Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 03/23/2021

Dhammapada Memorization: Verse 32

32. The monk who delights in heedfulness and looks with fear at heedlessness will not fall. He is close to Nibbana.

Verse 32: A bhikkhu who takes delight in mindfulness and sees danger in negligence will not fall away; he is, indeed, very close to Nibbana.

1. abhabbo parihanaya: Unable to fall away; here it means, unable to fall away from the practice of Tranquillity and Insight Development and the benefits thereof, i.e., Magga and Phala. (The Commentary)

The Story of Thera Nigamavasitissa

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (32) of this book, with reference to Thera Nigamavasitissa.

Nigamavasitissa was born and brought up in a small market town near Savatthi. After becoming a bhikkhu he lived a very simple life, with very few wants. For alms-food, he used to go to the village where his relatives were staying and took whatever was offered to him. He kept away from big occasions. Even when Anathapindika and King Pasenadi(Prasenjit) of Kosala made offerings on a grand scale, the thera did not go.

Some bhikkhus then started talking about the thera that he kept close to his relatives and that he did not care to go even when people like Anathapindika and King Pasenadi(Prasenjit) were making offerings on a grand scale, etc. When the Buddha was told about this, he sent for the thera and asked him. The thera respectfully explained to the Buddha that it was true he frequently went to his village, but it was only to get alms-food, that when he had received enough food, he did not go any further, and that he never cared whether the food was delicious or not. Whereupon, instead of blaming him, the Buddha praised him for his conduct in the presence of the other bhikkhus. He also told them that to live contentedly with only a few wants is in conformity with the practice of the Buddha and the Noble Ones (Ariyas), and that all bhikkhus should, indeed, be like Thera Tissa from the small market town. In this connection, he further related the story of the king of the parrots.

Once upon a time, the king of the parrots lived in a grove of fig trees on the banks of the Ganges river, with a large number of his followers. When the fruits were eaten, all the parrots left the grove, except the parrot king, who was well contented with whatever was left in the tree where he dwelt, be it shoot or leaf or bark. Sakka, knowing this and wanting to test the virtue of the parrot king, withered up the tree by his supernormal power. Then, assuming the form of geese, Sakka and his queen, Sujata, came to where the parrot king was and asked him why he did not leave the old withered tree as the others had done and why he did not go to other trees which were still bearing fruits. The parrot king replied, “Because of a feeling of gratitude towards the tree I did not leave and as long as I could get just enough food to sustain myself I shall not forsake it. It would be ungrateful for me to desert this tree even though it be inanimate.”

Much impressed by this reply, Sakka revealed himself. He took water from the Ganges and poured it over the withered fig tree and instantly, it was rejuvenated; it stood with branches lush and green, and fully decked with fruits. Thus, the wise even as animals are not greedy; they are contented with whatever is available.

The parrot king in the story was the Buddha himself; Sakka was Anuruddha.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 32: A bhikkhu who takes delight in mindfulness and sees danger in negligence will not fall away(2), he is, indeed, very close to Nibbana.

At the end of the discourse, Thera Tissa attained arahatship.

(2) will not fall away: It means, will not fall away from Tranquillity and Insight Development Practice and is assured of attaining Magga and Phalla.

End of Chapter Two: Mindfulness (Appamdavagga)

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