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Vaṇijja Suttaṃ

(A.ii.81)

Trading

79. Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One, having approached, paid homage, and having paid homage, sat down at one side. Sitting there at one side, the Venerable Sāriputta said to the Blessed One: “What is the cause, venerable sir, what is the reason, that a business started by one person ends in failure, the same business started by another person profits less than expected, that started by another profits as expected, and that started by another profits more than expected?”

“Here, Sāriputta, one person, having approached a recluse or a priest and invites him: ‘Tell me, venerable sir, what requisites you need.’ He does not give what he offered. Having deceased from there and returned here, whatever business he starts ends in failure.

“Here, Sāriputta, one person, having approached a recluse or a priest and invites him: ‘Tell me, venerable sir, what requisites you need.’ He gives less than what he offered. Having deceased from there and returned here, whatever business he starts profits less than expected.

“Here, Sāriputta, one person, having approached a recluse or a priest and invites him: ‘Tell me, venerable sir, what requisites you need.’ He gives what he offered. Having deceased from there and returned here, whatever business he starts profits as expected.

“Here, Sāriputta, one person, having approached a recluse or a priest and invites him: ‘Tell me, venerable sir, what requisites you need.’ He gives more than he offered. Having deceased from there and returned here, whatever business he starts profits more than expected.

“This, Sāriputta, is the cause, this is the reason why a business started by one person ends in failure, the same business started by another person profits less than expected, that started by another profits as expected, and that started by another profits more than expected.”

Vaṇijjā Suttaṃ

(A.iii.208)

Businesses

177. “These five businesses, monks, should not be engaged in by a lay disciple. What five? Business in weapons (satthavaṇijjā), business in living beings (sattavaṇijjā), business in flesh (maṃsavaṇijjā), business in intoxicants (majjavaṇijjā), business in poisons (visavaṇijjā). These five businesses, monks, should not be engaged in by a lay disciple.”

Vaṇijjāsuttavaṇṇanā

(AA.iii.303)

Commentary on the Vaṇijjā Sutta

Business (vaṇijjā) means trading as a means of livelihood (vāṇijakammāni).¹ By a lay disciple (upāsakenā) means by one who has taken the three refuges (tisaraṇagatena). Business in weapons (satthavaṇijjā) means having made weapons (āvudhabhaṇḍaṃ kāretvā), he sells them (vikkayo). Business in living beings (sattavaṇijjā) ² means selling human beings (manussavikkayo). Business in flesh (maṃsavaṇijjā) means having raised pigs (sūkara), deer and so forth (migādayo), he sells them. Business in intoxicants (majjavaṇijjā) ³ means having made whatever kind (yaṃ kiñci) of intoxicants (majjaṃ), he sells them. Business in poisons (visavaṇijjā) ⁴ means having made poisons (visaṃ kāretvā), he sells them. Thus one should neither engage in any of these businesses oneself (neva attanā kātuṃ), nor urge others to engage in them (na pare samādapetvā kāretuṃ).⁵

Notes:

1. Making a livelihood by buying and selling, or by making and selling.

2. The Commentary specifies trading in human beings (for slavery, prostitution, or trafficking), so we can infer that trading in other living beings such as for work, e.g. horses, oxen, guard dogs, or as pets is not unsuitable. Trading living beings for their meat (or fur) is covered by trading in flesh.

3. Both fermented and distilled intoxicants are included. By the words “yaṃ kiñci” and by using the four great standards, recreational drugs are included.

4. Whatever toxins are designed to kill living beings, whether human beings, vermin, or insects.

5. Neither is it proper to condone it or speak in praise of it.