The King who did not eat without offering meal to Sangha.
During a reign of 24 years. The king Dutthagamani constructed religious stupas such as Maha Ceti of 120 cubits high with steeples and nine spires roofed with bronze plates, ninety nine monasteries, etc. Over 1049 crores in cash were donated but the jewels decorated in those buildings were uncountable.
Many Charitable Deeds Not Remembered
I would like to say here that king Dutthagamani was very afraid to face death because he did not remember the charitable deeds he had performed. He cried remembering on the past. The only object of his memory was his best and intimate friend, the worrier, Abhaya.
He entertained such a thought: -
"The rebel Damilha and his followers fought bravely against me, but now since they realize that they will be defeated beforehand, they will not fight against me again".
In fact, he remembered nothing helpful!
You should notice here that we are all likely to forget the importance of self-reliance when we encounter hardships.
Nevertheless, the Maha Thera Abhaya saw this situation by the power of his Divine Ear, and he came to the King and stayed at the head of his bed. The King, as he thought about his friends, supplicated to the Maha Thera Abhaya.
A Good Choice
The Thera taught the king how changeable and transitory the conditioned things were and comforted him. He explained how to meditate on the nature of mentality and materiality, and how to develop Bhavana. But the king could not follow the lecture. As soon as the Maha Thera noticed his weak-point, he changed his teaching method:-
"Oh Noble King! You've done so many meritorious deeds in this samsara; Recollect all these one after another repeatedly and choose one which pleased you most. Then, recollect only that repeatedly. A little bit of charity can make you reach to the higher realm; there is no need to speak of your numerous meritorious deeds!"
According to the Maha Thera's instruction, the king made his registrar recount the list of his charitable deeds, in his presence. The registrar cited all the items of the lists to the king, including bronze monastery of 30 crores, the cost of Maha Ceti, 99 monasteries and others but the king did not seem to be pleased with his great donations.
The registrar continued to recount the list of lesser worth. One item of little amount fully satisfied him and he showed his satisfaction with gleeful words.
The item that satisfied the king was:- While he was wandering about in a dense mountainous forest during the war between two brothers, he donated a Maha Thera all he had to eat, and also at the time of food scarcity he sold his royal ear-rings and served Five Maha Theras with poor alms-food.
In short, the king Dutthagamani, though he had unaccountable meritorious deeds, died with the thought-process including towards those acts of merit and went up to the abode of Tavatimsa. This is the example of being able to reach higher realms only with the mind of charity in dying moment."
From: "Learning how to die"
by Sayadaw U Uttamasara
With metta / Antony.