Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 10: The Guarded Mind

4. Generosity

1. Thus I have heard: One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “What services and gifts should donors and almsgivers provide to diligent noble people who observe the precepts?”

3. The monks then said to the Bhagavān, “The Bhagavān is the king of teachings! Please, Bhagavān, teach the monks about the meaning of this. Once we’ve heard it, the monks will approve of it.”

The Bhagavān told the monks, “Listen closely! Listen closely and consider it well. I will discern the meaning of this for you.”

They replied, “Yes, Bhagavān!” The monks then accepted the teaching from the Buddha.

4. The Bhagavān told them, “A donor or almsgiver who renders services and gives offerings to diligent and learned people who observe the precepts is like someone who shows the way to the lost. They’re like someone who provides meals to those in need of food. They’re like someone who puts anxious people at ease. They’re like someone who instructs the fearful to not be afraid. They’re like someone who gives shelter to those without refuge. They’re like someone who serves as eyes for the blind or a king of medicine for the sick.

5. “They’re like a farmer cultivating their land. They remove debris and weeds so that they can harvest their crop. A monk must constantly abandon the illness of the five proliferating aggregates as he seeks to enter the city of Nirvāṇa fearlessly. Thus, monks, should a donor or almsgiver be generous when providing services and offerings to diligent and learned people who observe the precepts.”

6. The wealthy man Anāthapiṇḍada[1] was in the audience at the time. He then said to the Bhagavān, “So it is, Bhagavān! So it is, Tathāgata! All donors and their recipients are like auspicious vases. Those who accept their donations are like King Vaiśravaṇa. They encourage people to practice generosity like a friend or parent. A person who accepts donations will have excellent fortune in the next life. All donors and their recipients are like householders.”

The Bhagavān told him, “So it is, wealthy man. It’s as you say.”

7. The wealthy man Anāthapiṇḍada said to the Bhagavān, “From now on, my door won’t be guarded, nor will monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, or travelers be refused who are in need of a meal.”

8. Anāthapiṇḍada then said to the Bhagavān, “Please let the Bhagavān and the assembly of monks accept a disciple’s invitation.”

The Bhagavān then silently accepted that wealthy man’s invitation.

9. Seeing that the Bhagavān had silently accepted his invitation, that wealthy man then bowed to the Buddha, circled him three times, and returned to his home. Arriving at his house, he prepared a variety of sweet delicacies for the evening and arranged for a sitting area. He then sent word, “When you arrive, the meal will be fully prepared. Please let the Bhagavān come when it’s convenient.”

10. The Bhagavān then led the assembly of monks, putting on his robes and taking his bowl to that wealthy man’s household in Śrāvastī. When they arrived, he prepared his own seat, and the assembly of monks each seated themselves in their order.

11. Seeing that the Buddha and assembly of monks were seated and settled, the wealthy man then served them a variety of foods with his own hands. As he gave out those various meals, they each took a bowl and sat. He then brought out a humble chair and sat in front of the Buddha hoping to hear the Dharma.

12. That wealthy man then said to the Bhagavān, “It’d be good if the Tathāgata permitted the monks to have the things that they need, such as three robes, a bowl, needle, tube, sitting mat, filter cloth, water basin, and the rest of an ascetic’s items. Permit them all to get these things from my family.”

13. The Bhagavān then addressed the monks, “If you need robes, bowls, sitting mats, water basins, or any other items of an ascetic, you may get them here. Don’t hesitate or make excuses about attachment.”

14. Then, the Bhagavān and Anāthapiṇḍada had a discussion about the sublime Dharma. After discussing the sublime Dharma, the Buddha rose from his seat and departed.

15. At a later time, Anāthapiṇḍada gave out gifts broadly at each of the city’s four gates, a fifth in the market, and a sixth at his home. He gave food if people needed food and drink if drink was needed. He provided to everyone what carts, music, incense, and jewelry that they needed.

16. The Bhagavān heard about Anāthapiṇḍada giving out gifts broadly at the city’s four gates, that he had also given to the needy in the marketplace, and that he again gave measureless gifts from inside his own home.

17. The Bhagavān then told the monks, “Among my disciples, the layman who delights most in charity is that wealthy man Sudatta.”[2]

18. When the monks heard what the Buddha taught, they rejoiced and approved.


  1. Anāthapiṇḍada. C. 阿那邠持 (EMC. •a-na-pɪĕn-ḍɪei = G. *Ana’piṃḍi > Anasapiṃḍiga), P. Anāthapiṇḍika, S. Anāthapiṇḍada. This is the famous wealthy benefactor of the Buddha who gave park land in the Jetavana to the Saṅgha. [back]
  2. Sudatta. C. 須達 (EMC. siu-dat = G. *Sudat[a]). This was Anāthapiṇḍada’s given name. “Anāthapiṇḍada” was a title earned from his philantrophy, which lit. means “the patron of orphans.” [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 2 April 2023