What are the sources of the "parables" of the Dhammapada?

Hello friends!

I am still deep in my research of Dr. Ambedkar’s sources.
I noticed he uses a story of a monk called Patisena, and the annotation is to the Dhammapada, but no such reference reveals the story behind the teaching. Except that I did find this parable which I had never heard of.
# 16. The thousands (sahassavaggo)
Is there anyone that can explain the relationship between the Dhammapada verses and these stories – and where such stories are collected? Are they part of the Pali Canon or later ‘enhancement’? Or do they come from the suttas?

Thank you! It’s quite a powerful story from a contemporary standpoint, on the topics of class, education, disability and conceit. I never knew of this till reading Ambedkar.

thanks for your kind help!


Hey there,

Though I’m not familiar with the story you’re talking about. Here’s the collection of stories which is called the the Dammapada Commentary. Hope it helps.



I believe the stories you are taking about are the Dhammapada commentary background stories. As you can see in the link posted above, each Dhp verse has a story to explain what happened in the current life of the Buddha to prompt him to utter the verse. Sometime it will involve the Buddha telling a past life story of the people involved in the current life. There is some overlap with Jataka stories and other commentary background stories. And there is a very slight overlap with suttas. Unlike the Jatakas, there are few stories that involve animals. These stories also give us quite a bit of biography of the great disciples as well as the Buddha himself.

The only complete translation is the one linked above. The stories, though, are quite popular and exists in many modern re-tellings. The book Treasury of Truth is one of these that is quite good if you can find a copy.

I may be biased, but I find these stories to be some of the best in the world.


They are found in the commentaries.
SuttaCentral does not host them either in Pali or in translations.
You can find it in VRI’s online Tipitaka Resources.
If you need to access it maybe venerable @dhammanando can help us with a link.


fiachra.harte has already posted a link to Burlingame’s translation on Ven. Ānandajoti’s website.


Thanks bhante and sorry for the trouble! :anjal:

@Upayadhi this is the link to the first chapter of the dhammapada-aṭṭhakathā withing VRI’s site:



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Thank you so much, friends!!
I can’t believe that so many years (decades) of reading the Dhammapada have gone by, and I had NO IDEA these stories existed. Looking forward to exploring! Much gratitude to you all and to Sutta Central!