Gatha Sentence Translation Sentence Structure
Vocabulary&Grammar Commentary Pronunciation
                          List of Abbreviations

Sabbapapassa akaranaj

Kusalassa upasampada


Etaj buddhana sasanaj

(DhP 183)


Not doing the evil deeds,
Gathering the wholesome,
Purifying one's own mind -
That is teaching of the buddhas.

Sentence Structure:
List of Abbreviations

Sabba+papassa a+karanaj
|              |         |          |
Adj.     N.n.    neg.    N.n.
|        Gen.Sg.    |    Nom.Sg.
|________|         |______|
                |______________________                                                    List of Abbreviations

Kusalassa upasampada
|                      |
N.n.              N.f.
Gen.Sg.      Nom.Sg.

|         |               |
Adj.  N.n.        N.n.
|_____|          Nom.Sg.
      |___________________________                                                      List of Abbreviations

Etaj     buddhana sasanaj
|                  |               |
Pron.n.      N.m.       N.n.
Nom.Sg.  Gen.Pl.   Nom.Sg.
|                  |________|

Vocabulary and Grammar:
List of Abbreviations

sabbapapassa: sabbapapa-, N.n.: All evil. A compound of two words:
    sabba-, Adj.: all, whole, complete
    papa-, Adj. or N.n.: evil, bad, unwholesome, wicked. As a noun usually means bad or evil deed.
Gen.Sg.: sabbapapassa.

akaranaj: akarana-, N.n.: non-doing, Absence of action. The word karana- (doing, acting) is derived from the verb kar-, to do. Preceded by the negative prefix a- (not). Nom.Sg.: akaranaj.

kusalassa: kusala-, Adj. or N.n.: good, wholesome. As a noun usually means a good thing, good deed, merit. Gen.Sg: kusalassa.

List of Abbreviations

upasampada: upasampada-, N.f.: gathering, obtaining, acquiring. Derived from the verb pad- (to fall, to go to) preceded by two prefixes: upa- (close, near) and saj- (together). Nom.Sg.: upasampada.

sacittapariyodapanaj: sacittapariyodapana-, N.n.: purifying one's own mind. A compound of two words:
    sacitta-, N.n.: one's own mind. This word is itself a compound of
        sa-, Adj.: own and
        citta-, N.n.:  mind.
    pariyodapana-, N.n.: cleansing, purification. Derived from the verb pariyodapeti, which is a
    causative form (odapeti) of the verb da- (to clean) preceded by the prefix pari- (all around).
Nom.Sg.: saccittapariyodapanaj.

List of Abbreviations

etaj: etad-, Pron.: this. Neuter: etaj. Nom.Sg.: etaj.

buddhana: buddha-, Adj. or N.m.: awakened; p.p. of the verb budh- (to wake up). As a noun: a buddha (Awakened being) or the Buddha (historical Buddha Shakyamuni). Gen.Pl.: buddhana.

sasanaj: sasana-, N.n.: teaching. Derived from the verb sas- (to instruct, to teach). Nom.Sg.: sasanaj.
List of Abbreviations

The subject of this sentence is sasanaj (teaching). It is in the nominative case. Its attribute buddhana (of the Buddhas) is in genitive plural.

Also in nominative is the object, etaj (this). The verb is omitted (and thus it is the verb "to be").

The first three lines form three secondary objects, enumerating what the main object (etaj, this) means.

The first of them is sabbapapassa akaranaj (non-doing of all evil). Actually, the object here is only the word akaranaj (non-doing), which is therefore in nominative. The word sabbapapassa (of all evil) is only its attribute, being in genitive case. Note that this word is a compound, instead of sabbassa papassa (of all evil, both words separated and in genitive case) we write just sabbapapassa, having the same meaning.

Next one is kusalassa upasampada (gathering the wholesome). Again, the word upasampada (gathering) is the object in the nominative. Its attribute kusalassa (of the wholesome [things]) is in genitive.

Last is sacittapariyodapanaj. It is in nominative and it is a compound that can be described as sacittassa (of one's own mind) pariyodapanaj (purification), or even sassa (of own) citassa (of mind) pariyodapanaj (purification).


This gatha, simply said, is Buddhism in a nutshell. Truly, what can be explained and expanded in hundreds of books, can be also abbreviated into three main guidelines. Not doing evil deeds - the first step on the road to Awakenment. But what exactly are "evil deeds"? A deed is considered evil if it brings suffering to any living being.

After one refrains from doing evil deeds one needs to do good deeds - to "gather" them like flowers. Good deeds are deeds that help living beings. They are based on loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. In order to be able to do so, one must cultivate these feelings in one's heart and mind.

These two steps are only preparatory stages to the final and most important action - purification of mind. The first two stages are here to prepare our mind for the highest goal. Without them it would be indeed impossible to purify our minds, for a mind that harbors evil thoughts can not purify itself.

The last verse mentions that this is the teaching of the buddhas. Why is the plural form used here? The historical Buddha Shakyamuni is believed to be just one from the long succession of Awakened beings, buddhas, who reach the nirvana by themselves and the become teachers of the Dharma. And as this verse states, their teachings might differ, but these three basic patterns do not change in either of them. Therefore, these lines can truly be described as the very core of Buddha's teaching.


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