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Support and patronage from the different royal houses and lay followers played a vital role to the growth of the Sangha , its missionary activities and the successful spread of Buddhism. The Lord Buddha Gotama, Himself, realized the importance of such support and patronage for the success of His mission.
- He donated his pleasure garden, Veluvana to the Buddha so that members of Sangha could have a more settled life and be protected from wild beasts. Lay people could go there to listen to the dhamma. Buddha spent 6 rainy retreats There.
- He built a storeyed house and provided attendants to see to the maintenance of the house.
- He appointed his personal physician, Jivaka, to attend to the medical needs of the Buddha and the Sangha.
- He encouraged his family members, royal officers and subjects to listen to the dhamma and to practice them in their daily lives.
- He also helped the Buddha to formulate several important rules for members of the Sangha. They were not to ordain those who were in royal service as future leaders might not be sympathetic towards Buddhism. He also suggested holding Uposatha Days like the followers of other religions.
King Pajjota of Avanti
King Udena of Vatsa
- Chief alms giver and famous for his generous support of the Buddha and the Sangha.
- He purchased a park from Prince Jeta and built the famous Jetavana monastery. Buddha spent 19 rainy retreats there and the monastery became the focal point of Buddhism.
- He supplied the Sangha with all the necessities.
- Several monks went daily to his home for the noon meals.
- Even when he was in poverty and was without much funds, he still continued to provide food for the monks.
- 2 of his daughters attained Stream Entry whilst another attained the stage of Once Returner.
- His son showed no interest at first but enticed by his father, he first kept the Uposatha Day and later went to the monastery to listen to the sermon. He attained Stream Entry and followed his father’s generous donation.
- Foremost amongst Buddha’s female lay donors.
- She was generous and helpful to the community of monks.
- She was responsible for the construction and donation of a monastery called the Pubbarama to the Sangha.
- She requested the Buddha to grant her 8 wishes which the Buddha did. They were:
- To offer bathing clothes to the monks.
- To offer meals to resident monks.
- To offer meals to visiting monks.
- To provide food for sick monks.
- To provide food for those who attend to the sick.
- To provide medicine for the sick.
- To provide gruel to monks.
- To provide bathing garments for nuns.
- She invited the Buddha to her home and her father-in-law attained first stage of sainthood after listening to the Buddha’s sermon. Later her mother-in-law also attained first stage of sainthood.
- Gradually she succeeded in converting her husband’s household to a Buddhist one.