Thag 16:4  Raṭṭhapāla

The verses here fall into three sections, with the first two relating to Raṭṭhapāla’s story as told in MN 82. In the first, Raṭṭhapāla is addressing his father after the latter had tried to use wealth and Raṭṭhapāla’s former wives to lure Ratthapala into disrobing. In the second section, Raṭṭhapāla is talking to King Koravya, who had asked him why he had ordained when he was still young and healthy, and had suffered no loss of relatives or wealth.

The third section of verses here does not occur in MN 82.

Look at the image beautified,

a heap of festering wounds, shored up:

ill, but the object

of many resolves,

where there is nothing

lasting or sure.1

Look at the form beautified

with earrings & gems:

a skeleton wrapped in skin,

made attractive with clothes.

Feet reddened with henna,

a face smeared with powder:

enough to deceive a fool,

but not a seeker for the further shore.

Hair plaited in eight pleats,

eyes smeared with unguent:

enough to deceive a fool,

but not a seeker for the further shore.

Like a newly painted unguent pot—

a putrid body adorned:

enough to deceive a fool,

but not a seeker for the further shore.

The hunter set out the snares,

but the deer didn’t go near the trap.

Having eaten the bait,

we go,

leaving the hunters

to weep.

The hunter’s snares are broken;

the deer didn’t go near the trap.

Having eaten the bait,

we go,

leaving the hunters

to grieve.2

* * *

I see in the world

people with wealth

who, from delusion,

don’t make a gift

of the treasure they’ve gained.

Greedy, they stash it away,

hoping for even more

sensual pleasures.

A king who, by force,

has conquered the world

and rules over the earth

to the edge of the sea,

dissatisfied with the ocean’s near shore,

longs for the ocean’s

far shore as well.

Kings & others

—plenty of people—

go to death with craving

unabated. Unsated,

they leave the body behind,

having not had enough

of the world’s sensual pleasures.

One’s relatives weep

& pull out their hair.

‘Oh woe, our loved one is dead,’ they cry.

Carrying him off,

wrapped in a piece of cloth,

they place him

on a pyre,

then set him on fire.

So he burns, poked with sticks,

in just one piece of cloth,

leaving all his possessions behind.

They are not shelters for one who has died—

not relatives,


or companions.

Heirs take over his wealth,

while the being goes on,

in line with his kamma.

No wealth at all

follows the dead one—

not children, wives,

dominion, or riches.

Long life

can’t be gotten with wealth,

nor aging

warded off with treasure.

The wise say this life

is next to nothing—


subject to change.

The rich & the poor

touch the touch of Death.

The foolish & wise

are touched by it, too.

But while fools lie as if slain by their folly,

the wise don’t tremble

when touched by the touch.

Thus the discernment by which

one attains to mastery,

is better than wealth—

for those who haven’t reached mastery

go from existence to existence,

out of delusion,

doing bad deeds.

One goes to a womb

& to the next world,

falling into the wandering on

—one thing

after another—

while those of weak discernment,

trusting in one,

also go to a womb

& to the next world.

Just as an evil thief

caught at the break-in

is destroyed

by his own act,

so evil people

—after dying, in the next world—

are destroyed

by their own acts.

Sensual pleasures—




in various ways disturb the mind.

Seeing the drawbacks in sensual objects:

that’s why, O king, I went forth.

Just like fruits, people fall

—young & old—

at the break-up of the body.

Knowing this, O king,

I went forth.

The contemplative life is better

for sure.3

* * *

Out of conviction,

I went forth

equipped with the Victor’s message.

Blameless4 was my going-forth:

Debtless I eat my food.

Seeing sensuality as burning,

gold as a knife,

pain in the entry into the womb

& great danger in hells—

seeing this peril, I was then dismayed—

pierced (with dismay),

then calmed

on attaining the end of the effluents.

The Teacher has been served by me;

the Awakened One’s bidding,


the heavy load,       laid down;

the guide to becoming,5   uprooted.

And the goal for which I went forth

from home life into homelessness

I’ve reached:

the end

of all fetters.


1. This verse = Dhp 147.

2. This verse is not contained in MN 82.

3. The verses in MN 82 end here.

4. Avajjā. The Burmese and Sinhalese editions of the Pali Canon read avañjhā, or “not barren.”

5. The guide to becoming is craving.