Thag 16:8  Aṅgulimāla

Aṅgulumāla’s story is told in MN 86.


“While walking, contemplative,

you say, ’I have stopped.’

But when I have stopped

you say that I haven’t.

I ask you the meaning of this:

How have you stopped?

How haven’t I?”

The Buddha:

“I have stopped, Aṅgulimāla,

once & for all,

having cast off violence

toward all living beings.

You, though,

are unrestrained toward beings.

That’s how I’ve stopped

and you haven’t.”


“At long last a greatly revered great seer

for my sake

has come to the great forest.

Having heard your verse

in line with the Dhamma,

I will go about

having abandoned evil.”

So saying, the bandit

hurled his sword & weapons

over a cliff

into a chasm,

a pit.

Then the bandit paid homage

to the feet of the One Well-Gone,

and right there requested the Going-forth.

The Awakened One,

the compassionate great seer,

the teacher of the world, along with its devas,

said to him then:

“Come, monk.”

That in itself

was monkhood for him.

* * *


Who once was heedless,

but later is not,

brightens the world

like the moon set free from a cloud.1

His evil-done deed

is replaced with skillfulness:

He brightens the world

like the moon set free from a cloud.2

Whatever young monk

devotes himself

to the Buddha’s bidding:

He brightens the world

like the moon set free from a cloud.

May even my enemies

hear talk of the Dhamma.

May even my enemies

devote themselves

to the Buddha’s bidding.

May even my enemies

associate with those people

who—peaceful, good—

get others to accept the Dhamma.

May even my enemies

hear the Dhamma time & again

from those who advise     endurance,


who praise non-opposition,

and may they follow it.

For surely he wouldn’t harm me,

or anyone else;

he would attain     the foremost peace,

would protect     the feeble & firm.

Irrigators guide     the water.

Fletchers shape     the arrow shaft.

Carpenters shape     the wood.

The wise control


Some tame with a blunt stick,

with hooks, & with whips

But without blunt or bladed weapons

I was tamed by the one who is Such.

“Doer of No Harm” is my name,

but I used to be a doer of harm.

Today I am true to my name,

for I harm no one at all.

A bandit

I used to be,

renowned as Aṅgulimāla.

Swept along by a great flood,

I went to the Buddha as refuge.


I used to be,

renowned as Aṅgulimāla.

See my going for refuge!

Uprooted is [craving],

the guide to becoming.

Having done the type of kamma

that would lead to many

bad destinations,

touched by the fruit of [that] kamma,

unindebted, I eat my food.4

They’re addicted to heedlessness

—dullards, fools—

while one who is wise

cherishes heedfulness

as his highest wealth.5

Don’t give way to heedlessness

or to intimacy

with sensual delight—

for a heedful person,

absorbed in jhāna,

attains an abundant bliss.6

This7 has come well & not gone away,

it was not badly thought through for me.

From among well-analyzed qualities,

I have obtained

the best.

This has come well & not gone away,

it was not badly thought through for me.

The three knowledges

have been attained;

the Awakened One’s bidding,


Where once I stayed here & there

with shuddering mind—

in the wilderness,

at the foot of a tree,

in mountains,


with ease I now lie down, I stand,

with ease I live my life.

O, the Teacher has shown me sympathy!

Before, I was of brahman stock,

on either side high-born.

Today I’m the son

of the One Well-Gone,

the Dhamma-king,

the Teacher.

Rid of craving, devoid of clinging,

sense-doors guarded, well-restrained,

having killed the root of evil,

I’ve reached the end of the effluents.

The Teacher has been served by me;

the Awakened One’s bidding,


the guide to becoming,     uprooted;

the heavy load,       laid down.


1. This verse = Dhp 172.

2. This verse = Dhp 173.

3. This verse = Dhp 80.

4. This verse illustrates the kammic principle stated in AN 3:101. This is one of the ways in which the Buddhist doctrine of kamma differed from that of the Jains. For them, a person could not reach arahantship without having suffered retribution for every kammic misdeed, a process that could take many lifetimes—in the course of which, one might create more bad kamma, delaying arahantship still further. But for the Buddhists, training in virtue, discernment, and the ability not to be overcome by pleasure or pain could take the mind to a state where the results of past bad kamma would “be experienced in the here-and-now, and for the most part would appear only for a moment.” In other words, in the Buddhist teaching, but not in the Jain, the state of the mind in the present plays a major role in how the effects of past kamma will be experienced.

5. This verse = Dhp 26.

6. This verse = Dhp 27. For a detailed discussion of “intimacy,” see SN 22:3.

7. “This” apparently refers to the abundant bliss mentioned in the previous verse.

8. The verses in MN 86 end here.