Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish

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Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish (Skt. Damamūka-nidāna-sūtra; Tib. མདོ་མཛངས་བླུན་, Wyl. mdo mdzangs blun; Pali: Bala-pandita Sutta), sometimes called Ocean of Narratives, consists of Jataka stories in fifty-one chapters, tracing the causes of present tragedy in human lives to events which took place in former lifetimes. The theme of each narrative is the same: the tragedy of the human condition, the reason for this tragedy and the possibility of transcending it.


The history of this unusual scripture is still uncertain. Legend has it that the tales were heard in Khotan by Chinese monks, who translated them into Chinese. In the caves of Dunhuang there are many wall paintings illustrating stories from the Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish, as well as painted scrolls on the same theme.

The Tibetan translation can be found in the Derge Kangyur, General Sutra section, Toh 341

The text was translated into Mongolian from Tibetan.

English Translations

  • Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish, translated from the Mongolian by Dr. Stanley Frye, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives

Quotations from the sutra

སྡིག་པ་ཆུང་ངུ་དག་ལ་ཡང༌། །

མི་གནོད་སྙམ་དུ་བརྙས་མི་བྱ། །
མེ་སྟག་ཆུང་ངུ་དག་གིས་ཀྱང༌། །

རྩྭ་ཕུང་རི་ཙམ་སྲེག་པར་བྱེད། །

Do not disregard small misdeeds,
Thinking they are harmless,
Because even tiny sparks of flame,
Can set fire to a mountain of hay.

Buddha Shakyamuni, Sutra of the Wise and Foolish

དགེ་བ་ཆུང་ངུ་དག་ལ་ཡང༌། །

མི་ཕན་སྙམ་དུ་བརྙས་མི་བྱ། །
ཆུ་ཡིས་ཐིགས་པ་བསགས་པ་ཡིས། །

སྣོད་ཆེན་རིམ་གྱིས་གང་བར་འགྱུར། །

Do not disregard small positive acts,
Thinking they are without benefit,
Because even tiny drops of water,
Will eventually fill a large container.

Buddha Shakyamuni, Sutra of the Wise and Foolish

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