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The Dhammapada is only a tiny part of the Buddhist canon of scripture, but it has long been the part most popular, and most translated, in the West. This slim volume of 423 short verses from the is sometimes called the Buddhist Book of Proverbs. It is a treasury of gems that illuminate and inspire.
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"The Dhammapada is only a tiny part of the Buddhist canon of scripture, but it has long been the part most popular, and most translated, in the West. This slim volume of 423 short verses from the is sometimes called the Buddhist Book of Proverbs. It is a treasury of gems that illuminate and inspire. The Dhammapada is part of the Sutta-pitaka (collection of sermons) of the Tripitaka and can be found in in the Khuddaka Nikaya -- "collection of little texts" -- a section that was added to the canon about 250 BCE. The verses, arranged in 26 chapters, are taken from several parts of the Pali Tripitaka and a few other early sources. In the 5th century the sage Buddhaghosa wrote an important commentary that presented each verse in its original context to shed more light on the verses' meaning. The Pali word (in Sanskrit, ) in Buddhism has several meanings. It can refer to the cosmic law of cause, effect and rebirth; the doctrines taught by the Buddha; a thought object, phenomenon or manifestation of reality; and more. means "foot" or "path." In 1881, Clarendon Press of Oxford (now Oxford University Press) published what were most likely the first English translations of Buddhist sutras. All were from the. One of these was T. W. Rhys Davids's , selections that included the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Buddha's first sermon. Another was Viggo Fausboll's . The third was F. Max Muller's translation of the Dhammapada. (In 1855 Fausboll had published the first translation of the Dhammapada into a western language; however, that language was Latin.)"
- Take care to avoid editions which offer commentary but are too free in their interpretations or attempt to restrict the work's purview to a context of other popular or extant philosophical (eg- Plato- , Kant (not an unreasonable case- see ), phenomenology) or religious (eg- Hinduism and its Upanishads- which try before the Buddha to address (differently) some of the questions he does, but after him seems to have attempted to subsume into Hinduism proper the challenge to the status quo Buddhist thought presented; at least more subtle than Hinduism's portrayal of the Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu come to test the faithful by leading them astray) schools, or attempt to supply the text with fashionable mysticism (for instance, Easwaran's assimilative rendering), often thereby (unwittingly) expurgating the work's psychological depth and its invitation to a revolutionary and rational philosophy. And of course, the Dhammapada is only that- an invitation, a primer; to have the teaching elucidated on further one must attempt hereafter to tackle denser discourses in the Pali Canon.