AN 9.5 - the meaning of saṅgāha?

Dear forum

AN 9.5 contains the following verse:

And what is the power of inclusiveness?
Katamañca, bhikkhave, saṅgāhabalaṁ?

There are these four ways of being inclusive.
Cattārimāni, bhikkhave, saṅgahavatthūni—

Giving, kindly words, taking care, and equality.
dānaṁ, peyyavajjaṁ, atthacariyā, samānattatā.

The best of gifts is the gift of the teaching.
Etadaggaṁ, bhikkhave, dānānaṁ yadidaṁ dhammadānaṁ.

The best sort of kindly speech is to teach the Dhamma again and again to someone who is engaged and who lends an ear.
Etadaggaṁ, bhikkhave, peyyavajjānaṁ yadidaṁ atthikassa ohitasotassa punappunaṁ dhammaṁ deseti.

The best way of taking care is to encourage, settle, and ground the unfaithful in faith, the unethical in ethics, the stingy in generosity, and the ignorant in wisdom.
Etadaggaṁ, bhikkhave, atthacariyānaṁ yadidaṁ assaddhaṁ saddhāsampadāya samādapeti niveseti patiṭṭhāpeti, dussīlaṁ sīlasampadāya … macchariṁ cāgasampadāya … duppaññaṁ paññāsampadāya samādapeti niveseti patiṭṭhāpeti.

The best kind of equality is the equality of a stream-enterer with another stream-enterer, a once-returner with another once-returner, a non-returner with another non-returner, and a perfected one with another perfected one.
Etadaggaṁ, bhikkhave, samānattatānaṁ yadidaṁ sotāpanno sotāpannassa samānatto, sakadāgāmī sakadāgāmissa samānatto, anāgāmī anāgāmissa samānatto, arahā arahato samānatto.

This is called the power of inclusiveness.
Idaṁ vuccati, bhikkhave, saṅgāhabalaṁ.

These are the four powers.
Imāni kho, bhikkhave, cattāri balāni.

AN 9.5 (Sujato)

The dictionary seems to offer an alternate meaning of saṅgāha to that used by Bhikkhu Sujato, as follows:

PTS Pali English Dictionary


adjective noun

  1. collecting, collection, Mhvs.10, Mhvs.24.
  2. restraining, self-restraint AN.ii.142.

fr. saṁ + grah


Bhikkhu Thanissaro has translated ‘saṅgāha’ here as ‘benevolence’.

And what, monks, is the power of benevolence? There are four ways of benevolence; by gifts, by friendly speech, by helpful acts and by bestowal of equity. This is the best of gifts: the gift of Dhamma. And this is the best of friendly speech: to teach again and again Dhamma to those who wish for it and who listen attentively. And this is the best of helpful acts: to arouse, instil and strengthen faith in the unbeliever; to arouse, instil and strengthen virtue in the immoral; to arouse, instil and strengthen generosity in the niggard; to arouse, instil and strengthen wisdom in the unwise. And this is the best bestowal of equity: if a stream-winner becomes equal to a stream-winner; a once-returner equal to a once-returner; a non-returner equal to a non-returner; and an arahant equal to an arahant. This, monks, is called the power of benevolence.

I currently do not have access Bhikkhu Bodhi’s AN publication therefore do not know his translation of AN 9.5.

If we are able, please kindly more insight into this verse & topic. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Check out this definition from the PED, which seems to have both Ven. Sujato’s and Ven. Thanissaro’s choices listed:


  1. collecting, gathering, accumulation Vin.i.253; Mhvs.35, Mhvs.28.
  2. comprising collection, inclusion, classification Kv.335 sq. (˚kathā) cp. Kvu. translation 388 sq.; Vism.191, Vism.368 (eka˚); -ṁ gacchati to be comprised, included, or classified Snp-a.7, Snp-a.24, Snp-a.291
  3. inclusion, i.e. constitution of consciousness, phase Mil.40.
  4. recension, collection of the Scriptures Mhvs.4, Mhvs.61; Mhvs.5, Mhvs.95; Mhvs.38, Mhvs.44; DN-a.i.131.
  5. (applied) kind disposition, kindliness, sympathy, friendliness, help assistance, protection, favour DN.iii.245; Snp verse 262, Snp verse 263; AN.i.92; Ja.i.86 sq.; Ja.iii.471;; DN-a.i.318; Vv-a.63 Vv-a.64; Pv-a.196 (˚ṁ karoti). The 4 saṅgaha-vatthūni or objects (characteristics) of sympathy are: dāna, peyyavajja atthacariyā, samānattatā, or liberality, kindly speech, a life of usefulness (Rh. D. at Dial. iii.145 sagacious conduct; 223: justice), impartiality (? better as state of equality, i.e. sensus communis or feeling of common good). The BSk. equivalents (as sangrahavastūni) are dāna, priyavākya, tathārthacaryā, samānasukha-duḥkatā Mvu.i.3; and d., p., arthakriyā samānārthatā (= samāna + artha + tā) Lal.30 Cp. Divy.95, Divy.124, Divy.264. The P. refs. are DN.iii.152, DN.iii.232; AN.ii.32, AN.ii.248; AN.iv.219, AN.iv.364; Ja.v.330; Snp-a.236, Snp-a.240. See also Kern, Toevoegselen ii.67 s. v.

fr. saṁ + grah

Ven. Bodhi has this translation:

And what is the power of sustaining a favorable relationship? There are these four means of sustaining a favorable relationship: giving, endearing speech, beneficent conduct, and impartiality.


OK. Thank you Christopher. The above is saṅgaha vs saṅgāha.

Do you know where is the term ‘saṅgaha-vatthūni’ from? Thanks :slightly_smiling_face:

vatthu : (nt.) a site; ground; field; plot; object; a thing; a substance; a story.


I think it would be coming from definitions 3 or 4 below:

Vatthu Vatthu1 (nt.) [Class. Sk. vastu, fr. vas1 ] lit. “ground,” hence 1. (lit.) object, real thing, property, thing, substance (cp. vatthu2!) A ii.209 (khetta˚, where khetta in lit. sense, cp. No. 2). Here belongs the defn of kāma as twofold: vatthu – kāma and kilesa – kāma , or desire for realities, objective kāma, and desire as property of stained character, i. e. subjective kāma, e. g. Nd1 1; SnA 99, 112; DhsA 62. — On vatthụ as general philos. term cp. Dhs. trsl n 2§§ 455, 679, 1229, also introd. p. 86; Cpd. 15, 31, 1741. — 2. (appld meaning) object, item Vin i.121 (antima – vatthuŋ ajjhāpannaka guilty of an extreme offence?); v.138 (the 10 āghāta – vatthūni, as at Vbh 86); D iii.252 (seven niddesa˚), 255 (eight kusīta˚), 258 (eight dāna˚); S ii.41, 56 sq.; Vbh 71 (cakkhu˚ etc.), 306 sq., 353; Nett 114 (ten); SnA 172; DhA iv.2 (akkosa˚); PvA 8, 20 (dāna˚), 26 (left out in id. p. KhA 209), 29, 65 (alabbhaneyya˚), 96 (id.), 119, 121 (iṭṭha˚), 177, 220. Cp. ˚bhūta. — 3. occasion for, reason, ground A ii.158 (+khetta [in fig. sense!], āyatana & adhikaraṇa); iv.334; D i.13 sq. (aṭṭhādasahi vatthūhi etc.); J ii.5 (avatthumhi chandaŋ mâkari do not set your heart on what is unreasonable); vatthunā (instr.) because PvA 118; vatthuto (abl.) on account of PvA 241. — 4. basis, foundation, seat, (objective) substratum, substance, element J i.146 (kāyo paridevānaŋ v.); VbhA 404 (+ārammaṇa). See most of the cpds. — 5. subjectmatter, subject, story, account SnA 4; DhA ii.66; PvA 77, 92, 263, 269. Cp. ˚gāthā & titles like Petavatthu, Vimānavatthu.

Vatthu seems like one of those words that has a very broad application and often a more abstract meaning.

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OK. Thanks. Its actually in AN 9.5. I was being muddle-headed. :upside_down_face:

And what is the power of inclusiveness?
Katamañca, bhikkhave, saṅgāhabalaṁ?

There are these four ways of being inclusive.
Cattārimāni, bhikkhave, saṅgahavatthūni

Giving, kindly words, taking care, and equality.
dānaṁ, peyyavajjaṁ, atthacariyā, samānattatā

AN 9.5

This returns us to the original question about the meaning of saṅgāha/saṅgaha.

Thanissaro has got the first three correct with the reference to dhamma, and Bikkhu Bodhi the last with impartiality. This tallies with the statement sometimes used by the Buddha to conclude suttas:

“Whatever a teacher should do — seeking the welfare of his disciples, out of sympathy for them — that have I done for you. Over there are the roots of trees; over there, empty dwellings. Practice jhana, monks. Don’t be heedless. Don’t later fall into regret. This is our message to you.”—MN 19

The last part indicates individual striving and rules out inclusiveness.

The suttas seem to offer context:

Mendicants, these six warm-hearted qualities make for fondness and respect, conducing to inclusion, harmony, and unity, without quarreling.

Chayime, bhikkhave, dhammā sāraṇīyā piyakaraṇā garukaraṇā saṅgahāya avivādāya sāmaggiyā ekībhāvāya saṁvattanti.

AN 6.12

Giving and kindly words,
Dānañca peyyavajjañca,
taking care here,
atthacariyā ca yā idha;
and equality in worldly conditions,
Samānattatā ca dhammesu,
in each case as they deserve.
tattha tattha yathārahaṁ;
These ways of being inclusive in the world
Ete kho saṅgahā loke,
are like a moving chariot’s linchpin.
rathassāṇīva yāyato.

If there were no such ways of being inclusive,
Ete ca saṅgahā nāssu,
neither mother nor father
na mātā puttakāraṇā;
would be respected and honored
Labhetha mānaṁ pūjaṁ vā,
for what they’ve done for their children.
pitā vā puttakāraṇā.

But since these ways of being inclusive do exist,
Yasmā ca saṅgahā ete,
the astute do regard them well,
samavekkhanti paṇḍitā;
so they achieve greatness
Tasmā mahattaṁ papponti,
and are praised.”
pāsaṁsā ca bhavanti te”ti.

AN 4.31

“There are these two kinds of inclusion.
“Dveme, bhikkhave, saṅgahā.
What two?
Katame dve?
Inclusion in material things and inclusion in the teaching.
Āmisasaṅgaho ca dhammasaṅgaho ca.
These are the two kinds of inclusion.
Ime kho, bhikkhave, dve saṅgahā.
The better of these two kinds of inclusion is inclusion in the teaching.”
Etadaggaṁ, bhikkhave, imesaṁ dvinnaṁ saṅgahānaṁ yadidaṁ dhammasaṅgaho”ti.

AN 2.141–150 — Mahāsaṅgīti Tipiṭaka Buddhavasse 2500

In the same way, all skillful qualities can be included in the four noble truths.

evameva kho, āvuso, ye keci kusalā dhammā sabbete catūsu ariyasaccesu saṅgahaṁ gacchanti.

MN 28

Caring for mother and father,
Mātāpitu upaṭṭhānaṁ,
kindness to children and partners,
puttadārassa saṅgaho;
and unstressful work:
Anākulā ca kammantā,
this is the highest blessing.
etaṁ maṅgalamuttamaṁ.

Snp 2.4

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