The Dhammapada

ISBN: 0915132370
ISBN 13: 9780915132379
By: Gautama Buddha Eknath Easwaran

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About this book

According to Eknath Easwaran, if all of the Buddhist sutras had been lost except the Dhammapada, it alone would be enough for readers to understand and appreciate the wisdom of the Buddha. Easwaran's version of the Dhammapada goes a long way toward proving this. In a lengthy introduction, Easwaran summarizes the life of the Buddha and the main tenets of his thought, including key concepts such as dharma, karma, and nirvana. The language of the Dhammapada is as lucid and flowing as the Psalms or the Sermon on the Mount, and this is why it is one of the most loved and remembered of all Buddhist sutras. Its subject matter, succinctly, is about training the mind, which leads to kind thoughts and deeds, which bring peace and freedom from suffering. If you are interested in reading one of the gems of Buddhist literature, this is a good place to start; and if you are looking for a great version of this beloved scripture, you can't do better. Like all great world scripture, the verses here reward rereading and reflection, prompting you to "strive for wisdom always." --Brian Bruya

Reader's Thoughts


Very reflective and wholesome moral truths for living, quite a fresh read in the world of inconsequential candy reads. While one might not agree with every Buddhist principle for living, as I myself don't, the general truths that you pick up and contemplate throughout the day are hard to escape. Easy and quick, yet full of substance and worthy of review time and again.

Rachel Cotterill

This is one of the world's most influential philosophical texts, and lies at the heart of Buddhism, so it's not surprising that it was an interesting read with plenty to think about. The translation is quite old (hence being freely available online) and it isn't always perfectly clear. There are some ambiguities of language, for example in several places reaching Nirvana is defined as being above good and evil (amongst other things), and yet requiring the avoidance of evil (and sin) to achieve it. I fear I'm missing something here, and possibly the original text has subtly different words for different concepts, but my language skills aren't up to reading this in the original!

Janie Cakes

This is a book filled with Buddhist quotes, and only quotes. These quotes are meant to inspire, and to teach a person morals. Some of these quotes were religiously biased, and some quotes were too repetitive. Pretty much, you'd have the same quote for a whole page, or up to 2 pages i.e. "'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me' -- in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease." "'He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me' -- in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease."...notice how only a few words change? There are plenty of quotes that do that in this book. There are even a few quotes that are just too old for this time period, very old fashioned. Despite all that, every 6 quotes i could find 1 or 2 really amazing quotes. Those quotes are enough to make you keep on reading and hoping to stumble upon the next one. I recommend this if you are trying to be a better Buddhist [FYI I'm not Buddhist], but you could read it just to gain some insight to's a couple of my favorite quotes,"let the wise man guard his thoughts, for they are difficult to perceive, very artful, and they rush wherever they list: thoughts well guarded bring happiness""a man is not an elder because his head is gray; his age may be ripe, but he is called 'Old-in-vain'"

Steve Woods

This is the primary text of the Buddhas teachings. A good translation with a very thorough introduction by the author that taught me a lot I didn't know. The texts can often be a bit meaning less for westerners who have no context within which to place them This one is pretty profound, I use it by simply reading one chapter everyday, it helps keep me pointed in the right direction and it's great to have enough familiarity to be able to source the teachings of others on the path whose books I read. Gotta get it if Buddhism has any appeal for you


Interesting to read from a Christian/Western perspective. As an amateur reading his first Buddhist text, this is fairly interesting. I've heard it said that Eastern thought is basically asking the same questions that pre-Socratic Greek thinkers were asking, but is lacking a Plato or a Christ to give answers to those questions. I didn't see anything in this text that disproved that claim, but this is also pretty short and only representative of one Eastern tradition. These seem to be some of the key points: -aristocratic: Particularly offensive to a modern American, the Dhammapada is unashamedly aristocratic. Only the select "few" are raised above the mob. To be fair, the picture of the aristocrat (or "Brahman") is much more generous than we're used to when we think of something like the Hindu caste system- "Brahmanism" is achieved only by hard work and virtue, not simply by being born into the right family. -pacifism: "A man is not one of the Noble (Ariya) because he injures living creatures; he is so called because he refrains from injuring all living creatures." (#270) -achieving Nirvana: This is the goal of the ethical life as laid down in the Dhammapada. The way to achieve Nirvana (though I may not have gotten all of the steps down) are 1) study 2) discipline 3) the mortification of desires This last one seems to be the most at odds with Christian and Western values. The Dhammapada teaches that desire leads to suffering, and that to avoid suffering desire must be eliminated. This includes all kinds of desires: love (including for family), hunger, thirst, guilt, etc. So, #284 says "So long as the love, even the smallest, of man towards woman is not destroyed, so long is his mind in bondage..." And #294 "A (true) Brahman goes scatheless, is free from sorrow and remorse though he have killed father and mother, and two kings of the warrior caste, though he has destroyed a kingdom with all its subjects." This elimination of desires leads to the true delight of Nirvana (though, presumably, one is not permitted to desire this delight). To its credit, the Dhammapada recognizes the problem of evil and the desperate need for change in the individual, but the solution it offers does not actually solve the human dilemma, as it mistakes the symptom (wrongly-focused desires) for the disease (evil). Desires are not inherently bad, they merely reflect the evil within us. As evil beings, we either desire the wrong things, or the right things in the wrong way. The way to correct this is not to eliminate desire (which would do nothing to remove the evil), but to fix the broken person. What we need is not to not feel guilt over the terrible things we have done, but to be forgiven for them, to know that justice has been satisfied. What we need is not the elimination of desires, but the re-setting them upon Him for whom they were intended. What we need, in other words, is the redemptive work of Christ.

Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)

A wide-ranging and systematic sampling of Buddhist teachings, particularly in Theravada Buddhism, coming as it does from the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Pali Canon (see the external links section for valuable resources, including the Access to Insight collection of translated material). Highly economical and eminently accessible, these verses are indispensible in addressing the myriad misapprehensions and misrepresentations of concepts like karma, detachment, emptiness, et al. often made in casual lay discourse. From the beginning 'Twin Verses' (or 'Yamaka Vagga') the issues at hand are accorded an epistemic treatment in tandem with the traditional ontological and metaphysical concerns of similar religious sources.The text is not as strong at forwarding the ethical complexities in Buddhist thinking, but establishes the basic tenets very well. That said, not many religions, especially monolithic dogmas, speak of morality as an abstract, likely so as to make the empathy approach they often forward all the stronger, but adherence to general guidelines fashioned on what others take to and are repelled by so as to minimise their suffering doesn't require an emotional attachment at all, this in only one possible motivation- it might as well be accomplished through discipline and the ability to see beyond the trappings of self and its gratification (which is really what emotional attachment comes down to, be it even for 'good' ends; as Freud once put it: "Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires."), thus achieving true compassion in worldly intent. Like the Tao Te Ching, the Dhammapada suggests this view of morality, but without setting up and speaking of it in terms of a divine absolute (the Tao in the former).A broader contemporary overview like the Ven. Walpola Rahula thera's What the Buddha Taught is a worthy follow-up for those who would have more detail and elaboration (freely available online).A series of lectures on the Buddha's teaching is found at see- (a Pali course)The following essay on the teaching of Dependent Origination may be a good starting point if the reader wishes to delve the Dhammapada is far more precise and clear compared to the Tao Te Ching (reviewed here) and can thus survive many of the turmoils of translation, of those I've encountered in English (being familiar with the original Pali and its Sinhala renderings) the careful effort of John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana (for Oxford World's Classics; they also have an expanded, commentary-laden version here), as well as those of the Ven. Narada Mahathera and the Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya thera have much to commend them to the newcomer (who does well to keep in mind that Eastern teachings tend to be about degrees and measures rather than absolutes).Take care to avoid editions which offer commentary but are too free in their interpretations or attempt to restrict the work's purview to a context of other popular or extant philosophical (eg- Plato- (view spoiler)[ I think it's noteworthy that Plato might be considered an answers man, at times with too easy and (further) reason-numbing answers like those from religious figures from Christ (who tends to pop in when 'Western thought' is mentioned to take credit for modes of thought owed the Greeks) to Muhammad to whatever other 'One Path' prophet- well, that's not entirely fair, but I think he's only a rung or two better in reasoning, though not asking for submission to dogma and open to criticism. Socrates is the more cautious one, almost evasive on the points we desire answers the most, the man we need to find through the facade of Plato's generous offerings- like the Comedian must be found in Alan Moore's Watchmen, with apologies for the jarring, but still moral philosophy related reference, having just reread it (except Socrates doesn't deny agency- that might be Tolstoy). This same Socrates on the other hand has much in common with the Buddha I think, especially for his views on desire and its bleak ends. (hide spoiler)], Kant (not an unreasonable case- see, phenomenology) or religious (eg- Hinduism and its Upanishads- which try before the Buddha to address (differently) some of the questions he does, but after him seems to have attempted to subsume into Hinduism proper the challenge to the status quo Buddhist thought presented; at least more subtle than Hinduism's portrayal of the Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu come to test the faithful by leading them astray) schools, or attempt to supply the text with fashionable mysticism (for instance, Easwaran's assimilative rendering), often thereby (unwittingly) expurgating the work's psychological depth and its invitation to a revolutionary and rational philosophy. And of course, the Dhammapada is only that- an invitation, a primer; to have the teaching elucidated on further one must attempt hereafter to tackle denser discourses in the Pali Canon.The aforementioned translation by the Ven. Narada Mahathera, though slightly aged, is freely available at and includes the framing stories often omitted elsewhere (though these are unfortunately only summarised, sometimes in a none too illuminating way) and excellent notes (files for offline reading may be found here).A few other online versions are linked here, of which the Acharya Buddharakkhita translation is perhaps the best balanced.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


this was a spiritually fulfilling helped me understand the life of the Buddha and the reasoning behind his actions and spiritual life decisions.Siddhartha is the son of a Brahmin's sun who ventures of because he wanted to live the life of samana who are wondering monks who live their life with our possessions and try to find eternal peace.he romeos the earth and ends up running into this man they called the Buddha ,which means enlightened one .he has lived for centuries and will finally be one with the every other samana so did Siddhartha.on the path of enlightenment Siddhartha faces life's many deadly sines such as lust, gluttony, greed, sloth , wrath , envy ,pride.and he over came them all and at the end of the book he sees that all these adventures took him in a complete circle and he finally reaches favorite quote is "knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom".p.124because it makes you really think about and you finally see that its is true and very wise.i that this was a very wise and spiritually satisfying. I would want to spend the rest of my life listening to the teachings of the Buddha.

Arun Divakar

There are books to be read and books to be comprehended. The second class is like learning to ride a bike : you climb on it to fall down & you keep repeating the gesture until at least shakily you can move forth a few feet unaided. What is contained in this book while at a first read is absurdly simple in its spartan-ness is a very difficult set of guidelines to live with.The inspiration to know more about the Buddha was an unlikely source, a little trinket I bought. It was a resemblance of the Ashoka Pillar. After glancing at it for long minutes during which it refused to do anything at all, I started checking the internet for the Buddhist Emperor and found it very amusing. A wildly passionate follower even drew a comparison saying that Alexander would have been but a Thug against the leadership practices of Ashoka. Everywhere resounded but one principle behind this legend of a man : Buddhism. Scouring this water body of information named the internet, I came up with the name of this book. There is but one foundation that underlies Buddhism that I could comprehend even with what little reading I have on this topic. This is about suffering (in Buddhist terms Dukha ). The identification of pain or suffering, the cessation of pain and the path to the cessation of pain is what this entire belief system seems to be based out of. It is very easy to read a book that speaks to you on letting go of your desires but to implement that in practice would need more steel than even an army training camp can instill in you. There are many parallels here to the Hindu & Eastern Mysticism schools of thought. For eg : There is mention of life lived without an eye to victory or loss for a life of tranquility. With a few modifications here and there, Krishna suggests the same to Arjuna during the discourse of the Bhagavad Gita. If memory serves me right, it was about the need to perform one's duties without a thought of victory or loss for it is such thoughts that lead one to sorrow. Then again many a teaching here are akin to the ten commandments in that all time bestseller as well.The translation as offered by Glenn Wallis is interesting and insightful to read. I in fact spent more time going through his notes than reading through the core text. The next time around I would want to stick to the core text and take it in little sips as a hot brew on an extremely cold and wretched day. In short : It is an energizer !Something from the text which bears an uncanny resemblance to the society we belong to now as it was centuries ago : Atula, this is from long ago, it is not recent: they find fault with one who sits silently, they find fault with one who speaks much, they find fault with one who speaks but little. There is no one in this world who is not faulted.


To read forever.


It's mostly just an assortment of platitudes. Examples: Ch. VI, 78.>>"Let one not associate With low persons, bad friends.But let one associate With noble persons, worthy friends."Ch. VIII, stanza 100.>>"Though a thousand the the statements, With words of no avail, Better is a single word of welfare, Having heard which, one is pacified."Ch. XXI, stanza 290.>>"If by sacrificing a limited pleasure An extensive pleasure one would see,Let the wise one beholding extensive pleasure, A limited pleasure forsake."Thanks, I couldn't figure that out for myself.Some of the passages are pretty cool though. Example: Ch. XI, stanza 153-154."I ran through samsara, with its many births, Searching for, but not finding, the house-builder. Misery is birth again and again. House-builder, you are seen!The house you shall not build again! Broken are your rafters, all,Your roof beam destroyed.Freedom from the samkharas has the mind attained.To the end of cravings has it come."The main theme, that since feelings of attachment and holding things dear (ch. XVI) are conditions necessary to create suffering, and that since unlike things' tendencies to decay and end it's possible to eliminate these conditions, you should not hold things dear or get attached to anything, is somewhat interesting. It also doesn't require a belief in a cycle of soul transmigration. This might be problematic in a way, since the degree to which one is successful at this may reduce motivations or reasons for being good. For example, someone who holds their reputation dear will have more reason to avoid acting wrongly than one who doesn't, since "severe slander" (the book itself includes this as a reason for being good at ch. X, stanza 139) will affect them more strongly. The introduction/commentary/historical criticism is very general and short, but otherwise okay. The annotations were helpful in explaining metaphors, connotations lost in translation, the religious tradition's take on some verses, a few of the assumptions common to the compilers, and untranslated terms.


There is always room for compassion.


It's not up for review.


Very good translation of original pali version by Eknath aswaran.Full of wisdom for leading our everyday life painlessly.One of the simplest interpretations of the Buddhist classic.Planning to read it again.Includes exvcellent introduction and commentary by the author.

Cassandra Kay Silva

Very good edition. The text is beautiful. The message is good. This is the kind of thing that can be read and reread throughout your lifetime and will bring different meanings at different places in your life. I got a copy at the library. I will be looking for a personal copy to keep for my own. So beautiful. I really appreciated the accompanying notes.


" لن تقتلعَ الريحُ ، الجبلَ.والإغواءُلن يلمُسَ مَن كان قوياً ، يَقِظاً ، وحَـيِـيّــاًلن يلمُسَ مَنْ يتحكّمُ بالنفسِ ، ويَتَّبِعُ الدرب. " " لِنَعِشْ فرِحينَ ، لانكرهُ مَنْ يكرهوننــا.وبينَ مَن يكرهوننــا ، نعيشُ أحراراً من الكُرْهِ . " " إن لقي أحمقُ ، امرءا حكيما، طيلة حياةفلن يدرك الحقيـــقة تماما ، كما لا تدرك الملعقة طعــم الحساء "" أبصــر العالم فقاعة . أبصـــره ســـرابا . من رأى العالم هــكذا خَفِيَ ، فلن يراه ملك الموت . "" أفرغ القــارب ، أيها الســائل . إن أنت أفرغـــته ، إنطلق سريعا . تخلص من الرغبة والكره . تنل الحرية . "

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