Violence And Disruption In Society:
A Study Of The Early Buddhist Texts
- DN Digha Nikaya
- MN Majjhima Nikaya
- SN Samyutta Nikaya
- AN Anguttara Nikaya
- Dhp Dhammapada
- Snp Sutta Nipata
Textual references have been taken from the Pali Text Society's editions of the Nikayas. Unless specified otherwise, English translations have been taken from the PTS versions, though some have been slightly altered.
1. Utilitarianism is a philosophy which claims that the ultimate end of action should be the creation of human happiness. Actions should be judged according to whether they promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number. The most important exponent of this philosophy was the nineteenth century British thinker John Stuart Mill. One of the weaknesses of utilitarianism is that it can be used to justify the violation of minority rights.
2. Reference may be made to many texts which stress that encouraging others to do harm is blameworthy. AN ii,215, for instance, speaks of the unworthy man and the more unworthy man, the latter being one who encourages others to do harmful actions such as killing living beings.
3. MN 95/ii,167.
4. The Kosala Samyutta (Samyutta Nikaya, vol. 1) records the conversations which this king had with the Buddha. The examples mentioned have been taken from this section.
5. SN i,97.
6. MN 13/i,86-87.
7. MN 13/i,87.
8. SN iv,343.
9. In several suttas, the Buddha comes across groups of wanderers engaged in heated discussions about kings, robbers, armies, etc. (e.g. DN iii,37; MN ii,1). In contrast, the Buddha advised his disciples either to maintain noble silence or to speak about the Dhamma.
10. See Romila Thapar, A History of India (Pelican Books UK, 1966), chapter 3.
11. SN i,75.
12. MN 36/i,227ff.
13. MN 12/i,68ff.
14. At the end of the Buddha's description of his austerities in the Mahasaccaka Sutta he says: "And some recluses and brahmins are now experiencing feelings that are acute, painful, sharp, severe; but this is paramount, nor is there worse than this. But I, by this severe austerity, do not reach states of further men, the excellent knowledge and vision befitting the Ariyans. Could there be another way to awakening?" (MN i,246).
15. The Mahasakuludayi Sutta (MN 77/ii,1ff.) reflects contemporary realities when a town plays hosts to various groups of wanderers.
16. DN 25/iii,38.
17. DN 8/i,162.
18. Trevor Ling, The Buddha -- Buddhist Civilisation in India and Ceylon (Penquin Books UK, 1973).
19. See Esukari Sutta, MN 96.
20. SN iv,330ff.
21. DN 31.
22. Reference can be made to the following:
(a) AN i,188ff. The Buddha's advice to the Kalamas.
(b) AN ii,167ff. The Buddha advises the monks to scrutinize closely anything said to have from his mouth.
(c) Canki Sutta: MN 95/ii,170-71. The Buddha says that belief, reasoning and personal preference are not guarantees of truth.
(d) Vimamsaka Sutta: MN 47. The Buddha urges his disciples to examine his own conduct before deciding whether he is an Enlightened One, and to investigate empirical evidence rather than accept things through blind faith.
23. The following texts provide fuller discussions about paticca samuppada:
(a) Sammaditthi Sutta: MN 9.
(b) Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta: MN 38.
(c) Mahanidana Sutta: DN 15.
24. MN 99/ii,197.
25. MN 96/ii,177ff.
26. AN ii,42.
27. Reference may be made to the following:
(a) Assalayana Sutta: MN 93.
(b) Madhura Sutta: MN 84.
(c) AN ii,84. Here, four types of people are mentioned, two of whom are bound for light and two of whom are bound for darkness. Deeds, not birth, is the criterion for the divisions between the two sets.
28. For instance, the Kutadanta Sutta and the Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta, to be discussed below.
29. The Mahadukkhakkhandha Sutta (MN 13) is an example.
30. SN i,100ff.
31. Therigatha vv. 105-6 (Sona).
32. MN 61/i,415-16.
33. MN 8/i,44-45.
34. AN ii,191.
35. Metta and karuna, as two of the brahmaviharas, are mentioned at DN i,250-51, MN i,38, etc.
36. AN i,51.
37. MN 135/iii,303.
38. MN 129/iii,169-70. A similar approach is adopted in the Devaduta Sutta: MN 130/iii,178ff.
39. The Petavatthu is one of the books of the Khuddaka Nikaya. It contains 51 stories in four chapters, all concerning the petas, a class of ghost-like beings who have fallen from the human plane because of misdeeds done.
40. DN 26/iii,61.
41. DN 16/iii,72ff.
42. SN i,82.
43. SN i,83.
44. SN i,101.
45. SN iv,308.
46. AN ii,121ff.
47. Snp. vv. 935-38. Translation by H. Saddhatissa (Curzon Press, 1985).
48. DN 5/i,135.
49. DN 26/iii,61.
50. DN iii,73.
51. AN ii,74.
52. DN 27/iii,85.
53. DN iii,92.
54. MN 2/i,7. The description of the puthujjana is a stock passage recurring throughout the Canon.
55. See SN iv,195.
56. AN ii,211.
57. MN 18/i,109-10.
58. Bhikkhu Nanananda, Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1971).
59. MN 18/i,111-12.
60. Concept and Reality, p.6.
61. Immanuel Kant, 1724-1804. His major work, The Critique of Pure Reason, studies the place of a priori ideas in the formation of concepts and examines the role of reason and speculative metaphysics.
62. AN i,188; AN ii,190.
63. DN 1. See e.g. DN i,16: "In the fourth case, monks, some recluse or brahmin is addicted to logic and reasoning. He gives utterance to the following conclusion of his own, beaten out by his argumentations and based on his sophistry...."
64. MN 74/i,497.
65. Snp. 824-34; Snp. 862-77.
66. AN ii,173ff. The Buddha here quotes three views which result in inaction:
(i) that all feelings are due to previous kamma;
(ii)that all feelings are due to a supreme deity;
(iii) that all feelings are without cause or condition.
67. MN 105/ii,253.
68. MN 110/iii,21-22.
69. MN 125/iii,129-30.
70. MN 86/ii,98ff.
71. DN 26/iii,73.
72. A stock passage found in many suttas (e.g. MN 51/i,344) extols the homeless life as the only way "to fare the holy life completely fulfilled, completely purified, polished like a conch shell."
73. Dantabhumi Sutta: MN 125/iii,128ff.
74. DN 11/i,211.
75. DN 16/ii,104.
76. MN 51/i,340.
77. Body, feelings, thoughts and mental objects are the four foundations of mindfulness (see DN 22, MN 10).
78. MN 27/i,181, and elsewhere.
79. This point is developed in Trevor Ling, The Buddha.
80. MN 21/i,129.
81. MN 145/iii,269.
82. Respectively MN 65, MN 21, MN 70, MN 15.
83. The Mahasakuludayi Sutta (MN 77) and the Dhammacetiya Sutta (MN 89) describe the impact which the general concord of the Buddha's followers had respectively on groups of wanderers at Rajagaha and on King Pasenadi.
84. AN ii,100.
85. Respectively MN 93, DN 27, MN 84.
86. MN 96.
87. DN 31/iii,181.
88. Respectively DN 1, DN 3, DN 11.
89. DN 5.
90. MN 41/i,287.
91. MN 41/i,288.
92. DN 2/i,71 and elsewhere.
93. See AN ii,71. A monk dies of snakebite, and the Buddha declares that if he had suffused the four royal families of snakes with a heart of metta, he would not have died. A story in the Cullavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka relates how the Buddha's envious cousin, Devadatta, tried to kill him by releasing a notoriously ferocious elephant called Nalagiri at him in the streets of Rajagaha. The Buddha is said to have subdued it by exercising metta and karuna, so that the elephant lowered its trunk and stopped before the Buddha. Hiuen-Tsang refers to a stupa at the place where this is said to have happened.
94. Vimanavatthu, No. 15.
95. MN 78/ii,24.
96. MN 78/ii,29. Source :
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