatives, or did they go from house to house in regular order receiving alms?” Perceiving that they did so from house to house, the Buddha went in the streets of Kapilavatthu seeking alms. On hearing of this seemingly disgraceful conduct of the Buddha from his daughter-in-law Yasodharā, perturbed in mind, he hurried to the Buddha and, saluting Him, Said, “Son, why do you ruin me? I am overwhelmed with shame to see you begging alms. Is it proper for you, who used to travel in a golden palanquin, to seek alms in this very city? Why do you put me to shame?”
“I am not putting you to shame, O great king! I am following the custom of my lineage,” replied the Buddha, to the king’s astonishment. “But, dear son, is it the custom of my lineage to gain a livelihood by seeking alms? Surely ours is the warrior lineage of Mahāsammata, and not a single warrior has gone seeking alms.” “O great king, that is the custom of your royal lineage. But this is the custom of my Buddha lineage. Several thousands of sages have lived by seeking alms.” Standing on the street, the Buddha then advised the king thus: “Be not heedless in standing at a door for alms. Lead a righteous life. The righteous live happily both in this world and in the next.” Hearing it, the king realized the Teaching and attained the first stage of sainthood. Immediately after, he took the Buddha’s bowl and, conducting Him and His disciples to the palace, served them with choice food. At the close of the meal the Buddha again exhorted him thus: “Lead a righteous life, and not one that is corrupt. The righteous live happily both in this world and in the next.”
Thereupon the king attained the second stage of sainthood (sakadāgāmi) and Pajāpati Gotami attained the first stage of sainthood (sotāpatti). On a later occasion when it was related to the Buddha that the king refused to believe that his son had died owing to his severe austerities without achieving his goal, the Buddha preached the Dhammapāla Jātaka to show that in a previous birth too he refused to believe that his son had died although he was shown a heap of bones. At this time he attained the third stage of sainthood (anāgāmi). On his death-bed, the king heard the Dhamma from the Buddha for the last time and attained arahatship. After experiencing the bliss of emancipation for seven days, he passed away as a lay arahat when the Buddha was about forty years old. King Suddhodana had the greatest affection for his son Prince Siddhattha. Some traditions record seven dreams dreamt by the king, just before Prince Siddhattha saw the four presages, and renounced the lay-life.
These are the dreams:
(1) Innumerable crowds of people gathered around a great imperial banner like that of Indra, and they, lifting it and holding it up, proceeded to carry it through Kapilavatthu, and finally went from the city by the Eastern Gate:
(2) Prince Siddhatha riding on a royal chariot drawn by great elephants passed through the Southern Gate:
(3) The Prince seated in a very magnificent four-horsed chariot again proceeded through the Western Gate:
(4) A magnificently jewelled discus flew through the air, and proceeded through the Northern Gate:
(5) The Prince sitting in the middle of the four great highways of Kapilavatthu, and holding a large mace, smote with it a large drum:
(6) The Prince was seated on the top of a high tower in the centre of Kapilavatthu, and scattered in the four quarters of heaven countless jewels of every kind, which were gathered by the innumerable concourse of living creatures who came there:
(7) Outside the city of Kapilavatthu, not very far off, six men raised their voices and wailed greatly and wept, and with their hands they plucked out the hair of their heads, and flung it by handfuls on the ground.
The Brāhmin advisers of the king, when called upon to observe, expressed their inability to interpret the dreams of the king. Then a deity appeared in the guise of a brāhmin at the palace gate and said that he could interpret the king’s dreams.
When received by the king and requested to interpret the dreams, he explained them thus:
(1) According to the first dream: the prince will soon give up his present condition, and surrounded by innumerable devas, he will proceed from the city and become a recluse:
(2) According to the second dream: the prince having left his home, will very soon attain enlightenment and ten powers of the mind:
(3) According to the third dream: the prince will, after attaining enlightenment, arrive at the four intrepidities:
(4) According to the fourth dream: the prince will set the wheel of the good doctrine in motion for the good of gods and men:
(5) According to the fifth dream: after the prince becomes a Buddha and setting the wheel of the Dhamma in motion, the sound of his preaching will extend through the highest heavens:
(6) According to the sixth dream: after enlightenment he will scatter the gems of the Dhamma for the sake of gods and men and the eight classes of creatures:
(7) The seventh dream signified the misery and distress of the six heretical teachers whom the prince will, after enlightenment, discomfit and expose.