Dhp XXIII : Elephants

I–like an elephant in battle,

enduring an arrow shot from a bow–

will endure a false accusation,

for the mass of people

have no         principles.


The tamed is the one

they take into assemblies.

The tamed is the one

the king mounts.

The tamed who endures

a false accusation

is, among human beings,

the best.


Excellent are tamed mules,

tamed thoroughbreds,

tamed horses from Sindh.

Excellent, tamed tuskers,

great elephants.

But even more excellent

are those         self-tamed.

For not by these mounts could you go

to the land unreached,

as the tamed one goes

by taming, well-taming, himself.


The tusker, Dhanapalaka,

deep in rut, is hard to control.

Bound, he won’t eat a morsel:

the tusker misses

the elephant wood.


When torpid & over-fed,

a sleepy-head lolling about

like a stout hog, fattened on fodder:

a dullard enters the womb

over &

over again.


Before, this mind went wandering

however it pleased,

wherever it wanted,

by whatever way that it liked.

Today I will hold it aptly in check–

as one wielding a goad, an elephant in rut.


Delight in heedfulness.

Watch over your own mind.

Lift yourself up

from the hard-going way,

like a tusker sunk in the mud.


If you gain a mature companion–

a fellow traveler, right-living, enlightened–

overcoming all dangers

go with him, gratified,


If you don’t gain a mature companion–

a fellow traveler, right-living, enlightened–

go alone

like a king renouncing his kingdom,

like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,

his herd.

Going alone is better.

There’s no companionship with a fool.

Go alone,

doing no evil, at peace,

like the elephant in the Matanga wilds.


A blessing:   friends when the need arises.

A blessing:   contentment with whatever there is.

Merit at the ending of life is a blessing.

A blessing:   the abandoning of all suffering

& stress.

A blessing in the world:   reverence to your mother.

A blessing:   reverence to your father as well.

A blessing in the world:   reverence to a contemplative.

A blessing:   reverence for a brahman, too.

A blessing into old age is virtue.

A blessing:   conviction established.

A blessing:   discernment attained.

The non-doing of evil things is

a blessing.