Feel invited or maybe even inspired to share any teachings regarding "Apacāyana" (Respect or Veneration). It is one of the less taught, but very basic and fundamental, meritorious deeds. Teachings within Suttas, and Dhamma talks even from 'stranger' resources, if Dhamma, are welcome (in English and/or German).

They are actually difficult to find in the modern world, since they go a lot against the grain of how Dhamma was often introduced and promoted. Such are of course just of beneficial use if they had originated and forwarded in line of meritorious deeds. Atma would like to share this merits (Pattānuppadāna), not to speak of rejoicing with your merits.

It will not be easy to fully answer this question, so it might stay without an accepted answer for a longer time.

Asian dhamma talks are normally full of this matter, now here we can hardly find anything: of course from cause.

In addition: Even more complicated, such teachings should be Dhamma also given in line of Dhamma. So commercial stuff and taken things (althought it will be naturally less on this topic) is not useful since it has lost the line of respect.

  • Sadhu! Valued ChrisW, for your effort, not only to correct the spelling and grammar errors. Just that you know, and not a "countermove": It would be not proper to request, but it is no problem to give a opportunity. That is why such marks like "please" and "?" will be missed naturally. Valued ChrisW, you are doing a very risky "job" here. It would (not sure if possible) be good if people could look into the original post, since others could be easily transgress simple precepts. How ever, again, much mudita in regard of your effort which was for sure 100% well thought.
    – user11235
    Dec 28, 2015 at 6:18
  • Atma assumes being invited to request the community in regard of "Apacāyana" (Respect or Veneration). It is one of the very less taught, but very basic and fundamental, meritorious deeds... as above.
    – user11235
    Dec 28, 2015 at 6:27
  • Thank you for explaining that. Yes, people can easily see the original version by clicking on the link which says "edited ... ago". And yes please do assume (if it's proper) that you're welcome to ask questions or to post requests for information.
    – ChrisW
    Dec 28, 2015 at 6:32
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    Would a reference to Gārava be relevant to this topic, or is that different from Apacāyana?
    – ChrisW
    Dec 28, 2015 at 7:35
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    Yes, that's another word for it, specific in a very dhammic way. That is for sure helpful for this quest here. Apacāyana, how ever, also maintains worldly aspects of reverence, such as respecting age, those more skilled, specially mother and father... Here is one Sutta that mentions the seven like quoted in the dictionary: Appamada Sutta: Heedfulness. On the path, out of this, Gārava would be enough, as a meritorious deed Gārava would be to less to describe the sphere and especially the roots where to start in d.life.
    – user11235
    Dec 28, 2015 at 9:03

4 Answers 4


Ven. Sir. most likely Apacāyana is a word used in the commentaries more particularly appearing Abhidhamma commentaries like Attha,sālinī, Abhidhamm’attha,saṅgaha, Abhidhamm’attha,vibhāvinī, Moha,vicchedanī. (Search for Apacāyana within the Pali Canon returns nothing while other sources are mentioned in the background and introduction in Puñña,kiriya,vatthu Sutta compiled by Piya Tan)

The salient point with regard to practicing Apacāyana is that you dissolve the ego, pride and self-righteousness, within there is the perception of "I". In addition there is sense of gratitude1 or respect for higher virtue or attainment in the person you are venerating2.

As for source I would like to point out the following:

Apacayana means paying respects to those who excel you in age, morality, integrity, wisdom, virtue, etc. Paying respects to elderly persons such as your father, mother, uncle, aunt; offering your seat and making way for those worthy of respect; bowing your head and showing humility, clasping your palms in homage to Bhikkhus, doffing your hat, saluting according to custom, etc. are all signs of respect. However, if you show respect unwillingly to a powerful person out of fear or with some selfish aim, this cannot be called apacayana, because it is pretentious in nature. It only amounts to maya (trickery).

Note: Food for thought - bowing or curtseying is generally accepted as signs of reverence. In Myanmar some people put down whatever load they are carrying and prostate on the roads when they meet Bhikkhus. Some kneel down in the sidewalk or on the platform of a railway station to pay respects to monks and elderly persons. These actions if done with true sincerity, are not to be blamed. But in these days when people have to rush about in busy places, just a bow or a few humble words will suffice the need of apayacana. Kneeling down and prostrating in worshiping on meeting a Bhikkhu on the roads in a Bhikkhu on the roads or in busy crowded places in the presence of alien people are not really necessary.

Source: Abhidhamma In Daily Life / Chapter 6 - Ten Domains Of Meritorious Actions / Domain 4 - Apacayana

Respect as a way of making merit should be known in such acts as getting up from one’s seat, welcoming one’s mother, father, elder brother, elder sister or an elderly person, taking his/her luggage, saluting him, showing him the way, and so on. Or generally, respecting others’ feelings, privileges, property, and life; regarding them with deference, esteem and honour; avoiding degrading, insulting or interrupting them; refraining from offending, corrupting or tempting them. Sadly, today the younger generation lacks respect or reverence.

According to Venerable Nāgasena, in Milindapañha, there are twelve persons who do not pay respect or show reverence to others: a lustful person because of his lust; an angry person because of his anger; a confused person because of his confusion; an arrogant person because of his pride; one devoid of special qualities owing to his lack of distinction; an obstinate owing to his lack of docility; a low minded owing to his low mindedness; an evil man owing to his selfishness; an afflicted owing to his affliction; a greedy owing to his being overcome by greed; and a businessman owing to his working for profit.

It is clear that, in contrast to the above persons, the reverent and respectful man develops his mind (and thereby accumulates merit), for by his attitude he cuts down the defilement of pride and replaces it by wise conduct of humility. Respecting elders and the Saïgha are clear examples of this aspect. Even the respect shown by a novice monk to a bhikkhu falls under this category.

Here again, the good intention that arises in one who shows respect or reverence is the way of making merit in respecting others.


Respectfulness (apacāyana) is the means by which one shows respect (apacayati), acts properly by way of honouring. Traditionally, respect is shown in such ways as when we meet a practising monk, salute him with joined palms, we take his bowl and robe, and offer him a seat and some water as appropriate. A common mark of respect would be to give way to elders when meeting them. “Respect” here should not be taken in the ritual way, which has very little moral value, as the intention behind such an action is not always pure. “Respect” properly means “accepting others as they are,” that is, using our present-moment awareness not to measure or judge others, but to relate to them (especially those near and dear) as if meeting them for the first time. In other words, when we show a sincere interest in people, we are more likely to encourage them to show their better sides. There is also “self-respect,” that is, abstaining from evil or unwholesome deeds through the feeling of moral shame (ottappa), that such negative results would bring disgrace upon us and those close to us.

Source: Puñña,kiriya,vatthu Sutta commentary and analysis by Piya Tan

Since gāravā is a loose equivalent as per the comments the following are the Suttas which has this word: search for gāravā within the Pali Canon.

1 Especially to those who helped in learning and coming in contact with the Dhamma, especially you teacher, the lineage of Sangha who preserved the teaching, the Buddha as if it was not for the Buddha we will have not come across the Dhamma at all and our Parami is not strong enough to realise it, and the Dhamma itself as even the Buddha kept it as his teacher.

2 Garava Sutta

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    Sadhu! Valued Upasaka Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena, Atma, knows the most excellent work of Abhidhamma In Daily Life which he received as Dhamma-Dana years ago from Budaedu. You may find a pfd of it here. The work of of Upasaka Mahinda, which Atma came luckily personal in contact some weeks ago, who had personally given it for further share, was actually an additional motivation, to seek for more teachings in regard of basics, ...
    – user11235
    Dec 28, 2015 at 13:33
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    ...which people in traditional countries usually really do not lack, but modern world hardly does. His work gratitude could still not be shared, because the print house seem to have protected the pfd. (Btw. if you know Upasaka Mahinda personally, he was to "shy" to have a picture of him published) However, gratitude and respect for example are directly involved in each other and all of them are aspects of basic right view. On an modern website of Dhamma...
    – user11235
    Dec 28, 2015 at 13:41
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    ... one would not easily find even "Namo..." at first place or an dedication, introduction and veneration of the deliverer, sadly even if made by monastics. So there is a really big hole in western languages, as far as Atma has seen. Honestly, in regard of most interpretations of Mr. Piya Tan, Atma does not find much joy because many of them are really not in the frame of the path, but simply directed in community creation & affection. For example: >" “Respect” properly means “accepting others as they are,” that is, using our present-moment awareness not to measure or judge others, ..."
    – user11235
    Dec 28, 2015 at 13:48
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    If such talks, going straight to adhidhamma, like "The Lessons of Gratitude" are known, such are most helpful, Atma guesses, since they are more easy to follow. Yet good Abidhamma works and and lessons with good references to the suttas are also missing. One sees in both works, that the issue "Respect" is only touched a little. Today Atma started to translate MN 140, where one could see that even unknowingly such can be a transgression.
    – user11235
    Dec 28, 2015 at 13:54
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    It seems like that valued Upasaka indirectly brings up good samples of teaching people actually disrespect: Oxford University is on the way to make the Dhamma to a legal article of trade! With some discussions with scholars about fundamental things. But actually it goes even deeper, since the ways of modern educations are already broad adopted within the Sanghas ways of educating new monks. Learning simply by books or internet, without interaction is the death of respect and gratitude. Less are left even willing to teach and to busy.
    – user11235
    Dec 28, 2015 at 15:58

Upasaka Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena encouraged in the discussion under his answer to possibly share some teachings on veneration. Atma tried to expand the originally sketch which starts with namo, and did a surely poor translation into English. It should not be regarded as finished work, a lot of important further aspects are not included yet but still in the sphere of mind. Its also good if you would share possible missing parts and maybe even try to improve it. The topic is a difficult one, since it is such a natural thing for those having grown up in an environment of right view or live in such, while it is hardly ever seen for people used to grow up and live in spheres where such as right view is negated. So the part who knows its benefit would not easy see that there is a lot of lack and start to explain it while the blind part to it would not estimate to miss a important point. Its actually the peak point where Dhamma and no Dhamma collided or better split far apart. Knowing this it is of cause just for those with little dust in the eyes beneficial while for those with lot of gains even a further obstacle in line with there defilement. One of the main doors to break on through the other side (if one considers the lyric rightly):

Respect and Veneration

Table of contents

[ * new added]


On who is an elder and thus worthy of veneration:

We have heard, Master Gotama: “The ascetic Gotama does not pay homage to brahmins who are old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage; nor does he stand up for them or offer them a seat.” This is indeed true, for Master Gotama does not pay homage to brahmins who are old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage; nor does he stand up for them or offer them a seat. This is not proper, Master Gotama.’

“It then occurred to me: These venerable ones do not know what an elder is or what the qualities that make one an elder are. Even though someone is old—eighty, ninety, or a hundred years from birth—if he speaks at an improper time, speaks falsely, speaks what is unbeneficial, speaks contrary to the Dhamma and the discipline, if at an improper time he speaks words that are worthless, unreasonable, rambling, and unbeneficial, then he is reckoned as a foolish childish elder.

“But even though someone is young, a youth with black hair, endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life, if he speaks at a proper time, speaks what is truthful, speaks what is beneficial, speaks on the Dhamma and the discipline, and if at a proper time he speaks words that are worth recording, reasonable, succinct, and beneficial, then he is reckoned as a wise elder.

Uruvela sutta 2 (AN 4.22)

260 A monk is not Elder because his head is gray. He is but ripe in age, and he is called one grown old in vain.

392 Just as a brahmin priest reveres his sacrificial fire, even so should one devoutly revere the person from whom one has learned the Dhamma taught by the Buddha.

Dhammapada: 19 Dhammatthavagga, 26 Brahmanavagga

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    Sadhu! Just do not forget the copy right. Thats a matter of respect and right view: © Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2012) This excerpt from The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Bodhi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on the work The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha at Wisdom Publications. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Wisdom Publications. creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en_US
    – user11235
    Feb 2, 2016 at 8:18
  • What do you think? Was that spoken worthless, unreasonable, rambling, and unbeneficial, like a foolish childish elder?
    – user11235
    Feb 2, 2016 at 8:20
  • When Atma assumes right, Mr. Alexander or even Dmytro? Atma is confused, but some things make reason. Stay on the good side!! Robin Hood is not regarded as a worthy person in Dhammic views even there are monks who follow in such ways. How ever, mudita that you still do in dhamma. (for others, who might be confused: Upasaka Dmytro was a generous layperson who had given many possibilities on sangham. And there is much obligation that such a person should not fall into wrong views.)
    – user11235
    Feb 2, 2016 at 8:52
  • @Samana Johann, fair enugh, thank you, point taken Feb 2, 2016 at 11:33
  • Sadhu! Such is a person, who is able to grow. (You can not share such things here according the TOS ) Only sell-able "Dhamma" Just for the case you did not saw the second wink. Doing things unknowingly do/will hurt even more. Alexander or Dmytro (?) That means you should also change that on SC, because you can not take non-comercial and put it under the license of commercial (suttacentral.net/ru/mn1), as Atma had seen today. That is taking what is not given. Be careful!
    – user11235
    Feb 2, 2016 at 11:40

Something similar came up in another topic: this answer references the The Maha Mangala Sutta, one of whose topics is Gārava which (you wrote) is similar to Apacāyana.

Gaaravo: reverence. This includes the proper veneration of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and respect for parents and teachers, wise people, good persons and elders — in fact, a general high regard for everyone. Even the Buddha after his Enlightenment surveyed the world to try to find a teacher to revere. When he realized that no teacher surpassed his own attainments, then he proclaimed in verse that he would live revering the Dhamma through which Enlightenment had been discovered.

And the arahant-disciples too had reverence for the Buddha as their guide, for the Dhamma, for other senior bhikkhus and for the way of training.

The further one has gone along the path of Dhamma the more reverence one has for it — and for others who also practice correctly. It is not that reverence grows less as one practices! This is a way of estimating one's own position, for if a lot of pride and conceit can be seen then one has not got very far!

How does one show respect or reverence? The Buddha says that one gives such a person a good seat, stands up to receive them, makes way for them and, for religious teachers, one places one's hands together and bows at their feet. This is a blessing resulting in good future births and harmony in the present life.

A search for 'Gāravo' on Access to Insight may find that this word is used in several other suttas also.

You might also look at other related words (for example, possibly Nivāta as a synonym, or Māna as an antonym).

Another practice to consider might be 'prostrations' which is mentioned frequently on this site.

Prostrations are apparently a Theravada practice, though it might be more prevalent in other schools of Buddhism. See for example this answer which tries to explain the "Tradition and purpose of prostration practice".

  • Sadhu for the effort Upasaka Chris, You and others are everytime invited to share such maybe here in a related topic. Please don't understand Atmas leave as any fault of anybody here. You do a really good work here not to speak about the topics topic, where this community is far more developed as any other Atma has met on web. Sadhu!
    – user11235
    Dec 30, 2015 at 22:11

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