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Jāṇussoṇi Suttaṃ

(A.v.269)

Offerings to the Departed

Then Jāṇussoṇi the Brahmin approached the Blessed One, and having approached, exchanged friendly greetings with the Blessed One. Having exchanged friendly greetings, he sat down at one side. Sitting at one side he said to the Blessed One: “We are called Brahmins, friend Gotama. We give gifts and perform rites for the departed wishing: ‘May our blood relatives who are hungry ghosts partake of these gifts.’ Do those gifts actually benefit the departed? Do the departed relatives partake of those gifts?”

“They benefit where there is an opportunity, not where there is no opportunity.”

“What, friend Gotama, is the opportunity, what is not the opportunity?”

“Herein, Brahmin, a certain person is a killer of living beings, a thief, an adulterer, a liar, a tale-bearer, an abuser, a chatterbox, is covetous, bears ill-will, holds wrong-views. He or she, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in hell. Whatever is the food of hell beings, he or she is sustained by that and lives on that. This, Brahmin, is not an opportunity for gifts to benefit those living there.

“Herein, Brahmin, a certain person is a killer of living beings … holds wrong-views. He or she, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in an animal womb. Whatever is the food of animals, he or she is sustained by that and lives on that. This, Brahmin, is not an opportunity for gifts to benefit those living there.

“Herein, Brahmin, a certain person abstains from killing living beings, stealing, adultery, lying, tale-bearing, abusive speech, idle-chatter, is not covetous, bears no ill-will, holds right-views. He or she, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in the company of human beings. Whatever is the food of human beings, he or she is sustained by that and lives on that. This, Brahmin, is not an opportunity for gifts to benefit those living there.

“Herein, Brahmin, a certain person abstains from killing living beings … holds right-views. He or she, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in the company of deities. Whatever is the food of deities, he or she is sustained by that and lives on that. This, Brahmin, is not an opportunity for gifts to benefit those living there.

“Herein, Brahmin, a certain person is a killer of living beings … holds wrong-views. He or she, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in the realm of hungry ghosts. Whatever is the food of hungry ghosts, he or she is sustained by that and lives on that, otherwise on the gifts offered by friends, associates, or relatives. This, Brahmin, is an opportunity for gifts to benefit those living there.”

“If, friend Gotama, the departed relative has not been reborn in that place? Who partakes of that gift?”

“Other departed relatives, Brahmin, who have been reborn as hungry ghosts, they will partake of those gifts.”

“If, friend Gotama, there are no departed relatives who have been reborn as hungry ghosts, who will partake of those gifts?”

“It is impossible, Brahmin, it cannot come to pass, that there are no departed relatives in this endless cycle of rebirth who have been reborn as hungry ghosts, but in any case the donor does not go without any fruit.”

“Does the Venerable Gotama declare any preparation for those places where there is no opportunity?”

“Herein, Brahmin, a certain person is a killer of living beings, a thief, an adulterer, a liar, a tale-bearer, an abuser, a chatterbox, is covetous, bears ill-will, holds wrong-views. He or she, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in the company of elephants … horses … cattle … dogsBecause he or she was a giver to recluses and priests of almsfood, drinks, clothes, vehicles, garlands, perfumes, and cosmetics, beds, lodgings, and lights, he or she is the recipient of food, drinks, garlands and various ornaments

“Herein, Brahmin, a certain person abstains from killing living beings … holds right-views. He or she, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in the company of human beings. Because he or she was a giver to recluses and priests of almsfood, drinks, clothes, vehicles, garlands, perfumes, and cosmetics, beds, lodgings, and lights, he or she there obtains the five strands of sensual pleasures enjoyed by human beings.

“Whoever, Brahmin, abstains from killing living beings ... holds right-views, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in the company of human beings, and whoever is a giver to recluses and priests of almsfood ... and lights, there obtains the five strands of sensual pleasures enjoyed by human beings.

“Herein, Brahmin, a certain person abstains from killing living beings … holds right-views. He or she, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in the company of deities. Because he or she was a giver to recluses and priests of almsfood, drinks, clothes, vehicles, garlands, perfumes, and cosmetics, beds, lodgings, and lights, he or she there obtains the five strands of sensual pleasures enjoyed by deities.

“Whoever, Brahmin, abstains from killing living beings ... holds right-views, on the break-up of the body after death, arises in the company of deities, and whoever is a giver to recluses and priests of almsfood ... and lights, there obtains the five strands of celestial sensual pleasures. In any case, Brahmin, the donor does not go without any fruit.”

“It is wonderful, friend Gotama, it is marvellous, friend Gotama! This is enough reason, friend Gotama, to give gifts and to perform rites for the departed, since the donor too does not go without any fruit.”

“Thus it is, Brahmin, the donor too, Brahmin, does not go without any fruit.”

“Excellent, friend Gotama, magnificent, friend Gotama! It is as if, friend Gotama, what was overturned was set upright, what was hidden was revealed, the right way was pointed out to someone who was lost, or a light was lit in the darkness so that those with eyes could see. Thus, the truth has been explained in various ways by friend Gotama. I go for refuge to friend Gotama, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha of monks. May friend (bho) Gotama regard me as a disciple gone to him for refuge from today onwards for as long as I live.”

Notes

1. This phrase is omitted from some books. Ajahn Thanissaro apparently misreads it as kukkuṭa and translates it as poultry.

2. The Sihala edition here has garlands, perfumes, cosmetics, and various ornaments (mālāgandhavilepanassa nānālaṅkārassa)

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