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Verse 354: The Story of the Questions Raised by Sakka

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (354) of this book,
with reference to four questions raised by Sakka, king of the devas.

On one occasion, at a meeting of the devas in the Tavatimsa realm, four questions were
raised, but the devas failed to get the correct answers. Eventually, Sakka took these devas
to the Buddha at the Jetavana monastery. After explaining their difficulty, Sakka
presented the following four questions:

(a) Among gifts, which is the best?

(b) Among tastes, which is the best?

(c) Among delights, which is the best?

(d) Why is the eradication of craving said to be the most excellent?

To these questions, the Buddha replied, "Oh Sakka, the Dhamma is the noblest of all gifts,
the best of all tastes and the best of all delights. Eradication of craving leads to the
attainment of Arahatship and is, therefore, the greatest of all conquests."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 354. The gift of tile Dhamma excels all gifts; the taste of the Dhamma excels all tastes;
delight in the Dhamma excels all delights. The eradication of craving (i.e., attainment of
Arahatship) overcomes all ills (samsara dukkha).

At the end of the discourse, Sakka said to the Buddha, "Venerable Sir, if the gift of the
Dhamma excels all gifts, why are we not invited to share the merit, whenever gifts of the
Dhamma are made? Venerable Sir! I pray that, from now on, we may be given a share in the
merit of good deeds". Then the Buddha asked all the Bhikkhus to assemble and exhorted
them to share the merit of all their good deeds with all beings.

Since then, it has become a custom to invite all beings from the thirty-one realms (bhumis)
to come and share merit whenever a good deed is done.

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.

Saved: 24 October 2012  http://What-Buddha-Said.net/Canon/Sutta/KN/Dhammapada.Verse_354.story.htm

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