Acharya Buddharakkhita

The Dhammapada

The Dhammapada

The Dhammapada is the best known and most widely esteemed text in the Pali Tipitaka, the sacred scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. The work is included in the Khuddaka Nikaya (“Minor Collection”) of the Sutta Pitaka, but its popularity has raised it far above the single niche it occupies in the scriptures to the ranks of a world religious classic. Composed in the ancient Pali language, this slim anthology of verses constitutes a perfect compendium of the Buddha’s teaching, comprising between its covers all the essential principles elab-orated at length in the forty-odd volumes of the Pali Canon.

According to the Theravada Buddhist tradition, each verse in the Dhammapada was originally spoken by the Buddha in response to a particular episode. Accounts of these, along with exegeses of the verses, are preserved in the classic commentary to the work, compiled by the great scholiast Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa in the fifth century C.E. on the basis of material going back to very ancient times. The contents of the verses, however, transcend the limited and particular circumstances of their origin, reaching out through the ages to various types of people in all the diverse situations of life. For the simple and unsophisticated the Dhammapada is a sympathetic counsellor; for the intellectually overburdened, its clear and direct teachings inspire humility and reflection; for the earnest seeker, it is a perennial source of inspiration and practical instruction. Insights that flashed into the heart of the Buddha have crystallized into these luminous verses of pure wisdom. As profound expressions of practical spirituality, each verse is a guideline to right living. The Buddha unambiguously pointed out that whoever earnestly practices the teachings found in the Dhammapada will taste the bliss of emancipation.


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About Acharya Buddharakkhita

Acharya Buddharakkhita (1922-2013) was a Buddhist monk and writer. After graduating from the Institute of Architectural Technology in Calcutta, he joined the Indian Defence.

He worked there at the time of the 2nd World War after which he retired to find truth and freedom. He became a monk in 1948. As a monk he travelled throughout India and also taught in Sri Lanka and Burma. Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita is the founder and president of the Maha Bodhi Society in Bangalore, India. In 1956, he was a member of the editorial board of the Sixth Buddhist Council in Rangoon which released a complete edition of the Pali canon.

Since then, he has written numerous books and translations of Buddhist texts published in many countries. Most famous is his classic English translation of the Dhammapada, published by the BPS under the title The Dhammapada: The Buddha's Path of Wisdom. He also edits and publishes Dhamma, a monthly magazine. As an internationally recognized meditation master he has lived and taught abroad and founded the Buddhayoga Meditation Society in the United States. He has also taught Buddhology at the Nalanda Pali Postgraduate Institute, Bihar University. Entirely committed to putting Buddhist principles into practice, he has received an award for the many facets of humanitarian activities in his native India.

You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the way

Buddha, Dhp 276

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