Dhammapada: Nagavagga
Chapter 23 — Verses 320 to 333

23. The Elephant


A tusker on the battlefront
Must bear both spike and blade;
And I must likewise bear abuse,
For most folk are depraved.


A steed that’s tamed, a king will mount;
Grand meetings does that horse attend.
Those well-tamed men who bear insults
Are likewise truly excellent.


Trained mules are excellent, as are thoroughbred horses from Sindh, and majestic elephants. But a person who has tamed himself is even more excellent.


By no means using carts or steeds
To final Truth will men proceed;
But, rather, they who’ve tamed their minds.
Tamed by taming, the Truth they’ll find.


‘Treasurer’, the elephant, is standing distraught:
He’s been fastened with bindings both painful and taut.
Though provided with grass, he will eat not a blade -
He remembers the bliss of the elephant glade.


The indolent glutton who gobbles his fill
Like a corpulent porker that’s fattened on swill,
Rolling around in luxurious slumber,
Will enter the womb again, times without number.


This mind went a-wandering in previous times
Whenever, wherever, its pleasure inclined;
But today, using wisdom, I’ll hold it restrained
Like a driver with hook might an elephant train.


Take pleasure in diligence,
Guarding your consciousness.

Evil, though difficult,
Act like the elephant:
Stuck in a marsh,
He just pulls himself out of it.


If you find a prudent friend or companion who is virtuous and wise, overcoming all difficulties, you should live together happily and mindfully.


If you find no prudent friend or companion who is virtuous and wise, like a king abandoning his conquered kingdom, live alone, like an elephant in Elephant Jungle.


To live alone is better: there’s no fellowship with fools. Live alone, doing no evil, free of troubles, like an elephant in Elephant Jungle.


How happy are friends when there’s critical need;
How happy are tastes that are easily pleased;
How happy is merit on reaching life’s end;
How happy, all suffering to finally transcend!


Happy, is respect
          for one’s mother and father;
          for ascetics;
          for arahants.


Happy: maintaining one’s virtue till old age.
Happy: having faith that is unshakeable.
Happy: attaining wisdom.
Happy: not doing any evil.


Go to the next chapter

suttas.net     |     © 2008, Bhante Varado     |     Install the Gentium font