AN IX 20 Velāma’s Offering

AN IX 20 Velāma’s Offering

 

Velāma Sutta #

 

Once,

The Beloved Teacher lived in Sāvatthi,

In Prince Jeta’s grove at Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery.

 

At that time, the follower Anāthapiṇḍika went to the Buddha,

Paid loving respects and seated himself before him.

 

Then the Teacher asked:

[Buddha]

“Are alms given in your family Anāthapiṇḍika? [1]

 

[Anāthapiṇḍika]

“My family offers alms Bhante,

but theirs comprises inferior quality rice crushings

mixed with bran, alongside sour gruel.” [2]

 

 

 

[Carelessly Offered] #

 

[Buddha]

Anāthapiṇḍika,

whether the offering is rudimentary or excellent, [3]

Those who offer carelessly,

without respect,

not from their own hand,

what is to be thrown away,

not realizing that

something good will come from their action; [4]

 

Whenever the result of their offering revolves back to them,

Their minds do not rejoice [even] when they receive

the best of foods, [5]

the best of clothes,

the best of transports,

or the best of the five senses and their objects,

 

Their sons and daughters,

wives [or husbands] and helpers,

attendants and workers

will not pay attention,

will not listen to what one says,

Nor will they attend with a caring mind.

 

Why?

 

Because this is the result of actions done carelessly.

 

[Thoughtfully offered] #

 

Whether the offering is rudimentary or excellent,

Those who offer thoughtfully,

respectfully,

from their own hand,

what is not to be thrown away,

realizing that something good

will come out of their action;

 

Whenever the result of their offering revolves back to them,

Their minds rejoice when they receive

the best of food,

the best of clothes,

the best of transports,

the best of the five senses and their objects,

 

Their sons and daughters,

wives [or husbands] and helpers,

attendants and workers

will pay proper attention,

will listen to what one has to say,

and they will attend with a caring mind.

 

Why?

 

Because this is the result of actions done thoughtfully.

 

[Velāma’s Story] #

 

In the past, lived a Brahmin named Velāma.

And on one occasion, he carried out an offering,

an extraordinary act of generosity.

 

(1) He offered eighty-four [6] thousand golden bowls

filled with silver coins;

 

(2) eighty-four thousand silver bowls,

filled with golden coins;

 

(3) eighty-four thousand bronze bowls

filled with gold nuggets;

 

(4) eighty-four thousand elephants

with golden adornments,

golden flags,

covered over with golden nettings;

 

(5) eighty-four thousand carriages

covered in lion’s skin,

tiger’s skin,

leopard’s skin,

delicate saffron fabrics,

with golden trinkets,

golden flags,

covered over with golden mesh;

 

(6) eighty-four thousand cows

dressed in silk outfit

and bronze milking pails;

(7) eighty-four thousand maidens

adorned with jeweled earrings; [7]

 

(8) eighty-four thousand couches

covered with deep-hair fur carpets,

white wool coverings,

woven coverlets,

Kadali deer spreads,

with sun-shade canopies

and crimson cushions on either sides;

 

(9) eighty-four thousand measures of

the finest fabrics,

the finest linen,

the finest silk,

the finest wool

and the finest cotton;

 

And what to mention of food and drinks,

chewables,

eatables,

lickables

and drinkables,

they seemed to flow like rivers.

 

image

 

One might think that Velāma was a myth,

or someone unrelated.

 

But this is not how it should be understood.

 

At that time,

I was the brahmin Velāma.

It was me who made this extraordinary offering.

 

But there was nobody truly worthy of offering,

Nobody that could purify the gift. [8]

 

image

 

(a) Even if the Brahmin Velāma had only fed

a single person graced by wise understanding,

it would have been much more beneficial. [9]

 

(b) Much more beneficial than feeding

a hundred people attained to Dhamma vision

it would be to feed a single once-returner. [10]

 

(c) Much more beneficial than feeding

a hundred once-returner

it would it be to feed a single non-returner. [11]

 

(d) Much more beneficial than feeding

a hundred non-returner

it would be to feed a single arahant. [12]

 

(e) Much more beneficial than feeding

a hundred non-returner

it would be to feed a single silent Buddha. [13]

 

(f) Much more beneficial than feeding

a hundred silent Buddhas

it would be to feed the Truth-Finder,

the Arahant,

Perfectly All awakened Buddha. [14]

 

(g) Much more beneficial than feeding

the Truth-Finder,

the Arahant,

Perfectly All-Awakened Buddha

it would be to feed the saṅgha of monks

headed by the Buddha. [15]

 

(h) Much more beneficial than feeding

the saṅgha of monks headed by the Buddha

it would be to build a vihāra

dedicated to the saṅgha of the four directions. [16]

 

(i) Much more beneficial than

to build a vihāra dedicated to the saṅgha

it would be to go for refuge

to the Buddha

the Dhamma

and the saṅgha

with a confident mind. [17]

 

(j) Much more beneficial than

to go for refuge

to the Buddha

the Dhamma

and the saṅgha

with a confident mind

it would be to undertake the training in virtue

with a confident mind, that is: [18]

 

(1) Refraining from hurting living beings,

(2) Refraining from taking what is not given,

(3) Refraining from sexual misbehavior,

(4) Refraining from speaking lies,

(5) Refraining from mind-altering substances.

 

(11) Much more beneficial than

to undertake the training in virtue with a confident mind  

it would be to develop

a heart and mind of Love,

even just for the time it takes

to notice a passing scent.[19]

 

(12) And thus Anāthapiṇḍika,

much more valuable than… [all of this]

it would be to cultivate

an unabiding mind

even just for the time of a finger snap. [20]

 

 


[1] “Api nu te, gahapati, kule dānaṃ dīyatīti?

[2] “Dīyati me kule dānaṃ; tañca kho lūkhaṃ kaṇājakaṃ biḷaṅgadutiyan”ti

[3] “Lūkhañcepi, gahapati, dānaṃ deti paṇītaṃ vā;

[4] tañca asakkaccaṃ deti, acittīkatvā deti, asahatthā deti, apaviddhaṃ deti, anāgamanadiṭṭhiko deti.

[5] na uḷārāya bhattabhogāya cittaṃ namati, … vatthabhogāya… yānabhogāya, pañcasu kāmaguṇesu bhogāya

[6] caturāsīti

[7] kaññāsahassāni adāsi āmuttamaṇikuṇḍalāyo. A fairly provocative and distasteful idea to most educated mind of the modern era.

[8] Tasmiṃ kho pana, gahapati, dāne na koci dakkhiṇeyyo ahosi, na taṃ koci dakkhiṇaṃ visodheti.

[9] yo cekaṃ diṭṭhisampannaṃ bhojeyya, idaṃ tato mahapphalataraṃ.

[10] sakadāgāmiṃ

[11] anāgāmiṃ

[12] arahantaṃ

[13] paccekabuddhaṃ

[14] tathāgataṃ arahantaṃ sammāsambuddhaṃ

[15] buddhappamukhaṃ bhikkhusaṃghaṃ

[16] cātuddisaṃ saṃghaṃ uddissa vihāraṃ kārāpeyya

[17] pasannacitto buddhañca dhammañca saṃghañca saraṇaṃ gaccheyya

[18] yo ca pasannacitto sikkhāpadāni samādiyeyya—

[19] yo ca antamaso gandhohanamattampi   mettacittaṃ bhāveyya,

[20] Aniccasaññaṃ: I take my translation from a-nitya: non-abiding. Traditionally translated as the ‘perception of impermanence,’ other variations are also interesting since this is a fairly broad term, this refers mostly to the four satipaṭṭhānas, free from expectations or association, not-grasping, nor clinging not abiding, therefore, seeing that all is continually changing, passing. AN 7.16 Aniccānupassī Sutta, AN 6.102 Anavatthita Sutta, SN 22.102 Aniccasaññā Sutta (yo ca accharāsaṅghātamattampi aniccasaññaṃ bhāveyya)