Home  |  Minor Stories Index

The Story of Two Friends (Verses 19 and 20)

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (19) and (20) of
this book, with reference to two Bhikkhus who were friends.

Once there were two friends of noble family, two Bhikkhus from Savatthi. One of them
learned the Tipitaka and was very proficient in reciting and preaching the sacred texts.
He taught five hundred Bhikkhus and became the instructor of eighteen groups of Bhikkhus.
The other Bhikkhu striving diligently and ardently in the course of Insight Meditation
attained Arahatship together with Analytical Insight.

On one occasion, when the second Bhikkhu came to pay homage to the Buddha, at the
Jetavana monastery, the two Bhikkhus met, The master of the Tipitaka did not realize
that the other had already become an Arahat. He looked down on the other, thinking that
this old Bhikkhu knew very little of the sacred texts, not even one out of the five Nikayas
or one out of the three Pitakas. So he thought of putting questions to the other, and thus
embarrass him. The Buddha knew about his unkind intention and he also knew that as a
result of giving trouble to such a noble disciple as this one, the intellectual Bhikkhu would
be reborn in a lower world.

So, out of compassion, the Buddha visited the two Bhikkhus to prevent the scholar from
questioning the other Bhikkhu. The Buddha himself did the questioning. He put questions
on jhanas and maggas to the master of the Tipitaka; but he could not answer them
because he had not practisedm what he had taught. The other Bhikkhu, having practised
the Dhamma and having attained Arahatship, could answer all the questions. The Buddha
praised the one who practised the Dhamma (i.e., a vipassaka), but not a single word of
praise was spoken for the learned scholar (i.e., a ganthika).

The resident disciples could not understand why the Buddha had words of praise for the
old Bhikkhu and not for their learned teacher. So, the Buddha explained the matter to
them. The scholar who knows a great deal, but does not practice in accordance with the
Dhamma is like a cowherd, who looks after the cows for wages, while the one who
practices in accordance with the Dhamma is like the owner who enjoys the five kinds of
produce of the cows. Thus, the scholar enjoys only the services rendered to him by his
pupils, but not the benefits of Magga-phala. The other Bhikkhu, though he knows little and
recites only a little of the sacred texts, having clearly comprehended the essence of the
Dhamma and having practised diligently and strenuously, is an 'anudhammacari', who
has eradicated passion, ill will and ignorance. His mind being totally freed from moral
defilements and from all attachments to this world as well as to the next, he truly shares
the benefits of Magga-phala.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 19: Though he recites much the Sacred Texts (Tipitaka), but is negligent and does
not practice according to the Dhamma, like a cowherd who counts the cattle of others, he
has no share in the benefits of the life of a Bhikkhu (i.e., Magga-phala).

Verse 20: Though he recites only a little of the Sacred Texts (Tipitaka), but practices
according to the Dhamma, eradicating passion, ill will and ignorance, clearly
comprehending the Dhamma, with his mind freed from moral defilements and no longer
clinging to this world or to the next, he shares the benefits of the life of a Bhikkhu (i.e.,

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_19_20.story.htm