1

What does mass donation of the Dhamma mean?

How is that done?

Does it include promotion of the Dhamma in public places or the Internet to vast audiences?

According to Itivuttaka 100:

"There are these two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things & a gift of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: a gift of the Dhamma.

"There are these two kinds of sharing: sharing of material things & sharing of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: sharing of the Dhamma.

"There are these two kinds of assistance: assistance with material things & assistance with the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: help with the Dhamma.

"There are these two kinds of mass-donations: a mass-donation of material things & a mass-donation of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: a mass-donation of the Dhamma."

3

Here are a couple of lines of Pali (the first two lines of the verse at the end of the sutta):

“Yo dhammayāgaṃ ayajī amaccharī,
Tathāgato sabbabhūtānukampī ;

Here are the same lines from the translation quoted in the question:

He who, unstinting,
made the mass-donation of Dhamma,

Here are the same lines from another translation:

The Tathāgata has made the Dhamma-offering,
Unselfish, compassionate towards all beings;

Looking at the Pali, I think it's saying:

  • dhammayāgaṃ -- gift of dhamma
  • ayajī -- something to do with offering or sacrifice?
  • amaccharī -- without being a miser
  • Tathāgato -- the Tathagata

That just leaves sabbabhūtānukampī to translate.

  • I think that sabba means "all" or something like that ... that must be where the "mass" translation is coming from

  • And bhūtā means something like "a being".

  • And kampī, I'm not sure, maybe perhaps being "still" or "not trembling" ... or maybe the second translation above suggests that this bit somehow means "compassionate"

Anyway, the Pali suggests to me that the "all" there is associated with the "beings" (i.e. "to all beings") -- and that agrees with the second English translation that I quoted.

So I thik that what's translated as "mass-donation" in the first translation means "donation to all" ... i.e. that the Tathagata gave the dhamma to all beings.

But maybe the sutta (both the Pali and the second translation) is really saying, more literally ...

  1. making the dhamma-offering unselfishly
  2. the Tathagata (and something: compassionate, maybe) to all beings

... i.e. maybe the offering-of-dhamma wasn't "to all" ... and instead only the kampī (i.e. the stillness or compassion or whatever that means) was "to all beings" ... maybe the text could be read either way. This latter way might be more compatible with other suttas: e.g. he was teaching "those with little dust in their eyes" and so on, rather than everyone.


I don't understand though why the word "mass" also appears in previous lines of the translation you're using (because "sabb..." doesn't appear there, in the Pali: it's only in the verse).

Maybe this is the clearer or more straightforward, more literal translation:

  1. The Dhamma-offering

This was said by the Lord…

“Bhikkhus, I am a brahmin, ever accessible to entreaties, open-handed, one bearing his last body, an unsurpassed physician and surgeon. You are my own legitimate sons, born from my mouth, born of Dhamma, fashioned by Dhamma, heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things.

“Bhikkhus, there are these two kinds of giving: the giving of material things and the giving of the Dhamma. Of these two kinds of giving, this is the foremost, namely, the giving of the Dhamma. There are these two kinds of sharing … these two kinds of help … these two kinds of offerings: the offering of material things and the offering of the Dhamma. Of these two kinds of offering, this is the foremost, namely, the offering of the Dhamma.”

The Tathāgata has made the Dhamma-offering,
Unselfish, compassionate towards all beings;
Living beings revere such a one,
Gone beyond being, as chief of devas and humans.

1

You have to understand it the same way as you interpret "mass-donation of material things".

If "mass-donation of material things" means donating gifts to many people, "mass-donation of the Dhamma" means preaching the Dhamma to many people. Just like how the Buddha preached at large assemblies.

0

Obviously this does not mean promotion of the Dhamma in public places or the Internet to vast audiences because the Dhamma teaching principles are explained in many places, such as:

Let them show their conviction. Perceiving trouble, O Brahma, I did not tell people the refined, sublime Dhamma.

MN 26


This is the best of gifts: the gift of Dhamma. And this is the best of friendly speech: to teach again and again Dhamma to those who wish for it and who listen attentively.

The best sort of kind speech is to teach the Dhamma again and again to someone who is interested and who listens well.

AN 9.5

Therefore, before imagining things discursively from English translations, it is probably ideal to examine the Pali, which in this case is the word 'yāgā' (and 'yāgānaṃ').

  • What does an examination of the Pali, the word 'yāgā', tell you? – ChrisW Apr 23 '18 at 21:51
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    i couldn't find the meaning but my point is the principles of Dhamma propagation are already clearly established in Buddhism therefore a new principle will not be found in an obscure sutta that uses a Pali word found nowhere except in that sutta. – Dhammadhatu Apr 24 '18 at 0:30
  • No it's not obvious, even from the Suttas you quoted. Downvoting. – Sankha Kulathantille Apr 24 '18 at 8:05

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