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Tipitaka » Sutta Pitaka » Khuddaka Nikaya » Dhammapada » Verse 277,278,279



Dhammapada Verses 277, 278 and 279 - Aniccalakkhana Vatthu, Dukkhalakkhana Vatthu, Anattalakkhana Vatthu[]


Daw Mya Tin Version[]

"Sabbe sankhara anicca" ti

yada pannaya(1) passati(2)

atha nibbindati dukkhe

esa maggo visuddhiya.


"Sabbe sankhara dukkha" ti

yada pannaya passati

atha nibbindati dukkhe

esa maggo visuddhiya.


"Sabbe dhammā anatta" ti

yada pannaya passati

atha nibbindati dukkhe

esa maggo visuddhiya.


Verse 277: Aniccha(3) - "All sankhara(4) are impermanent/transient(Aniccha)"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom(panna), one comes out of dukkha/suffering. This is the Path to Purity.


Verse 278: Dukkha(5) - "All sankhara are dukkha"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom(panna), one comes out of dukkha/suffering. This is the Path to Purity.


Verse 279: Anatta(6) - "All dhammā are without Self(anatta)"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom(panna), one comes out of dukkha/suffering. This is the Path to Purity.


1. panna: Insight-wisdom gained from direct experience (Vipassana panna), to observe & know the truth first hand, it also means state of trance and understanding from it. It originates from sanskrit/hindi word Pragya (pratyaksh+gyan) or direct+knowledge. Panna refers to both worldly as well as transcendental (out of the world) experience gained when a person enters into the state of trance in meditation. In Abhidhamma(DS1.16,29) Lord Buddha further elaborates panna as power(paññābalaṃ), panna as a sword(paññāsatthaṃ), panna as a (exalted) height(paññāpāsādo), panna as (glowing) light(paññā-āloko), panna as glory(paññā-obhāso), panna as (blazing)splendour(paññā-pajjoto sans. prajjwalito ), panna as (shine of) precious-stone(paññā-ratanaṃ).

2. passati: To see directly, to observe , here it refers to the Vipassana meditation, the foremost technique taught by Buddha , here the word 'Vi' is taken from 'Vishesh' or 'special' i.e. special technique of direct observation of inner feelings , emotions & sensations wherein observation(meditation) is combined with attitude of non-indulgence/detachment of neither like nor dislike.

3. aniccha: impermanent/transient/changing. The sanskrit/hindi word is anitya. This idea is taught by Buddha in order to generate detachment to worldly desires which never get satisfied. This is in contrast to its opposite i.e. the state of nitya(eternal) achieved in final enlightenment of nibbana/nirvana/moksha where supreme eternal bliss is achieved.

4. sankhara: inner conditioned phenomena such as feelings, emotions, desires, attachments, propensities, reactions, addictions etc. which comprise character & behavior of a person i.e. attributes related to sensuality , anger, hatred, greed , affections , infatuations etc. Its sanskrit/hindi word is Sanskara(or karma sanskara).

5. dukkha: suffering (mental or physical) such as pain, disease, failures, mishappenings, stress, strain, old age, death etc. Here it means that all material pleasures & desires lead to suffering therefore one needs to develop detachment to these.

6. anatta: an+atta or non+self ; it means non-existence of self. It means that the phenomenon of experience of bodily self is non-existent when a person achieves final enlightenment/trance state when the bodily self transcends the material body in meditation & becomes universal self (I am every where , I am every one).



The Stories Relating to Anicca(Transience), Dukkha(Suffering) and Anatta(Non-self)

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (277), (278) and (279) of this book, with reference to three groups of five hundred bhikkhus each.

On Impermanence (Anicca)

Five hundred bhikkhus, after receiving their subject of meditation from the Buddha, went into the forest to practise meditation, but they made little progress. So, they returned to the Buddha to ask for another subject of meditation which would suit them better. On reflection, the Buddha found that those bhikkhus had, during the time of Kassapa Buddha, meditated on impermanence. So, he said, "Bhikkhus, all (rebirth causing) conditioned phenomena (Karma/moral defilements) are subject to change and decay and are therefore impermanent."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:


Verse 277: "All sankhara are impermanent/transient(Aniccha)"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom(panna), one comes out of dukkha/suffering. This is the Path to Purity.


At the end of the discourse those five hundred bhikkhus attained arahatship.

On Dukkha(Suffering)

Next story is the same as the story on Anicca. Here, the Buddha on reflection found that another group of five hundred bhikkhus had meditated on dukkha(suffering/rebirth). So, he said, "Bhikkhus, all khandha aggregates are oppressive and unsatisfactory; thus all khandhas are dukkha (suffering)."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:


Verse 278: "All sankhara are dukkha"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom(panna), one comes out of dukkha/suffering. This is the Path to Purity.


At the end of the discourse those five hundred bhikkhus attained arahatship.

On Insubstantiality or Non-Self (Anatta)

Next story is the same as the stories on Anicca(Transience) and dukkha(suffering/rebirth). Here, the Buddha on reflection found that still another group of five hundred bhikkhus had meditated on insubstantiality or non-self (anatta). So, he said,"Bhikkhus, all khandha aggregates are insubstantial; they are not subject to one's control."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:


Verse 279: "All dhammā are without Self(anatta)"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom(panna), one comes out of dukkha/suffering. This is the Path to Purity.


At the end of the discourse all those five hundred bhikkhus attained arahatship.


Ven. Weragoda Sarada Maha Thero Version[]

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Illustration[]

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