Paying Homage to Those Worthy of Homage (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2021-03-16

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

With this blessing, we become intelligent and wise and will do the right things. To those worthy of homage are; the triple gems – Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha, parents, teachers, family members, relatives and people older than us or wise. Especially people have sīla, samādhi, and paññā. The results of homage, veneration, and respect are a long life, beauty, happiness, strength, and wisdom. Why should pay homage to people? We must think about the qualities and gratitude. The qualities of nobility, purity, etc. are sīla, samādhi and paññā (in Pāli is guṇa). Having and showing appreciation, respect, gratitude on these guṇa is paying homage to those worthy of homage.

Some people do not have guṇa but have gratitude on us. Paying homage should base on the metta – goodwill and good volition. Without it is not real homage. The person receiving the homage responds with good-will, kindness, and compassion. Therefore, both sides develop wholesome mental states. These energies spread to the surroundings. It has good weather and affects the crops, fruits, trees, and plants with the wholesome energy or element. The foods have nutrients, and by eating them, human beings have long life and health.

What are the results of homage to things which should not be reverenced? It can be mentioned a lot of them. The outcomes are always negative, harmful, and dangerous. The obvious ones are some religious cult leaders, their cult teachings, and cult followers admiring to some political figures, artists, etc. who do not have moral standards. All these come from ignorance or delusions.

Therefore, we should not pay homage to unwholesome or negative dhammas. Instead should pay homage to wholesome or positive dhamma, such as sīla, samādhi, and paññā. The highest homage and veneration are the Buddha, Dhamma, and Ariya Saṅgha. They represent sīla, samādhi and paññā. There was a Jātaka story on wrong homage (veneration).

In one of his past lives, the Bodhisatta was born into a noble Brahmin family, who were worshipping fire. His parents kindled a fire for him after he was born and looked after for it until the 16 years of age. At this age, a brahmin youth could choose one of the two ways in his later life. Had a family or continued to worship the fire. He chose the 2nd one and brought the fire with him to the forest and continued the duty. One day he received a cow by begging. He wanted to offer the meat to the fire but had no salt with him.

Therefore, he left it at the forest and looking for salt elsewhere. A group of hunters arrived there when he was away. They killed the cow and took all the meat with them. He only found the head, the skin and the tail of the cow after he came back. He came to his common sense; how a fire could protect me even it could not protect its offerings. Therefore, he gave up the wrong practice, lived a hermit life, and practiced jhānas. After he died and born in heaven.

Some brahmans believed that by worshipping fire and after dying born as brahma gods. Once, a dying brahman seeing the hellfire, told people what he had seen. They told him that this was the Brahma Heaven and asked to incline his mind towards it. After died and he was born in hell. There are many wrong views and practices in the world. People must have the courage to give up all of them as soon as they know it. It was like the Bodhisatta in this story.

After knowing the useless, unbenefited, harmful consequences of views and practices, we should give up instantly, such as terrorism in the name of religion. What is the best offering and veneration or homage?

The Buddha mentioned two kinds of veneration: āmisa pūja and Dhamma pūja; āmisa pūja – offerings of external objects such as the four requisites, etc. The second is Dhamma pūja – offering with Dhamma, i.e., practicing Dhamma or Dhammānu-dhammappaṭipatti – practise in accordance with the Dhamma. At the time of the Buddha’s total unbinding – mahā-parinibbāna, the heavenly beings were paying homage and offering of heavenly flowers, sandalwood powder, music, etc. The Buddha said that in all of the offerings, Dhamma pūja was the best.

The Buddha taught the Maṅgala Sutta ten verses in groups. The first group of verses, as explained above, had three blessings:

1. not consorting with fools
2. consorting with the wise
3. paying homage to those worthy of homage.

These are very important to fulfill for the other blessings to follow. It can be said fundamentally important. They are connected if we analyze these three blessings. Therefore, we know the skills and wisdom of the Buddha in teachings which were very systematic; hence he was called the teacher of gods and humans.

Only we are consorting with the wise and their teachings by practising them, we will become wise people. And then include in those worthy of homage. The most important point about paying homage is we should not take refuge, worship and veneration to those three unwholesome roots of greed, hatred and delusion. By doing so, we will become rats and cockroaches and disgusted by all. It seems to be people are inclining towards that direction (see all the human problems around the world, pollution and global warming).

revised on 2021-03-16; cited from (posted on 2019-09-12)

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According to the translator— Ven. Uttamo's words, this is strictly for free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma—Dhamma Dāna. You may re-format, reprint, translate, and redistribute this work in any medium.

據英譯者—鄔達摩比丘交待,此譯文僅能免費與大眾結緣,作為法的禮物(Dhamma Dāna)。你可以在任何媒體上重新編製、重印、翻譯和重新發布這部作品。