Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 176:
ekaṃ dhammaṃ atītassa musāvādissa jantūno |
vitiṇṇaparalokassa natthi pāpaṃ akāriyaṃ || 176 ||
176. For one who falsely speaks, who disregards the Dhamma, who other lives denies: no evil this one will not do.
The Story of Cincāmānavikā
While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Cincāmānavikā.
As the Buddha went on teaching the Dhamma, more and more people came flocking to him, and the ascetics of other faiths found their following to be dwindling. So they made a plan that would harm the reputation of the Buddha. They called the very beautiful Cincāmānavikā, a devoted pupil of theirs, to them and said to her, “If you have our interests in your heart, please help us and put Samana Gotama to shame.” Cincāmānavikā agreed to comply.
That same evening, she took some flowers and went in the direction of the Jetavana Monastery. When people asked her where she was going, she replied, “What is the use of you knowing where I am going?” Then she would go to the place of other ascetics near the Jetavana Monastery and would come back early in the morning to make it appear as if she had spent the night at the Jetavana Monastery. When asked, she would reply, “I spent the night with Samana Gotama in the perfumed chamber of the Jetavana Monastery.” After three or four months had passed, she wrapped up her stomach with some cloth to make herself look pregnant. Then, after eight or nine months, she wrapped up her stomach with a round piece of thin wooden plank: she also beat up her palms and feet to make them swollen, and pretended to be feeling tired and worn out. Thus, she assumed a perfect picture of a woman in an advanced stage of pregnancy. Then, in the evening, she went to the Jetavana Monastery to confront the Buddha.
The Buddha was then expounding the Dhamma to a congregation of monks and laymen. Seeing him teaching on the platform, she accused the Buddha thus: “O you big Samana! You only preach to others. I am now pregnant by you, yet you do nothing for my confinement. You only know how to enjoy yourself!” The Buddha stopped preaching for a while and said to her, “Sister, only you and I know whether you are speaking the truth or not,” and Cincāmānavikā replied, “Yes, you are right, how can others know what only you and I know?”
At that instant, Sakka, king of the devas, became aware of the trouble at the Jetavana Monastery, so he sent four of his devas in the form of young rats. Four rats got under the clothes of Cincāmānavikā and bit off the strings that fastened the wooden plank round her stomach. As the strings broke, the wooden plank dropped. Thus, the deception of Cincāmānavikā was uncovered, and many from the crowd cried out in anger, “Oh you wicked woman! A liar and a cheat! How dare you accuse Buddha!” Some of them spat on her and drove her out. She ran fast as she could, and when she had gone some distance the earth cracked and fissured and she was swallowed up.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 176)
ekaṃ dhammaṃ atītassa musāvādissa vitiṇṇa
paralokassa jantuno akāriyaṃ pāpaṃ natthi
ekaṃ dhammaṃ [dhamma]: that one virtue (truthfulness); atītassa: transgressing; musāvādissa: a person who utters lies; vitiṇṇa paralokassa: has given up the next world; jantuno [jantuna]: by such a person; akāriyaṃ pāpaṃ [pāpa]: an evil act that cannot be done: natthi: there is not
The evil person who has given up the virtue of truthfulness has abandoned all hopes of the next world.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 176)
musāvādissa: a person who utters lies. The counterpoint of lying is truthfulness. Learning of the two levels of truth, relative and ultimate, by the practice of Dhamma we become more aware of these, seeing the provisional nature of the first and striving to penetrate the second.
At the moment of Enlightenment, as in the case of the Buddha and other sages, there arises perfected knowledge of this ultimate truth which we may call the truly-so, or seeing-Dhammas-as-they-really-are, so that there is a thread of truth joining together all stages of the Buddhist way. After there has been the experience of Nibbāna then as the Buddha has said, “Truth is without a second.” The practice of this perfection at a more humble stage is seen in the well-known birth story of Vidhura-paṇḍita who having been captured in the forest by a cannibal, so fearlessly set about making the ordered preparations for his own death as to rouse the curiosity of his captor. The latter permitted him to return to his city for a short time as a test of his veracity and although many others less worthy than himself offered themselves to satisfy the cannibal’s craving, Vidhura-paṇḍita himself insisted on returning as promised. The reward of his truthfulness was that the cannibal was greatly moved by his nobility, released him from his obligations and was himself converted to the practice of the five precepts.
natthi pāpaṃ akāriyaṃ: An untruthful person, devoid of self-respect, who has no belief in an after life and who has no fear for the attendant consequences of evil, is liable to commit any evil. Such a person does not see earthly bliss or heavenly bliss or Nibbānic bliss (Commentary).