Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 116:
abhitvaretha kalyāṇe pāpā cittaṃ nivāraye |
dandhaṃ hi karoto puññaṃ pāpasmiṃ ramatī mano || 116 ||
116. Make haste towards the good and check the mind from evil. The one who’s slow to merit make delights the mind in evil.
The Story of Culla Ekasāṭaka
While residing at the Jetavana. Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to a brāhmin couple by the name of Culla Ekasāṭaka.
There was once a brāhmin couple in Sāvatthi, who had only one outer garment between the two of them. Because of this they were also known as Ekasāṭaka. As they had only one outer garment, both of them could not go out at the same time. So, the wife would go to listen to the discourse given by the Buddha during the day and the husband would go at night. One night, as the brāhmin listened to the Buddha, his whole body came to be suffused with delightful satisfaction and he felt a strong desire to offer the outer garment he was wearing to the Buddha. But he realized that if he were to give away the only outer garment he had, there would be none left for him and his wife. So he wavered and hesitated. Thus, the first and the second watches of the night passed. Came the third watch and he said to himself, “If I am so miserly and hesitant, I will miss the opportunity of ending worldly suffering. I shall now offer my outer garment to the Buddha.” So saying, he placed the piece of cloth at the feet of the Buddha and cried out “I have won” three times. King Pasenadi of Kosala, who was among the audience, heard those words and ordered a courtier to investigate. Learning about the brāhmin’s offering to the Buddha, the king commented that the brāhmin had done something which was not easy to do and so should be rewarded. The king ordered his men to give the brāhmin a piece of cloth as a reward for his faith and generosity. The brāhmin offered that piece of cloth also to the Buddha and he was rewarded by the king with two pieces of cloth. Again, the brāhmin offered the two pieces of cloth to the Buddha and he was rewarded with four. Thus, he offered to the Buddha whatever was given him by the king, and each time the king doubled his reward. When finally the reward came up to thirty-two pieces of cloth, the brāhmin kept one piece for himself and another for his wife, and offered the remaining thirty pieces to the Buddha.
Then, the king again commented that the brāhmin had truly performed a very difficult task and so must be rewarded fittingly. The king sent a messenger to the palace to bring two pieces of velvet cloth, each of which was worth one hundred thousand, and gave them to the brāhmin. The brāhmin made these two pieces of valuable cloth into two canopies and kept one in the perfumed chamber where the Buddha slept and the other in his own house above the place where a monk was regularly offered alms-food. When the king next went to the Jetavana Monastery to pay homage to the Buddha, he saw the velvet canopy and recognized it as the offering made by the brāhmin and he was very pleased. This time, he made a reward of seven kinds in fours (sabbacatukka), viz., four elephants, four horses, four female slaves, four male slaves, four errand boys, four villages and four thousands in cash. When the monks heard about this, they asked the Buddha, “How is it that, in the case of this brāhmin, a good deed done at present bears fruit immediately?” To them the Buddha replied, “If the brāhmin had offered his outer garment in the first watch of the night, he would have been rewarded with sixteen of each kind; if he had made his offering during the middle watch, he would have been rewarded with eight of each kind;since he had made his offering only during the last watch of the night, he was rewarded with only four of each kind. So, when one wants to give in charity, one should do so quickly; if one procrastinates, the reward comes slowly and only sparingly. Also, if one is too slow in doing good deeds, one may not be able to do it at all, for the mind tends to take delight in evil.”
Explanatory Translation (Verse 116)
kalyāne abhittharetha pāpā cittaṃ nivāraye
puññaṃ dandhaṃ hi karoto mano pāpasmiṃ ramatī
kalyāne: in virtue; abhittharetha: be alert; pāpā: from evil; cittaṃ [citta]: the mind; nivāraye: guard; puññaṃ [puñña]: good action; dandhaṃ [dandha]: hesitantly; hi karoto [karota]: if one does; mano: his mind; pāpasmiṃ [pāpasmi]: in evil; ramatī: takes delight
In the matter of performing virtuous, meritorious actions, be alert and act quickly. Guard the mind against evil. If one were to perform meritorious actions hesitantly, his mind will begin to take delight in evil things.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 116)
abhittharetha kalyāne: indulge in wholesome activities without any loss of time. The practice of the spiritual path has been called by the Buddha, going against the stream (paṭisotagāmi). The normal tendency of the mind is to be carried away by emotions and do the wrong things. If one does not make the effort to go against this current, one will be doing the wrong things and going the wrong way.