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The Socio-Political Dimensions of Theravada Buddhism

(Synopsis) By Ashin Indaka Under the uidance of Dr! ("rs!) Shu#hada A $oshi Department of Philosophy% University of "um#ai Pro#lem& The purpose of the synopsis preview is to spell out the thematic content and scope, salient features of the doctrinal dissertation being submitted for the Ph.D degree in the Department of Philosophy, University of Mumbai. This thesis deals with four basic areas of the social, political and economic dimensions of Theravada Buddhism, is an attempt to collect and appraise the relevant material found in the Pali canon, generally regarded as the Buddhas sacred word. There are some who believe that Buddhism is so lofty and sublime a system that it cannot be practiced by ordinary men and women in this our commonplace world. They also maintain that one has to retire from a day to day wor! and adopt the life of a mon! in a monastery or to some "uiet place to live the life of an ascetic, if one desires to be a true Buddhist. #ome scholars have also present Buddhism as a teaching emphasi$ing on personal salvation alone without any regard for social welfare. Thus Buddhism according to them has ignored service to the needy in any measure, hence is devoid of any social dimension whatsoever. The thesis would ma!e clear misguides how and what Theravada Buddhism gets involved in social welfare.

'#(ective of the Study& The ob%ective of this study is to focus on Buddhist teaching and its ideals regarding social, political and economic dimensions and to apply them in modern society of modern age. The ma%or ob%ect of this study is to show how far the application of teachings of the Buddha which emerged in &ndia in over two thousand and five hundreds years ago is still alive and well in the human society of '( st century. The )ypothesis& The hypothesis assumes future plan and the basis of future understanding. The basis of that assumption being) that there are some who believe that Buddhism is so lofty and sublime a system that it cannot be practiced by ordinary men and women in this world community* and their contention that one has to retire from a day to day wor! to adopt the life monastic life style or to live in secluded of an ascetic life* should one desires to be a true Buddhist. The Buddhas teaching is, indeed, meant not only for mon!s in monasteries, but also ordinary men and women living at home with their families. Moreover, Buddhism which emerged in over two thousand and five hundreds years ago is still alive in this '( st century can be applied at any time and place. This study e+plores e+tensively on the inner wor!ings on Theravada Buddhism has proved to be still viable teaching in this modern era. *esearch desi+n and methodolo+y& &n this study, & have shown the relevant materials of Theravada Buddhism and put them into practice in modern society. This research presents both the traditional approach as well as modern approach. ,ith regard to social, political and economic dimensions, various issues, arguments, theoretical and practical

framewor!s based on authentic Pali sources and other secondary materials are also used e+tensively in this research. Si+nificance of this study& The significance is to put the Buddhas teachings in areas related to social welfare. That is why this study focuses on social, political and economic dimensions mentioned in Theravada Buddhist scriptures in accordance with the thesis title. Moreover, it mentions in some ways the tradition and practice of the people in Theravada Buddhist countries li!e Burma, #ri -an!a, and Thailand and its dominant religious influence of Buddhism over the modern day lives of the people.

,hapter (-) The Spread of Buddhism and Its Back+round


This chapter is actually introduction to Theravada Buddhism. &n this chapter, & have shown the situation of Buddhism with a brief biography of the Buddha and of the demise of the Buddha to e+pose and bring the point clearly across with regard to the body of the thesis. This chapter shows on the history of Buddhism how Buddhism spread outside of &ndia to countries li!e #ri -an!a, Burma and Thailand. ,hen we mention the history of Buddhism, it is impossible to ignore the accomplishment of the .ing /so!a on whom Buddhist thought had influenced so much with regard to social welfare. & have presented in details the life of .ing /so!a with regard to how he had got involved Buddhist thoughts in the area of social services in accordance with the Buddhas teachings. &n the -ater part, & have cited with brief history the Theravada Buddhist countries as relevant to this research as much as the Theravada Buddhism is concerned.

,hapter (II) The Social Dimensions of Theravada Buddhism


This chapter deals with social applications described in Theravada Buddhist scriptures. 0irstly, & have mentioned the five precepts that are the basic principles not only for Buddhists* but for everybody in the society of the world. & have discussed how the application and its practice could benefit to those who observe them in particular and society in general. Then & mention the Buddha teaching and its influence on the family matter in their daily lives. & have discussed in this chapter in details the duties and obligations of each and every individual member in a family society from Buddhist point of view that could bring about an ideal family. Therefore the ideal picture of the family can be found in this chapter. &n addition to this, my research touches on Buddhist perspectives on marriage that is part and parcel of our social dimension. &n Buddhist literature, both monogamy and polygamy are referred to and such practices were prevalent in the society of the day. 1et the Buddhist norm was and is in the present, undoubtedly one man, one wife ideal. &n this chapter, & have mentioned the attitude of Theravada
Buddhism with regard of poly+amy or mono+amy! To the "uestion of

whether Buddhists can !eep more than one wife, there was no direct answer available in the Buddhas teaching, because the Buddha did not lay down any religious laws with regard to married life although he has given valuable advice on how to lead a respectable married life. 2egarding this, the role of woman as a wife and status of woman in Theravada Buddhism are e+amined in detail in different way. 0inally, the Buddhist attitude to stratification is described in this chapter.

,hapter (III) The Political Dimensions of Theravada Buddhism


,ith regard to politics, & have stated first of all the meaning and the definition of democracy that which has become popular in the late '3th century and now. The Buddhist conception of democracy as an instrument for the furtherance of the human good stems from Buddhist socio political philosophy. This philosophy, in turn, results from an ethical theory based on a view of reality founded Buddhist thought. & have e+plained how far the system of democracy has a close affinity with Buddhism in this chapter with special references as described in Pali canons. /ccording to Theravada Buddhist canonical te+ts, two systems of government e+isted in &ndia during the Buddhas time. 4ne was monarchical and the other was republican. The monarchical system was followed in the territories li!e Kosala, Magadha and Vatsa, while the territories li!e Vajji and Malla were considered republican federation. This chapter shows in detail how the Buddha dealt with these two systems of government and the political ideal of Theravada Buddhism. ,ith regard to monarchical system of government, & discuss in very detail of an ideal !ing and its defects and deficiencies of the monarchy. /ccording to Theravada Buddhist canon, a !ing should have five "ualities. The !ing should be pure in descent, rich, should have a strong army and a wise minister. These four "ualities bring him the fifth "uality 5 the glory. /lthough the relationship between the Buddha and the !ings during his time has already been discussed and e+amined in detail by various scholars, & have attempted a brief survey here in this chapter to show the close, cordial and affectionate connection the Buddha had with the contemporary !ings.

/ccording to the Buddhism, there are two great men 6mahapurisa7 in the world. 4ne of them is the Buddha and the other is the ,heel rolling Monarch 6raja cakkavatti7. The chapter e+plains vividly the perspective of the ,heel 2olling Monarch 68a!!avatti 2a%a7.

,hapter (I.) /conomic Dimensions of Theravada Buddhism


&n the study of social and political dimensions of Theravada Buddhism it is impossible to leave and ignore the study of economic dimensions as it is e"ually important as the former in society. My research wor! has also included the study of economic dimensions of Theravada Buddhism. &n this chapter, & have discussed the meaning of the word 9economic and how the primitive people had or started the idea of business wor! with history with special references as described in Theravada Buddhist scriptures. :conomic condition is the most fundamental and significant factor in a perfect and contented life. &n this regard, & have e+plained the attitude of Theravada Buddhism towards wealth. &n addition to this, & have mentioned the utility of wealth, ways and means of earning wealth on the one hand and e+pose its disadvantages and unwholesome effects on the other. To support the above sub%ect matter, & have pointed out the middle path attitude that the Buddha advocates towards wealth. &n the first sermon, Buddha has e+plained Noble Eight paths, which is called Middle Way. &n that contents Buddha recommends right livelihood to followers. This right livelihood comprises with abandoning evil trades called trade of living beings, trade of flesh of beings, trade of poison and trade of into+icant drin!s and drugs. Under the modern economics, productivity, consumption and distribution play an important

role. The repercussion of consumption is insignificant. But we can see the evil effects of certain !inds of products, consumption and distribution. Moreover, in this chapter & have discussed the Buddhist principle which advocates the balance between income and e+penditure, between earnings and spending, is called even life 6 samajvikat7. This is one of the four conditions which lead the layman to a happy and prosperous life. Buddhism re%ects the two e+tremes, the stingy hoarding up and unnecessary e+travagance of wealth. 2egarding this, & have e+plained in detail the Buddhist point of view. Bi#lio+raphy
Primary Sources

/guttara-Nikya, :!a!anipta Pli of /guttara-nikya ukanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya !ikanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya "atukanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya Pacakanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya "ha##hakanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya $attakanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya %##hakanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya Navakanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya asakanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya &kadasakanipta Pli of /guttara-nikya /guttarani!;ya %##hakath; /bhidhammattha #agaha /p;d;na Pli /##hasalin %##hakath of /bhidhamma Pi#aka 'uddhava(sa

Buddhava(sa %##hakath 8ariy;pi#a!a %##hakath #la!!handhavagga P;)i of Dgha ni!;ya Mah;vagga P;)i of Dgha ni!;ya P;thi!avagga P;)i of Dgha ni!;ya Dgha ni!;ya %##hakath pava(sa Dhammapada P;)i of .hudda!a ni!;ya &tivutta!a P;)i of .hudda!a ni!;ya *taka P;)i of .hudda!a ni!;ya *taka %##hakath .hudda!a ni!;ya Mva(sa P;)i M+lapa,,sa P;)i of Ma%%hima ni!;ya Ma%%himapa,,sa P;)i of Ma%%hima ni!;ya Uparipa,,sa P;)i of Ma%%hima ni!;ya Ma%%hima ni!;ya %##hakath Mahva(sa#k "u)anidd-sa P;)i Mahniddesa P;)i Nikyasagrahaya $agathvagga P;)i of $a(yutta ni!;ya <id;nasa(yutta P;)i of #a(yutta ni!;ya .handhasa(yutta P;)i of #a(yutta ni!;ya #a)yatanasa(yutta of #a(yutta ni!;ya #a(yuttani!;ya %##hakath #uttanipta P;)i of .hudda!a ni!;ya #uttanipata %##hakath

Therag;th; P;)i of .hudda!a ni!;ya Ud;na P;)i of .hudda!a ni!;ya Mah;vagga P;)i of =inaya Pi#aka "+lavagga P;)i of =inaya Pi#aka Pariv;ra P;)i of =inaya Pi#aka P;r;%i!a P;)i of =inaya Pi#aka P;cittiya P;)i of =inaya Pi#aka P;rajikaka,.a %##hakath of =inaya Pi#aka Vi/haga P;)i of /bhidhamma Pi#aka
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ona %lpona Catnayak- !rust2,