Why did Bhikkhus Fan the Buddha?

In the Nikayas we read in multiple Suttas about bhikkhus fanning the Buddha as his personal attendant. Why did they do it? Why did the Buddha need to be fanned?

I would assume out of a want to venerate the Buddha. The Buddha himself probably didn’t care if he was fanned or not, but that is extrapolating as to the ‘mind’ of the Buddha. IMO.

1 Like

Maybe to ward off mosquitoes, flies, or the heat? North India in summer can be very hot!

I can recall witnessing in the countryside of Thailand that whenever monks are invited to chant at the funeral of one of a recently deceased villager lay people always make sure to get electric fans placed towards the monks, as well some bottles of cold water.

1 Like

But why? Hayving reached the Nibbana, the Buddha didn’t have to care about the mosquitoes and heat anymore. Did they also fan other monks? Or elderly monks? Could an elderly monk be fanned even though more junior than an younger one?

I mean, the practical purpose of fanning is pretty obvious, it’s unclear what would be the doctrinal explanation.

It was for a real functional and practical purpose: the Buddha was the best resource for the propagation of the most valuable info., the Dhamma. Hence it was for the interest of the disciples, not the Buddha, to fan Him to make sure He wouldn’t get bitten by disease-spreading mosquitoes or fell sick due to heat-exhaustion, etc. Sort of like all of us nowadays having to make sure our computer wont get overheat, not because the PC needs care, but WE NEED it to gain access to valuable knowledge and information.


Did they fan all arahants? Are there any quotes on the matter?

Sorry but I don’t understand the link you are making between awakening and not feeling anymore hot or not seeing a problem in someome keeping mosquitoes or flyes away from your eye, noose, mouth or ears when you are teaching or talking to an audience.

Additionally, mind that it seems that Jains have preserved to date a similar custom of fanning someone they consider a saint. You can see it in the video below, you may fast forward to the point in which the Jain monk is about to die:

P.S.: the video above depicts the Jain practice if spiritual suicide, aka sallekhana. Mind that this is in no way something EBTs endorse as a valid practice and pvery much likely is one of the extremes the Buddha had to give up to find the middle way of the noble eightfold path.

Interestingly there’s an EBT, MN8, in which the Buddha plays with the word sallekha and teaches what are the valid practices from the perspective of the Dhamma, it contains a very concise list of principles applicable to both lay and contemplative disciples.

1 Like

Damn! That was almost too intense for me… I’m a little freaked out I have to admit.


You have to contrast theses with Buddha eating horse food for three months.
This shows that Buddha was a normal man.
As Santa said the most important thing to consider here is his teaching.

Did Buddha enjoy a luxury life?

1 Like

seriously! It doesn’t help that they are all naked


Right! I was alone just hanging out when I first watched it and it had me all messed up for a few minutes! I wasn’t expecting to watch someone choose to slowly die today. I guess I know I’m still terrified of dying! I was like “oh sallekhana, I have no idea what that is but this is just a post about fanning so it can’t be that crazy.” I was so wrong…lol

1 Like

If you look up processionals done by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church you will see them with large ceremonial umbrellas shading their priests. I suspect it is a the same matter. People want to treat those they respect and go to for refuge well.

If the Buddha thought the fanning was an issue, he certainly would have said. Perhaps we lost that saying, but even so, it strikes me as fine. It is good to venerate the Buddha. At the risk of a severe reprimand for the hubris of posting Buddhavacana in an attempt to substantiate myself:

Then the Venerable Ananda said: “How should we act, Lord, respecting the body of the Tathagata?”

“Do not hinder yourselves, Ananda, to honor the body of the Tathagata. Rather you should strive, Ananda, and be zealous on your own behalf, for your own good. Unflinchingly, ardently, and resolutely you should apply yourselves to your own good. For there are, Ananda, wise nobles, wise brahmans, and wise householders who are devoted to the Tathagata, and it is they who will render the honor to the body of the Tathagata.”

(DN 16, 5, 24)

***a note about that citation, it is DN 16, part 5, verse 24. Is there a clearer way to cite this?

In relation to the above, is fanning the Buddha the same thing as rendering honour to the body of the Tathāgata? How does the Tathagata’s parinirvāṇa change the honour rendered to the body of the Tathāgata?

Clearly it was fine before parinirvāṇa for monks to render honour to the body of the Tathāgata.


Yes, there’s!
Select the paragraph in question and the option of copying a specific link to that will show up.

Sorry I will try to add a disclaimer to the original post. Mind that this is possibly very close to the sort of austerity the Bodhisatta tried before rediscovering the middle way, if he indeed tried it.


Haha no it’s totally cool man, it was pretty funny, I wasn’t expecting that at all.

1 Like

Maybe it was because they loved him.

I imagine the Buddha was the most loving, gentle, soft, compassionate, understanding, humble person anyone could hope to meet. Not to mention inspiring, helpful and healing in the best ways possible. I think if I was hanging out with someone like that, I’d want to do all I could for him, if not out of love, out of gratitude.

1 Like

Because the Bhikkhūnīs aren’t allowed to :tongue:


:tulip: :grin: :blossom: :rofl: :sunflower: :joy: :hibiscus:


It’s interesting that the Buddha forbids the action which lead up to the problem (standing next to and fanning) rather than the striking! (Maybe that is covered elsewhere). He is focusing on preventing the problem rather than taking action afterwards. :slightly_smiling_face:

With metta