Translation of bhogaṃ in MN 82

In MN 82, SC33.7 bhogaṃ is translated as “wealth”. But this doesn’t make sense to me in the context of “decay of relatives”. Rather, the loss of enjoyment (from associating with friends and relatives) would seem to be the logical consequence from the dwindling away of friends and relatives. The dictionary (hover) gives “enjoyment” as an alternative meaning for bhogaṃ. Would a translation to “enjoyment” be justified in this passage?

1 Like

But also see the definition in SC 32.1 - 32.7. Here someone is mahaddhano mahābhogo and then it dwindles away. Doesn’t it make more sense to see bhoga in this context as wealth?

According to Monier Williams in the Sanskrit epics bhoga can, next to joy and wealth, also vaguely mean ‘any object of enjoyment’ - I would add in this context ‘… money can buy’.

Certainly in 32.1-32.7, where he appears to be talking about the dwindling of wealth directly, then “It’s not easy for me to acquire more wealth or to increase the wealth I’ve already acquired.” seems to fit right in.

It would take a fairly money-grubbing mindset to see the main drawback to dwindling away of relatives and friends to be a lessened ability to acquire wealth. Then again, this is a king speaking so perhaps that fits. He would certainly not be the first or last governmental leader to have that mindset.

I agree that it’s incongruous, however bhoga consistently means “wealth” throughout the sutta.

In such cases, it is very common that there is an underlying textual corruption, and so our first recourse should not be to ethical or psychological explanations, but to comparative studies.

In Comparative Study of the Majjhima Nikaya, vol 1, pp 462–3, Ven Analayo comments on this point:

According to the Majjhima-nikāya account, in all four instances the rationale for going forth is that the person in question feels no longer able to acquire wealth or else to increase the wealth that has already been acquired. The Madhyama-āgama version and the Tibetan Bhaisajyavastu account, however, do not mention the problem of acquiring or increasing wealth. One of the individual translations envisages this problem only for the case of old age, while the other individual translation relates the problem of acquiring and protecting wealth to the case of being old, being ill, or being without relatives. The same version, however, makes a point of not bringing in the need to protect wealth in its examination of the case when someone is poor. Instead, this individual translation indicates that someone who is poor and has difficulties earning his livelihood will go forth in order to support himself by begging.

Thus there is considerable variation on this particular detail in the texts and there no need to assume that the version found in Pali is the original.