Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 258:
na tena paṇḍito hoti yāvatā bahu bhāsati |
khemī averī abhayo paṇḍito’ti pavuccati || 258 ||
258. Just because articulate one’s not thereby wise, hateless, fearless and secure, a ‘wise one’ thus is called.
The Story of a Group of Six Monks
While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse with reference to a group of six monks.
Once, there was a group of six monks who made trouble at the place of eating, either in the monastery or in the village. One day, while some sāmaneras were having their alms-food, the group of six monks came in and said boastfully to the sāmaneras, “Look! We only are the wise.” Then they started throwing things about, leaving the place of eating in disorder. When the Buddha was told about this, he said, “Monks! I do not say that one who talks much, abuses and bullies others is a wise man. Only he who is free from hatred, and harms no one is a wise man.”
Explanatory Translation (Verse 258)
yāvatā bahu bhāsati tena paṇḍito na hoti
khemī averī abhayo paṇḍito iti pavuccati
yāvatā: just because; bahu bhāsati: (one) speaks a lot; tena: by that; paṇḍito na hoti: he does not become a wise person; khemī: liberated; averī: not hating; abhayo [abhaya]: fearless (person); paṇḍito iti: a wise person; pavuccati: is called
A person cannot be described as learned simply because he speaks quite a lot. He who is liberated and secure, non-hating and fearless is described as a learned person.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 258)
khemī, averī, abhayo: liberated, hateless, fearless. These are the three qualities extolled in this verse. The assiduous cultivation of these virtues will make a man a wise person, but not talkativeness. To discipline the mind in these qualities and to become a true wise man (pandito), one must practice mind training (bhāvanā). The most effective system in this regard is the meditation on mettā. The word maitrī, or mettā, means loving-kindness. Accordingly, the form of meditation which helps one to acquire the ability to consider all beings in this world, including animals, as one’s friends is mettā bhāvanā.
May all beings be happy, may all beings be healthy, may all beings be well–extension of such thoughts towards all beings whether they be relatives or non-relative, friends or enemies, humans or animals is mettā bhāvanā. Wishing happiness towards humans alone does not mean maitrī in the true sense of the word. True maitrī constitutes the wishing of happiness to the entire world including even the smallest of living things. The Buddha is the supreme example of maitrī in this world. He has shown maitrī equally to all beings of the world, irrespective of their being friends or enemies, humans or non-humans. Maitrī is a merit of highest order. It is one of the four sublime states (brahma vihāra). It is one of the perfections (pāramitā) for the attainment of supreme enlightenment (sammā sambodhi). According to the discourse of khanda sutta no harm could be caused by serpents or wild animals if loving-kindness is extended towards them.
The benefits of mettā bhāvanā are dealt with in the discourse of the mettānisamsa. Therein are given eleven benefits of practicing mettā bhāvanā.
- Comfortable sleep.
- Waking up comfortably.
- Not having bad dreams.
- Being loved by all humans.
- Being loved by deities.
- Protection by deities.
- Not being subject to danger from fire, poisons and weapons.
- Mental Poise.
- Brightness of facial complexion.
- Ability to face death without fear.
- The birth in the brahma world after death for one who has developed concentration and who was not able to attain arahatship in this life.
It is very significant that out of these eleven benefits ten could be obtained in this very life. This meditation is of immense use in order to lead a happy life. The greatest wealth a man could possess is mental peace. The absence of mental peace is mainly due to the presence of enmity in the mind. If this meditation is continued without interruption one can achieve the four transcendental states. As human beings, we are by nature envious of others’ happiness and progress. Therefore, to attain real loving kindness is rather difficult. Human beings are inclined to be happy about the good fortune of their wives and children. This is not real mettā but desire posing as mettā. This is a doctrine opposed to mettā and this tendency should be discouraged.
The real mettā is to wish others happiness without ever expecting even the smallest benefit in return. One should not confuse Mettā with the desire to develop the interests of one’s own family. In addition, without actually having a feeling of good-will towards all living beings it is meaningless to wish others health, wealth and happiness. Mettā bhāvanā bestows benefits on the person who cultivates mettā as well as on the persons towards whom such feeling are directed. Both parties are benefitted only by genuine mettā.
Mettā should be cultivated thus:
Mātā yathā niyaṃ puttaṃ