Some Buddhists like to say Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!, usually 3 times.

There is some info here and here on this.

How did this practice originate? Are there any references to the Pali Canon or other texts for this?

Is it specific to a particular tradition?

Why is it necessary or useful to say this?

3 Answers 3


Mahasi Sayadaw gives some insight, if not an actual answer in his discourse on the Hemavata Sutta:

The Buddha was constantly into the jhāna, and for that He is adorable. While, after the end of a part of a sermon the audience exclaimed in one voice, "Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu! (Well done!) the Buddha went into jhāna even during that brief interval. And then He resumed the sermon. Such constancy is really marvelous."

There are occasions for the audience to say "Sādhu" during my preaching but they are rather few. But in Myanmar it is usual for the audience to say "Sādhu" at the end of a Pāḷi gāthā (verse) of which the preaching monk gives a literal translation. When the monk ends in a long drawn-out voice with the (Myanmar) phrase "phyitkya le dawt tha dee" the audience says without any hesitation, Sādhu. They don't care to notice whether the verse so recited and translated relates to a subject which calls for an exultant hailing or not. They just note ending words "tha dee" and drone out "Sādhu."

For instance, in the Vessantrā jātaka, king Vessantrā gave away his two children, a son and a daughter of tender ages of four or five, to Jujaka Brāhmin. The Pāḷi verse in that connection describes the Brāhmin's cruel treatment of the children who wept desolately; how the Brāhmin beat them cruelly and dragged them away. When the preaching monk recited that verse and translated it into Myanmar and ended his version with the usual "tha dee" the audience droned out the usual "Sādhu". Well, that is the part of the story which calls for sympathy and sadness from the listeners, not exultation, and so the "Sādhu" went awry. But in Myanmar the audience don't care to discriminate.

In Sri Lanka, however, the audience intones "Sādhu" three times only for the part of the sermon which related to attainment of Arahatship or Nibbāna, for that is an occasion of exultation when a congratulatory note of joy, such as "Sādhu", is called for.

During the time of the Buddha the practice of saying "Sādhu" must be of the Sri Lanka pattern. When the audience said "Sādhu" three times, the Buddha paused, and during that brief interval He went into jhāna, and soon after the saying of "Sādhu" by the audience, He resumed His sermon, He never remained idle, How adorable!

The preaching monks of today may not be entering into the jhāna; that brief interval is probably the time of resting his voice or it is the time for him to think of the words he will utter when he resumes his sermon.

It was certainly common in the Buddha's time to respond to an appreciated statement with the word "sādhu"; this occurs throughout the tipitaka and commentaries. E.g.:

“aparopi ce, cunda, sabrahmacārī saṅghe dhammaṃ bhāseyya. tatra ce tumhākaṃ evamassa — ‘ayaṃ kho āyasmā atthañceva sammā gaṇhāti byañjanāni ca sammā ropetī’ti. tassa ‘sādhū’’ti bhāsitaṃ abhinanditabbaṃ anumoditabbaṃ; tassa ‘sādhū’’ti bhāsitaṃ abhinanditvā anumoditvā so evamassa vacanīyo — ‘lābhā no āvuso, suladdhaṃ no āvuso, ye mayaṃ āyasmantaṃ tādisaṃ sabrahmacāriṃ passāma evaṃ atthupetaṃ byañjanupetan’ti.

‘But, Cunda, if you think he has got the right meaning and expressed it correctly,... you should say: ʺGood!ʺ and should applaud and congratulate him, saying: “We are lucky, we are most fortunate to find in you, friend, a companion in the holy life who is so well-versed in both the meaning and the expression!”

-- DN 29 (Walshe, trans)

As for the tradition to repeat it three times, I can't find an example in the tipitaka; twice seems common - dual repetition in pali is certainly a common construction (e.g. punappuna.m - again and again):

sādhu, sādhu, puṇṇa! sakkhissasi kho tvaṃ, puṇṇa, iminā damūpasamena samannāgato sunāparantasmiṃ janapade viharituṃ. yassadāni tvaṃ, puṇṇa, kālaṃ maññasī”ti.

Good, good, Puṇṇa! Possessing such self-control and peacefulness, you will be able to dwell in the Sunāparanta country. Now, Puṇṇa, it is time to do as you think fit.”

There is mention in the commentaries (e.g. DN-A) of the phrase "tikkhattuṃ sādhukāramadāsi" ("giving a sādhu-making three times") but I am not clear if this really means saying sādhu three times. In modern times, this is certainly how the Pali phrase is used and understood, but we also see (Jat-A 540):

“sādhu sādhu, bhikkhū”ti tikkhattuṃ sādhukāraṃ datvā...

having given sādhu-making three times, [saying] "sādhu, sādhu, bhikkhu!"...

Anyway, it's clearly a part of the tradition since ancient times in one form or another.

As to why it is considered beneficial, rejoicing in the the goodness of others is one of the ten means of acquiring goodness.


Sadhu in this context is used for approval and agreement as well as saying "well said".

Some other contexts it can be used for a holy or venerated person entity. Generally it is generally used for Hindu priests.

See: http://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/sadhu/index.html for details.

  • This isn't really an answer to the questions asked. May 13, 2015 at 21:43

Sadhu (pronounced saadhu) is a word that occurs in the Tipitaka. It relates to an action. An action involves a subject and an object. If the action is beneficial to both the subject and the object, then it is Sadhu. If somebody utters this word he is stating the above fact.

In Sri Lankan practice you can hear this word, usually repeated three times at the beginning or/and at the end of any Buddhist rite, ritual or ceremony (private or public). The word has also been used by Lord Buddha and arahants as well.

  • Abbhanumodana (as an aspect of mudita), is something not really known an practiced in modern world (see Sharing in Joy), maybe Mr/Mrs likes to explain more about its. It's maybe also worthy to explain of what is not proper to conform it with Sadhu (thinking on Dispraise) thought that such is in Buddhist countries often practiced as a polite ritual and can give bad notions in large. Jan 7, 2016 at 12:34
  • As far as I am aware, Abbhanumodana occurs only in the commentaries. PED gives the meanings: being pleased, satisfaction, thanksgiving. Jun 1, 2016 at 1:33
  • As far as I am aware, Abbhanumodana occurs only in the commentaries. The word is not used in Sri Lankan practice. There is a word Asadhu (Pronounced asaadhu) to express disapproval. [PED Saadhu.] Sadhu is used to refer a monk; to pay respect to a monk also. Budu Sadhu is a reference to Lord Buddha. Sadhu is the most important word in Sri Lankan Buddhist practice. We learn it as toddlers. This is the only word some villagers, especially illiterate, know of Dhamma. It is adequate because Sadhu/Asadhu is the right/wrong; good/bad; Skilful/unskilful/; pure/impure etc. Jun 1, 2016 at 1:56

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