Dhammapada: Wisdom of the Buddha — trans. Harischandra Kaviratna

Who is a Brahman? — Canto XXVI

383. Cut off the stream of craving. Strive hard and renounce the sense pleasures, O Brahman. When you comprehend the secret of the destruction of all composite things, O Brahman, you will know the Uncreated (nirvana).

384. When the Brahman has reached the farther shore of the two states (of tranquillity and insight), then all the fetters of that knowing one disappear.

385. He for whom there exist neither the farther (the external six senses), nor the hither (the internal six senses), nor both of these, and who is devoid of fear and free from fetters him I call a Brahman.

386. He who is contemplative, lives without passions, is steadfast and has performed his duties, who is free from sensuous influxes and has attained the highest goal — him I call a Brahman.

387. The sun shines by day, the moon by night; the warrior is resplendent in armor and the Brahman radiant in meditation. But Buddha, the Awakened One, illumines both day and night by the splendor of his wisdom.

388. Because a man has discarded all evil, he is called a Brahman; because of his balanced conduct, he is called a monk (samana); because he has rid himself of all impurities, he is called a recluse (pabbajita).

Note — The impurities are ten in number: greed, hate, delusion, conceit, speculative views, doubt, mental torpor, restlessness, shamelessness, and lack of moral scruples.

389. One should not strike a Brahman; neither should a Brahman give way to anger against him who strikes. Woe to him who slays a Brahman; but greater woe to the Brahman who vents his wrath (on the aggressor).

390. It is no small advantage to a Brahman to restrain the mind from clinging to pleasurable things. In proportion to the degree that he abstains from wishing to injure others, to that degree will suffering cease.

391. He who has not committed unwholesome deeds through body, speech, or mind, and who is restrained in these three avenues — him I call a Brahman.

392. Even as the (orthodox) Brahman bows down to the sacrificial fire, so one should make obeisance to him who understands the Dhamma as proclaimed by the Fully Enlightened One.

393. Not by matted hair, by lineage, nor by birth (caste) does one become a Brahman. But the one in whom there abide truth and righteousness, he is pure; he is a Brahman.

394. O fool, what is the use of matted hair, and to what avail is raiment made of antelope skin? (1) Outwardly you cleanse yourself, but within you is a jungle of passions.

395. He who wears the cast-off garments (of a hermit), who is emaciated with the veins of his body standing out, who is solitary and contemplative in the forest — him I call a Brahman.

396. I do not call him a Brahman merely because he is born in the caste of the noble ones, or of a Brahman mother. If he is a possessor (of passions), he becomes known by the appellation bhovadi. But one who is free from possessions (craving) and from worldly attachments — him I call a Brahman.

Note — Bhovadi is a familiar form of address used by the Brahmans during the time of Buddha for equals and for inferiors. When the haughty Brahmans and Jains came to discuss metaphysical problems with the Buddha, they often addressed him simply, "Bho, Gotama!" Therefore, the Buddhists used to designate the Brahmans by this appellation which involves a certain amount of contempt. Bhovadin literally means one who uses the term "bho!"

397. He who has cut off all impediments and does not tremble with fears, who has passed beyond attachments and is free from shackles — him I call a Brahman.

398. He is enlightened who has cut the strap (of ill will) and the thong (of craving), who has broken the chain (of heretical views) with its appurtenances (latent tendencies), and has removed the crossbar (of ignorance) — him I call a Brahman.

399. He who with forgiveness bears up under reproach, abuse and punishment, and who looks upon patience as his army and strength as his force — him I call a Brahman.

400. He who is free from anger, who vigilantly performs his religious practices, who is virtuous, pure, self-restrained, and bears his physical body for the last time — him I call a Brahman.

401. He who, like water on a lotus leaf, or a mustard seed on the point of an awl, does not cling to sensuous pleasures him I call a Brahman.

402. He who while in this world realizes the end of his suffering, who has laid aside the burden (of his skandhas) and is free from attachments — him I call a Brahman.

403. He whose wisdom is deep, who is expert in knowledge and in discerning the right from the wrong path; he who has realized the supreme goal — him I call a Brahman.

404. He who does not associate closely either with householders (laymen) or with the homeless (mendicants), who does not frequent houses and who is content with few wants — him I call a Brahman.

405. He who has laid aside the cudgel that injures any creature whether moving or still, who neither slays nor causes to be slain — him I call a Brahman.

406. He who is tolerant amongst the intolerant, who is calm amongst the violent, and who is unattached amongst those who are attached — him I call a Brahman.

407. The one from whom lust and hatred, pride and hypocrisy have fallen away, like a mustard seed from the point of an awl — him I call a Brahman.

408. He who speaks gentle, instructive and truthful words, whose utterances offend no one — him I call a Brahman.

409. He who takes no object in this world that is not given to him, be it short or long, small or great, fair or ugly — him I call a Brahman.

410. He who has no desires regarding this world or the next, who is free of longings and without fetters — him I call a Brahman.

411. He who is free from craving and free from doubt through the realization of truth, and who has reached the depth of the deathless state (nirvana) — him I call a Brahman.

412. He who has transcended the bonds of both merit and demerit, who is sorrowless, free from passions, and pure him I call a Brahman.

413. He who like the moon, is stainless, pure, serene and unruffled, in whom desire for existence is extinguished — him I call a Brahman.

414. He who has traversed this miry path of samsara, difficult to pass; who has rid himself of delusion, crossed over and reached the other shore; who is absorbed in contemplation, free from craving and doubts, not grasping, and inwardly calm — him I call a Brahman.

415. He who in this world has relinquished all sensuous pleasures, wanders homeless (for the welfare of the many), and has destroyed all desire (kama) for existence — him I call a Brahman.

416. He who in this world has extinguished all craving, wanders homeless, and has destroyed all thirst (tanha) for existence — him I call a Brahman.

417. He who has abandoned all human ties and transcended even the celestial ties; who is truly free from all attachments — him I call a Brahman.

418. He who has put aside what gives pleasure as well as what gives pain, who is passionless and free from the causal seeds of existence (nirupadhi), the hero who has conquered all the worlds — him I call a Brahman.

419. He who has all knowledge concerning the death and rebirth of all beings, is unattached, who is content in himself (sugata), and enlightened (buddha) — him I call a Brahman.

420. He whose path is unknown to devas, gandharvas and men, who has nullified all sensuous influxes and is a Holy One (arahant) — him I call a Brahman.

421. He who has no longing for what is ahead, behind, or in the middle, who possesses nothing and is attached to nothing — him I call a Brahman.

422. He who is fearless (as a bull), distinguished and heroic, a great sage, a conqueror; who is entirely free from craving and who has washed off all impurities, an Enlightened One — him I call a Brahman.

423. He who knows his former abodes (his lives), who perceives (through spiritual insight) both heaven and hell, who has reached the end of all births, who has perfected himself in wisdom; such a sage who has accomplished all that ought to be accomplished (on the sublime path) — him I call a Brahman.



1. Worn by forest-dwelling mendicants of ancient India. (return to text)

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