Dandavagga – Abandon Violence Dhammapada 10


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For a complete understanding of this sutta in the context intended by an awakened human being please read the linked suttas at the end of this article. ([x])

The Dhammapada is a twenty-six chapter volume in the fifth book of the Sutta Pitaka known as the Khuddaka Nikaya. The Khuddaka Nikaya is a fifteen-book collection of short texts difficult to classify within the other volumes. The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse that can be read as a concise though thorough presentation of an awakened human being’s teachings. [1]

The Dhammapada is loosely formatted by topic. The individual topic(s) presented in each chapter mostly stand on their own with the understanding that everything the Buddha taught can only be understood and developed skillfully within the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. [2,3]

The tenth chapter of the Dhammapada describes the pitfalls of hurtful and aggressive behavior and the liberation found in developing restraint of thought, word, and deed. [4]

The Buddha taught an Eightfold Path to develop recognition and abandonment of self-referential behavior that results in harm toward others and ourselves.  [5]

My comments below are in italics.


Dandavagga – Abandon Violence

Dhammapada 10

Everyone fears violence and death. Understanding thus the wise Dhamma practitioner does not harm others or cause others to harm.

Everyone fears violence and holds dear life. Understanding thus the wise Dhamma practitioner does not harm others or cause others to harm.

One cannot attain happiness while oppressing others with violence.

One will find happiness who does not oppress others with violence.

Angry speech causes harm, retaliation can overcome the mind. Avoid speaking harshly and remain free from harsh retort.

One approaches nibbana who restrains the tongue and abandons harmful speech.

As a cowherd drives cows with a staff, so too does aging and death drive the lives of people.

The fool does wrong while ignorant and is yet tormented by their hurtful thoughts, words, and deeds, like being burnt by a fire.

Inflicting violence on the innocent will bring one of ten states:

Sharp pain – injury – illness – derangement – subjugation – incarceration – loss of family – loss of wealth – loss of shelter – ongoing wandering in ignorance.

Nakedness, matted hair, filth, fasting, smearing oneself with ashes, nor self-torture, cannot purify one’s mind rooted in doubt and uncertainty.

This last refers to any ascetic or ritualistic practice. These are all aspets of self-violence and are practices Siddartha engaged with and abandoned as “not leading to knowledge.” [6]

Moderate in clothing, food, shelter, and medicine, poised, calm. well-concentrated, established in the Eightfold Path, and having completely abandoned violence towards all beings, this one is a true Dhamma practitioner.

This last describes behavior guided by the Eightfold Path.

As rare as a thoroughbred avoiding the whip is a person restrained by modesty and beyond reproach.

Authentic and well-focused Dhamma practitioners were just as rare during the Buddha’s teaching career as they are today.  [7,8]

Like a thoroughbred driven by the whip, be strenuous and diligent while developing understanding. The wise Dhamma practitioner, well-concentrated, harmless, mindful of the Four Truths, will destroy suffering.

Irrigators guide rivers. Fletchers straighten arrows. Carpenters shape wood. The wise Dhamma practitioner controls themselves.

End Of Chapter


  1. Pali Canon
  2. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  3. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  4. Wisdom Of Restraint
  5. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  6. The Noble Search For The Noble Path
  7. Teaching An Authentic Dhamma
  8. Modern Buddhism – A Thicket Of Views

For All Who Reside In The Dhamma - Agantuka Sutta

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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.

Becoming-Buddha.com and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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