Title- The Nine Attributes of the Samgha & Story Demonstrating the Attributes of the Samgha


The eight classes of noble bhikkhus are collectively known as the Samgha. The non-ariya bhikkhus (Sammuti Samghas) who have the same view and the same moral practice as the noble bhikkhus (Ariya Samghas) are also included in the Samgha. The Samgha being endowed with Nine Supreme Attributes should be highly honored and venerated. The Samgha is peerless because it enables one who takes refuge in the Samgha to achieve happiness and prosperity in the present existence as well as in future existences. The Samgha is an incomparable treasure because the members of the Samgha are incomparable in morality, concentrations and wisdom in the whole world. The Samgha Ratana is extremely difficult to come across because it comes into existence only when the Buddha araises in the world. Only those who have accumulated great merit can revere and take refuge in this Samgha Ratana. Therefore the Samgha is the most honorable, the most precious, the incomparable, the most rare and the most worthy treasure in the whole Universe.

The Nine Attributes of the Samgha are:

1-Suppatipanno bhagavato Savakasamgho,
2-Ujuppatipanno bhagavato Savakasamgho,
3-Nayappatipano bhagavato Savakasamgho,
4-Samicippatipanno bhagavato Savakasamgho,
Yadidam cattari purisayugani atthapurisapuggala esa bhagavato Savakasamgho
5-Ahuneyyo,
6-Pahuneyyo,
7-Dakkhineyyo,
8-Anjalikaraniyo, and
9-Anuttaram punnakkhettam lokassa.

Meaning:

1-The disciples of the Exalted One practice well the threefold training of morality, concentration and wisdom.
2-The disciples of the Exalted One practice righteously the threefold training.
3-The disciples of the Exalted One practice to realize Nibbana. They are endowed with righteous conduct leading to Nibbana.
4-The disciples of the Exalted One practice to be worthy of veneration.
The disciples of the Exalted One numbering four pairs of ariyas or eight noble persons are:
5-worthy of receiving offerings brought even from afar.
6-worthy of receiving offerings specially set aside for guests.
7-worthy of receiving offerings offered with the belief that the offering will bear fruits in future existences.
8-worthy of receiving reverential salution of men, devas and brahmas.
9-The incomparable fertile field for all to sow the seeds of merit.

Story Demonstrating the Attributes of the Samgha

The following is the story demonstrating the Attributes of the Samgha.

___The Story of Culasetthi, the Peta___

The story of a woeful ghost called Culasetthi is a good example. It took place during the reign of Ajatasatthu. The king could not sleep because of his heinous deed of killing his father. One night, as he was strolling on the verandah, he saw a woeful ghost (Peta) travelling in the sky. The ghost was bony and naked. He had his head shaved. Thus the king, mistaking him to be a bhikkhu and asked, “Oh bhikkhu, where are you going? Why are you travelling in the dark of night? Is there anything I can do for you?”

The Peta replied, “Your Majesty, I was a rich man of Baranasi in my previous life. I did not believe in the Triple Gems, nor did I do any good deeds. I enjoyed worldly pleasures. When I died, I was reborn as a Peta. I am only skin and bone as I have nothing to eat. I am not a bhikkhu as you think. I’m on my way to Andhakavinda where Anula, my daughter in my previous life. She is going to give a feast dedicating to her parents and grandparents and she has invited me. Please allow me to go”.

Ajatasatthu felt sorry to hear the Peta’s story. So he asked the latter to drop in on his return from his daughter. He also promised to help the Peta.

When the Peta came to his daughter’s house, he found that she was offering a great feast to the Brahmins, the leaders of the religious sect, whom her ancestors had been worshipping. (note: Petas cannot receive food and clothing offered by human beings. Only when they can rejoice in others’ merits, can they receive food and clothing. Again in rejoicing in the merits, they can only get the merits bestowed by persons who have offered food and clothing to noble persons endowed with good morality and practice).

Thus the Peta, Culasetthi, though he went there with great expectation, did not gain any merit, noer did he get anything to eat or drink; so he had to return in vain. On his way back, he dropped in at Ajatasatthu’s palace and said, “Your Majesty, there was no person of good morality in the feast offered by my daughter. As only immoral persons have enjoyed the feast, I did not gain any benefit from my daughter’s offering. The king encouraged him, “Don’t worry, my friend. I will help you. What can I do for you?”

“Your Majesty, would you please donate alms-food, drinks and robes to the Buddha or His disciples on behalf of me and share the merit with me”, requested the Peta. The king offered to the Samgha as the Peta requested. The Peta appreciated the merit of the king by saying “Well-done”. For this meritorious deed, he was immediately reborn as a celestial deva. He appeared before the king and said words of praise to the attribute of “Anuttaram punnakkhettam Lokassa” of the Samgha. He also thanked the king and added, “Your Majesty, you can see how great is the benefit of rejoicing in the merit gained by offering to the Samgha. Now I have no equal. I can get whatever I want, and I am enjoying great happiness. Please allow me to go to the celestial abode now”.

When the Buddha learnt about the event through his disciples, He delivered a discourse on “Culasetthi Peta” in confirmation of the event and also in praise of the attributes of the Samgha.

Similarly by reading the Peta Stories mentioned in Khuddaka Nikaya, one can understand how greedy persons, jealous persons, persons who bear false witness, bribe takers, persons who pass judgments unfairly, and other wrong doers have to suffer greatly for their evil deeds. Only in the Teachings of the Buddha, is there a way to free them instantly from these impoverished conditions. No other god or creator or learned person, except the Samgha endowed with “Dakkhineyya, Anuttaram punnakkhettam Lokassa” can set them free from those sufferings.

In fact, the Peta Stories furnish evidence as how great the benefit of offering to the Buddha and His disciples is. Therefore the people of Savatthi offered the four requisites to the Buddha and the Samgha in dedication to their late parents and relatives for many months at the time that Buddha preached the discourse on offerings dedicated to the dead.  (note: The four requisites___Alms-food, Samgha’s-wears, Accomodation, and Medicine are the basic and essential needs for the Samghas to strive themselves to be free from raga, dosa, moha and to promote and propagate the Sasana conveniently).

At that time, even those who did not believe in Buddhism gained the merit of such offering. At present, those who become Petas after death communicate through dreams to their living relatives as their relatives are frightened or possessed by them, so that their relatives make offerings to the Samgha and share the merit with them. These are many instances in which Petas are freed from their miserable existences because of their relatives, including non-Buddhists, comply with their requests.

The above mentioned story provides some examples of the Attributes of the Samgha. The virtues of the Samgha and Sasana are so great that even the dead can enjoy the benefits accruing from offerings to the Samgha and to the Sasana.

We perform charity in the hope of getting merit in our present and future lives. To gain benefit from our act of charity, the following three factors are essential.

(1) The donor must be motivated by keen volition, at the three stages (before, during and after) of the good deed.
(2) The offertories must be obtained by fair means, and
(3) The donee must be one endowed with good morality and practice.

Even though the first two factors are fulfilled, if the third factor is lacking, the donor will not get as much benefit as he expects. Whom Can We Find the Well-Qualified Donees So Endowed with Good Morality and Practice Other Than Samghas???

Indeed the Virtues of the Triple Gems Are So Profound that They Are “Beyond Description”

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