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DHAMMA IS OF BENEFIT ONLY WHEN IT IS PRACTISED, NOT BY JUST HEARING IT

At one time, the Buddha was staying at the Jetavana monastery in Sāvatti, which was donated to the Buddha by the chief benefactor Anāthapindika.

At that time, a lay disciple of the Buddha named Chattapani lived in Savatti. Though he was a lay disciple, he had already attained the third supra mundane stage of Non-Returner (Anagami). One day, when he was listening to a sermon by the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery, King Pasenadi of Kosala arrived to pay homage to the Buddha. When the king arrived, Chattapani did not stand up as he thought that standing up when the king meant he was not paying due respect to the Buddha. However, the king considered that Chattapani did not stand up when he arrived as an insult and felt very much offended. The Buddha knew that the king felt offended and praised Chattapani, describing him as a disciple well-versed in the Dhamma and had attained the Non-Returner stage. On hearing the Buddha’s description of Chattapani, the king was impressed with him and developed a positive attitude towards him.

When the king met Chattapani on a subsequent occasion, the king said to him: “As you are much learned, could you please come to my palace and teach the Dhamma to my two queens?” Chattapani did not agree to the king’s suggestion, but he suggested that the king request the Buddha to arrange for a monk to visit the palace and teach the Dhamma to the two queens. The king eventually made that request to the Buddha, and the Buddha asked Venerable Ananda to visit the palace and teach the Dhamma to Queen Mallika and Queen Vasabhakhattiya regularly.

As directed by the Buddha, Venerable Ananda visited the palace regularly and taught the Dhamma to the two queens. After some time, the Buddha inquired Venerable Ananda about the progress of the two queens through his teaching. Venerable Ananda reported to the Buddha that although Queen Mallika was learning the Dhamma seriously, Queen Vasabhakhattiya was not paying proper attention to his teaching. On receiving that information, the Buddha said that the Dhamma can benefit only those who learn it seriously with due respect and proper attention and then practice it with diligence.

   Then the Buddha recited the following two verses which are recorded as the 51st and the 52nd verses of the Dhammapada.

“Yathā pi ruciraṁ pupphaṁ,

  vannavantaṁ agandhakaṁ,

  evaṁ subhāsitā vācā,

  aphalā hoti akubbato.”

“Just like a beautiful flower,

  which has color but no fragrance,

  so also, well-preached words of the Buddha,

  cannot benefit one who does not practice them.”

“Yathā pi ruciraṁ pupphaṁ,

  vannavantaṁ sagandhakaṁ,

  evaṁ subhāsitā vācā,

  saphalā hoti sakubbato.”

“Just like a beautiful flower,

  which has color as well as fragrance,

  so also the well-preached words of the Buddha,

  will benefit one who practices them.”

  • For those who don’t know, Queen Mallika was an extraordinarily gifted and intelligent woman in Dhamma. Despite her great understanding, she did not reach the sotāpanna stage. After her death, she fell into hell (niraya) because of her sexual misconduct and lying. However, thanks to the many Kusulas she acquired, she only spent seven days before being reborn in Tusita paradise. Likely, she will eventually become Sotapanna. Tusita is the fourth paradise in kāma loka, the abode of the Bodhisattas before their last birth. Every sincere effort in Dhamma practice will be our refuge in case of falling. It always benefits us.
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