Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 13-14:
yathā’gāraṃ ducchannaṃ vuṭṭhi samativijjhati |
evaṃ abhāvitaṃ cittaṃ rāgo samativijjhati || 13 ||
yathāgāraṃ succhannaṃ vuṭṭhi na samativijjhati |
evaṃ subhāvitaṃ cittaṃ rāgo na samativijjhati || 14 ||
13. Even as rain does penetrate a house that’s badly thatched, likewise lust does penetrate the mind uncultivated.
14. As rain does never penetrate a house that is well-thatched, so lust does never penetrate the mind well-cultivated.
The Story of Monk Nanda
While residing at the Jetavana Monastery in Sāvatthi, the Buddha spoke these verses, with reference to Monk Nanda, a cousin of the Buddha. Venerable Kāludāyi, knowing that it was the proper time for the Buddha to go to see his father, described the beauty of the journey and conducted the Buddha with his retinue of many Arahats to Kapilapura. And there, in the company of his kinsfolk, the Buddha, taking a shower of rain for his text, related the Vessantara Jātaka. On the following day he entered the city for alms. By the recitation of the Stanza, “A man should exert himself and should not live the life of Heedlessness,” he established his father in the Fruit of Conversion;and by the recitation of the Stanza, “A man should live righteously,” he established Mahā Pajāpati in the Fruit of Conversion and his father in the Fruit of the Second Path.
On the following day, while the ceremonies of Prince Nanda’s sprinkling, house-warming, and marriage were in progress, the Buddha entered the house for alms, placed his bowl in Prince Nanda’s hands, and wished him good luck. Then, rising from his seat, He departed without taking his bowl from the hands of the Prince. Out of reverence for the Buddha, Prince Nanda did not dare say, “Venerable, receive your bowl,” but thought within himself, “He will take his bowl at the head of the stairs.” But even when the Buddha reached the head of the stairs, He did not take his bowl. Thought Nanda, “He will take his bowl at the foot of the stairs.” But the Buddha did not take his bowl even there. Thought Nanda, “He will take his bowl in the palace court.” But the Buddha did not take his bowl even there. Prince Nanda desired greatly to return to his bride, and followed the Buddha much against his own will. But so great was his reverence for the Buddha that he did not dare say, “Receive your bowl,” but continued to follow the Buddha, thinking to himself, “He will take his bowl here! He will take his bowl there! He will take his bowl there!”
At that moment they brought word to his bride Janapada-Kalyāni belle-of-the-country, “My lady, the Exalted One (Buddha) has taken Prince Nanda away with him; it is his purpose to deprive you of him.” Thereupon Janapada-Kalyāni, with tears streaming down her face and hair half-combed, ran after Prince Nanda as fast as she could and said to him, “Noble sir, please return immediately.” Her words caused a quaver in Nanda’s heart; but the Buddha, without so much as taking his bowl, led him to the Monastery and said to him, “Nanda, would you like to become a monk?” So great was Prince Nanda’s reverence for the Buddha that he refrained from saying, “I do not wish to become a monk,” and said instead, “Yes, I should like to become a monk.” Said the Buddha, “Well then, make a monk of Nanda.” Thus it happened that on the third day after the Buddha’s arrival at Kapilapura he caused Nanda to become a monk.
While the Buddha was thus residing at Jetavana, Venerable Nanda, becoming discontented, told his troubles to the monks, saying, “Brethren, I am dissatisfied. I am now living the religious life, but I cannot endure to live the Religious Life any longer. I intend to abandon the higher precepts and to return to the lower life, the life of a layman.”
The Exalted One, hearing of this incident, sent for Venerable Nanda and said to him, “Nanda, is the report true that you spoke as follows to a large company of monks, ‘Brethren, I am dissatisfied; I am now living the Religious Life, but I cannot endure to live the Religious Life any longer; I intend to abandon the higher precepts and to return to the lower life, the life of a layman’?” “It is quite true, Venerable.” “But, Nanda, why are you dissatisfied with the Religious Life you are now living? Why cannot you endure to live the Religious Life any longer? Why do you intend to abandon the higher precepts and to return to the lower life, the life of a layman?” “Venerable, when I left my house, my noble wife Janapada-Kalyāni, with hair half combed, took leave of me, saying, ‘Noble sir, please return immediately.’ Venerable, it is because I keep remembering her that I am dissatisfied with the religious life I am now living; that I cannot endure to live the religious life any longer; that I intend to abandon the higher precepts and to return to the lower life, the life of a layman.” Then the Exalted One took Venerable Nanda by the arm, and by his power conducted him to the World of the Thirty-three. On the way the Buddha pointed out to Venerable Nanda in a certain burnt field, seated on a burnt stump, a greedy monkey which had lost her ears and nose and tail in a fire.
When they reached the World of the Thirty-three, he pointed out five hundred pink-footed celestial nymphs who came to wait upon Sakka, king of the gods. And when the Buddha had shown Venerable Nanda these two sights, he asked him this question, “Nanda, which do you regard as being the more beautiful and fair to look upon and handsome, your noble wife Janapada-Kalyāni or these five hundred pink-footed celestial nymphs?”
“Venerable,” replied Nanda, “as far inferior as this greedy monkey which has lost her ears and nose and tail is to Janapada-Kalyāni, even so far inferior, Venerable, is my noble wife Janapada-Kalyāni to these five hundred pink-footed celestial nymphs.”
“Cheer up, Nanda!” replied the Exalted One. “I guarantee that you will win these five hundred pink-footed celestial nymphs.” Said Venerable Nanda, “If, Venerable, the Buddha guarantees that I shall win these five hundred pink-footed celestial nymphs in that case, Reverend Sir, I shall take the greatest pleasure in living the exalted life of a religious man.”
Now Venerable Nanda, although his fellow-monks despised him for striving to seek celestial nymphs, was nevertheless, living in solitude, withdrawn from the world, heedful, ardent, resolute, in no long time, even in this life, attained the supreme goal of the religious life. This did he know: “Birth is at an end, lived is the holy life, duty is done: I am no more for this world.” And there was yet another venerable elder numbered among the Arahats.
In the course of the night Venerable Nanda approached the Buddha, and spoke as follows, “Venerable, I release the Buddha from the promise which he made when he guaranteed that I should win five hundred pink-footed celestial nymphs.” The Buddha replied, “Nanda, I myself grasped your mind with my own mind.” The monks started saying, “On former days he used to say, ‘I am dissatisfied,’ but now says, ‘I am in no wise inclined to the life of a layman.’” And forthwith they went and reported the matter to the Buddha.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 13)
ducchannaṃ agāraṃ vuṭṭhi yathā samati vijjhati
evaṃ abhāvitaṃ cittaṃ rāgo samativijjhati
ducchannaṃ [ducchanna]: badly thatched; agāraṃ [agāra]: house; vuṭṭhi: the rain; yathā: in such a manner; samati vijjhati: does penetrate; evaṃ: in that manner; abhāvitaṃ [abhāvita]: uncultured; cittaṃ [citta]: temperament; rāgo: passion; samativijjhati: penetrates.
It is quite necessary that a house should have a well-thatched roof. If the thatching is weak, rain seeps through into the house. Just as the badly thatched roof lets in the rain, the uncultured temperament too is open to passions. The temperament that is not cultured is penetrated easily by lust.
Explanatory Translation (Verse 14)
succhannaṃ agāraṃ vuṭṭhi yathā na samati vijjhati
evaṃ subhāvitaṃ cittaṃ rāgo na samati vijjhati
succhannaṃ [succhanna]: well thatched; agāraṃ [agāra]: abode, house; vuṭṭhi: rain; yathā: in such a manner; na samati vijjhati: does not penetrate; evaṃ: in the same way; subhāvitaṃ [subhāvita]: well cultured; cittaṃ [citta]: temperament; rāgo: passion; na samati vijjhati: does not penetrate.
When the house is protected by a well-thatched roof, it is not at all harmed by the rain, because rainwater cannot seep through it. In the same way, the well-cultured temperament too does not allow passion to come through. Therefore, the well-cultured temperament cannot be penetrated by passions.
Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 13-14)
The terms ‘citta’ and ‘mano’ are loosely translated by writers on Buddhism as if they were synonymous and interchangeable. Both words are usually translated as ‘mind’. Buddhism does not recognize an entity called ‘mind’ or a ‘mind-body’ duality. Buddhism, however, recognizes the cognitive (Mano) and affective (citta) processes of psycho-physical activity, which may be seen objectively as physical and subjectively as mental. The term ‘citta’ in these verses may also refer to the affective process which may be more appropriately termed ‘temperament’.
The term ‘bhāvanā’ is also usually translated as ‘meditation’. But the term ‘bhāvanā’ is more meaningfully translated as ‘culture’. Bhāvanā is the culture and development of the cognitive and affective processes that lead to good behaviour and happiness.