Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 314:
akataṃ dukkataṃ seyyo pacchā tapati dukkataṃ |
kataṃ ca sukataṃ seyyo yaṃ katvā nānutappati || 314 ||
314. Better an evil deed not done for misdeed later on torments. Better done is deed that’s good, which done, does not torment.
The Story of a Woman of Jealous Disposition
While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse with reference to a woman who was by nature very jealous.
Once, a woman with a very strong sense of jealousy lived with her husband in Sāvatthi. She found that her husband was having an affair with her maid. So one day, she tied up the girl with strong ropes, cut off her ears and nose, and shut her up in a room. After doing that, she asked her husband to accompany her to the Jetavana Monastery. Soon after they left, some relatives of the maid arrived at their house and found the maid tied up and locked up in a room. They broke into the room, untied her and took her to the monastery. They arrived at the monastery while the Buddha was expounding the Dhamma. The girl related to the Buddha what her mistress had done to her, how she had been beaten, and how her nose and ears had been cut off. She stood in the midst of the crowd for all to see how she had been mistreated.
So the Buddha said, “Do no evil, thinking that people will not know about it. An evil deed done in secret, when discovered, will bring much pain and sorrow; but a good deed may be done secretly, for it can only bring happiness and not sorrow.”
Explanatory Translation (Verse 314)
dukkataṃ akataṃ seyyo dukkataṃ pacchā tapati
yaṃ katvā nā nutappati sukataṃ katañca seyyo
dukkataṃ [dukkata]: a bad act; akataṃ [akata]: if not committed; seyyo [seyya]: it is great; dukkataṃ [dukkata]: the bad act; pacchā: later; tapati: hurts; taṃ: if some act; katvā: having committed; nā nutappati: one does not repent; sukataṃ [sukata]: that kind of virtuous act; katañca: if done; seyyo [seyya]: that is very good
It is better not to do an evil deed; an evil deed torments one later on. It is better to do a good deed as one does not have to repent for having done it.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 314)
These verse indicates the evil results of a bad action. The result of action (kamma) is described as vipāka. The following is a brief note on kamma and vipāka:
Kamma is action, and vipāka, fruit or result, is its reaction. Just as every object is accompanied by a shadow, even so every volitional activity is inevitably accompanied by its due effect. Like potential seed is kamma. Fruit, arising from the tree, is the vipāka, effect or result. As kamma may be good or bad, so may vipāka, fruit, be good or bad. As kamma is mental, so vipāka too is mental; it is experienced as happiness or bliss, unhappiness or misery, according to the nature of the kamma seed. Ānisaṃsa are the concomitants advantageous to material conditions, such as prosperity, health and longevity.
The other concomitant of vipāka are disadvantageous, and are known as ādīnava (evil consequences). They appear as poverty, ugliness, disease, short life span and the like.
By kamma is meant the moral and immoral types of mundane consciousness (kusala akusala lokiya citta), and by vipāka, the resultant types of mundane consciousness (lokiya vipākacitta).