Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 205:
pavivekarasaṃ pītvā rasaṃ upasamassa ca |
niddaro hoti nippāpo dhammapītirasaṃ pibaṃ || 205 ||
205. Having drunk of solitude and tasted Peace Sublime, free from sorrow, evil-free, one drinks of Dhamma’s joy.
The Story of Venerable Tissa
The Buddha spoke this verse with reference to Venerable Tissa. When the Buddha declared that in four months’ time he would realize parinibbāna (absolute Nibbāna), many puthujjana (worldly) monks were apprehensive. They were at a loss and did not know what to do, and so they kept close to the Buddha. But Venerable Tissa, having resolved that he would attain arahatship in the life-time of the Buddha did not go to him, but left for a secluded place to practice meditation.
Other monks, not understanding his behaviour, took him to the Buddha and said, “Venerable! This monk does not seem to cherish and honour you; he only keeps to himself instead of coming to your presence.” Venerable Tissa then explained to them that he was striving hard to attain arahatship before the Buddha realized parinibbāna, and that was the only reason why he had not come to see the Buddha.
Having heard his explanation, the Buddha said to the monks, “Monks! Those who love and respect me should act like Tissa. You are not paying homage to me by just offering me flowers, perfumes and incense. You pay homage to me only by practicing the lokuttara Dhamma such as insight meditation.” At the end of the discourse, Venerable Tissa attained sotāpatti fruition.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 205)
pavivekarasaṃ upasamassa rasaṃ ca pītvā
dhammapītirasaṃ pibaṃ niddaro nippāpo hoti
pavivekarasaṃ [pavivekarasa]: the taste of solitude; upasamassa rasaṃ ca: also the flavour of calmness resulting from the absence of blemishes; pītvā: having savoured; dhammapītirasaṃ [dhammapītirasa]: the sweetness of the joy of Dhamma; pibaṃ [piba]: tasting; niddaro [niddara]: unaffected; nippāpo [nippāpa]: blemishless; hoti: becomes
He has savoured the taste of solitude. He has also experienced the flavour of tranquility arising from the absence of blemishes. Enjoying the sweetness of the joy of realistic awareness he is unaffected by blemishes and is bereft of evil.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 205)
Parinibbāna: Absolute Nibbāna. This stanza was pronounced on the declaration of his great demise by the Buddha. The Buddha’s passing away–the great demise (parinibbāna) has been described in great detail in Buddhist literature. Venerable Subhadda, an arahat, was the last personal convert of the Buddha. The Venerable Ānanda desired to know what they should do with the body of Buddha.
The Buddha answered, “Do not engage yourself in honouring my remains. Be concerned about your own welfare, (i.e., arahatship). Be heedful, be strenuous, and be intent on your own good. There are wise warriors, wise brāhmins, wise householders who are firm believers in the Buddha. They will do honour to my remains.”
At the conclusion of these talks Venerable Ānanda went aside and stood weeping at the thought: ‘Alas! I am still a learner with work yet to do. But my leader will finally pass away. He who is my sympathiser.’ The Buddha, noticing his absence, summoned him to His presence and exhorted him thus: “Enough, O’ Ānanda! Do not grieve, do not weep. Have I not already told you that we have to separate and divide and sever ourselves from everything that is dear and pleasant to us?” “O’ Ānanda, you have done much merit. Soon be freed from defilements.”
The Buddha then paid a tribute to Venerable Ānanda, commenting on his salient virtues. After admonishing Venerable Ānanda in various ways, the Buddha ordered him to enter Kusinara and inform the Mallas of his impending death. The Mallas were duly informed, and came weeping with their wives, young men, and maidens, to pay their last respects to the Buddha.
Then the Buddha addressed Ānanda and said, “It may be, Ānanda, that you will say thus: ‘Without the teacher is the sublime teaching! There is no teacher for us…’ Nay, Ānanda, you should not think thus. Whatever doctrine and discipline have been taught and promulgated by me, Ānanda, they will be your teacher when I am gone. Let the Sangha, O’ Ānanda, if willing, abrogate the lesser and minor rules after my death.” Instead of using the imperative form the Buddha has used the subjunctive in this connection. Had it been His wish that the lesser rules should be abolished, He could have used the imperative. The Buddha foresaw that Venerable Kassapa, presiding over the First Council, would, with the consent of the Sangha, not abrogate any rule–hence, His use of the subjunctive, states the commentator. As the Buddha has not clearly stated what these minor rules were and as the arahats could not come to any decision about them, they preferred not to alter any rule but to retain all intact.
Again, the Buddha addressed the disciples and said, “If, O’ disciples, there be any doubt as to the Buddha, or the Dhamma, or the Sangha, or the Path, or the Method, question me, and repent not afterwards thinking, ‘We were face to face with the Teacher, yet we were not able to question the Buddha in His presence. When He spoke thus the disciples were silent. For the second and third time the Buddha addressed the disciples in the same way. And for the second and third time the disciples were silent. Then the Buddha addressed the disciples and said, “Perhaps it may be out of respect for the Teacher that you do not question me. Let a friend, O disciples, intimate it to another.” Still the disciples were silent.
Thereupon the Venerable Ānanda spoke to the Buddha as follows:“Wonderful, Lord! Marvelous, Lord! Thus am I pleased with the company of disciples. There is not a single disciple who entertains a doubt or perplexity with regard to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, the Path and the Method.” “You speak out of faith, Ānanda, with regard to this matter. There is knowledge in the Tathāgata, that in this company of disciples there is not a single disciple who entertains a doubt or perplexity with regard to the Doctrine, the Sangha, the Path and the Method. Of these five hundred disciples, Ānanda, he who is the last is a stream-winner, not subject to fall but certain and destined for enlightenment.”
Lastly, the Buddha addressed the disciples and gave His final exhortation: “Behold, O’ disciples, I exhort you. Subject to change are all component things. Strive on with diligence. (vayadhammā samkhārā appamādena sampādetha.) These were the last words of the Buddha. The Buddha attained to the first ecstasy (jhāna). Emerging from it, He attained in order to the second, third, and fourth ecstasies. Emerging from the fourth ecstasy, He attained to the realm of the infinity of space (ākāsānañcāyatana). Then the Buddha, emerging from the cessation of perceptions and sensations, attained to the realm of neither perception nor non-perception. Emerging from it He attained to the realm of nothingness. Emerging from it, He attained to the realm of the infinity of consciousness. Emerging from it, He attained to the realm of the infinity of space. Emerging from it, He attained to the fourth ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the third ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the second ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the first ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained Parinibbāna.