Velama Sutta

The Scale of Good Deeds

 

Once, when the Buddha was dwelling near Savatthi at the Jeta Grove, the householder Anathapindika visited him and, after greeting him politely, sat down at one side.

The Exalted One addressed Anathapindika, “Are alms given in your house, householder?”

“Yes, Lord, alms are given by my family, but they consist only of broken rice and sour gruel.”

“Householder, whether one gives coarse or choice alms, if one gives with respect, thoughtfully, by one’s own hand, gives things tht are not leftovers, and with belief in the result of actions, then, wherever one is born as a result of having given with respect, the mind will experience pleasantness.”

“Long ago, householder, there lived a brahman named Velama who gave very valuable gifts. He gave thousands of bowls of gold, silver and copper, filled with jewels; thousands of horses with trappings; banners and nets of gold; carriages spread with saffron-colored blankets; thousands of milk-giving cows with fine jute ropes and silver milk pails; beds with covers od fleece, white blankets, embroidered coverlets, and with crimson cushions at the ends; lengths of cloth of the best flax, silk, wool and cotton. And how to describe all the food, sweets and syrups that he gave? They flowed like rivers.”

“Householder, who was the brahman who made those very valuable gifts? It was me.”

“But, when those gifts were given, householder, there were no worthy recipients. Although the brahman Velama gave such valuable gifts, if he had fed just one person of right view, the fruit of the latter deed would have been greater.”

“…and though he fed a hundred people of right view, the fruit of feeding a Once-returner would have been greater.”

“…and though he fed a hundred Sakadagamis, the fruit of feeding one Non-returner would have been greater.”

“…and though he fed a hundred Anagamis, the fruit of feeding one Arahat would have been greater.”

“…and though he fed a hundred Arahats, the fruit of feeding one Non-teaching Buddha would have been greater.”

“…and though he fed a hundred Paccekkabuddhas, the fruit of feeding a Perfect One, a Teaching Buddha, would have been greater.”

“…and though he fed a Sammasambuddha, the fruit of feeding the Order of monks with the Buddha at its head would have been greater.”

“…and though he fed the Sangha with the Buddha at its head, the fruit of building a monastery for the use of the Sangha would have been greater.”

“…and though he built a monastery for the monks, the fruit of sincerely taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha would have been greater.”

“…and though he sincerely took refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha, the fruit of sincerely undertaking the Five Moral Precepts would have been greater.”

“…and though he sincerely undertook the Five Precepts, the fruit of developing (concentration on radiating) metta, even for just to the extent of a whiff of scent, would have been greater.”

“…and though he developed universal lovingkindness, the fruit of cultivating the awareness of anicca-even for the moment of a finger snap-would have been greater.”

                                           Anguttara Nikaya, Navakanipata, Sutta 20