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Verse 83: The Story of Five Hundred Bhikkhus

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (83) of this book, with
reference to five hundred Bhikkhus.

At the request of a brahmin from Veranja, the Buddha was, on one occasion, staying at
Veranja with five hundred Bhikkhus. While they were at Veranja, the brahmin failed to look
after them. The people of Veranja, who were then facing a famine, could offer very little to
the Bhikkhus, when they went on their rounds for alms-food. In spite of all these hardships, the
Bhikkhus were not disheartened; they were quite contented with the small amount of
shrivelled grain, which the horse-traders offered them daily. At the end of the vassa, after
informing the brahmin from Veranja, the Buddha returned to the Jetavana monastery,
accompanied by the five hundred Bhikkhus. The people of Savatthi welcomed them back with
choice food of all kinds.

A group of people living with the Bhikkhus, eating whatever was left over by the Bhikkhus, ate
greedily like true gluttons and went to sleep after their meals. On waking up, they were
shouting, singing and dancing, thus making themselves a thorough nuisance. When the Buddha
came in the evening to the congregation of Bhikkhus, they reported to him about the behaviour
of those unruly persons, and said, "These people living on the leftovers, were quite decent and
well-behaved, when all of us were facing hardship and famine in Veranja. Now when they have
enough good food, they are going about shouting, singing and dancing, and thus make
themselves a thorough nuisance. The Bhikkhus, however, behave themselves here just as they
were in Veranja".

To them the Buddha replied, "It is in the nature of the foolish to be full of sorrow and feel
depressed when things go wrong, and to be full of gladness and feel elated when things go well.
The wise, however, can withstand the ups and downs of life."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 83. Indeed, the virtuous give up all (i.e., attachment to the five khandhas, etc.); the virtuous
(lit., the tranquil) does not walk with sensual desire; when faced with joy or sorrow, the wise do not
show elation or depression.

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


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