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Verse 60: The Story of a Certain Person

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (60) of this book, with
reference to a certain young man and King Pasenadi of Kosala.

One day King Pasenadi, while going out in the city, happened to see a beautiful young woman
standing at the window of her house and he instantly fell in love with her. So the king tried to find
ways and means of getting her. Finding that she was a married woman, he sent for her husband and
made him serve at the palace. Later, the husband was sent on an impossible errand by the king. The
young man was to go to a place, a yojana (twelve miles) away from Savatthi, bring back some
Kumuda lotus flowers and some red earth called 'arunavati' from the land of the dragons (nagas)
and arrive back at Savatthi the same evening, in time for the king's bath. The king's intention was
to kill the husband if he failed to arrive back in time, and to take the wife for himself.

Hurriedly taking a food packet from his wife, the young man set out on his errand. On the way, he
shared his food with a traveller. He also threw some rice into the water and said loudly, "O
guardian spirits and dragons inhabiting this river! King Pasenadi has commanded me to get some
Kumuda lotus flowers and arunavati red earth for him. I have today shared my food with a
traveller; I have also fed the fish in the river; I now share with you the benefits of the good deeds
I have done today. Please get the Kumuda lotus and arunavati red earth for me." The king of the
dragons, hearing him, took the appearance of an old man and brought the lotus and the red earth.

On that evening, King Pasenadi, fearing that the young husband might arrive back in time, had the
city-gates closed early. The young man, finding the city-gates closed, placed the red earth on the
city-wall and stuck the flowers on the earth. Then he declared loudly,

"O citizens! Be my witnesses! I have today accomplished my errand in time as instructed by the
king. King Pasenadi, without any justification, plans to kill me." After that, the young man left for
the Jetavana monastery to take shelter and find solace in the peaceful atmosphere of the

Meanwhile, King Pasenadi, obsessed with sexual desire, could not sleep, and kept thinking out how
he would get rid of the husband in the morning and take his wife. At about midnight, he heard some
eerie sounds; actually, these were the doleful voices of four persons suffering in Lohakumbhi
Niraya . Hearing those weird voices, the king was terrified. Early in the morning, he went to the
Buddha, as advised by Queen Mallika. When the Buddha was told about the four voices the king
heard in the night, he explained to the king that those were the voices of four beings, who were
the sons of rich men during the time of Kassapa Buddha, and that now they were suffering in
Lohakumbhi Niraya because they had committed sexual misconduct with other people's wives.
Then, the king came to realize the depravity of the deed and the severity of the punishment. So, he
decided then and there that he would no longer covet another man's wife. "After all, it was on
account of my intense desire for another man's wife, that I was tormented and could not sleep the
whole of last night," he reflected. Then King Pasenadi said to the Buddha, "Venerable Sir, now I
know how long the night is for one who cannot sleep." The young man who was close at hand also
said, "Venerable Sir, because I had travelled the full distance of a yojana yesterday, I, too, know
how long the journey of a yojana is for one who is weary."

Combing their two statements, the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 60: Long is the night to one who is wakeful; long is (the journey of) one yojana to the
traveller who is tired; long is samsara (round of rebirths) to the fool, who is ignorant of the true
Dhamma (the Teaching of the Buddha).

At the end of the discourse, the young man attained Sotapatti Fruition.

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_60.story.htm