Itibhavābhava

Renderings

itibhavābhava: honour and renown

Introduction

Rendering Itibhavābhava

Itibhavābhava is usually rendered in terms of ‘being’ or ‘becoming’ or ‘existence.’ For example:

• Bodhi: We do not think thus about the Blessed One: ‘The recluse Gotama teaches the Dhamma… for the sake of some better state of being.’
itibhavābhavahetu vā samaṇo gotamo dhammaṃ desetī ti (M.2.238).

• Bodhi: I did not go forth from the household life into homelessness… for the sake of becoming this or that.
na itibhavābhavahetu agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajito (A.1.147).

• Norman: That bhikkhu… (who) has gone beyond the state of (being reborn in) such-and-such an existence.
itibhavābhavatañca vītivatto (Sn.v.6).

Saṅgīti Sutta: aspiration for divine rebirth

The idea that bhikkhus might live the religious life for the purpose of some future happy existence is supported by the Saṅgīti Sutta (D.3.239), which says:

• A bhikkhu lives the religious life aspiring to rebirth amongst some group of devas, thinking that through his observances, practices, austerities, and religious life he will become a greater or lesser deva.
Puna ca paraṃ āvuso bhikkhu aññataraṃ devanikāyaṃ paṇidhāya brahmacariyaṃ carati imināhaṃ sīlena vā vatena vā tapena vā brahmacariyena vā devo vā bhavissāmī devaññataro vā ti (D.3.239).

But itibhavābhava more likely involves desire for things of the present life, specifically the desire for honour and renown, because the scriptures unvaryingly place (1) itibhavābhava and (2) honour and renown in corresponding positions beside unvirtuous desires for robe material, almsfood, and abodes.

Itibhavābhava: honour and renown

Although itibhavābhava occurs in the scriptures 48 times, in only 3 cases is there any meaningful context, which are as follows:

1) Taṇhā Sutta

• Craving arises in a bhikkhu on account of robe material, almsfood, abodes, and itibhavābhava.
☸ Cīvarahetu… Piṇḍapātahetu… Senāsanahetu…
Itibhavābhavahetu vā bhikkhuno taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati
(A.2.248).

2) Ādhipateyya Sutta

• It was not for the sake of robe material that I went forth from the household life into the ascetic life, nor almsfood, nor abodes, nor itibhavābhava.
na kho panā’haṃ cīvarahetu… piṇḍapātahetu… senāsanahetu… itibhavābhavahetu agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajito (A.1.147).

3) Kinti Sutta

• We do not think this about the Blessed One: ‘The ascetic Gotama explains his teaching for the sake of robe material, almsfood, abodes, or itibhavābhava.
☸ Na kho no bhante bhagavati evaṃ hoti cīvarahetu vā… piṇḍapātahetu vā… senāsanahetu vā… itibhavābhavahetu vā samaṇo gotamo dhammaṃ deseti tī (M.2.238).

Thus the unvirtuous search for itibhavābhava is always associated with unvirtuous searches for robe material, almsfood, and abodes.

Itibhavābhava corresponds to honour and renown

Unvirtuous searches for gains (e.g. robe material, almsfood, and abodes) are linked in some suttas to sakkārasiloka. For example, the Mātugāma Sutta says a bhikkhu could be more obsessed by gains, honour, and renown than by a woman:

• Even if a woman when one is alone with her might not obsess one’s mind, still gains, honour, and renown might obsess one’s mind.
na tassa bhikkhave mātugāmo eko ekassa cittaṃ pariyādāya tiṭṭhati yassa lābhasakkārasiloko cittaṃ pariyādāya tiṭṭhati (S.2.235)

The Mahāsāropama Sutta warns:

• This religious life does not have gains, honour, and renown as its true benefit.
nayidaṃ brahmacariyaṃ lābhasakkārasilokānisaṃsaṃ (M.1.197).

If one compares these two searches:

1) searches for robe material, almsfood, abodes, and itibhavābhava

2) searches for gains, honour, and renown

Then:

1) robe material, almsfood, and abodes correspond to ‘gains’

2) itibhavābhava corresponds to ‘honour and renown.’

Teaching: Āmisasikkhāpadaṃ

We have seen that the bhikkhus denied that the Buddha explained his teaching for the sake of robe material, almsfood, abodes, or itibhavābhava. Because other suttas cover the same territory in different terms, they shed light on itibhavābhava. For example, the Āmisasikkhāpadaṃ rule says it is an offence for bhikkhus to wrongfully say:

• Elder bhikkhus instruct the bhikkhunīs for the sake of worldly benefits.
Āmisahetu therā bhikkhū bhikkhuniyo ovadantī ti (Vin.4.58).

The Word Analysis defines worldly benefits like this:

• For the sake of worldly benefits means: for the sake of robes, almsfood, abodes, therapeutic requisites, honour, respect, and veneration.
Amisahetu ti cīvarahetu piṇḍapātahetu senāsanahetu gilānapaccayabhesajjaparikkhārehetu sakkārahetu garukārahetu manatahetu vandanahetu pujanahetu.

Similarly, the Udāyī Sutta says one should explain the teaching to others with the thought:

• I will speak step-by-step
Ānupubbīkathaṃ kathessāmīti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo

• I will speak observing a proper method of exposition
Pariyāyadassāvī kathaṃ kathessāmīti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo

• I will speak out of sympathy
Anuddayataṃ paṭicca kathaṃ kathessāmīti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo

• I will speak not for the sake of worldly benefits
Na āmisantaro kathaṃ kathessāmīti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo

• I will speak without hurting myself or others
Attānañca parañca anupahacca kathaṃ kathessāmī ti paresaṃ dhammo desetabbo (A.3.184).

Both the Āmisasikkhāpadaṃ rule and the Udāyī Sutta link teaching to worldly benefits, where worldly benefits is defined in the rule as robes, almsfood, abodes, therapeutic requisites, honour, respect, and veneration. This corresponds to the list of advantages that were not reasons for the Buddha explaining his teaching i.e. robe material, almsfood, abodes, or itibhavābhava. According to these lists, itibhavābhava stands for honour, respect, and veneration.

Illustrations

Illustration: itibhavābhava, honour and renown

Craving arises in a bhikkhu on account of robe material, almsfood, abodes, and honour and renown
☸ Cīvarahetu… Piṇḍapātahetu… Senāsanahetu…
Itibhavābhavahetu vā bhikkhuno taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati
(A.2.248).

Illustration: itibhavābhava, honour and renown

It was not for the sake of robe material that I went forth from the household life into the ascetic life, nor almsfood, nor abodes, nor honour and renown.
na kho panā’haṃ cīvarahetu… piṇḍapātahetu… senāsanahetu… itibhavābhavahetu agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajito (A.1.147).

Illustration: itibhavābhava, honour and renown

We do not think this about the Blessed One: ‘The ascetic Gotama explains his teaching for the sake of robe material, almsfood, abodes, or honour and renown.
☸ Na kho no bhante bhagavati evaṃ hoti cīvarahetu vā… piṇḍapātahetu vā… senāsanahetu vā… itibhavābhavahetu vā samaṇo gotamo dhammaṃ deseti tī (M.2.238).

Illustration: itibhavābhava, honour and renown

He in whom there is no inward anger, and who has transcended (craving for) honour and renown,
Yassantarato na santi kopā itibhavābhavatañca vītivatto (Sn.v.6).

Norman’s translation:

• That bhikkhu in whom there are no angers inwardly, and (who) has gone beyond the state of (being reborn in) such-and-such an existence,.

Illustration: itibhavābhavakathā, talk of honour and renown

I will not talk that kind of talk which is low, vulgar, the way of the common man, ignoble, and unconducive to spiritual well-being… that is to say:
So yāyaṃ kathā hīnā gammā pothujjanikā anariyā anatthasaṃhitā… seyyathīdaṃ

Talk of kings, talk of thieves, talk of great ministers… legends about the world, legends about the sea, talk of honour and renown.
☸ rājakathā corakathā mahāmattakathā… lokakkhāyikā samuddakkhāyikā itibhavābhavakathā iti vā iti evarūpiṃ kathaṃ na kathessāmiti (M.3.113).