The Essence

‘‘Ayaṃ loko santāpajāto,

This world is filled with sorrow[1]

Phassa-pareto rogaṃ vadati attato;

Overcome by (sense-)“contact”, it calls a disease its “self” [2]

Yena yena hi maññati

In what ever terms they imagine it

Tato taṃ hoti aññathā.

Thereby it turns otherwise[3]

‘‘Aññathābhāvī bhavasatto loko,

Becoming (ever something) other, the world is attached to being

Bhava-pareto bhavam’ev’ābhinandati;

Is overcome by being yet delights in being.

Yad’abhinandati taṃ bhayaṃ,

But what it delights in that is fear

Yassa bhāyati taṃ dukkhaṃ;

And what it fears that is suffering [5]

The Udana


Bhava-vippahānāya In order to abandon being, kho pan’idaṃ brahmacariyaṃ vussati’’ this holy life is lived.

‘‘Ye hi keci All these samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā Ascetics and Priests bhavena who say that through existence bhavassa vippamokkham’āhaṃsu there is freedom from existence, sabbe te all of them a-vippamuttā bhavasmā’ti are not freed from beingvadāmi I say. ‘Ye vā pana keci Or all those samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā Ascetics and Priests vibhavena who say through non-existence bhavassa nissaraṇam’āhaṃsu there is escape from being, sabbe te all of them anissaṭā bhavasmā’ti have not escaped from being either vadāmi I


‘‘Upadhiñ’hi paṭicca Due to making something a foundation dukkham’idaṃ this suffering sambhoti is produced, sabb’upādāna-kkhayā When all taking up is exhausted n’atthi there is no dukkhassa sambhavo production of suffering. Lokam’imaṃ passa Look at this world; puthū many avijjāya paretā are those who are overcome by not-knowing bhūtā having become bhūta-ratā they delight in becoming aparimuttā unfreed; ye hi keci Whatever bhavā forms of being exist sabbadhi in any way sabbatthatāya anywhere sabbe te bhavā all these forms of being are aniccā impermanent dukkhā painful vipariṇāma-dhammā’’ti of a nature to change.

‘‘Evam’etaṃ yathābhūtaṃ,

When seeing it thus

sammappaññāya passato;

with full knowing wherever it has become [4]

Bhavataṇhā pahīyati,

The thirst for being will vanish

vibhavaṃ n’ābhinandati.

While not delighting in non-existence either.

‘‘Sabbaso taṇhānaṃ khayā,

The complete exhaustion of thirst

Asesa-virāga-nirodho nibbānaṃ;

And complete fading away and cessation is Nibbana

Tassa nibbutassa bhikkhuno,

Such a Bhikkhu who is thus stilled

Anupādā[4] puna-bbhavo na hoti;

Through not taking up will have no renewed being.

Abhi-bhūto māro vijita-saṅgāmo,

Mara is vanquished the battle is won,

Upaccagā sabbabhavāni tādī’’ti.

Gone beyond all forms of being is he, such like.

Quoted from “The Udana – Pali English Bilingual Study Edition”


[1]lit. “of the nature of burning” Parallel at SuttaNipāta 1112 here –jāta means..born/of the nature of cp PED, p. 281 where it says: — 3. ˚jāta (nt.) characteristic; pada˚ pedal character S i.86; …as adj. having become . . . (=bhūta); being like or behaving as, of the kind of . . ., sometimes to be rendered by an adj. or a pp. implied in the noun: cuṇṇakajātāni aṭṭhikāni (=cuṇṇayitāni) M iii.92; jālakajāta in bud A iv.117; chandajāta=chandika Sn 767; sujāta Sn 548 (well — born, i. e. auspicious, blessed, happy); pītisomanassa˚ joyful & glad Sn p. 94; J i.60, etc.; gandhajāta a kind of perfume (see gandha). Often untranslatable: lābhappatto jāto J iii.126; vināsa — ppaccayo jāto J i.256.

Also “citta-santāpa … “heart/mind-burn” = sorrow, so possibly: “Sorrow is the world’s nature”.

[2] Yes, that is exactly what is being said here: rogaṃ  (a disease) vadati (it says) attato (“from, as” i.e. about the self, sg. abl – see below. ); i.e. “it (the world) says “self” what in reality is just a disease” or “what is a disease is being recognized/thought of as one’s self”.

[3] See “Nibbana Sermon 15”, by Ven. K. Nynananda Bhikkhu

[4] How such an insight meditation would look like see Ven. Nyanananda’s article “Seeing Through” or here and here and many other similar posts on this blog, see for instance category “vipassanā”.

[5] In other words: What we think of as “us” is “struggle” of natural forces – whatever we perceive as “us” by that very act of identifying-or grasping as me/mine turns into something else…all six senses by law of their very nature mean “change” or “becoming”. While this disease tries desparately to perceive a self something substantial where there is none, it is wrought in fear to loose it – which makes us grasp even further. To let go of that fundamental grasping, means to let go of the thirst of being and thus fear itself. Free of fear, stilled from the desire to search for something to grasp the accomplished Ones are free from any fear, having left behind even “death”.

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  1. jayarava

    Yes! I really like this. Those first verses are haunting in the way that only the Dharma can be – it cuts through the bullshit and exposes the ‘essence’.

    Whose translation is the book? Pity it’s not on Amazon UK, but I’m tempted to get it airmailed from the USA.

  2. theravadin

    Dear Jayarava,

    Yes, this is a pretty powerful little gem in the Udāna. A real “Diamant-cutter” 🙂

    The text is based on D.M.Strong’s old translation which was heavily updated and revised however (as you can see from this passage). Some of the deep Dhamma passages are entirely new translations (some of them by the author of these lines) but many generic passages did not need to be touched and have a nice old English flair to them 🙂

    The main purpose was to create a bi-lingual reader, to help Pali students in particular or anyone who is familiar with the concept of “sannaya” texts. The intertwining of source and target language helps tremendously to get one’s thinking aligned with the Pali realm of ideas and concepts…at least that’s what I found.

    The proceeds of this book go directly to the Tipitaka Press which are preparing more books like this one. As far as I know there are plans to create a similar Digha Nikaya version and Dhammapada Commentary next.

    Thanks for the comment and lots of metta to you!

  3. jayarava

    I’d encourage you to get it listed on Amazon UK and other countries if possible.

    I’ve been wrestling with the Suttanipāta for the last couple of days – Kalahavivāda Sutta. Interesting that most other translators give up and use the commentary instead! I have yet to consult K.R. Norman’s translation however.

    A question about note [2]: attato. You say this is a dative singular. Would it not be an ablative in -to (the dat sing being attano) – from or because of the ātman/Self? What do you think?

    Best Wishes

  4. theravadin

    Of course it is, thanks Jayarava, corrected it, thanks! The Kalahavivada is a great examplification of the meaning of paticcasamuppada – and like the rest of the Atthakavagga, beautiful deep Dhamma. Did you try looking up Ven. Nyanananda’s Nibbana sermons…He references it a couple of times, notabley in Nibbana Sermon 11, 13 and 16.. Here an excerpt from No.11:

    The Kalahavivādasutta, consisting of sixteen verses, is, from beginning to end, a network of deep questions and answers lead- ing to levels of insight. The opening verse, for instance, states the initial problem as follows:
    Kuto pahūtā kalahā vivādā, paridevasokā sahamaccharā ca, mānātimānā saha pesuṇā ca, kuto pahūtā te tad iṅgha brūhi.386 “Whence do spring up contentions and disputes, Lamentations, sorrows and envies,
    And arrogance together with slander,
    Whence do they spring up, pray tell me this.”
    385Nidd I 280 and Pj II 553. 386Sn 862, Kalahavivādasutta.
    It is in answer to this basic question that this discourse gradually unfolds itself. In accordance with the law of dependent arising, the cause of contentions and disputes is said to be the tendency to hold things dear, piyappahūtā kalahā vivādā. Then the question is about the cause of this idea of holding things dear. The cause of it is said to be desire, chandanidānāni piyāni loke. Things dear originate from desire. Desire, or interest, makes things `dear’.

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