Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 81:
selo yathā ekaghano vātena na samīrati |
evaṃ nindāpasaṃsāsu na samiñjanti paṇḍitā || 81 ||
81. Just as a mighty boulder stirs not with the wind, so the wise are never moved either by praise or blame.
The Story of Venerable Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya
While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Venerable Bhaddiya.
Bhaddiya was one of the monks staying at the Jetavana Monastery. Because of his short stature he was known as Lakuṇṭaka (the dwarf) to other monks. Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya was very good natured; even young monks would often tease him by pulling his nose or his ear, or by patting him on his head. Very often they would jokingly say, “Uncle, how are you? Are you happy or are you bored with your life here as a monk?” Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya never retaliated in anger, or abused them; in fact, even in his heart he did not get angry with them.
When told about the patience of Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya, the Buddha said, “An arahat never loses his temper, he has no desire to speak harshly or to think ill of others. He is like a mountain of solid rock; as a solid rock is unshaken, so also, an arahat is unperturbed by scorn or by praise.”
Explanatory Translation (Verse 81)
yathā ekaghano selo vātena na samīrati
evaṃ paṇḍitā nindā pasaṃsāsu
yathā: just like; ekaghano [ekaghana]: a solid; selo: rock; vātena: by the wind; na samīrati: is not shaken; evaṃ: in the same way; paṇḍitā: the wise ones; nindā pasaṃsāsu: both in praise and blame; na samiñjanti: remain unmoved
The wise remain unmoved and unruffled both by praise and humiliation. The wise remain unshaken under all vicissitudes of life, like the solid rock that withstands the buffetings of wind, unmoved.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 81)
nindā pasaṃsāsu: both in praise and blame. The ordinary people tend to be shaken by the changing vicissitudes of life. When something goes wrong, they are depressed. When things go well, they are elated. But, the wise are unshaken, whatever the fortune they face.
It is said that the people in general face eight kinds of vicissitudes. They are described in Pāli:
Lābho alābho, ayaso, yasoca,
(Gain, loss, neglect and attention
Nindā, pasansā, sukhaṃ, ca dukkham
Insult, praise, pleasure and pain
Ete aniccā manujesu dhammā
These unstable human experiences
Asassatī viparinama dhammā
Are transient changing vicissitudes of life.)
There are eight kinds of fortune, good and bad, that affect people:
- Lābha: gain;
- Alābha: loss;
- Ayaso [Ayasa]: neglect;
- Yaso attention;
- Nindā: humiliation;
- Pasaṃsā: praise;
- Sukha: pleasure; and
- Dukkha: pain.
These eight are described as the eight vicissitudes of life (aṭṭha loka dhamma). The ordinary masses are shaken by these vicissitudes. But the wise remain unshaken by them. The Wise Ones are aware of the changing nature of the world; in response, they remain unmoved by it. In this stanza, this mental stability is compared to the stability of the rock that remains unshaken by the wind.
The awareness of the wise ones and their unshaken mind, in the face of such vicissitudes, are summed up this way:
Eteva ñatvā satimā sumedho
(Knowing this, the mind of sage
Avekkhatī viparināma dhammā
Closely observes the changing experience
Iṭṭhassa dhammā na mathenti cittaṃ.
His mind not lured by pleasing experience
Aniṭṭhato na patighātameti
What is not pleasing, he does not hate.)
(The wise person considers these vicissitudes carefully and notes that they are subject to fluctuation. His mind is not shaken by good fortune. Nor is he depressed by misfortune.) It is this recognition of impermanence that helps him preserve his calm.
Special Note on Arahat Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya:
Though diminutive in stature he had a melodious voice. Among the eight Mahā Arahats, his voice was pre-eminent. Of all gifts, gift of speech is the most precious. His superb voice came next to the Buddha’s, which is compared to the singing of the bird called Kuravīka (the Indian nightingale) of the Himālayas, the king of the birds with a sweet voice. His short stature, from which the name Lakuṇṭaka came, was the result of a past kamma.
Arahat Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya’s voice was deeply prized. In the Bhaddiya Sutta, the Buddha praised him saying that he, though humpbacked and unsightly, was highly gifted and his character was most lofty. Buddha declared that Lakuṇṭaka Bhaddiya was pre-eminent in the Sangha, for his voice.
His voice was vibrating with music,
Bringing men to dhamma’s fold,
Curing minds by the physic,
Though he was puny to behold.