Chapter VI: Paramita (Perfections)

Edited and Translated by
U Ko Lay and U Tin Lwin
Yangon, Myanmar


{short description of image}

{short description of image}

{short description of image}

Volume One, Part One, Anudipani

The Perfection of Generosity or Generous Offering (Dana Parami)

       For the edification of those aspirants who ardently strive for attainment of perfect Self-enlightenment of a Buddha, or for Self-enlightenment of a Pacceka Buddha, or for the enlightenment of a disciple of a Buddha, we provide herewith miscellaneous notes on different aspects of Generosity, which forms a part of the conditions for obtaining enlightenment. These notes are given in the form of answers to the following questions:

  • (i) What things are called Dana?
  • (ii) Why are they called Dana?
  • (iii) What are the characteristics, functions, manifestations and proximate causes of Dana ?
  • (iv) How many types of Dana are there?
  • (v) What are the elements that strengthen the beneficial results of Dana?
  • (vi) What are the elements that weaken the beneficial results of Dana?

      (This form of treatment will be adhered to when dealing with other Perfections too)


       In brief, it should be answered that 'the volition to give a suitable thing to give' is called Dana, The meaning will become clearer in the following passages.


       The volition is called Dana because it is responsible for an act of generosity to take place. There can be no generosity without the volition to give; an act of generosity is possible only when there is the volition to give.

       In this connection, by volition is meant

      (i) the volition that arises at the time of donation. It is called munca cetana, 'relinquishing' volition, munca meaning relinquishing. It is only this volition, which accompanies the act of relinquishing, that forms the true element of generosity.

      (ii) The volition that arises in anticipation before one makes the donation is called 'Pubba cetana'. This type of volition can also be considered as Dana, provided that the object to be given is at hand at the time the intention, "I shall make an offering of this object," occurs. Without the object to be given being actually in one's possession, cherishing the thought of giving may be called 'pubba cetana' but cannot qualify as Dana: it can only be a benevolent thought of ordinary merit.

      How volition comes to be taken as synonymous with Dana is based on the grammatical definition of Diyati anenati danam, that which prompts giving is generosity, dana. (Volition, here, is definitely the determining cause of giving).

      Things to be given are also called Dana from the grammatical definition of Diyatiti danam which means objects which could be offered as alms.

       Following these grammatical definitions, Texts of the Canons mention two kinds of dana, namely, volitional dana and material dana. In this connection, questions have been asked why objects to be offered are called dana, since only volition is capable of producing results and material object is not. It is true that only volition is productive of results because volition is a mental action; but as explained above, volition can be called dana only if it arises when there exist suitable things to be given. Therefore, material object for giving is also an important contributory factor for an act of giving to qualify as generosity, dana.

       For example, we say 'rice is cooked because of the firewood'. Actually, it is the fire that cooks the rice. But there can be no fire without firewood. So fire burns because of firewood; and rice is cooked because of fire. Thus taking into consideration, these connected phenomena, it is not incorrect to say 'rice is well cooked because of good firewood'. Similarly, we can rightly say 'beneficial result is obtained because of objects of offering'.

       Because things to be given away feature importantly in acts of generosity, the Canonical Texts mention different types of Dana depending on different objects to be offered. Thus in expositions on the Vinayawe find four types of dana, namely offerings of food, robes, dwelling places and medicines. Although the Vinaya is not concerned with enumeration of types of dana, since the Buddha allows four kinds of requisites to the Sangha, the offerings made to the Sangha are naturally listed under these four heads; hence this classification in the Vinaya expositions of four types of dana, which is primarily based upon different kinds of object of offering.

       According to the classification in the exposition on the Abhidhamma, everything in the world comes under six heads corresponding to the six sense objects, there are six kinds of dana depending upon whether it is a gift of visible object, of sound, of smell, of taste, of touch or of mind-object or dhamma. Here also, although there is no direct mention of six kinds of dana in the Abhidhamma Teachings, if gifts were to be made of each of the sense objects, there would be six kinds of offering; hence this classification in the Abhidhamma expositions of six types of dana.

       In the Suttanta classification, there are ten kinds of dana, namely, offering of various kinds of food, of drink, of transportation, of flowers, of perfumed powder, of scented unguent or ointment, of bed, of dwelling places and of facilities for lighting. Here again, the actual teaching in the Suttas relates only to the ten classes of objects which may be offered as alms. But when these ten objects are offered as alms, there would be then ten kinds of offering; hence this classification in the Suttanta expositions of ten types of dana.

       Maintaining that the Buddha teaches only these ten objects for offering one should not consider that these are the only gifts to be given; and that other gifts are not allowable. One should understand that the Buddha merely mentions the ten things most commonly offered as alms in practice; or as any material thing can be classified as belonging to one or the other of the ten types of gift, one should take it that by these ten objects are covered also any object which is in daily use by the noble recipient.

       From what has been said above, it should be well noted how a material object is an important contributory factor (for the arising) of volitional generosity. It will be seen that the various types of generosity which will be described hence forth include many that relate to objects of offering.

       As a resume of this chapter, it should be remembered that volition is dana because it prompts giving; the material thing is dana because it is a suitable thing to give.


       (a) Dana has the characteristic of abandoning ( Lakkhana).

      (b) Its function (kicca-rasa) is destruction of attachment to objects of offering; or it has the property of faultlessness (sampatti-rasa)

       (c) Its manifestation is absence of attachment i.e. a sense of freedom from attachment that appears in the mind of the donor, or knowing that dana is conducive to good destination and wealth i.e. on thinking of the effects of giving, the donor senses that his act of generosity will result in attainment of rebirth in the human or Deva world and attainment of great wealth.

      (d) The proximate cause of giving is having objects of offering in one's possession. Without having anything to give, there can, be no act of charity, only imagining that one gives. Thus objects to be offered are the proximate cause of Dana.


       The subject to be dealt with under this head is quite vast; it will entail considerable exercise of mental alertness and intelligence to study them.

Types of Dana in Groups of Twos.

      (1) Offering of material things (Amisa dana) and the gift of the teaching (Dhamma dana). (a) Offering of material things such as alms rice etc. is known as Amisa dana. It is also called Paccaya dana (when the things offered are the requisites of bhikkhus).

       Teaching the Buddha Dhamma in the form of talks, lectures etc. is giving the gift of Dhamma. The Buddha said that this is the noblest of all types of dana. (This classification of dana into two types is made according to the objects of offering).

       In relation to this division of types of dana, it is necessary to look into the question of what type of dana accrues to one who sets up pagodas and statues of Buddha.

       There are some who maintain that although setting up of pagodas and statues of Buddha involves relinquishing of large amount of wealth, it cannot be an act of generosity, dana; because they say, for an act of giving to become dana, three conditions must be fulfilled: there must be a recipient; there must be an object for offering and there must be a donor. In setting up pagodas and statues of Buddha there is obviously the donor, but who receives his gift, they asked. In the absence of any one to receive the gift, how can it be an act of generosity, dana?

       From their point of view, the pagodas and Buddha statues are not objects to be given as an act of dana; rather, they serve as aids to recollection of the attributes of the Buddha. A builder of pagodas and Buddha statues has no particular receiver in mind to give them away; he builds them to help produce vivid visualization of the Buddha in the mind of the worshipper enabling him to practise the Recollection of the Virtues of the Buddha. It should therefore be considered, they maintain, that setting up of pagodas and Buddha statues is related to the Buddhanussati Meditation, cultivation of the Recollection of the Virtues of the Buddha, and is not an act of generosity.

       There are, again some people who maintain that as the person who builds pagodas and installs Buddha statues undertakes these works in order to honour, to make homage to the most Homage-Worthy Buddha, his act must be considered as an act of honouring the Buddha (apacayana), one of the ten qualities contributing to merit (Punnakiriya vatthu). They further say that since this kind of merit, namely, honouring those who are worthy of honour, is a practice of morality (caritta sila), it should come under (observance of) sila and not under (cultivation of) Buddhanussati Meditation.

      But neither the Merit of Buddhanussati Meditation nor the merit of honouring (apacayana) involves relinquishing of objects of offering; whereas building a pagoda and installing Buddha statues require an expenditure of a large sum of money. Hence these works of merit must be considered to come under Dana.

Here the question may be asked, 'if it comes under will it be an act of dana when there is no recipient for it?' According to the Texts, whether an offering should be regarded as an act of dana may be decided by an analysis of its features under four heads: characteristic, function, manifestation and proximate cause. We have already provided above what these four features are for a true act of dana. Now applying this test to the present problems, we find the characteristic of abandoning since the person who builds the pagoda and installs the Buddha statues relinquishes a large sum of money; as its function, there is destruction of attachment to the objects of offering by the donor; the donor senses that his act of generosity will result in attainment of rebirth in the human or deva world and attainment of great wealth; and finally, as the proximate cause, there is the object to be offered. Thus all the four features necessary for an offering to be truly an act of dana are present here and we may therefore conclude that building a pagoda and installing Buddha statues is a true act of generosity.

      As to the question of who receives the gift, it will not be wrong to say that all the Devas and human beings who worship at the pagodas and Buddha statues in memory of the virtues of the Buddha are the recipients of the dana. At the same time, as they serve as objects of worship for the Devas and human beings in their recollection of the virtues of the Buddha, they also form the objects of offering. All the various material things in the world are utilized in different ways depending on their nature; food materials are utilized for consumption; clothing materials are utilized for wearing; materials for religious devotion and adoration are utilized as objects of veneration.

      If wells and tanks are dug near public highways, the general public could use them for drinking water, washing etc. The donor would have no particular recipient in mind when he dug the wells and tanks. When, as he intended, the wayfarers passing by the road make use of his gifts, no one could say that his gift is not an act of dana; even if he did not finalize it with a libation ceremony. (See below).

      Now to wind up the discussion, it is quite proper to say that the builder of a pagoda with Buddha statues is a donor, the pagoda and Buddha statues are objects of dana, and Devas and human beings who pay homage to them in adoration are the recipients of the dana.

      An additional question may be asked, 'Is it really proper to refer to pagodas and Buddha statues as objects of dana; may it not be sacrilegious to classify them as such?' Just as bookcases and shelves are used in the monasteries for holding Cononical Texts which are looked upon as sacred (Dhamma-cetiya), so also pagodas and Buddha statues form storehouses for keeping sacred relics and objects of veneration. So it may be answered that it is quite appropriate to designate them as objects of generosity, dana.

Whether a libation ceremony is essential for an offering to qualify as an act of generosity

       The point to consider here is whether it constiutes an act of dana when it is not finalised with a libation ceremony. Actually there is no mention of this requirement in the Texts. The practice is, however, of long standing tradition.

       In the Commentary on Chapter 'Civarakkhandhaka of the Vinaya Mahavagga, we find the following reference to this tradition of libation ceremony. "There was a split among the bhikkhus of a monastery prior to the time of offering of robes after the Buddhist Lent. When the time arrived lay devotees came and offered robes, piled up in a heap, to one group of bhikkhus. The devotees then went to the other group of bhikkhus and performed the ceremony of libation, saying, "We offer to the other group of bhikkhus." As to how the robes should be distributed among the Sangha, the Great Commentary says that if it was in a region where they set no great store by the ceremony of libation, the robes belonged to the group (of bhikkhus) which had been directly offered the robes. The group which received only 'the libation' had no claim to the robes. But if it was in a region where they set great store by the libation ceremony, the group which received only 'the libation' had a claim to the robes because the ceremony of libation was performed with them; the other group to which the robes were offered directly had also a claim on them since they had the robes already in their possession. Therefore the two groups must divide the robes equally among them. This method of distribution is a practice followed by tradition in regions on the other side of the Ocean."

       'Regions on the other side of the Ocean, from Sri Lanka implies 'the Jambudipa', i.e. India. Therefore it should be noted that the ceremony of libation is a practice traditionally followed by the people of India.

      Considering that there are regions where they set a great store by the ceremony of libation and there are regions where they set no great store by the ceremony of libation, it cannot be said that an offering constitutes an act of generosity only when it is finalized by a ceremony of libation. The ceremony is important only for those who follow the tradition of libation; it is clear that no significance is attached to it by those who do not follow the tradition. It should be noted therefore that a libation ceremony is not a primary factor for the successful completion of an act of generosity.

       (b) With respect to the gift of the teaching, Dhamma dana, there are, nowadays, people who are unable to teach the Dhamma, but who, bent on waking a gift of the teaching, spend money on books, palm-leaf scripts etc. (of Canonical Texts) and make a gift of them. Although such a donation of books is not truly a gift of the teaching, since a reader will be benefitted by reading in the books practices and instruction which will lead one to Nibbana, the donor may be regarded as one who makes a gift of the teaching.

       It is like the case of one who has no medicine to give to a sick person, but only a prescription for a cure of the illness. When the medicine is prepared as prescribed and taken, the illness is removed. Although the person does not actually administer any medicine, because of his effective prescription, he is entitled to be regarded as one who has brought about the cure of illness. Likewise, the donor of books on Dhamma who personally cannot teach the Dhamma enables the readers of his books to attain knowledge of the Dhamma and thus is entitled to be called the donor of the gift of Dhamma.

       Now, to conclude this section, the pair of gifts mentioned above, namely, amisa-dana and Dhamma-dana may also be called amisa-puja, honouring with material things and Dhamma-puja, honouring with the teaching; the terms mean the same thing.

       The word 'Puja' means 'honouring' and is generally used when a younger person makes an offering to an older person or a person of higher status. Depending on this general usage, some people have stated that dana should be divided into 'puja-dana' and anuggaha dana'; puja-dana, honouring with an offering when the gift is made by a younger person or a person of lower status to an older person or a person of higher status; and 'anuggaha-dana' offering to render assistance out of kindness 'when a gift is given by an older person or a person of higher status to one who is younger or of lower status.

      But as we have seen before in the chapter on 'Prediction', the word puja can be used for both the high or the low and the word 'anuggaha' is likewise applicable to both cases. It is true that generally, 'anuggaha' is used when the giving is made by the high to the low or by the old to the young. But we must, however, remember the usages of 'amisanuggaha' and 'Dhammanuggaha' to describe the assistance rendered and support given, for the progress and development of the Buddha's Teaching. Here the word anuggaha is employed even though the gift is being made to the highest and the noblest Teaching of the Buddha. Thus it should be noted that the division into pujadana and anuggaha-dana is not an absolute division into two aspects of dana, but rather a classification following common usage.

       (2) Offering of one's own person (Ajahattika-dana) and Offering of external properties (Bahira-dana). Offerings of one's own person means giving away of one's own life and limbs. Offerings of external properties include giving of all the external material possessions of the donor.

       Even in these modern times, we read sometimes in the newspapers news of offerings of one's own limbs at the Pagoda or of 'honouring with the gift' of burning oneself after wrapping up the whole body with cloth and pouring oil on it. Some comments have been made on such kinds of dana involving one's limbs. According to them, such offerings of one's life and limb are deeds to be performed only by great Bodhisattas and are not the concern of ordinary persons. They doubt if such offerings made by ordinary persons produce any merit at all.

       Now to consider whether such views are justified or not. It is not as if a Bodhisatta can suddenly make his appearance in this world. Only after gradually fulfilling the required perfections to the best of his ability, an individual grows in maturity and develops himself stage by stage to become a Bodhisatta. Ancient poets have written thus: Only by gradual venture, one ensures continuous improvement in rebirths to come. Therefore we should not hastily condemn those who make offerings of parts of their body or the whole of their body. If a person, through unflinching volition and faith, very courageously makes an offering of his own body, even to the extent of abandoning his life, he is actually worthy of praise as a donor of the gift of one's own person, Ajjhattika-dana.

       (3) Offering of property (Vatthu-dana) and Granting of safety (Abhaya-dana). Vatthu-dana is concerned with offering of material things. Abhaya-dana means granting of safety or security with respect to life or property. This is usually an exercise of mercy by kings.

       (4) Vattanissita-dana and Vivattanissita-dana. Vattanissita-dana is offering made in the hope of future worldly wealth and pleasures, which mean suffering in the cycle of existences. Vivattanissita-dana is concerned with offering made in aspiration for Nibbana which is free of the suffering of rebirth.

       (5) Dana tainted with fault (Savajja-dana) and Dana untainted with fault (Anavajja-dana). Offering of meals with meat obtained from killing of animals is an example of dana tainted with fault. Offering of meals which does not involve killing of animals is dana untainted with fault. The first type is an act of generosity accompanied by demeritoriousness; the second type is dana unaccompanied by demeritoriousness.

       We see the case of some fishermen, who having accumulated wealth from fishing decide to give up the business thinking 'I shall abandon this demeritorious fishing work and adopt a pure mode of livelihood' . Engaging in other occupations, they find their prosperity declining; reverting to the old vocation, they grow in wealth again. This is an example of Dana tainted with fault (Savajja-dana) done in previous lives coming to fruition in the present life. Since that act of dana was associated with the act of killing, at the time of its fruition too, success is achieved only when associated with act of killing (fishing) when not associated with an act of killing, the previous dana tainted with fault cannot come to fruition and his wealth declines.

      (6) Offering made with one's own hands (Sahatthika-dana) and Offering made by agents on one's behalf or made by others under one's instruction (Anattika-dana). (That Sahatthik-dana brings more beneficial results than the Anattika dana can be read in the Payasi Sutta of Maha Vagga, Digha Nikaya, of the Pali Canon).

       (7) Offerings made with proper and careful preparations (Sakkacca-dana) and Offering made without proper and careful preparation (Asakkacca-dana). As an example, offering of flowers may be cited. Having gathered flowers from trees, a donor creates garlands of festoon with them, and arranges them to look as beautiful and as pleasant as possible, and makes his offering of flowers, then it is a sakkacca-dana, offering made with proper and careful preparations. Without such careful preparations, when flowers are presented as they have been gathered from trees, thinking that the mere gift of the flowers is sufficient in itself, then it is asakkacca-dana, offering made without proper and careful preparations.

       Some ancient writers have translated 'sakkacca-dana' and 'asakkacca-dana' into Myanmar to mean 'offering made with due respect' and 'offering made without due respect'. This rendering has, as often as not, misled the modern readers to think that it means paying due respect or without paying due respect to the receiver of the offering. Actually, 'paying due respect' here means simply 'making careful preparations' for the offering.

       (8) Offering associated with wisdom (Nanasampayutta-dana) and offering unassociated with wisdom (Nanaavippayutta-dana). Offering made with clear comprehension of volitional acts and the results they produce is said to be an offering associated with wisdom; when an offering is made without such comprehension and awareness, by just following examples of others making donations, it is Nanavippayutta-dana. It must be mentioned that just awareness of cause and its ensuing effect, while an offering is being made, is sufficient to make it an offering which is associated with wisdom. In this connection, an explanation is necessary with respect to some exhortations which run like this: 'Whenever an offering is made, it ,should be accompanied by Insight Knowledge, Vipassana Nana, in this manner: I, the donor of the gift, am anicca, of impermanent nature; the object of offering is also anicca, of impermanent nature; and the recipient of the gift is also anicca, of impermanent nature. The impermanent I am offering the impermanent gift to the impermanent recipient. Thus you should contemplate whenever you make an offering of gifts.'

       This exhortation is made only to encourage.., the practice of developing Insight Knowledge, Vipassana Nana. It should not be misunderstood that an act of generosity is not one associated with wisdom, if the donor does not practise contemplation as exhorted.

      As a matter of fact, whoever wants to develop real Vipassana-nana should first of all discard the notion of I, he, man, woman, i.e. the illusion of I, the illusion of Self to discern that they are merely material aggregates and mental aggregates. Then one has to go on contemplating so as to realise that these aggregates of mind and matter are of the nature impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality. Without differentiation into aggregates of mind and matter, if one were to contemplate on conventional concepts of 'I am anicca; the object of offering is anicca; the recipient is anicca', no real Insight Knowledge would be possible.

       (9) Offering made hesitatingly and only after being urged is Sasankharika-dana; Offering made spontaneously without being urged is Asankharika-dana. Here urging means prompting or entreating earnestly someone to give when he is hesitating or reluctant to do so. When offering is made only with such prompting. But a simple request should not be taken as urging. For example, a person who has not made any decision yet, whether he will make a donation or whether he does not wish to make a donation, is approached by someone with a request for some alms contribution; and that person gives willingly without any hesitation. This is a spontaneous gift in response to a simple request; it is therefore in Asankharika-dana (one without prompting), and should not be called a Sasankharika-dana (just because it is made after a request).

       Another person is similarly approached and similarly requested to make a contribution; he is reluctant at first and refuses to do so. But when the request is repeated with a prompting 'Do make a gift; please don't flinch' he makes a contribution. His dana made as a consequence of urging is of Sasankharika-dana type (one with prompting). Even in the case where no one has made an approach to request for dana, if one first thinks of making an offering, and then shrinks away from the idea, but after much self- persuasion, self-inducement, finally makes the gift, his dana is of Sasankharika type too.

       (10) Offering made while one is in a joyful mood with a happy frame of mind is Somanassa-dana; Offering made with a balanced state of mind, neither joyous nor sorrowful but equipoised is Upekkha-dana. (When the act of giving is accompanied by pleasure, it is Somanassa-dana; when it is accompanied by equanimity it is Upekkha-dana).

      (11) Offering of property earned in accordance with Dhamma by just means is Dhammiya-dana; Offering of property earned by immoral means such as stealing, robbing is Adhammiya-dana. Although earning of property by immoral means is not in accord with dhamma, offering as alms of much property is nevertheless an act of merit; but the good results accruing from this type of dana cannot be as great as those obtained from the first type, the dhammiya-dana. A comparison can be made of these two different results with types of plant that will grow up from a good seed and from a bad seed.

       (12) Offering made with hopes of gaining worldly pleasures is Enslaving dana, Dasa dana, the offering that will enslave one. Being a slave to craving for sense-pleasures, one makes this kind of dana to serve one's Master, the Craving to fulfil its wishes. Offering made with aspiration for attainment of the Path and Fruition, the Nibbana, is dana for freedom, Bhujissa-dana (offering made in revolt against the dictates of the Master, the Craving).

      Sentient beings in the endless round of existences desire to enjoy the delightful pleasures of the senses (visible objects, sounds, smells, tastes, touch). This desire to revel in the so called pleasures of the senses is called Craving. Every moment of their existence is devoted to satisfying that Craving; fulfilling the needs of that Craving, they have become its servants. Continuous striving, day and night throughout their life for wealth is nothing but fulfillment of the wishes of the Craving which demands the best of food, the best of clothing and the most luxurious way of living.

       Not content with being a slave to Craving in the present life, working to fulfil its every need, we make acts of dana to ensure luxurious living in future. This type of offering accompanied by a strong wish for enjoyment of worldly pleasures continuously for lives to come, is definitely an enslaving dana, Dasa dana.

      This type of dana in fulfillment of the wishes of Craving and which ensures servitude to Craving throughout the endless round of existences is performed, thinking it to be the best, before one encounters the Teachings of the Buddha. But once we are fortunate enough to hear the Buddha Dhamma, we come to understand how powerful this Craving is, how insatiable it is, how much we have to suffer for fulfilling the wishes of this Craving. Then resolving 'I will no longer be a servant of this terrible Craving, I will no longer fulfil its wishes, I will rebel against it, I will go against it and in order to uproot, to eradicate this evil Craving, one makes offerings with aspiration for attainment of the Path and Fruition, the Nibbana. This dana is called dana made for freedom, Bhujissa-dana (offering made in revolt against the dictates of the Master, Craving).

      (13) Offering of things of permanent, immovable nature such as pagodas, temples, monasteries, rest houses and digging wells, tanks etc. is Thavara-dana. Offerings of movable nature, meant for temporary use such as food, robes etc. movable gifts is Athivara-dana.

      (14) Offering made with accompaniment of supplementary materials that usually go along with such on offering is Saparivara-dana. For example, in offering robes, as main item of gifts when it is accompanied by suitable and proper accessories and requisites, it is a Saparivara-dana; when there are no other objects of offering besides the main item of robes, it is a gift without accompanying things, Aparivira-dana. The same differentiation applies to offerings made with other forms of gifts.

      The special characteristic marks on the body of Boddhisattas who have large retinue attendant upon them are the benefits that result from Saparivara type of dana.

      (15) Offering made constantly or regularly such as offering of alms food to the Sangha every day is Constant dana, Nibaddha dana; offering made not constantly, not on a regular basis but only occassionally when one is able to is Anibaddha dana, occasional offering.

       (16) Tarnished offering, Paramattha-dana Untarnished offering, Aparamattha-dana. Offering which is tarnished by craving and wrong view is Paramattha-dana; offering which is not corrupted by craving and wrong view is Aparamattha-dana. According to the Abhidhamma, one is corrupted when led astray by wrong view alone; but wrong view always coexists with craving. When wrong view corrupts and leads one astray, craving is also involved. Therefore both craving and wrong view are mentioned above. And this is how craving and wrong view bring about corruption. Having made an offering, if one expresses an ardent, wholesome wish, 'May I attain speedily the Path and Fruition, Nibbana as a result of this act of merit', the offering becomes one of Vivattanissita type [see type (4) above], and it could serve as a strong sufficing condition for attainment of the Path and Fruition, Nibbana. But instead of making such a wholesome wish for Nibbana, when one, corrupted and led astray by craving and wrong view, aspires a result of this act of merit, may I become a distinguished Deva such as Sakka, the king of Tavatimsa abode, or just a Deva of the durable divine realms, his dana cannot serve as a sufficing condition for attainment of Nibbana and is classed as mere Paramattha-dana, the dana which is bereft of the sufficing condition for attainment of Nibbana, being tarnished by craving and wrong view. The dana which is not tarnished by craving and wrong view but is made with the sole purpose of attaining Nibbana is classed as Aparamattha-dana.

       Much Charity can also be practised outside the Teaching of the Buddha; but dana of Paramattha type is only possible then. It is only within the Teaching of the Buddha that dana of Aparimattha type can be practised. So while we are blessed with the rare opportunity of meeting with the Teachings of the Buddha, we should strive our utmost to ensure that our offerings are of the Aparamattha type.

       (17) Offering made with what is left over, what is interior, wretched is Ucchitthadana; Offering made with what is not left over, what is not inferior, wretched is Anucchittha-dana. Suppose, while preparations are being made for a meal, a donee appears and one donates some of the food that has been prepared before one has taken it it is considered to be 'the highest gift' (agga-dana) and it is also an anucchitha-dana since the offering is not the left over of a meal. If the donee arrives while one is eating the meal, but before eating is finished, and one makes an offering of the food taken from the meal one is eating, that is also considered to be an Anucchittha-dana;, it can even be said to be a noble gift. When the offering is made of the food left over after one has finished eating, it is a gift of the leftover, an Ucchittha-dana; a wretched, inferior one. It should be noted, however, that the humble offering made by one who has nothing else to give but the leftover meal could well be called an Anucchittha-dana, It is only when such an offer is made by one who can well afford to make a better gift that his gift is regarded as a wretched, inferior one, Ucchittha-dana.

       (18) Offering made while one is still alive is Sajiva- dana; Offering which is meant to become effective after one's death: 'I give such of my property to such and such a person. Let him take possession of them after my death and make use of them as he wishes' is Accaya-dana.

       A bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) is not permitted to make an Accaya type of dana, i.e. he cannot leave his properties as gifts for others after death. Even if he should do so, it does not constitute an act of dana; the would-be recipient also has no right of possession to them. If a bhikkhu gives from his property to another bhikkhu while he is still living, the receiver is entitled to what is given him; or while the bhikkhu is still alive, some bhikkhu who is on intimate terms (Vissassagaha) with him can take it and come to possess it; or if he owns something jointly (dvisantaka) with another bhikkhu, when he dies the surviving bhikkhu. becomes the sole owner. Unless these conditions are fulfilled, namely, giving his property during his lifetime, taking possession of it by reason of intimacy while he is still alive, or possessing it through dual owner ship, the bhikkhu's property becomes the property of the Sangha, the Order of Bhikkhus, when he dies. Therefore if a bhikkhu makes an Accaya-dana, saying 'I give such my property to such and such a person when I die. Let him take possession of them', it amounts to giving a property which by then belongs to the Order of Bhikkhus. His giving does not form an act of dana and the would-be recipient is also not entitled to its ownership. It is only amongst the laymen that such kind of gift, Accaya-dana,, is possible and legal.


This page at Nibbana.com was last modified:

To be continued