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Verse 123: The Story of Mahadhana

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (123) of this book,
with reference to Mahadhana the merchant.

Mahadhana was a rich merchant from Savatthi. On one occasion, five hundred robbers were
planning to rob him, but thy did not get the chance to rob him. In the meantime, they heard
that the merchant would soon be going out with five hundred carts loaded with valuable
merchandise. The merchant Mahadhana also invited the Bhikkhus who would like to go on the
same journey to accompany him, and he promised to look to their needs on the way. So five
hundred Bhikkhus accompanied him. The robbers got news of the trip and went ahead to lie
in wait for the caravan of the merchant. But the merchant stopped at the outskirts of the
forest where the robbers were waiting. The caravan was to move on after camping there for
a few days. The robbers got the news of the impending departure and made ready to loot the
caravan; the merchant, in his turn, also got news of the movements of the bandits and he
decided to return home. The bandits now heard that the merchant would go home; so they
waited on the homeward way. Some villagers sent word to the merchant about the movements
of the bandits, and the merchant finally decided to remain in the village for some time. When
he told the Bhikkhus about his decision, the Bhikkhus returned to Savatthi by themselves.

On arrival at the Jetavana monastery, they went to the Buddha and informed him about the
cancellation of their trip. To then, the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus, Mahadhana keeps away from
the journey beset with bandits; one who does not want to die keeps away from poison; so
also, a wise Bhikkhu, realizing that the three levels of existence* are like a journey beset
with, danger, should strive to keep away from doing evil."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 123. Just as a wealthy merchant with few attendants avoids a dangerous road, just as one
who desires to go on living avoids poison, so also, one should avoid evil.

At the end of the discourse, those five hundred Bhikkhus attained Sotapatti Fruition.

* The three levels of existence are:
1. (a) Kama-bhava, the level of sensuous existence; comprising the eleven realms of sense desire;
2. (b) Rupa-bhava, the level of fine material existence: comprising sixteen of the realms of Brahmas; 3.
(c) Arupa-bhava, the level of non-material existence; comprising four realms of the upper Brahmas.

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.


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