Around a year ago I started work on a translation of the Dhammapada, a collection of verses of various matters pertaining to ethics, for both the monastic and lay person.
I always resisted trying to translate the Dhammapada before now, as it is a very difficult text to translate and get right, as can be witnessed in so many poor translations that have been published.
Prof. John Brough, one of the leading Sanskrit scholars of his day, when requested to make a translation of the work in the ’60s, apparently said that it was too difficult for him, though much lesser mortals (including myself now) have attempted it.
Initially the work was going to be over very quickly as it was meant mainly to form a basis for a different translation, that of the Patna Dhammapada, which has yet to have a translation published.
Like most projects of mine it soon grew out of proportion and took on a life of its own, involving a number of side projects, including preparing Prof. Burlingame’s translation of the Commentary for publication. A huge work in itself.
As the project grew I also prepared another work, the Parallels to the Dhammapada Verses, which lists all the parallels I could find in canonical and MIA sources.
The work has been divided into two very different presentations. The first, which I am publishing now, has a format based on my previous, and very successful, Buddhist Wisdom Verses. It gives the moral of the verse, a synopsis of the story from the commentary, the Pāḷi verse and its translation into English verse.
To give an idea of how this looks, here is one of the verses (v. 29):
The heedful speed ahead
Two monks were given a meditation subject by the Buddha; one spent his time on monastic duties like sweeping, while the other was diligent and became an Arahat; after the Rains Retreat the Buddha commended him and spoke this verse about him.
29. Appamatto pamattesu, suttesu bahujāgaro,
abalassaṁ va sīghasso hitvā, yāti sumedhaso.
Heedful amongst the heedless ones,
wakeful amongst the ones who sleep,
like a swift horse who abandons
a weak horse, the wise one moves on.
All the verses do not have a story to themselves, sometimes verses are grouped together in the commentary. In all there are 300 stories to cover 423 verses, and in this work I have grouped them by the story that applies. Much more information can be found about this work in its Introduction.
Later I will have a different version available, meant more for the Pāḷi student, but for the general reader this is the version that will be of interest. I hope the work makes the teachings contained therein accessible to an ever widening audience.
As usual the work is available online in different formats: html, pdf, flip-book, epub, mobi and mp3.
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