Chapter XII - ATTA VAGGA - The Self



Attanam eva pathamam patirupe nivesaye
Ath' annam anusaseyya na kilisseyya pandito.

Let one first establish oneself in what is proper, and then instruct others. Such a wise man will not bedefiled.[158]

XII:02 The greedy monk (Upananda)

Venerable Upananda was a very eloquent preacher. He used to preach to others not to be greedy and to have only a few wants and he would talk eloquently on the merits of contentment and frugality (appicchata) and austere practices (dhutangas). However, he did not practise what he taught and took for himself all the robes and other requisites that were given by devotees.

On one occasion, Upananda went to a village monastery just before the vassa. Some young bhikkhus, being impressed by his eloquence, asked him to spend the vassa in their monastery. He asked them how many robes each bhikkhu usually received as donation for the vassa in their monastery and they told him that they usually received one robe each. He did not want to stay there, but he left his slippers in that monastery. At the next monastery, he learned that the bhikkhus usually received two robes each for the vassa. There he left his staff. At the next monastery, the bhikkhus received three robes each as donation for the vassa. There he left his water bottle. Finally, he decided to spend the vassa at the monastery where each bhikkhu received four robes. At the end of the vassa, he claimed his share of robes as if he had observed the vassa in the monasteries where he had left his personal effects. Then he collected all the gifts and returned to his old monastery. On his way, he met two young bhikkhus who were having a dispute over the share of two robes and a valuable velvet blanket which they had between them. Since they could not come to an amicable settlement, they asked Upananda to arbitrate. Upananda gave one robe each to them and took the valuable velvet blanket for having acted as the arbitrator.

The two young bhikkhus were not satisfied with the decision although they could do nothing about it. With a feeling of dissatisfaction and dejection, they reported the matter to the Buddha who commented, 'One who teaches others should first teach himself and act as he has preached.'


  1. Will not be blamed by others.