Dhammapada, Stanza 19

Version 1:

If one, though reciting much of texts,
Is not a doer thereof, a heedless person;
That one, like a cowherd counting others’ cows,
Is not a partaker in the religious quest.

Version 2:

If they recite many teachings, but
— heedless people —
don’t do what they say,
like a cowherd counting the cattle of
others,
they have no share in the contemplative life.

Version 3:

Much though they recite the sacred texts, but act not accordingly, those heedless persons are like cowherds who only count the cows of others — they do not partake of the blessings of the holy life.

(Note: Version 1 is from the John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana translation. Version 2 is from the Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation. Version 3 is from the Acharya Buddharakkhita translation. I have made significant changes throughout in both pronouns and verbs for a neutral gender reading.)

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1 thought on “Dhammapada, Stanza 19”

  1. This stanza, for me, captures the essence of the Buddha Way. It’s a way of practice, first and foremost. It’s not that study and cognition are unimportant – it’s just that they don’t replace the development of profound insight that comes with training. Thanks for posting these different versions.

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