Anguttara Nikaya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
Dasaka-Nipāta
XVII: Jāṇussoṇi-Vagga

Sutta 177

Janussoni Sutta

To Janussoni (On offerings to the Dead)

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Provenance, terms and conditons

 


 

[1][pts] Then Janussoni the brahman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings and courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama, you know that we brahmans give gifts, make offerings, [saying,] 'May this gift accrue to our dead relatives. May our dead relatives partake of this gift.' Now, Master Gotama, does that gift accrue to our dead relatives? Do our dead relatives partake of that gift?"

"In possible places, brahman, it accrues to them, but not in impossible places."

"And which, Master Gotama, are the possible places? Which are the impossible places?"

"There is the case, brahman, where a certain person takes life, takes what is not given, engages in sensual misconduct, engages in false speech, engages in divisive speech, engages in abusive speech, engages in idle chatter, is covetous, bears ill will, and has wrong views. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in hell. He lives there, he remains there, by means of whatever is the food of hell-beings. This is an impossible place for that gift to accrue to one staying there.

"Then there is the case where a certain person takes life, takes what is not given, engages in sensual misconduct, engages in false speech, engages in divisive speech, engages in abusive speech, engages in idle chatter, is covetous, bears ill will, and has wrong views. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the animal womb. He lives there, he remains there, by means of whatever is the food of common animals. This, too, is an impossible place for that gift to accrue to one staying there.

"Then there is the case where a certain person refrains from taking life, refrains from taking what is not given, refrains from sensual misconduct, refrains from false speech, refrains from divisive speech, refrains from abusive speech, refrains from idle chatter, is not covetous, bears no ill will, and has right views. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of human beings. He lives there, he remains there, by means of whatever is the food of human beings. This, too, is an impossible place for that gift to accrue to one staying there.

"Then there is the case where a certain person refrains from taking life, refrains from taking what is not given, refrains from sensual misconduct, refrains from false speech, refrains from divisive speech, refrains from abusive speech, refrains from idle chatter, is not covetous, bears no ill will, and has right views. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas. He lives there, he remains there, by means of whatever is the food of devas. This, too, is an impossible place for that gift to accrue to one staying there.

"Then there is the case where a certain person takes life, takes what is not given, engages in sensual misconduct, engages in false speech, engages in divisive speech, engages in abusive speech, engages in idle chatter, is covetous, bears ill will, and has wrong views. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the realms of the hungry shades. He lives there, he remains there, by means of whatever is the food of hungry shades. He lives there, he remains that, by means of whatever his friends or relatives give in dedication to him. This is the possible place for that gift to accrue to one staying there.

"But, Master Gotama, if that dead relative does not reappear in that possible place, who partakes of that gift?"

"Other dead relatives, brahman, who have reappeared in that possible place."

"But, Master Gotama, if that dead relative does not reappear in that possible place, and other dead relatives have not reappeared in that possible place, then who partakes of that gift?"

"It's impossible, brahman, it cannot be, that over this long time that possible place is devoid of one's dead relatives.[1] But at any rate, the donor does not go without reward.

"Does Master Gotama describe any preparation for the impossible places?"

"Brahman, I do describe a preparation for the impossible places. There is the case where a certain person takes life, takes what is not given, engages in sensual misconduct, engages in false speech, engages in divisive speech, engages in abusive speech, engages in idle chatter, is covetous, bears ill will, and has wrong views. But he gives food, drink, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, creams, bed, lodging, and lamps to priests and contemplatives. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of elephants. There he receives food, drink, flowers, and various ornaments. It's because he took life, took what is not given, engaged in sensual misconduct, engaged in false speech, engaged in divisive speech, engaged in abusive speech, engaged in idle chatter, was covetous, bore ill will, and had wrong views that he reappears in the company of elephants. But it's because he gave food, drink, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, creams, bed, lodging, and lamps to priests and contemplatives that he receives food, drink, flowers, and various ornaments.

"Then there is the case where a certain person takes life... has wrong views. But he gives food... lamps to priests and contemplatives. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of horses... in the company of cattle... in the company of poultry. There he receives food, drink, flowers, and various ornaments.[2] It's because he took life... and had wrong views that he reappears in the company of poultry. But it's because he gave food, drink... and lamps to priests and contemplatives that he receives food, drink, flowers, and various ornaments.

"Then there is the case where a certain person refrains from taking life, refrains from taking what is not given, refrains from sensual misconduct, refrains from false speech, refrains from divisive speech, refrains from abusive speech, refrains from idle chatter, is not covetous, bears no ill will, and has right views. And he gives food, drink, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, creams, bed, lodging, and lamps to priests and contemplatives. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of human beings. There he experiences the five strings of human sensuality [delightful sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations]. It's because he refrained from taking what is not given, refrained from sensual misconduct, refrained from false speech, refrained from divisive speech, refrained from abusive speech, refrained from idle chatter, was not covetous, bore no ill will, and had right views that he reappears in the company of human beings. And it's because he gave food, drink, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, creams, bed, lodging, and lamps to priests and contemplatives that he experiences the five strings of human sensuality.[3]

"Then there is the case where a certain person refrains from taking life... and has right views. And he gives food, drink, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, creams, bed, lodging, and lamps to priests and contemplatives. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of devas. There he experiences the five strings of divine sensuality [delightful sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations]. It's because he refrained from taking what is not given... and had right views that he reappears in the company of devas. And it's because he gave food, drink, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, creams, bed, lodging, and lamps to priests and contemplatives that he experiences the five strings of divine sensuality. But at any rate, brahman, the donor does not go without reward."

"It's amazing, Master Gotama, it's astounding, how it's enough to make one want to give a gift, enough to make one want to make an offering, where the donor does not go without reward."

"That's the way it is, brahman. That's the way it is. The donor does not go without reward."

"Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Gotama — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the community of monks. May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."

 


[1] The Vinaya counts as one's relatives all those related back through seven generations past one's grandparents — in other words, all those descended from one's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.

[2] Apparently, "ornaments" for poultry would consist of brilliant plumage. Similarly, "ornaments" for elephants, horses, and cattle might consist of attractive markings.

[3] For some reason, the PTS translation of this sutta cuts off right here.

 


 

References:

See also:
MN 135;
MN 136;
SN XLII.6;
SN XLII.8;
Khp 7.


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