The Twin Verses


The first of twenty-six chapters of the Dhammapada is named Yamaka Vagga – the chapter of twin-verses.  Two verses, similar in language but bearing opposite meanings, were paired together to provide contrast on the path to be avoided by the practitioner and the one to be taken.  For instance, the first verse speaks of the effects of having a corrupted mind, which is inevitably followed by suffering (dukkhamanveti).  This is paired with the next verse which says that a pure mind leads to happiness (sukhamanveti).  These two verses were spoken by the Buddha on separate occasions but were paired to provide the necessary contrast.

All the verses of this chapter are truly remarkable.  The Buddha, an accomplished linguist and poet, presented His teachings in simple vocabulary, yet strikingly familiar to His listeners with the use of homely similes and analogies.  For example, in Verses 13 and 14, he explained to Nanda Thera the importance of a well-developed mind (subhavitam cittam) in overcoming lust, which is akin to a well-thatched roof where rain water cannot penetrate.

In our present society which is troubled by violence and conflicts, the Buddhist gem of wisdom as in Verse 5 rings loud.  Hatred cease not with more hatred; with non-hatred alone it ceases.  This is the eternal law!  It was a strong message indeed from the Buddha – applicable in settling domestic disputes to global terrorism.  That which the Blessed One spoke twenty-six centuries ago is a timeless piece of truth even today.