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.

A selected anthology of 88 suttas from the Theragatha (and 32 from the Therigatha), Poems of the Elders: An Anthology from the Theragāthā & Therīgāthā, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, is distributed free of charge by Metta Forest Monastery. It is also available to read online and in various ebook formats at

For a complete translation, see 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 1.6: Dabba (“Capable”)
{Thag 6} [Thanissaro].

The rewards of allowing yourself to be tamed. [TB]

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

Steadfast in oneself.

Thag 1.10: Puṇṇamāsa
{Thag 10} [Thanissaro].

Unsmeared with regard to all dhammas. [TB]

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 1.31: Gahuratīriya
{Thag 31} [Thanissaro].

Acquiescing to discomfort like an elephant in battle. [TB]

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

A fair trade.

Thag 1.33: Sopāka
{Thag 33} [Thanissaro].

Be good to all creatures. [TB]

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 1.88: Ajjuna
{Thag 88} [Thanissaro].

Raising myself from the flood. [TB]

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

Sensual pleasures are stressful.

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

Shun the evil companion!

Thag 1.100: Devasabha
{Thag 100} [Thanissaro].

Blanketed with the flowers of release. [TB]

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

How light my body!

Thag 1.109: Saṅgharakkhita
{Thag 109} [Thanissaro].

With your faculties exposed, you’re prey to danger. [TB]

Thag 1.110: Usabha
{Thag 110} [Thanissaro].

The perception of “wilderness.” [TB]

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

Ponder inconstancy, constantly.

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

Refreshment in the wilderness.

Thag 1.114: Adhimutta
{Thag 114} [Thanissaro].

If you’re greedy for carcass pleasures, where will you gain excellence? [TB]

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

Aging drops on us like a curse.

Thag 1.119: Vajjiputta
{Thag 119} [Thanissaro].

Leave chitter-chatter. Do jhāna. [TB]

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}