Verse 80. The Wise Control Themselves

Irrigators govern waters,
fletchers fashion shafts,
as joiners shape their timber
those who are wise tame themselves.

Explanation: The irrigator who manages water is skilled in directing water to whatever place he wants. The fletcher skilfully shapes a very straight arrow-shaft out of a piece of wood by working skilfully on it. The carpenter selects a block of wood and constructs whatever he wants out of it, depending on his need. In the same way, the wise person works upon their mind, restraining it the way they desire.

The Story of Novice Monk Pandita (Verse 80)

While residing at the Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to the novice monk Pandita.

Pandita was a young son of a rich man of Savatthi. He became a novice monk at the age of seven. On the eighth day after becoming a novice monk, as he was following Venerable Sariputta on an alms-round, he saw some farmers channeling water into their fields and asked the Venerable, “Can water which has no consciousness be guided to wherever one wishes?” The Venerable replied, “Yes, it can be guided to wherever one wishes.” As they continued on their way, the novice monk next saw some fletchers heating their arrows with fire and straightening them. Further on, he came across some carpenters cutting, sawing and planing timber to make it into things like cart-wheels. Then he pondered, “If water which is without consciousness can be guided to wherever one desires, if a crooked bamboo which is without consciousness can be straightened, and if timber which is without consciousness can be made into useful things, why should I, having consciousness, be unable to tame my mind and practice tranquillity and insight meditation?”

Then and there he asked permission from the Venerable and returned to his own room in the monastery. There he ardently and diligently practiced meditation, contemplating the body. Sakka and the devas also helped him in his meditation by keeping the monastery and its precincts very quiet and still. Before the noon meal novice monk Pandita attained anagami fruition.

At that time Venerable Sariputta was bringing food to the novice monk. The Buddha saw with his supernormal power that novice monk Pandita had attained anagami fruition and also that if he continued to practice meditation he would soon attain arahatship. So the Buddha decided to stop Sariputta from entering the room, where the novice monk was. The Buddha went to the door and kept Sariputta engaged by putting some questions to him. While the conversation was taking place, the novice monk attained arahatship. Thus, the novice monk attained arahatship on the eighth day after becoming a novice.

In this connection, the Buddha said to the monks of the monastery. “When one is earnestly practicing the Dhamma, even Sakka and the devas give protection and keep guard; I myself have kept Venerable Sariputta engaged at the door so that novice monk Pandita should not be disturbed. The novice monk, having seen the farmers irrigating their fields, the fletchers straightening their arrows, and carpenters making cart-wheels and other things, tames his mind and practises the Dhamma; he has now become an arahat”


Treasury of Truth: Illustrated Dhammapada – 423 Verses

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