Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Ways How the Other Religious People Understood the Buddha


The Buddha was born in an educationally advanced society; there were many Brahmin teachers who were well versed in the Vedic knowledge and in science affiliated to Vedic knowledge as grammar, history, linguistic etc. On the other hand there were spiritually advanced people in both Brahmana and Sramana traditions. Some of they were very famous meditation teachers, they had attained trances and higher knowledges uncommon to many other contemporaries, each and everybody had their own way of religious theories and practices and according to Buddhist discourses there were sixty-two religions other than Buddhism.

When the Buddha was born in this society there were different responses to Him from His non-Buddhist contemporaries some criticized Him, some others wanted to debate with Him, some never met Him but sent the disciples to have arguments with Him. There were some other who agreed the Buddha’s theory and came to listen to Him and many of them became disciples of the Buddha. Here some of the ideas expresses by those non-Buddhist contemporaries are examined in order to see how they understood the Buddha.

One ascetic who often had meetings with the Buddha was Vacchagotta. Once he visited the Buddha and informed that he has heard of the Buddha as teacher who is omniscient, knowing everything and has knowledge and conduct of vision in full, He is with that omniscient always whether walking, studying, sleeping or awake.

ßutaM metaM bhante samaNo gotamo sabbaJJu sabbadassAvi aparissaJANadassanaM patijAnAti. Carato ca sutassa ca jAragaassa ca satataM samitaM JANadassanam paccupaTThitaM.”
                                                                                      (aggivacchagottasutta, MN)

In response to Vacchagotta, the Buddha says what he heard was not true, impossible and it is an over statement (abbhAcikkhana), further the Buddha adds of course He has three fold knowledges (tivijja) they are as:
1.      PubbenivAsAnussati JANa– the knowledge of remembrance of the past births
2.      ∂ibbacakkhu JANa – the knowledge of divine eye 
3.      Āsavakkhaya JANa – the knowledge of the complete destruction of the defilements and nothing more than that.

 He says “if the omniscient is present in Him always He would not be able to live normal, for example, while walking if He sees everything He cannot see the road properly and ants, insects, smallest creatures etc that are on the road”.

 This shows how the Buddha was known among others and He did not want to declare what is not present in Him.

On another day Vacchagotta met the Buddha and put the classical ten unanswered questions to Him, the Buddha did not answer and Buddha was silent further Vacchagotta asked whether there is any different view if He is not an Eternalist or Nihilist. The Buddha said I have no such view what I declare is the arising and the ceasing of aggregates and the freedom from it being free from self view and grasping, responding to answer of the Buddha Vacchagotta said, “whatever pleasing I had on Buddha from first talk even that disappeared now (yApi me esA bhoto gotamassa purimena kathAsallApena ahu pasAdamattA sApi me antarahitA).” In the Aggivacchagottasutta of MN.

Then the Buddha said “you are good for not knowing and not to be misguided (alaM hire vaccha aJJANAya sammohAya).” Next the Buddha explained arising and ceasing of suffering with the simile of fire then he was pleasant again and became one of the lay devotees of the Buddha.

The µahAsakuludAyIsutta of MN records observance of other religious people on the Buddha’s silent and calm behaviour. One day the Buddha was walking towards the monastery of ascetic Sakuludāyī, when he and his retinue saw the Buddha from the monastery Sakuludāyī said the following to others.

åppasaddA bhonto hontu. mA bhonto saddamakattha. ayaM samaNo Gotamo agacchati appasaddakAmA kho pana so AyasmA appasaddavaNNavAdI. appevanAma appasaddaM parisaM viditvA upasaNkamitabbaM maJJeyyati.

=O friends! Be silent. O friends! Don’t make sound. Here comes recluse Gautama, who likes silence, indeed, He is One who praises silence. It would be better that He would know and should come having known the silence of the gathering.”
According to this sutta, the Buddha was well known among some other religious man as a teacher who prefers silence.

Sākuludāyi went on explaining five factors why he is pleasant about the Buddha.

1.  åppAhAro appAhAratAya vaNNavAdI – One who is moderate in food, one who praises of moderation in food.
2.  îtarItara cIvara santuTThiyA (viharati) – (He lives) being contended with received robes.
3.  îtarItara piNDapAta santuTThiyA (viharati) – (He lives) contended with received alms.
4.  îtarItara senAsana santuTThiyA (viharati) – (He lives) contended with lodgings.
5.  Pavivitto vivekassa ca vaNNavAdi – Stays alone, praises solitude.

In the Buddha’s response to them the Buddha said that although He has these qualities He is not an extremist in them. For example He says although Sakuludayi says Buddha is in solitude Buddha reminds him that there are times when Buddha is among communities.

Lectured on 06.06.2005

Many Brahmins in the contemporary society were unhappy about the Buddha for they considered them to be of high castes. Therefore, whenever well known or famous Brahmin wanted to meet the Buddha the others prevented him.

µA bhavaM CaGki bhagavantaM GotamaM dassanAya upasaGkami. na arahati bhavaM CaGki samaNaM GotamaM dassanAya upasaGkamitaM samaNotveva Gotamo arahati bhagavantaM CaGkim dassanAya upasaGkamituM.
                                                          (Cankisutta, MN)
=O good CaGki! Don’t approach to recluse Gautama, it’s not worthy for you to visit recluse Gautama. Recluse Gautama is worthy to visit you.”

When the Buddha was criticizing the caste system of Brahmins the Brahmins decided to answer to the criticisms of the Buddha for that they selected the young Brahmin Assalayana to meet the Buddha and answer the criticisms made by the Buddha but Assalayana rejected meeting the Buddha with the following verse.

ßamaNo khalu bho Gotamo dhammavAdI. dhammavAdino ca pana duppatimantiyA bhavanti. nAhaM sakkhomi samaNena Gotamena saddhiM patimantituM.
                                                  (assalAyatanasutta, MN)
=Indeed, recluse Gautama is an expounder of truth. Expounders of truth indeed are difficult to reply in discussion. I am unable to reply in discussion with Gautama.”

A number of discourses both in the ∂ighanikAya and µajjhimanikAya record some qualities of the Buddha because of what Brahmins leaders decided to go to see the Buddha.

1.   Recluse Gautama is well born both from mother and father (samaNo Gotamo ubhato sujAto mAtito ca pitito ca).
2.   Recluse Gautama ordained having given up much golden silver both opened and hidden (samaNo Gotamo pahUtaM hiraJJaM suvaNNaM pahAya pabbajito bhUmigataJca vehAsagataJca).
3.   Recluse Gautama ordained in young age (samaNo Gotamo paThamena vayasA agArasmA anagAriyaM pabbajito).
4.   Recluse Gautama ordained having shaved hair and beard when the unlike parents were crying with tearful face (samaNo Gotamo akAmakAnaM mAtapitunnaM rudantaM assumukhAnaM kesamassuM ohAya pabbajito).
5.   Recluse Gautama is endowed with attractive appearance, pleasant and makes eager to see (samaNo Gotamo pAsAdiko dassanIyo paramAya).
6.   Recluse Gautama is endowed with noble and wholesome virtue (samaNo Gotamo ariyasIlI, kusalasIlI).
7.   Recluse Gautama is endowed with good speech, speaks clearly and convincing (samaNo Gotamo kalyANavAkkaraNo anegalatAya vissaTThAya vAcaM bhAsati).
8.   Recluse Gautama is the teacher of many (samaNo Gotamo bahunnaM Acariya pAcariyo).
9.   Recluse Gautama has given up desires for sensual pleasures and free from restlessness (samaNo Gotamo vigata kAmarAgo, vigata cApallo).
10. Recluse Gautama is an expounder of ethical action and result oriented (samaNo Gotamo kammavAdI kiriyavAdI).
11. Recluse Gautama is ordained from a pure khattiya family (samaNo Gotamo amissA khattiyakula pabbajito).
12. Recluse Gautama is ordained from a rich family (samaNo Gotamo aDDhAkulA pabbajito).
13. Many wise men come to question Buddha from various colonies (tiro raTThA tiro janapadA Agacchanti bhagavantaM pucchituM).
14. Many Gods took refuge in the Buddha until the end of life (bahU devA bhagavantaM hotamaM panehi saraNaM gatA).
15. Recluse Gautama’s fame arose as He is Blessed One, Worthy One and Fully Enlightened One (kittsaddo abbhuggato bhagavA, arahaM sammA sambuddho).
16. Recluse Gautama is endowed with thirty-two characteristics of a great man (samaNo Gotamo dvattiMsa mahApurisalakkhanehi samannAgato).
17. King Bimbisara took refuge in Recluse Gautama with his family (ßeniyo BimbisAro saputto sabhariyo bhagavantaM gotamaM panehi saraNaM gato).
18. King Kosala took refuge in Recluse Gautama with his wife and children (®AjA Pasenadi Kosalo saputto sabhariyo bhagavantaM gotamaM panehi saraNaM gato).
19. Pokkarasati took refuge in Recluse Gautama with wife and children (BrAhmaNo PokkarasAti saputto sabhariyo bhagavantaM gotamaM panehi saraNaM gato).

The on going record with some more detail is found in many suttas of the ßīlakkhandavagga of DN and in BrahmaNavagga of MN. It shows how contemporary Brahmins understood and expressed the social and spiritual personality of the Buddha.

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...