The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes The Nine Supreme Attributes of the Sangha contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as the Dhamma Ratanā. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

Part 8 - The Nine Supreme Attributes of the Sangha

Suppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṃgho ujuppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṃgho, ñāyappaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṃgho sāmīcippaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṃgho. Yadidaṃ cattāri purisayugāni aṭṭhapurisa puggalā esa bhagavato sāvakasaṃgho āhuneyyo pāhuneyyo dakkhiṇeyyo añjalīkaranīyo anuttaraṃ puññakhettaṃ lokassa.

(The Pāli text of the nine supreme attributes of the Sangha) Its meaning:

(1) The community of the disciples of the Buddha, i.e. the eight classes of the ariya Sangha, take up the bhikkhu practice well, and hence are suppaṭipanno.

(2) The community of the ariya disciples of the Buddha are endowed with straightforward uprightness (ujuppaṭipanno) because they follow the straight Middle way.

(3) The community of the ariya disciples of the Buddha strive to attain Nibbāna, hence they are ñāyapaṭippanno.

(4) The community of the ariya disciples of the Buddha are endowed with correctness of practice, being ashamed to do evil and abhorrent to do evil, being always mindful, and controlling their conduct, even being prepared to die rather than lose morality, hence they are sāmīcippaṭipanno.

The disciples of the Buddha, the Ariya Sangha consisting of eight categories of disciples in four pairs. These really great persons:-

(5) - are worthy of receiving offerings brought even from afar; (āhuneyyo)

(6) - are worthy of receiving offerings specially set aside for special guests; (pāhuneyyo)

(7) - are worthy of receiving offerings made for the sake of Nibbāna; (dakkhiṇeyyo)

(8) - are worthy of receiving obeisance by the three worlds; (añjalīkaraṇīyo)

(9) - are the incomparably fertile soil for all to sow the seed of merit; (puññakhettaṃ lokassa)

Miscellaneous Notes

Sāvakasaṅghā: The eight classes of ariyas are Sāvakasaṅghā in their true meaning. However, the virtuous bhikkhus are also called, in an extended meaning, Sāvakasaṅghā since they also follow the Teaching of the Buddha obediently. The word ‘sāvaka’ is defined as: “Sakaccaṃ suṇantīti sāvaka——he who listens (the Teaching) respectfully.” Here, ‘to listen respectfully’ means to live up to the Teaching that will lead to arahatship. According to this definition, only ariyas are Sāvakasaṅghā in the true sense and worldlings are called Sāvakasaṅghā as an extended meaning. (Listening respectfully is accomplished only by the arahats who have accomplished the noble Practice. However, worldlings who are on the noble Path are sure to attain arahatship and so they are also called Sāvakasaṅghā in an extended sense of the word.)

Sangha: the community who are of the same moral standard. Hence 'Sangha' in the true sense refers only to ariyas. This is because ariyas have their morality based on magga and are of the same purity just as a bullion cut up in two pieces in the middle are of equal value.

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