Dhamma Letter No. 27

What is Dana?


Dana means giving (gift). It is the first of the ten parami (perfections for ultimate happiness).

Dana is to give generously. Dana can be offered in the form of heartfelt greetings, kind behavior, comforting words, and visible and invisible good deeds enacted physically, verbally, or mentally


The following are passages from Majjima Nikaya 142:

Fourteen Individual Givings

Ānanda, there are these fourteen gifts to individuals. What fourteen? 

  1. One gives a gift to the Supreme Buddha.

  2. One gives a gift to a Private Buddha.

  3. One gives a gift to an Arahant.

  4. One gives a gift to someone practicing the way to the realization of the fruit of arahantship. 

  5. One gives a gift to a non-returner.

  6. One gives a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of non-return.

  7. One gives a gift to a once-returner.

  8. One gives a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of once-return.

  9. One gives a gift to a stream-enterer.

  10. One gives a gift to someone practicing to the fruit of stream-entry.

  11. One gives a gift to one outside the Buddha’s path who is free of desire for sense pleasures.

  12. One gives a gift to a virtuous ordinary person.

  13. One gives a gift to an immoral ordinary person.

  14. One gives a gift to an animal.

Returns on a Gift to an Individual

Now, Ānanda, gifts to the following individuals may be expected to yield the following returns. 

“Giving a gift to an animal, yields a return a hundred times over.

Giving a gift to an unvirtuous ordinary person, yields a return a thousand times over.

Giving a gift to a virtuous ordinary person, yields a return a hundred thousand times over (100,000).

Giving a gift to an outsider free of desire for sense pleasures, yields a return a trillion times over (1,000,000,000,000).

But giving a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of stream-entry yields incalculable, immeasurable returns. How much more so giving a gift to a stream-enterer? How much more so giving a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of once-return? How much more so giving a gift to a once-returner? How much more so giving a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of non-return? How much more so giving a gift to a non-returner? How much more so giving a gift to someone practicing to realize the fruit of arahantship? How much more so giving a gift to an arahant? How much more so giving a gift to a Private Buddha?

How much more so giving a gift to the Supreme Buddha?

Seven Gifts to the Sangha

One gives a gift to the 

  1. communities of both monks and nuns headed by the Buddha.

  2. communities of both monks and nuns after the Supreme Buddha has attained final Nibbāna.

  3. community of monks.

  4. community of nuns. 

  5. Appoint this many monks and nuns for me from the community.

  6. Appoint this many monks for me from the community.

  7. Appoint this many nuns for me from the community.

Therefore, Ānanda, I say that there is no way a gift given to an individual can be more fruitful than giving a gift to the Saṅgha.


The existence of the sangha, which maintains and carries forth the Dhamma is essential.

Therefore, Dhammadana is the highest dana according to Buddha. This is given via Dhamma talks, direct teachings of Dhamma, writing Dhamma letters, donating Dhamma books, supporting Dhamma practice and distributions, etc.

May you cultivate Dana (giving perfection) during life and be happy yourself!

May you accumulate your perfections through dhamma practice! 

May you be secured in this life and afterlife through Dana!

With Metta,

Ayyā Kosallā & Mahāpajāpatī Bhikkhunī Sangha
Edited by Max Montgomery 


We have begun translating the English version of The Dhamma Letter to Korean. Please click here for the Korean version.

한국어로 담마레터를 읽고 싶으신 분은 여기를 클릭 해주세요.


If you have any questions related to dhamma, please feel free to ask. You can reach Ayya Kosalla directly at bhikkhuni.kosalla@gmail.com. We will answer your questions and include them in future Dhamma Letters.


Bhikkuni Kosalla Vipassini is the Abbess of Mahapajapati Monastery in Pioneertown, California. For monastery updates, please see Mahapajapati’s Facebook. Donations are gratefully accepted, whether you volunteer your time, offer funds, or provide needed requisites for the monastics. If you are inspired to donate, you may do so here.


Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu! 
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!

​Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!  
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!

Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !


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