Transference of Merits to the Departed

pohtiongho By pohtiongho, 15th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

This is a description of how the Buddhists help their departed relatives etc.

Transference of merits to the Departed

Transference of Merits to the Departed Relatives

There are four classes of Petas, and only those from Paradattupa-jivi can remember their living relatives and see what they are doing. Only this class of Petas can receive and share in the merits when offerings are made on their behalf. All classes of Petas do not have fixed life span. Their life span varies according to their individual kamma. The ones with plenty good kamma may remain as Petas for only a few days, and those with very evil kamma can remain for an aeon or even longer.

During this transference, when the dana is performed, it is primarily for the benefit of the departed relatives and the benefit of the donors is of secondary importance. During this transference it is absolutely essential that the departed relatives should appreciate and rejoice at the dana in order to get immediate benefits. When they rejoice and have sufficient virtue in them, their reserves of good kamma will ripen, those offerings immediately changed into celestial clothes, ornaments, abodes etc instantly. So it is really the ripening of their own wholesome kamma that they can automatically become heavenly beings. Samsara is so long it is impossible for the peta-world to be devoid of our relatives. Moreover, the donor will benefit by his offering of dana and thus strengthening the merit he has already accumulated.

Since these departed relatives are reborn as petas, they cannot wait for future benefits because they are obviously in a state of incessant suffering, with pain, lack of food and clothing. The Buddha confirmed that it was because of envy and jealousy that people were reborn as petas.

The transference of merits to the departed relatives was expounded by the Buddha because King Bimbissara’s relatives who were reborn as petas, had waited at his palace expecting him to share with them the merits of his offering to the Buddha. King Bimbissara didn’t do it because he did not know about this matter. These petas surrounded his palce that night and made a dreadful noise. The following morning, after consulted the Buddha about the incident, he prepared a great dana on their behalf. When these petas received their drinking water, food, clothing, and seats, their ghostly forms immediately disappeared and they instantly gained the forms of celestial beings, with celestial mansions and vehicles for their use.

Three conditions must be fulfilled for their transference of merits to the departed to be affective.

1) The donor must make the offering expressly for the departed one’s sake, saying: “Be this a gift to my departed relative SO & SO. May he/she be happy”.
2) The departed relatives who is now a peta must actually appreciate and rejoice at the offering performed for him/her sake. He or she must possess wholesome joy at that moment.
3) The recipient of the offering must be virtuous, i.e. he or she must be qualified to receive the merits.

There were cases of petas who were not able to receive because they were not ready to attain the heavenly abodes.


Buddha, Departed Relatives, Kamma, Offerings, Paradattupa-Jivi, Petas, Samsara

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author avatar pohtiongho
I have been writing short stories, poems and articles during the past 20 years.
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