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Anumodana

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[see Appendix A9 for the Pali]


This is one of those words which it is very difficult to translate into English. It means literally "rejoicing with or after" but implies "asking beings to rejoice in the good kamma which one has made and so benefit themselves." It is often translated "blessing" but this gives the wrong picture, as one is inviting other beings to rejoice at what one has done; one is not invoking some blessing of another power upon them.

The person who is inviting others to rejoice does not actually "share his merits," although this expression is often seen. How can merits (a poor translation of puñña which means all kinds of actions which cleanse and purify the mind of the doer) be shared indeed? As puñña is good kamma, one should remember "I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma..." so how can it be "shared" with others? Good kamma or puñña is not like a cake which can be cut up into pieces and handed round! What one does is not "sharing" but dedicating one's puñña to other beings (either to particular beings who are suffering, such as parents, relatives, friends, etc.; or generally to all beings (see below), "infinite, immeasurable"). And these beings to whom one dedicates kamma may be either living this life or else reborn in other states. In dedicating it to them one asks them to rejoice ("By rejoicing in this cause, this gift of puñña given by me...") and when they do so they also make good kamma which is the direct cause of their happiness ("a happy life and free from hate...and their good wishes all succeed"). The "Path Secure" mentioned in the verses below is the attainment of Stream-entry when a person has seen Nibbana for the first time, known the Truth of Dhamma for himself and is no longer liable to fall into low, subhuman births.

These verses are part of a longer Pali composition by King Mahamongkut (Rama IV) of Siam, possibly written while he was still a prince and bhikkhu holding the position of Abbot of Wat Bovoranives in Bangkok.

May the puñña made by me,
now or at some other time,
be shared among all beings here --
infinite, immeasurable,
By rejoicing in this cause,
this gift of puñña given by me,
may beings all forever live
a happy life and free from hate,
and may they find the Path Secure
and their good wishes all succeed!
Having finished this recitation one should stay quiet with a heart full of loving-kindness for all beings just for a short while. Then to conclude the service one again makes the prostration with five limbs three times.
Revised: Sun 3 October 1999
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/bps/wheels/wheel206/anumodana.html