MAHA-MANGALA SUTTA (Blessings)1 This famous text, cherished highly in all Buddhist lands,
This famous text, cherished highly in all Buddhist lands, is a
terse but comprehensive summary of Buddhist ethics, individual and
social. The thirty-eight blessings enumerated in it, are an unfailing
guide on life's journey. Rightly starting with "avoidance of bad
company" which is basic to all moral and spiritual progress, the
Blessings culminate in the achievement of a passion-free mind,
unshakable in its serenity. To follow the ideals set forth in these
verses, is the sure way to harmony and progress for the individual as
well as for society, nation and mankind.
"The Maha-Mangala Sutta shows that the Buddha's instructions do
not always take negative forms, that they are not always a series of
classifications and analysis, or concerned exclusively with monastic
morality. Here in this sutta we find family morality expressed in most
elegant verses. We can imagine the happy blissful state household life
attained as a result of following these injunctions." (From //The
Ethics of Buddhism// by S. Tachibana, Colombo 1943, Bauddha Sahitya
* * *
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Exalted One was dwelling at
Anathapindika's monastery, in Jeta's Grove,<2> near Savatthi.<3> Now
when the night was far spent, a certain deity whose surpassing
splendour illuminated the entire Jeta Grove, came to the presence of
the Exalted One and, drawing near, respectfully saluted him and stood
at one side. Standing thus, he addressed the Exalted One in verse:
"Many deities and men, yearning after good, have pondered on
blessings.<4> Pray, tell me the greatest blessing!"
"Not to associate with the foolish,<5> but to associate with the
wise; and to honour those who are worthy of honour -- this is the
To reside in a suitable locality,<6> to have done meritorious
actions in the past and to set oneself in the right course <7> -- this
is the greatest blessing.
To have much learning, to be skillful in handicraft,<8>
well-trained in discipline, <9> and to be of good speech <10> -- this
is the greatest blessing.
To support mother and father, to cherish wife and children, and to
be engaged in peaceful occupation -- this is the greatest blessing.
To be generous in giving, to be righteous in conduct,<11> to help
one's relatives, and to be blameless in action -- this is the greatest
To loathe more evil and abstain from it, to refrain from
intoxicants,<12> and to be steadfast in virtue -- this is the greatest
To be respectful,<13> humble, contented and grateful; and to
listen to the Dhamma on due occasions <14> -- this is the greatest
To be patient and obedient, to associate with monks and to have
religious discussions on due occasions -- this is the greatest
Self-restraint,<15> a holy and chaste life, the perception of the
Noble Truths and the realisation of Nibbana -- this is the greatest
A mind unruffled by the vagaries of fortune,<16> from sorrow
freed, from defilements cleansed, from fear liberated <17> -- this is
the greatest blessing.
Those who thus abide, ever remain invincible, in happiness
established. These are the greatest blessings."<18>
(Derived mainly from the Commentaries)
<1> This Sutta appears in the Sutta-Nipata (v.258ff) and in the
Khuddakapatha. See Maha-Mangala Jataka (No. 453). For a detailed
explanation see //Life's Highest Blessing// by Dr. R.L. Soni,
WHEEL No. 254/256.
<2> Anathapindika, lit., 'He who gives alms to the helpless'; his
former name was Sudatta. After his conversion to Buddhism, he
bought the grove belonging to the Prince Jeta, and established a
monastery which was subsequently named Jetavana. It was in this
monastery that the Buddha observed most of his //vassana//
periods (rainy seasons -- the three months' retreat beginning
with the full-moon of July). Many are the discourses delivered
and many are the incidents connected with the Buddha's life that
happened at Jetavana. It was here that the Buddha ministered to
the sick monk neglected by his companions, advising them:
"Whoever, monks, would wait upon me, let him wait upon the sick."
It was here that the Buddha so poignantly taught the law of
impermanence, by asking the bereaved young woman Kisagotami who
brought her dead child, to fetch a grain of mustard seed from a
home where there has been no bereavement.
<3> Identified with modern Sahet-Mahet, near Balrampur.
<4> According to the Commentary, //mangala// means that which is
conducive to happiness and prosperity.
<5> This refers not only to the stupid and uncultured, but also
includes the wicked in thought, word and deed.
<6> Any place where monks, nuns and lay devotees continually reside;
where pious folk are bent on the performance of the ten
meritorious deeds, and where the Dhamma exists as a living
<7> Making the right resolve for abandoning immorality for morality,
faithlessness for faith and selfishness for generosity.
<8> The harmless crafts of the householder by which no living being is
injured and nothing unrighteous done; and the crafts of the
homeless monk, such as stitching the robes, etc.
<9> //Vinaya// means discipline in thought, word and deed. The
commentary speaks of two kinds of discipline -- that of the
householder, which is abstinence from the ten immoral actions
(//akusala-kammapatha//), and that of the monk which is the
non-transgression of the offences enumerated in the
//Patimokkha// (the code of the monk's rules) or the 'fourfold
moral purity' (//catu-parisuddhi-sila//).
<10> Good speech that is opportune, truthful, friendly, profitable and
spoken with thoughts of loving-kindness.
<11> //Righteous conduct// is the observance of the ten good actions
(//kusala-kammapatha//) in thought, word and deed: freeing the
mind of greed, ill-will and wrong views; avoiding speech that is
untruthful, slanderous, abusive and frivolous; and the non-
committal acts of killing, stealing and sexual misconduct.
<12> Total abstinence from alcohol and intoxicating drugs.
<13> Towards monks (and of course also to the clergy of other
religions), teachers, parents, elders, superiors, etc.
<14> For instance, when one is harassed by evil thoughts.
<15> Self-restraint (//tapo//): the suppression of lusts and hates by
the control of the senses; and the suppression of indolence by
the rousing of energy.
<16> //Loka-dhamma//, i.e. conditions which are necessarily connected
with life in this world; there are primarily eight of them: gain
and loss, honour and dishonour, praise and blame, pain and joy.
<17> Each of these three expressions refers to the mind of the
arahant: //asoka//: sorrowless; //viraja//: stainless, i.e. free
from lust, hatred and ignorance; //khema//: security from the
bonds of sense desires (//kama//), repeated existence
(//bhava//), false views (//ditthi//) and ignorance (//avijja//).
<18> The above-mentioned thirty-eight blessings.
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