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Our Pali Dhammapada (Dhp) is only one of several existing versions. These are briefly but expertly surveyed by Professor Norman in his book on Pali literature . It is not even clear that Dhp is the oldest of these texts, though it conceivably may be. Let us just list the others.
Professor Norman says there are differences of opinion about the poetic quality of the verses of Dhp, and certainly Professor Brough is pretty scathing on the subject - and he is quoted with obvious approval by Bernhard, the editor of Uv, which certainly has a lot of padding. But Brough's words can be taken as referring at least principally to the "extra" verses in GDhp, and so not necessarily to Dhp. Though some lovers of our text may have sung its praises too uncritically, it certainly does not in general seem to deserve Brough's strictures: indeed the author of the witty wordplay of Dhp.97 (to take a single example) was, I think, no mean poet. But poetic merit apart, the various versions differ considerably, and when the same or similar stanzas occur in different redactions, they are often in quite a different order. There is no conclusive evidence as to priority, but Dhp and PDhp seem to be closest to whatever was the original version. As to the sources of the material, Professor Norman points out that more than half of the verses in Dhp occur elsewhere in the canon, while some seem to come from non-Buddhist (Brahmin or Jain) sources. The suggestion that each and every stanza was uttered by the Buddha on a particular occasion is thus a fantasy of the (unknown) commentator. But in any case, the idea that, e.g., each of the clearly parallel verses 1 and 2 was addressed by the Buddha to a different person on a different occasion would be hard to believe!
The stories attached to the different stanzas of Dhp - however they got there - are very interesting and instructive, and it is noteworthy that they were translated into English  many years before the actual exegetic material of the commentary in which they are incorporated . This fact had an advantage in so far as the translators of this were able to draw on all the other known versions, including PDhp, for their very valuable notes.
A word must be said about translations of Dhp. There are at least 40 so-called translations into English of this work, but it must be said that more than half of these are rehashes of existing versions, often cobbled together by people with little or no knowledge of Pali! It is curious to see how many of them open with the words, sometimes as they stand, sometimes slightly adapted, with which Max Muller's rendering of 1881 begins: "All that we are is the result of what we have thought", which is perhaps not a bad paraphrase, but scarcely a translation of the original: Manopubbangama dhamma "the dhammas (states, conditions) are preceded by mind". A number of these versions also suffer from another defect: that of trying to assimilate Buddhist thought to that of Vedanta or the like. A particular offender here, alas, is the Penguin version by J. Mascaro, and another well-known version, by Radhakrishnan, is similarly at fault. The most reliable version is still that of Narada Thera, of which there are various editions, or that of Buddharakkhita Thera . These translations make no mention of the other recensions we have mentioned. For these we must turn to the work of Carter and Palihawardana , which includes a verse-translation of the text. This is generally sound, though it opens rather oddly: "Preceded by perception (my italics) are the mental states" - with absolutely no explanation of this unusual rendering of mano-. If they wanted at all costs - but why? - to avoid writing "mind" here, "volition" would perhaps have made better sense (not that I am proposing this).
I certainly agree wholeheartedly with Titus Gomes about the value of studying the Dhammapada. And perhaps we can consider it to some extent a miniature "Buddhist Bible" if we want such a thing, as it certainly includes, in some shape or form, most of the essentials of the Buddhist teaching, at least in the Theravada form . It is not quite true, at least outside of Sri Lanka, that all Bhikkus have to learn it by heart before their ordination - but it might be a good idea if they did!
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