Which Dhammapada translation(s)?

I bought a copy of the Dhammapada back in my bookshop-Buddhism days, and later found out it was badly translated. Ever since, I’ve shied away from the Dhammapada completely. Which is a shame.

I would like to start reading it now. But which translations are most trustworthy? Which ones to stay away from?

PS The questions pertains all available English translations, on and off SC.

PPS I’m aware of a similar topic on this forum, but it addressed one specific translation not all translations as a whole. So I’m starting a new topic.


SC has a 4 English translations of the Dhammapada.
Plus many more in other languages!

See here:

I personally have an old copy of Ven. Ācāriya Buddharakkhita, The Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom, Buddhist Publication Society, 1985. (Revised, 1996). ( which is also available on SC).
I like this edition very much as it includes the Pāli alongside the English translation. I’ve found it true to the Pali since I’ve been referring to it during Pali lessons and working through the verses. I also like that the verses in English are short like in the Pāli. I would recommend this version.

My first copy was a F.Max Müller Dover edition I bought as a poor student for $2 when I became interested in Buddhism. I still have it for sentimental reasons, but authenticity wise- stay away :laughing: .


I’m a big fan of Bhante Acharya Buddharkkhita’s translation. It is faithful to the Pali while still being a little poetic. I believe it is also inline with traditional Theravada understanding.

If you are buying a copy, be sure to get the 1996 version. The 1985 version that is freely available is good, but the 1996 was edited again by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

This page has various digital versions of the 1985 version:

This is a fun list. 80+ translations and it only covers up to 2005:


Here is a PDF

And you can find the book published by Pariyatti on their website and on Amzn.


There’s one by John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana , which also contains grammatical notes.

Can be found here : The Dhammapada : a new English translation with the Pali text, and the first English translation of the commentary's explanation of the verses with notes : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive


The Buddharkkhita seems at first glance to be very good indeed. My old favorite is Thanissaro Bikkhu; I will try comparing them chapter by chapter.

I wish I knew of one that really delivered the poetry and the wisdom!


I’m not familiar with other EBT languages, but to me the verses are the most beautiful in Pāli than English. A good reason to learn even a little :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


I have had a more careful look at the Buddhakkhita translation.The clarity and insight are admirable, I don’t think I have seen a better for making the meanings clear. I think the Thanissaro is outstanding because it combines real understanding with poetic qualities

But you are quite right, one must learn Pali. It is finally less troublesome to learn a difficult language than to wade through muddy translations. The number of Dhammapadas out there is truly dispiriting to contemplate. That’s what happens with a book which people buy but don’t read.

I would note that if you like the D., there’s much more of the same quality and kind, in the Khuddaka Nikaya, which you can find in free, excellent translations here

Look under Books/ Suttas/


I find Greg Wallis’ translation very nice to read, but I can’t attest to its accuracy in general.


Er, just to clarify, what I’m saying is that I’m not qualified to attest to its accuracy, not that I have done so and found it wanting!

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Thank you!! Another gem for my e-reader. :pray:

Yeah, it’d be great to eventually learn some Pali beyond anicca-dukkha-anatta. But until then, I’ll rely on the assumption that any translation prepared or endorsed by Bhikkhu Bodhi is adequate enough. :sweat_smile:


Yes, I used to also frequently use it’s precursor, the old accesstoinsight website, from ages ago. I very much Iike Ajahn Thannisaro’s Therigatha. Very poetic, and really hits you I agree :pray:t3:.

Yes :grin: we have so many resources to help us today.

In the meantime while we try to learn,

I agree :sweat_smile:


Bomhard’s translation is freely available here.


According to Bhante Shravasti Dhammika:

Glen Wallis’ Dhammapada; Verses on the Way, is not only everything this little Buddhist classic should be, I would go so far as to say it is the best Dhammapada presently available.

Someone once said poetry translated from another language is like a desired woman; if its beautiful its not faithful and if its faithful its not beautiful. Well, Wallis seems to have managed to achieve both. His translation has a cadence that reads exceptionally well, and given Pali’s stylistic and grammatical particularities this is quite an achievement. And just as important, it is as faithful to the original as you could want. At the end of the translation Wallis has just over 100 pages of notes, but don’t let this put you off. These notes include a learned but accessible account of the history, grammar and meaning of the Dhammapada and its place in Indian Buddhist literature. His comments on some of the similes and his numerous quotes from the suttas illuminate the verses in a way that really gives them depth and increased understanding. Of course one could quibble (and so I will). “Unbinding” seems to be a rather odd translation/rendering of nibbana. But such minor things are more than made up for his truly informative comments on other technical terms. See what he says about bodhi on page 135. From now on I think I will stop using the terms “enlightened” and “enlightened one” and switch to “awakened” and “awakened one” instead. If you want a 100% word-for-word accurate translation of the Dhammapada get K. R. Norman’s The Words of the Doctrine with its 174 pages of notes on grammar, syntax, consonant groups, variant readings, the eastern form of am, etc, and do your best to keep awake. If you want an accurate, readable translation with helpful notes that is true to the Buddha’s Dhamma get Wallis’ The Dhammapada; Verses on the Way. I couldn’t recommend it higher.

dhamma musings: The Best Dhammapada


Would you quote a few stanzas from this translation that you particularly like?

Sorry, I can’t read Pali and I don’t have the book, I’m just sharing from Bhante S. Dhammika’s opinion above :grin:

Yes, I’ve heard it’s good.
I should try to get a copy :+1:t3:


The author on this page is unknown, but it’s well explained how the Pali has been translated into English.


I find this version to be accessible and well explained to the lay reader.


Suggest you buy the English translation by Bhikku late Narada Thero.