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Verse 143 & 144 The Story of Thera PilotikaTissa

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (143) and (144) of this
book, with reference to Thera PilotikaTissa.

Once, Thera Ananda saw a shabbily dressed youth going round begging for food; he felt pity for
the youth and made him a samanera. The young samanera left his old clots and his begging
plate on the fork of a tree. When he became a Bhikkhu he was known as PilotikaTissa. As a
Bhikkhu, he did not have to worry about food and clothing as he was in affluent circumstances.
Yet, sometimes he did not feel happy in his life as a Bhikkhu and thought of going back to the
life of a lay man. Whenever he had this feeling, he would go back to that tree where he had left
his old clothes and his plate. There, at the foot of the tree, he would put this question to
himself, "Oh shameless one! Do you want to leave the place where you are fed well and dressed
well? Do you still want to put on these shabby clothes and go begging again with this old plate in
your hand?" Thus, he would rebuke himself, and after calming down, he would go back to the

After two or three days, again, he felt like leaving the monastic life of a Bhikkhu, and again, he
went to the tree where he kept his old clothes and his plate. After asking himself the same old
question and having been reminded of the wretchedness of his old life, he returned to the
monastery. This was repeated many times. When other Bhikkhus asked him why he often went to
the tree where he kept his old clothes and his plate, he told them that he went to see his
teacher.* Thus keeping his mind on his old clothes as the subject of meditation, he came to
realize the true nature of the clusters of clinging of the khandhas (i. e., anicca, dukkha, anatta), and
eventually he became an Arahat. Then, he stopped going to the tree. Other Bhikkhus noticing
that PilotikaTissa had stopped going to the tree where he kept his old clothes and his plate
asked him, "Why don't you go to your teacher any more?" To them, he answered, "When I had
the need, I had to go to him; but there is no need for me to go to him now." When the Bhikkhus
heard his reply, they took him to see the Buddha. When they came to his presence they said,
"Venerable Sir! This Bhikkhu claims that he has attained Arahatship; he must be telling lies." But
the Buddha refuted them, and said, "Bhikkhus! PilotikaTissa is not telling lies, he speaks the
truth. Though he had relationship with his teacher previously, now he has no relationship
whatsoever with his teacher. Thera PilotikaTissa has instructed himself to differentiate right
and wrong causes and to discern the true nature of things. He has now become an Arahat, and so
there is no further connection between him and his teacher."

Then the Buddha spoke in Verse as follows:

Verse 143: Rare in this world is the kind of person who out of a sense of shame restrains from
doing evil and keeps himself awake like a good horse that gives no cause to be whipped.

Verse 144: Like a good horse stirred at a touch of the whip, be diligent and get alarmed by
endless round of rebirths (i.e., samsara). By faith, morality, effort, Concentration, discernment
of the Dhamma, be endowed with knowledge and practice of morality, and with mindfulness,
leave this immeasurable dukkha (of samsara) behind.

* teacher: here refers to Pilotika's old clothes and his begging plate: they are like a teacher to
him because they imbued him with a deep sense of shame and put him on the right track.

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

Saved: 24 December 2016   https://What-Buddha-Said.net/Canon/Sutta/KN/Dhammapada.Verse_143_144.story.htm