Dhammapada Footprints

The Dhammapada: Dharma Footprints

China and India


The Indian versions

Pāli Dhammapada

Gāndhārī Dharmapada


The Chinese Versions

Fǎ jīng    (法句經) 224 - 225 CE

Ways of doing things      lines of verse  1

Ways of Doing things in lines of verse

 Fǎ jīng   (法句譬) 290 - 306 CE

  give an example    喻 yù an allegory

Ways of Doing things giving Allegorical Examples

C-yào-jīng     (出 曜 經)  398-399 CE.

Putting Forth the Glorious Sacred Text


4.  Fǎ yào sòng jīng   法集要頌 經   

Ways of Doing things in Important Praises of the Sacred Text

(end of the ninth century CE)


The full text of the Pali Dhammapada

 The full text of the Chinese 法句經

Cross-Analysis and Commentary






The Dhammapada

The Dhammapada has been preserved in many different versions and though many are incomplete, fortunately there are complete versions that have been preserved.

The complete version if the Dhammapada, that we use as a base here is often called the Pali Dhammapada and we begin with an examination of the word Dhammapada which consists of two elements: dhamma- and -pada.

The DHAMMA Element

The pali word dhamma or  dharma in Sanskrit share the Indo-Iranian root ^dhar, which means to hold, to fasten or to support. literally translates as that which upholds or supports. It  is generally translated into English incorrectly as “law” as that suits best the cognitive logical  intellect.. Better indeed is the fuller conceptualization as the eternal natural law regarding the one ultimate reality that supports all illusory phenomenon. This concept of the law is beyond normal cognitive access. Thus it is used in Indian Philosophy to explain the higher truth of the universe. In this particular text therefore the Dhamma is the Zeal (rè xīn) of the Way and the natural cognitive Motivation ( xìng), of its Expression.

The diagram shows the connection of two important higher cortical processes and also cognition and the world of the senses, with the three active forces which unite each transform the impulse “the force or wish to do” into “doing”. Thus  shén can be considered as the impulse of “spirit” that converts the passive feminine principle into an active component; 熱心,xīn, as that “zeal” which converts this active masculine principle, which is viable expression into cognitive form and  積極性, xìng, as that which transforms the elaborated cognitive form into action and interaction with the apparent external world.



The word dhamma  is also connected in a significant way to the Proto-Indo-European root ^dher, which reflects a theme that is central to the Dhamma way which is the “reigning in” or “refraining from” incorrect behaviour. Thus Zeal, 熱心, xīn,  provides the force of “refraining” so that Cognition and  Motivation, 積極性 xìng, is balanced and harmoneous in its connection with the world of the senses while the Motivation provides a restraining force that is cognitive..


When the refraining is mental, made up of social or religious forces alone rater like strong resolutions then it is applied only to , 積極性 xìng, and is therefore fragile and transient.


The Qualities of Dharma
These are specific qualities related to the the term “dhamma which are “equivalent to the Chinese term “dao”.
         (1) gu.na: the quality of virtue or moral quality. This may be considered in Chinese as the equivilent of the expressed qualities of the Life Force (pali. Jivitindriya).
         (2) hetu : the quality of knowing with respect to the cause of all phenomenon
         (3) nissatta-nijjiiva: The quality of being void in and of itself and pertaining to the illusory self. 
         (4) pariyatti: The quality of mastering the WAY making it one’s own within cognition and consciousness through;
  (a) Understanding truth [sacca],
  (b) understanding and experiencing inherent nature [sabhaava],   
  (c) understanding and experiencing the natural condition[pakati],
  (d) understanding and experiencing  voidness [su~n~nataa]
  (e) generating through meditation rapt concentration [samaadhi],
  (f) generating wisdom through absorption [pa~n~naa],  
  (g) positive consequences of correct conduct [pu~n~na].
            (5) desanaa: the quality of being taught with words, which the Book of Dao tells us is not the eternal Dhamma.
            (6) sankhara: here refers to all volitional activities, as well as all correct or incorrect thoughts. As such it is subject to change, sorrow, etc. 

Then we can best define Dhamma in general as meaning the understanding of Principle, (1.2. and 3), governing all that is natural;  the Way (4) produced by mastering the meaning of human life and the Expression (5 and 6), of that way.

Here the presented Pali Dhammapada is clearly best considered as the Expression supporive of the Way, the specific reining in of conduct controled by the three Identity “gunas”, the  poisons of confusion, greed, aversion and the fourth poison of anxiety with respect to the future..

The Pada Element

Understanding the element ”pada” then becomes very important. It can hold many meanings, among them footprint, foot, step, , path, place, position, case, part, element, word, verse, and sentence. Since the word Dhamma denotes three aspects namely, the Principle, the Way and the expression of the way then the word “pada” is best translated as the “footprints”, left behind upon the way after correct Life Force expression.  We can eliminate many traditional translations as Words of the Teaching, Verses of the Teaching, the Feet of the Teaching.

The Footprints of the Expression of Way are shown to support the correct and natural interrealtion between the masculine principle, which is an expression of the Dharma and Cognition , which is the interface of Dharma with the apparent external world.

The Footsteps do give suggestions about the correct refraining of behaviour which maintains the correct force for Cognitive   積極性 xìng, motivation, which is the interface of Dharma with the apparent external world. This is as we have said a fragile and transient  mundane level


The Footprints of the Way at the first non-mundane level are shown to support the correct and natural interrelation between the masculine principle, which is an expression of the Dharma and Cognition 熱心,xīn, zeal. In a second higher non-mundane level the Footsteps give cues which lead to the Contemplations which bring the driving spirit shén which unites the Feminine passive natural processes with the masculine expression of them.

One of the questions then addressed is the apparent inconsistency in the level of the precepts and we will see here how the chinese translations throw more light on that criticism as we have been led to believe in other translations that both their conceptualization and their deeper understanding of Indian works is exceptional due to the influence of non logical and non lateral thought.

We suggest then that the Chinese translations and interpretations open the door of the Dharmapada to transcendental application.

The objective then is to delve deeper within the Dharmapada using the most appropriate version of the Dhammapada in Chinese in order to observe the vision of the text which is not bound by the limitations of words. This may provide a clearer comprehension than conscious intellect permits, with the clear understanding that they are “footsteps” which directly lead to correct and natural Contemplations that do more than simply reduce the symptoms of the three poisons of Acquisitiveness, Confusion and Aversion and the fourth poison which is Anxiety about future events.

Happiness here and now

One basic error in the appraisal of the DP is to believe that the DP  concerns itself with human happiness and contentment, with good social relations, with benefit of the whole society. This is far from the Dharma ideal which is that happiness as it is perceived socially is false and that there is instead a natural level of well-being that transcends both mundane happiness and its co-related suffering.

The Dao is in agreement with this.

The normal attitude is to use the Dp just like one might the sayings of grandma or those from an encyclopedia of quotations which adds flavor to a conversation or are used as platitudes. But we cannot approach the Dhrma in that manner. Let us look at the first verse of the Pali DP

Chapter 1  Yamakavagga   The Pairs

 1 – 2  All mental phenomenon are Mind-made


1.  Mind is the forerunner of all mental phenomena.

Mind is chief, and they are mind-made.

If one speaks or acts with an evil mind then “dukkha” follows him just as a wheel follows the hoof-prints of the ox that draws a cart.


2.  Mind is the forerunner of all mental phenomena.

Mind is chief, and they are mind-made.

If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, “sukha” follows him like a shadow that never leaves

Happiness (SUKHA) with its accompanying Mental Pleasure (SOMANASSA) and Suffering (DUKKHA) with its corresponding Mental Suffering (DAMANASSA)

The term Sukha  which we meet often in the DP is composed of “su” which means easy and “kha” which means to endure. Sukha then or happiness may be considered as the experience of being easy to endure. The term  Dukkha” is composed of “du” meaning difficult and “kha” which is to endure. Thus suffering, is that which is difficult to endure.


 It has always been difficult for translators of various countries to capture the true significance of the pali “Dukkha” used in the exposition of the “four noble truths” and the English version “Suffering” has been generally the most accepted.  Yet suffering does not mean 遭到zāo dào, the consequence of meeting with something unfortunate nor that it is 受苦shòu , something that is to be maintained as a hardship or 蒙受méng shòu, that comes through sustaining a loss, though all these seem to bring what we call suffering. It is true that we can obtain and give suffering, 受到shòu dào, but this is hardly the point. The Chinese expression 吃苦頭, chī tou  comes closer to the mark for it means that suffering which is experienced in all of these cases as a consequence of one’s own actions.

Now there is another term “piti” which is derived from “pi” to please or delight and it is best translated as zest, joy or even pleasurable interest. It is a mental experience found in both a moral or immoral consciousness. Its natural task is to generate an interest in an apparent object or mental construct. It is then the precursor of Sukkha. There is then piti, followed by and then sukha. Similarly then “piti” is also a precursor of Dukkha so that we hve piti followed by the and then dukkha.

It is clear that “mundane happiness” has “suffering” as its dualistic counterpart, the term. So mundane happiness is both Piti and Sukha while suffering is both Piti and Dukkha.


Both Sukha and Dukkha were considered in India as physical, but both have their psychological concommitant Somanassa and Domanassa having the conscious experiences associated with the mind called Cetasikas which have the properties of:

i)                    arising together with consciousness.

ii)                   That which perishes with Consciousness

iii)                 That which has an identical object with consciousness

iv)                 That which has a common base with it.

These Cetasikas have sensation (phassa, derived from “phas” to contact), discriminative emotion (vedana, derived from “vid”, to experience), perception (sanna, derived from “sam plus na” , to know) and another fifty one factors including volition (cetana, derived from “cit” to think) and what we know as attention composed of its four parts (the resting yet alert state; turning th mind towards the object;  manasikara directingthe mind  to the object, vitkka and placing one pointedness upon the object, ekaggata.)

These five as a set are what Dharma calls the skandhas. Sensation, emotion, perception, volition and attention, which is also consciousness.

So how can one define this term Dukkha without falling into mental traps. It consists of:

i)                    the 51 elements of Cetasikas;

 then the basis of pain which is ii) through vii)

  ii)        knowing birth as Identity,

iii)                 knowing Impermanence,

iv)                 knowing disease as Identity,

v)                  knowing death as the end of Identity existence,

vi)                 separation from Identity belonging;

vii)               separation from what the Identity desires and craves which are the apparent objects of painful feeling;

and finally

viii)              “painful experiences themselves, which are the accumulation of evil, conditioned woeful experiences, among them grief, lamentation, displeasure, mental anguish and despair.

We know that  Suffering principally as the painful experiences, because those impressions are most strong in consciousness, and sometimes we are clear that they are  produced cocommitant with Identity frustration or aggravation. But we must also remember that the Identity presence in the operatuion of the 51 elements of Cetasikas is also suffering, as Buddha so well presented in the Fire Sermon.

 But still Suffering is a mental state which is really undescribable. We can say therefore that a major practice of Buddha Dharma is not to eliminate suffering, but to eliminate this Identity which produces inappropriate conduct and its consequences and the first step for the majority of people must be the elimination of the behaviour that Identity promotes, which the deep and not shallow appraisal of the Dharma Footsteps provide.

Sukkha as mundane happiness is defined simply as Identity satisfaction and /or artificial relief from the painful experiences themselves, which are the accumulation of evil, conditioned woeful experiences,

Now the correct and natural consequences of liberating oneself from Identity is to arrive at that point where sensation, discrimination, perception and volition are freed from stain. Volition then freed, proceeds with natural responses generated by the life force (jivitindriya, the life controlling principle).and there is no “Cetasika” as we know it. There are then also no painful experiences nor  Karma.


When there is then occasional reference to Karma we must remember that in  Sanskrit karma means "deed" or action. And is derived etymologically from the root verb (dhAtu) kRRi, to do The basic idea is that there is a causal relation between one's deeds and the consequences, when the deeds are associated with the elements of Cetasikas then “karma” results. But Karma is not the consequence. The fruit is Vipaka.and both are mind related. So karma is that impulse that is subconscious that brings about negartive fruit that is alien to the naturl Dharma.

So we cannot consider that there can exist a positive karma. When deeds are natural and free from Identity volition then there is neither Cetasika nor karma. These actions without negative effect are called kriya.

 In traditional Hinduism and Buddhism karma  perpetuates transmigration and has ethical consequences which determine theoretically the nature of the person's next existence. This has no bearing upon the present rendering of the Chinese Dhammapada.



We must ask then what the mental experiences are when there is no Identity related Cetasikas nor karma. There is “kriya” and “well being” Sukhavitakka”that is the experience of a constant physical and mental buoyancy, softness and attentive readiness that has no dualistic counterpart for its antithesis is Dukkha (suffering) and Sukha (mundane happiness). Also present under those naturl conditions without identity is tatraajjhattata, which is not the equanimity o the sublime states, but an equanimity raised to the dignity of being one of the seven factors of awakening..


We do not wish here to enter into the greater subtleties of Dharma psychology, but this should be sufficient to remedy any basic mistaken idea about the Dhammapada and theterm used within it.



The Subliminal Identities (we may consider them as the four states of misery; DUGGATI) known as poisons.

It may be useful here to speak briefly about these Identities since the intervention of Identity activity is responsible for all human problems. But we must remember that there really is no Identity as such, but it is simply a reification of four complex stimulus response sets from memory groups with great habit strength that are alien to the natural state of the human creature.

 These sets are characterized by being controlled by:

 1)  Identity sensations which result in “moha” which is confusion, although this state has been called unkindly from Brahmic times stupidity and delusion.

2) Identity discriminations which results in “Lobha” which is the attachment called greed,

 3) Identity influenced Perceptions , “Patigha” which is Aversion. And finally a set which has not been mentioned in early Abhidhama texts,

 4) Identity influenced Volition, which is an anxiety about the future.

These should not be confused with either the conscious apparent existence of one’s apparent Self as existing, nor the mental Identity which wishes to present an ideal picture of ones conduct.  The former four are sub conscious and the latter two conscious, though at times submerged for defensive reasons.

It can perhaps be discerned then that the DP is directed at the readjustment of “piti” in Chinese “ xìng”, that is mundane motivation leading it away from Identity influence towards natural harmony and balance which then changes the intention , the wish to do, chanda. There is then both a wish to do “chanda” and the impulse which is “piti” which when continually applied changes the wish into an activity.

Rebirth (PATISANDHI) and Reincarnation

Human belifs without substance arise whenever tere are unexplained mysteries. Since we are here interested in the implication of these ideasi the Dharmapda we will restrict our brief overview to Chna and India. In China, using Laozi 604-531 B.C as a base we find that there is no evidence for the idea of rebirth or reincarnation in Daoist philosophical thought. However there is evidence of such belief having developed by approximately 300 BCE  as a distant precursor of the old master Zhuangzi, 莊子(ca. 300 B.C.) whose ideas flourished at the peak of the importance of the “100 schools of thought.” And taught the doctrine which may have entered by way of India. His rather different concepts with regard to life after death, 重生 chóng shēng,  is shown by  small event which is recounted n the “The great happiness”,至樂, zhì lè. Seeing a skull thrown by the wayside, made a remark, lamenting that there was death, but the skull replied “and how do you know that it is bad to be dead.”


Although the reincarnation concept was not taught by the early Aryans eventually two ideas gained dominance:  i) the existence of Brahmin and ii) karma / reincarnation.


While the speculative philosophies of India only make a. complete mention, very briefly in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad much later it appears to have developed much from the stories of the resurrection and immortality of the gods themselves, similar to that which is found in most polytheistic religions of the time.


There was a self, but not within the human creature but simply a Brama self, one state of selfhood contained in all things. The problem with Identity was, and is, that it has difficulty believing that the self is anything other than a personal. And this beacme the principal virus in the human system which led to the poisons and the staining of Samsara.

Within that mileau Buddha was born and these ideas naturally were a part of his learning. The question then is what the early Buddha Dharma view was.

We find that “rebirth” or re-linking, Patisandhi, in chinese, 重生, chóng shēng. not “reincarnation” became an integral part of early Buddha Dharma which was carried into China, and while speculation seems to have been common among philosophers about reincarnation the evidence suggests that the buddha dharma view was restricted to it as an ethical concept in which there was no rebirth of Identity.

 It is theoretically the skandhas, that is the processes of sensation, discrimination, pe4ception, cognition and attenton/consciouness that are dissoved upon death (last consciousness) and are reconstituted in a new birth (first consciousness). Thus causes are reborn but not Identity. This is a subtle point that must be understood for  correct view of the Pali Dharmapada. When reading the stories it is easy  to fall into the trap of looking at the rebirth as that of  Identity, which was never a part of the Buddha Dharm philosophy nor as a sort of Karmic punishment. On the other hand it is certain that the stories connected with the DP at a later date certainly give that impression

In Chinese we can speak of , which is oneself, which is equivalent to the observable illusion of Identity Existence, not the four states of misery; DUGGATI and jǐ, which is the Unknown Self, the feminine root self of the earth, the feminine principle, known also as the 6th heavenly stem; 阴土yīn   , the non individual self.

The transcendental non individual rebirth is rather like a computer re-built from a mass of previously discarded parts. While the unit may work it may have a new design, requires a new operative system and applications which are not an integral part of the used parts. The quality of the parts however is reflcted in the quality of their deterioration by previous use. In the Majjhima Nikaya Buddha  declared :

“I have not elucidated that the world is eternal, and I have not elucidated that the world is not eternal. I have not elucidated that the saint exists after death, I have not elucidated that the saint does not exist after death. I have not elucidated that the saint both exists and does not exist after death.”

Such matters were not for Buddha worth speculation. Rebirth within the stories of the Dhammapada are presented only to make a point about the apparant root cause and an effect, not one of reward or punishment, remembering that both Karma nd Rebirth are also associated during life as mundane events with the constant change of conditions and the constant renovation, becoming and rebirth of Identity illusion each moment.

In fact the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which was a part of Buddhas learning was not intended for mundane mental speculation. It is itslf an introduction to a cosmic meditation in which the idea of an individual self becomes and abomination.. As it is stated in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

 "Whoever knows this (no individual self)  possesses the whole world. He himself is the world."

Bearing in mind then the consmic non-individual self and the idea of rebirth, despite its apparent weight as a warning of future states appearing no different then the christian threat of hell, then their use used only as a teaching tool has a deeper significnce. This becomes very obvious even with the first story associated with the first chapter, of the PaliDhammapada, Yamakavagga : The story of The Blind Elder Cakkhupāla,  in which the topic is the fact that all mental phenomenon are man made, even in and of itself, enphasises the necesity of seeing the concepts of the mind, even those used in the tale as empty.

If one does not understand the concepts described above then how can anything except a torpid self masturbating mind understand the Dhammapada. Better indeed it is to embrace the mental commandments of religious fevor and balance ones life between suffering and false happiness. It is worth remembering that this search for this understanding as Truth is always a failure, for Truth will seek out those who are open and flexible, prepared to accet it.

2. Indian Versions

Pāli Dhammapada (26 Chapters)

 The Dhammapada was written in Pāli a Middle-Indo-Aryan language best known as the language of the earliest extant Buddha Dharma scriptures. It is now the liturgical language of the Theravadin tradition and has been preserved by them as the oldest form of Buddha's teaching and thus should be respected. However, it is unlikely that the Pali Dhammapada is the direct word of the Buddha himself but it is a most reliable source about oldest Buddha dharma concepts, meditations and teachings.

While the Thervadin believe that Pāli Dhammapada originated during the First Buddhist Council, which took place immediately after Buddha's death, this appears just romantic in terms of religious significnce. The most logical consensus chooses the Third Council sponsored by king Aśoka during the third century B.C.E.  Although It most likely had an early germination, for many of the verses are found in Mahābhārata and were a part of the spiritual milleu of India.

The Pāli Dhammapada which is complete and most well accepted contains four hundred twenty-three verses, divided into twenty-six chapters.

1. Yamaka-vagga (The Chapter of Pairs) verses 1.-20. (20 verses)
2. Appamāda-vagga (The Chapter of Mindfulness) 21.-32. (12)
3. Citta-vagga (The Chapter of the Mind) 33.-43. (11)
4. Puppha-vagga (The Chapter of the Flower) 44.-59. (16)
5. Bāla-vagga (The Chapter of the Fool) 60.-75. (16)
6. Pa
ṇḍita-vagga (The Chapter of the Wise) 76.-89. (14)
7. Arahanta-vagga (The Chapter of the Perfected) 90.-99. (10)
8. Sahassa-vagga (The Chapter of Thousand) 100.-115. (16)
9. Pāpa-vagga (The Chapter of Evil) 116.-128. (13)
10. Da
ṇḍa-vagga (The Chapter of the Punishment) 129.-145. (17)
11. Jarā-vagga (The Chapter of the Old Age) 146.-156. (11)
12. Atta-vagga (The Chapter of the Self) 157.-166. (10)
13. Loka-vagga (The Chapter of the World) 167.-178. (12)
14. Buddha-vagga (The Chapter of the Awakened) 179.-196. (18)
15. Sukha-vagga (The Chapter of Happiness) 197.-208. (12)
16. Piya-vagga (The Chapter of Affection) 209.-220. (12)
17. Kodha-vagga (The Chapter of Anger) 221.-234. (14)
18. Mala-vagga (The Chapter of Impurity) 235.-255. (21)
19. Dhamma
ṭṭha-vagga (The Chapter of the Righteous) 256.-272. (17)
20. Magga-vagga (The Chapter of the Way) 273.-289. (17)
21. Paki
ṇṇaka-vagga (The Chapter of Various) 290.-305. (16)
22. Niraya-vagga (The Chapter of the Hell) 306.-319. (14)
23. Nāga-vagga (The Chapter of the Elephant) 320.-333. (14)
24. Ta
hā-vagga (The Chapter of the Thirst) 334.-359. (26)
25. Bhikkhu-vagga (The Chapter of the Monk) 360.-382. (23)
26. Brāhma
a-vagga (The Chapter of the Brahmin) 383.-423. (41)

The narratives of the commentary for some with great devotion, give dignity and even clarification to the verses. In the presentation of the Pali Dhammapada, we present only a summary of the most interesting stories in comprison with the chinese stories and thus avoid in great measure the presentation of what may be considered contentious or superstitious beliefs.


Khotan Dhammapada

This famous birch-bark manuscript a recension of the Dharmapada in the Kharosthi script, the Gandhari  Prakrit dialect spoken in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent, corresponding to the regions today known as Afghanistan and NW Pakistan. It was from here that the Indian philosophies made their impact upon other cultures so it is not suprising that it was discovered in 1892 near Khotan in Xinliang, Western China.

The manuscript, compiled between 130AD and 240AD, is generally considered to be the oldest surviving manuscript of an Indian text. Thus it is the oldest surviving example of the Dhammapada.  There is evidence to suggest that this text may belong to the Dharmaguptaka, one of the the twenty schools of early Buddha Dharma, with dominance in northwestern India around the 1st century CE, and this would explain their influence in Central Asia and northeastern Asia.

They emphasised the merit of devotion to the cetiya or stūpa, as a religious monument which took on importance after Buddha’s death, for his body was Kusināra, and his relics were enshrined in ten funereal cetiya. His relics were divided diplomatically into eight portions by the Brahmin Doa. He was given the jewel-encrusted funeral urn, over which he built a ninth cetiya, and the Moriyās of Pippalivana, who arrived too late to obtain a share of the relics, erected a cetiya over the ashes of the funeral pyre at


This tendency towards devotion may have led to their appendage of the background legends to the Dhrmapada. Thus force is given to the verses as their doctrine is quite different from other early groups in that Buddha is considered as separate from Sangha so that his teachings may be considered superior to those given by Arahats.

We must remember that this is an incomplete text and that interlinear notations show that that their contents have been copied –The suggestion by Richard Salomon, a professor in the department of Asian languages and literatureresponsible for original translation is that they may possibly have been discarded remnants.

 The  order of the chapters of the Khotan Dharmapada which is incomplete is quite different than the Pali Dhammapada and the number of the verses also vary. The number of verses in each section when complete is within brackets () and the corresponding  position of the Pali verse is shown in brackets [].  

It appears that the re ordering was to give greater importnce to those verses most important and apt for those that had entered more profoundly upon the path of concentration and insight.

1. Brammaa (Brahmin) (50) [26]
2. Bhikhu (Monk) (40)  [25]
3. Tasi
a (Thirst) [24]
4. Pavu (Evil)  [9]
5. Araha (Perfected One) [7]
6. Magu (Way) (30) [20]
7. Apramadu (Conscientiousness) (25) [2]

8. Cita (Mind) [3]
9. Bāla (Fool)  [5]
10. Jara (Old Age) (25) [11]
11. Suha (Happiness) (20)  [15]
12. Thera (Elder) (19) [19]   perhaps Rightiousness
13. Yamaka (Pairs) (22)  [1]
14. [Pa
ṇḍita] (Wise One) (19)  [6]
15. [Bahuśruta] (H
e who has heard much') (16) [14]  perhaps the Awakened One

16. [Prakīraka] (Various) (15)  [21]
17. [Krodha] (Anger) (16)  [17]
18. [Pu
pa] (Flower) (15)  [4]
19. [Sahasra] (Thousand) (17)  [8]
20. [Śīla] (Virtue) (10) [18]  IMPURITY
21. [K
tya] (A doing,)  (9)  [13]   Perhaps Duty in the World
22. [Nāga or Aśva] (Elephant or Horse)  [23]

23.- 26. presumed missing verses:

          AFFECTION [16]-PUNISHMENT [10]- SELF [12]- HELL [22]

It can be seen then that there is no sacred order and that the chapters were arranged to suit the conditions and beliefs of those who use the Dhammapada.

The  Udānavarga: "The Spiritual Uplifting Collection".

The Udānavarga is also a version of the Dharmapada and it has been suggested that a text similar to the Pali Canon's Udāna formed the original core, to which verses from the Dhammapada were added. We can consider that there are perhaps 16 to 18 headings that are identical or similar to the Pali Dhammapada.

The word udāna- is derived from the verb ud+an- where ud- is a prefix denoting moving upwards and the verb root an- means "to breathe". Therefore, udāna means "breathing upwards"  In Buddhist sense udāna it is suggested that the meaning is a short utterance, that is pronounced by the inspiration of the moment. However depite the temptation to translate it as  "joyful utterance", the most probable is that udana represents one of the five pranas that moves upward from the body to the crown of the head and is considered as a regular channel of communication between the physical life and the greater life with  higher consciousness. Thus it is “uplifting” in the spiritual sense .

The word varga- is a noun derived from the verbal root vj- meaning (among other things) "to gather". Varga, or vagga,  is therefore best translated as “a collection" . The Udānavarga then should be translated as "The Spiritual Uplifting Collection".

While the date of the Udanavarga may be as early as the 4th century ... It is probable that an earlier text existed at least prior to the earliest chinese translation the  Fǎ jīng (法句經) 224 - 225 CE, for many chapter headings (used in the Tibetan Version) , certainly five or more, Impermanance, Desire, Reflection, the Hearer and Nirvanah  appear in this Chinese text Identical to the Udanavarga, which is not not likely to be a coincidence. . The great Atisha much later used and reccomended this text which was studied in Tibet’s, Bka' gdams pa (kadampa) tradition and it wasspecifically introduced as a traditional text by Sha ra ba Yon tan grags (1070-1141).

As we advance we will keep this in mind and among the verses in different versions that are related, the similarity in terms of imagery or message is sometimes fairly tenuous.   

  1. Kāmavarga:  Desire
  2. Tṛṣṇāvarga:  Lust  Thirst
  3. Apramādavarga:  Purity
  4. Priyavarga:  Agreeable Things
  5. Śīlavarga:  Morality
  6. Sucaritavarga : Virtuous Conduct
  7. Vācavarga: Speech
  8. Karmavarga:  Deeds
  9. Śraddhāvarga : Faith
  10. Śramaavarga : The Recluse
  11. Mārgavarga:  The Way
  12. Satkāravarga:  Honours
  13. Drohavarga: Hatred
  14. Smtivarga: Reflection
  15. Prakirakavarga :Miscellaneous
  16. Udakavarga : Water
  17. Pupavarga: The Flower
  18. Aśvavarga :The Horse
  19. Krodhavarga : Anger
  20. Tathāgatavarga: "Thus-gone" one
  21. Śrutavarga:  The Hearer
  22. Ātmavarga:  Self
  23. Peyālavarga : Numbers  
  24. Mitravarga:  Friendship
  25. Nirvāavarga:. Nirvana
  26. Paśyavarga:  Sight
  27. Pāpavarga:  Sin
  28. Yugavarga: Day and Night
  29. Sukhavarga: Happiness
  30. Cittavarga :The Mind
  31. Bhikuvarga: The Monk
  32. Brāhmaavarga :The Brahmana

1. 無常品  無常       cháng   not permanent impermanence . . 21 Anityavarga:

2. 教學品  Inciting to Wisdom . . 29 jiào  teaching  xué  learn /

3. 多聞品   The Sravaka . 19    duō wén  / numerous to hear  the hearer


4.   篤信品  Simple Belief .  18 xìn  sincere to believe

5. 誡慎品   Observance of Duty . . 16 jiè  commandment / prohibit
  shèn   cautious  

6. 惟念品   Reflection . . 12   wéi-ism / only   / idea    Smtivarga: Reflection


7. 慈仁品   Humane Kindness 19 ,   rén / kind  and humane

  1. 8.  言語品   Conversation . 12 may be similar to Vācavarga: Speech


36.    泥恒品  Nirvana       héng    restrained permanent / constant         Nirvāavarga


37. 生死品   Birth and Death . 18 生死shēng   life/and /or death  


38. 道利品   Profit of Religion 19 d dào The Advantage of the Way


39. 吉祥品   Good Fortune . . 19 xiáng lucky / auspicious / propitious




Dharmatrāta. 法救, a Sarvastivada philosopher and monk, rearranged and enlarged the current version. Perhaps not the translator , he can be considered  responsible for the Commentary to the text. There are numerous chapters with different topics than the other two Dhaammapada’s discussed.

The Dhammapada Structure

The Dhammapada is a collection of short verses consisting of elements that are not of the same kind or nature of ethical or philosophical contents, but it is a great deal more than this, for it presents the way in which cognition must be directed in the world beyond the ilusion of the senses. They are literally footprints which act as guide for those who follow upon the path of refraining Identity folly, and as such they compliment te samatha meditations the Vipassana absorptions as well as the Skanda concentrations. They served likewise in China as a compliment to the entering Dharma that melded completely ith the Dao and in particular the Book of De, the first of the two books of Laozi’s famous treatise.

According to tradition, the Dhammapada's verses were spoken by Gotama Buddha on various occasions. Almost half of the verses are from the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka, and over half of the verses exist in other parts of the Pali Canon. While it is most possible that it is neither the Khotan Dharmapada nor the Pali which was used as the guiding text in China.  It is most probable that there was a previous Khotan text which was an intermediatory between the original Pali Dhammapada and the Chinese versions which maintained the original pali chapter order..


The text we will however use here in making our comparison is the Pali Dhammapada, which has as its aim not a compaison of the translations in and of themselves, but an analysis of the deeper profundity generated by the Chinese texts due to the non lateral and non logical thought processes used which directed the mind towards the primary experiences not the word explanations than either Pali or the Khotan versions can provide and leave the interesting details of history and linguistics to the experts.