The Pali term "sapadānacāra» means "circulating without skipping any house», that is to say proceeding from house to house, while refraining from crossing one without stopping.
"dāna» = "fact to cross houses (in another context, this term means "donation")»; "apadāna" = "not to skip houses"; "sapadāna" = "all houses, one after another, without skipping any"
The bhikkhu who cultivates the habit of collecting his food while stopping in front of every house, without skipping any, is therefore called "dhutaṅga". When this practice is conveniently done, with diligence and steadiness, with the determination of not breaking it, we say that there is "sapadānacārikaṅga" (a state of mind related to the food collection without skipping any house).
Noble beings constantly train into developing mettā towards all beings, whatever/whoever they may, without choosing. Moved by a similar state of mind, a noble bhikkhu will accept the food offered in front of every house found on his way, without choosing. There could be houses where a bhikkhu likes to proceed collecting his food, and others that he prefers to avoid. When a bhikkhu practises the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga, he is spared from doing all these selections that contribute in increasing but lobha and dosa. He also accepts, with a pure state of mind, the food from each house found on his way, without having to think over this point. We consider that the state of mind of the dhutaṅga does prevail when the bhikkhu who collects his food doesn't choose the social position of his donors, when he doesn't choose houses, when he doesn't choose that which is of low, middle or high ranged quality, and when he stops in front of each house found on his way.
The bhikkhu who adopts this dhutaṅga stops in front of all houses found on his way, even in front of those where it is likely that nobody will give him anything whatsoever. The bhikkhu can stop in front of the houses of a street, only if he stopped in front of all houses of the street where he finds himself. He can choose the street where to proceed to, but must stop in front of all houses found on his way from his vihāra onward. As soon as he obtains his food in sufficient quantity, he stops his collection round. As soon as he already retraced his steps, the bhikkhu can accept the food that people come to bring him, but he mustn't stop anywhere whatsoever.
Each practitioner of the dhutaṅgas is free the adopt the determinations he wishes to. Thus, a few bhikkhus attribute at first to themselves a maximum number of houses (in front of which they daily stop) and they stick to them. That is to say when this number of houses is reached, the bhikkhu returns to his vihāra, even if he hasn't obtained sufficient food.
For adopting this dhutaṅga, it is convenient to pronounce the following sentence whether in Pali, whether in the language of one's choice...
«loluppacāraṃ paṭikkhipāmi, sapadānacārikaṅgaṃ samādhiyāmi.»
«I renounce to collect my food out of attachment, I will train into collecting my food while stopping in front of each house without skipping any.»
According to restrictions, there do exist three kinds of practitioners of the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga:
The bhikkhu who is a noble practitioner of the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga doesn't accept any food offered by someone coming in advance out of a house in front of which he hasn't passed yet, offered by someone coming late out of a house in front of which he has already passed, or offered by stay-inn (or a shop, etc.). He only accepts food offered by someone coming out of a house in front of which he is stopping.
A bhikkhu who is a noble practitioner of this dhutaṅga can also accept food offered while giving his bowl to the person who, coming out of the house in front of which he stopped, wishes to offer him some food. Indeed, the renown mahāthera Mahā Kassapa, who is unequalled in the field of the practice of the 13 dhutaṅgas, once gave his bowl to the king Sakka, so that the later easily pours food into it.
The bhikkhu who is an intermediate practitioner of the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga can accept any food offered by someone coming in advance out of a house in front of which he hasn't passed yet, offered by someone coming late out of a house in front of which he has already passed, offered by someone coming out of a house in front of which he is stopping, or offered by stay-inn (or a shop, etc.). On the other hand, he won't go waiting in front of the house of a dāyaka who invited him to do so the very same day, hoping to get some food from him.
The bhikkhu who is an ordinary practitioner of the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga can go waiting in front of the house of a dāyaka who invited him to do so the very same day, hoping to get some food from him.
By practising the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga, we can benefit with the following advantages...
Remark: the practice of a dhutaṅga alone enables one to understand its advantages.
From the moment when a bhikkhu, who practises the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga, skips a single village, a street or a house, in the hope of obtaining some tastier food or food in larger quantity, he breaks his dhutaṅga.
A bhikkhu who practises the dhutaṅgas should leave early morning for his daily food collection, as if he comes across a danger at a spot, he will have sufficient time to proceed elsewhere for getting his meal.
At the entrance spot of a village, the bhikkhu must pay attention to the surrounding by watching if there are not elephants, horses, buffaloes, cows, etc. If he glimpses something likely to be (to him or to the donors who go out of their house) a source of danger, in a street (or in a village), he proceed to another street (or village).
If the bhikkhu doesn't obtain anything in this village, in a street or a house, he must remind himself of it and not proceed ever more back to it/them.
If he obtains something in a village, in a street or a house, even in very little quantity, he mustn't cross it next time he passes in front of it.
It is absolutely inconvenient for a bhikkhu, who is a practitioner of the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga, to accept an invitation for a meal. However, such a bhikkhu will be entitled to accept that a donor takes his bowl for going to pour food into it and comes back to him, gives him back his bowl, thus offers him food. He can accept food offered in this way from anybody who comes close to him, even if that person comes from a spot that is not on his way of even if the bhikkhu is on the return way. In such cases, the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga will not be broken.
A bhikkhu who practises the sapadānacārika dhutaṅga must not accept food that is specially prepared for the saṃgha.
It is not convenient for a bhikkhu to enter a village, to which he frequently proceeds, to rejoice from the food he guesses he will be offered. He only collects food from houses to houses, without hoping anything whatsoever.
Buddha held the dhutaṅga sapadānacārika in great esteem, as a practice likely to eradicate greed for food and to give rise to feeling of compassion towards all donors. Owing to the great esteem he had for this practice, he adopted it himself, when he went collecting his food in Kapilavatthu, without skipping any house.
The bhikkhu who practises this dhutaṅga doesn't see any defect in any spot. His mind is always pure and serene. He cannot harbour any feeling of hatred towards other bhikkhus. Being cautious about not missing any house, he naturally develops a great feeling of vigilance.
Origin: Book in Burmese language
Author: Monk Devinda
Translator: Monk Dhamma Sāmi
Date of translation: 2004, January
Update: 2005, June the 18th