Dhammapada


Yamakavagga · Gātha 2

Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā manoseṭṭhā manomayā
Manasā
ce pasannena bhāsati karoti
Tato
naṃ sukhaṃ anveti chāyā va anapāyinī



The Twin-Verses · Verse 2

Phenomena are  preceded by the heart,
     ruled by the heart,
     made of the heart.
If you speak or act
with a calm, bright heart,
then happiness follows you,
like a shadow
     that never leaves.

The Story of Monk Sāriputta

While residing at Vēluvana, the Bamboo Grove Monastery in Rājagaha, the Buddha spoke these verses, with reference to Sanjaya, a former teacher of the Chief Disciples, the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Moggallāna (formerly Upatissa and Kōlita).

Before the Buddha appeared in the world, there were two Brāhamaṇa villages not far from Rājagaha named Upatissa village and Kōlita village. One day a Brāhamaṇa’s wife named Rūpasari, who lived in Upatissa village, conceived a child; and on the same day a brahamin’s wife named Moggali, who lived in Kōlita village, likewise conceived a child in her womb. We are told that for seven generations these two families had been firmly knit and bound together in the bonds of friendship; they performed the Protection of the Embryo for the two expectant mothers on the same day. On the expiration of ten lunar months, both women gave birth to sons.

On the day appointed for the name of the children, they gave the name Upatissa to the son of the brahamin woman whose name was Sāri, because he was the son of the principal family in Upatissa village; to the other boy, because he was the son of the principal family in Kōlita village, they gave the name Kōlita. As they grew up, both boys attained the highest proficiency in all the arts and sciences. Whenever the youth Upatissa went to the river or the garden to enjoy himself, five hundred golden litters accompanied him; five hundred chariots drawn by thoroughbreds accompanied the youth Kōlita. The two youths had retinues of five hundred boys apiece.

Now there is a festival celebrated every year in Rājagaha which goes by the name of Mountain-top festival. A couch for the two youths was set up in one place, and the two youths sat together and witnessed the passing show. When there was occasion to laugh, they laughed; when there was occasion to weep, they wept; when it was time to give alms, they gave alms. In this way they witnessed the festivities for several days. But one day, when they had grown wiser, there was no laugh when they might have laughed, as on preceding days, there were no tears when they might have wept, and when their alms were sought they gave no alms.

The following thought, we are told, occurred to the two youths, “Why should we look at this? Before a hundred years have passed, all these people will have gone hence and will no more be seen. It behoves us rather to seek the Way of Release.” And taking this thought to heart, they sat down. Then Kōlita said to Upatissa, “Friend Upatissa, you do not appear to be pleased and delighted as on previous days. Nay rather, you are afflicted with melancholy. What is in your mind?” “Friend Kōlita, I sit thinking, ‘There is no lasting satisfaction in looking upon these folk; this is all unprofitable; it behoves me rather to seek the Way of Release for myself’. But why are you melancholy?” Kōlita said the same thing. When Upatissa discovered that Kōlita’s thoughts were one with his own, he said, “Both of us have had a happy thought. It behoves us both to seek the Way of Release and to retire from the world together. Under what teacher shall we retire from the world?”

Now at this time a wandering ascetic named Sanjaya entered the city of Rājagaha, accompanied by a large retinue of wandering ascetics. “We will retire from the world and become monks under Sanjaya,” said Upatissa and Kōlita. So they dismissed five hundred retainers, saying to them, “Take the litters and the chariots and go,” and, together with the remaining five hundred, retired from the world and became monks under Sanjaya. From the day when these two youths retired from the world and became monks under Sanjaya, Sanjaya reached the pinnacle of gain and renown. In but a few days they had passed the bounds of Sanjaya’s teaching. Therefore they asked him, “Teacher, is this all the religious truth you know, or is there something more besides?” “This is all there is; you know all.”

The questions Upatissa and Kōlita asked, the others, too, were not able to answer; but every question the others asked, Upatissa and Kōlita answered. In this manner they travelled over the Land of the Rose-apple; then they retraced their steps and returned to their own homes again. Before they separated, Upatissa said to Kōlita, “Friend Kōlita, whichever of us first attains the Deathless is to inform the other.” Having made this agreement, they separated.

One day, the wandering ascetic Upatissa saw the Monk Assaji. Upatissa said to him, “Calm and serene, brother, are your organs of sense; clean and clear is the hue of your skin. For whose sake, brother, did you retire from the world? And who is your teacher? And whose doctrine do you profess?” “Brother, I am as yet a mere novice; its not long since I have been a monk; but recently did I approach Buddha’s doctrine and discipline.” Said the ascetic, I am Upatissa; say much or little according to your ability; I will understand the meaning in a hundred ways or a thousand ways.” At what Monk Assaji said Upatissa received higher excellence. Upatissa next saw his friend Kōlita and informed him that he had attained deathless. He pronounced the same stanza Assaji had pronounced. Kōlita was established in the fruit of conversion. They decided to visit the Buddha. They thought they should ask their former instructor Sanjaya to join them. “You may go; I cannot come,” Sanjaya said, “In the past I have gone about as a teacher of the multitude. For me to become a pupil again would be absurd.”

“Do not act thus, teacher,” Upatissa said. “Teacher, from the moment of the Buddha’s appearance in the world the populace has adored Him. Let’s also go there. What do you intend to do now?” Sanjaya replied, “Friends, which are more numerous in this world, the stupid or the wise?” “Teacher, the stupid are many, the wise are few.” Sanjaya said: “Well then, friends, let the wise men go to the wise Monk Gōtama and let the stupid come to stupid me.” Upatissa and Kōlita departed. About two hundred and fifty wandering ascetics of Sanjaya’s group also joined the two friends.

Then Kōlita and Upatissa saw the Buddha and became his chief disciples. Upatissa became Sāriputta, and Kōlita became Moggallāna. They informed the Buddha how Sanjaya would not come to see the Buddha.

Commentary for Verses 11 and 12

This pair of verses stresses the importance of a proper ‘sense of values’ which is essential to the practice of the spiritual path. Our sense of values is what gives direction to our lives. The purity and richness of our lives depend on our sense of values. In fact, our judgement of superiority and inferiority, and our happiness and sense of achievement, are also dependent on this sense of values.

Those who have a wrong understanding of values have wrong aspirations, and they never attain the true riches of life.