The role and importance of Dana (giving) and Punya (merit)


The role and importance of Dana (giving)

  • Dana can be translated as generosity and is used to refer to any act that is performed with an unselfish attitude and a positive view of giving.
    • Relationship between the monks and the laypeople (sangha).
  • Perfect giving is an expression of infinite compassion which forms a basis for further moral and spiritual development. 
  • the key focus of giving is the monastic sangha which relies on the leity for such items like food, robes, medicine and accomodation, as the monks and nuns are teaching the leity they are returning a much greater gift which is the gift of 'The Dharma' which excells all gifts.
  • this helps to build a relationship between the sangha and the leity as the leity gives to the sangha they are then gaining good merit which helps with the reduction of karma.
  • genorosity is not only practised towards the Sangha, but is a key aspect of the Buddhist societies. 
  • initially with the act of giving it is initially for generating 'merit' this becomes more abundant as the motive becomes purer, the joy and contentment that giving brings is then likely to provide the motive of giving not to be seen as a way of getting something back.\
  • giving is the first of the Bodhisattva's perfections.
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The role and importance of Punya (merit)

  • Gaining merit is often seen as a means of gathering credit for one's self in order to justify some sort of personal reward.
  • 'Merit is a popular term for karmically whole some actions.' -Nyanatiloka
  • The best way to generate punya is to perform one's deeds within the sangha


  • Bodhisattva's can transfer their merit to help others, for example a Bodhisattva when it has reached the 10th stage has unlimited amount of merit to give to other people, they can also help people to escape karma.


  • Transferring merit in Theravada is seen as a better alternative to mourning this has become a common practice throughout Theravada countries.

The whole Point of Punya is selflessness, which leads to write intention of Dana, and how laypeople give as an offering rather than giving to get something back. Being selfless creates good karma.

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significance of Dana with its relationship with pu

  • As dana means giving, every time some gives merit should be attained however merit is only apparent if giving is out of choice rather than the idea that we give because its what we have to do to gain something, like merit to avoid Karma.
  • Another relationship link is that Dana effects the monastic sangha as the leity are providing offerings to help Buddhists and monks to carry on the deeds they are doing, this builds up merit as merit is the outcome of right giving.

Dana is significant: links to Karma and Re-birth, wholesome action, relationship building, Bodhisattva development, generousity, interdependence.

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import... of Dana and Punya in comparison to other

  • Other teachings that could be seen as more important:
    • Middle path,as it is one of the first teachings by the Buddha, helps to reach enlightenment
    • 10 Perfections in Mahayana Buddhism
    • 3 Lakshanas, anicca helps to overcome greed as your quantity of wisdom is increased.
    • Meditation- Brahms the idea of loving others no matter what they are of what they do.
  • Important:
    • important as a cmbination to reduce karma
    • reduces the idea that people shouldnt soley concentrate on themselves and concentrate on helping others who are more in need. 
    • Dana helps with the realisation that things in life are impermanent which means that by giving things to others then there is less chance that a person would become attached to their possessions.

Intro example:

Whilst giving is significant within Buddhism it is also important to recognse other significant teachings within Buddhism which could be argued as more significant that Dana and Punya.

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