by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Sangha attribute (5-9) Ahuneyyo, etc. 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).
Those four pairs, making eight categories of ariyas, being endowed with the four attributes as conditions, such as suppaṭipanno, are entitled to the five noble privileges such as āhuneyyo which also are their attributes as consequences.
(a: even brought from afar; huna, the four requisites as offerings; eyya, entitled to receive). The Ariya-Sangha can, on account of their four attributes as conditions such as suppaṭipanno bestow great merit to the donors who offer them the four bhikkhu requisites. Therefore, if the donor has these articles ready to offer when the ariya Sangha goes for alms-collection, he should offer them gladly. If those articles are not at hand, he should try and procure them even from afar and offer them. Those articles brought from afar and offered are called āhuna. The ariya Sangha who are endowed with the four conditions are entitled to receive those offerings brought from afar and more so because in accepting them, the donors earn great merit. Therefore the Ariya-Sangha are possessed of the attribute of āhuneyyo.
(a; even brought from afar; huneyya, worthy to offer the four bhikkhu requisites) The Ariya-Sangha can bestow much merit on the donor because they are endowed with the four noble conditions. Therefore the donor, wishing to gain much merit, should make offerings not only when the Sangha goes to them on alms-collection, but should go and make offerings to the Sangha at their monastery which may necessitate a long journey. The four requisites that are offered after making a journey for that purpose are called Āhana. The Ariya-Sangha deserve to receive such offerings on account of the four conditions that they are endowed with. In this sense also the Ariya-Sangha are possessed of āhuneyyo.
(Still another interpretation:) The Ariya-Sangha are endowed with āhuneyyo because they deserve to receive offerings from Sakka, King of Devas, and such powerful personages. Taken in another light, in the brāhmana tradition, they keep a sacrificial fire called āhavaniya (which has the same meaning as āhuneyyo.) They believe that, if they feed butter to this fire as offering, they earn much merit. If the offering to the sacrificial fire brings merit, and is thus called āhavaniya, the Ariya-Sangha who can bestow great merit to the donor are truly āhuneyyo. For the so-called āhavaniya of the brahmins do not bring any real benefit: the butter that they feed the sacrificial fire just gets consumed and becomes ash.
The Ariya-Sangha, being possessed of the four noble attributes as condition, unfailingly bestow much merit to the donor, and are truly āhuneyyo.
One may tend the sacrificial fire in the forest for a hundred years.
One may, on the other hand,
Make offerings reverentially just once
To those noble ones who dwell in insight-meditation.
This offering is indeed of greater benefit
Than a hundred years of tending the sacrificial fire.
The above stanza brings out the significance of the āhuneyyo attribute of the Ariya-Sangha.
Guests who visit you from all the various quarters are called pāhuna. Gifts and offerings such as food, made ready for them are also called pāhuna. In this context the second meaning applies. (Pāhuna, gifts and offerings meant for guests; eyya, deserve to receive.) Gifts and offerings set aside for guests should be offered to the Sangha, if the Sangha visits your place, i.e., Guests come only next to the sangha. The Sangha deserve top priority because they are endowed with the four attributes discussed above. That indeed is so because (however important one’s guests may be,) the ariya Sangha appear in the world only when the Buddha appears. And the arising of a Buddha takes incalculable aeons. Further, the Sangha are so imbued with noble qualities that they are a source of pleasure, and are the incomparable friend or relative that call at your door. For these reasons the Sangha are entitled to receive special offerings meant for one’s valued guests, Pāhuneyyo.
‘Dakkhiṇā’ has been defined as: “Dakkhaṇti etāya sattā yathādippetāhi sampattīhi vaḍḍhantīti dakkhiṇā.——The volition, through which beings are blessed with whatever they wish to have or to be, is called Dakkhiṇā.” This means that the gift or offering made with a view for future wellbeing is called Dakkhiṇā. If someone does not believe in the hereafter, i.e. if he holds an annihilist view, then he will not make offerings for future wellbeing.
According to the Buddha’s doctrine, arahats, i.e. the Buddha and His arahat-disciples, having eradicated ignorance and craving for existence, which are the root causes of the round of existences, will not be reborn in a new existence. Until the two root causes have been eradicated, rebirth is inevitable (however much one holds an annihilist view). Just as a tree whose tap roots are not cut off will remain growing and bear fruit, but when its tap roots are completely cut off it cannot thrive and cannot bear fruit, so also ignorance and craving for existence must be understood as the tap roots of rebirth. All worldlings, Stream-enterers, Once-returners, Non-returners will have rebirth because these two tap roots have not been completely destroyed. Only on attaining arahatship are the two tap roots completely destroyed and rebirth is stopped.
Only one, who does not hold the wrong view of annihilism, believes in afterlife. Only when existence after death is believed, will there be alms-giving for one’s own wellbeing in future existences. Only when volitional acts of giving are done, can there be the fulfilment of whatever one may aspire to as the result. Thus, any act of giving with the belief in its good result in the future existences is called Dakkhiṇā. (Therefore dakkhiṇā means an object that is given, motivated by the belief in future benefit.)
The Ariya-Sangha can make that object of offering efficacious as is desired by the donor because they are endowed with the four supreme attributes mentioned above. In that sense, they deserve to receive offerings that are called Dakkhiṇā. Hence they are possessed of the noble attribute of Dakkhiṇeyyo.
The Ariya-Sangha purify the object that is being offered (dakkhiṇā) in the sense that they bestow the merit on it (through their nobility). “Dakkhiṇāya hito Dakkhiṇeyyo –the Ariya-Sangha who bestow merit on the offering.” This is another meaning by which the attribute of Dakkhiṇeyyo may be understood.
Being endowed with the four noble qualities based on their right practice, the Ariya-Sangha are worthy of being venerated with joined palms raised to the head. The term for this attribute is defined as: “añjalīkaraṇīya etthāti añjalikaraṇīyo——Those wishing to earn merit pay obeisance to these eight ariyas, hence the Ariya-Sangha are añjalikaraṇīyo.”
(9) Anuttaraṃ puññakhattaṃ lokassa:
(Definition) “There is no better field for sowing merit than the Ariya Sangha.” Although by definition “there is no better field than the Ariya Sangha,” but, in fact there is not even any field of merit equal to the Ariya Sangha. Hence this attribute has been rendered as “the incomparably fertile field for sowing merit.”
Khetta means a field for cultivation of crops. Puñña khetta means a field where merit is cultivated, a metaphor for the Ariya Sangha. Just as a field nurtures the seeds sown in it, so also the Ariya Sangha nurture the seeds of good deeds (acts of merit) sown in them (done towards them). Here the Sangha nurture the good deeds of the donors through the morality, concentration and wisdom which are like the nutrients of the soil. Thus the Ariya Sangha bestow great merit to the good deeds done towards them, and are called the field that nurtures the seeds of merit.
A field where the king sows his seeds is called the king’s field. Likewise, the Ariya Sangha where all the three worlds sow their seeds of merit are called the incomparably fertile field where the whole world sow their seeds of merit, anuttaraṃ puññakhettaṃ lokassa.