Main CategoriesBuddha and BuddhismTheravada Suttas Dhammapada, The (Path of Virtue)

Dhammapada, The (Path of Virtue)

Product no.: 0-8112-0004-3
Highly revered by the Theravadin or Elder School as the essential teachings of the historical Buddha, translation of this ancient Pali scripture was a labor of love and devotion by Babbitt.

Product is in stock

Additional product information

Publisher's Synopsis

Buddhist tradition has it that shortly after the passing away of the Lord Buddha five hundred of his Arhats and disciples, led by Kasyapa, met in council at Rajagaha for the purpose of recalling to mind the truths they had received from their beloved Teacher during the forty-five years of his ministry. Their hope was to implant the salient principles of his message so firmly in memory that they would become a lasting impetus to moral and spiritual conduct, not alone for themselves and the brethren in distant parts of the land, but likewise for all future disciples who would seek to follow in the footsteps of the Awakened One.

With the Teacher no longer among them, the monks found themselves with the responsibility of handing on the teaching and discipline of the Order as faithfully as possible. Having no written texts to rely on, they did as their forebears had before them and prepared their discourses "for recitation," that is, basic themes were repeated with variations in order to impress the ideas on their hearers.

At that time, according to the Sinhalese, the Dhammapada was orally assembled from the sayings of Gautama given on some three hundred different occasions. Put in verse form the couplets contrast the vanity of hypocrisy, false pride, heedlessness, and selfish desire with the virtues of truthfulness, modesty, vigilance, and self-abnegation. The admonitions are age-old, yet they strike home today, their austerity of purpose fittingly relieved by gentle humor and earthy simile.

There are a number of English translations of The Dhammapada, but this version by Irving Babbitt, for many years professor at Harvard and founder, with Paul Elmer More, of the movement known as "New Humanism," concentrates on the profound poetic quality of the verses and conveys, perhaps more than any other, much of the vitality of the original Pali text. Babbitt devoted many years to this translation––it was a labor of love.

"To have been a student of Babbitt's is to remain always in that position."       ~T.S. Eliot

The Twin Verses

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon.

All that we are is a result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him."

Author Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama
Translator Babbitt, Irving
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 122 pp.
Publisher New Directions 1965
Platinum Medal

Platinum Medal


Platinum Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: Theravada Suttas, Southern Buddhism, Platinum Medal Essential Reading

We also recommend