Buddhist Attitude to Politics Aggañña Sutta, Kūṭa anta Sutta (7) Composed By Ven.

Punnavamsa According to Aggañña Sutta of Dīghanikāya, the kingship originated in the human society owing to social requirements or as a result of social evolution. King was elected by people therefore he was known as “Mahāsammata rāja.” First he solved problems related to field and so he was known as he was known as leader of field-“Kettānam adhipaiti kattiyā” He also solved problems among people in the society and established justice, peace and law and performed his duties to the entire satisfaction of his people. Hence, he was known as “Dhammena pare ranjetīti rājā”. As kingship originated in human society, political system should also be in accordance with human requirements. At the time of the Buddha, the powerful kings of states or Rajāndu like King Pasendi Kosala, king Bimbisāra and king Ajātasattu, and the princes of small states or oligarchies or Ganarājya such as Vajji princes, Licchavi princes of Vesali and Malla princes of Pāvā or Kusinārā had close association with the Buddha and often sought advices from Him. There existed to some extent unity, democracy, prosperity, peace etc in the oligarchies and the Buddha admired them. According to Mahāparinibbāna Sutta of Dīganikāya, once the chief minister of king Ajātasattu, Brahmin Vassakkāra under the king’s direction informed the Buddha of the king’s intention to attack the Vajjians. At that time, the Buddha revealed the Seven Conditions of a Nation’s Welfare (satta aparihānīya dhamma): Holding regular and frequent assemblies, meeting in harmony, dispersing in harmony and attending to their affairs in harmony, enacting neither new decree nor abolishing existing ones, but proceeding in accordance with their ancient constitutions, showing respect, honour and esteem towards their elders and listening to them, refraining from abducting others’ wives and maidens and detaining them, showing respect, honour and veneration towards the shrines within the city and outside the city and refraining from depriving them of the due offerings made to them formerly and protecting and guarding the Arahants in the kingdom and forming a peaceful atmosphere for other Arahants to come. Cakkavattisīhanāda of Dīghanikāya in this Sutta, the Buddha introduced a Wheel Turning Monarch named Daḷhanemi who was a righteous monarch of the law and possessor of the seven treasures. He conquered land not by war but by righteousness. He performed perfect justice and peace and brought about prosperity in his ocean – bounded land. The duties of an Ariyan Wheel Turning Monarch, according to Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta are as follows. Following Dhamma, honouring it, cherishing it, paying homage to it and venerating it, acknowledgment Dhamma as his master, conquering the four quarters without a stick or sword, protecting his palace, his troops, nobles and people, Brahmins and householders, town and country folk, ascetics and Brahmins, birds and beasts, preventing crime in his kingdom, giving property to the needy, giving advices to ascetics and Brahmins, observing and establishing the Five Precepts, introducing the Five Precepts to other lands. This shows the Buddhist attitude to politics that can be universally applicable. Kūṭadnta of Dīghanikāya, this Sutta also depicts the Buddhist attitude to politics. (1) The duties of a king (2) Distribution of grain to cultivators and fodder to cattle raisers (3) Giving capital to traders and proper living wages to government servants (4) Keeping the doors of his palace open to ascetics, Brahmins and wayfarers, beggars and the needy (5) Observing and establishing the Five Precepts. Ten Obligations of Universal Monarch (Dasasakvitivat), the Ten Duties of Good Governance (Dasarājadharma), the Seven Conditions of a Nation’s Welfare or Seven Conditions of Preventing Decline (Sattaparihānīyadharma) etc. clearly depict the Buddhist attitude to politics. Words (500)