The Dhammapada is probably the most popular book in the Pāḷi Canon, and has had innumerable translations into most modern languages. The timeless ethical teachings contained in these verses are still considered relevant to people’s lives, and they are presented as a guide to living well. Together with the commentarial stories that accompany the verses, along with the Jataka verses and stories, they have formed the backbone of the teaching of Buddhist ethics for well over 2,000 years. The verses and stories are well known in traditional Theravāda Buddhist cultures, and most born and brought up in those societies will be able to recite many of the verses, and relate the stories that go with them, even from a young age.
This is not at all surprising as the verses are often memorable, and the stories that accompany them equally so. They provided a framework for understanding what are good and bad actions, and what the consequences of both will be, which is central to the Buddhist teaching on ethics.
The collection consists of 423 verses, organised into twenty-six chapters, most of which are fairly short.
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