At the city of Sāvatthī…
One day a big sacrifice had been set up by King Pasenadi. Five hundred bulls, five hundred cows who had given birth, five hundred cows that have not given birth, five hundred goats, and five hundred rams had been tied to the pillars to be used for the sacrifice. His servants, employees, and workers were doing their jobs at the site of the sacrifice under the threat of punishment, weeping with tearful faces.
Then several monks wore their robes in the morning, took their bowls and double-layered robes, and entered the city of Sāvatthī for alms. Then, after the meal, when they returned from the alms round, they went up to the Buddha, bowed respectfully, sat down to one side, and told him about the sacrifice which was about to begin.
Then, knowing the wrong doing of the king, on that occasion, the Buddha recited these verses:
“Horse sacrifice, human sacrifice,
the sacrifices of the ‘sammapasa’,
the ‘vajapeyya’, and the ‘niraggala’1—
these huge violent sacrifices yield no great fruit.
“The enlightened ones of good conduct
don’t attend sacrifices
where goats, sheep, and cattle
and various creatures are killed.
“But the enlightened ones of good conduct
do attend non-violent sacrifices
of generous families who offer food to them,
where goats, sheep, and cattle,
and various creatures aren’t killed.
“A wise person should perform such sacrifices
since those sacrifices are very beneficial for the givers.
Those givers will receive great results,
they will never receive harmful results.
Such sacrifices are truly praised
and even the deities are pleased.”