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IX:1 The great offering of a poor brahmin
There was once a brahmin couple in Savatthi, who had only one outer garment between the two of them. As they had only one outer garment, both of them could not go out at the same time. So, the wife would go to the monastery during the day and the husband would go at night. One night, as the brahmin listened to the Buddha, his whole body became to be suffused with delightful satisfaction and he felt a strong desire to offer the outer garment he was wearing to the Buddha. But he realised that if he were to give away the only outer garment he had, there would be none left for him and his wife. So he wavered and hesitated. Thus, the first and second watches of the night passed. Came the third watch and he said to himself, 'If I am hesitant, I will miss the opportunity of ending worldly suffering. I shall now offer my outer garment.' So saying, he placed the piece of cloth at the feet of the Buddha and cried out, 'I have won! I have won!'
King Pasenadi of Kosala, who was in the audience, heard those words and ordered a courtier to investigate. Learning about the brahmin's offering to the Buddha, the king commented that the brahmin had done something which was not easy to do and so should be rewarded. The king ordered his men to give him a piece of cloth as a reward for his faith and generosity. The brahmin offered that piece of cloth also to the Buddha, again the king rewarded him with two pieces of cloth. Again, he offered the two pieces of cloth to the Buddha. Whatever the king gave him (each time doubling the reward) the brahmin offered to the Buddha. When the reward came to thirty-two pieces of cloth, the brahmin kept one piece for himself and another for his wife at the request of the king. He offered the remaining thirty pieces to the Buddha.
Then, the king again commented that the brahmin had truly performed a very difficult task and so must be rewarded fittingly. The king sent a messenger to the palace to bring two pieces of very expensive velvet blanket and gave them to the brahmin. This time the Brahmin made two canopies and offered one to the Buddha and kept the other for his own use. When the king next went to the Jetavana monastery, he saw the velvet canopy and recognised it as the offering made by the brahmin and he was very pleased. This time, he made another reward to him.
When the bhikkhus heard about this, they asked the Buddha, 'How is it that, in the case of this brahmin, a good deed done at present bears fruit immediately?' The Buddha replied, 'If the brahmin had offered his outer garment in the first watch of the night, he would have been rewarded more; since he had made his offering only during the last watch of the night, he was rewarded less. So when one wants to give in charity, one should do so quickly; if one hesitates the reward comes slowly and only sparingly. Also, if one is too slow in doing good deeds, one may not be able to do it at all, for the mind tends to take delight in doing evil.'
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