Sutta Nipāta

Subhāsita Sutta

3.3. The Well-spoken

Thus have I heard:

At one time the Radiant One dwelt at Sāvatthī, in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. The Radiant One spoke thus: “Bhikkhus”.

“Venerable Sir”, those bhikkhus replied.

“Speech having four qualities is well-spoken, not ill-spoken, and blameless, not blameworthy, among the wise. What four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu speaks only what is well-spoken, not what is ill-spoken; what is Dharma, not what is not-Dharma; what is kindly, not what is unkind; what is the truth, not what is false. This speech is well-spoken, not ill-spoken, and blameless, not blameworthy among the wise.”

This is what the Radiant One said, then he spoke further.

Now peaceful Ones say: first speak the well-spoken,
and second, speak Dharma but not its opposite,
what’s kind do speak, third, not the unkind,
while fourth, speak the truth but never the false.

Then the venerable Vaṅgīsa rose with robe over one shoulder and lotussed hands towards the Radiant One saying to him: “Sir, it has come to me!”

“Let it come to you, Vaṅgīsa.”

The venerable Vaṅgīsa then praised the Radiant One in his presence with these appropriate verses:

Only that speech should be spoken
from which harm does not come to oneself,
nor torment brings upon others—
this truly is speech that’s well-spoken.

Speak only those words that are kind,
the speech that is gladly received,
so whatever one speaks to others,
conveying no evil, is kind.

Truth indeed, is deathless speech—
this is the ancient Dharma.
On truth, its study and practice both,
they say are the Peaceful firm.

Whatever words the Buddha speaks,
Nirvāṇa’s safety to attain,
bringing dukkha to an end,
such words they are the worthiest.