The Best Sacrifice

I came across the Kutadanta Sutta (on ‘a bloodless sacrifice’), which records how the Buddha taught about the superior and ultimate spiritual sacrifice not being that of any sentient being’s life, but the sacrifice (giving up) of one’s defilements. As the sutta is quite long, I summarised the second half of it into prose form, as below. The ending is wonderful, where the Brahmin Kuntadanta became a follower of the Buddha, and thereupon liberated some 3,500 animals who were initially prepared for going under the knife, to be sacrificed as offerings to the ‘gods’. This I think, could be the first case of mass animal liberation in the Buddha’s time.

Kutadanta asked the Buddha if there is any sacrifice
that is more fruitful than that of animals and other items.
The Buddha answered that
presenting regular family gifts are to virtuous spiritual practitioners is so.

Kutadanta asked the Buddha if there is any sacrifice
that is more fruitful than the above.
The Buddha answered that
providing shelter for the Sangha is so.

Kutadanta asked the Buddha is there is any sacrifice
that is more fruitful than the above.
The Buddha answered that
taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is so.

Kutadanta asked the Buddha is there is any sacrifice
that is more fruitful than the above.
The Buddha answered that
observing the Five Precepts* is so.

Kutadanta asked the Buddha is there is any sacrifice
that is more fruitful than the above.
The Buddha answered that
practising and perfecting the Threefold Training** is so.

The Buddha remarked that
there is nothing further in this world,
that is a sacrifice that is more fruitful than all the others.
Beyond that is no sacrifice that is greater or more perfect.

Kutadanta then took refuge in the Buddha,
setting free the 700 bulls, 700 bullocks, 700 heifers, 700 goats and 700 rams,
granting them life with green grass and refreshing water,
letting cool breezes play upon them.

* of refraining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and taking of intoxicants
** of moral conduct, meditative concentration and realisation of wisdom to end spiritual corruptions and suffering

Related Article:
Two Ways to End Animal Sacrifice
http://moonpointer.com/new/2009/11/two-ways-to-end-animal-sacrifice