Dhammapada: Wisdom of the Buddha — trans. Harischandra Kaviratna

Thirst or Craving — Canto XXIV

334. The craving (tanha) of a heedless man grows like the maluva creeper. He jumps (from life to life) like a monkey eagerly seeking fruit in the forest.

335. Whosoever is overcome by this shameful craving which creates entanglements in this world, his sorrows increase like the luxuriant birana grass (in the rainy season).

336. But whosoever overcomes in this world this shameful craving, which is difficult to suppress, finds his sorrows fall from him, as drops of water from a lotus leaf.

337. This I say unto you! May all of you, who are gathered here, be blessed! May you dig up the root of craving as one who digs up the birana grass for the fragrant usira root. (1) Let not Mara destroy you again and again, even as the current of the river destroys the reeds.

338. Just as a tree when cut down sprouts up again if the roots remain firm and uninjured, even so this suffering (of life) returns again and again if the root of craving is not completely destroyed.

339. The man in whom the thirty-six streams of craving flow strongly towards pleasurable objects, the waves of passions carry off. He is of confused vision and erroneous thoughts.

340. Streams flow everywhere; the creeper (of passion) sprouts and remains fixed. If you see that creeper springing up, cut its root by means of wisdom.

341. In creatures there arise pleasures extending towards sense objects. Immersed in various enjoyments they hanker after them. Verily, these people are subject to birth and old age.

342. People beset by craving circle round and round, like a hare ensnared in a net; held fast by the (ten) fetters and shackles (that bind man to the wheel of life), they undergo suffering for a long time, again and again.

343. People beset by craving circle round and round, like a hare ensnared in a net; therefore, let the monk who desires freedom from passion abandon craving.

344. He who has renounced the forest (of craving), and having liberated himself from that forest, yet runs back into it — behold this man! Although once freed, he runs into bondage.

345. The wise do not call strong that fetter which is made of iron, wood or hemp. Rather do they call attachment to jewels, ornaments, children and wives a far stronger fetter.

346. That fetter is strong, say the wise, which drags a man down; which, although slack, is difficult to escape from. Severing even this, they set forth, desiring nothing and abandoning all sensuous pleasures.

347. Those beings who are infatuated with the fire of lust fall into the current (of thirst for life), as the spider into its self-spun web. The wise, having curtailed the current, go off, leaving all sorrow behind.

348. Renounce the craving for the past, renounce the craving for the future, renounce the craving for what is between, and cross to the opposite shore. With the mind fully emancipated you will not return to birth and old age.

349. Craving (tanha) steadily grows in the mortal whose mind is agitated by (evil) thoughts, who is full of strong passions and ever yearning for what is pleasant. Such a one makes his fetters strong.

350. He who delights in controlling his thoughts, who ever absorbs himself in contemplation on what is not pleasant (the impurity of the body), such a one will put an end (to craving) and cut the bonds of Mara.

351. He who has arrived at the goal, who is fearless, devoid of craving, passionless, has destroyed the arrows of existence. For such a person this is his last physical form.

352. He who is devoid of craving and attachment, who is an expert in etymology and terminology, who knows the systematic arrangement of letters (in their prior and posterior relations), is called a foremost sage, a great man. He bears a physical body for the last time.

353. I am the conqueror of all, I am the knower of all, in all the states of life. I am unattached, I have relinquished all, and with the destruction of craving I am liberated. Having comprehended everything by myself, whom shall I call my teacher?"

354. The gift of Truth (dhamma) excels all other gifts; the flavor of Truth excels all other flavors; the delight in Truth surpasses all delights. The destruction of craving overcomes all suffering.

355. Riches destroy the ignorant, yet not those who seek the further shore. Through his craving for material wealth, he destroys himself as if (destroying) others.

356. Fields have the blight of weeds; mankind has the blight of passion; therefore, offerings given to those devoid of passion bring forth abundant fruit.

357. Fields have the blight of weeds; mankind has the blight of hatred; therefore, offerings given to those devoid of hatred bring forth abundant fruit.

358. Fields have the blight of weeds; mankind has the blight of delusion; therefore, offerings given to those devoid of delusion bring forth abundant fruit.

359. Fields have the blight of weeds; mankind has the blight of desire; therefore, offerings given to those devoid of desire bring forth abundant fruit.


1. Andropogon Muricatus, cuscus grass. (return to text)

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