Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 249-250:
dadāti ve yathā saddhaṃ yathā pasādanaṃ jano |
tattha yo maṅku bhavati paresaṃ pānabhojane |
na so divā vā rattiṃ vā samādhiṃ adhigacchati || 249 ||
yassa c’etaṃ samucchannaṃ mūlaghaccaṃ samūhataṃ |
sa ve divā vā rattiṃ vā samādhiṃ adhigacchati || 250 ||
249. People give as they have faith, as they are bright with joyfulness. Who’s troubled over gifts received, the food and drink that others get, neither in daytime nor by night will come to a collected mind.
250. But who has severed envy’s mind, uprooted it, destroyed entire, indeed in daytime and by night will come to a collected mind.
The Story of Tissa
While residing at Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke these Verses with reference to Tissa, a young monk.
It is said of the novice Tissa that he used to go about finding fault with the gifts of the householder Anāthapiṇḍika, and of the female lay disciple Visākhā, and even of the multitude of noble disciples; he even went so far as to find fault with the Gifts beyond Compare. Whenever he received cold food in their refectory, he would complain because it was cold; whenever he received hot food, he would complain because it was hot. Whenever they gave but a little, he would blame them, saying, “Why do they give so very little?” And whenever they gave abundant alms, he would also blame them, saying, I suppose they had no place in their house to put it;” or, “Surely they should give the monks only so much as they require to support life; so much gruel and boiled rice as this is absolutely wasted.” But with reference to his own kinsfolk, he would say, “Oh, the house of our kinsfolk is a veritable tavern for all the monks who come from all the four quarters!” Thus did he sing the praises of his kinsfolk.
Now Tissa was in reality the son of a certain gatekeeper. While accompanying some carpenters on a journey through the country, he retired from the world on his arrival at Sāvatthi and became a monk. When the monks observed that he was thus finding fault with the gifts and other good works of men, they thought to themselves, “Let us find out the truth about him.” So they asked him, “Brother, where do your kinsfolk live?” “In such and such a village,” replied Tissa. The monks accordingly sent a few novices there to investigate. The novices went there and asked the villagers, who provided them with seats and food in the rest-house, “There is a novice named Tissa who came from this village and retired from the world; who are his kinsfolk?” Thought the villagers, “There is no youth who has left any gentleman’s household in this village and retired from the world; what are these novices saying?” So they said to the novices, “Venerables, we have heard of a certain gatekeeper’s son who travelled with a company of carpenters and retired from the world; without doubt he is the novice you refer to.” When the young monks learned that Tissa had no kinsfolk of consequence there, they returned to Sāvatthi and informed the monks what they had learned, saying, “Venerable, Tissa goes around chattering without sufficient cause.” The monks reported the matter to the Buddha. Said the Buddha, “Monks, this is not the first time he has gone about uttering words of disparagement and empty boasting; in a previous state of existence also he was a braggart.” The Buddha continued, “Monks, if any man is annoyed because others give either little or much, or coarse or fine food, or because they give nothing to him when he has given to others, such a man will not attain Trance or Insight or the Paths and the Fruits.” So saying, the Buddha preached the Dhamma by pronouncing these stanzas.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 249)
jano ve yathā saddhaṃ yathā pasādanaṃ dadāti
yo paresaṃ tattha pānabhojane maṅku bhavati
so ve divā vā rattiṃ vā samādhiṃ na adhigacchati
jano: people; ve: undoubtedly; yathā saddhaṃ [saddha]: in terms of one’s faith; yathā pasādanaṃ [pasādana]: according to one’s pleasure; dadāti: give; yo: if someone; paresaṃ [paresa]: others; tattha pānabhojane: deserved food and drink; maṅku bhavati: becomes jealous of; so: he; ve: certainly; divā vā rattiṃ vā: day or night; samādhiṃ [samādhi]: tranquility of mind; na adhigacchati: will not have
The people give in terms of the faith they have in the recipient. They give in terms of their pleasure. If one is jealous when one receives food and drink, one will never attain tranquility of mind–day or night.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 250)
yassa etaṃ samūcchinnaṃ ca mūlaghaccaṃ samūhataṃ,
sa ve divā vā rattiṃ vā samādhiṃ adhigacchati
yassa: if one’s; etaṃ: this (jealousy); samūcchinnaṃ [samūcchinna]: uproots fully; ca: also; mūlaghaccaṃ [mūlaghacca]: eradicates totally; samūhataṃ [samūhata]: destroys it; sa: he; divā ve rattiṃ vā: day and night; samādhiṃ [samādhi]: tranquility; adhigacchati: will attain
If someone were to fully uproot and totally eradicate this jealousy, and if it is absolutely destroyed, he will, without any doubt, attain tranquility day or night.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 249-250)
samādhiṃ: tranquility of mind. Right concentration (samādhi) is a step in the Eightfold Noble Path. Having the mind fixed on a single object (cittekaggatā, literally means one-pointedness of mind): this is concentration. ‘Right concentration’ (sammāsamādhi), in its widest sense, is that kind of mental concentration which is present in every wholesome state of consciousness (kusala-citta), and hence is accompanied by at least right thought (2nd Step), right effort (6th Step) and right mindfulness (7th Step). Wrong concentration is present in unwholesome states of consciousness, and hence is only possible in the sensuous, not in a higher sphere. Samādhi, used alone, always stands in the Suttas for sammā-samādhi, or right concentration.
The four fundamentals of mindfulness (7th step): these are the objects of concentration. The four great efforts (6th step): these are the requisites for concentration.
The practicing, developing and cultivating of these things: this is the development (bhāvanā) of concentration. Right concentration (sammāsamādhi) has two degrees of development: (1) neighbourhood concentration’ (upacāra-samādhi), which approaches the first absorption without, however, attaining it; (2) attainment concentration (appanāsamādhi), which is the concentration present in the four absorptions (jhāna). These absorptions are mental states beyond the reach of the five-fold sense-activity, attainable only in solitude and by unremitting perseverance in the practice of concentration. In these states all activity of the five senses is suspended. No visual or audible impressions arise at such a time, no bodily feeling is felt. But, although all outer senseimpressions have ceased, yet the mind remains active, perfectly alert, fully awake.
The attainment of these absorptions, however, is not a requisite for the realization of the four supermundane paths of holiness; and neither neighbourhood-concentration nor attainment-concentration, as such, possess the power of conferring entry to the four supermundane paths; hence, they really have no power to free one permanently from evil things. The realization of the four supermundane paths is possible only at the moment of deep insight (vipassanā) into the impermanency (aniccatā). Miserable nature (dukkhatā) and impersonality (anattatā) of this whole phenomenal process of existence. This insight, again, is attainable only during neighbourhood-concentration, not during attainment-concentration.
He who has realized one or other of the four supermundane paths without ever having attained the absorptions, is called sukka-vipassaka, or suddha-vipassanāyānika, i.e., one who has taken merely insight (vipassanā) as his vehicle. He, however, who after cultivating the absorptions, has reached one of the supermundane paths, is called Samathayānika, or one who has taken tranquility (samatha) as his vehicle (yāna).
Mental tranquility is brought about by bhāvanā-meditation. Samatha bhāvanā, the development of mental tranquility with concentration, is accompanied by three benefits; it gives happiness in the present life, a favourable rebirth, and the freedom from mental defilements which is a prerequisite for attainment of insight. In samatha the mind becomes like a still, clear pool completely free from disturbance and agitation, and ready to mirror on its surface the nature of things as they really are, the aspect of them which is hidden from ordinary knowledge by the restlessness of craving. It is the peace and fulfillment which is depicted on the features of the Buddha, investing His images with a significance that impresses even those who have no knowledge of what it means. Such an image of the Buddha can itself be a very suitable object of meditation, and is, in fact, the one that most Buddhists instinctively use. The very sight of the tranquil Buddha image can calm and pacify a mind distraught with worldly hopes and fears. It is the certain and visible assurance of Nibbāna.