If people, maintaining a Buddhist identity, are good, they do whatever sacrifices of which they expect benefit or where they feel touched.

Now, when a person gives outside the Savaka-Sangha, outside the Noble Ones, can he/she be called either, faith-, dhamma-follower or even Sotapanna?

Would he/she be regarded as being ready and worthy to be taught by wise?

(Note, this is not given for exchange, trade, stacks or entertainment for bounds but to escape dry lands and go beyond)

3 Answers 3


Giving in the Pali Canon lists, in summary, several types of people to whom it's suitable to give.

The suttas also describe the person to whom alms should be given (A.iii, 41). Guests, travelers and the sick should be treated with hospitality and due consideration. During famines the needy should be liberally entertained. The virtuous should be first entertained with the first fruits of fresh crops. There is a recurrent phrase in the suttas (D.i, 137; ii,354; iii,76) describing those who are particularly in need of public generosity. They are recluses (samana), brahmans (brahmana), destitutes (kapana), wayfarers (addhika), wanderers (vanibbaka) and beggars (yacaka). The recluses and brahmans are religious persons who do not earn wages. They give spiritual guidance to the laity and the laity is expected to support them. The poor need the help of the rich to survive and the rich become spiritually richer by helping the poor. At a time when transport facilities were meager and amenities for travelers were not adequately organized, the public had to step in to help the wayfarer. Buddhism considers it a person's moral obligation to give assistance to all these types of people.

In the Anguttara Nikaya the Buddha describes, with sacrificial terminology, three types of fires that should be tended with care and honor (A.iv,44). They are ahuneyyaggi, gahapataggi and dakkhineyyaggi. The Buddha explained that ahuneyyaggi means one's parents, and they should be honored and cared for. Gahapataggi means one's wife and children, employees and dependents. Dakkineyyaggi represents religious persons who have either attained the goal of arahantship or have embarked on a course of training for the elimination of negative mental traits. All these should be cared for and looked after as one would tend a sacrificial fire. According to the Maha-mangala Sutta, offering hospitality to one's relatives is one of the great auspicious deeds a layperson can perform (Sn. 262-63).

King Kosala once asked the Buddha to whom alms should be given (S.i,98). The Buddha replied that alms should be given to those by giving to whom one becomes happy. Then the king asked another question: To whom should alms be offered to obtain great fruit? The Buddha discriminated the two as different questions and replied that alms offered to the virtuous bears great fruit. He further clarified that offerings yield great fruit when made to virtuous recluses who have eliminated the five mental hindrances (nivarana) and culivated moral habits, concentration, wisdom, emancipation and knowledge and vision of emancipation (sila, samadhi, pañña, vimutti, vimuttinanadassana).

In summary:

  • Give alms to people to whom ordinary morality suggests charity -- including destitute, victims of famine, also guests and travellers
  • Also "care for" people to ordinary morality suggests a duty of care -- family, children, employees

And it says there is "great fruit" in giving to the noble Sangha.

But I'm not sure that should be called or seen as "making sacrifice".


Someone sacrifices toward dogs may start to bark equal them:

Rowf! Rowf! Rowf!

I once saw a dog who couldn't eat all the rice I had given it, so he lay down and kept watch over the rice right there. He was so full he couldn't eat any more, but he still lay keeping watch right there. He would drift off and get drowsy, and then suddenly glance over at the food that was left. If any other dog came to eat, no matter how big or how small, he'd growl at it. If chickens came to eat the rice, he'd bark: Rowf! Rowf! Rowf! His stomach was ready to burst, but he couldn't let anyone else eat. He was stingy and selfish.

People can be the same way. If they don't know the Dhamma, if they have no sense of their duties to their superiors and inferiors, if their minds are overcome by the defilements of greed, anger, and delusion, then even when they have lots of wealth they're stingy and selfish. They don't know how to share it. They have a hard time even giving donations to poor children or old people who have nothing to eat. I've thought about this and it's struck me how much they're like common animals. They don't have the virtues of human beings at all. The Buddha called them manussa-tiracchano: human-common-animals. That's the way they are because they lack good will, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity.

Someone, not eager to sacrifices toward the Buddhas Sangha of monastic disciples first, is actually regarded as outcast if considering himself as lay-follower, using the heritage:

"Endowed with these five qualities, a lay follower is an outcaste of a lay follower, a stain of a lay follower, a dregs of a lay follower. Which five? He/she does not have conviction; is unvirtuous; is eager for protective charms & ceremonies; trusts protective charms & ceremonies, not kamma; and searches for recipients of his/her offerings outside [of the Sangha], and gives offerings there first. Endowed with these five qualities, a lay follower is an outcaste of a lay follower, a stain of a lay follower, a dregs of a lay follower.

As someone having gone for refuge, generosity, better support of the Sangha, carrier of the heritage, actually grows to matter of virtue or duty in a relation. If a relation is not proper maintained it's subject to break apart. Dhammika (Buddhist) Sutta on their duties:

"With a gladdened mind observe the observance day (uposatha), complete with its eight factors, on the fourteenth, fifteenth and eighth days of the (lunar) fortnight and also the special holiday of the half month. In the morning, with a pure heart and a joyful mind, a wise man, after observing the uposatha, should distribute suitable food and drink to the community of bhikkhus.

Many today, incl. monks, do not only avoid giving the highest fist, but advocate the depriving of the Sangha of even their heritages, incl. the carry of the Dhamma. Making it in-accessable for the good followers and Savaka Sangha and Noble Ones, after having it deprived from it's heir.

The Buddha praised the giving at proper "season". Since giving outside the proper seasons leads to bonds, is often strong defiled, there is no evidence that such was really praised.

One should note that giving out of duty in relations does not really counts as generosity and duties within ones relations should be of course fulfilled. So ideas of not carry about ones parents in need, or to pay no tax, because one seeks for sacrifices all on higher places, is of course not approved. Not to speak of taking (not given, not own) for the sake of giving. Such would be things like doing things for the Sangha at ones payed working hours for example.

A person with conviction, a person of gratitude and vision of effects of great deeds, would always, if having or being given, share first and that of most value, with the vituose one, and those in training toward this, the Buddhas Sangha:

"Endowed with these five qualities, a lay follower is a jewel of a lay follower, a lotus of a lay follower, a fine flower of a lay follower. Which five? He/she has conviction; is virtuous; is not eager for protective charms & ceremonies; trusts kamma, not protective charms & ceremonies; does not search for recipients of his/her offerings outside [of the Sangha], and gives offerings here first. Endowed with these five qualities, a lay follower is a jewel of a lay follower, a lotus of a lay follower, a fine flower of a lay follower."

So a person with fundation in the Dhamma, on his death, would advice his most dear, out of good reason, this:

"'We will be possessed of verified confidence in the Sangha: "The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four types [of noble disciples] when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world."

"'Whatever there may be in our family that can be given away, all that will be shared unstintingly with virtuous ones who are of admirable character.' That's how you should train yourselves."

One who dedicates, nourishes equal or lower, inwardly, outwardly, holds even animal higher as the heritage of goodness, what aside of being known as outcast, under the faithful and good, can he/she expect to grow in union? Sacrificing toward bonds and bound, one increases dependency and suffering.

(Note: this is not given for exchange, stacks, trade or liberation.)


It appears to be a Parajika for a monk to infer they are Savaka-Sangha and to solicit donations from such scheming, talking, hinting & belittling.

And what, bhikkhus, is wrong livelihood? Scheming, talking, hinting, belittling, pursuing gain with gain: this is wrong livelihood.

MN 117

I imagine it is more meritorious giving food to a dog or cat than to an immoral monk. The Dhammapada says:

308. It would be better to swallow a red-hot iron ball, blazing like fire, than as an immoral and uncontrolled monk to eat the alms of the people.

  • Glossing nippesikatā as "belittling" apparently comes from the Visuddhimagga -- which apparently includes "(pāpanā) denigration [e.g. saying that this follower never donates]".
    – ChrisW
    May 20, 2019 at 7:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .