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DANA

FIRST PRE-REQUISITE FOR BUDDHA-HOOD

 

"Dana", literally, means "charity". In the "Sutra-Pitaka" Lord Buddha has described this under ten important heads such as := Food, drinks, places of abode, wearing apparels, means of conveyance, flowers, scents, and ointments, bed and beddings, and oils.

In the "Vinaya Pitaka" for special observation of Bhikkus. He has described their acceptable charity under four important heads, such as :- Robes, food, bed and beddings and medicines.

In the "Abhi-Dhamma Pitaka" - the highest philosophical section of His Doctrine, He has described charity under six important heads, such as :- The charity of form, sound, smell, taste, contact and Dhamma.

This Pre-requisite is classed first in position, because it opens the locked gates of "craving, anger and ignorance." Just as a pot full of water when placed mouth directly downwards would cause the same to be fully emptied of its contents, in the same way must a "Bodhisatta" practice charity - absolute charity.

Those who practice charity are also divided into three classes. He who reserving for himself the best and most tasty, giving out to charity the worst and the tasteless lot is classed as "Dana Dasa" or a servant to charity. He who practices charity with food or other offerings of an equal standard as e himself enjoys, is called "Dana Sahaya" or a friend charity. He who gives for charity offerings of a higher standard than what he himself enjoys, is called a "Dana Pati" or a master of charity.

According to the universal law of KAMMA or Cause and Effect, the good or evil result of any action depends upon the motive with which such is committed. Similarly with the practice of charity in order to gain merits both here and hereafter the practiser should be stabled on good motives, such as to destroy anger of any magnitude, and to destroy ignorance and gain wisdom.

Once our Bodhisatta was born as the son of a Brahmin. As his body was golden in color, he was called Brahma Kumara. He was very clever and at the age of sixteen, he had already became accomplished in arts and science. He became a teacher over five hundred boys.

One day he distributed all his wealth among his five hundred pupils, gave them some advice and renounced the world. He become a hermit and lived in a small hut in the jungle. He also had many disciples. After a time all his disciples attained ecstasy and when they died were born in Brahma Loka, i.e. "The world of the Brahmas". After their parent's death the five hundred pupils of Brahma Kumara renounced the world and become his disciples. His chief disciple was Metteyya Bodhisat. One day when his disciples were out for alms Brahma Kumara and his chief disciple went to a high mountain peak called "Munda". At the bottom of a ravine they saw a tigress and her cubs dying for want of food. The tigress was so hungry that she was ready to eat her own cubs. She was moaning dreadfully. The master asked his disciple to find some flesh for the hungry tigress and his disciple at once went. After his disciple had gone away, the master thought to himself, "Why should I search for other flesh, when I have my own body to offer; this body that is full of trouble, sickness; it is this body makes us try to hide other's good. I am very disgusted with this body. Life is like a drop of dew on the grass, i.e. very uncertain. I therefore offer my body for the benefit of the world so that I may aspire to be a Buddha". After saying these words he jumped down and gave his body to feed the tigress.

Thus we see that the Bodhisat Brahma Kumara did not hesitate to offer his body to feed the dying tigress, and for this He attained Enlightenment before Metteyya Bodhisat.

The Bodhisatta never beg for favors or even necessary things. Begging is only for the low and common type of person. A prince who is well known, famous and possessing courage, energy, and wisdom, never beg for anything. So Bodhisatta, who is above even a prince in fame, energy, courage and wisdom, never beg for anything.

The Brahmadatta Jataka illustrate this : -

Once the Bodhisatta was born as a rich man, who having renounced the world, become a hermit and lived in the forest. During the rainy season, he stayed in the King's pleasure grove, and when after the rainy season was over, he wanted to go back to the forest, the King asked him to stay a little longer. The hermit stayed for twelve years, and during that time, he wished for a new pair of shoes and an umbrella, but he could not ask for it. Then one day the King, seeing that the hermit wanted something but would not ask for it, begged the hermit to express his wish and he would grant it even if he want to have the kingdom for himself. The Bodhisatta told him that he wanted a new pair of sandals and an umbrella . The king immediately brought them and offered to him, and was very surprised that the wish for such a small request was not expressed until he begged the hermit to do so. From this we can see that although the Bodhisatta in every birth was always giving away to charity not only his immense wealth, but also his wife and children and even his flesh or life, yet he could not make himself beg for anything.

 

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