Verses of the Elder Monks

The Theragatha, the eighth book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, consists of 264 poems — 1,291 stanzas in all — in which the early monks (bhikkhus) recount their struggles and accomplishments along the road to arahantship. Their stories are told with often heart-breaking honesty and beauty, revealing the deeply human side of these extraordinary men, and thus serve as inspiring reminders of our own potential to follow in their footsteps.

An excellent print translation of the complete Therigatha is Elders' Verses I translated by K.R. Norman (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1995).

The translator appears in the square brackets []. Pali verse numbers appear in the braces {}.

Chapter 1 — Single Verses   {Thag 1-120}

Thag 1.1: Subhuti
{Thag 1} [Thanissaro].

Go ahead and rain!

Thag 1.2: Mahakotthika
{Thag 2} [Thanissaro].

Evil mind-states vanish with the breeze.

Thag 1.3: Kankharevata
{Thag 3} [Thanissaro].

Discernment, like a fire in the night.

Thag 1.7: Bhalliya
{Thag 7} [Thanissaro].

Steadfast in oneself.

Thag 1.13: Vanavaccha
{Thag 13} [Thanissaro].

Refreshment in the wilderness.

Thag 1.14: Vanavaccha's pupil
{Thag 14} [Thanissaro].

There's no tying down one who knows.

Thag 1.16: Belatthasisa
{Thag 16} [Hecker/Khema | Thanissaro].

A happiness not of the flesh.

Thag 1.18: Singalapita
{Thag 18} [Thanissaro].

Contemplation of the body.

Thag 1.21: Nigrodha
{Thag 21} [Thanissaro].


Thag 1.22: Cittaka
{Thag 22} [Thanissaro].


Thag 1.23: Gosala
{Thag 23} [Thanissaro].


Thag 1.25: Nandiya (to Mara)
{Thag 25} [Thanissaro].

Be careful, Mara!

Thag 1.26: Abhaya
{Thag 26} [Thanissaro].

Splitting a horse's hair with an arrow.

Thag 1.29: Harita
{Thag 29} [Thanissaro].

Shatter ignorance to bits!

Thag 1.32: Suppiya
{Thag 32} [Thanissaro].

A fair trade.

Thag 1.39: Tissa
{Thag 39} [Thanissaro].

Practice mindfully, as if your head were on fire.

Thag 1.41: Sirivaddha
{Thag 41} [Thanissaro].

Lightning can't shake one in jhana.

Thag 1.43: Sumangala
{Thag 43} [Thanissaro].

Free at last from three crooked things!

Thag 1.49: Ramaneyyaka
{Thag 49} [Thanissaro].

The delight of a well-focused mind.

Thag 1.50: Vimala
{Thag 50} [Thanissaro].

Where neither rain nor wind can reach.

Thag 1.56: Kutiviharin (1)
{Thag 56} [Thanissaro].

Are you wasting your hut?

Thag 1.57: Kutiviharin (2)
{Thag 57} [Thanissaro].

Why hope for a new hut (i.e., rebirth)?

Thag 1.61: Vappa
{Thag 61} [Thanissaro].

How far can you see?

Thag 1.68: Ekuddaniya
{Thag 68} [Thanissaro].

Free of sorrows.

Thag 1.73: Manava
{Thag 73} [Thanissaro].

Three sights prompted this monk to leave home.

Thag 1.75: Susarada
{Thag 75} [Thanissaro].

Who can make a fool wise?

Thag 1.84: Nita
{Thag 84} [Thanissaro].

When will the fool awaken?

Thag 1.85: Sunaga
{Thag 85} [Thanissaro].

A pleasure not of the flesh.

Thag 1.86: Nagita
{Thag 86} [Thanissaro].

All paths do not lead to the same goal.

Thag 1.93: Eraka
{Thag 93} [Thanissaro].

Sensual pleasures are stressful.

Thag 1.95: Cakkhupala
{Thag 95} [Thanissaro].

Shun the evil companion!

Thag 1.104: Khitaka
{Thag 104} [Thanissaro].

How light my body!

Thag 1.111: Jenta
{Thag 111} [Thanissaro].

Ponder inconstancy, constantly.

Thag 1.113: Vanavaccha
{Thag 113} [Thanissaro].

Refreshment in the wilderness.

Thag 1.118: Kimbila
{Thag 118} [Thanissaro].

Aging drops on us like a curse.

Thag 1.120: Isidatta
{Thag 120} [Thanissaro].

Cutting through the roots of suffering.

Chapter 2 — Pairs of Verses   {Thag 121-218}

Chapter 3 — Groups of Three Verses   {Thag 219-266}

Chapter 4 — Groups of Four Verses   {Thag 267-314}

Chapter 5 — Groups of Five Verses   {Thag 315-374}

Chapter 6 — Groups of Six Verses   {Thag 375-458}

Chapter 7 — Groups of Seven Verses   {Thag 459-493}

Chapter 8 — Groups of Eight Verses   {Thag 494-517}

Chapter 10 — Groups of Ten Verses   {Thag 527-596}

Chapter 11 — The Group of Eleven Verses   {597-607}

Chapter 14 — Groups of Fourteen Verses   {Thag 645-672}

Chapter 15 — Groups of Sixteen Verses   {Thag 673-704}

Chapter 16 — Groups of (about) Twenty Verses   {Thag 705-948}

Chapter 17 — Groups of Thirty Verses   {Thag 949-1050}

Chapter 18 — The Group of Forty Verses   {Thag 1051-1090}

Chapter 21 — The Great Group of Verses   {Thag 1209-1279}