Dhammapada chp. 7: The Perfected Ones (90–99)

A series of posts for my draft translation of the Dhammapada, for feedback and discussion. Final version will be on SuttaCentral.

At journey’s end, rid of sorrow;
freed in every way,
all ties given up,
no fever is found in them.

The mindful apply themselves;
they delight in no abode.
Like a swan from the marsh that’s gone,
they leave home after home behind.

They who have nothing stored up,
who have understood their food,
whose domain is the liberation
of the signless and the empty:
their path is hard to trace,
like that of birds in the sky.

One whose defilements have ended;
who’s not attached to food;
whose domain is the liberation
of the signless and the empty:
their track is hard to trace,
like that of birds in the sky.

One whose faculties have become serene,
like horses tamed by a charioteer,
who has abandoned conceit and defilements:
such a one is envied even by the gods.

Untroubled just like the earth;
true to their vows, steady as a boundary pillar;
like a lake cleansed of mud,
the poised do not transmigrate.

Their mind is peaceful;
peaceful are their speech and deeds.
A poised one is at peace,
rightly freed through enlightenment.

A faithless person, a house-breaker,
who fails to appreciate what has been done,
purged of hope, they’ve wasted their chance:
that is indeed the supreme person!

Whether in village or wilderness,
in a valley or the uplands,
wherever the perfected ones live
is a delightful place.

Delightful are the wildernesses
where no people delight.
Those free of greed will delight there,
not those who seek sensual pleasures.


And some good news: today I finished my Dhammapada translation! Now just proofing and correcting and making it good. I’ll keep posting chapters here.


Marvelous, Bhante! My nits below, if you like:

A bit of a garden path to me. I prefer, “they leave behind home after home.”

A bit verbose. Perhaps simply:

whose domain is liberation —
signless and empty —
their path is hard to trace,
like birds in the sky.

Where did “poised” come from? tādino = “such a person”??

A fun bait and switch! I’m so happy you preserved it. A few ideas:

  1. Unfortunately, “faithless” isn’t the opposite of “faith” in English but means “disloyal” (i.e. “unworthy of faith”, which is not an accurate description of an arahant!) I think you’ll have to translate “assaddha” as “having no faith” or “without faith” or somesuch instead. (I know, I know… English… :roll_eyes:)
  2. Perhaps “home wrecker” would be even more to-the-point! :joy:
  3. Why not simply “ungrateful” for akataññu?
  4. “wasted their chance” doesn’t sound right to me (an arahant has used their chance!) I’d prefer something more like “ruined their life” or “made a total wreck of things” :joy:

“in a village”

And what a delightful ending! :joy: So refreshing to see a fun translation of these verses! Sādhu! :pray:


As i don’t speak pali, my contribution is of little value, but comparing Ven Sujato’s translation of verse 97 with that of Ven Buddharakkhita:

The man who is without blind faith, who knows the Uncreated, who has severed all links, destroyed all causes (for karma, good and evil), and thrown out all desires — he, truly, is the most excellent of men.

Referring to a note by Ven Bodhi:

In the Pali this verse presents a series of puns, and if the “underside” of each pun were to be translated, the verse would read thus: “The man who is faithless, ungrateful, a burglar, who destroys opportunities and eats vomit — he truly is the most excellent of men.”

To avoid confusion by an average reader like myself, maybe adding a note to this verse can help avoid confusion.

Thanks for teaching us the Dhamma :anjal:

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Thank you for a breath-taking translation, a poem in its own right.

Perhaps Free of faith, a house-breaker, ?

Unfortunately faithless is often perjorative and might bring up unpleasant visions of student abuse by some claiming to be teachers.

In contrast, “free of faith” might provide a certain neutral ambiguity of attainment that permits the rest of us to have faith in actual arahants in their Right Freedom.

  1. There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey, and abandoned grief, who has freed himself on all sides, and thrown off all fetters.

  2. They exert themselves with their thoughts well-collected, they do not tarry in their abode; like swans who have left their lake, they leave their house and home.

  3. Men who have no riches, who live on recognised food, who have perceived void and unconditioned freedom (Nirvāna), their path is difficult to understand, like that of birds in the air.

  4. He whose appetites are stilled, who is not absorbed in enjoyment, who has perceived void and unconditioned freedom (Nirvāna), his path is difficult to understand, like that of birds in the air.

  5. The gods even envy him whose senses, like horses well broken in by the driver, have been subdued, who is free from pride, and free from appetites;

  6. Such a one who does his duty is tolerant like the earth, or like a threshold; he is like a lake without mud: no new births are in store for him.

  7. His thought is quiet, quiet are his word and deed, when he has obtained freedom by true knowledge, when he has thus become a quiet man.

  8. The man who is free from credulity, but knows the uncreated, who has cut all ties, removed all emptations, renounced all desires, he is the greatest of men.

  9. In a hamlet or in a forest, on sea or on dry land, wherever venerable persons (Arahant) dwell, that place is delightful.

  10. Forests are delightful; where the world finds no delight, there the passionless will find delight, for they look not for pleasures.

F. Max Milller, The Sacred Books of The East; Vol 10; pg 27- 31.

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Well, learn something new.

Not sure if this is serious, but for the record, the term sandhiccheda means a “one who breaks into houses”, i.e. a thief, not a “house-wrecker” i.e. faithless husband, etc.

It seems pretty much impossible to really catch this, as the negative a- applies differently in the punning meanings: a-kataññū “ungrateful”, i.e. “one who fails to acknowledge what has been done for them”; akata-aññū “one who knows the uncreated”. Currently I have “who knows not what’s been done for them”, which is at least not far from “who knows what’s not done”.


Aye! I see what you’re going for now… That is tricky! :confused:

I’ll spend some time pondering this tangle inside and outside and see if my noodle can noodle a needle :spaghetti:


Got it!

akataññū = “one who acknowledges nothing”