New Publication: The Account of the Noble Deeds of Puṇyabala


Toh 347

In Śrāvastī, at Prince Jeta’s Grove, several elder monks in the Buddha’s assembly cannot agree on which human quality is most valuable and beneficial: beauty, diligence, artistry, or insight. They ask the Buddha, who replies that merit, which gives rise to all the qualities they have noted, is of most benefit to beings. To illustrate this point, he tells the story of a past life in which he was born as Puṇyabala, with four older brothers who were each named after their most prized quality: Rūpabala, Vīryavanta, Śilpavanta, and Prajñāvanta. In an ensuing contest to determine which quality produces the best outcomes in real life, Puṇyabala wins, and through his merit is granted dominion over much of the world. The Buddha then goes on to tell the story of his even earlier lifetime as Dyūtajaya, during which he developed the intention to attain buddhahood through the accumulation of merit.

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The Account of the Noble Deeds of Puṇyabala

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The cultivation of generosity, or dāna—giving voluntarily with a view that something wholesome will come of it—is considered to be a fundamental Buddhist practice by all schools. The nature and quantity of the gift itself is often considered less important.