Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 227-230:
porāṇametaṃ atula netaṃ ajjatanām’iva |
nindanti tuṇhimāsīnaṃ nindanti bahubhāṇinaṃ |
mitabhāṇim’pi nindanti natthi loke anindito || 227 ||
na cāhu na ca bhavissati na cetarahi vijjati |
ekantaṃ nindito poso ekantaṃ vā pasaṃsito || 228 ||
yañ’ce viññū pasaṃsanti anuvicca suve suve |
acchiddavuttiṃ medhāviṃ paññāsīlasamāhitaṃ || 229 ||
nekkhaṃ jambonadass’eva ko taṃ ninditum arahati |
devā pi taṃ pasaṃsanti brahmunā’pi pasaṃsito || 230 ||
227. An ancient saying, Atula, not only said today—‘They are blamed who silent sit, who often speak they too are blamed, and blamed are they of measured speech’—there’s none in the world unblamed.
228. There never was, there’ll never be nor now is ever found a person blamed perpetually or one who’s wholly praised.
229. But those who are intelligent praise one of flawless conduct, sage, in wisdom and virtue well-composed, having observed him day by day.
230. Who’s to blame that one so fine as gem from Jambu stream? Even the devas that one praise, by Brāhma too is praised.
The Story of Atula the Lay Disciple
While residing at Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke these verses, with reference to Atula and his companions.
For Atula was a lay disciple who lived at Sāvatthi, and he had a retinue of five hundred other lay disciples. One day, he took those lay disciples with him to the Monastery to hear the Dhamma. Desiring to hear Venerable Revata preach the Dhamma, he saluted Venerable Revata and sat down respectfully on one side. Now this Venerable Revata was a solitary recluse, delighting in solitude even as a lion delights in solitude, wherefore he had nothing to say to Atula.
“This Venerable has nothing to say,” thought Atula. Provoked, he arose from his seat, went to Venerable Sāriputta, and took his stand respectfully on one side. “For what reason have you come to me?” asked Venerable Sāriputta. “Venerable,” replied Atula, “I took these lay disciples of mine to hear the Dhamma and approached Venerable Revata. But he had nothing to say to me; therefore I was provoked by him and have come here. Preach the Dhamma to me.” “Well then, lay disciple,” said the Venerable Sāriputta, “sit down.” And forthwith Venerable Sāriputta expounded the Abhidhamma at great length. Thought the lay disciple, “Abhidhamma is exceedingly abstruse, and the Venerable has expounded this alone to me at great length; of what use is he to us?” Provoked, he took his retinue with him and went to Venerable Ānanda. Said Venerable Ānanda, “What is it, lay disciple?” Atula replied, “Venerable, we approached Venerable Revata for the purpose of hearing the Dhamma, and got not so much as a syllable from him. Provoked by this, we went to Venerable Sāriputta and he expounded to us at great length Abhidhamma along with all its subtleties. ‘Of what use is he to us?’ thought we to ourselves; and provoked by him also, we came here. Preach the Dhamma to us, Venerable.” “Well then,” replied Venerable Ānanda, “sit down and listen.” Thereupon Venerable Ānanda expounded the Dhamma to them very briefly, and making it very easy for them to understand. But they were provoked by the Venerable Ānanda also, and going to the Buddha, saluted him, and sat down respectfully on one side. Said the Buddha to them, “Lay disciples, why have you come here?” “To hear the Dhamma, Venerable.” “But you have heard the Dhamma.” “Venerable, first we went to Venerable Revata, and he had nothing to say to us; provoked by him, we approached Venerable Sāriputta, and he expounded the Abhidhamma to us at great length; but we were unable to understand his discourse, and provoked by him, approached the Venerable Ānanda; Venerable Ānanda, however, expounded the Dhamma to us very briefly, wherefore we were provoked by him also and came here.”
The Buddha heard them say their say and then replied, “Atula, from days of yore until now, it has been the invariable practice of men to blame him who said nothing, him who said much, and him who said little. There is no one who deserves unqualified blame and no one who deserves unqualified praise. Even kings are blamed by some and praised by others. Even the great earth, even the sun and moon, even a supremely enlightened Buddha, sitting and speaking in the midst of the four-fold Assembly, some blame, and others praise. For blame or praise bestowed by the unknowing people is a matter of no account. But he whom a man of learning and intelligence blames or praises, he is blamed or praised indeed.”
Explanatory Translation (Verse 227)
atula! etaṃ porāṇaṃ etaṃ ajjatanāṃ iva na
tuṇhimāsīnaṃ api nindanti bahubhāṇinaṃ api
nindanti mitabhāṇinaṃ api nindanti loke anindito natthi
Atula: Oh Atula!; etaṃ: this; porāṇaṃ [porāṇa]: is ancient; etaṃ: this; ajjatanāṃ iva na: is not something of today only; tuṇhimāsīnaṃ [tuṇhimāsīna]: those who remain silent; api nindanti: (are) also found fault with; bahubhāṇinaṃ api: those who are talkative; nindanti: are found fault with; mitabhāṇinaṃ api: even those who are moderate in speech; nindanti: are found fault with; loke: in this world; anindito [anindita]: unblamed person; natthi: does not exist
O Atula, This has been said in the olden days too–it is not just of today. They blame the person who remains silent. They find fault with the person who talks too much. Even with an individual who speaks in due proportion–in moderation, they find fault. In this world there is no one who is not blamed.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 228)
ekantaṃ nindito poso vā ekantaṃ pasaṃsito
na ca āhu na ca bhavissati etarahi ca na vijjati
ekantaṃ [ekanta]: exclusively; nindito poso: blamed persons; vā: or; ekantaṃ pasaṃsito [pasaṃsita]: exclusively praised ones; na ca āhu: there never were; na ca bhavissati: there will never be; etarahi ca: even today; na vijjati: (such) are not seen There was never a person who was wholly, totally and exclusively blamed. Nor was there any time a person who was wholly, totally and exclusively praised. And there never will be such persons. Even today one cannot find such a person.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 229)
ce viññū acchiddavuttiṃ medhāviṃ paññā
sīlasamāhitaṃ yaṃ anuvicca suve suve pasamsanti
ce: therefore; viññū: the wise person; acchiddavuttiṃ [acchiddavutti]: of faultless conduct; medhāviṃ [medhāvi]: intelligent; paññā sīlasamāhitaṃ [sīlasamāhita]: possessed of wisdom of restraint; yaṃ: who; anuvicca: after enquiry; suve suve: day by day; pasamsanti: is praised
But those whom the wise praise, after a daily scrutiny, are persons whose conduct is blameless, who are intelligent, well endowed with insight and discipline.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 230)
taṃ jambonadassa nekkhaṃ iva ko nindituṃ arahati
taṃ deva api pasaṃsanti brāhmuṇā api pasaṃsito
taṃ: him; jambonadassa nekkhaṃ iva: like a coin of pure gold; nindituṃ [ninditu]: to blame; ko: who; arahati: is capable; taṃ: him; deva api: even gods; pasaṃsanti: praise; Brāhmuṇā api: even by Brāhma; pasaṃsito [pasaṃsita]: is praised
A person of that distinction is beyond blame and fault finding–like a coin of pure gold–no one can find fault with such a person. Deities praise him.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 227-230)
The Buddha’s Routine: In the course of His long mission, the Buddha followed a routine with the intention of looking after the spiritual welfare of the many in the most supreme manner possible. He met a variety of persons such as kings, ministers, men of business, traders and men and women who could be described as ordinary. He expounded the Dhamma according to the need and the capacity of those persons he met, as in the instance of Atula in these verses. How he spent his days is recounted in Buddhist literature at some length.
During the first twenty years of His ministry, the Buddha spent the rainy seasons at the following places:
- 1st–Isipatana in Benāres;
- 2nd–Veluvana in Rājagaha;
- 3rd–Veluvana in Rājagaha;
- 4th–Veluvana in Rājagaha;
- 5th–Mahāvana in Vesāli, at the Great Hall;
- 6th–Mankula Pabbata;
- 7th–Tāvatimsa heaven;
- 8th–Bhesakāla Vana near Suṃsumāra Giri in Bhagga District;
- 10th–Pārileyyaka forest;
- 11th–Nāla, a brāhmin village;
- 13th–Cāliya Pabbata;
- 14th–Jetavana in Sāvatthi;
- 18th–Cāliya Pabbata;
- 19th–Cāliya Pabbata;
From the twenty-first year of His ministry, the Buddha spent the rainy seasons (vassa) until His last year at the Jetavana Monastery and the Pubbārāma Monastery in Sāvatthi, due to the great virtues of Anāthapiṇḍika and Visākhā, the respective donors of the two places. The last year was spent at Vesāli.
When the Buddha spent the night at Jetavana the next morning He would, in the company of the fraternity of monks, enter the City of Sāvatthi from the southern gate for the alms-round and depart from the eastern gate. Then He would enter the Pubbārāma to spend the day. When the night was spent at the Pubbārāma, the Buddha would, next morning, enter the city through the eastern gate for His alms-round and depart from the southern gate to spend the day at the Jetavana Monastery.
As for the Buddha, He had no fruitless pursuit, for such fruitless pursuits, if any, were over with the attainment of enlightenment at the foot of the Bodhi-tree. So the day was divided by the Buddha into five parts for His activities, namely, the morning, the afternoon, the first watch of the night, the second watch of the night, and the last watch of the night.
The Buddha rose early in the morning and attended to His bodily needs, such as washing His face. He waited in retirement until the time to go on the alms-round and when it was time to go out He would put on robes and belt and, taking the bowl, would set out from the monastery to a village or a suburb. Sometimes, the Buddha went alone and sometimes He was accompanied by monks. Some days the journey was ordinary.
Thus, in front of the Buddha there were fragrant breezes and clouds came down as mist to stop the rising of dust, and sometimes to form canopies. The road was strewn with flowers by the winds. Elevations and depressions of the road were levelled up for the comfort of the feet of the Buddha.
As the Buddha set his right foot in the city, six rays would emanated from His body, pervading the city and illuminating the mansions and other buildings. Elephants, horses, and birds sent forth sweet sounds. Melodious notes issue forth from musical instruments such as drums and flutes, and from the ornaments of the people.
By those signs the people come to know of the arrival of the Buddha, and they dressed themselves well, and came out on to the streets from their houses with flowers and perfumes in hand. They gave their respect to the Buddha and asked for a certain number of monks–such as ten, twenty or a hundred– to be treated. They would take the bowl of the Buddha and conduct Him to a seat and offer alms.
After the meal, the Buddha preached to them the doctrine according to the respective states of mind of the people. Some of them took refuge in the Triple Gem; some people observed the Five Precepts; and others reached the different higher paths. Some entered the Sangha and attained sanctification. Then the Buddha went back to the monastery and sat on the seat prepared for Him. Until the monks finished taking their meals, the Buddha would wait in the perfumed chamber. This was His daily routine for the morning.
After entering the perfumed chamber, the Buddha would wash His feet and, standing on the stage at the gem-set staircase, would admonish the monks thus: “Monks, provide for your salvation earnestly. Rare is the birth of a Buddha in this world; rare is birth as a human being; rare is birth as an accomplished man;rare is ordination; and rare is the opportunity to learn the doctrine.”
Some monks asked for meditation topics. The Buddha would give them subjects according to their character. All the monks saluted the Buddha and proceeded to their respective places of stay for the day and for the night. Some went to the forest. Some went to the feet of trees. Some went to mountains, and there are some who went to deva worlds.
The Buddha remained in the perfumed chamber, and if He wished He would lie down for a while on His right side in the pose of a lion, conscious and mindful. After the body was relaxed He would get up and survey the world. The people who offered alms in the morning would outfit themselves neatly, and come to the monastery with flowers and perfumes. The Buddha would go to the preaching hall and preach a discourse to suit the time and the occasion. After the discourse was over, the audience would salute the Buddha and depart. Thus was the Buddha’s afternoon.
When the teaching in the afternoon was over, if the Buddha wished to bathe, He would enter the bath room and wash His body with water supplied by an attendant. Then the attendant would prepare the seat of the Buddha in His study in the perfumed chamber. The Buddha would dress Himself in a red robe, and occupy the seat. There He would remain in silence for a moment, before the monks came to Him with their problems. Some of them asked questions; some asked for meditation topics; some wished to hear a discourse, and the Buddha would comply with their requests. Thus was spent the first watch of the night.
After the monks took leave of the Buddha in the middle watch of the night, the deities of the universes came to the Buddha and asked questions according to their needs, with some asking even questions of four lines. The Buddha spent the middle watch of the night answering their questions and solving their riddles.
The last watch of the night is divided into three. In the first part, the Buddha relaxed by walking up and down. In the second part, He lay down in the perfumed chamber, conscious and mindful in the pose of a lion. In the last part of the last watch of the night the Buddha would sit up and survey the world with the awakened eye to see the individuals who had accomplished meritorious acts such as morality and charity during the times of the earlier Buddhas.