Dhurasamādhi in SN 45.4

SN 45.4: dhurasamādhi

Hi everybody,

how would you translate upekkhā dhurasamādhi in SN 45.4? Bhikkhu Bodhi has “equanimity keeps the burden balanced,” but I don’t think samādhi means ‘balanced’. I’d translate something like ‘equanimity keeps the burden together’ or ‘… brings the yoke together’ but I’m not sure to what extend dhura means yoke or burden.

The context is as follows:

Yassa saddhā ca paññā ca, dhammā yuttā sadā dhuraṃ;
Hirī īsā mano yottaṃ, sati ārakkhasārathi.

Ratho sīlaparikkhāro, jhānakkho cakkavīriyo;
Upekkhā dhurasamādhi, anicchā parivāraṇaṃ.

Its qualities of faith and wisdom
Are always yoked evenly together.
Shame is its pole, mind its yoke-tie,
Mindfulness the watchful charioteer.

The chariot’s ornament is virtue,
Its axle jhana, energy its wheels;
Equanimity keeps the burden balanced,
Desirelessness serves as upholstery.
(Bhikkhu Bodhi translation)



Yes, it’s not an easy phrase. Ven Bodhi’s translation follows the commentary, but this requires understanding samādhi as samatā “balance”, which, as you say, is not really justified.

The Chinese parallel at SA 769 is exact and helpful:

Equanimity and samādhi act as the carriage pole

Given how specific the context is here, I think it’s likely this is correct in reading dhura as “carriage pole” rather than “burden”. Dhura is used in the sense of carriage-pole earlier, but there is no contradiction, for there it says that faith and wisdom are yoked to the shaft, but not what the shaft is.

The verse as a whole is clearly listing core Dhamma qualities, and I think it’s unlikely that samādhi was originally meant in anything other than the usual sense.

While the word order is mixed up—the normal situation in verse—there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to accept the Chinese translation. In fact, i will do so, so thanks for alerting me to this.


hello venerable,

that makes some sense.


Couldn’t it mean something like “equanimity keeps the load centered” or “equanimity keeps the load stable”? Since the second stanza seems to have shifted the attention away from the yoke, the pole and the things that are yoked together back toward the chariot itself, with it’s wheels, ornament, axle and upholstery, it makes some sense to think dhurasamādhi refers in that context to something in the chariot.

The idea might be that since faith and wisdom are working as a coordinated and well-harnessed team, the contents of the chariot are not being tossed and scattered about the chariot, but remain in a stable, collected spot.


I noticed in the simile the 5 bala, 5 indriya are there (in pali).
If samaadhi didn’t mean samaadhi-indriya, that would be pretty strange.
Next I notice, the proximity of the physical parts of the simile with jhaana, samadhi, viriya, upekkha, and all considered part of samadhi-khandha, (upekkha part of 3rd and 4th jhana).

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I am having trouble distinguishing the different parts of the carriage here.

Dhura in Bhante @sujato’s translation is “shaft” or “carriage-shaft”, and īsā is “pole”. What exactly do they represent in a carriage?

What is called “Deichsel” in this image is both as “pole” and as “shaft” in the dictionaries. What then is the other one?


To add, “dhura” is found twice in the sutta. Unless both have a different meaning, it seems “dhura” cannot mean “burden” due to the following contextual usage:

“Its qualities of faith and wisdom
“Yassa saddhā ca paññā ca,
are always yoked to the shaft.
Dhammā yuttā sadā dhuraṁ;
Conscience is its pole, mind its strap,
Hirī īsā mano yottaṁ,
and mindfulness its careful driver.
Sati ārakkhasārathi.