What is a *vossakamma*?

In DN10:1.28.2 (and elsewhere) there is a list of wrong ways to earn a living which includes

santikammaṁ paṇidhikammaṁ bhūtakammaṁ bhūrikammaṁ vassakammaṁ vossakammaṁ vatthukammaṁ vatthuparikammaṁ …

translated by Bhante @sujato as:

rites for propitiation, for granting wishes, for ghosts, for the earth, for rain, for property settlement, and for preparing and consecrating house sites …

Bhante, could you please explain why vossakamma is translated as “property settlement”? In the dictionary I find “making impotent” for vossakamma, and I can’t see how to reconcile this with “property settlement”. :thinking:

Could the combination of vassakamma and vossakamma perhaps mean something like “making rites for fertility or infertility”?


This is a traditional Indian ritual also known as ‘Bhumi Puja’ in Hindi.
It’s a kind of pre-groundbreaking consecration ceremony. It is commonly thought by traditional Hindus that before a piece of land is fit to be used, it’s kammic associations with previous users need to be purified and possible current deities or spirits who might be resident need to be propitiated. A similar puja can also be done before occupation of a previously constructed property. Hence the term ‘property settlement’ as used by Bhante seems appropriate.


Thank you very much, faujidoc1! It’s always very interesting to learn about such rituals from first hand sources. So in this case the dictionary entry seems rather a bit misleading … :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


The ritual itself is a sort of primitive mixture of land survey, site planning, fumigation, nature worship and exorcism, carried out by the priests who represent the intelligentsia.

Cleaning of Site: The first step for performing the pooja is to clean the site. Also, one must clean the dirt and get rid of all trash holes from the area.
Digging a pit: Secondly, one must dig a pit in the north-east direction of the construction site.
Direction: Thirdly, the owner should sit facing East at the time of performing the pooja.
Idols: One should place the idols of Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi and other deities that one worships on a clean platform.
Coconut: Then one places the coconut used in the pooja covered with red cloth in the ground. Also, silver idols of Naag and Naagin are placed inside the ground.
Lime: After the pooja 5 limes are placed in the 4 corners and in the centre of the site and crushed.
Pooja: The main ritual is the Ganesh pooja which marks the beginning of any auspicious work. Then a havan takes place.
The other major rituals include Devi pooja, taking a Sankalpa, shatkarma, pran pratishtha and Manglik dravya sthapana.

The dictionary entry of ‘making impotent’ refers to the aspect of making the previous bad kammic associations impotent. Bhante’s translation is referring to the aspect of settling the negative vibes/ site planning. So though both are correct, the overall significance is lost in translation, unless one knows something of the culture. :smiley:


Lol, only in India!

But thanks for the explanation! Property settlement is a complex business, because land always has former owners. And they might not think of themselves as “former” …


You are right to raise this question, as in the western cultural context, it means:

“A property settlement is an arrangement made between parties to divide assets , liabilities and financial resources when a couple separate. A property settlement can be made with or without the court’s assistance.”—Internet