Make your own free website on

Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

XX:7 Knowledge without realisation is useless (Pothila)

Pothila was a senior bhikkhu who knew the Dhamma well; and he taught the Dhamma to a large number of bhikkhus. Because of his knowledge he was also conceited. The Buddha knew his weakness and wanted him to mend his ways and put him on the right path. So whenever Pothila came to pay homage, he would address him as 'Useless Pothila'. When Pothila heard these remarks, he pondered over those words of the Buddha and came to realise that the Enlightened One had made those remarks because he had not made any serious effort to practise meditation and had not attained Sainthood or even any level of mental absorption (jhana), in spite of his vast knowledge of the Dhamma.

Thus, without telling anyone, he left for a monastery far away in Savatthi where there were many bhikkhus. First, he went to the most senior bhikkhu and humbly requested him to be his mentor; but the monk wishing to humble him, asked him to go to the next senior bhikkhu, who in turn sent him to the next. In this way, he was sent from one to the other until he came to a young arahant samanera. The young samanera accepted him as a pupil only after ascertaining that Pothila would obediently follow his instructions. As instructed by the samanera, Pothila kept his mind firmly fixed on the true nature of the body. He was very ardent and vigilant in his meditation.

The Buddha saw Pothila in his vision and through supernormal power sent forth his radiance end exhorted him to be steadfast and ardent in his quest for higher spiritual achievement. Soon after, Pothila attained Arahanthood.

55/170 Dhammapada & Commentary Khuddhaka J.i.106ff. despair

Previous Page | Contents | Next Page
Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.