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Offerings 1

Homage to the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Highest Self—Enlightened One!

Rasika Wijayaratne

Published: 2014-11-07 — Updated: 2018-10-23

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Offering a simple glass of water to the Lord Buddha, our Teacher as the first thing every day as dana (giving) goes a long way towards building our saddha or confidence in Him and in His Teachings (the Dhamma). It is also a very pleasant way to start the day and is something that all young Buddhists can easily do.

The idea of this dana offering (giving) is the letting go or relinquishing of our desire or attachment for something valuable, which in this case is a drink. A glass of water or juice can be offered to the Lord Buddha, the same or greater[1] amount that is offered to guests. If it is not possible to offer juice then water is a good alternative.

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A cup or glass which is not used for other things can be kept aside for making offerings with. The cup doesn’t need to be new but can be one that has been in use in the home until now. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, something simple yet clean will do.

A small statue or picture of the Lord Buddha can be kept in bedroom in a high place like the top of a cupboard. The offering is made to the memory of the Lord Buddha and everything good that He represented; in other words His unequalled, salient qualities. Just before making the offering, those qualities can be brought to mind by thinking or saying out loud this short stanza (gatha): “Namo tassa, Bhagavato, Arahato, Samma—Sambuddhassa,” whilst bringing to mind the meaning of the words as they are said:

Namo tassa (pronounced “thassa”) : I accept the

Bhagavato : One who completely subdued lobha (greed), dosa (hatred), moha (delusion) without remainder

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Arahato : One worthy of receiving all forms of offerings because He is Bhagava, the previous fact

Samma—Sambuddhassa : One who attained the highest Enlightenment possible through his own efforts without the help of a teacher.

It is important to remember the meaning of the words as they are uttered and while this maybe difficult at first it will definitely come with time and practice. The drink can be offered with the thought that it is actually being offered to the ‘real—life’ Lord Buddha, as if He were actually in front. After the offering is made a resolution for the day can be made, for example “I do not wish to harm a single being, not even in my thoughts today.” After making the offering, the drink should be discarded and the cup cleaned and kept aside. Making an offering once a day is, usually in every morning, is adequate.

Respects can be paid to the Lord Buddha afterwards the offering by getting down on the knees and prostrating on the ground with a respectful “Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu,” which normally means “good” or “well done,” but is used here as a word of respect.[2]

“Benefits Of Sharing Merits 1 — Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda Thero.” Click on the video to play it. View Full Video >
Over time saddha (confidence) in our Teacher the Lord Buddha will grow as His great qualities become firmly established in our minds. May you attain Nibbana!


  1. The greater the amount given, the greater the detachment and therefore also the greater the happiness (positive kamma)
  2. Respects can be made in this way to the Lord Buddha as the very first thing after waking up, and also as the very last thing before going to sleep.

Offerings — Questions & Answers

1. What is the background?

The Lord Buddha himself has encouraged us to perform offerings as shown from this extract from the Maha—parinibbana sutta >>:

“A burial mound for the Tathagata (The Buddha) is to be built at a great four—way intersection. And those who offer a garland, a scent, or a perfume powder there, or bow down there, or brighten their minds there: that will be for their long—term welfare & happiness.”

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2. How can we justify offerings?

When we place flowers on a grave of a loved one we are not offering those flowers to the gravestone, but to the memory of the good qualities that person possessed. In the same way we make offering to the memory of the great qualities of the Lord Buddha.

3. What can we offer?

We can offer flowers, incense, candles, lamps, food, drinks and water. With food you should offer the same amount that you would consume yourself. Afterwards you can discard the offering and in the case of food either give it to beggars on birds. We should not consume or keep any part of the Buddha puja (offering to the Lord Buddha).

4. How do we offer it?

We offer to the supreme qualities of the Lord Buddha, such as Bhagava, Araham and Samma—Sambuddho. We place the offering in front of a statue of the Lord Buddha or the Bo tree which represent these qualities.

“The Joy Of Giving — Narayanan Krishnan 1.” Click on the video to play it. View Full Video >
It can be done as a daily practice and the key to offering is both remembering the Lord Buddha’s great qualities and letting go (nekkhamma detachment) of the whatever you are offering.

5. What are the benefits?

The benefits are that it purifies the mind in two ways, first when you bring to mind the great qualities of the Lord Buddha, and secondly when you let go of what you are offering, thus reducing your attachment to it.

6. Isn’t this a wasteful practice?

Yes there is minor wastage, but the purity of mind that it brings is immeasurable. With food you can give it to beggars or animals afterwards.

7. Isn’t it better to give to beggars who actually need it?

This is true, but the difference here is that you are purifying your mind by bringing to mind the qualities of the Lord Buddha as you make the offering which you cannot do when you offer to a beggar.

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These two don’t have to be mutually exclusive but can be performed in parallel.

8. What are the pre—requisites for doing offering?

Saddha or faith / confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma (his Teachings) and Sangha (the Order).

May all be happy and well!




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