Buddhist Dhammapada — Seeking Happiness, Nirvana, Enlightenment


Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

A collection of verses dealing with various human aspects are contained in a Buddhist collection called Dhammapada. These verses written in Pali language, were compiled about 2,600 years ago, are part of the Buddhist scripture Tipitaka, which literally means three baskets. These verses inspire compassion, humility, joy and with a proper understanding lead to Nirvana or enlightenment about the present and future lives.

These deal with affection, happiness, anger, sorrow, evil, violence, justice and other aspects that wise persons and seers have grappled with long — not only by Buddha but by the Old Testament, the Bible, the Koran, Bhagwad Gita, Vedas and Upanishads etc.

I shall pick up a few of these verses that are profound, yet easy to understand and inspire a person to be good and to do good.


     From affection springs grief, from affection springs fear.
     For him who is free from affection, there is no grief or fear.
     From attachment springs grief, from attachment springs fear.
     For him who is free from attachment there is no grief or fear. 

This is also the broad lesson of the Hindu epic Bhagwad Gita


     Hasten to do good; restrain your mind from evil
     Should a person commit evil, let him not do it again and again.
     Let him not find pleasure therein
     Think not lightly of evil, saying ‘It will not come to me.’


     All tremble at Violence, all fear death. Putting oneself in place of another, one should  not kill nor cause another to kill.
     One who, while seeking happiness oppresses with violence other beings, will not attain happiness 
     One who while seeking happiness, does not oppress with violence other beings, will find happiness thereafter.
     Speak not harshly to anyone, for those thus spoken to, might retort; angry speech hurts

In fact, Mahatma Gandhi who worked for non- violence all his life believed that violence in any form — word, action or even thought should be avoided since it not only hurt others, but was also degrading for oneself.


     One should do what one teaches others to do: if one would train others, one should   be well controlled oneself.
     One is truly the protector of oneself; who else could the protector be?
     Good is restrain over the eye, Good is restrain over the ear, Good is restrain over the tongue

It reminds us of the three monkeys — one shuts its eyes, the other its ears, the third its mouth.


He whose lust and hatred, pride and hypocrisy have fallen off like a mustard seed from the point of a needle — Him do I call a holy man.

He who does no evil in deed, word or thought, Him I call a holy man

Not by matted hair, not by birth does a person become a holy man. He in whom truth and righteousness exist — he is pure, he is a holy man.

He who is free from anger, is devout, virtuous, without craving. Him I call a holy man.

The sun shines by day, the moon by night, the warrior shines in armour, the holy man shines in meditation. The Buddha shines resplendent all day, all night.

In brief, we can now understand and try to attain the path shown by Dhammapada to avoid evil, to detach oneself from rewards, to abstain from violence, to do good to others, to free oneself from lust, anger, hatred, greed, pride and other aspects that demean a person.

Finally, we should try to act in the ways shown by the resplendent Buddha.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. ravipbhatia@gmail.com


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 Oct 2018.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Buddhist Dhammapada — Seeking Happiness, Nirvana, Enlightenment, is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Comments are closed.