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Attitudes Towards Animals in Indian Buddhism

Attitudes Towards Animals in Indian Buddhism

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05/26/2013

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published
in
Balbir, Nalini; Pinault, Georges-Jean (eds.)
Penser, dire et representer ['animal dans
Ie
monde ind'-en.
Paris Librairie Honore Champion. ISBN:
97R-2-7453-FKU,IJ
Attitudes Towards Animalsin Indian Buddhism
Lambert
SCHMITHAUSEN
Mudagamuwe
MAITHRIMURTHI
fiP"i1F~uE
PRESENT
paper is largely based on a previous article
1
that waspublished a few years ago but written in German. Though keep-ing most of the substance
of
the earlier article, we have considered it necessary to revise it
by
making a few omissions, additions,modifications and corrections.
Even
so, the paper does not,
of
course,aim to comprehensively treat
of
all aspects
of
the subject "animals" inIndian Buddhism. This would definitely exceed the limits
of
both spaceand time at our disposal. We rather want to concentrate on three
main
aspects (from a
traditional
point
of
view, thus disregarding specificallycontemporary issues as, e.g., animal experiments):
1.
Buddhist animal
ethics-theory
and practice; 2. the position
of
animals
in
the framework
of
the Buddhist analysis and evaluation
of
forms
of
existence;
3.
the position
of
animals in the framework
of
Buddhist soteriology. Byway
of
appendix, we shall add
4.
a few remarks on animal classificationin Indian Buddhism. The first issue will include aspects
of
both theoryand practice: the ethical
norm
(Ll), problems
of
practicability (1.2), howthe norm worked in the everyday life
of
Ceylonese Buddhists (1.3), andhow the norm was backed up theoretically
(1.4).
In most parts
of
thepaper, there is a certain emphasis on the situation in early Buddhism,
1.
Lambert Schmithausen
&
Mudagamuwe Maithrimurthi, "Tier und Mensch im Buddhismus", in Paul Munch (ed.),
Tiere und Menschen. Geschichte eines prekiiren verhiiltnisses.
Paderborn etc.: Ferdinand Schoningh 1998: 179-224. Schmithausen
&
Maithrimurthi 1998.
We
thank the publisher for kindly giving the licence
touse
thisarticle
as
the basis
of
the present one.
We
also wish
to
express our heartfelt thanks
to
Dr Anne Macdonald (Vienna) for taking the trouble
to
correct our English.
 
48
LAMBERT SCHMITHAUSEN
&
MUDAGAMUWE
MAITHRIMURTHI
as
documented by the Sutta-and Vinaya-pitaka, because the positionsdeveloped in this period constitute the basis for the later developments.But we have also tried to adduce later materials as much
as
possible inorder to give an impression
of
these developments as well. Needless to
say,
no attempt to be exhaustive has been made, either in the
paper
itselfor in the documentation. Our aim
is
merely to elaborate some essentialpoints. As an ideal supplement, we recommend to the interested readerthe excellent article by Florin Deleanu: "Buddhist 'Ethology' in the
Pitli
Canon: Between Symbol and Observation", published in
The EasternBuddhist,
32.2 (2000),
pp.
79-127.
1.
Animal ethics
1.1.
The ethical norm
According to Martin Southwold, some
of
the village Buddhists in SriLanka, when asked by him what they were required to
do
as
Buddhists,replied: 'not to kill animals'.
2
This is, to be sure, not the only thing tobe expected of a good Buddhist, but what is important here is that the·informants obviously considered not killing animals an essential andtypical feature
of
Buddhist life, at least in contradistinction to the presumed cultural and religious background
of
the European anthropologistwho had posed the question. This assumption is supported by the factthat, e.g., in the controversy between the Jesuit Matteo Ricci and Chinese Buddhists in the first half
of
the seventeenth century the questionof whether the killing of animals
is
allowed was one
of
the vehementlydebated issues.
3
To
point out that Buddhists do not kill animals would,
of
course, equally serve the purpose of distinguishing Buddhists fromMuslims or Jews. Buddhists,
of
course, share the rejection
of
the killingof animals with Jainas and Brahmins (though not with all sections ofHindu society). In early times, however, not killing animals was one
of
the elements by which Buddhism (just like Jainism) set itself off fromthe traditional strand
of
Brahminical religion which still continued theanimal sacrifices of the Vedic ritual,
4
and also from the bloody rites of
2.
Southwold 1983:
7.
3.
Kern 1992:
9;
20; 48; 68-74; 81-83; 90-92;
103
f.;
187; 274.
4.
See
p.
51
with
fn. 16,
Cf.
also
BoBh
82,24
f.,
where it is stated that a
bodhisat-tva
does not perform animal sacrifices or have others perform them.
Cf.
also
YBha
 
ATTITUDES TOWARDS ANIMALS IN INDIAN BUDDHISM
49
certain popular or at least non-Vedic cults.
5
Wherever Buddhism spread,at least its edl,lcated representatives have, on the whole, tried to abolish or replace animal sacrifices, though they were not always entirelysuccessful.
6
Actually, the precept
or,
better, commitment
7
to abstain from killingliving, sentient beings
(Pa.
piilJiitipiita)
has been the first and also themost important
8
element
of
correct behaviour
(szla)9
and wholesome
(kusala)
ways
of
acting
10
from the outset.
It
is
valid for monks and nuns
186,1£.,
declaring animal sacrifice
(devayatane~u
...
pasuvadham)
to be equal to themost heinous misdeeds, which bring immediate retribution in hell
(anantarya).
5.
Cf., e.g.,
the bloody sacrifices to trees or tree deities (which were converted intounbloody forms
of
veneration under Buddhist influence),
e.g.
Ja
I 169 or IV
115,18-21
(sacrifice to
yakkhas;
the verse [116,26], though, refers to a Vedic animalsacrifice);
cf.
Paul Wodilla,
Niedere Gottheiten des Buddhismus,
Erlangen, 1928:
11
f.;
14;
16;
Odette Viennot,
Le culte
de
l'arbre dans l'lnde ancienne,
Paris 1954:
p.
116;
Asko Parpola, "The religious background of the SavitTI legend", in Tsuchida
&
Wezler 2000: 210
f.
6.
For some references see Schmithausen
&
Maithrimurthi 1998: 180
n.
7.
Cf. alsothe attempt of the Chinese emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty to replace animal sacrifices with vegetarian offerings
(cf.
Andreas Ernst Janousch,
The Reform
of
Imperial Ritual during the Reign
of
Emperor
Wu
of
the Liang Dynasty (502-549),
Diss.Cambridge University 1998, 105
ff.;
228
f.;
Tvo!.
52: 297b26-28). For the complexsituation in the Himalayan area see also Holler 2005: 468
f.
For a case of replacement of animal sacrifice (originally even human sacrifice) with unbloody ritualunder Buddhist influence see Klaus-Dieter Mathes; "The. High Mountain Valley
of
Nar (Manang) in the 17th Century according to
Two
Tibetan Autobiographies", in:
Joilrnal
of
the Nepal Research Centre
12
(2001): 167-189, esp.
184.
7.
They are either subsumed under "good behaviour"
(sfla)-later
called the "five
sflas"~r
called
sikkhapada
(skt.
sik~apada),
"areas of training", "points in whichone has
to
train oneself' (if we follow Hsiian-tsangs Chinese rendering
of
theterm).
8.
Thus explicitly
Vi
648a23-25.
Cf.
also
MPPU
155b21
f.
and 27-29 (Lamotte 1949:I1790): killing
as
the worst offence, but here the context seems
to
be about killing a
human,
in the first place); Kern 1992:
103
f.
and
131
(killing
is
the worst of the tenunwholesome actions; here the context is killing
animals!).
9.
a)
monks: e.g.,
DNI
63;
MNI
179; III 33;
ANI
272
f.
(nos. 119 and 120); II 208
f.;
b)
lay followers:
e.g.,MNII
51;
SNIV
320;
ANIl
58; III 203; 212. The formulation formonks (a)
is
usually more elaborate, the one for lay people (b) usually brief, exceptwhen the context is
uposatha.
Cf.
Schmithausen 2000b: 32 with
n. 25.
10.
E.g.,
DNIII
82;
MNII
179;
SNIV
313
f.;
ANV
266
f.;
295
f.
(elaborateformulation,always referring to lay followers).

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