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Title: Punya  
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Subject: Ayodhya, Tattva, Jivdani Mata, Dwadashaakshar, Dhanurmas
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Merit (Sanskrit puṇya, Pāli puñña) is a concept in Buddhism/Hinduism. It is that which accumulates as a result of good deeds, acts, or thoughts and which carries over to throughout the life or the subsequent incarnations. Such merit contributes to a person's growth towards spiritual liberation. Merit can be gained in a number of ways. In addition, according to the Mahayana Sutra of The Great Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, one can "transfer" 1/7 merit of an act they have performed to a deceased loved one such as in the Shitro practice in order to diminish the deceased's suffering in their new existence. Pariṇāmanā (Sanskrit) may be rendered as 'transfer of merit' or 'dedication' and involves the transfer of merit as a cause to bring about an effect.

Three bases of merit

The Pali canon identifies three bases of merit (Pali: puññakiriyavatthu). In the Puññakiriyavatthusuttaṃ ("Meritorious actions discourse," AN 8.36 or A 8.4.6),[1] the Buddha identifies these three bases:

In the "Sangiti Sutta" ("Chanting together discourse," DN 33), verse 38, Ven. Sariputta identifies the same triad: dāna, sīla, bhāvanā.[2]

In the Khuddaka Nikaya's Itivuttaka (Iti. 1.22),[3] the three bases are defined as: giving (dānassa), self-mastery (damassa) and refraining (saññamassā).[4] Later in this same sutta, the triad is restated as: giving (dāna), a life of mental calm (sama-cariya)[5] and a mind of good-will (metta-citta).[3]


Buddhist monks earn merit through mindfulness, meditation, chanting and other rituals.

A post-canonical commentary, elaborating on the canonically identified meritorious triad of dana-sila-bhavana (see D.III,218), states that lay devotees can make merit by performing these seven more specific acts:

  1. honoring others (apacayana-maya)
  2. offering service (veyyavacca-maya)
  3. involving others in good deeds (pattidana-maya)
  4. being thankful for others' good deeds (pattanumodana-maya)
  5. listening to Teachings (dhammassavana-maya)
  6. instructing others in the Teachings (dhammadesana-maya)
  7. straightening one's own views in accord with the Teachings (ditthujukamma)[6]


In China, it is believed that merits are quantified in some merit ledgers (功過格) and are able to offset bad karma, such as those in the Jade Record or the Liaofan's four lessons (了凡四訓).[7][8][9][10]

See also



  • Payutto, P.A. (1997, trans. from Thai by Bruce Evans). A Constitution for Living. Buddhadhamma Foundation. Retrieved 2007-11-09 from "Buddhist Scriptures Information Retrieval" (budsir) at
  • Thanissaro, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2001). The Group of Ones §22 (Iti. 1.22). Available on-line at
  • Upalavanna, Sister (n.d.). Anguttara Nikaya 8.4, Dānavaggo: On giving gifts. Retrieved 2007-11-09 from "MettaNet" at The "Puññakiriyavatthusuttaṃ" ("Meritous actions discourse") is identified as sutta 6.
  • Walshe, Maurice O'C. (1995). The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-103-3.

Lay Theravada Practices: For a Fortunate Rebirth

FAITH (Saddhā) GIVING (Dāna) VIRTUE (Sīla) MIND (Bhāvanā) WISDOM (Paññā)

Buddha ·
Dhamma · Sangha

Charity ·

5 Precepts ·
8 Precepts

Metta ·

4 Noble Truths ·
3 Characteristics

Based on: Dighajanu Sutta, Velama Sutta, Dhammika Sutta.

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