The king performs merit in the name of his ancestors reborn as petas (hungry ghosts); the peta rejoice in the act and receive a share of the merit

In Picture 43 we see King Bimbisara pouring consecrating water from a jar onto the Buddha's hand. The pouring of water by King Bimbisara in this picture is called in Thai the "kruat nam" ceremony, or in Pali "uddisodaka, meaning "pouring water and offering." It is a custom practiced when offering something that is big and cannot be physically lifted and placed into the hands of the recipient, such as land or a monastery.

King Bimbisara's pouring of water depicted here is called "daksinodaka," meaning "pouring water and offering in the name of the dead." It is also used when offering something to someone else, but the difference here is that the thing being offered is invisible, being merit or skillfulness, and the receivers of the offering are also invisible, being departed beings. This ceremony is still popularly used when making merit in Thailand.

The subject of the picture is the second great act of merit on behalf of King Bimbisara. When the King made his first offering he failed to dedicate the merits to his departed ancestors. The Pathamasambodhi states that, as a result, on that night the petas who had been relatives or ancestors of the king wailed in protest throughout the palace, and some of them even appeared to the King.

According to the Dhammapada stories, these petas, when they were human beings, had been corrupt. They had used belongings offered to the Sangha for themselves. After their deaths they had been reborn as petas and had been waiting on the merit that King Bimbisara would offer them. Being disappointed on that account, they made their protest.

King Bimbisara went to see the Buddha the next morning and asked him the reason for the sounds and visitations he had heard and seen. Hearing the Buddha's explanation, he made a royal act of merit, offering food and robes for the Buddha and the Order of monks on the next day. After making the offering, he performed the ceremony of pouring water, intoning, "idam no natinam hotu," meaning "May the wholesomeness and results of the good action I am performing today go to my relatives." Thus all of those petas received the wholesomeness and merit of his action and were relieved of the suffering they were at that time experiencing.

The words idam no natinam hotu have become the official words for dedicating an offering to the departed in Thailand up to this very day.
 

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