Monday, 28 March 2011

Pre-Buddhist Concept of Pabbajja


It is well that before the Buddha there was a tradition of ordination in JambudIpa. When we study the biography of the Buddha we come across much information of the people who had renounced their worldly lives, practicing some forms of morals and attained superabundance knowledge and power. The ascetic KAladevala who came to see the infant Siddhartha had attained five higher knowledge (paJcabhiJJA) and eight spiritual attainments (aTThasamapatti). The five ascetics, ĀlArakAlama and Uddaka the son of RAma were the other examples of ordained people who are related to the life of the Buddha. It was discussed that SramaNa tradition arose in response to the Brahmanic priests who were interrelated religiousness by birth was venerated by masteries of scriptures and the one who enjoyed unparalleled comforts in the social life. The entire SramaNa tradition consisted of ordained people. Many of them had renounced the worldly lives in search of highest truth and highest good (kiM saccagavesi kiM kusalagavesi)

On the other hand the last saJJAsi  stage of Brahmanic way of life encouraged in spiritual practice to lead a homeless life at least one part of the life. Therefore all the Brahmins were ascetics in the last part of their lives.

In the six century BC the two religious systems BrahmaNa and SramaNa had developed themselves mainly the second as response to the first. The sramaNa tradition had it affinities to the local Ariyan culture while Brahmanism emerges from the Āriyan culture.  The SramaNa tradition mainly developed at the hand of a group of ordained people called paribbAjaka. When the Brahmin admired the household life with the sensual pleasures the SramaNa tradition appreciated the homeless life. When Brahmin looks for the worldly advancement and development with the bliss of the God through sacrifices and prayers those who were in Sramana tradition were active for spiritual advancement through psychological development. The will and wish for psychological development was derived from the ancient culture of the JambudIpa itself. Before the Āriyan invasion there were µunis in Indian culture. Many of them matured philosophical concept originated from the sages with spiritual advancement.

The other ßramaNa group was advanced of philosophy and practice was known by the names ßamaNa, µuni, ParibbAjaka, JaTila, EkasAtaka, åjIvaka, Bhikkhu etc. Instead of homes they lived at the foot of a tree (rukkhamUla), mountain slope (kaNDara), cemetery (susAna), forest (araJJa), mountain (giri), cave (guha), straw heap (palapunaja), open air (abhokAsa). They also did not have static residences. After the completion of the practices many of them wandered practicing and teaching while some group were not wanderers for their whole religious lives.

In PAli suttas religious people are called ßamaNabrAhmaNa in common. The Buddha used this term to call in common to all the religious people. The BrAhmajAlasutta of DN explains different spiritual attainments of samaNabrahmaNas. Many of the wrong religious views emerged from spiritual attainments when they were taken wrongly. Such example shows that pre-

Buddhist religious people had some spiritual development as well. The term pabbajja is formed as follows pa + vaja =to go for better (Skt. Pra +vRj) It also gives the meaning spiritual advancements for worldly progressive in temporary .Spiritual advancement is unshakable. No any other culture in the world gives a similar example of formless spiritual life like in Indian culture. Followings are some characteristics common to all the samaNas in common

1.   Each group represents some form of a religious teaching.
2.   All are leading homeless lives.
3.   Many of then are wanderers.
4.   No family relationship or friendship with out side society.
5.   No permanent residences.
6.   Depend on begged food.
7.   Only the rainy reason is spent in one place.
8.   Propagate the doctrine of their schools wandering individually or in group.
9.   Reject the creation theory of a tall.
10. Reject sacrifice, prayer, caste system, Asrama system and duty system as well.
                  11. Appreciate, encourage developed knowledge (bhAvanAmanapaJJA)        than tradition knowledge (sutamayapaJJA).

They have developed spiritual practices very much, but their knowledge was not advance enough to realize the ñibbAna. The ßusImasutta of SN gives an example of the differences between the paribbajakas and Buddhism. Once a group of Paribbajakas thought that their order could be more developed if they get one of them trained in the Buddhist order of monks. Then they selected a person called SusIma and sent him to the BhikkhusaGgha. He ordained at Ven. Ananda. He who had no a deep understanding of the Buddhist way of  practice, observed monks declaring their worthiness (årahanthood)  to the Buddha and asked them whether they have attained higher  knowledges and attainments. Those Buddhist monks answered that they are worthy ones without those Supra-mundane powers. SusIma would not understand that. Those monks declared “We are freed from developing the wisdom”.

           ĀjaneyyAsi va tvaM Avuso ßusIma navA tvaM AjaneyyAsi atha kho paJJA vimutto mayanti.
                                                                                                                                                                    (SusIma, SN)
= “O friend! SusIma do you know or don’t you know that we are freed from wisdom”.          

To be liberated through wisdom (paJJAvimutti) we need not to develop higher knowledges or trances. Such an arahant can not come to the attainment called ßaJJAvedayitanirodha (the nine trances) which means the cessation of perception and feeling. Although he has the knowledge of destruction of the cankers SusIma was questioning related to these two knowledge (saJJAvedayitanirodha) and (Asavakkhaya) for they are only confined to Buddhism. They are the discoveries of the Buddha and contribution of Buddhism. These factors show that the pre-buddhist sramaNa tradition had prepared the ground for the birth of Buddhism.  

The åcelakakassapasutta of SN records one incident that revealed that unsatisfactoriness of some people with their way of practice. Two friends at the Buddha’s time met each other after thirty (30) years. One was Kassapa who ordained in Acelaka tradition and the other was Citta Gahapati who was a Buddhist. When they met each other after this long period of time Citta questioned his friend Kassapa of his experience of religious life. Kassapa answer was as follow.

îmahi kho, me gahapati tiMsamattehi vassehi natthi keci uttari manussadhamma alamariyaJANa dassana viseso adhigato phAsu vihAro aJJatara naggeyyA ca muNDeyyA ca pAvalA nippolanAya cAti

= “O householder! In this time of about thirty years there is no any supra-mundane doctrine or special knowledge or vision of the noble or comfort achieved for me except nudity, shaven head and sand wiper”.
Then householder Citta said that being a Buddhist for 30 (thirty) years he has already given up five lower fetters of the 10 (Ten) fetters (∂asa saJJAjana)

Dasa SaJJAajana = Ten Fetters


OrambhAgIyA samyojana.    
(Lower or downward fetters)
Attachment to austerities
Desire for sensual pleasure
Desire for forms
UddhambhAgIyA samyojana
(Higher or Upward fetters)
Desire for non-forms

Then Acelakassapa realized the well taught (ßvakhato) teaching of the dhamma and joined the Buddhist order and attained Arahantship.

Although other religious groups had some kind of attainments they were not perfect. According to the ñigaNThasutta of SN it becomes clear that NigaNThanAthaputta had only the first trance. Once he (NigaNTha) questioned the householder Citta that “O householder! Do you accept a trance with initial application and sustained application and a cessation (Vitakka and vicAra) of these two qualities according to the words of the Buddha?
ßaddahasi tvaM Gahapata samaNassa ©otamassa atthi avitakko avicAro SamAdhi atthi vitakka vicArAnaM nirodho

Householder Citta answered that he accepts them not out of faith but with wisdom. He further explains that the wisdom is superior than faith. He does not need faith here for his wisdom knows initial application and sustained application are given up at the second trance. This question of NigaNThanathaputta shows that he had no knowledge of the second trance.

Anyway the interest of pre-buddhist sramaNa trading for spiritual advancement is very important. Because of that enthusiasm an interest the necessary condition for dawn of Buddhism was already there.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Bookmark Digg Bookmark Bookmark Facebook Bookmark Reddit Bookmark StumbleUpon Bookmark Yahoo Bookmark Google Bookmark Technorati Bookmark Twitter Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...