Treasury of Truth (Dhammapada) Chapter 4, Flowers

Verse 44. The Garland-Maker

Who will comprehend this earth,
the world of Yama, and the gods?
Who will discern the well-taught Dhamma
as one who’s skilled selects a flower.

Explanation: An expert in garland making will select, pluck and arrange flowers into garlands. In the same way who will examine the nature of life penetratingly? Who will perceive the real nature of life in the world, along with the realms of the underworld and heavenly beings? Who will understand and penetratively perceive the well-articulated doctrine, like an expert maker of garlands, deftly plucking and arranging flowers.

Verse 45. The Seeker Understands

One Trained will comprehend this earth,
the world of Yama, and the gods,
One Trained discern the well-taught Dhamma
as one who’s skilled selects a flower.

Explanation: In the previous stanza the question was raised as to who will penetrate the well-articulated doctrine? The present stanza provides the answer: the student, the learner, the seeker, the person who is disciplined. He or she will perceive the doctrine, like the expert garland-maker who recognizes and arranges flowers. It is the learner, the seeker, the student who will perceive the world of Yama, the realm of heavenly beings and existence on earth. He will discard and determine the various areas of the doctrine, life a deft garland-maker who plucks and arranges the flowers into garlands.

Verse 46. Who Conquers Death?

Having known this froth-like body
and awakening to its mirage nature,
smashing Mara’s flowered shafts
unseen beyond the Death-king go.

Explanation: This body of ours is like froth, bubbles, or foam. It disintegrates quickly. The nature of life is like a mirage, an illusion. Therefore, one must give up these unrealities. To achieve that one must destroy Mara’s flower-arrows by which he tempts men and women. It is necessary that the truth-seeker should go beyond Mara’s region, to areas unseen by him. Mara knows only the realm of death. The truth seeker goes beyond that region to the ‘deathless’ (Nibbana) - a domain Mara has never seen.

Verse 47. Pleasure Seeker Is Swept Away

For one who has a clinging mind
and gathers only pleasure-flowers,
Death does seize and carry away
as great flood a sleeping village.

Explanation: Those men and women , fascinated by worldly things, go about seeking pleasure, like a garland-maker picking the flowers of his choice in a garden. But, gradually and silently, death overcomes them like a flood in the night sweeping away a village asleep.

Verse 48. Attachment To Senses If Folly

For one of desires insatiate
who gathers only pleasure-flowers,
for one who has a clinging mind
Death the sovereign overpowers.

Explanation: Those who pursue worldly pleasures are like garland-makers who pick flowers here and there in the garden according to their preference. Those given to pleasures of the senses are not satisfied. They seek still more. In consequence of their endless pleasure-seeking they come under the spell of Antaka, or ‘ender of all’, i.e. death.

Verse 49. The Monk In The Village

Just as a bee in a flower
harming neither hue nor scent
gathers nectar, flies away,
so in towns a Wise One fares.

Explanation:  The bee extracts honey from flowers without damaging either the colour or the fragrance of the flower and in so doing helps the tree bear much fruit. Similarly, the silent sage goes about the village collecting alms without harming anyone even minutely, and in so doing helps people gain much merit and happiness.

Verse 50. Look Inwards And Not At Others

Not others’ opposition
nor what they did or failed to do,
but in oneself should be sought
things done, things left undone.

Explanation: Do not find fault with others. Do not worry about what others do or not do. Rather, look within yourself to find out what you yourself have done or left undone. Stop doing evil; do good.

Verse 51. Good Words Attract Only Those Who Practice

Just as a gorgeous blossom
brilliant but unscented,
so fruitless the well-spoken words
of one who does not act.

Explanation: A flower may be quite attractive, alluring. It may possess a brilliant hue. But, if it is devoid of fragrance, and has no scent, it is of no use. So is the well spoken word of him who does not practice it. It turns out to be useless.

Verse 52. Good Words Profit Only Those Who Practise

Just as a gorgeous blossom
brilliant and sweet-scented,
so fruitful the well-spoken words
of one who acts as well.

Explanation: A flower may be quite attractive, alluring and possessing a brilliant hue. In addition, it may be also full of fragrance. So is the person who is well spoken and practises what he preaches. His words are effective and they are honoured.

Verse 53. Those Born Into This World Must Acquire Much Merit

As from a mass of flowers
many a garland may be made,
so by one born mortal
should many good deeds be done.

Explanation: The deft maker of garlands takes a variety of flowers. Out of these he creates garlands of different strands and variegated arrangements. In the same way, those who are born into this world should, out of their lives, create good, wholesome, meritorious actions of a vast variety.

Verse 54. Fragrance of Virtue Spreads Everywhere

The fragrance of flowers drifts with the wind
as sandalwood, jasmine of lavender.
The fragrance of virtue o’ersweeps the wind,
all pervasive is virtue of the good.

Explanation: The world knows, many a sweet smelling flower and fragrant object. But, the fragrance of these moves only leeward. None of these, however strong their fragrance may be, spread their sweet smell against the wind. But, in contrast, the sweet smell of virtue of a spiritually evolved individual spreads in all directions and is universally experienced.

Verse 55. Fragrance Of Virtue Is The Sweetest Smell

Sandalwood or lavender,
lotus or the jasmine great,
of these many fragrances
virtue’s fragrance is supreme.

Explanation: Sandalwood, lavender, water-lily and the jasmine exude fragrance. Of all these varieties of fragrances the sweet-smell of virtue is the most supreme. This is because the fragrance of virtue is universally favoured. Besides, the fragrance of virtue spreads in all directions, even against the wind.

Verse 56. Fragrance Of Virtue Wafts To Heaven

Faint is this fragrance
of lavender and sandalwood,
but fragrance of the virtuous
soars sublime amongst the gods.

Explanation: The fragrance of lavender and sandalwood is quite slight. Why? Because it is limited in this world. Such a fragrance can spread only on earth. This way it is a very slight fragrance. But, the sweet smell of virtue is, in contrast, supreme, because it spreads not only throughout the earth, it rises even to the highest heavens.

Verse 57. Death Cannot Trace The Path Of Arahats

Of those with perfect virtue
who dwell in heedfulness,
freed by Final Knowledge
Mara cannot know their path.

Explanation: Of those noble one, who are perfect in behaviour, living constantly alert, fully aware of the experience within, Mara, the evil one, does not know their destiny. Mara can trace only the slothful dead. He cannot trace those who have reach the Deathless.

Verse 58. Lotus Is Attractive Though In A Garbage Heap

As beside the highroad
where rubbish in a pit is flung
there flourishes the lotus bloom
fragrant and the mind’s delight.

Explanation: Someone is likely to dump refuse on a high road. In that heap of refuse, a sweet-smelling lotus is likely to grow.

Verse 59. Arahats Shine Wherever They Are

So among rubbish-beings,
common humans blind-become,
the Perfect Buddha’s pupil
outshines with wisdom bright.

Explanation: In the same way, in the heap of rubbish made up of various types of foolish people, the disciple of the Buddha shines above all others.

Previous Chapter To Next Chapter

> copyright © Buddha Dharma Education Association 1992-2003 > home > search > sitemap > back