Water, Water, Everywhere

The Buddhist virtue of generosity (dana) or sharing (caga) are well-known. That food is the main thing given is also well-known and a well-established custom. However, the Buddha often spoke of giving things other than food and giving to recipients other than the Sangha. One of these gifts that receives little attention and which could perhaps be re-emphasised is the giving of water. In a land such as India in ancient times, where summers could be witheringly hot, where distances between one village and the next could be long, and where most travel was done on foot, the availability of water was not just a convenience, it could be a matter of life-and-death. The Tipitaka, the Buddhist scriptures, contains a dozen or so passages about travellers running out of water while on the road, of people dying of thirst in the wilderness and of anxiety about not having enough to drink when away from home.



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