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Buddhist View

On
Caste System

Ven. Soeurng Vutthy


M.A. B.Dh. (CAM.116)

Department of Suttanta,
Faculty of Pariyatti

International Theravàda Buddhist


Missionary University
Table of Contents

Pages

Abstract ........................................................................................... i

Abbreviation ................................................................................... iii

Acknowledgement ......................................................................... iv

Introduction .................................................................................... vi

Chapter I: Historical background of caste

1.1 Definitions of caste and explanation ................................................. 1

1.2 The origin of caste from social aspects ............................................. 4

1.3 The origin of caste from religious aspects ....................................... 7

1.4 The restricted rules of castes and its blind belief .............................. 10

1.5 Dilemma of caste system in the changing world ............................. 16

Chapter II: The exposition of four broad social classes

2.1 Khattiya- the royal caste .................................................................. 28

2.2 Brahmaäa- the Brahmin caste .......................................................... 33

2.3 Vessa- the merchant caste ................................................................. 40

2.4 Sudda- the labour caste ..................................................................... 41

2.5 Castes, their roles and duties ............................................................. 42

Chapter III: the problems of castes in human society

3.1 caste and inequality ......................................................................... 55

3.2 caste system, religious conflict, conversion and social reformers .. 63

3.3 Buddhism and equality in human society ....................................... 69


3.4 Caste system, conversion and missionary from Buddhist view ...... 77

3.5 Buddhist rationalistic views about caste system ............................. 83

Chapter IV: Buddhist attitude towards castes

4.1 The condemnation of Buddha to caste and service of slaves ........... 86

4.2 Caste, virtue and human dignity ...................................................... 92

4.3 Caste, knowledge and moral conducts ............................................. 96

4.4 A dispute of caste based on birth and lineage .................................. 103

4.5 Caste and Buddhist-kammic theory ................................................. 109

Chapter V: Buddhist approaches to solve caste problem

5.1 Castes and the Order ......................................................................... 121

5.2 The Buddha-dhammas is for people from all walks of life ............... 130

5.3 Purification in Buddhism is for all castes ......................................... 134

5.4 Castes and emancipation of oneself from suffering .......................... 143

5.5 Truth is open to attainment by all castes alike equal in degree ........ 148

Conclusion ...................................................................................... 157

Endnotes .......................................................................................... 161

Bibliography ................................................................................... 168


i

Abstract

The Buddha appear in the world is not only for the benefit of Buddhists, but also for

all mankind without discrimination of nation, race, colour, creeds, any social

condition or castes whether one is born of rich or poor family. He has compassion

towards all living beings. He said all lives are worth to be maintained. He was born in

royal family, but he never introduces his lineage and power into his teachings. The

ordination and purification in his dispensation is for all castes. Buddhism plays the

essential role in society from the ancient time up to the modern epoch of the twenty

first century and it will stand for important role forever. Throughout history,

Buddhism ever stands for the development of global peace, love and harmony in the

name of human dignity, and the way to emancipation in Buddhism is open to all

people from all walks of life. As ordinary persons born into this world must have

suffering no matter where in the world they live. Suffering is non-sectarian or non-

caste. It is not proper to say that this suffering monopolistically belong to Buddhists,

Brahmins or Hindu, Muslims and Christians or people of any nation.

Buddhism is one of religions of freedom and social justice in which it gives everyone

the opportunity to liberate from the suffering by following the right method, viz. the

eightfold noble path as taught by Lord Buddha.

There is no caste restriction in Buddhism. Caste system is just an artificial

barrier erected by society in terms of superior or inferior, noble or ignoble. The

Buddha said one is inferior or superior not by birth but by his own action. The

Buddha Dhamma is universal laws opening to one and all to study and practice to get

liberation. It gives special privilege, equality and justice to human in society to

achieve one’s aims based on individual effort.


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Buddhism encourages all men to have education and spiritual development to

obtain wisdom and positive mental attitude for the well-being of their day to day

lives. It also gives uniquely right value to humanity through knowledge and moral

conduct, but not through birth, clan or any caste system. As the Buddha said one who

is endowed with knowledge and moral conduct is the highest among men and gods.

According to Buddha to say that one superior or inferior because of birth is just empty

sound which brings no benignity and prosperity to human society at all.

The Buddha welcomes people from all castes to enter into the Order (saægha

community) in his Sàsanà either men or women according to their wish and

willingness, but except for some persons of disability are not allowed to be ordained.

Anyhow, through the Four Noble truths, the door of Nibbàna is open to all. The

Middle way (Majjhima Paåipadà) is allowed to tread on without mentioning caste

names and by following the very way objectively we can gain knowledge and

spiritual attainment in our hearts. The aim of life is to free from suffering and get

happiness. Therefore, we all should walk on the Middle way to get it. It is easy but

just practise.
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List of Abbreviation

A. Aæguttara Nikàya

D. Dìgha Nikàya

Dh. Dhammapada

DhA. Dhammapada Aååhakathà

Dpp. Dictionary of Pàøi Proper Names

Jà. Jàtaka

Mil. Milinda Pañhà

Mn. Majjhima Nikàya

Ps. Paåisambhidà Magga

Sn. Sutta Nipàta

S. Saçyutta Nikàya

Ud. Uddàna
iv

Acknowledgement

I am very glad to come to study Buddhism in the Union of Myanmar. So, firstly I

would like to express my special thanks to Myanmar government for establishing

International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University to propagate Buddhism and

support vigorously.

Secondly ,I would like to express my thank to rector, pro-rector and all

professors and teachers in all generations who teach at the International Theravàda

Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon, Myanmar and have instructed and guided

me the right way in accordance with the teaching of the Buddha.

Actually, when I come to study here I have new experience in my life. I have

found that Buddhism in Myanmar is strongly flourished throughout the country and

has many great Buddhist scholars who are expert in both Gandhadhura and Vipassanà

dhura or pariyatti and paåipatti. Moreover, when I study at International Theravada

Buddhist Missionary University I have gained more knowledge from teachers and

professors. I not study pariyatti but also have chance to practise meditation at this

University on every Thursday for two hours to mix theoretical knowledge of

vipassanà together with practical knowledge. Besides this, I have opportunity to

practise meditation during vacation at some meditation centres as well. These open

my new eyes to see things as they really are. That is the most interesting thing I have

ever met in my country. I am really impressed by mindfulness meditation method. I

think that to apply constant mindfulness in daily life. is the best way to overcome

covetousness, sorrow, lamentation, to overcome pain and grief. I believe that it is the

effective method as taught by the Buddha in Satipaååhàna sutta. A part from study and
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practise Buddhism, I also like social work, especially engaged in teaching to share

knowledge with others on behalf of Buddhism.

Therefore, thirdly, I also would like to express my gratitude to all male and

female teachers, especially to rector Sayadaw, Dr. Nandamàlabhivaçsa, pro-rector

Sayadaw, Dr. U Kumàra, Sayadaw, Dr. U Adicca and the late Sayadaw U Kosala, Dr.

U Hla Myint and Dr. Mehm Tin Mon, B. Sc (Ygn), MSc., Ph.D. (Illinois, USA).

Professor, Mahàsaddhama Jotikadhaja, all of whom tirelessly and compassionately

impart Dhamma-knowledge to me as well as all students.

Fourthly, I express my thanks to Dr. Myint kyi, and Dr. Myint Myint Aye,

M.A., Ph.D. (LEIZIG), and professor, Department of Religion of ITBM University,

who has taught me research methodology. Without her guiding, it is difficult for me to

know how to write properly the term paper and thesis.

Fifthly, I would like to express my thanks to all staffs and workers of

I.T.B.M.U who work hard to accomplish the job for the purpose of protection,

promotion and propagation of Buddha-dhamma.

Finally, through the achievement of this wholesome work in writing thesis, I

respectably would like to share merits equally with all of you as in above description,

who have joined hand together to teach, support and work for our beloved Sàsanà.
vi

Introduction

The Middle Country of India in which the Buddha lived and taught in the fifth century

B.C. teemed with a luxuriant variety of religious and philosophical beliefs propagated

by teachers equally varied in their ways of life. The main division was into the

Brahmins and non-Brahminic ascetics, the samaäas or “recluses.” The Brahmins were

the hereditary priesthood of India, the custodians of the ancient orthodoxy. They

accepted the authority of the Vedas, which they studied, chanted at countless rituals,

sacrifices, and ceremonies, and turned to as the source of their philosophical

speculations. Thus they are characterized in the suttas as traditionalists, who teach

their doctrine on the basis of oral tradition. The palì Canon generally depicts them as

living a comfortably settled life, as marrying and begetting progeny, and in some

cases as enjoying some royal patronage. The more learned among them and gathered

accompany of students—all necessarily of Brahmin birth—to whom they taught the

Vedic hymns. The Samaäas, on the other hand, did not accept the authority of the

Vedas, for which reason from the perspective of Brahmins they stood in the ranks of

heterodoxy. They were usually celibate, lived a life of mendicancy, and acquired their

status by voluntary renunciation rather than by birth. The Samaäas roamed the Indian

countryside sometimes in company, sometimes as solitaries, preaching their doctrines

to the populace, debating with other ascetic, engaging in their spiritual practices,

which often involved severe austerities. Some teachers in the samaäa camp taught

entirely on the basis reasoning and speculation, while other taught on the basis of their

experiences in meditation. The Buddha placed himself among the later, as one who

teaches a Dhamma that he has directly known for himself.


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The Buddha’s encounters with Brahmins were usually friendly, their

conversation marked by courtesy and mutual regard. Several suttas in the Majjhima

Nikàya concern the Brahmins’ claim to superiority over those in other social classes.

In the Buddha’s age the caste system was only beginning to take shape in northeast

India and had not yet spawned the countless subdivisions and rigid regulations that

were to manacle Indian society through the centuries. Society was divided into broad

social classes: the Brahmins, who performed the priestly functions; the khattiyas, the

nobles, warriors, and administrators; the vessas, the merchants and agriculturalists;

and the suddas, the menials and serfs. From Palì suttas it appears that Brahmins, while

vested with authority in religious matters, had not yet risen to the position of

unchangeable hegemony they were to gain after the promulgation of the Law of

Manu. They had, however, already embarked on their drive for domination and did so

by propagating the thesis that Brahmins are highest caste, the fairest caste, and the

divinely blessed offspring of Brahma who are alone capable of purification. Anxiety

that this claim of the Brahmins might actually be true seems to have spread among the

royalty, who must have been fearful of the threat it posed to their own power.

Contrary to certain popular notions, the Buddha did not explicitly repudiate

the class divisions of Indian society or appeal for the abolition of this social system.

Within the saægha, however, all castes distinction, were abrogated from the moment

of ordination. Thus people from any of the four castes who went forth under the

Buddha renounced their class titles and prerogatives and instead became known

simply as disciples of the Sakyan son. Whenever the Buddha or his disciples were

confronted with the Brahmins’ claim to superiority, they argued vigorously against

them, maintaining that all such claims were groundless. Purification, they contended,
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was the result of conduct, not of birth, and was thus accessible to those of all four

castes.

The Buddha even the term “Brahmin” of its hereditary accretions, and hearkening

back to its original connotation of holy man, he defined the true Brahmin as the

Arahant. Those among the Brahmins who were not yet hampered by class prejudice

responded appreciatively to the Buddha’s teaching. Some of the most eminent

Brahmins of the time, in whom, there still burned the ancient Vedic yearning for light,

knowledge, and truth, recognized in the Buddha the All-Enlightened One for whom

they longed and declared themselves his disciples. Several even renounced their class

privileges and with their retinues entered the Saægha.1

When deeply observing, it is seen that caste system has been adopted not only

in the Buddha’s life time in India, but also in some other countries of the modern time

today. This is the nature of human beings whose minds are firmly rooted in such

ideas in which everybody want to be superior to others when they were born into this

world. It is really difficult to get rid of such things in their min for not doing so, even

our Lord Buddha.

The adoption of caste system brings about many problems and obstacles to

material and spiritual developments of humankind in society and the whole world as

well. Throughout historical background in Buddhism, the Buddha never praises any

one of the castes that it is superior to one another. Buddhism takes important role in

development of human world without discrimination of caste.

By seeing the obviously current events of the modern age in this way, it must be

important and useful to write the thesis pertinent to caste system. Even though this

thesis is entitled, “Buddhist View On Caste System”, it is still used various views of

other scholars who are Buddhists and non-Buddhists in both the East and west rather
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than using Buddhist’s view alone. However, this thesis is written mainly based on the

fundamental principles of teachings of the Buddha. Despite caste system exists in

other countries in many parts of the world, an attempt of writing emphasizes strongly

on castes in India.

To use others’ view comparing with Buddhist view in this writing is like

putting more ingredients into a soup to make its taste more delicious than usual.

Researcher, therefore, would like to ask for forgiveness in advanced from supervisor,

internal examiners and external examiners for if there is any errors unintentionally in

writing this thesis. Concerning the main topic of this thesis, the chapters are divided

into five chapters: The first chapter explains about the historical background of caste.

The second chapter deals with the four broad social classes. The third chapter shows

the problems of castes. The fourth chapter investigates Buddhist attitude towards

castes and the fifth chapter points out proper approaches to solve caste problems. The

sub-chapters are systematically arranged under each chapter and especially their

meanings corresponding to the main ones.

In this thesis, the synonyms of Pāli and Sanskrit languages are used both

especially the terms related to caste, namely, kattiya in Pāli and kshatriya in Sanskrit,

vessa in Pāli or vaisya in Sanskrit ,sudda in Pāli and sudra in Sanskrit. These words

are synonymously used to mean equally to one another for maintaining and enhancing

the ancient languages which are important and beneficial for Buddhism in all

generations. Also, some scholars prefer to use Pāli to Sanskrit and vice versa.

Therefore, to use Pāli and Sanskrit terms in writing this thesis is to serve both

purposes.
Chapter I: Historical background of caste

Every thing occurred in this world must have its cause or its historical background, in

the same way caste system has.

1.1 Definitions of caste

The word “caste” or “social class” in pāøi means “vaääa” and Sanskrit “varäa” in

which is generally referred to birth or colour of mankind. It is also defined into

various meanings according to etymology of certain languages that has equal

meanings to it.

In Khmer Dictionary by supreme patriarch Chuon Nath page 1155, the word

“vaääa” is translated into many meanings and when using as compound nouns it

consists of meaning quite different from the original one. But it is also used to mean

“colour, complexion, light, ray, sex, class or lineage of human”.2

According to Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics page 234, the word “caste” is

not of Indian origin. It derived from the Portuguese casta, which means “breed,”

“race,” or “class.” The word in common use amongst the Hindu themselves is jàt or

jāti, which means “birth” or “descent.” Owing to the confusion which often exists in

the popular mind between a caste and its traditional occupation, it is not always easy

to say whether a given term really indicate a caste, i.e. a separate social group, or is

simply a designation applicable to all persons following some particular occupation. It

may perhaps be defined as ‘ an endogamous group, or collection of such groups,

bearing a common name, having the same traditional occupation, claiming descent

from the same source, and commonly regarded as forming a single homogeneous

community.’3
2

According to Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English

language, page 418 “caste” is defined as race, lineage, unmixed race, pure, chaste,

etc., It also means a race, stock, or breed of men or animal. The other meaning is one

of the hereditary classes into which the society of India is divided. The caste system is

fundamental in Hinduism, referring to, for its origin at least, to the time of the Aryan

invasion of India. Orthodox Hinduism ascribes to the invaders for castes: the

Brahmana, or priestly; kshatriya, warrior or kingly; the vaisya, mercantile and

agricultural; the Sudra, mainly artisan and labouring. The first three of these are

known as the twice-born castes. Their token is the sacred thread; they are considered

as the original Ariyan castes, and they have religious rites and privileges denied to the

sudra, mainly composed of the conquered natives. Gradually a vast number of castes

have been formed; as, on the basis of the occupation of the persons forming them; by

the conversion of foreign tribes to Hinduism, the whole tribe forming a distinct caste;

by religious sectarianism; by intermarriage and crossbreeding; by migration, etc. all

castes are theoretically classified according to the original scheme of the four and

intermarriage and social intercourse, in so far as these exist, are subject to rigid

restrictions. Many of the religious reforms of India have started as protests against

caste restrictions, yet even among the Indian Mohammed class distinctions similar to

the caste system are maintained. The native name for “caste,” “varäa” signifies

“colour”, and system seem to have originated in the endeavour of the light hued

Aryans to preserve their racial purity.4

But according to Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabriged Dictionary of the English

Language page 323 caste is known in the following: a) an endogamous and hereditary

social group limited to person of the same rank, occupation, economic position, etc..;
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and having more distinguishing it from other such groups. b) Any rigid system of

social distinction.

Any of the social divisions into which Hindu society is traditionally divided,

each having its own privileges and limitations, transferred by inheritance from one

generation to the next. Any class or group of society sharing common cultural

features: low caste; high caste.5

In the Concise Universal Encyclopedia (Vol.2), page 370, social system under which

every Hindu is deemed to be born into an endogamous group with a common name

and traditional occupation. These ties are often conjoined with a tradition common

origin and the possession of the same tutelary deity, social status and ceremonial

observances.

Modern Indian caste is the outcome of a gradual social development, one

impelling force of which is the communal as apposed to the individualist element in

the Indian mind. Most existing castes are occupational and many the result of

economic factors.6

According to The New Webster’s International Encyclopedia, page 201 caste

system is explained as division of society into closed groups, primarily by birth, but

usually also involving religion and occupation. The most caste-bound society today is

that of Hindu India, its caste system, dating from 3000 B.C, was not discouraged until

recently.7

Moreover, Varäa (vaääa) is a Sanskrit term derived from the root vṛ meaning

"to enclose" or "colour". The term, which also means letter, paint, cover, coat, class

and caste, has been used in various contexts in the Hindu scriptures.

In historical Indic traditions the varäa and caste systems are not the same system,

although they are related. Varäa and caste systems are believed to have become
4

related to mean the same thing, as caste, after the Vedic period when the puraäas and

dharmashastras were written.8

1.2 The origin of the caste from social aspects

In the beginning, it seems the Aryans were very proud of their conquest and fair

complex and were adamant to have any intercourse with the original habitants of

India.

At the time the Aryan society was divided mainly into three groups, i.e.

priests, (Brahmins), warriors (kshatriyas), and farmers and traders (Vaishyas). Later

on as the years rolled by, the intermingling of the Aryans and non-Aryans increased;

the process of give and take commenced with the result that Aryan society absorbed

many beliefs and customs which were prevalent among the Non-Aryans. Aryans

were, however, very shrewd. They christened the Non-Aryans as Shudras and gave

them the low status in the society. Later on to this fourth group of the Vedic society

were added poorer and fallen sections of the Aryans as well. Thus the Vedic period

roughly from 1500 BC to 800 BC not only gave birth to caste-system but it

encouraged untouchability also.9

In the earliest writings of the so-called Aryans, who brought to the India

Sanskrit languages and the religious beliefs of which Hinduism is the development;

we find no trace of caste. When they entered India from the North-west, these

invaders were divided into a number of tribes, each under its own chief. Every

householder was a soldier as well as a husbandman, and even the sacerdotal office

was not hereditary. Later on, as society became more complex, the community was

divided, much in the same way as in ancient Persia, into four classes, viz. Brahmans,

or priests, ksatryas , or warriors, vaisya, or merchants and sudras, or cultivators and

servants, the last-mentioned consisting partly of half-breeds and partly of the black
5

aborigines who had been conquered and brought into servitudes. These classes were

designated varäa(‘colour’), and the term jāti (‘caste’) was never applied to them. The

distinctions involved by them, or at least by the first three, were neither so well

marked nor so rigid as those of the modern caste system. A ksatriya could become a

Brahman, or a Brahman a ksatriya ; and although a man was supposed to take his first

wife from his own class, there was no binding rule to this effect, while in any case he

was free to a second wife from a lower class. Amongst Hindus, however, these four

classes are regarded as the original caste. In the institutes of Manu a separate origin is

assigned to each, and all the better known castes existing at that time and place of the

compilation of this great work are traced to various kinds of cross-breeding. we have

already seen that most of them owe their origin to function, but that some are racial,

being composed of tribes that have entered the fold of Hinduism , while others are

descended from the adherents of various sects , and others are due to cross-breeding.

This is, however, merely the sources from which the existing castes have been

derived. It is not easy to say what gave rise to the caste system, or why social

distinctions and observances have acquired in India a rigidity to which there no

parallel anywhere else in the world.

In the first place, there was the prejudice, common to Aryans and various

aboriginal tribes, against giving the daughter in marriage outside the tribal limits.

There was also, after a time, amongst the Aryans, a strong that it was desirable , so far

as possible, to avoid intermarrying or eating with persons of lower social rank. There

was a still stronger feeling amongst this fair race against any sort of social intercourse

with the despised black aborigines—a feeling which finds its counterpart at the

present day in the attitude of the Boers towards the Kafirs . Some sections of Aryans

came to India with comparatively few women, and these were, perforce, compelled to
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take wives from amongst the aborigines. The children of such mixed unions held a

lower position than those of pure race, and were, no doubt, divided amongst

themselves, like the quadroons and octoroons of America. The rivalry of amongst

these half-breeds accentuated the already strong sense of racial cleavage. With the

progress of Hinduism, social distinctions based on colour and pride of race were

complicated by further distinctions based on ceremonial practices, such as observance

or non-observance of certain rules of conducts and of certain restrictions in the matter

of food and drink, while some pursuits were regarded as less reputable than others.10

The origin of the caste system as it is today is still obscure. A 2001 genetic study, led

by Michael Bamshad of the University of Utah, found that the genetic affinity of

Indians to Europeans is proportionate to caste rank, the upper castes being most

similar to Europeans, whereas lower castes are more like Asians. The researchers

believe that the Indo-European speakers entered India from the Northwest, admixing

with or displacing the proto-Dravidian speakers. Subsequently they may have

established a caste system and placed themselves primarily in higher castes. The study

concludes that the Indian castes "are most likely to be of proto-Asian origin with West

Eurasian admixture resulting in rank-related and sex-specific differences in the

genetic affinities of castes to Asians and Europeans." Because the Indian samples for

this study were taken from a single geographical area, it remains to be investigated

whether its findings can be safely generalized.

An earlier 1995 study by Joanna L. Mountain of Stanford University had

concluded that there was "no clear separation into three genetically distinct groups

along caste lines", although "an inferred tree revealed some clustering according to

caste affiliation".11
7

A 2002-2003 study by T. Kivisild concluded that the "Indian tribal and caste

populations derive largely from the same genetic heritage of Pleistocene southern and

western Asians and have received limited gene flow from external regions since the

Holocene. A 2006 genetic study by the National Institute of Biological in India,

testing a sample of men from 32 tribal and 45 caste groups, concluded that the Indians

have acquired very few genes from Indo-European speakers.

According to a 2006 study by Ismail Thanseem of Centre for Cellular and

Molecular Biology (India) "the vast majority 98% of the Indian maternal gene pool,

consisting of Indo-European and Dravidian speakers, is genetically more or less

uniform", while the invasions after the late Pleistocene settlement might have been

mostly male-mediated. The study concluded that the "lower caste groups might have

originated with the hierarchical divisions that arose within the tribal groups with the

spread of Neolithic agriculturalists, much earlier than the arrival of Aryan speakers",

and "the Indo-Europeans established themselves as upper castes among this already

developed caste-like class structure within the tribes." The study indicated that the

Indian caste system may have its roots much before the arrival of the Indo-Aryan

immigrants; a rudimentary version of the caste system may have emerged with the

shift towards cultivation and settlements, and the divisions may have become more

well-defined and intensified with the arrival of Indo-Aryan.12

1.3 The origin of castes from religious aspect.

A certain Buddhist scholar said, “Caste system is originated from the very religion,

especially the religion which has belief in divine Gods.”13

Here one should know that religion creates human beings or human beings

create religion. The Aryans said, ‘four castes’ were created by their divine gods
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according to Brahmanism. But actually, the very Aryans were the creator of

Brahmanism.

Therefore, Buddhist theory of the origin of social classes is different from

social aspects or Brahmanism. For the origin of social classes is proved through the

earlier history of tribes who were former inhabitants of India and the Indo-Aryans

who came to invade them and settled to live therein. The origin of social classes by

divine creation was, of course, rejected by the Buddha. This fact was shown by the

Him through his discourses to Brahmins who were proud of their caste and blindly

addicted to the belief in divine gods for their creation and division of mankind into

social classes.

The earlier ideas of the Buddhists on the problem of the origin of social

classes are found in Aggañña sutta of Dīgha Nikāya. In the sutta two young

Brāhmaäas, who had become Buddhist monks tell the Buddha that they were being

condemned by their fellow Brāhmaäas for they had left the ‘the best class’, ‘the

genuine children of Brahmā, born of his mouth’, to join a ‘low class’, the descendent

of the Brahmā’s feet.

Thereupon, in order to prove the hollowness of the Brahman’s claim to

descend from the Brahmā’s mouth, the Buddha traced the whole history of evolution

in the present kappa (aeon) from the beginning. He explained how after a long, long

period the world is dissolved; the beings are reborn in the world of the gods of

brilliance (Àbhassara Brahmas). Then the world begins to evolve again. The beings

descended from the world of brilliance are reborn with the same qualities as before.

They are ‘made of mind, self-luminous, traversing the air, continuing in glory.’ As the

earth emerges out of the water like rice-scum odorous and sweet, the beings taste it

through greed and lose their self-luminosity; their bodies acquire solidity and
9

differences of comeliness. Then appears vegetation, at first of a low and afterwards of

a high order, and ultimately the huskless self-ripening rice makes it appearance. The

beings feast upon it and acquire greater solidity in their bodies. The differences of sex

arise with resulting passion among men and the women. The beings filled with lust

build households and begin to store rice and thus create the institution of private

property.

As this leads to the disappearance of the self-ripening rice, the beings gather

together and decide to divide and demarcate their rice-fields. Gradually, the four evils

of theft, censure lying and violence come to be known. Thereupon the beings decide

to select a person who should be wrathful when indignation is right, who should

censure that which should rightly be censured and should banish him who deserves to

be banished, and they agree to give him in return a portion of their rice. They select

the most handsome and able person among themselves. He is called by three ‘standing

phrases’ of Mahāsamata, (‘one who is chosen by the multitude’), khattitya

(Kshatriya), (‘one who is lord of the fields’), and rājā (‘one who gratifies the others in

accordance with the dhamma’). This becomes the signal for the division of social

classes. “The election of Mahāsamata was the origin of the class (maädala) of

khattiyas.

Again, as certain beings distressed at the sins of men retired to forest of

meditate while others lived in the outskirts of villages and towns, ‘making book’, they

were known by ‘the standing phrase’, brāhmaäas (those who put away evil’), jhāyaka

(those who meditate’) and ajjhāyakas (‘those who teach the Vedas’): this was the

origin of the class (maädala) of brāhmaäas.

Others who adopted the married state and became proficient in the trades were

known by ‘the standing phrase’ of Vessas, and this is the origin of the class of Vessas.
10

Still others living by hunting and such low craft were called Suddas. Again as men of

the above classes misprizing their own duties (dhammas) left their homes for the

homeless life, they were known as recluses.

Explaining the origin of each of these of these classes, the Master adds at the

end the refrains, “their origin was from those very beings and no others, like unto

themselves and not unlike, and it took place according to the dharma and not

according to its reverse.’ Finally, the Master says that whoever among these four

classes as a monk has destroyed all moral taint and has attained perfect knowledge is

declared to be the chief of men in virtue of dharma: for Dhamma is deemed as the

highest by men both in this world and the next.14

Concerning the origin of the social classes a Buddhist writer wrote that the

Buddha did not reject the notion of the caste system. He merely gave a new twist to it.

As noted above, in the Aggañña sutta he rejects the divine origin theory of the caste

system and instead ties it up with the evolutionary process. In this sutta, he opines that

all castes arose because of laziness and greed of men. This is really reasonable and

reliable source because in Aggañña sutta shows us that the beings that descended

from the world of gods of brilliance whose merits were exhausted and came to human

world at first they are pure with the same qualities. But later on because of their

corrupted mind through the four eatable things that appeared on earth, indolence,

greed and evil deeds arose in their community, the ideas of castes also arose among

them from that time onward one by one gradually, and the caste discrimination

become stronger and stronger. There are also strict rules between the castes as well.

1.4 The restricted rules of caste and blind belief

According to Brahman or Hindu tradition, in each caste there are rules to be observed.

The marriage is arranged only within their respective castes, for example, the khattiya
11

is married with khattiya, brahmaäa with brahmaäa, and the other lower castes are not

allowed to marry the higher ones at all.

Brahmins neither eat food together with the other castes nor the food of the

low caste. But if it happened to eat, they feel remorseful like they had committed

wicked deed and disgraced their birth, clan and family. In Satadhamma jātaka,15 this

relevant fact.

The Bodhisatta was as the son of a man of the lowest caste. When he grew up,

he took the road for some purpose, taking for his provision some rice grains in a

basket. At that time there was a young fellow in Benares, named Satadhamma. He

was a son of magnificent, a northern Brahmin. He also took the road for some

purpose, but neither rice grains nor basket had he. The two met upon the high way.

Said the young Brahmin to the other, “What caste are you of?” He replied, “Of the

lowest. And what are you?” “Oh, I am a northern Brahmin.” “All right, let us journey

together;” and so together they far along. Breakfast time came. The Bodhisatta sat

down where there was some nice water, and washed his hands, and opened his basket.

“Will you have some?” said he. “Tut, tut,” says the other, “I want none, you low

fellow.” “All right,” says the Bodhisatta. Careful to waste none, he put as much as he

wanted in a leaf apart from the rest, fastened his basket, and ate. Then he took a drink

of water, washed his hands and foot, and picked up the rest of his rice and food.

“Come along, young Sir,” says he, and they started off again on their journey.

All day they tramped along; and at evening they both had a bath in some nice

water. When they came out, the Bodhisatta sat down in a nice place, undid his parcel,

and began to eat. This time he did not offer the other a share. The young gentleman

was tired with walking all day and hungry to the bottom of his soul; there he stood,

looking on, and thinking, “If he offers me any, I’ll take it.” But the other ate away
12

without a word. “This low fellow,” thought the young man “eats every scrap without a

word. Well, I’ll beg a piece, I can throw away the outside, which is defiled, and eat

the rest.” And so he did; he ate what was left. As soon as he had eaten, he thought—

“How I have disgraced my birth, my clan, my family! Why I have eaten the leaving of

the low born churl!” Keen indeed was his remorse; he threw up the food, and blood

came with it. “What a wicked deed I have done,” he wept, “all for the sake of trifle!”

and he went on in the words of the first stanza: “What a trifle! And his leavings!

Given to against his will! And I am a highborn Brahmin! And the stuff has made me

ill!”

Thus did the young gentleman make his lamentation; adding, “Why did I do

such a wicked thing just for life’s sake?” he plunged into the jungle, and never let any

eye see him again, but there he died forlorn.

Moreover, they are on diet for eating food cooked or served by the low castes

and they do not eat even certain food which is touched by them.

If a Brahmin saw any lower caste person such as sudra or candāla took water

from any well, he would not go take the water from the well for consuming because

they are afraid of being polluted by the other lower caste. When they go out side

somewhere else they avoid seeing persons in the untouchable castes. If they have seen

them by chance they considered the day on their travelling as an inauspicious day for

them. They were not happy to meet such kind of situation. Some times they even

order their men to beat the untouchable person who they have seen along the way.

In the Mātaæga Jātaka of the Vīsati-Nipāta,16 shows this evidence that during

the reign of King Brahmadatta of Baraäasī, the Bodhisatta was born into a lowly caste

of Candāla and named Mātaæga. The daughter of a wealthy man of Baraäasī was

named Diååha maægalikā because she believed in auspiciousness of pleasant sights.


13

One day she went to a garden to amuse herself with her maids. On the way she saw

Mātaæga. who came into the city. Though he kept himself aside as he was of a low

birth, the sight of his person aroused displeasure in Diååha maægalikā, who therefore

returned home thinking that it was not an auspicious day for her. Her followers were

also annoyed. Saying, "Because of you, we will have no fun today," they beat him

until he became unconscious; thereafter they departed. When Mātaæga regained

consciousness after a while he said to himself, "These people of Diååha maægalikā

have tortured an innocent man like me." Then he went to the house of Diååha

maægalikā 's father and lay at the entrance with a resolution, "I will not get up until I

win Diååha maægalikā 's hand." This resolution of Mātaæga made to humble Diååha

maægalikā's pride.

The story is commented thus: the reason for Mātaæga decided to do so because

there is a traditional belief that if any outcaste person lays down at the entrance of any

one’s house with the determination to kill himself by either refusing to eat food or not

drinking water or commit suicide by any means, those who has house around counting

from that house to seven houses will all fall prey to become outcaste persons. When

they asked him why he lays there, his reply was, “All I want is Diååha maægalikā.”

One day passed, then a second, a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. The resolve of the

Buddha is immovable. Diååha maægalikā's father entice him by giving many

kahapaäas (ancient coins), but at that time, Mātaæga did not agree with him. So, by

seeing that many rich Brahmin families around Diååha maægalikā’s house forced her

father to give him the daughter; therefore on the seven day they brought out the girl

and gave her to him.

Furthermore, some Brahmins do not allow other lower caste persons to step on

even their shadow because they are afraid of being polluted and bring about the
14

impurity to their lives. According to this story Diååha maægalikā believe in

auspiciousness through auspiciousness of pleasant sights in Brahmanism if any day

she sees pleasant sight that will be auspicious day for her. But according to Buddhism

believe that if any person did good deed bodily, verbally and mentally in any day that

very day would be an auspicious day for him. If any person did good deed bodily,

verbally and mentally in any time that very time would be prosperous time for him.

So, in whatever day one does good deed, and then it is good day or good time for him.

Therefore, auspicious day occurred through good deed and for good deed one can do

any day or any time. Similarly, if any one did bad deed bodily, verbally and mentally

in whatever day, then in that very day it would be inauspicious day for him or her.

There is no prosperous time for one who does bad deed. Good or bad generally

depending on the action of man not depends on day, time or place.

One more thing, according to Buddhism, the three canonical texts known as

Tipiåakas can be studied and practised by everyone without differentiating of castes if

he exerts his effort to get it. Understanding or wisdom is not a reward dropping from

heaven and given by any Almighty God. It is gained by one who develops desire to

know and practise accordingly. Any one can achieve it if he has willingness to do

that.

However, in Brahmanism, now known as Hinduism, the Brahmins believe that

knowledge (buddhi ), the state (bhàva) and happiness (sukha) are created and given by

gods, the Brahmas. It is said these three things can be attained by Brahmaäa caste

only; no any other castes are possible.

In the ancient time when any untouchable caste person heard the Vedas recited

by Brahmin and the Brahmin knew about that he was tortured by putting boiling

cooking oil into his mouth because Brahmins believe that Vedas is a sacred text are
15

not to be studied, touched, heard or recited by any low caste man. Actually, in some

points of Vedas lead man to ignorance and wrong view and only ignorant man believe

it.

The belief in such a way is irrational, lack of commonsense and does not give

the values to the human effort. It does not encourage people want to do anything that

actually all human have the potentiality to do everything for the tenets of their lives.

According to this belief if those who do not belong to Brahmin caste, it means they

get nothing even they do something. Of course, if so they will not want to do

anything. They are hopeless and very disappointed and just sleep waiting to get

something given by the gods.

One should understand in a reasonable way that if all eatable things and

everything including knowledge, etc., would be created and given by the divine

beings; therefore, all human beings could not know the ray of science now in this

modern day and all human’s intelligences would be useless as well. Mahātma

Ghandhī said, “Belief is not something that we necessarily need to embrace, but it is

something that we should cultivate in our mind.” But further more they should

understand that wrong belief should not be cultivated in even our mind. Wrong belief

leads to wrong view, and wrong view is the root cause of all evil deeds in the world.

Some people after doing evil deed, they pray to gods for forgiveness, while some

others overwhelmed by greed, fear and ignorance like to seek mantra teachers who

know magic to make waist belt to protect them from danger or sometimes they seek

holy water from a person or certain monk who know mantras (magic) to pour that

water on them. They spend a lot of money on such persons. But it is often seen in

societies that even the persons who know mantras and when they commit bad actions

they, too, die of their bad kamma the same as every one. So, they should spend money
16

for education. When they have a lot of money they should support the poor or monks,

nuns to study for their education is better. By doing so, it can bring much merit and

good benefits both to themselves and the whole society.

Moreover, some men are handsome and some women are beautiful. Some are

rich, born of high social class family. So they have conceit and pride of their

handsomeness, beauty, wealth and high lineage. But according to venerable Sayadaw

U. Uttamasara in his book, “The Buddhist way of Daily Life”, explained about the

nature of impermanence in our lives for us to think that, “He is a being which is

impermanent; I am also a being which is impermanent. One day, both of us must die;

we are the corpses-to-be; we both are just alive for a while in this human world.” “He

is a corpse-to-be; I am also a corpse-to-be, there should not arise anger or conceit

between the two corpses. Each one in each caste is born to die. Therefore, no one

wants caste and corpse. And they should also know the impermanent of the caste and

the corpse-to-be.

1.5 Dilemma of caste system in the changing world

Every thing is changing in this world. Whatever is not truth it is changeable according

to time, place, climate and social condition. Likewise caste system is also subject to

change under the influence of the above conditions from time to time.

Caste prejudice, before the Buddha time, was based on “colour” and “race”

between the Aryans and the former inhabitants in India. The Aryans were white-

skinned people and the former inhabitants in India were mostly black-skinned people.

So, the arrival of Aryans in India for earlier time led to the discrimination of the fair

skin and the dark skin between them. At that time, the Aryan people were proud of

their white skin, so they did not want the other groups to mix blood with them in

marriage or family tie. They do not like the dark-skinned people and treat them like
17

servants or even slaves. They think the dark-skinned persons are dirty and ugly. They

hate and ridicule the black-skinned people. Mostly the white-skinned people like to

look down on the dark-skinned people by nature. Therefore, some scholars have a

concept on nature that “nature” is not only good but also bad, dark, dirty and ugly.

Actually, every one has his or her own beauty: inside beauty and outside

beauty. The outside beauty is the beauty of skin, and inside beauty is knowledge and

moral character. Most people like outside beauty. In this sense, beauty is skin in deep.

It is nothing more than this. ‘Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it,’ said

Confucius.

From Buddhist point of view understand that if anyone is jealous of the

beauty of others and if anyone is proud of his or her own beauty and looks down on

those who are ugly. Such a thing should be avoided. If one does not love someone,

one should not hate or look down on him or her, but instead should show loving-

kindness and compassion is good enough or else the bad effect might have reflection

or reaction on the owner of the doer. There is a Khmer song says, “Oh darling! Don’t

hate me lest kammic-energy makes me become your husband.” Aggañña sutta tells us

clearly that because of their ignorance, conceit and immoral actions those who were

beautiful look down on the ugly and so their beautiful complexion was also vanished.

This is a living example that should be taken into account by every one in this very

life. A person should get rid of pride, conceit and anger. A Chinese philosophy says,

“Proud man has no heaven; the envious man has no neighbour; an angry man has not

even himself.”17 It is possible to say that because of pride and conceit lead to

discrimination between man and man in society. Through the evolution of long period

of human society, caste system also develops.


18

And so caste system is adopted in many forms through the development of the

world. Caste system before the Buddha time was on “colour” and “race”, and later on

in the Buddha’s lifetime, caste was based on “birth”, that is, high-born and low-born.

This fact was shown in those days that many Brahmins were proud of themselves and

claimed to be superior to others by birth. This fact is to be found in many suttas of

Suttanta Piåaka or Jàtaka stories. There maybe in the Buddha’s time, Brahmins (now

called, Hindus), who followers of Brahmanism (Hinduism) were also black skin

because of racial mix up. That was why; caste was focused on “birth”, not on “colour”

anymore. On the other hand, in these days some Hindus are also found to have black

skin at many Hindu temples. However, those days when the Brahmins made the

theory of inferiority or superiority based on “birth” was denied by the Buddha.

Actually, the Buddha was from the Aryan race and born in Sakya’s clan that had very

strong caste prejudice racial discrimination, but except for the Buddha himself he did

not have such idea of caste or racial discrimination.

According to Buddha he emphasized that those who were born in high lineage

look down on the low born persons, so their high birth was degraded. Because of love

and respect the Buddha too much, King Pasenadi of Kosala, wishing to marry into the

clan of the Sakyans, sent some emissaries to Kapilavatthu with a request for the hand

of one of the Sakyan princesses. Not wishing to offend King Pasenadi, the Sakyan

princes replied that they would comply with his request, but instead of a Sakyan

pricess they sent a beautiful girl born of King Mahànàma and a slave woman.

King Pasenadi made that girl one of his chief consorts and subsequently she

gave birth to a son. This son was named Vidùdabha. When the prince was sixteen

years old, he was sent on a visit to King Mahànàma and the Sakyan princes. There he

was received with some hospitality but all the Sakyan princes who were younger than
19

Vidudabha had been sent away to a village; so that they would not have to pay

respects to him.

After staying a few days in Kapilavatthu, Vidùdabha and his company left for

home. Soon after they left, a maid servant was given the task of washing with milk the

place where Vidudabha had sat. As she did so she remarked, ‘This is the place where

that son of a slave woman had sat.’ At that moment, a member of Vidùdabha’s

entourage who had stayed overheard the remark. She reported to Vidùdabha that his

mother, vasabhà Khattiyà, had been the daughter of a slave girl. When Vidùdabha was

told about the incident, he became wild with rage and declared that one day he would

wipe out the whole clan of the Sakyan’s.

True to his word, when he became king, he marched on the Sakyan clan and

massacred them all, with the exception of a few who were with Mahànàma and some

others. Vidùdabha killed seventy seven thousand Sakyans and stole eighty thousands

boys and girls. The girls were rude to him, and he ordered their death. Such was the

case of story happened in the Buddha’s time concerning extreme caste and racial

prejudices.

Instead, Buddhists believe that he who has no anger, so he has good

complexion. He was born in high family because he respects the elder or moral

person. So no one is high or low because of his birth. No one is high because of

looking down on others, but by his good or bad action make him high or low.

Therefore, we come to know that caste system before was based on “colour”

and “race” and in the Buddha’s time caste was based on “birth” all are changed

through the changing world. After the Buddha’s time caste system again was seen

based on both “race” and “colour” because of the influence of thought in the old day.

For example, Negro, before there were serious discrimination between the Negro race
20

and the white race in Western countries. This discrimination can be said based on

both race and colour because Negro is black-skinned race. Normally they use the

word “Negro” to humiliate this race. Black-skinned people do not have rights and

privileges like white- skinned people, however, as long as caste system or racial

discrimination still exist, hate and dislike still remain in human mind in this world.

Nelson Mandela struggled against the racial discrimination practiced in South Africa.

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), as a young boy he was treated badly and heinously by Jews

because of racial discrimination. When growing up and become Germany leader, he

took revenge on them. His ambition was very strong and high which brought about

World War II in1939.

He hoped to conquer the entire world, and for a time dominated most of
Europe and much of North Africa. He instituted sterilization and
euthanasia measures to enforce his idea of racial purity among German
people and caused the slaughter of millions of Jews, Sinti and Roma
(Gypsies), Slavic peoples, and many others, all of whom he considered
inferior.
In 1933 Hitler initiated policies to rid the Aryan race of undesirable
elements and eliminate other races that he considered inferior and
dangerous to the Germans. First, the government approved marriage loans
to the “right kind” of Germans—those ancestors and appearance measured
up to the Nazi’s standard of Aryan purity.
Adolf Hitler preached to the assembled German soldiers and Nazi party
faithful that they were a superior race that deserved more than they had,
including additional Lebensraum, or living space, and a higher standard of
living. 18

In this case, when Hitler came into high power he was also proud, barbarous and

looked down on others nations and races. He assumed the conquest of the Union of

Soviet Socialist Republics would be simple. His assumption was based on his belief

that the Soviets, many of whom were of Slavic descent, were an inferior race

controlled by the Jews under the guise of socialism. But unfortunately he lost war in

Russia in 1945.
21

In the past, American hired Negro people to work for them. They think Negro

race is stupid. They treated them as slaves. Therefore there is a saying, “creating

white job with black labour.” The following story is a true fact that should be known.

Frederick Douglass suffered severe physical and mental abuse during his
many years as a slave. He dreamed of one day learning to read and being
free. He believed knowledge would lead the way to freedom. Douglass
wrote several books about his life as a slave. In eighteen forty-five he
wrote "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave."
It became an immediate best seller and remains popular today.
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born around eighteen eighteen
in Tuckahoe, Maryland, near the Chesapeake Bay. Many slaves lived on
large farms owned by white people. Each plantation was like a small
village owned by one family who lived in a large house on the property.
Frederick and his mother, Harriet Bailey, were slaves on a huge plantation
owned by Colonel Edward Lloyd. Their slave owner was a white man
named Captain Aaron Anthony. Frederick knew very little about his
father, except that he was a white man. Many believed Captain Anthony
was his father.
Frederick did not know his mother well. Harriet Bailey was sent to work
on another plantation when Frederick was very young. She was able to
visit him only a few times. She died when Frederick was about seven
years old.
Frederick then lived with his grandparents, Betsey and Isaac Bailey. He
said that his grandparents had a loving home and were respected by other
slaves in the area. Because of this, he did not realize at first that someone
owned him and the others---that they were slaves.
It was not unusual for African-American families to be separated, often
never seeing each other again. Slaves were not treated as human beings.
Slave owners bought and traded them as if they were animals or property.
Frederick had to leave his grandparents’ home when he was six years old.
He later wrote about that day. He said being forced to leave was one of the
most painful experiences in his life. He said he began to understand the
evil and oppressive system of slavery.
In eighteen twenty-six, Frederick was sent to work for Hugh Auld, in
Baltimore, Maryland. Mister Auld’s wife, Sophia, was very kind to
Frederick. She treated him as if he were a member of her family. Missus
Auld soon began to teach Frederick to read. Her husband became
extremely angry and ordered her to stop immediately. Slaves were denied
education. Mister Auld said if slaves could read they would rebel and run
away.
Sophia Auld stopped teaching Frederick to read. But he learned to read
from white boys he met in the city. The boys also told Frederick he had
the right to be free.
Mister Auld sent Frederick to work for a poor farmer, Edward Covey, who
beat him often. In eighteen thirty-six, Frederick made an attempt to
escape. But he failed and was arrested. He was sent back to the home of
Hugh and Sophia Auld home in Baltimore.
22

He met and fell in love with a free black woman named Anna Murray.
Miz Murray had a job cleaning other people’s homes. She gave Frederick
money to help him escape by getting on a train to New York City.
"My free life began on the third of September, eighteen thirty-eight. On
the morning of the fourth of that month, I found myself in the big city of
New York, a free man. For the moment the dreams of my youth and the
hopes of my manhood where completely fulfilled. The bonds that held me
to “old master” were broken. No man now had the right to call me his
slave or try to control me."
When Frederick Bailey reached New York he changed his name to
Frederick Douglass to hide his identity from slave capturers. Anna
Murray joined him and they were married. They settled in New Bedford,
Massachusetts and had five children.
Frederick Douglass became one of the most important leaders of the
abolitionist movement to end slavery in the United States.
In eighteen forty-one, he attended the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society
meeting in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Douglass was unexpectedly asked
to give a speech to describe his experiences as a slave. He had not
prepared a speech but he spoke to the huge gathering of people anyway.
Most of the supporters were white. He spoke with great emotion in a deep
and powerful voice. The crowd praised him.
After that speech, The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society asked
Douglass to travel to cities throughout the North. He continued to tell
about his cruel and oppressive life as a slave. He told how slave owners
beat slaves everyday. How slaves were given very little food to eat. How
they worked all day in the fields during dangerously hot weather. How
they slept on cold floors and had very little clothing.
Many who heard his story challenged its truthfulness. They refused to
believe that Frederick Douglass was ever a slave. Instead, they thought he
was an educated man who created the entire story.
In eighteen forty-four, Douglass began writing his life’s story. "Narrative
of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave" was published the
following year. He later published expanded versions of his book.
Frederick Douglass wrote his first book partly to prove that he had lived
through the horrible situations he described in his speeches. He was asked
to speak at the Independence Day celebration in Rochester, New York in
eighteen fifty-two. He noted the differences of how blacks and whites
considered Independence Day.
“The purpose of this celebration is the Fourth of July. It is the birthday of
your National Independence, and of your political freedom… This Fourth
of July is yours, not mine. You may celebrate. I must mourn…What, to
the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals
to him more than all other days in the year, the horrible discrimination and
punishment to which he is the everyday victim…There is not a nation on
the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the
people of these United States at this very hour.”
In eighteen sixty-one the American Civil War began. Frederick Douglass
and many others saw slavery as the cause of the war. Douglass wanted
blacks to be permitted to join the Union Army. However, Northern
whites, including President Abraham Lincoln, were against it. They said
23

black soldiers would harm the spirit of white soldiers. They believed
black soldiers were not intelligent.
Two years later, blacks were permitted to join the Union Army, but they
were not treated as soldiers. Although they showed bravery they were
given less important jobs. Douglass met with President Lincoln in
Washington to discuss the issue. Douglass urge that black soldiers be
treated equal to white soldiers. Although President Lincoln agreed, he said
there could be no immediate change.
In eighteen sixty-five, the Civil War ended. The Union forces had
defeated the South. A few months later President Lincoln was killed. And
later that year, slavery was ended.
Frederick Douglass went on to hold several positions in the government,
including United States Marshall of the District of Columbia. He also
became one of America’s greatest leaders. He was an activist, a writer, a
powerful speaker and an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln.
He never stopped his efforts to gain equality for all people. Historians say
Douglass gave two thousand speeches and wrote thousands of articles and
letters. His work as an activist also included women’s rights. On February
twentieth, eighteen ninety-five, he gave a speech at the National Council
of Women. Later that day, he returned to his home in Washington and
died of heart failure at the age of seventy-eight.
Frederick Douglass ended his "book My Bondage, My Freedom" with
these words:
“I shall labor in the future as I have labored in the past, to work for the
honorable, social, religious, and intellectual position of the free colored
people; while Heaven lends me ability, to use my voice, my pen or my
vote to support the great and most important work of the complete and
unconditional freedom of my entire race.”19

Again latter, because of the above similar reason there was also a struggle for civil

right to find racial justice for black-skinned people. One of them was Martin Luther

King, Jr. (1929-1968), helped convince many white Americans to support the cause of

civil rights in the United State. Finally, he achieved his goal for the demanding racial

justice. He said he got victory over injustice, not victory over the white-skinned

people. In his view, he thinks that all human beings in all nations should not be judged

by the colour of the black skin, but should be judged by their characters. Again,

before the white-skinned people of America used to look down on the black-skinned

races and also treated them altraciously like animals. But, on the contrary, the Negro
24

becomes American citizen and they are now called African-American and can enjoy

the equal right to the American people.

Mr. Barack Obama, African-American could even be elected as the 44th

president of the United States. Here it is just the point that a slogan says, “a cat is

either white or black; it is not important, but the importance is that whether the cat

knows how to catch the mouse or not.” No need to say nothing of colour if the cat can

catch the mouse, he is needed. In other words, it is said, the cow or the ox black or

white is no problem if he or she can be used for ploughing the field. When the black

cow produces the white milk like the white cow, so both black and white cows are

important and equally needed. In the same manner, there should be no discrimination

between black and white-skinned people in human society. We should meet each

other in the name of human being and should not cling strongly or extremely to his

race, colour, creed or status in life. It is said even though people have different castes,

and yet still some of them have the same blood groups. Black people also have brain

the same as the white ones.

To promote peace and happiness of the world, there should be no

discrimination between “colour” and “race” in any religion or any nation. The world

belongs to no one but all. The whole world is like a garden full of flowers with

different kinds of colours. If all flowers in the world have only one white colour, then

it is difficult to give meaning to the beauty of the world. Different people have

different favours. Some may like black and some others may like white. In human

world, material things, for example, “cars” are produced with different colours to

meet human’s need for their different choices. For some people like black car, while

others like the white one. Likewise people in this world some are in black-skinned

race, some are in white-skinned race and some others are in yellow-skinned race. But
25

all races should be treated equally as human. There should be no hate in colours of the

race because the choices depending on every one’ desire. We should have such an

idea in order to lead the ship of the world toward harmony, love, peace, development,

glory and happiness in our time. That is why the Buddha said there is no one who is

not our relative in this long round of rebirth (saçsàra).

We need to reflect that all human beings are the same kind, descended
from the same ancestors, but, having multiplied and wandered far and
wide, we have split into groups. Now the world is getting smaller, and we
are forced to once again live on close terms. We are one community and
we must relate to each other as such. With such an understanding we will
be able to do away with discrimination and dissension and become more
harmonious, to unify into one world community of diversity within unity.20

There is one rule which lies at the heart of every religion—we do unto others as we

would have them do unto us. Daresay in true element of human race, no one wants to

be done a bad thing toward one another. Caste discrimination is not a laughing matter.

It is one of problems in the world. Even up to now it is unable to solve this problem

completely yet. And because of caste (vaääa) take form in different ways, it is also

difficult to give meanings to it. The word “caste” is, therefore, interpreted into

different meanings according to time and socially religious conditions.

The word varäa means “colour”—not, as was previously thought, to refer


to “race” but rather in the sense of “characteristic” or “attribute.” The
best translation is probably “class.” As applied to the realm of society, it
refers to four social classes that epitomized Vedic (and Aryan) India: the
brahmaäas or priests, the kshatriyas (warriors and rulers), the vaiËyas
(commoners; merchants and agriculturalists), and the ´sùdras (servants).
These four classes, while separate in terms of function and given
hierarchically different values, are also quite obviously interdependent.
Taken together, they constitute a complete and well-ordered society
according to a religiously and ideologically imbued indigenous social
vision.21

According to the above description it can be summed up that caste system if it is

applied in the field of race of mankind it is based on “colour.” If it is applied in the

domain of Hindu religion and its ideology it is based on “birth.” If it is applied in the
26

sphere of society it is based on “lineage” concerning high family status or low family

status. Not only that, the meaning of caste can be given more than this, and no one

knows clearly that caste in our modern time in the twenty-first century is based on

what because when asking concerning caste prejudice in this present time, different

persons give different answers and all are obscure. Some said caste is now based on

two factors: (1) arrogance and (2) money. As it is usually seen in society the

arrogance lies in persons who are in high authority or power behave to others

arrogantly and clumsily in both bodily action and verbal ones that might lead to caste

prejudice. On the other hand, persons born in rich family with highly economical

standard and have a lot of money also act in similar way. Mostly such persons have

Vaääa machariya and Kula machariya. Some other said caste nowadays is based on

“position.” But actually, position of man here should not be deemed as caste adoption.

Man must respect each other according to high or low positions respectively. This is

the role of man that needs to be abided by because all men in one country cannot be

equally in rank. If one snake has one head but ten tails it can creep forward easily.

Instead, if one snake has ten heads and the only one tail, it cannot creep well. In the

same way, it is impossible for all men to become leaders together in one country. If all

men became leaders in a country, the society would not run well. If in a society, there

was no leader, no followers, and all are equally in position or rank, the society would

not move forward to the prosperous development. In this case, it is not different from

the snake that has a tail but ten heads. So, position of man in society should not be

viewed as a caste problem because any position is not rigid. It can be changed or

transferred to one another according to mandate or any circumstances.

Even though caste system has developed and changed its form in many ways,

it is, however, caste adoption, like a chronic disease of mankind from generation to
27

generation. It is said that caste system will exist in the future as long as people in the

world practise it. Caste still exists if people follow some aspects of Hinduism. This

fact shows us that the belief of divine creation in Hinduism seems to be the first root

cause of having idea leading to caste adoption and dividing social classes in human

society.
Chapter II: Exposition of Four Broad Social Classes

There are more sub-castes; however four main castes are mentioned here in this

chapter two.

2.1 Khattiya – the royal caste

The word ‘khattiya’ is Pāli word. It is synonymous with ‘Kshatriya’ in Sanskrit

language. From Brahman points of view, Brahmins said Khattiyas were born from the

arms of Brahma and so Khattiya caste is lower than Brahmins.

For Brahmanism, Brahmins believe that Brahmin caste is the highest, born from

the mouth of Brahma. The Brahmin caste is pure, heir of Brahma and the other castes

are low and impure. That is why usually it is seen that Brahmin caste, in some books

traditionally written by some scholars, is placed in the first order; khattiya caste is

second and the other castes each ones are placed in the following order. But this does

not appeal to reasons yet. From the robust stance of Buddhist view, the Khattiya caste

is the highest one and it is in the first order or position. This seems appeal to reason

because in Suttanta Piåaka there is a proof of the Ambattha sutta in which the Buddha

said, whether one compares women with women, or men with men, the Khattiyas are

higher and the Brahmans are inferior. The Kshatriya is the best of those among this

folk who put their truth in lineage. In this sutta, Pokkharasātī learnt that the Buddha is

staying in the Icchànankala Wood, so he sent his pupil named Ambaååha to check

whether Gotama was a genuine Buddha endowed with the thirty-two physical traits of

a "great man". When Ambaååha met the Buddha, his insolent behavior (towards the

Buddha) resulted in reprimand from the Buddha. Ambaååha got upset with the

remarks, and accused the Sakyas as being menials with three allegations:

1. the Sakyas are rough and rude, they are touchy and violent;
29

2. the Sakyas joked about Ambaååha when he was once at Kapilavatthu, and not

offered him seat;

3. Like everyone else, the Sakyas should wait upon the Brahmins, who are the most

superior of all.

Concerning this case, the Buddha rebutted all the allegations, and recounted the origin

of the Kaähāyanas, the clan to which Ambaååha belonged. The story of the king

Okkaka and Kaähā served to remind Ambaååha that even Brahmins can have very

humble beginnings.

The Buddha moved on to contrast the contemporary social status of the

khattiyas and Brahmins. The Buddha started by discussing about mixed marriages.

The discussion applies to both a Brahmin man marrying a Khattiya woman, and a

Khattiya man marrying a Brahmin woman. The Buddha pointed out that the offspring

of a khattiya and a Brahmin would be well-received by the Brahmins since one of his

parents is a Brahmin. However, the child would not be equally treated by the khattiyas

because of his mixed parentage. The Buddha continued to mention that a khattiya,

even if he is an outlaw, would be well-regarded by the Brahmins, so much so that they

may even offer him a Brahmin bride. The above discussions also show that the

khattiyas are more rigorous than the Brahmins in ensuring a pure lineage.

Even so, the Buddha continued, the best of gods and men is not the one who is

pure in lineage, but the one who is perfect in wisdom and righteousness. Bondage to

the notions of birth or lineage, or pride of social position or connection by marriage, is

far from perfection in wisdom and righteousness. The Buddha continued to discuss

the perfection in wisdom and righteousness, and the four "leakages" (nonfulfillments)

to perfection. Ambaååha confessed that he had received training in neither the

perfection of wisdom and conduct, nor the four "leakages" from his teacher
30

Pokkharasātī. The Buddha asserted that not only has Pokkharasātī failed as a teacher,

he does not live the way of the ancient sages, and he is also not well-received by the

king, even though the king granted him a royal garden.

At the end of the dialog, the Buddha took the opportunity to reveal the thirty-

two physical traits on his body to Ambattha. Ambattha was pleased and departed. On

his way back, Ambattha met Pokkharasātī with a retinue of Brahmins. He reported to

Pokkharasadi his encounter and conversation with the Buddha. Knowing Ambaååha

was rude to the Buddha; Pokkharasātī became furious and gave him a good beating.

The next morning, Pokkharasadi went to Icchānankala Wood, without Ambaååha, to

meet the Buddha. As before, the Buddha revealed his thirty-two marks to

Pokkharasadi, who was pleased and invited the Buddha to a meal the following day.

After the meal the following day, the Buddha gave a discourse to Ambaååha. Upon

hearing the Four Noble Truths, Pokkharasātī became a Sotāpanna. Thereafter, he

became a lay Buddhist follower by taking refuge in the Triple Gems.

Thus in the Kannakathāla Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya, the Buddha is

represented as saying÷ "There are these four castes: kshatriyas, Brahmins, vaiËyas,

and .sùdras. Of these four castes, two—the kshatriyas and the Brahmins are given

precedence, to wit, in salutation, homage, obeisance, and due ministry."

It is important at this point to note that the Pāli Piåakas, in specifying the four

castes as above, invariably give precedence to the kshatriyas--the rājanyas of the

Vedic hymns. As it may be taken for certain that, when this 'kingly class' first arose, it

was supreme in Indian society, the Piåakas preserve the ancient tradition in their

championship of the established precedence of the kshatriyas against the

presumptuous usurpation of the Brahmins, and mark the transitional epoch when the

Brahmin’s claim to pre-eminence, though urged with growing arrogance, had not yet
31

extorted universal recognition--more particularly from the kshatriyas. There is an

excellent illustration of this in the Ambaååha sutta, where the young Brahmin

Ambaååha denounces the Sakyan kshatriyas as follows:--"The Sakyan race is fierce,

violent, hasty, and long-tongued. Though they are naught but men of substance, yet

they pay no respect, honour, or reverence to Brahmins." And the young Brahmin goes

on to complain that he himself had not been treated by them in Kapilatthu with the

respect which he expected. Without attempting to deny the allegation, the Buddha

urges that the Sakyans were at home in their own city, and that Ambaååha had no right

to be so angry because no notice was taken of him. Far more important for our present

purpose are the points in Ambaååha Sutta, which deal with the treatment accorded by

kshatriyas and Brahmins respectively to the son (1) of a Kshatriya youth by a

Brahmin girl, and (2) of Brahmin youth by a Kshatriya girl. In reply to the Buddha's

series of questions, the young Brahmin is forced to admit that in both cases alike the

Brahmins will recognize the hybrid offspring as a full Brahmin, whereas the

kshatriyas will not admit to Kshatriya rank anyone who is not the child of Kshatriya

parents on both sides. "So it is clear," triumphantly argues the Buddha, "whether you

regard it from the male or from the female side, that it is the kshatriyas who are the

best people, and the Brahmins their inferiors." Similarly, the young Brahmin is forced

to admit that, if a Kshatriya is expelled by his fellows, the Brahmins will welcome

him as one of themselves, and he will rank as a full Brahmin; whereas an expelled

Brahmin is never received by the Kshatriyas. Hence, even when a Kshatriya is in the

depths of degradation, still it is true that the kshatriyas are the best people, and the

Brahmins their inferiors. But some Buddhists still opine that Brahmins are higher

than khattiyas because they are teacher with virtue, while khattiyas are proud of their

caste and also have conceit about their lineage. But one cannot say exactly that all
32

Brahmins are good and all khattiyas are bad because some khattiyas also have virtue

and become great patrons of Buddhism with deep devotion in India such as king

Pasenadi kosala, king Bimbisāra and King Asoka were all supporters of Buddhism. In

Sri lanka king Dhammacetī and king Vaddhagāminī were good Buddhists who paid

much interest in reforming Buddhism. King Jayavaraman VII of Cambodia and his

queen were also good Buddhists and had built many religious shrines, schools, resting

halls, hospitals for monks and lay people throughout country which could be said

similarly to king Asoka’s achievements of India. King Mindon was one of kings in

Myanmar who could be said the greatest one had done many benefits for Buddhism,

and one of his achievements is the world biggest books pagoda where all Tipiåakas

scriptures and commentaries were engraved on marble slabs at Kothadaw Phaya in

Mandalay division. That placed was held the fifth Buddhist synod of Myanmar in the

reign of King Mindon and it has been a crucial point of tourist site up to now for

many tourists and Buddhist pilgrims both inside and outside the country come to visit

there nearly every month of the year.

In this context, it is not attempted to exaggerate and be partial about khattiya

clans who just constructed monasteries, temples, pagodas and shrines for the sake of

religious or secular fields and glorify them as the highest caste, superior to Brahmin.

But what is said here is the fact that can be found by every one with proofs mentioned

in Theravāda canonical texts as taught by the Buddha. As a matter of fact, Buddha

was born to highest caste; possess the best features, acquired perfect wisdom that

support to attain supremacy of all. But, for the caste, he neither praises nor likes it.

The Buddha never considers any one nobler or higher than the Dhamma. So he

respects Dhamma to be the highest thing and in the Dhamma there is no label of caste.
33

2.2 Brahmaäa—the Brahmin Caste

Brahmanism is an ancient religion in India which exists for time immemorial. It

seems the oldest religion of religions in the world.

For many scholars argued about the occurrence of Brahmanism. They said that

Brahmanism occurred before other religions, especially before Buddhism. Some said,

Brahmanism occurred before Buddhism only in the mandate of Gotama’s religion, but

not before the religions of the formerly ancient Buddha who was millions of Buddha

appeared in the world earlier, while some others made comment that even many

Buddhas appeared in the long past period, but all Bodhisattas before becoming any

Buddha they, customary, had gone forth and learned some knowledge from Brahmins.

So they traditionally assumed that Brahmanism occurred before Buddhism in all

generations.

Maybe by this reason, just the Brahmins were proud to say that Brahmaäa

caste is the highest one, born of Brahma’s mouth, and they are immediate children of

Brahma. They say their gods are spontaneously born and live permanently in heaven.

They believe that their gods created the world and every thing as well.

Any way, whether which religions occurred first or after is not important. The

important thing is whether the religion talks about the truth or not. Truth must be

supported by proof. Truth has inference and perception as its cause. So if Brahmanism

talks about the truth with rationality no matter how it can be accepted without

exception.

However, according to Brahmanism or Hinduism, it is believed that the


whole world was created by Mahābrahma. This Mahābrahma has many
names such as, Isvāra, Paramatma and Prajāpati. ‘Pati’ means creator or
master. ‘Prajā’ means creatures or living beings. So he is the master of
living beings because he created them. Paramatma is a Sanskrit or Hindu
term. In Pāli it is Paramatta. When we divide this Paramatma into two
words, it is Parama and atma. Here ‘parama’ means the noblest; the
holiest, ‘atma’ means soul or self. So ‘paramatma’ means the holiest
34

soul. Some translate this word as the big self or big soul. This soul is big
enough to create the world and living beings. When the condition of the
world was good enough for living beings to live in, he created all living
beings—men, devas, Brahmas, and animals. He even created tigers, lions
and poisonous snakes, which are a great danger to man.1

There is one more case for us to take into account concerning creator of the world.

Once, Anāåhapindika expressed a desire to hear a discourse on some religious subject.

The Blessed Lord responding to his wishes raised the question, “who is
it that shapes our lives? Is it Ishāvara, a personal creator? If Ishāvara be
the maker, all living things should have silently to submit to their
maker’s power. They would be like vessels formed by potter’s hand. If
the world had been made by Ishāvara there should be no such things as
sorrow, or calamity, or sin; for both pure and impure deeds must come
from him. If not, there would be another cause beside him, and he
would not be the self-existent one. Thus, you see, the thought of
Ishāvara is overthrown.2

Therefore, the acclamation of Brahmins based on this reason is not logical because

there is not enough proof so that it can be accepted by Buddha, cosmographers,

anthropologist, philosophers and many scientists in the world. One should find out

that if there is creator gods there must be another creator of gods. Nothing occurred

without cause and condition. There are no children without mother and father. Life

must be born of life. Man is generally born of man. Man must be able to see man face

to face.

In the same way, it should be reconsidered that Brahmas must be born of

Brahmas and must give birth to Brahmas, not man or any thing else. The effect must

go together with its cause. But Brahmins have wrong views about path to live in union

with their Brahma. They have confusion of their practice to attain the way to live with

Brahmà. In Tevijja Sutta of Dìgha Nikàya, the Brahmins considered the threefold

knowledge as the way to Brahmà. The story is as follows:


35

When our lord Buddha touring Kosala with a large company of some five

hundred monks. He came to a Kosalan Brahmin village called maäasakaåa, and stayed

to the north of the village in a mango-grove on the bank of River Acivaratì.

At that time many very well-known and prosperous Brahmins were staying at

maäasakaåa, including Cankì, Tārukkha, Pokkharasatì, jaäussonì, and Toteyya. Their

two pupils named Vāseååha and Bhàradvajja went strolling along the road, and as they

did so, and an argument broke out between them on the subject of right and wrong

paths. They said three Vedas are means to practice for going to the Brahmà.

The young Brahmin Vāseååha said: ‘This is the only straight path; this is the

direct path, the path of salvation that leads one who follows it to union with Brahma,

as taught by the Brahmin Pokkharasātì!’, while the young Brahmin Bhàradvàja said:

“This is the only straight path; this is the direct path, the path of salvation that leads

one who follows it to union with Brahma, as taught by the Brahmin Tàrukkha,!’

In this argument, Vàseååha could not convince Bhàradvàja, nor could

Bhàradvàja convince Vàseååha. So they went to ask the Buddha in order to find

satisfactory resolution for them. Having exchanged courtesies with him, they sat

down to one side, and Vàseååha said: ‘Reverend Gotama, as we were strolling along

the road, we got to discussing right and wrong paths. I said: “this is the only straight

path…as is taught by the Brahmin Pokkharasātì”, and Bhàradvàja said: “this is the

only straight path…as is taught by the Brahmin Tàrukkha”. This is our dispute, our

quarrel, our difference.

‘So, Vàseååha , you say that the way to union with Brahma is that taught by the

Brahmin Pokkharasātì, and Bhàradvāja says it is taught by the Brahmin Tàrukkha.

What is the dispute, the quarrel, the difference all about?


36

‘Right and wrong paths, Reverend Gotama. There are so many kinds of

Brahmins who teach different paths: the Addhariya, the Titthiriya, the Chandoka, the

Chandàva, the Brahmachariya Brahmins—do all these ways lead to union with

Brahmà? Just as if there were near a town or village many different paths—do all

these come together at that place? And likewise, do the ways of the various

Brahmins… lead the one who follows them to union with Brahma?’

At that time, the Buddha asked, ‘you say: they lead, ‘Vàseååha?’ I say: “they

lead”, Reverend Gotama.’

But, Vàseååha , is there then a single one of these Brahmins learned in the three

Vedas who has seen Brahma face to face? No, Reverend Gotama.

‘Then has the teacher’s teacher of any one of them seen Brahmà face to face?’

‘No, Reverend Gotama.’

‘Then has the ancestor seven generations back of the teacher of one of them

seen Brahmà face to face?’ ‘No, Reverend Gotama.’

‘Well then, Vàseååha, what about the early sages of those Brahmins learned in

the three Vedas, the makers of the mantras, the expounders of the mantras, whose

ancient verses are chanted, pronounced and collected by the Brahmins of today, and

sung and spoken about-such as Aååhaka, Vàmaka, Vàmadeva, Vessàmitta, Yamataggi,

Angirasa, Bhàradvàja, Vàseååha, Kassapa, Bhagu—did they ever say “we know and

see when, how and where Brahmà appear”? ‘No, Reverend Gotama.’

So, Vàseååha, not one of these Brahmins learned in the three Vedas has seen

Brahma face to face, nor has one of their teachers, or teacher’s teachers, nor even the

ancestor seven generations back of one of their teachers. Nor could any of the early

sages say: “We know and see when, how and where Brahma appears.” So what these

Brahmins learned in the three Vedas are saying is: “We teach this path to union with
37

Brahma that we do not know or see, this is the only straight path….leading to union

with Brahma”. What do you think, Vàseååha? Such being the case, does not what these

Brahmins declare turn out to be ill-founded? Yes indeed, Reverend Gotama.

In this case, Brahmins are in obscure opinions about their Brahma just as blind

men walk consecutively in queue the first persons never see Brahma, the persons who

walk in the middle never see the Brahma and the persons who walk last never see

Brahma same to each other, so too, the talks of Brahmins with three Vedas as the way

practice to Brahmà are useless. So the Buddha said:

Well, Vàseååha , when these Brahmins learned in the three Vedas teach a
path that they do not know or see, saying: “This is the only straight
path…” this cannot possibly be right. Just as a file of blind man go on,
clinging to each other, and the first one sees nothing, the middle one sees
nothing, and the last one sees nothing- so it is with the talk of these
Brahmins learned in the three Vedas: the first one sees nothing, the middle
one sees nothing, and the last one sees nothing. The talk of these Brahmins
learned in the three Vedas turns out to be laughable, mere words, empty
and vain.3

Sometimes, someone loves somebody in some ways, but Love is impossible if

without understanding. One cannot love someone if one does not understand him or

her. If one does not understand and one loves, that is not love; it is something else.

The same thing, the Buddha went on to compare the case of Brahmin man who seeks

for love without knowing personal background of a girl he loves. To make this

clearer, he said to Vàseååha thus:

Vàseååha , it is just as if a man were to say: “I am going to seek out and love
the most beautiful girl in the country”. They might say to him: “…Do you
know what caste she belongs to?” “No.” “Well, do you know her name, her
clan, whether she is tall or short…, dark or light-complexioned…, or where
she comes from?” “No. And they might say: “Well then, you don’t know or
see the one you seek for and desire?” and he would say” “No. Does not the
talk of that man turn out to be stupid? “Certainly, Reverend Gotama”.
Then, Vàseååha, it is like this: not one of these Brahmins……has seen
Brahma face to face, nor has one their teachers……” Yes indeed, Reverend
Gotama”.
“That is right, Vàseååha . When these Brahmins learned in the three Vedas
teach a path that they do not know and see, this cannot be possibly be right.4
38

Buddhism shows the way how one can become devas or Brahmas reasonably by

following Dhammas as taught by The Buddha and every one can practice those

Dhammas to attain such states. There is no discrimination of caste for if any one

wants to have good destination after death he can choose the way to practice by

himself.

In common words, it is said kings born of deity are called deities’ children.

Brahmins born of Brahmas are called Brahmas’ children. However, the Buddha

denied that in human world, they have never seen any deities, the kings of deities or

the Brahmas created human. He said, they see only human created human, having

their parents as human, suck their mother’s bust, and eat human food, live in human

world and die as human. In medium words, the Buddha explained that if any man

endowed with Deva-dhamma, viz. saddhà(conviction), sìla(morality),càga (charity),

sutta (knowledge) and paññà (wisdom) in his mind, he is changed from human into

deva and after death he will be reborn in deva world. If any man endowed with four

sublime states Dhammas: mettà (loving-kindness), karunà( compassion), mudità(

appreciated joy) and upekkhà ( equanimity) in his mind he is changed from human

into Brahma. After death, he will be reborn in Brahma world.

In this sense, the Buddha said human must be created by human, not created

by any Brahma. But the consciousness (viññàäa) of Deva, Indra or Brahma can come

to take conception in human because the births of beings depending on three factors:

(1) mother and father have sexual intercourse, (2) mother has menstruation or menses

and (3) the energy of consciousness comes to take rebirth. In these ways, beings are

born from one existence to another with conditions of kamma and volitions as they

desire and perform accordingly According to the above evidences, they can say that

man can also become Brahmas like the Buddha say parents are the Brahmas of their
39

children because they have four sublime Dhammas upon their children. Parents are

former deities(pubba devas) of their children.... and man can even become king of

gods (indras) if he or she develops the mind up to maximum level by practicing the

Dhammas as shown by the Buddha. No caste distinction is concern. Many things in

this world are transposable or changeable. Depending on situation and circumstances

or certain factors, something can become something else, and somebody can become

somebody else. As it is seen in history of the world, for instance, farmers became

prime ministers or presidents. VaiËya or Sùdra man became good leader of a country.

Furthermore, man became gods and gods became man and vice versa. That is

why; professor White Head, a well-known American philosopher affirmed that first

man created gods, and then gods created man. It means man first created gods in his

mind in accordance with his way of thinking. After that, man formed the personalized

features as gods and gave those personifications to man’s personalities. Similarly,

when seeing many Buddha’s relics enshrined in many places a common question was

asked ‘are they real Buddha’s relics?’ some ordinary Buddhists may say, ‘if we

believe in Buddha, then the Buddha will come to exist in our mind.’ Some westerners

and also some members of other religions said, ‘if we do not believe in gods, there is

nothing to believe.’ We will never go to hell because of not believing in God. To

believe God without using our common sense is not good. Some religious members

are afraid of going to hell if they do not believe in God. A philosopher says, ‘God

maybe dead, because when I pray for blessing and happiness, he never answers me.’

So, we should try to see things as they truly are; because we have eyes to see and have

mind to think.

A well known American rationalist, who lived a long time ago, once said
that to his observation, he would prefer to go to hell rather than heaven,
because of the concept maintained by some religionists that, all
intellectuals, scholars, scientists, psychologists, free-thinkers, rationalists,
40

including the Buddha, were all in hell as they did not believe in their God.
He said that in that case, if he happened to go to Heaven, he would feel out
of place there without any intellectuals, and heaven would be a very dull
place.5

So, we common Buddhists believe many things even gods, but Buddhist concept on

gods is different from other religions. However, true Buddhists believe nothing but

cause and effect, kamma and its result, etc., with rationality. They believe or accept

what is truth. They disagree to accept blind belief. Buddhists understand that to hold

wrong view or superstitious belief is very dangerous to the world and invite a lot of

troubles to human society including caste prejudice is one of them which are termed

as high or low respectively.

2.3 Vessa—the merchant caste

Vessa is Pāli word, in Sanskrit is VaiËya. Vessa caste is viewed as the third caste. It

was also an important caste in India.

Obviously, khattiya caste, Brahmaäa- caste, and one more of the four castes is

Chandàla-the outcaste which is considered as untouchable or out of touch by society.

These castes—many sources are available in sutta Piåaka and Jàtaka stories, while

vessa-the merchant caste and Sudda-the labour castes are not easily found in major

canonical Theravàda texts.

For merchant caste is the third highest in ritual status of the four varäas, or

social classes, of Hindu India, is traditionally described as commoners. Legend states

that the varäas (or colours) sprang from Prajàpati, a creator god—in order of status,

the Kshatriya (red) from his arms, the Brahman (white) from his head, the , the

Vaishya (yellow) from his thighs, and the Sùdra (black) from his feet. The yellow

colour associated with the Vaishya, according to one theory, links them with the south

point of the compass. The Vaishya were commoners, not servile groups. Their role lay
41

in productive labour, in agricultural and pastoral tasks, and in trading. Their way of

life demanded study, sacrifice, and the giving of alms. Early scriptures show that

Vaishya could and did rise even to the rank of Brahman.

The Vaishya shares with the two higher classes, the priestly Brahman and the

authoritative Kshatriya, the distinction of being dvija, or “twice-born,” achieving their

spiritual rebirth when they assume the sacred wool thread at the Upanayana

ceremony. The Vaishya are credited in history with favouring the rise of the reformist

religious beliefs of Buddhism and Jainism. In modern times, the Vaishya class has

become a symbol of middle-class respectability and prestige; it is a stepping-stone

used by people to raise their status in the system through modified behaviour and the

adoption of more prestigious caste names.6

2.4 Sudda- the labour or servant caste

Sudda caste, generally from viewpoints of some people in some other countries in the

world, is considered as low one.

For people belong to this caste are normally not in friendly associated by

others. Through actual aspects of human society, many persons like to look down on

people belonging to this caste so much because they think that those persons do dirty

and vulgar jobs.

According to Brahmanism, sudda caste is the fourth and lowest of the

traditional varäas, or social classes, of Hindu India, traditionally artisans and

labourers. The term does not appear in the earliest Vedic literature. In its first

application it probably included all conquered peoples of the Indus civilization as they

were assimilated as menials to the three-class society of the Kshatriyas (nobles and

warriors)Brahmans (priests and teachers), and Vaishya (merchants). Sùdras are not

permitted to perform the upanayana initiatory rite, which introduces members of the
42

three upper classes to the study of the Vedas (earliest sacred literature) and gives them

their status as dvija (“twice-born”). Sùdra are the members of which were segregated

as ritually unclean by the other castes because they performed tasks that were

regarded as polluting.

The Sùdra varäa includes a wide spectrum of endogamous status groups with

dominant, landowning groups at one end of the scale and near-untouchables at the

other. These variations derive from the Hindu belief that certain behaviour patterns

and occupations are polluting, a concept that gave rise to a distinction between

“clean” and “unclean” Sùdra groups; for example, washers, tanners, shoemakers,

sweepers, and scavengers were once relegated to untouchability . As evidence of

group mobility in the caste system, some observers have pointed out that many castes

claiming Kshatriya and Vaishya status gradually emerged from the Sùdra class.7

2.5 Castes, their roles and duties in society

Nothing is wrong for roles and duties of human beings in service for prosperous life.

A) The role and duty of Khattiya caste

The explanation of roles and duties of each caste could be different in opinions from

one to another according to the views of Hinduism and Buddhism as relevant to

situations and the facts in the ancient time and nowadays are also different.

So the determination of roles and duties of khattiya caste are explained in such

way. From Hindu point of view, ‘the system of the four varäas was said to have been

created by Krishnā or called Vishnu. The works of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas,

and Shudras are different, in harmony with the three powers of their born nature.’8

The Khattiyas were born of his arms and the meanings of being born in this way were

determined by Krishna as follows.


43

Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity

and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the kshatriyas.

The kshatriyas are the warriors and administrators of society. Their role is

illustrated by the Rig Veda description of their origin in the arms of the Purusha,

indicating a propensity towards action. Far from a mindless warrior or soldier of

fortune, the kshatriya was a fighter whose martial skills were tempered by his

education in the Vedas. His duty was for the protection of all people and the

enforcement of justice as stated in Manu Dharma Shastra, (The law of Manu).

The protection of all should be just and lawfully made by a Kshatriya (king),

initiated with all the initiatory rites inculcated in the Vedas, according to the laws of

his own realm and in the exercise of the functions peculiar to his own order.

The king is considered respectable even as an infant, and his wrath is

compared to an all consuming fire. His inability to enforce the law and inflict

punishment where it is due is said to lead to an anarchy in which the strong will

torment the weak. The Kshatriya who is acting in concordance with the teachings of

sāstra is alone capable of properly exercising the rod of punishment. Still, in spite of

all these praises, even the noble and powerful Kshatriya must respect and obey the

Brahmanas. His power must be put in check by humility, and he must learn from the

Brahmanas about the Vedas, law, logic, and economic disciplines. The Kshatriya was

required to be a master of his senses and avoid vices that originate from lust lest he

risk his doom.9

From Buddhist point of view, the khattiyas (kings) also has moral laws to

abide by and practice them for his duty in the name of king or ruler. The Buddha had

given ten rules for good rulers, known as ‘Dasa Raja Dharma’. These ten rules can be
44

applied even today by king or any government which wishes to rule the country

peacefully. They are of ten as follows:

1. be liberal and avoid selfishness,

2. maintain a high moral character,

3. be prepared to sacrifice one’s own pleasure for the well-being of the subjects,

4. be honest and maintain absolute integrity,

5. be kind and gentle,

6. lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate,

7. be free from hatred of any kind,

8. exercise non violence,

9. practice patience, and

10. Respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony.10

So if one analyzes what was taught in the Law of Manu seems encourage cruelty or

violence towards man and man for it required the kshatriya must learn to fight to

protect all people in his kingdom, and he is educated in Veda. According to this law

mentioned that the protection done by Kshatriya must be just and lawfully. But

throughout history of mankind, the justices in wars are rarely seen. Like

Socrates (469-399BC), Greek philosopher says if you want to find justice, look into

the sky. In this sense, he wanted to mean that no justice at all. It is justice for one

group, but injustice for another one else. It can be said, for justices, are not found

everywhere not even in the fighting or the wars. Generally, justices are not easily seen

in the laws made by ordinary men whose minds still overwhelmed by defilements

(kilesas). Even though many countries in the world have ministry of justice, but

sometimes justices are not found there.


45

Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘Truth never takes side with injustice’. He also said

Truth is God, but God is not the truth. However, our Lord Buddha had found the

truths, called Four Noble Truths whose mind was free from all defilements. Whatever

laws or rules laid down by him are never out of date. Those laws or rules are

effectively put into practice all the times. One of examples, Dasa Raja Dhammas as

aforesaid is really good laws that should be followed by king or any ruler to lead

country righteously or by means of real justice.

In Buddhism, cruelty, violence, killing or any injury are not encouraged but

love and compassion. As said in a certain Buddhist text that Buddha is a real

superman. He is very strong and powerful. Nobody in this world can harm or kill him.

Although he is very good at martial arts for fighting, but he never wants to fight any

one or even kill animals.

Buddha was born in royal family. In the old time, kings or princes were

traditionally taught in accordance with Veda in Brahmin tradition. Once Buddha was

prince Siddhatha, questions on duty of kshatriya was put to him by friends, his step

mother, pajāpati gotamī and Senāpatī. But all were rejected by him because the reason

explained on duty of king did not appeal to his mind. One can realize the true nature

of Buddha by his high consideration as follows:

He belongs to a warrior class and had been taught archery and the use of
weapons. But he did not like causing unnecessary injury. He refused to
join hunting parties. His friends used to say: “Are you afraid of tigers?”
He used to retort by saying, “I know you are not going to kill tigers, you
are going to kill harmless animals such as deer and rabbits.”
“If not for hunting, come to witness how accurate is the aim of your
friends, “they said. Even such invitations Siddharth refused, saying; “I do
not like to see the killing of innocent animals.”
Prajāpati Gautamī was deeply worried over this attitude of Siddharth. She
used to argue with him saying: “You have forgotten that you are a
Kshatriya and fighting is your duty. The art of fighting can be learned only
through hunting for only by hunting can you learn how to aim accurately.
Hunting is a training ground for the warrior class.”
46

Siddharth often used to ask Gautamī: “But, mother, why should a


Kshatriya fight? And Gautamī used to reply: “Because it is his duty.”
Siddharth was never satisfied by her answer. He used to ask Gautamī:
“Tell me, how it can be the duty of man to kill man?” Gautamī argued,
“Such an attitude is good for an ascetic. But Kshatriya must fight. If they
do not, who will protect the kingdom?”
“But, mother! If all Kshatriyas loved one another, would they not be able
to protect their kingdom without resort to killing?” Gautamī had to leave
him to his own opinion. 11

Again, the same case was not convinced, Mr. Senāpatī also helps to remind

Siddharttha Gautama of the duty of the king that must be abided by that is to fight for

the sake of protecting the kingdom. According to him in the time of war, the king

must fight using whatever means either good or bad is possible. It is like the tactic

which popularly used by politicians in political affairs. They think only about the win-

win policy. They do no care about what is right, what is wrong or what is good or

what is bad.

The Senāpatī encountered the plea urged by Sitharttha Gautama.


He stressed that in war the kshatriyas cannot make a distinction
between relations and strangers. They must fight even against
brothers for the sake of their kingdom.
Performing sacrifices is the duty of the Brahmins, fighting is the
duty of the Kshatriyas, trading is the duty of the Vaishas and
service is the duty of the Sùdras. There is merit in each class
forming its duty. Such is the injunction of our Shastras. Siddhartha
replied: “Dharma, as I understand it, consists in recognizing that
enmity does not disappear by enmity. It can be conquered by love
only.”12

Problems in society are generally solved in many ways as possibly can. Sometimes it

is solved by means of law, and sometimes by force, need not be considered of

friendship. Napoleon said friendship is just a word; I do not care about it. But the

Buddha’s way in solving the problems is not like this. He solves problems by peaceful

means based on laws, disciplines to maintain friendship and fraternity.


47

B) The role and duty of Brahmaäa caste

Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom

and religiousness — these are the natural qualities by which the Brāhmaäas work.

The Brahmaäas are said to have been created from the face of the original

Purusha. As the spiritual teachers of society, the Brahmins enjoyed the highest

degree of respect from the other three classes of society. In the Bhagavata Purana, Sri

Vishnu, the deity identified as Supreme Godhead in the Vaishnava traditions of

Hinduism, says that the Brahmaäas are the most beloved, that he enjoys the eating

through the mouths of the Brahmaäas who are devoted to him, and that the

Brahmaäas are his very body. He is captivated by those who show respect to the

Brahmaäas, even when the Brahmaäas utter harsh words, trying to pacify them with

the thinking that Brahmaäas are the Lord's very Self.13

Brahman (social class), also spelled Brahmin, name of the sacerdotal, or

highest, class (varäa) in the system of Hinduism. Brahman is the masculine form of

the neuter noun Brahman, cosmic revelation. This revelation is the responsibility of

the Brahman priest and, by extension, of the entire priestly class. According to the

Rig-Veda, the task of the Brahman is to relate knowledge (vidyà). The primary

activities of these priestly elite are the study and teaching of the Veda and the

performance.14

C) The role and duty of Vessa caste

Vessa caste is the third of the four Hindu castes, the members of which were

traditionally merchants and farmers.

Not only in India, but every country in the world have merchants or traders

and farmers. The ‘merchant’ and traders are synonymously used words in meaning,

but different in function and scale. The word ‘merchant’ is explained as commercial
48

dealer or somebody who buys and sells goods, especially as a wholesaler or

internationally, while ‘trader’ is somebody trading in goods who buys and sells retail

goods or in other words, somebody who deals in stocks or securities, especially

somebody who tries to profit by making frequent deals, each netting a small profit.

Agriculture is the monitor of undeveloped country depending on farmers. For

developed countries are involved in industrial power. However, merchandizing and

agriculture are still essential factors in developing the economy of the countries. Some

countries foreign trade is the mainstay of economy. So, the role of merchants or

traders is to do business and they must study to acquire knowledge and skill or

positive attitude concerning it or else they cannot run their business or trade

successfully on both local and international scene.

To be merchants or traders must have capacity. It means they must have

capital to do it. They must also be qualified, brave and clever while they are

merchandizing or trading. For example, if one is a vendor one should prepare well

both physical and mental attitude. He or she should learn how to speak and how to

smile. Chinese people are good at doing business or trading. Therefore, there is a

Chinese proverb says if you do not know how to smile, please do not open shop to sell

goods yet. In the Buddha’s life time, Tapossa and Bhallika, two merchant brothers

and were also good devoted Buddhists.

Some persons say that most of people in Buddhist countries are poor. But

actually, people are not poor because of professing Buddhism. If they are poor

because of Buddhism, why people who are Buddhists in Thailand, China, Korea and

Japan are rich? In this case, some people are poor because of their laziness in doing

business or earning their livelihood or the other reason maybe, but not because of

Buddhism. Generally, in Buddhism, Buddha also encouraged lay people regardless of


49

caste system to earn their livings by merchandizing, trading or doing business to lead

happily and economically family lives.

The Buddha pointed out that professions should not be regarded as hight
or low as long as they do not damage the society. He also pointed out that
no profession should be kept or monopolised by a particular group of
people. If someone was qualified and trained for a particular job they
should be employed regardless of their caste or position in society.15

However, some trades are considered illegally according to social laws such as trade

in addicted drugs; trade in human beings and so on. For religious laws in Buddhism,

also, the Buddha expounded to avoid five kinds of trade. He said: ‘Monks, these five

trades ought not to be practised by a lay disciple. What five? Trade in weapons, trade

in human beings, trade in flesh, trade in spirits and trade in poison.16

Besides these five kinds of trade, Buddha encouraged lay people to acquire

knowledge and skills and to be energetic by working hard and apply themselves to

their duties and making an honest living in earn their wealth called ‘uååhàna sampadà’

in Pàøì. He also taught us how to keep the earned wealth properly (in Pàøì, called

àrakkha sampadà). He advises lay people not to spend on unnecessary things, not to

gamble, not to indulge in women. Buddha preached in Paràbhava sutta,17 that ‘if any

man, being a rogue with women, drink, and dice, squanders whatever he has received,

that is the cause of the unsuccessful man.’ He taught how to associate with good

friends, called kalyàäamittatà. He wants ones to know how to discern which people

are worth associating with and which not, and does not associate with or emulate

those who would lead him downward, but associate with, studies and emumulates

people who are learned, worthy, capable, honourable and endowed with qualities that

are helpful to his livelihood. He expounded that lay people should know how to live

with balanced life, called sama jìvità. They should try to work, try to earn wealth and
50

try to improve their living standard. The expenditures should not be used more than

the incomes. They should try to regain whatever wealth that lost by any danger. They

should repair the broken property, instruments and material things. By doing so, they

can manage to live with balanced life.

Some people said that doing business or trade if they do not cheat others they

cannot become rich man quickly. Of course to earn living they must get profits from

their profession because they also spend their capitals and the working force. If they

do not gain any profit; so what the use of doing business is. But in this case the

merchants or businessmen should not overcharge the prices from the customers. For

example, if they bought a good at the price of one dollar they should sell out to others

at the price of one dollar and half. For that half dollar is a profit gained by the strength

of their sweat and blood.

A monk in Cambodia gave Dhamma talk that an old woman observes eight

precepts besides Buddhist Sabbath day she sells cigarettes. One day a man came to

buy her cigarette. He asked how much a cigarette is. At that time, the old woman

replied it is three hundred Riel. Actually, she knows that one cigarette is only two

hundred Riel, but she said three hundred. The man was surprised at her and said,

ouch! It is very expensive. Then the old woman said the price of cigarette is now

increased.

In his Dhamma talk the monk explained that the old woman broke one of her

precepts according to musàvàda sikkhàpada because she cheated the customer

intentionally.

Buddhism teaches people to do business or to trade by righteous means, not by

cheating or lying others, especially those who observe the precepts. Similarly,

ordinary person or those who does not observe the precepts also should not lie or
51

cheat a monk, a Brahmin or even a beggar if he or she wants to become a successful

merchant, trader or businessman in this very life as well as the life to come. In

Aæguttara Nikàya, Venerable Sàrìputta wondered why some person is successful in

trading, while some is in a failure, and so he asked the Buddha four questions

concerning trade. The four questions are:

‘Pray, lord, what is the reason, what is the cause why such and such a trade
practised by some person turns out a failure? Again, lord, what is the
reason, what is the cause why such and such a trade practised by some
person does not turn out as he intended? Pray, lord, what is the reason why
such and such a trade…turn out as he intended? Again, lord, what is the
reason, what is the cause why such and such a trade practised by some
person prospers beyond his intention? 18

Relevant to the above questions which were asked by Venerable Sàrìputta

immediately the Buddha gave him beautiful answers with good and reliable reasons

about the past action done by some person related with the present result that should

be considered by merchants or traders even in our modern day. He answered thus:

‘In this matter, Sàrìputta, (suppose) someone comes to a recluse or


bràhmin and make him an offer, saying: “Sir, say what you want by way
of support.” But he does not give him what he offered. If this man
deceases from that life and returns to this sort of life, whatever trade he
may practise, it turns out a failure.
Again, in this matter, Sàrìputta , suppose someone comes to a recluse or
bràhmin and makes him an offerre, saying: “Sir, say what you want by
way of support.” But he does not give him what he intended to give. Then,
if this man deceases from that life and returns to this sort of life, whatever
trade he may practise, it does not turn out as he intended.
Then, again, Sàrìputta, suppose someone comes to a recluse or bràhmin
and makes him a similar offer…and gives him what he intended to give.
Then, if this man deceases …whatever trade he may practise turns out as
he intended.
Once more, Sàrìputta, suppose someone comes to a recluse or bràhmin
and makes him a similar offer…and gives him more than he intended to
give. Then, if this man deceases from that life and returns to this sort of
life, whatever trade he may practise, it prospers beyond his intention.
This, Sàrìputta , is the reason, this is the cause why such and such a trade
practised by some person turns out a failure…does not turn out as he
intended…does turn out as he intended…prospers beyond his intention.19
52

A real business success should be acted in moral way. It is not dependent on cheating,

lying or gaining much profit from others without consideration. Concerning doing

business, Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the kingdom of Cambodia once said, “ take

little, but take a lot.” It means when doing business one should not take too high price

from the clients if he or she wants them to come and buy a lot of goods or things from

his or her place.

People in business should also know what real success is. Success in
business or economics is not merely satisfying the desires of people but to
bring about well-being of mankind. The issue is a challenge to the
business community. Highest gain in profit does not equate to a success;
true success is the increase of well-being of humanity.20

So, businessmen should adopt proper policy in doing business. They should do it by

righteous means between the businessmen and the customers to make both sides

profitable and able to live happy life in this human world.

D) The role and duty of Sudda caste

Generally it is said labor and service to others are the role and duty of Sudra caste.

In India anciently people belonging to Sùdra groups were considered as the

lowest caste. They worked hard as a slave, but got little salary. Mostly their works

were not given value by society. Some worked as servants cleaning the soles of the

people in other higher castes. Sometimes, they were scolded like animals and such

thing exists in some parts of India even today.

Even though Hindu belief that certain behaviour patterns and occupations are

polluting, a concept that gave rise to a distinction between “clean” and “unclean”

Sùdra groups; for example, washers, tanners, shoemakers, sweepers, and scavengers

were once relegated to untouchability. Hindu, however, should think that there is no

work that is not needed in this world. All works should be given values and salaries in

accordance with the capability of the workers.


53

One should not be crippled even one still has legs and arms. To be a person with job

to do is better than a person with nothing to do. To be a person with low- salary job to

do is better than to be a beggar. So Hindu or whosoever that belong to any caste

whether high or low, rich or poor should not look down on any kind of work.

Voltaire, (1694-1778), French writer and philosopher wrote, ‘work is the life of

human’ or “life is work”, “work is life.” Work or job should not be considered as

vulgar. In some countries, for instance, street workers get high-paid salary from

government. Many people miss the chance to get such kind of job to do.

In this modern time, people work hard to promote their lifestyle from the poor

to the rich. By exerting strong effort, one cans change even the label of one’s caste

from sùdra to Vaishya or from Vaishya to the Kshatriya or the ruler. As it has been

obviously seen in human history many world greatest leaders are from low caste.

They can say that work is the fate of human, but the fate is sometimes impermanent.

So they should not forget the poor when they became rich. They should not forget the

subjects when they became the world famous rulers. The poor as well as the subjects

also have hearts as every one. Man is not an abstract individual. Whatever work done

by individual is functionally important. All men in society are dependently related to

one another. Therefore, they should not look down on each other. In stead, they

should pity and help each other rather than hate. Like a phrase of Cambodian poem

say:

The rich protect the poor,

Like the clothes protect the body.

The wise protect the foolish,

Like the junk protected by the sampan.21


54

Anyway, if they all practise well according to their role and duty there will be

problems in society whether khattiya, brahmana, Vaishya or sùdra or not.

Furthermore, not only that should be. Men are social beings. So they have to follow

the law, role and duty respectively. For example, the teacher ought to practise the role

and duty of the teacher, the students ought to practise the role and duty of the

students, the children ought to practise the role and duty of children, the master ought

to practise the role and the duty of the master and the servants ought to practise the

role and duty of the servants…, etc. All these roles and duties were instructed by

Buddha in Sigàlaka Sutta, in which one of them, that is, the role and duty of master

and the role and duty of servants are mentioned here. According to Buddha, there are

five ways in which a master should minister to his servants and workpeople as

follows:

By arranging their work according to their strength, by supplying them


with food and wages, by looking after them when they are ill, by sharing
special delicacies with them, and by letting them of work at the right time.
And there are five ways in which servants and workpeople, thus
ministered to by their master:
They will get up before him, go to bed after him, take only what they are
given, do their work properly, and be bearers of praise and good repute.22

Truly speaking, the roles or duties that the Buddha had instructed in Sigàlaka Sutta

are not only useful for people in his time, but also they are still valid for people in this

modern day to follow. Today, garment factories, companies and many institutions

both state and private sectors of some countries in the world, mostly in Buddhist

countries or even non-Buddhist ones still apply the method of role and duty in the five

ways as advised by Buddha to Sigàla youth in the very Sigàlaka Sutta.


Chapter III: The Problems of Castes in Human Society

The world has a lot of problems if the world has not problems it is not called the

world. Caste is one of problems in this world. The adoption of caste system brings

about many problems and obstacles to prosperity both material and spiritual

developments of humankind in society and the whole world as well.

3.1 caste and inequality

Wherever there is caste, there is inequality and wherever there is inequality there is

conflict and the pursuit of equality.

In Hinduism claim that Mahābrahma, Mahāprajāpati created all living

beings—human, animals and so forth. First when he created all living beings have no

soul, no lives. They are like corpse able to move, walk, sit or stand, and then the

Mahābrahma put his soul into them. So they have lives and can move, walk, sit, stand.

By this reason, some scholars criticized that if Mahābrahma put his soul into all

living beings, why he discriminated the beings he created in terms of superiority and

inferiority based on inequality like this. If so, it means that he looks down on his own

soul for it is from him and if inside the body of all beings consist of his soul, why all

living beings are not equally important to him.

This is one reason to be considered about the five rules in Brahmin caste:

The Brahmin had not only a theory of an ideal religion as contained in the Vedas but

they also had a theory for an ideal society.

The pattern of this ideal society they named chaturvarna, or catu vanna. It is

imbedded in the Vedas and as the Vedas are infallible and as their authority cannot be
56

questioned so also Charturvarna as a pattern of society was binding and

unquestionable. This pattern of society was based upon certain rules. The first rule

was that society should be divided into four classes: (1) Brahmin; (2) Kshatriya; (3)

Vaishya; and (4) Shudras. The second rule was that there cannot be social equality

among these four classes. They must be bound together by the rule of graded

inequality. The Brahmin is to be at the top, the kshatriyas to be kept below the

Brahmins, but above the Vaishya, the Vaishya to be below the kshatriyas but above

the Shudra and Shudras to be the lowest of all.

These four classes were not to be equal to one another in the matter of rights

and privileges. The rule of graded inequality governed the question of rights and

privileges.

The Brahmins had all the rights and privileges which he wished to claim. But

a Kshatriya could not claim the rights and privileges which a Brahmin could. He had

more rights and privileges than a Vaishya could claim. The Vaishya had more rights

and privileges than a Shudra. But he could not claim the rights and the privileges

which a Kshatriya could. And the Shudra was not entitled to any right, much less any

privileges. His privilege was to subsist without offending the three superior classes.

The third rule of Charturvarna related to the division of occupations. The

occupation of the Brahmin was learning and teaching and performance of religious

observances. The occupation of the Kshatriya was fighting. Trade was assigned to the

vaishyas. The occupations of the Shudras were service of the three superior classes.

These occupations assigned to different classes were exclusive. One class could not

trespass upon the occupation of the other.

The fourth rule of Charturvarna related to the right to education. The pattern

of Charturvarna gave the right to education to the first three classes, the Brahmins,
57

the kshatriyas and vaishyas. The Shudras were denied the right to education. This rule

of Charturvarna did not deny the right to education to the Shudras only. It denied the

right to education to all women including those belonging to the class of Brahmins,

kshatriyas and vaishyas.

There was a fifth rule. According to it, man’s life was divided into four stages.

The first stage was called brahmacharya; the second stage was called

Grahastashram; the third stage was called Vanaprasta and the fourth stage was called

Sannayasa. The object of the first stage was study and education. The object of the

second stage was to live a married life. The object of the third stage was to familiarise

a man with a life of a hermit, i.e., severing family ties, but without deserting his home.

The object of the fourth stage was to enable a man to go in search of God and seek

union with him.

The benefits of these stages were open only to the male member of the three

superior classes. The first stage was not open to the Shudras and women. Equally the

last stage was not open to the Shudras and women.

Such was the divine pattern of an ideal society called Chatturvarna. The

Brahmins had idealised the rule and had realised the ideal without leaving any cracks

or loopholes. The fourth thesis of Brahminic philosophy was the doctrine of Karma. It

was part of the thesis of transmigration of the soul. The Karma of the Brahmins was

an answer to the question: “Where did the soul land on transmigration with his new

body on new birth?” The answer of the Brahminic Philosophy was that it depended on

a man’s deeds in his past life. In other words, it depended on his Karma.

The Buddha was strongly opposed to the first tenet of Brahmanism. He

repudiated their thesis that the Vedas are infallible and their authority could never be

questioned. In his opinion, nothing was infallible and nothing could be final.
58

Everything must be open to re-examination and reconsideration whenever grounds for

re-examination and reconsideration arise.

Man must know the truth and real truth. To him freedom of thought was the

most essential thing. And he was sure that freedom of thought was the only way to the

discovery of truth. Infallibility of the Vedas meant complete denial of freedom of

thought. For these reasons this thesis of the Brahmanic Philosophy was not abnoxious

to him. He was an equally an opponent of the second thesis of the Brahmnic

Philosophy. The Buddha did admit that there was any virtue in a sacrifice. But he mad

a distinction between true sacrifice and false sacrifice. Sacrifice in the sense of self-

denial for the good of others he called true sacrifice. Sacrifice in the sense of killing

an animal as an offering to God for personal benefit he regarded as a false sacrifice.

The Brahmanic sacrifices ware mostly sacrifices of animals to please their gods. He

condemned them as false sacrifices. He would not allow them even though they are

performed with the object of getting salvation for the soul.

The opponents of sacrifices used to ridicule the Brahmins by saying: “If one

can go to heaven by sacrificing an animal why should not one sacrifice one’s own

father. That would be a quicker way of going to heaven.” The Buddha wholeheartedly

agreed with this view. The theory of Chaturvarna was as repugnant to the Buddha as

the theory of sacrifices was repulsive to him. The organisation of society set up by

Brahmanism in the name of Chaturvarna did not appear to him a natural organisation.

Its class composition was compulsory and arbitrary. It was a society made to order.

He preferred an open society and a free society. The Chaturvarna of the Brahmins

was a fixed order never to be changed. Once, a Brahmin is always a Brahmin. Once, a

Kshatriya always a Kshatriya, Once, a Vaishya is always a Vaishya and once a

Shudra always a Shudra. Society was based on status conferred upon an individual by
59

the accident of his birth. Vice, however heinous, was no ground for degrading a man

from his status, and virtue, however great, had not value to raise him above it. There

was no room for worth nor for growth.

Inequality exists in every society. But it was different with Brahmanism. The

inequality preached by Brahmins was its official doctrine. It was not a mere growth.

Brahmanism did not believe in equality. In fact, it was opposed to equality.

Brahmanism was not content with inequality. The soul of Brahmanism lay in graded

inequality. Far from producing harmony, graded inequality, the Buddha thought,

might produced in society an ascending scale of hatred and a descending scale of

contempt, and might be a source of perpetual conflict.

The occupations of the four classes were also fixed. There was no freedom of

choice. Besides, they were fixed not in accordance with skill but in accordance with

birth. On a careful review of the rules of Chaturvarna the Buddha had no difficulty in

coming to the conclusion that the philosophic foundations on which the social order

was reared by the Brahmanism were wrong if not selfish. It was clear to him that it

did not serve the interests of all; much less did it advance the welfare of all. Indeed, it

was deliberately designed to make many serve the interests of the few. In it man was

made to serve a class of self-styled supermen. It was calculated to suppress and

exploit the weak and to keep them in a state of complete subjugation.

The law of Karma as formulated by the Brahmins, thought the Buddha, was

calculated to sap the spirit of revolt completely. No one was responsible for the

suffering of man except he himself. Revolt could not alter the state of suffering; for

suffering was fixed by his past Karma as his lot in this life. The Shudras and women-

the two classes whose humanity was most mutilated by Brahmanism had no power to

rebel against the system. They were denied the right to knowledge with the result that
60

by reason of their enforced ignorance they could realize what had made their

condition so degraded. They could not know that Brahmanism had robbed them

completely of the significance of their life. Instead of rebelling against Brahmanism

they had become the devotees and upholders of Brahmanism.1

The hierarchy of caste imposed by the Brahmins on society divided humans

into mutually exclusive units as if generally determined. Intermarriage between any

two castes were taboo and heavy penalties were imposed on both partners.

Exploitation and discrimination against the ‘lower’ caste therefore resulted in denying

many ways:

1) the denial of political opportunities


2) the denial of economic opportunities
3) the denial of social opportunities
4) the denial of educational opportunities
5) the denial of religious freedom
6) the denial of justice and equality before the law.2

The practical outcome of such beliefs and attitudes was, in the case of racism,

discrimination against and the exploitation of the ‘lower’ castes. If we may follow the

items we listed under racism we can speak of:

1. The denial of equality of political opportunity. It was unthinkable, in the


opinion of the ‘higher’ castes, that the members of the ‘lower’ castes
should be considered fit to govern and administer the country (the duty of
the ksatriyas) or to render the rulers advice (the duty of the Brahmins).
Even if a Sudra mentions the name and class of the twice-born arrogantly,
an iron nail ten fingers long shall be thrust red hot into his mouth. If he
proudly teaches Brahmins (priests) their duty the king shall cause hot oil
to be poured into his mouth and into his ears. But no reciprocal
punishments are prescribed for Brahmins who follow mean occupations.

2. The denial of equality of economic opportunity. In ancient India,


especially in those regions where Brahminism most strongly prevailed, the
Sudra was not only considered the serant of another but also regarded as
one who could be expelled at will and slain at will, thus showing that he
had no rights to property or even life against the king. The laws of Manu
says ‘ a Sudra, whether bought or unbought, maybe compelled to do
61

servile work; for he was created by Self-Existent to be the slave of a


Brahmin.’ Servitude was regarded as an innate quality of the Sudra who is
incapable of altering his genetic constitution, which makes him so. ‘A
Sudra, though emancipated by his master is not released from servitude;
since that is innate in him, who can set him free from it?’

3. The denial of equality of social opportunity. A man born to be a slave


and a servant of another cannot expect to receive any social opportunities
for self-advancement and amelioration. Education was denied him. A
Brahmin ‘who instructs Sudra pupils’ was penalized. Brahmins should not
even recite the texts in the presence of Sudras. There is no objection to
Sudra imitating the practice of virtuous men, but they should do so
‘without reciting sacred texts.’ The rules of untouchability prevented the
Sudra from being at ease in his social environment; free access to wells
and sometimes even the use of roads was denied to him.

4. The denial of religious freedom. A Brahmin who ‘explains the sacred


law to a Sudra or dictates to him a penance will sink together with that
man into the hell called Asamvrta.’ Not only was the Sudra (outcast)
denied access to religious instruction, he had no right, unlike the ‘superior’
castes (i.e., Brahmins, Ksatriyas and Vaisyas), to be anitiated or to have
religious seremonies performed for him. Denied access to sacred
knowledge and the right to perform religious seremonies for himself, it
was, according to some of the Early Brahmanical accounts, unimaginable
that a Sudra should attain salvation. The refusal of temple entry to Sudras
is a mong the consequences of a restrictive policy which denied religious
participation to the Sudras.

5. the denial of equality before the law. Both in the criminal and civil
procedures there was unequal treatment meted out to the Sudra, who had
to undergo greater disabilities than his fellow men of the ‘higher’ castes. A
Sudra committing homicide or theft sufferred confiscation of his property
and capital punishment, but a Brahmin was only blinded for such crimes.
Even in matters outside the criminal law, we find, for instance, that the
rate of interest charged was disproportionately high for a Sudra, although
he was a poorest in the social scale. Vasistha states that ‘two, three, four,
five, in the hundred is declared in the Smrti to be monthly interest
according to castes.
If we compare the beliefs, attitudes and modes of discrimination and
exploitation embodies of racism with the corresponding beliefs, attitudes
and practices of caste prejudice and discrimination, it will thus be seen
that the analogy between the two is a particularly close one.3

For Buddhism states that ignorance is the root of all evils. In Buddhism, the Buddha

did not want all human either men or women to become his disciples blindly without

questioning or investigating his teachings. They can study and observe carefully
62

before they believe in Buddhism. No one is deprived of right and privilege to do so.

Some persons said what the use of demanding right is if one cannot know and

maintain the right. The rules of Brahmanism towards shudras and women are injustice

and women or people belong to this caste are lost freedom of capacity. Capacity

without freedom is meaningless, and such society will become puppet because men

have no right of choice to do any work as they wish.

Buddhism is a religion of choice, a religion of freedom of thought and justice.

The right to belief, education and equality, etc., in Buddhism is open to all mankind

both men and women in the world. For men and women are equally important to

Buddhism. Caste system is not a main target of Buddhism. “Mindfulness, wisdom and

also effort are neither men nor women.”4 “the essence of life is not based on caste or

any gender.’’5

Needless to mention of caste, colour, race or creed, all men and women have

equal right to spiritual growth according to Buddhism. Like human right claims all

human are equally in front of law. It means all men both genders equal right for

intellectual force, not physical force. For physical forces men and women can be

different from one to another. Men are mostly stronger than women in the province

of physical force. But for intellectual force both men and women are equally in

quality. For example, a man is able to be prime minister in a country. A woman also

can become a prime minister if she is qualified for that position in the sense of

intellectual force. Therefore, Buddhism and human right encourage equality and

upgrade moral and spiritual development. Caste prejudice and inequality bring about

nothing but suffering to human kind.


63

3.2 caste system, religious conflict, conversion and social reformers

Caste system must be socially influenced and it can lead to religious and socio-

political conflicts and cause disharmony in society. The caste system has also been

criticized by many Indian social reformers both in the past as well as today.

Some reformers, such as Jyotirao Phule and Iyothee Thass argued that the

lower caste people were the original inhabitants of India, and were conquered in the

ancient past by "Brahmin invaders." Mahatma Gandhi called the term "Harijan", a

euphemistic word for untouchable, literally meaning Sons of God. Bhimrao Ramji

Ambedkar, born in Hindu Dalit community, was a heavy critic of the caste system. He

pioneered the Dalit Buddhist movement in India, and asked his followers to leave

Hinduism, and convert to Buddhism. India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru,

based on his own relationship with Dalit reformer Ambedkar, also spread information

about the dire need to eradicate untouchability for the benefit of the Dalit community.

Another example was the Temple Entry Proclamation issued by the last Maharaja of

Travancore in the Indian state of Kerala in the year 1936. The Maharaja proclaimed

that "outcastes should not be denied the consolations and the solace of the Hindu

faith". Even today, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple that first welcomed Dalits in

the state of Kerala is revered by the Dalit Hindu community.6

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (April 14, 1891 — December 6, 1956), also known

as Babasaheb, was an Indian nationalist, jurist, Dalit, political leader, activist,

philosopher, thinker, anthropologist, historian, orator, prolific writer, economist,

scholar, editor, revolutionary and the revivalist of Buddhism in India. He was also the

chief architect of the Indian Constitution. Born into a poor Untouchable family,

Ambedkar spent his whole life fighting against social discrimination, the system of

Chaturvarna — the Hindu categorization of human society into four varnas — and
64

the Indian caste system. He is also credited with having sparked the Dalit Buddhist

movement. Ambedkar has been honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest

civilian award.

Overcoming numerous social and financial obstacles, Ambedkar became one

of the first "untouchables" to obtain a college education in India. Eventually earning

law degrees and multiple doctorates for his study and research in law, economics and

political science from Columbia University and the London School of Economics,

Ambedkar returned home a famous scholar and practiced law for a few years before

publishing journals advocating political rights and social freedom for India's

untouchables. He has been given the degree of Bodhisattva by Indian Buddhist

Bhikkus.7

Upon India's independence on August 15, 1947, the new Congress-led

government invited Ambedkar to serve as the nation's first law minister, which he

accepted. On August 29, Ambedkar was appointed chairman of the Constitution

Drafting Committee, charged by the Assembly to write free India's new Constitution.

Ambedkar won great praise from his colleagues and contemporary observers for his

drafting work. In this task Ambedkar's study of Saægha practice among early

Buddhists and his extensive reading in Buddhist scriptures was to come to his aid.

Sangha practice incorporated voting by ballot, rules of debate and precedence and the

use of agendas, committees and proposals to conduct business. Sangha practice itself

was modelled on the oligarchic system of governance followed by tribal republics of

ancient India such as the Shakyas and the Lichchavis. Thus, although Ambedkar used

Western models to give his Constitution shape, its spirit was Indian and, indeed,

tribal.
65

The text prepared by Ambedkar provided constitutional guarantees and

protections for a wide range of civil liberties for individual citizens, including

freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability and the outlawing of all forms of

discrimination Ambedkar argued for extensive economic and social rights for women,

and also won the Assembly's support for introducing a system of reservations of jobs

in the civil services, schools and colleges for members of scheduled castes and

scheduled tribes, a system akin to affirmative action. India's lawmakers hoped to

eradicate the socio-economic inequalities and lack of opportunities for India's

depressed classes through this measure, which had been originally envisioned as

temporary on a need basis. The Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949 by

the Constituent Assembly. Speaking after the completion of his work, Ambedkar said:

Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet in 1951 following the stalling in parliament of

his draft of the Hindu Code Bill, which sought to expound gender equality in the laws

of inheritance, marriage and the economy. Although supported by Prime Minister

Nehru, the cabinet and many other Congress leaders, it received criticism from a large

number of members of parliament. Ambedkar independently contested an election in

1952 to the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha but was defeated. He was

appointed to the upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha in March 1952 and

would remain a member until his death.8

In the 1950s, Ambedkar turned his attention to Buddhism and travelled to Sri

Lanka (then Ceylon) to attend a convention of Buddhist scholars and monks. While

dedicating a new Buddhist vihara near Pune, Ambedkar announced that he was

writing a book on Buddhism and that as soon as it was finished, he planned to make a

formal conversion to Buddhism. Ambedkar twice visited Burma in 1954; the second

time in order to attend the third conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in
66

Rangoon. In 1955, he founded the Bharatiya Bauddha Mahasabha, or the Buddhist

Society of India. He completed his final work, The Buddha and His Dhamma, in

1956. It was published posthumously.

After meetings with the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Hammalawa Saddhatissa,

Ambedkar organised a formal public ceremony for himself and his supporters in

Nagpur on October 14, 1956. Accepting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a

Buddhist monk in the traditional manner, Ambedkar completed his own conversion.

He then proceeded to convert an estimated 500,000 of his supporters who were

gathered around him, taking the 22 Vows to become Buddhists.9

As long as racial discrimination and religious conflicts still prevail now and

then we see protest and conversion being staged around the world. Obviously, such

case happens many times in India even in the present time. According to The

Associated Press 10th September 2001 released the news that thousands of Hindus

convert to Buddhism in India racism protest. We know according to it that,

‘India's failure to address caste issues at the World Conference Against


Racism, thousands of Dalits - often segregated as "untouchables" in the
Hindu caste hierarchy - converted to Buddhism in a northern Indian city.
Leaders of the late-Saturday ritual by some 6,000 Dalits said they were
protesting discrimination by upper caste people and their government's
failure to raise caste issues at the racism conference in Durban, South
Africa that concluded over the weekend.
In Kanpur, 240 miles southeast of India's capital, New Delhi, hundreds of
monks in flowing robes arrived from Nepal, Japan and other countries to
witness the ceremony, which was presided by a Japanese Buddhist priest.
Participants were distributed posters condemning Hinduism, the religion
of India's overwhelming majority.
Several Dalit groups had met in the South African city to press for
inclusion of caste-based discrimination in the United Nation World
Conference on Racism. They said caste-based discrimination in India was
as bad as racial discrimination in other parts of the world.
But Indian officials lobbied, and succeeded, in keeping it off the
conference declaration. The New Delhi government said equating the
caste system with racism would make India a racist country - a
categorization it denies.
67

"The Government of India misguided all at the Durban meet," Dalit leader
Ram Prasad Rashik told The Associated Press after the conversion
ceremony in Kanpur.
Dalits occupy the lowest rank in India's 3,000-year-old caste system that
discriminates against nearly a fourth of the country's billion-plus
population.
Though India's Constitution, adopted in 1950, bars discrimination based
on caste, the practice still pervades society.’
Although the caste system is supposed to have been abolished in India and
discrimination on the grounds of caste is illegal, it continues in thousands
of Indian villages and small villages. In some parts of India, Brahmins,
members of the top caste, have used private armies to terrorise peasants
who have risen up against the caste order. A man said Hindu
fundamentalists in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajapayee’s government
had tried to scuttle the mass conversion ceremony because they did not
want to see Dalits enjoy equality.10

Whereas, the United Kingdom News 5th November 2001 also released the news about

the same case that caste slaves seeking salvation in India. The news was issued as

below:

The man who promised to lead one million Indian "untouchables" out of
caste slavery showed the way yesterday at a mass meeting in Delhi,
having his head and moustache shaved off by a Buddist priest to initiate
him into Buddhism.
His name was Ram Raj at the start of the ceremony; at the end he was Udit
Raj, "the Reign of the Rising Sun". Mr Raj is an assistant commissioner
for income tax in Delhi. He is also a leader of the All-India Confederation
of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and, as such, claims to
represent a good chunk of the 250 million-odd Indians whose status is so
low that caste Hindus have traditionally regarded their presence as
virtually polluting.
These days, they usually call themselves "Dalits" (the word means simply
"the Oppressed"). According to India's Constitution, they are equal to all
other Indians. After more than 50 years of theoretical emancipation they
have reserved places in universities and reserved jobs in government
bureaucracies; there are also Dalit political parties, there have been Dalit
chief ministers and even a Dalit president (the present incumbent is K R
Narayanan). But, according to Mr Raj: "We are no better off than we were
50 years ago."
The great mass of Dalits remains stuck in the primordial caste mud. They
do the most degrading jobs, get the least education, have the worst health
care and the lowest life expectancy. Mr Raj and his supporters say their
plight is becoming worse rather than better.
The party that dominates India's ruling coalition, the Hindu nationalist
Bharatiya Janata Party , was founded and is still dominated by members of
the Hindu priestly caste, the Brahmins, of whom Atal Behari Vajpayee,
68

the Prime Minister, is an example. This Brahminical dominance, some


say, has brought a reassertion of the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy. "In
the past four years," said Philip d'Souza, president of the All India
Christian Council, which has strongly supported Mr Raj's conversion
programme, "right-wing Hindus have recruited hundreds of thousands of
members and trained them in the use of weapons ... Every day, there are
new atrocities committed against Dalits."
But now the Dalits are fighting back: without weapons, and in a way that
is both new and very old. In 1956, the Dalits' great champion, the LSE-
educated Dr Bheem Rao Ambedkar, organised the conversion of millions
of Dalits to Buddhism, the religion that sprang from Indian soil and had its
roots in Hinduism but which has unequivocally rejected the iniquities of
caste discrimination.
Now Ram Udit Raj has revived the idea. In mid-October he announced, as
founder of the Lord Buddha Club, his intention of bringing one million of
his fellow Dalits to Buddhism.
Banned at the last minute by the police from meeting at Ram Lila Ground,
tens of thousands flocked at 10 am yesterday to the grounds of Ambedkar
Bhawan, a hall in Delhi dedicated to Dr Ambedkar. They heard speeches,
chanted sutras, then Mr Raj read out a 22-point oath – sworn by Dr
Ambedkar in the Fifties – beginning with a solemn renunciation of
Hinduism and Hindu gods and ending with a promise to abstain from
alcohol. Then the huge crowd recited the three vows that made Buddhists
of them.
Mr Raj has rediscovered Ambedkar's old idea. "As long as you are part of
the caste system," he said recently, "you cannot do anything. You cannot
be part of it and then abuse it. If you dislike it, leave it. That's the best
way.
"We have given a call to the entire Dalit community to leave the
tyrannical Brahminical social order." “Caste is our main problem”, says a
Dalit leader, Mr Ram Raj, who will be among those converted. “It
pervades all aspects of life in India, though it is not visible. This is our
way of escaping of living on the margins of society.” “We are not against
any particular community. We just want to destroy the caste system, he
added. “ I’ve converted to Buddhism for social equality and to escape
Hinduism,s caste”, Ram Shankar, a social worker from the northern state
of Uttar Pradesh, told Reuters.
“The message of Buddhism is that all human beings are equal,” said
Harish Khar, a 36 year-old government’s employees who travelled the
western state of Maharastra to participate in the ceremony, while Buddhist
leader Sudhir Kumar said the faith was attractive to Dalits because it was
also Indian-born but did not have a caste system. “It is a religion for
common people and not for God. It teaches humility and appreciation for
mankind”, said Kumar.11

These are the reasons that they converted to Buddhism. Many scholars, however,

said, ‘Buddhism is flexible and does not force others to believe without rationality and

investigation.’ Of course, Buddhism is a religion of freedom and justice, a religion of


69

cause and condition, a religion of action and its result. Buddhism also accepts quality

and equality of mankind according to natural law.

3.3 Caste system, conversion and missionary from Buddhist view

There are many reasons of the conversion from one religion to another. It can be the

reason of the truth of one religion, extreme caste prejudice and political tendency.

Sometimes it is concerned with both personal political problem and the caste

adoption.

In the Buddha’s life time many persons from Brahmins’ families, other sects

and other castes became Buddha’s disciples because the teachings of the Buddha

appeal to reason and throw the light of truth on them. The facts were shown by

several suttas as mentioned in suttanta pitakas. Some disciples: Venerable Sàrìputta,

venerable Moggalàna and venerable Upàlì , etc., are proved there in the canonical

texts.

Rhys David, British writer and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British

philosopher, mathematician, were born in Christian family, but when they studied and

researched many religions they had found that Buddhism has many good aspects. So,

became Buddhists not because of any coercion by converting. They chose the right to

belief according to their will by themselves. Buddhists never try to convert any one

from any member of other religions into his own by frightening, threatening or

forcing. Buddhists also have Buddhist missionary, but it is different from other

religions’ missionary. According to Sìtagu Sayadaw, Dr Ñànisàra on his lecture

“Buddhism and Social Work or Buddhist Missionary,”12 he pointed outed that, “In this

world there are two kinds of poor: materially poor and spiritually poor. So Buddhist

monks and nuns should do certain things to help society. Missionary is important, he

said. “Self-forgetness is a pivotal point of missionary.” He added, other religions’


70

missionary is a work or an activity travelling from one place to another to convert

others. But Buddhist missionary is different; it is a work or an activity travelling from

one place to another in order to teach the Dhammas, to show the true nature of life

and to spiritually develop. Furthermore, he emphasized that, “there are four essential

requirements for protection, promotion, propagation of the Buddha’s teaching. They

are as follows: (1) man power; (2) money power; (3) material power, and (4) mind

power.”

When we talk about manpower, we need to mobilize the power of monks,


government, educate person, technicians and people from all walks of life
for the promotion of Buddhism. All schools of Buddhism should unite
with the spirit of friendship, understanding, forgiveness, patience, virtue
and wisdom. Just as different nations with different political outlooks
united in forming the United Nations, we Buddhists should try to unite our
Buddhist nations and form Buddhist nations. He believed to hold Buddhist
conference will contribute a great deal to friendship and mutual
understanding among Buddhist leaders.
Money power also is another important requisite in protecting, promoting,
and propagating of the teaching. Without money power, we cannot
undertake religious project effectively. Throughout the history of
Buddhism, there were people like the Emperor Asoka who supported
Buddhist propagation with money power. Due to their generosity, the
teaching was well promoted and propagated throughout the world.
The same is true to material power. Modern technology is of a great use in
this aspect. Audio-visual system, computers, internet facilities, mobile
phones, transmission equipments, electrical appliances and printing press
have to be installed and use.
Perhaps, the most important prerequisite for the protection, promotion and
propagation of Buddhism is mind power. However much money, material
and man- power we have, without character, moral and virtue, we cannot
implement any plan effectively. Virtue means disciplining of mind, body
and speech. We should store virtue of patience, loving-kindness and
compassion and spirit of universal brotherhood in our heart.
By using these four essential powers judiciously, Emperor Asoka had
done a great service to Buddhism. Since his time in history, these four
powers were not combined well and used—the Indian continent, the land
of the birth of the Dhamma became the land of the death of the Dhamma.
Temple and monasteries donated by Emperor Asoka and other generous
people became heaps of broken bricks. Therefore, he would like to urge
our brothers and sisters to safeguard maintain and disseminate Buddhism
to the best of their ability.13
71

So, in the very way, we do missionary work but Buddhist missionaries do not try to

convert any one to one’s own religion though we have the concept of “conversion.”

Buddhist concept on “conversion” is, however, to convert from evil to the

good, from ignorance to knowledge, from delusion to enlightenment, from suffering

to happiness and from the poor to the rich. These are works that should be done.

The similar thing, on 4th, February, 2009 there was a group meeting between

Christian westerners, teachers and students of the International Theravàda Buddhist

Missionary in the central building. In the meeting, many questions were raised. A

Christian man asked, what is your supreme goal of Buddhism…something… like

heaven? This question was answered by our professor thus: the supreme goal of

Buddhism is Nibbàna. He said Nibbàna is not nothingness. It is something, we can

understand only by relative terms such as hot and cold and so on. We can understand

Nibbàna clearly only through the experiential level by the practice of Vipassanà

meditation. Then, another Christian man asked why this university is named as

“International Theravàda Buddhist Missionary University.” That man said,

“Missionary” according to Christianity means, “to convert the members of other

religions into its own religion.” That is correct from Christian point of view. But at

that time, Dr.Hla Myint one of professors, replied to him, “We do not convert any

one, but just share the treasures with others.” Just as when we have treasures such as

money and gold and we want to share them with others, so we Buddhists have the

teachings of the Buddha as treasures and we want to share with other people in the

world to know and to experience that.

That is why when possessing the knowledge of Dhammas, the teachings of the

Buddha we do not keep those Dhammas secretly in one place. We propagate

Buddhism with loving-kindness and compassion by bringing those Dhammas to our


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home, radio station or to put in internet so that people all over the world have

opportunity to study and practise to realise those Dhammas and the taste of those

Dhammas as well. So we do not convert any one from any religion, but we need

missionary. Another teacher laughed and said, “No problem you can come and study

here, you are welcome.” We discussed face to face between Christians and Buddhists.

Also, when a question was put towards Christian groups by a student, “what is the

main point of Christian Missionary?” A man replied, “quite simple and not to force

others. He said some sects and organizations in Christian community are also not

agreed all for doing missionary. Soon after one hour, the meeting was ended under a

happy atmosphere and the Christian westerners offered us drink and other material

things as well. This is to show the fact that Buddhism has a compassionate and

considerate attitude toward people from other creeds without discrimination of caste

or colour either black or white. That is why many people both in the East and the

West pay much interest now on Buddhism.

Another similar case, a student from Africa, once he said, in his country caste

and racial discrimination is still strongly rooted and majority people are Christians.

But when he came to study Buddhism in Myanmar at International Theravàda

Buddhist Missionary University he was much interested in Ambaååha sutta, because

this sutta gives value to people not by high or low caste or skin colour, but by

knowledge and moral conducts as the highest thing. So he likes Buddhism and

become a Buddhist. These facts of conversion should be regarded by ways of logical

view and the truth of one religion.

So Buddhist missionary is also quite simple and not by force but by his own

choice through his understanding level in Buddhism. Throughout long history,

Buddhism does not encourage bad or corrupt action when doing missionary. We do
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not have intention to criticize others in the name of religion concerning religious

missionary, but there is a truth that should be considered.

As it is seen in Cambodia some Christians from other countries come to do

their missionary works by means of being doctors to cure disease or being teachers

teaching English language free of charge at private schools or institutes and some by

working for Non Governmental Organization using material things through the

actions of some humanitarian organizations to help the poor people mostly in the

countryside and they take the opportunity to use Christian ideology to attract some

members of people to believe and convert them into Christianity. This is one reason

that we Buddhist should understand concerning conversion.

The other conversions can be derived from both caste discrimination of one

religion and personal political problem like in the case of Dr. Ambadkar.

On 2 October 1956, two months before his death, the former Law Minister Dr.

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar led several hundreds of thousands of followers; mostly

belonging to his own ex-untouchable Mahar caste, into conversion to Buddhism. He

extracted twenty-two promises from his followers. We will list them here with their

original numbers but regrouped in two categories. The first category consists of

positive expressions of commitment to the Buddhist way:

1. I will never act against the tenets of Buddhism;

2. I will follow the Eight-fold Path of Lord Buddha;

3. I will follow the ten Paramitas of the Dhamma;

4. I will have compassion on all living beings and will try to look after them;

5. I will not lie;

6. I will not commit theft;

7. I will not indulge in lust or sexual transgression;


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8. I will never take any liquor or drink that causes intoxication;

9. I will try to mould my life in accordance with the Buddhist preaching based on

Enlightenment, precept and compassion;

10. I firmly believe that the Buddha Dhamma is the best religion;

11. I believe that today I am taking a new birth;

12. I solemnly take the oath that from today onwards I will act according to the

Buddha Dhamma.

It is debatable whether the firm belief that the Buddha Dhamma is the best religion

was ever part of the formal resolutions taken by the Buddha’s disciples, but let us not

picks on this; we may accept that these promises by Ambedkar’s followers are just an

emphatic expression of their entry into Buddhism. It is a different story with those

promises which articulate Ambedkar’s own social and anti-Hindu agenda:

13. I will not regard Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh as gods nor will I worship them;

14. I will not regard Rama and Krishna as gods nor will I worship them;

15. I will not accept Hindu deities like Gauri, Ganapati, etc., nor will I worship

them;

16. I do not believe that God has taken birth or incarnation in any form;

17. I do not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu; I believe this

propaganda is mischievous and false;

18. I will never perform any Shraddha nor will I offer any Pinda [i.e. Brahminical

funeral and post-funeral rites];

19. I will not have any Samskara ritual performed by Brahmins;

20. I believe in the principle that all are equal;

21. I will try to establish equality;


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22. I embrace today the Buddha Dhamma, discarding the Hindu religion which is

detrimental to the emancipation of human beings and which believes in

inequality and regards human beings other than Brahmins as low-born.

This list of promises is unique in the history of Buddhism, in that it not only professes

to follow the Buddhist way, but also attacks a non-Buddhist tradition and rejects the

devotion to a number of Gods whose worship was propagated outside India by

Buddhism itself.14

When Dr. Ambadkar led the members of his Sudra caste converted into

Buddhism it turned the Brahma’s world into turmoil situation. Many members of

Hinduism and non-Hindus jealous and criticized him seriously. They said Ambadkar

converted from Hinduism into Buddhism because of his hatred not by having

conviction in Buddhism. Some called him Buddhist Ambadker was Hindu Ambadkar

or a combative Buddhist. Some said that Ambadkar was unsuccessful man in his

political career.

Arun Shourie (a pro-Hindu man) had highlighted the fact that Dr. Ambedkar

never won an election, not even when he stood for a seat reserved for Scheduled Caste

members. On top of his individual defeat, his Scheduled Castes Federation in 1945-

46, and his Republican Party in 1952, was utterly routed at the polls. In the 1937

elections, Ambedkar’s British sponsors were gravely disappointed to see the landslide

victory of Congress in the reserved constituencies. Ambedkar’s electoral record

certainly belies the routine description of him as the leader of the Untouchables:

during his lifetime, most Harijans looked to Mahatma Gandhi as their benefactor in

spite of Ambedkar’s scathing criticism of the Mahatma’s paternalistic approach. In

respect of religion, Scheduled Caste people often venerated their own Hindu Saints

rather than awaiting Ambedkar’s directives on conversion.


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Some persons who have positive ideas they praised Ambedkar for his hard

work and the achievement of social reform for equality. One reason for his embracing

Buddhism was that he wanted a rational and humanist religion, for which he thought

Christianity and Islam did not qualify. Ambedkar had studied Buddhism thoroughly

before he become a Buddhist Therefore; Buddhists welcome him and his members to

enter into Buddhist members.15

When some 500.000 people in sùdra caste became Buddhists led by Ambedkar

in India at that time there were both good and bad points: the good point was that the

members of Buddhist were more and more increased and the bad one was that sùdra

groups belong to lowest caste and poor so because of reason the Brahmins thought

Buddhism is a religion of low caste people. So they did not volunteer to become

Buddhist with sùdra.16

Actually, if the Brahmins in that time as well as this time opine in this way is

not reasonable because in the Buddha’s time many Brahmins, kings and also sùdra

people were his disciples. They could practise Buddhism together in harmonious way.

Nothing is wrong.

No matter how Ambadkar and his followers became Buddhist are still better.

Because he and people belong to sùdra caste living in caste discriminated society of

Hinduism with no justice and freedom. People in Brahmaäa caste hate and look down

on them. So they had better became Buddhists rather than living in the darkness of

one religious and social injustice.

If one looks back to Cambodia and investigate about laws in this country, he

will see one of the laws, which is stated about the right to choose their own belief.

According to the constitutional law of Cambodia in Article 31 is mentioned about the

Rights and Obligations of Khmer Citizens that every citizen has the right to choose
77

their own belief. Here is one of 139 articles in Cambodian constitutional law which is

concerned as below:

Article 31:The Kingdom of Cambodia shall recognize and respect human


rights as stipulated in the United Nations Charter, the Universal
Declaration of human Rights, the covenants and conventions related to
human rights, women's and children's rights.
Every Khmer citizen shall be equal before the law, enjoying the same
rights, freedom and fulfilling the same obligations regardless of race,
colour, sex, language, religious belief, political tendency, birth origin,
social status, wealth or other status.
The exercise of personal rights and freedom by any individual shall not
adversely affect the rights and freedom of others. The exercise of such
rights and freedom shall be in accordance with law.17

Even people have freedom of religious beliefs like this; however, Cambodian culture,

custom and tradition are mixed with Buddhism. Buddhism is like the soul of

Cambodian culture, and only Buddhism is most suitable with Cambodian culture.

That is why majority of Cambodians are Buddhist born-mind people. So, traditional

Buddhists-blood religion in Cambodia is more, while true Buddhist-religious blood is

lesser. Cambodian people become Buddhists not by any conversion or any caste

discrimination, but by their own understanding and the right of choice.

3.4 Buddhism and equality in human society

Equality is one of human right laws which are recognised by international community

as well as in Buddhism. That is why to understand Buddhism and human right is

important.

It is generally believed that the Buddha was a great social reformer, a believer

in the equality of all human beings, a democrat and that his efforts for the

emancipation of women and lower castes created a sort of social revolution in society.

In order to evaluate this belief and find out whether or not the Buddha was a social

revolutionary we should (i) not only analyse his stand on the various social problems
78

of his time dispassionately, but also (ii) compare his ideas with the contemporary

thinkers and religious leaders, and (iii) also compare them with the ideas of the

thinkers of the preceding age. Without undertaking the last two exercises it will not be

possible to determine whether or not he possess something ‘revolutionary’ in his

social life.

A proof generally advanced in support of the view that the Buddha was a

social revolutionary is based on the assumption that he attacked the caste system as it

existed at that time. According to Ambadker, “No caste, no inequality, no superiority:

all are equal. That is what he (that is the Buddha) stood for.” Rhys Davids has stressed

that Buddhism “ignores completely and absolutely all advantages arising from birth,

occupation or social status and sweep a way all barriers and disabilities arising from

the arbitrary rules of mere ceremonial or social impurity.” According to some recent

historian Buddhism produced the only consciously egalitarian social philosophy in

ancient India and Buddha professed commitment to human equality was nothing short

of a revolution. We, however, feel that this assumption is only marginally correct. The

belief that Buddha believed in social equality of men is as much untrue as the theory

that he believed in the social equality of both sexes.18

These ideas are just derived from analytical study and explanation of some

worldly scholars related with the concept of “equality” in Buddhism and Human

Right. Concerning this case, some persons do not place confidence on human right

organisation at all. They said, in human right there is also human wrong. So, they do

not believe in it. They said human right is very funny. It is like big fish eat the small

fish. However, this is one of the declarations of human right in Article seven which is

applicable and accepted by almost societies. It is stated thus:

All are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination to
equal protection of the law. All are entitled equal protection against any
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discrimination in violation of this declaration and against any


incitement to such discrimination.19

Concerning “Equality” in human right, a novelist also wrote metaphorically to the


“Equality” in animal right thus: all animals are equal, but some animals are more
equal than others. Whatsoever, to have law is better than not having law. The concept
of “Equality” should be understood by two meanings, that is, (1) equality in secular
way which is applied for right, freedom, equality and justice of a society. And (2)
equality in religious or righteous way ,which is referred to equality in accordance
with natural law such as the law of kamma and so on. Here is the explanation of what
equality really means from both secular and religious views of law which is
reasonable and helpful for all of living beings in society.

In the Buddhist context the notion of equality before the law springs from
two considerations. The first is the fundamental assumption of the basic
equality of all human beings in respect of their essential nature as a
consequence of which they are equal regarding their dignity and rights.
The second is based on the legal argument that all individuals, whatever
be their caste or social position, are punishable with the same kind and
degree of punishment, if held liable for an infringement of the law.
Equality before the law implies equal protection by the law which in turn
connotes the total absence of any form of discrimination. The entire
concept of equal protection under the law is covered by the Buddhist
expression dhammikaṃ rakkhāvaraäaguttiö (meaning "righteous care and
protection') which is expected of the "world ruler" and spelt out in
Buddhist social thought by the terms dhammacariyā and samacariyā.
Literally these words imply "righteous conduct" and "impartial conduct"
on the part of the ruler or the State towards citizens or subjects. While the
first of these terms can be said to mean equal protection under the law
dispensed by righteous conduct on the part of those in power, the second
conveys the concept of the absence of all discrimination in view of the
claim to equal protection under the law.
This Article has a similar objective, in this case related specifically to the
"Rule of Law". Therefore the denial in theory, or in practice, of the
principle of equality before the law and equal protection not only under the
law but also against any discrimination in the dispensation of the law, will
not be countenanced by Buddhism.20

Moreover, there are a lot of books explain about equality written by Buddhist and

non-Buddhist scholars. Paddmasiri de Sila in her book, “Buddhism, Ethics and

Society” is explained more about equality in the following way:

The Buddha was not concerned about the transformation of society; it only
means that his approach to social concerns had logic of its own, as does
the analysis of concepts such as freedom, equality and justice.
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In a very deep sense, the need to be respected as a human person and the
ability to respond to others provides the most basic moral and
psychological foundations for Buddhist reflections on equality.
Men and woman are considered as equal in having these potentialities, and
in the case of compassion, a mother’s feeling towards a child are taken as
the paradigmatic expression of human compassion.
Egalitarianism, of course, does not always assert equality but rather denies
the justice of some inequality in treatment based on irrelevant traits. In this
context, the dimensions of equality in relation to race, caste, sex, and so on
are important.
The Buddhist concept of equality has a strong link with the notion of
righteousness (dhamma), which may be rendered for the Western student
as justice, but yet in a narrow sense it is a Buddhist concept of justice or,
in a broader sense, a notion of justice embedded in the Hindu-Buddhist
world view.
The interlocking relations between justice and equality have been a subject
of great interest in studies of equality in the West. In early Greek thought,
for instance, the world dike (which came to mean a person’s due share)
contained the concept of equality, thus showing an interesting link
between justice and equality. In the Buddhist context we have shown the
strong link between righteousness and equality in relation to the way a
sovereign should govern; dhammena and samena are used to describe the
qualifications of an ideal ruler.
The Buddhist perspective on equality is basically orientated towards the
person as a free and rational moral agent. Treating persons as equals in
this respect indicates that we value common human potentialities. The
moral imperative to treat others in the same way as one would wish
oneself to be treated assumes that we are in certain ways equal. This
perspective is rooted in our deep capacity for benevolence and
compassion.
A similar argument is found in the Madhura sutta, where it is said that
wealthy people, irrespective of caste, will find members of other castes
willing to wait upon them and serve them. It is interesting to find the
Buddha using this kind of argument. He is not saying that wealth should
be the norm that divides people, but merely that in actual situations, birth
and colour (vaääa) recede to the background in the face of wealth.
The example that wealth influences social relations is strengthened by
three other arguments: a wicked person (whatever his or her vaääa), in
accordance with the law of kamma, will be born in a bad place and a good
person in a state of bliss; criminals, regardless of vanna, will be equally
subject to punishment; and whatever a man’s vaääa, if he joins the order,
he will receive equal respect and honour from people.21

Once again, Cambodia in the former time also had castes owing to the influence of

Brahmanism, and yet the different point is that it had no caste prejudices among the

people.
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Cambodian society is not a caste discrimination society like India at all


because in ancient Indian society there was no relationship through one
caste to another. A proof for equal social class as in example was in the
reign of King Jayavaraman VII (in 12th century), a stone scription
mentioned about the construction of a hospital in which people of the four
caste could come to be cured disease.
Moreover, through the story of Cambodian literature such as Kolab Pailin
(Pailin rose) and Vessantara story was also shown that there was no caste
discrimination because the rich and the poor could be mixed relationship
with each other in marriage. For the charity of King Vessantara was also
of no caste discrimination, and it is specially seen in religious ceremony
such as Pchum Ben ceremony (ceremony performed for the departed ones
usually fall on 18th, 19thand 20th September every year), Kathina ceremony
and New Year was also the same. All people whether the rich or the poor
can go to perform meritorious deeds in monastery together according to
their faiths (saddhà) respectively without being forced or discriminated
between them.
Furthermore it is seen that, “the monks or chief monk of monastery also
accept all students who come to study under his guidance without
prejudice of rich or poor family or any race.”22

Another fact in the former time is that, “Cambodia’s “elite” class centres around the

king, the royal family, and the royal court. In addition to the nobility it includes

families whose members, though commoners, hold high-ranking positions in the

government, and in the arm forces. Although a distinction between noble and

commoner is made within the civil service, at this upper level there is a display of

considerable social equality.”23

So we can assimilate this case by comparing with the example in the following

way, “If one has four sons by one wife, the four sons, having one father and mother,

must all be essentially alike. Among quadrupeds, births, trees, we see differences of

conformation and organization whereby we can separate them into distinct species.

But all men are formed a like without and within, except in such non-essential

differences as are observed in the children of one and the same parents. It is therefore

evidence that all men belong to one species. Further in a jack- tree the fruit is

produced from the stem, the joints and roots as well as the branches. Is one fruit
82

therefore different from another so that we may call that produced from the roots the

Sùdra fruit? Surely not; nor can men be of four distinct species, because, as the

Brahmins assert, they sprang from four different parts of one body. Besides, a

Brahman’s sense of pleasure and pain is not different from that of Chandàla. Both are

born in the same way, both sustain life in the same manner, and both suffer death

from the same causes. They differ neither in intellectual faculties nor in their actions,

nor in the aims they pursue, nor in their subjection to fear and hope. Accordingly the

talk of four castes is fatuous. All men are of one caste.”24

And another thing, biological scientists corroborate that, “the modern

upholders of Hinduism attempt buttress caste by scientific props. Caste, they contend,

has an ethnological basis. The Sanskrit word for caste being varäa , which literally

means colour it is urged that between the higher caste , the so-called Aryans, and the

lower castes, there is a racial opposition more or less absolute arising from a

difference in colour does not represent any essential difference in quality. The

microscope reveals no difference between the blond and the black. The human skin,

whether it be the skin of the darkest Negro or of the whitest European, always

contains only dark pigment. The colour of the white European is not produced by

milk or the ichors of the gods of antiquity. The pigment is everywhere the same, and it

is always dark. If differ not in quality, but only in quantity. In some cases the quantity

of pigment is so large that it makes appearance on the surface, while in other cases it

lies hidden in the deeper layers. But the pigment is never absent. The new-born

children of all people are of the same colour and equally fair. The children of the

same father and mother are not always of the same colour. The colour of the skin

changes with the climate. A long stay in the tropic turns the skin of the European

brown, while the skin of the Negro becomes perceptibly bleached by long residence in
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the temperate zone. All attempts to classify mankind into races (or caste based on

colour) have proved a signal failure.”25

Furthermore, we should know in deeper sense on equality of human beings

from Buddhist point of view. When one studies Abhidhamma in Buddhism, one will

find it that, “everybody has already had wrong view (diååhi) since his or her birth and

wisdom (amoha) is also included in every one except Dvihetuka puggala who has two

roots: Alobha (non-greed; generosity) and Adosa (non-hatred; good will; loving-

kindness. This is the equality of human beings of (different castes) and different faiths

such as Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. Based on understanding of this

quality, we can find the real peace in our mentality and materiality.”26So, all human

beings by nature are equal.

3.5 Buddhist rationalistic views about caste system

Buddhist rationalistic view about caste system is neither pessimistic nor optimistic,

but to give complete right nor freedom to humans in both genders from all castes,

creeds and colours to seek the truth.

“Buddha’s rationalistic spirit is evident not only in his philosophical

discussions but also in his examinations of the popular beliefs and customs, e.g. his

attitude towards the caste system and the discrimination based on caste as giving a

right to the knowledge of the truth. Buddha held that a person irrespective of caste or

age is entitled to search for the truth and follow the path prescribed leading to the

same and that the pride of caste is baseless as men, whether Kshatriya, Brahmana,

vaiËya or sùdra, are born in the same way, are composed of the same earthly materials

and subject to the common frailties of the human beings (such as birth, decay, disease

and death). What distinguishes one man from another is his quality, and not the

accident of his birth (na jacca hoti brahmaäo). Hence a person, whether a brahman or
84

sùdra, is equally entitled to practise brahmacariya and other disciplinary rules at any

stage of his life and realize the truth.”27

In Buddhism, there many truths, however, to understand four Noble truths is

important. The four Noble truths are: (1) the truth of suffering, that is, the five

aggregates, (2) the truth of the origin of suffering, that is, craving, (3) the truth of the

cessation of suffering, that is, the cessation of craving, and (4) the truth of the path

leading to the cessation of the suffering, that is, the Eightfold Noble path. In this case,

if one is ignorant of the four Noble truths, one cannot become an Anàgàmì or an

Arahanta. Moreover, if one just knows the four Noble truths with merely theories, he

also cannot attain the state of being Anàgàmì or Arahanta. Only when one realized the

four Noble Truths through experiential level in the practice of insight meditation, then

he can become such Noble states and free from many kinds of troubles and suffering

in this world even in social life. The Buddha shows us the way to release ourselves

from slavery of craving within the very four Noble Truths. According to Buddha,

human beings are suffered from slavery of others only in this life, but if he is a slave

of craving, he will suffer endlessly again and again in the round of rebirth. So, the five

aggregates are the truth of suffering that should be known. Craving (taähà) is the true

cause of suffering that should be abandoned. The extinction of craving is the true

cause of the cessation of suffering that should be realised, and Eightfold Noble path is

the truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering that should be practised or

followed. Therefore, those who want to free from slavery in this world should practise

insight meditation to realise the four Noble Truths and become Arahants. For in

stance, Punna Therì was born in Anathapindika’s household, as the daughter of a

domestic slave. She was called Punna because, with her birth, the number of children

in the household reached one hundred. On the day, on which she heard the Sihanàda
85

sutta preached by the Buddha, she became a Sotapanna, and thereby won the esteem

of Anathapindika, so that he freed her. Thereupon, she entered the Order and in due

course (of her realising the truth) became an Arahant. So here we can say that Punna

Theri could free herself from the slave of craving as well as slave of other in her

social life.
Chapter IV: Buddhist attitude towards castes and slavery

Concerning Buddhist attitude to caste, Venerable Asvaghosa says that as far as

feelings, likes and dislikes, expectations and physical limbs are concerned they are

common to all the castes. The whole mankind belongs to one caste and that caste is

human race. And slaves should not be like property. They should be counted with

everyone else.

4.1 The condemnation of Buddha to caste and service of slave

Buddhism does not encourage slavery in whatever case. Though slaves had in the

Buddha’s time, but their masters were Buddhists and so they were mainly virtuous

and tolerant of them.

Normally worldlings who are mostly ignorant of the five aggregates, the four

elements, the three characteristics , the six bases, the twelve laws of dependent

origination, the eightfold noble path and the four noble truth. These kinds of persons

attached strongly to many things such birth; lineage, colour, wealth and beauty and

inferiority, superiority, and when they have all these luxurious things, then they think

that they are better than others and so on. They have a lot of conceits without

understanding what white Dhamma and what black Dhamma are. According to

Buddha, he neither praises nor ridicules any one or he neither sees anyone in high

birth better than the low one. No one is better than another, and no one is worse than

another one else. For him only the Dhamma and Vinaya are the better things and

capable for people of the four castes. According to Esukarì sutta,1 in Majjhima

Nikàya, the Buddha’s answers and questions removed all doubts that one has
87

concerning these matters. This sutta condemned the kind of service which becomes

slavery of caste. The whole theme of the sutta is thus occurred:

1. On one occasion the Blessed one was living at Sàvaååhì in Jeta’s grove,

Anathapindika’s park.

2. The Brahmin Esukarì went to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings

with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side

and said:

3. Master Gotama, the Brahmins prescribe four levels of service. They

prescribe the level of service towards a Brahmin, the level of service towards a noble,

the level of service towards a merchant, and the level of service towards a worker.

Therein, Master Gotama, the Brahmins prescribe this as the level of service towards a

Brahmin: a Brahmin may serve a Brahmin, a noble may serve a Brahmin, a merchant

may serve a Brahmin, and a worker may serve a Brahmin. That is the level of service

towards a Brahmin that the Brahmins prescribe.

Master Gotama, the Brahmins prescribe this as the level of service towards a

noble:

A noble may serve a noble, a merchant may serve a noble, and a worker may

serve a noble. That is the level of service towards a noble that the Brahmins prescribe.

Master Gotama, the Brahmins prescribe this as the level of service towards a

merchant: a merchant may serve a merchant and a worker may serve a merchant. That

is the level of service towards a merchant that the Brahmins prescribe. Master

Gotama, the Brahmins prescribe this as the level of service towards a worker: only a

worker may serve a worker; for who else could serve a worker? That is the level of

service towards a worker that the Brahmins prescribe. What does Master Gotama say

about this?
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4. “well, Brahmin, has all the world authorised the Brahmins to prescribe these

four levels of service?” “No, Master Gotama-“Suppose, brahmin, they were to force a

cut of meat upon a poor, penniless, destitute man and tell him: ‘Good man, you must

eat this meat and pay for it; so too, without the consent of other recluses and

Brahmins, the Brahmins nevertheless prescribe those four levels of service.

5. “I do not say, Brahmin, that all are to be served, nor do I say that none are

to be served. For if, when serving someone, one becomes worse and not better

because of that service, then I say that he should be served. And if, when serving

someone, one becomes better and not worse because of that service, then I say that he

should be served.

6. “if they were to ask a noble thus: ‘which of these should you serve—one in

whose service you become worse and not better when serving him, or one in whose

service you become better and not worse when serving him: answering rightly, a

noble would answer thus: ‘ I should not serve the one in whose service I become

worse and not better when serving him; I should serve the one in whose service I

become better and not worse when serving him.’

“if they were to ask a Brahmin…to ask a merchant…to ask a

worker…answering rightly, a worker would answer thus: ‘ I should not serve the one

in whose service I become worse and not better when serving him; I should serve the

one in whose service I become better and not worse when serving him.’

7. “I do not say, Brahmin, that one is better because one is not from an

aristocratic family, nor do I say that one is worse because one is from an aristocratic

family. I do not say that one better because is of great beauty, nor do I say that one is

worse because one is great beauty. I do not say that one is better because one is not of

great wealth, nor do I say that one is worse because one is of great wealth.
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8. “ for here, Brahmin, one from an aristocratic family may kill living beings ,

take what is not given, misconduct himself in sensual pleasures, speak falsely , speak

maliciously , speak harshly , gossip, be covetous , have a mind of ill will, and hold

wrong view. Therefore I do not say that one is better because one is from an

aristocratic family. But also, Brahmin, one from an aristocratic family may abstain

from killing beings, from taking what is not given, from misconduct himself in

sensual pleasures, from false speech, from malicious speech, from harsh speech, and

from, gossip, and he may be uncovetous, have a mind without ill will, and hold right

view. Therefore I do not say that one is worse because one is from an aristocratic

family. “Here, Brahmin, one of great beauty …one of great wealth may kill living

beings…and hold wrong view. Therefore I do not say that one is better because is of

great beauty …of great wealth. But also, Brahmin, one of great beauty …one of great

wealth may abstain from killing beings…and hold right view. Therefore I do not say

that one is worse because one is of great beauty …one of great wealth.

9. “I do not say, Brahmin, that all are to be served, nor do I say that none are

to be served. For if, when serving someone, one’s faith, virtue, learning, generosity,

and wisdom increase in his service, then I say that he should be served.

10. When this was said, the Brahmin Esukarì said to the Blessed One: “Master

Gotama, the Brahmins, prescribe four types of wealth. They prescribe the wealth of a

Brahmin, the wealth of a noble, the wealth of a merchant, and the wealth of a worker.

“Therein, Master Gotama, the Brahmins prescribe this as the wealth of a Brahmin—

wandering for alms; a Brahmin who spurns his own wealth, wandering for alms,

abuses his duty like a guard who takes what has not been given. That is the wealth of

a Brahmin which a Brahmin prescribes. Master Gotama the Brahmins prescribe this

as the wealth of a noble-the bow and the quiver; a noble who spurns his own wealth,
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the bow and the quiver, abuses his duty like a guard who takes what has not been

given. That is the wealth of a Brahmin which a Brahmin prescribes. Master Gotama

the Brahmins prescribe this as the wealth of a merchant-farming and cattle-breeding; a

merchant who spurns his own wealth, farming and cattle-breeding, abuses his duty

like a guard who takes what has not been given. That is the wealth of a merchant

which Brahmin prescribes. Master Gotama the Brahmins prescribe this as the wealth

of a worker-the sickle and carrying-pole; a worker who spurns his own wealth, the

sickle and carrying-pole, abuses his duty like a guard who takes what has not been

given. That is the wealth of a worker which Brahmin prescribes.

What does Master Gotama say about this?”

11. “well, Brahmin, has all the world authorised the Brahmins to prescribe the

four types of wealth?” “No, Master Gotama.”-“suppose, Brahmin, they were to force

a cut of meat upon a poor, penniless, destitute and tell him: ‘Good man, you must eat

this meat and pay for it’; so too, without the consent of those other recluses and

Brahmin, the Brahmin nevertheless prescribe the four types of wealth.

12. I, Brahmin, declare the noble supramundane Dhamma as a person’s own

wealth. But recollecting his ancient maternal and paternal family lineage, he is

reckoned according to wherever he is reborn. If he is born in a clan of nobles, he is

reckoned as a noble; if he is reborn in a clan of Brahmins, he is reckoned as a

Brahmin; if he is reborn in a clan of merchants, he is reckoned as a merchant; if he is

reborn in a clan of worker, he is reckoned as a worker. Just as fire by the particular

condition depend on which it burns-when the fire burns dependent on logs, it is

reckoned as a log fire; when fire burns dependent on faggots, it is reckoned as a

faggot fire; when fire burns dependent on grass, it is reckoned as a grass fire; when

fire burns dependent on cow-dung, it is reckoned as a cow-dung fire-so too, Brahmin,


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I declare the noble supramundane Dhamma as a person’s wealth. But recollecting his

ancient maternal and paternal family lineage, he is reckoned according to wherever he

is reborn. If he is born in a clan of nobles, he is reckoned as a noble, and so on.

13. “if, Brahmin, anyone from a clan of noble goes forth from the home life

into homelessness, and after encountering the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by

Tathàgata, he abstains from killing living beings, from taking what is not given, from

incelibacy, from false speech, from malicious speech, from harsh speech, and from

gossip, and is uncovetous, has a mind without ill will, and hold right view, he is one

who is accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome.

“if, Brahmin, anyone from a clan of a Brahmins goes forth…if anyone from a clan of

merchants goes forth…if anyone from a clan of workers goes forth from the home life

into homelessness, and after encountering the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by

Tathàgata, he abstains from killing living beings… and hold right view, he is one who

is accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome.

14. “What do you think, Brahmin? Is only a Brahmin capable of developing a

mind of loving-kindness towards a certain region, without hostility and without ill

will, and not a noble, or a merchant, or a worker?”

“No, Master Gotama. Whether it be a noble, or a Brahmin, or a merchant, or a

worker-those of all castes are capable of developing a mind of loving-kindness

towards a certain region, without hostility and without ill will.

“So too, Brahmin, if anyone from a clan of nobles goes forth…he is one who is

accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome.

15. “What do you think, Brahmin? Is only a Brahmin capable of taking a

loofah and bath powder going to the river, and washing off dust and dirt, and not a

noble, or a merchant, or a worker?”


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“No, Master Gotama. Whether it be a noble, or a Brahmin, or a Brahmin, or a

merchant, or a worker- those of all castes are capable of taking a loofah and bath

powder, going to the river, and washing of dust and dirt.”

“So too, Brahmin, if anyone from a clan of nobles goes forth… he is one who is

accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome.

16. “What do you think, Brahmin? Suppose a head-anointed noble king were

to assemble here a hundred men of different birth”……for all fire has a flame, a

colour, and radiance, and it is possible to use all fires for the purposes of fires.

“so to , Brahmin, if anyone from a clan of nobles goes forth… is one who is

accomplishing the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome.”

17. When this was said, the Brahmin Esukarì said to the Blessed One:

“Magnificent, Master Gotama!.. From today let Master Gotama remember me as a lay

follower who has gone to him for refuge for life.”

According to this sutta it is not caste which decides who is better or worse,

one’s spiritual quality which determines who is high or low. So one should serve

others wisely, “do not forget spiritual development while serving others.”2

4.2 Caste, virtue and human dignity

As mentioned above, there are four castes according to Brahmanism or Hinduism, but

according to Buddhism only two castes was known.

The lands of Yonas and Kampujas were other outland countries known to
Indians in the sixth century B.C. as is evidenced by Assalàyana Suttanta of
Majjhima Nikàya which states that the people of these regions had only
two Varäas or social grades, viz., the Àriya(masters) and Dàsa(slaves)
instead of the classes of Indian society.3

The two castes, masters and slaves are flexible sometimes the masters become slaves

and the slaves become masters. So, these two castes are not rigid like Hindu caste
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system. Anyway, no matter how many castes exist in this world is not important.

Castes bring no value and virtue to human at all. Virtue brings dignity to man. Virtue

is the best ornament of the people in all castes. Man without virtue is really an ugly

man. Wealth and beauty plus virtue upgrade human up to superior level. Virtue is one

kinds of essence of human life. Confucius said, "The determined scholar and the man

of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even

sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete." In Buddhism also said that a

Bhikkhu must fight to spread virtue. He must be ready to sacrifice even his life to

save virtue when it is in danger situation. Where virtue is in danger do not avoid

fighting, do not mealy-mouthed. Virtue is the best ingredient of all goodness.

Virtue makes wisdom grow. Venerable Nàgasena addressed the king Milinda

thus: For it has been said, Sire, by the Blessed One:

“Virtue’s the base on which the man who’s wise can train his heart, and
make his wisdom grow. Thus shall the strenuous Bhikkhu, undeceived,
unravel all the tangled skein of life? “this is the base—like the great earth
to men—and this the root of all increase in goodness, the starting-point of
all the Buddha’s teachings, virtue, to wit, true bliss depends.”4

On the other hand, a person endowed with virtue is always taken care by Devas, and

also paid respect and honoured by all men.

There is a story in Sìla Vimaægsa Jàtaka concerning virtue—this story the

Master, while residing at Jetavana, told concerning a Brahmin who would test the

power of virtue. The king, they say owing to his reputation for virtue, regarded him

with special honour, beyond what was paid to other Brahmins. He thought, “Can it be

that the king regards me with special honour, because I am endowed with virtue, or as

one devoted to the acquisition of learning? I will just test the comparative importance

of virtue and learning.”


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So one day he abstracted a coin from the royal treasury board. The treasurer,

such was his respect for him, did not say a word. It occurred a second time, and the

treasurer said nothing. But on the third occasion he had him arrested as one lived by

robbery, and brought him before the king. And when the king asked what his offence

was, he charged him with stealing the king’s property.

“Is this true, Brahmin?” said the king.

“I am not in the habit of stealing your property, sire,” he said, “but I had my

doubts as to the relative important of virtue and learning, and in testing which was the

greater of the two, I thrice abstracted a coin, and then I was given into custody and

brought before you. Now that I know the greater efficacy of virtue compared with

learning, I no longer wish to live a lay man life. I will become an ascetic.”

On obtaining leave to do so, without so much as looking back on his house

door, he went straight to Jetavana and begged the Master to ordain him. The Master

granted him both deacon’s and priest’s orders. And he had been no long time in

orders, before he attained to spiritual insight and reached the highest fruition. The

incident was discussed in the Hall of truth, how that a certain Brahmin, after proving

the power of virtue, took orders and obtaining spiritual insight reached the Sainthood.

When the Master came and enquired the Brethren what was the nature of the topic

they were sitting to discuss, on hearing what it was, he said, “not this man now only,

but sages of old also put virtue to the proof, and by becoming ascetics worked out

their own salvation. And herewith he told a story of the past.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta

was born in a Brahmin family. And when he came of age, he acquired every liberal at

Takkasilà, and on his return to Benares he went to see the king. The king offered him

the post of family priest, and as he kept the five moral precepts, the king looked upon
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him with respect as a virtuous man. “Can it be,” he thought, “the king regards me with

respect as a virtuous man, or as one devoted to the acquisition of learning?” And the

whole story corresponds exactly with the modern instance, but in this case the

Brahmin said, “Now I know the great importance of virtue compared with learning.”

And hereupon he spoke these five stanzas:

Virtue and learning I was fain to test; Henceforth I doubt not virtue is the
best. Virtue excels vain gifts of form and birth, Apart from virtue learning
has no worth. A prince or peasant, if to sin enslave, In neither world from
misery in saved. Men of high caste with those of base degree, If virtuous
here, in heaven will equal be. Not birth, no lore, nor friendship aught avails,
pure virtue only future bliss entails.5

According to Buddhism in some positions, the priority should be given to one who

has virtue first because that person can maintain whatever position is appointed to and

please others with his righteousness and honesty which bring good result. In

Assalàyana sutta, the Buddha stated that if there were two Brahmin students who were

brothers, born of the same mother, one studious and acute, but immoral and of bad

character, and one neither studious nor acute, but virtuous and of good character. In

this case, at a funeral feast or at a ceremonial milk-rice offering, or at a sacrificial

feast, or at feast for guests, on such occasions, the Brahmin would also feed first the

one who was neither studious nor acute, but virtuous and of good character for it

brings great fruit. So a person should be high in virtue which he possesses. The wise

man who is virtuous man places himself lower than others, and pushes his virtue

forwards higher than others always. That is why he is respected by all men from high

or low castes or it is liken to the water from rivers and valleys in all directions flow,

bowing down into the ocean in low surface. Naturally, the ocean can receive the water

from all places in the same manner as to the wise person has virtue who can receive

the respect from all men even thought he is born in low caste. True dignity and peace
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cannot occur to men unless men in all castes have virtue. Confucius said, "If the will

be set on virtue, there will be no practice of wickedness.”6

4.3 Caste, knowledge and moral conducts

Caste, knowledge and morality are related matters to be discussed here.

Caste is the best thing for people. The best is the enemy of the good. The

highest is the enemy of the low. So, which one is better than. People respect caste or

respect knowledge or respect morality.

A Brahmin thought that he was born in the highest caste. So he did not respect

others who were not a Brahmin. Like in the case of the Ambaååha, a Brahmin youth

who had conceit of his birth and did not respect the Lord Buddha. He thought that

Buddha was born in lower lineage than him. The story is thus: Pokkharasàtì had a

pupil, the youth Ambaååha, who was a student of the Vedas, a skilled expounder of the

rules and rituals, the lores of sounds and meanings and fifthy, oral tradition, complete

in philosophy and in the marks of the Great Man, admitted and accepted by his master

in the three Vedas with the words: ‘what I know. You know; what you know, I know.

The Buddha was said to be an Arahant, fully-enlighten One, endowed with wisdom

and conduct, Well-farer, knower of the worlds, incomparable Trainer of men to be

tamed, the teacher of gods and humans.

When Pokkharasàtì heard like this, he assigned Ambaååha to find out whether

the Buddha possesses the thirty two marks or not. Ambaååha went to meet the Buddha.

When meeting, he exchanged courtesies with him and sat down to one side. But

Ambaååha walked up and down while the Lord sat there, utter some vague words of

politeness, and then stood so speaking before the seated Lord. The Lord Buddha

asked him whether he behaves like this when he talks to the venerable and learned

Brahmins, teachers of teachers, as he did with him, walking and standing while he
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was sitting. Ambaååha replied, ‘No’, a Brahmin should walk with a walking Brahmin,

stand with a standing Brahmin, sit with a sitting Brahmin, and lie down with a

Brahmin who is lying down. But as for those shaven little ascetics, menials, black

scourings from Bràhmà’s foot, with them it is fitting to speak just I do with the

reverend Gotama.

By seeing that, Buddha said, ‘Ambaååha, you have not perfected your training.

Your conceit of being trained is due to nothing but inexperience.’ At that time,

Ambaååha was angry with the Buddha when Buddha said that to him. And he accused

the Sakyans of being menial three times till the Buddha traced back to the former day

knowing that king Okkàka, ancestor of Sakyans had a slave-girl called Disà and

Ambaååha was a son of her. So the Buddha said that is how in the former days…the

Sakyans were the masters, and you are descended from a slave-girl and so on.

Then, the Buddha continued to say this: Ambaååha, this verse was pronounced

by Brahmà Sanankumàra:

“Khattiya’s the best among those who value clan; He with knowledge and
conduct is best of gods and men.”
“This verse was rightly sung, not wrongly, rightly spoken, not wrongly,
connected with profit, not unconnected. And, Ambaååha, I too say this:
“khattiya’s best among those who value clan: He with knowledge and
conduct is best of gods and men.”
‘But reverend, Gotama, what is this conduct, what is this knowledge?
‘Ambaååha , it is not from the standpoint of the attainment unexcelled
knowledge-and-conduct that reputation based on birth and clan is
declared, nor on the conceit which say: “ you are worthy of me , you are
not worthy of me!” for wherever there is a giving , a taking, or a giving
and taking in marriage, there is always this talk and this conceit…but
those who are enslaved by such things are far from the attainment of the
unexcelled knowledge-and-conduct, which is attained by abandoning all
such things!’.
‘But, Reverend Gotama, what is this conduct, what is this knowledge?’
‘Ambaååha, a Tathàgata arises in this world an Arahant, fully-enlighten
Buddha, endowed with wisdom and conduct, Well-farer, knower of the
worlds, incomparable Trainer of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and
humans, enlightened and blessed. He, having realized it by his own super-
knowledge, proclaims this world with its Devas, màras and Brahmàs, its
princes and people. He preaches the Dhamma which is lovely in its
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beginning, lovely in its middle, lovely in its ending, in the spirit and in the
letter, and displays the fully-perfected and purified holy life. A disciple
goes forth and practices the moralities; he guards the sense-doors, etc;
attain the four Jhàna…thus he develops conduct. He attains various
insights, and the cessation of the corruptions…And beyond this there is no
further development of knowledge and conduct that is higher or more
perfect.7

According to this story Pokkharasàtì just sent Ambaååha to find out whether the

Buddha was endowed with thirty two marks as a Great Man or not, but when meeting

the Buddha, Ambaååha did not asked him politely. Instead he was insolent and looked

on Buddha and reproached the Sakyan clan. His behaviour lacked of morality even

though he was the master of knowledge in three Vedas. That was why when

Pokkharasàtì asked Ambaååha about his conversation with the Buddha, so Ambaååha

told Pokkharasàtì all that had passed between the Lord and him.

At this, Pokkharasàtì exclaimed: ‘well, you’re a fine little scholar, a fine wise

man, a fine expert in the three Vedas! Anyone going about his business like that ought

when he dies, at the breaking-up of the body, to go the downfall, to the evil path, to

ruin, to hell! You have heaped insults on the Reverend Gotama, as a result of which

he has brought up more and more things against us! You’re a fine scholar…! ‘He was

so angry and enraged that he kicked Ambaååha over, and wanted to start out at once to

see the Lord…when he met the Buddha he asked him about Ambaååha. At that time,

the Buddha replied as the cases had occurred. At this, Pokkharasàtì said to the Lord:

‘Reverend Gotama, Ambaååha is a young fool. May the Reverend Gotama pardon

him.’ ‘Brahmin, may Ambaååha be happy, said the Buddha.

Then Pokkharasàtì looked out for the thirty two marks of a Great Man on the

Lord’s body and he could see all of them except for two: the sheathed genitals and the

large tongue. But the lord set his mind at rest about these. By knowing that, the
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Brahmin, Pokkharasàtì was happy and so he requested the Buddha to accept his meal

together with members of monks. And the lord consented by silence.

In offering dàna day, Pokkharasàtì served the Buddha with choice hard and

soft food and the young men served monks. And when the lord Buddha had taken his

hand from the bowl, Pokkharasàtì sat down on one side on a low stool.

On that day, the Buddha also delivered a graduated discourse on generosity,

on morality, etc. The Brahmin, Pokkharasàtì, having seen, attained, experienced and

penetrated the Dhamma and kindly became devoted to the Buddha from that day

onwards.

It is really difficult to say that a person is superior by birth because the person

who is born in the high or lineage may do bad actions and commit bad things such as

drinking wine, having sexual misconduct with women, commit a crime for he may

become a gangster, robber or kidnapper fighting, robbing and oppressing others in

society. Such kind of person is not liked and respected by others because his action is

immoral.

In other words, even man was born in high lineage or he may be in high

position but if his morality is low he would be classed as a low man. A man with a

low morality would not be highly regarded by the higher company. Knowledge and

morality are the two important factors. But according to ethical rules, morality is more

important than knowledge. Like Ambaååha, the Brahmin youth who was highly

educated person, but his moral conduct was low. He did not use diplomatic speech in

conversation with Buddha. So he could not accomplish his task, and his teacher was

angry and kicked him because of his bad behaviour towards Buddha and the

unsuccessful task. This case show us that morality is very important, however, if a

person possesses only morality without knowledge may has good looking, but is
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liken to a kind of flower has no smell but just beauty. So knowledge and moral

conduct are both needed.

Even among Brahmins, the skilled and the educated Brahmin stands above
others and the morally superior one above even the skilled and the
educated. This shows that the value of a human being lies not in birth but
in the attainment of skills, knowledge, and moral habit etc.8

The conceit about caste, high lineage, wealth or beauty is not good for every one. In

Buddhism, a person is advised to avoid or remove conceit (màna), craving (taähà) and

wrong view (micchà diååhi). These three Dhammas can obstruct one’s spiritual

development, bring a lot of troubles to society and prolong the life-cycle as well.

Especially, one of them is conceit if any one has conceit it lead him to have the ideas

or imaginations of (1) Superiority, (2) Equality and (3) Inferiority.

" ... Samo visesi athava nihino He who builds up such imaginations,
Yo mannati so vivadetha tena He is equal, he is superior, he is inferior to me.
tisu vidhasu avikampamano Such imaginations will lead to quarrels!
samo visesiti na tassa hoti .. . ". He who is unshaken by these three fancies,
To him, there will be no equality, no
superiority".9

Everybody can avoid these three words and surely can obtain certain benefit by the

following methods:

You can avoid having unnecessary worry and trouble if you refrain from
comparing yourself with others. By itself the act of comparison may not be
wrong if it inspires you to become wiser in thought and nobler in deeds.
But, too often, comparing yourself with others to see who is a ‘superior’
lead to conceit and unnecessary worry. If you thing you are equal to others,
you may become complacent and stagnate. If you think you are inferior to
others, you may become timid and helpless. Therefore to avoid having such
negative mental states, refrain from making comparisons. It may be useful
to remember that superiority, equality, and inferiority are relative states
which change constantly with time, place and circumstances. In endless
rounds within the ocean of life and death (saçsàra), we have all been
superior, equal and inferior to one another at different times. At one time
you may be a beggar, while at another a millionaire.10
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According to Buddhism human beings' status is promoted by morality. Therefore,

Buddhists build their lives on morality as far as they possibly can. Some Buddhists,

who think that in the worldly life, there is not enough time to practise higher morality,

higher concentration and higher wisdom or knowledge, become bhikkhus (monks)

with the intention of getting rid of conceit, greed, anger and delusion.11

One should also follow some disciplines. Discipline is an important factor.

Discipline leads to morality; morality leads to concentration and concentration leads

to knowledge or wisdom. In other words, “the Buddha explains that wisdom is

purified by morality, and morality is purified by wisdom; the moral man is wise, and

the wise man is moral.”12

However, one cannot establish morality in him without disciplining himself

first. So, first a person trains himself in discipline. Without discipline one cannot

become a good person or successful one because humans are social beings who live in

society or a country, without exception, depending on laws, disciplines, rules and

regulations. If without these pivotal principles, human beings cannot live in peace,

harmony and mutual understanding. They will live and fight or harm each other in

view of the lack of disciplines as well as moral conducts. So they ought to discipline

themselves to have morality and high education. One day, after performing uposatha,

rector sayadaw, Dr. Nandamala admonished monks in Sìmà hall that monks should be

higher in education, discipline and morality than lay people. Especially when monks

have morality … they are revered by lay people.

According to Myanmar tradition they respect monks in speech even when a monk

passed away they also use polite word:

In this case, there is a Myanmar word: “Phonegyi byan” ‘Phonegyi’ means


‘monk’ and ‘Byan’ means ‘deceased’ ,‘passed away’, or ‘flying to the
higher realm.’ ‘Monk is naturally higher in moral character and thus, he
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may reach the higher realms. Therefore, when monk is dead, devotees
said, our venerable monk, is now flying to the higher realms of existence’:
they don’t say our monk is dead.’13

In Cambodian language also has polite word to say concerning passing away of monk.

They say a monk is ‘Sugat’ when the monk is dead. It may mean the monk has gone

to a good destination of the very happy world after death. In other word, they say a

monk is attained ‘Anicca-dhamma’, or it means the monk is received ‘impermanent

law’ in life.

It is seen that in Buddhist countries like Myanmar and Cambodia, people

mostly respect the monks with all their heart. Some persons even dare not to walk

across or step on the shadow of monks on a journey along the road because they are

afraid of sin. Some people who have strong faith in Buddhism even though they see

monks’ manner are clumsy, but they still respect them. Here it should reasonably be

understood that volition is important in Buddhism. Some Buddhists in the modern day

think that they do not respect individual monk, but the Sanghas. So even though they

pay respect to an immoral monk, but they focus their mind on the Sanghas. Some say

that if one wished to perform meritorious deeds with only the purely moral monks he

would wait for whole life to find them, but he would fail do so as to nowadays it is

hard to find Ariya Sanghas like in the Buddha’s time. Some say that they respect the

robe. Of course, according to Dhajagga Sutta mentions that monk’s robe is likened to

a symbol of the flag of the Arahant. By this understanding, they still pay homage to

the monks. Our lord Buddha for when he was Bodhisatta who had been born as an

elephant. He was about to kill a certain elephant-hunter who had killed other

elephants that were his kinsmen, but when he saw the robe on the body of that hunter,

he stopped killing because he respected the robe used by Arahants and reminded him

of the quality of virtue or morality of the Arahants who wear such robe.
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But he advised the elephant-hunter thus:

Whoever being depraved, devoid of self-control and truthfulness, should


don the monk's yellow robe, he surely is not worthy of the robe.
But whoever is purged of depravity, well-established in virtues or morality
and filled with self-control and truthfulness, he indeed is worthy of the
yellow robe.14

Actually, to say correctly is to respect virtue or morality of the person who wear the

robe, but not to respect the robe for if they respect the robe why many robes sold in

market place are not respected or paid homage. The important thing here is real

individual volition. For if his volition is good, the action is good, and the result will be

wholesome. Generally a person who leads a way of life in accordance with moral

codes can enjoy real peace and happiness in life better that the one who never knows

what morality is. He is also lucky and free from many social problems and his life is

meaningful both here and hereafter. Persons who practise good conduct of body,

speech, and mind, are mostly long-lived, beautiful, and abound in happiness in life. In

this respect, caste is not concerned with the quality of virtue or morality of man. Most

of people in the world now do not like caste adoption. So they do not respect caste of

the people, but on contrary, they respect the person who has knowledge together with

good moral conduct. The person who has wealth or power he may be respected by

others only when he is in the position of them, but when he become poor or powerless

he may not be respected any more, but the person who has morality generally gain

much respect from others with honest heart all times.

4.4 A dispute of caste based on birth and lineage

The dispute between man and man pertaining to high birth and high lineage occurs in

society in the old day as well as the present one. However, a person cannot be said

high because of birth if his action is bad and immoral.


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Obviously, in humans’ society those who were born in high or rich family

with good birth and good complexion are usually proud of themselves and their

lineage. But some are also good and not proud because they may have high education

or morality. These things had occurred since the Buddha’s time up to now.

In the Buddha life time, Vàseååha and Bhàradvàja while they were walking and

wandering for exercise, this discussion arose between them. “how is one abrahmin?”

when Vàseååha asked like this, the Brahmin student Bhàradvàja said: “ when one is

well-born on both sides, of pure maternal and paternal descent seven generations

back, unassailable and impeccable in respect of birth, then one is a Brahmin.” In this

case, the Brahmin student Bhàradvàja could not convince the Brahmin student

Vàseååha. They could not convince each other.

The two Brahmin students had doubts within their Brahmins’ community.

They wondered whether they were Brahmin by birth or not. They were in doubts for

what they had learned in religious scriptures from their teachers. So they went to ask

the Buddha to clarify the doubts. Then, a Brahmin student said this to the Buddha: “A

dispute has arisen between us, Gotama, concerning the question of birth and class:

Bhàradvàja says one is a Brahmin by birth, while I hold one is Brahmin by action.

Know this, O seer, as our debate.

When being asked like this, the Buddha replied to the two Brahmin students

thus: “ I will explain to you as they really are, he said among living beings, grass and

trees, moths and butterflies, quadrupeds, snakes, water-dwelling fish and birds have

different kinds of births and distinctive marks. But humans no differences of birth

make a distinctive mark in them.” He continued to explain concerning the

characteristics of human bodies in the following ways:

Nor in the hairs nor in the head


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Nor in the ears nor in the eyes

Nor in the mouth nor in the nose

Nor in the lips nor in the brows;

Nor in the shoulders or the neck

Nor in the belly or the back

Nor in the bottucks or the breast

Nor in the anus or genitals;

Nor in the hands nor in the feet

Nor in the fingers or the nails

Nor in the knees nor in the thighs

Nor in their colour or in voice:

Here birth makes no distinctive mark

as with the other kinds of birth.

In human bodies in themselves

Nothing distinctive can be found.

Distinction among human beings

Is purely verbal designation.15

The Buddha pointed out that humans are assigned the name and clan according to

their occupations respectively. He said those who makes his living among men by

serving others, is called a servant. Who makes his living among men by agriculture is

called a farmer. Who makes his living by merchandise, is called a merchant.

Whoever governs among men the town and the realm is called a ruler, and

who has cut off all fetters and is no more by anguish shaken, who has overcome all

ties, detached: he is the one I call a Brahmin, etc. The Buddha did not recognise a

person because of his origin and lineage. He did not accept the belief that one is a
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king, a Brahmin, a merchant and a servant or a worker by birth. The Buddha

demonstrated that for the name and clan are assigned as mere designation in the

world; origin in conventions, they are assigned here and there. This is obvious fact in

human society for if one accepts the belief that a person becomes such and such

person depending on his origin, clan or birth is wrong because it is seen that that a

son of a farmer may grow up and become a leader but not a farmer any more.

Sometime a person born in common family but when grow up he becomes a king by

chance through his effort in certain circumstances. So a Brahmin is not a Brahmin by

birth from one generation to generation forever. Things are changeable according to

time, action and situation. That is why the Buddha said:

One is not a Brahmin by birth,

Nor by birth a non-brahmin.

By action is one a Brahmin,

By action is one a non-brahmin.

For men are farmers by their acts,

And by their acts are craftsmen too;

And men are merchants by their acts,

And by their acts are servants too.

And men are robbers by their acts,

And by their acts are soldiers too;

And men are chaplain by their acts,

And by their acts are rulers too.

“So that is how the truly wise

See action as it really is,

Seers of dependent origination,


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Skilled in action and its result.

Action makes the world go round,

Action makes this generation turn.

Living beings are bound by action

Like the chariot wheel by the pin.

Asceticism, the holy life,

Self-control and inner training-

By this one become a Brahmin,

In this supreme Brahmin hood lies. 16

One more thing, the Buddha said “cittena nìyati loko” it means “the world is led by

mind.” Every action of man is originated from the mind. If the human mind thinks to

do what is good, the action is good, and if the man thinks to do what is bad, his action

is bad accordingly. They can know a person is good or bad depending on his three

actions, that is, bodily, verbal and mental actions. For bodily and verbal actions are

easily known to others. But the mental action is not easily known because generally

people say that they cannot see the mind. The mind has no form to be seen. So they do

not know the mind. But there is a saying, “speech is the picture of the mind.” So

mostly they can know people’s mind through the speech that is the outcome from

their thinking mind. What they think sooner or later it will lead to the acts either good

or bad. Therefore, as a result, they become a person from what they thought.

In a social context in which the domination of the Brahmins who claimed

unquestioned superiority because of the reason of birth, the Buddha wrought a

revolution of ideas, that echoes down the corridors of time, even to our day. The

formula of the Buddha's thought revolution is contained in many of his discourses.

But it is Vasala Sutta (The Discourse on outcastes) that the Buddha's challenging
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views are unambiguously articulated. Vasala Sutta (The Discourse on outcastes)

derives from the Buddha's response to a caste-proud Brahmin, who insulted the

Buddha, for daring to appear at the site of a fire-ritual he was getting ready to

perform.17

One day, the Buddha visited the residence of the Aggikabhàradvàja. He had

kindled a fire and was performing a fire-ritual. The Brahmin became angry at the

sight of the Buddha approaching. He started abusing the Buddha, calling Him

“Shaven head-outcast.” The Buddha remained unperturbed by the abuse, retaining his

pleasantness. He asked the Brahmin, “O Brahmin, do you who an outcast is? Or what

makes an outcast?” The Brahmin said, “I do now know. If you know could you

explain them to me?”

Then the Buddha said, “A person does not become an outcast or Brahmin by

birth. He becomes an outcast or a Brahmin only in terms of his deeds. Those who get

angry quickly, those who harbour hatred, those who are evil and ungrateful, those

who cover up their faults, those who kill animals, those who have no love of beings,

terrorists and bandits who destroy villages and market towns, who borrow and do not

return what is borrowed, those who do not after the aged parents even when they can

care for them, those who denigrate the Buddha and religious persons, those who exalt

themselves but demean others, who get angry constantly, those who are extremely

stingy, those who are bereft of shame and fear, those who utter falsehoods, and those

who are seen with the wives of others, however high their caste, their clan, their

family or their community, they are outcast.”18

As a matter of fact, those Brahmins who had been long classified and

honoured by society were not recognized by the Buddha as ‘true Brahmin.’ The

reason is that even some Brahmins in their community in that day were not
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recognized all like one of them was Vàseååha, the student of many well-to-do

Brahmins also did not believe that Brahmin is a Brahmin by birth. Even some

Brahmins or Hindus in some countries today also do not accept caste system as true

one. When a Hindu man was asked is there a caste system of Hindu religion? He

answered thus:

The mythology of creation from head (Buddhists are known from mouth),
body (from arms), thighs and feet is mere postulation, but anyhow it has
helped to control the ways of the least learned audience.
There is no exact equivalent word for caste in Hindu religion. In reality
there is only Gotra, Jàti and Vanna in Hindu culture. Gotra shows which
theme of Theo-philosophy of devotion the devotee follows; Jàti shows his
place of birth or his race in general. Vanna shows what job he does to earn
his bread. It is human nature to have a high opinion of oneself and think
low of the other. People gradually started to set class on people by one’s
bread-earning-profession, which gradually changed to what is called
caste.19

From what he said above is partially in agreement with the Buddhist-theory on action

(kamma) that the Buddha had expounded in Vàseååha Sutta in which he said a person

is called a Khattiya ( ruler), a Brahmin, a merchant, a worker ,( a servant) or an

outcast(Chandāla) according to the action that he performs in his career. That is why

the Buddha said:

Na jaccā vasalo hoti Not by birth does one become an outcaste,


Na jaccā hoti brahmaäo not by birth does one become a Brahman.
Kammunā vasalo hoti By one’s action one becomes an outcaste,
Kammunā hoti brahmaäo by one action one become a Brahman.20

Therefore, Buddhists know that kamma create every thing in the world and the result

of kamma good or bad, strong or weak depends on volition that associates with it.

4.5 Caste and Buddhist-kammic theory

Buddhists believe that kamma is a real creator. No gods creates caste, but in reality

the very action of man create it in society. No other theory can be expressed correctly
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as the kammic-theory in Buddhism.

Mr. Sor Sa Run, Professor of literature faculty denied kammic-theory in

Theravāda Buddhism because when it is applied in society, the result can be different

from the act. In his book “Try Studying Khmer Sociology” in Khmer language he

wrote that the Buddha understands the problems of society, but he did not understand

the social theory. He said what the Buddha taught “do good get good result, do bad

get bad result” is not totally correct because a person who does good may get bad

result if he lives in a bad society, or the injustice one. Instead, if a person who does

bad action may get good result if he lives in bad society. Also, a person do good may

get good result if he lives in good society. He stressed that Metteya the future Buddha

has capacity to prepare human society to get peace and happiness. This shows that

Metteya Buddha understands social theory while Gotama Buddha did not. So Gotama

Buddha let Metteya Buddha continue the mandate of his dispensation to add social

theory that he lacked to make society run well with peace and harmony prevalent. He

mentioned that the theory in small vehicle (Hìna yāna) or (Theravàda) is

individualism. That is why he wrote in his book thus:

“Do good receive good, do bad receive bad”, is individual theory because
some achieved while majority are not achieved:
Good doer if he lives in corrupt society not exactly he can receive good in
return.
Bad doer if he lives in justice society he will receive bad, but if he lives in
corrupt society he can receive much good result this is to show that the
fate of individual is related absolutely with the fate of society. Example, a
thief stole a cow in this case if he lived in justice society he would be
punished, but if he lived in corrupt society, the thief would become the
owner of the cow, and the owner of the cow would be the thief. At this
point, we can see that Gotama Buddha was careless of social theory or did
not understand social theory was also possible. Buddha presumed that to
educate individual to become good in that way society as whole would be
good accordingly. This made us understand that Gotama Buddha confused
society with collectivity. Good or bad deeds of individual really do not
respond in conformity with good or bad deeds of others:
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Some seek happiness by earning living in righteous means. Some seek


happiness by earning their living on the pile of suffering of others.21

Actually, no one can reject the law of kamma even our lord Buddha. As he sows, so

he reaps. This is the nature of kamma, and the result accords with the deed. The effect

never deviates from the cause. No one can escape from the result of kamma. If any

one does any action, he will get result, and the result is never contrary to the action.

Law made by man in society is influenced by authority of man. Due to the influents of

greed, hatred, delusion and the four partialities, that is, the partiality because of love,

hate, ignorance and fear, man may turn black into white, right into wrong and so on.

Some lawmakers and lawyers take the law into their own hands owing to these

reasons. In such case justice is not found. So a person does good action, but gets bad

result while a person does bad action get good. One should be careful because some

small groups of people who violate the law may be happy through their success by

committing bad action, and they insolently say “Do good, receive good, do bad

receive money.” It is not like the Buddha said, “Do good, beget good, do bad beget

bad.” Here one can see that only man judged the result of action wrongly in society.

Therefore, there is a saying, “Law is made by man, god is blind, so do not be too

stubborn to believe it.” However, the law of kamma is natural law. It is not made by

any one. It is not at any one’s command or under any one’s influence. And so it is

justice and accepted by Buddha. The law of kamma is concerned not only with the

matter of the present, but also the past and future, and it can give a result both in the

present and in the future as well. So a person who does bad action, but get good result

should not be happy yet. The Buddha said as long as the sin do not bear a result, the

fool still rejoices in his bad action again and again, but one day when the sin gives

result, he will reap it. In the same way, a person who does good action, but receive
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bad result should not be disappointed yet, because the wholesome action will have a

chance to give him a result one day.

The nature of kamma is subtle; the power of kamma is very strong. People
think that after they have performed an action, the action dissolves and
disappear, leaving nothing behind. But it is not no so. Although the action
has been completed, the energy of cetanà arising at the time of action does
not vanish. It remains dormant in mental stream.
Although the time taken in throwing a stone into a lake is very short, the
ripples caused by the force of the falling stone will continue to rise and fall
for a long time.
Although the rain stops within a few hours, the cooling effect caused by
the rain drops which have permeated into the soil does not vanish
immediately. And again, since the grass growing in the rainy season
disappears in the hot season, one may think that nothing is left behind. But
actually, as seeds are left in the ground grass will grow again in the next
rainy season. Thus, on account of seeds, grass appears season after season
giving rise to an un-ending cycle of seeds and grass.
The power of the seeds of kamma is more subtle than that of the seeds of
grass. It will not decay, dissolve and disappear in hundreds of world
systems and will endure for over. At the opportune moment the seed of
kamma will bear fruit even after a lapse of a number of world systems. In
the Abhidhamma (Pathàna, the seventh book), this kamma is called
Nànàkkhanika kamma.
All beings will remain heirs to their respective kammas until the time
when the power of the kammas, which they have performed in previous
countless existences (that have no beginning) are eliminated by Four Path
Knowledges (Ariya Maggas). They will have to enjoy or suffer the good
or bad results of their kammas; this is called kammavaååa. Therefore, good
Buddhists (or even non-Buddhists) should take great care in their thought,
words and deeds so that they may not commit even the slightest of evil
actions.22

So, in the above-mentioned quotation elucidate us that the results of the deeds done

by man either good or bad never disappears if have suitable chance they will bear the

result. In this sense, it makes us know further that no one knows all about kamma,

except for the Buddha. However, at least one should know that Kamma itself is a

judge over the doings of beings unbiasedly and morally in accordance with natural

law.
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Kamma is not moral justice. If one takes it as moral justice, then one
suggests that someone is sitting in judgement over beings. There is no one
who makes judgements over the doings of beings; there is just the moral
law of kamma. Just as kamma is not moral judgement, so it is not reward
and punishment. According to the law of kamma, if you do good deeds,
you get good results, and if you do bad deeds, you get bad results.
However, these good and bad results are punishment. Kamma is a moral
law which needs no lawgiver, a law which operates naturally.23

That is why if one studies Buddhism deeply or thoroughly, one will know not only the

nature of kamma but also one will know that almost every thing is in Buddhism. One

should have studied all Tipiåakas before one said Theravāda Buddhism lacks such and

such theory.

So, for what Mr. Sor Sa Run said, ‘Gotama Buddha did not understand social

problems as well as social theory’, are not accepted by all Buddhist societies because

he may had knowledge in Buddhism superficially and so he also did not understand

Buddhist-sociological theory, too. There is nothing in this world that is known by

others and it is not known by the Buddha. We may be confused with the law of

kamma, but the law of kamma itself never confuses with us.

Buddhists believe in Kamma, but the belief of kamma in Buddhism should be

free from socially unjust action. It should be natural and should not be characterised

by any authority. Buddhist-kammic-theory is different from common social-kammic

theory. These are some more Buddhist-kammic theories approach to social problems

pertaining to caste that one should understand better in the following way:

Political, social, cultural, economic as well as psychological factors promote

ignorance, and thus means of exploitation of individuals or groups by other

individuals or groups. Karma committed by an individual could determine his birth in

rich or poor circumstances. Furthermore, the law of karma works in the same way for

all without any distinction as to one is of high or low caste. According to the law of
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karma, reward and punishment are strictly in proportion to good and evil done, and

one’s ‘birth’ or ‘caste’ has no relevance in this context.

The third argument is based on sociological considerations. When one

examines certain societies, one finds two caste systems. In some other societies there

is no caste system at all. If the almighty God created the four castes, the four-caste

system should be available in all human societies, and as such, there is no logic to

accept the fact that the four caste system was a divine creation.

Once a Brahmin youth questioned the Buddha in this manner: "What is the

reason and the cause for the inequality among human beings, despite their being

human?" the Buddha replied: "Beings inherit their karma; and it is karma which

divides beings in terms of their inequalities."24

Although people are by birth equal yet they differ in society in so far as their

personal deeds are concerned.

So the Buddha said “kammaç satte vibhajjati yadidaç hinappanìtatāya.”

Beings are divided by their deeds, as noble and ignoble. Some people are rich and

some are poor. This kind of distinction is made by kamma. So Kamma is an architect

of our life.

This fact is mentioned clearly and in detail in “Cullakammavibhaæga Sutta,25

of Majjhima Nikāya thus: on one occasion the blessed One was living at Savaååhì in

Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapindika’s Park.

Then the Brahmin student Subha, Todeyya’s son , went to the blessed One and

exchange greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he

sat down at one side and asked the Blessed One:

“Master Gotama, what is the cause and condition why human being are seen to

be inferior and superior? For people are seen to be short-lived and long –lived, sickly
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and healthy, ugly and beautiful, un-influential and influential, poor and wealthy, low-

born and high-born, stupid and wise. What is the course and condition, Master

Gotama, why human beings are seen to be inferior and superior?” when being asked

by Subha, the Buddha answered the questions gradually and meaningfully as below:

“Student, beings are owners as their actions, heirs of their actions; they

originate from their actions, are bound to their actions, have their actions as their

refuge. It is action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior.”

“I do not understand in detail the meaning of Master Gotama’s statement,

which he spoke in brief without expounding the meaning in detail. It would be good if

Master Gotama would teach me the Dhamma so that I might understand in detail the

meaning of Master Gotama’s statement.”

Then, student, listen and attend closely to what I shall say.”

“Yes, sir,” the Brahmin student Subha replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Here, student, some man or woman kills living beings and is murderous,

bloody handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Because of

performing and undertaking such action on the dissolution of the body, after death, he

reappears in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in

hell. But if on the dissolution of the body, after death, he does not reappear in a state

of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition hell, but instead come back to

the human state, the wherever he is reborn he is short-lived. This the way, student,

that leads to short life, namely, one kills living beings and is murderous, bloody-

handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings.

“But here, student, some man or woman abandon the killing of living beings,

abstains from killing living beings; with rod and weapon laid aside, gentle and kindly,

he abides compassionate to all living beings. Because of performing and


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understanding such action, on the dissolution of the body, after death he reappears in a

happy destination, even in the heavenly world. But if on the dissolution of the body,

after death he does not reappear in a happy destination in the heavenly world, but

instead come back to the human state, then wherever he is reborn he is long –lived.

This is the way, student, that leads to long life, namely, abandoning the killing of

human beings, one abstaining from killing living beings; with rod and weapon lead

aside, gentle and kindly, one abides compassionate to all living beings.

“Here, student, some man or woman is given to injuring beings with the hand,

with a clod, with a stick, or with a knife. Because of performing and undertaking such

action, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of

deprivation. But if instead he comes back to the human state, then wherever he is

reborn he is sickly. This is the way, student, that leads to sickness, namely, one is

given to injuring beings with hand, with a clod, with a stick or with a knife.

“But here, student, some man or woman is not given to injuring beings with

the hand, with the clod, with a stick, or with a knife. Because of performing and

understanding such action, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in

a happy destination…..But if instead he comes back to the human state, then wherever

he is reborn he is healthy. This is the way, student, that leads to health, namely, one is

not given to injuring beings with the hand, with a clod, with a stick, or with a knife.

“Here, student, some man or woman is of angry and irritable character; even

when criticised a little, he is offended, becomes angry, hostel, and resentful, and

displays anger, hate, and bitterness. Because of performing and undertaking such

action…he reappears in a state of deprivation …but if instead he comes back to the

human state, then wherever he is reborn he is ugly. This is the way, student, that leads
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to ugliness, namely, one is of angry and irritable character…and displays anger, hate

and bitterness.

“Here, student, some man or woman is of not angry and irritable character;

even when criticised a little, he is not offended, does not become angry, hostel, and

resentful, and does not display anger, hate and bitterness. Because of performing and

undertaking such action…he reappears in a happy destination…but if instead he

comes back to the human state, then wherever he is reborn he is beautiful. This is the

way, that leads to being beautiful, namely, one is not of angry and irritable

character…and does not display anger, hate and bitterness.

“Here, student, some man or woman is envious, one who envies, resents, and

begrudges the gains, honour, respect, reverence, salutations, and veneration received

by others. Because of performing and undertaking such action…he reappears in a

state of deprivation…but if instead he comes back to the human state, then wherever

he is reborn he is un-influential. This is the way, student, that leads to un-influential,

namely, one is envious towards the gains, honour, respect, reverence, salutations, and

veneration received by others.

“But here, student, some man or woman is not envious, one who does not

envy resents, and begrudges the gains, honour, respect, reverence, salutations, and

veneration received by others. Because of performing and undertaking such action…

he reappears in a happy destination…but if instead he comes back to the human state,

then wherever he is reborn he is influential. This is the way, student, that leads to

being influential, namely, one is not envious…towards the gains, honour, respect,

reverence, salutations, and veneration received by others.

“ Here, student, some man or woman does not give food, drink, clothing,

carriages, garlands, scents, unguents, beds, dwelling, and lams to recluses or


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Brahmins. . Because of performing and undertaking such action…he reappears in a

state of deprivation…but if instead he comes back to the human state, then wherever

he is reborn he is poor. This is the way, student, that leads to poverty, namely, one

does not give food…and lamps to recluses or Brahmins.

“But here, student, some man or woman gives food…and lamps to recluses or

Brahmins. Because of performing and undertaking such action…he reappears in a

happy destination…but if instead he comes back to the human state, then wherever he

is reborn he is wealthy. This way, student, that leads to the wealth, namely, one gives

foods…and lamps to the recluses or Brahmins.

“Here, student, some man or woman is obstinate and arrogant; he does not pay

homage to one who should receive homage, does not rise up for one in whose

presence he should rise up, does not offer a seat to one who deserve a seat, does not

make a way for one for whom he should make away, and does not honour, respect,

revered and venerate one who should be honoured, respected, revered, and venerated.

Because of performing and undertaking such action…reappears in a deprivation…but

if instead he comes back to the human state, then wherever he is reborn he is low-

born. This is the way, student, that leads to low-birth, namely, one is obstinate and

arrogant... and does not honour, respect, revered and venerate one who should be

honoured, respected, revered, and venerated.

“But here, student, some man or woman is not obstinate and arrogant; he pays

homage to one who should receive homage, rise up for one in whose presence he

should rise up, offer a seat to one who deserve a seat, makes away for one for whom

he should makes away, and honours, respects, reveres, and venerates one who should

be honoured, respected, revered, and venerated.


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Because of performing and undertaking such action…he reappears in a happy

destination…but if in stead he comes to human state, then wherever he is reborn he is

high-born. This is the way, student, that leads to high birth, namely, one is not

obstinate and arrogant…and honours, respects, reveres, and venerates one who should

be honoured, respected, revered, and venerated.

“Here, student, some man or woman does not visit a recluse or a Brahmin and

ask “venerable sir, what is wholesome? What is unwholesome? What is blamable?

What is blameless? What should be cultivated? What should not be cultivated? What

kind of action will lead to my harm and suffering for a long time? What kind of action

will lead to my welfare and happiness for a long time? Because of performing and

undertaking such action…he reappears in a state of deprivation…but if in stead he

comes back to the human state, then wherever he is reborn he is stupid. This is the

way, student, that that leads to stupidity, namely, one does not visit a recluse or

Brahmin and ask such questions.

“but here, student, some man or woman visit a recluse or a Brahmin and ask:

‘venerable sir, what is wholesome…what kind of action will lead to my welfare and

happiness for a long time? Because of performing and undertaking such action…he

reappears in a happy destination…but if stead he comes back to the human state, then

wherever he is reborn he is wise. That is the way, student, that leads to wisdom,

namely, one visits a recluse or Brahmin and asks such questions.

“Beings are owners of their actions, student, heirs of their actions; they

originate from their actions, are bound to their actions, have their actions as their

refuge. It is action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior.

When Buddha stated that inequalities in life are caused by karma, one has to

accept the term karma as covering past volitional activities-present ones and also
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future ones an individual would do. The past karma has caused the present birth,

inferior or superior, in a rich or poor circumstances, etc. But once we are born, we are

free to determine our own volitional acts, and these become our new karmas although

a past karma committed by me has influenced my present status, it does not mean that

this is my lot which I cannot change. By engaging in positive karmic activity, I could

change my present and future. Karmic laws are tendencies, and not inevitable

determinants that one cannot change.

It is my ignorance that binds me to negative karmic activities. But when this

ignorance is dispelled, the volitional action that I undertake brings better karmic

results. At the same time, in addition to karma, there are the biological, social,

physical and psychological laws in life. Of these, one or more could contribute to the

inequality in combination with karmic influences. All these laws are causal, but not

deterministic.

The central teaching in Buddhism is to strive to change karma, and then,

control over the effects of kamma. For this-spiritual development would be necessary.

But in the world, if good karma could be performed by individuals and groups,

inequalities could be proportionately reduced. The dispelling of knowledge by means

of education would help us to minimize inequalities, nullifying the impact of not only

the karmic tendencies, but also other causal four laws of nature. Dispelling of

ignorance by whatever means at our command is the surest way to free the human

world from the differences caused by social stratification.26


Chapter V: Buddhist approaches to solve caste problem

Secular solution of caste problem is to abolish it according to constitutional law in

particular nation and force all men to abide by that law. In Buddhism, the Order is

established and all people from all castes who enter into it must follow the Dhammas

and Vinayas taught by the Buddha and live harmoniously without discrimination

under the same roof.

5.1 Castes and the Order

Many persons may wonder whether there is caste system in Buddhism or not. If it

exists in Buddhist community or in any Buddhist country they think that it is against

the teachings of the Buddha because the Buddha did not accept caste system in the

Order. So caste system should not exist in Buddhism.

The answer to this can be given briefly, since Buddhism tried to establish
a spiritual order, which is not for this world, it does not claim to be
protagonist of social reforms. It is a common error to believe that the
Buddha wished to destroy the caste system in India; he did not interfere
with the social order as it existed, when he laid down that caste differences
should no longer be observed within his order. This was no innovation, for
this principle was observed among other Indian ascetic.1

Concerning this case, some argue that Gotama’s objectives were not of this world,

and that Buddha was not a social reformer. The theory much trumpeted about the role

of Buddha as a social reformer was discarded by a galaxy of scholars. Most of them

have decidedly proved that Buddha had never discarded caste system. ‘Buddha did

not attack caste directly, yet in his own orders he did not recognize it, and there is no

doubt that his whole attitude and activity weakened caste system.’2 Carl Jung (1875-

1961), Swiss psychiatrist said ‘we cannot change anything unless we accept it.’ If one
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accepts something, then it means something is changed. That was the Buddha’s

method.

The Blessed One’s concerted campaign against caste-system needs no

narration. The doors of his Saægha were open to all irrespective of status in the

society. He said each and every man or woman by dint of his or her endeavor is

capable of attaining Nirvāna. Not only that, he took practical steps of eradicate this

evil. This steps were: His emphasis on not to accept any thing unreasonable simply

because it was recorded in the scriptures or was upheld by other authorities, exposing

the myth of hereditary superiority by dining at their houses; and accepting the low and

lowly as equal members of the Saægha. He said, ‘worth’ not ‘birth’ should be the

measure of man.3

According to the Buddha, the measure of man should be spiritual attainment

through the Dhamma and Discipline. He accepts all people from all caste who come

into Saægha so that they can enjoy the same spiritual development. When the people

from all castes enter into the Orders in his dispensation, the former names and gotras

are lost.

‘The Buddha founded a community of monks that was non-exclusive,


supraracial, supranational and world-embracing, called the Saægha. Just all
rivers enter the ocean and lose their individual identities; all those who
enter the Saægha lose their caste, racial and national identities and come to
be called recluses who are sons of the Sakyan sage (samaäa sakya-
puttiya).4

In the Udāna vagga, the Buddha expounded thus:

Just as monk, whatever great rivers there be, that is to say, the Ganges, the
Yamunā, the Aciravatī, the Sarabhū and the Mahī, upon reaching the Great
Ocean, abandon their former names and gotras(lineage) are reckoned
simply as the Great Ocean, so in that same way, monks, the four classes
,viz. Brahmins, Kṣatriyas, Vaiṥyas and Ṥūdras, these upon going forth
from the home into homelessness in the Dhamma and Discipline made
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know by the Tathāgata, abandon their former names and gotras are
reckoned simply as recluses who are followers of the Sakyans’son. That,
monks, the four classes,viz. Brahmins, Kṣatriyas, Vaiṥyas and Ṥūdras,
upon going forth from the home into homelessness in the Dhamma and
Discipline made known by the Tathāgata, abandon their former names and
gotras are reckoned simply as recluses who are followers of the Sakyans’
son.5

Myanmar can maintain a good Buddhist tradition because they have seen that monk in

Myanmar is officially used with his newly given name in Pāli language when

addressing to each other, and his former family name and personal name is no more

used. People also address the monk with only his name in Pāli, while in Cambodia

and Laos; monk is still used family name and his own name for the new name in Pāli

given to him by preceptor is used only in Monk’s Card.

When a person is ordained in Buddhism his family name and personal one are

changed, so his former name or gotra is lost on the day that he became a novice or a

monk, and he is generally respected and paid homage to by the public including his

parents. In this case, it makes one who has little knowledge in Buddhism

misunderstand upon Buddhism.

The late Dr. Keng Vansac, Doctor of Khmer Literature, criticised Buddhism

when he saw the parents pay homage to the monk who happened to be their son. He

said doing like this; it loses Khmer’s custom or tradition. According to the tradition,

normally the son must respect the parents. This is the duty of the son, he said. But,

actually, he failed to know that the former name and lineage of the monk are no more

used in Buddhist tradition. The monk is no longer the son of his parents. He is given

new name in Buddhism, and he is called Sakyans’son. That is why his parents also

pay homage to him. But there are some parents who do not know this tradition calling

the monk, my son! my son! In this case, the monk is still regarded as a son of the

villager, the district dweller or the Towner. Therefore, there is a Khmer saying: To the
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Buddha, thinklessness, homage, to Dhamma, thinklessness, homage, to the Saægha,

thinklessless, homage or in simple words, we can say that pay homage to the Buddha

but be careful lest he is the stone, pay homage to the Dhamma, be careful lest it is the

palm leaves and pay homage to the Saægha, be careful lest he is the son of the district

dweller.

When one pays homage to the Triple Gems, one should not think I pay

homage to my Buddha, my Dhamma and my venerable son because Buddha is

Buddha, Dhamma is Dhamma and Saægha is Saægha. Buddha, Dhamma and Saægha

belong to no one but all. A Muslim scholar said that,

“The Buddha is not a property of Buddhists only. He is the property of all


mankind. His teaching is common to everybody. Every religion which
came into existence after the Buddha has borrowed many good ideas from
the Buddha.”6

The Dhamma is for all if anyone could strike in his/her full effort by observing the

middle path, he/she may be able to attain the Arahantship in his/her very life. So,

every one can perform wholesome deeds through these three Triple Gems.

Furthermore, it is possible to say that persons who came from all castes to join the

Orders able to enjoy the same taste of liberation from the Dhamma. Just as all the

water with different tastes from all different names of the ponds, the lakes and the

rivers, but when flowing into the Ocean they lost the former name, but remain only

one name called Ocean water with one taste, that is, the salty taste, so also the

Dhamma is. So the Buddha said:

‘Just as, monks, the Great Ocean is of a single flavour, of the flavour of
salt, so in that same way, monks, is this Dhamma and Discipline of a
single flavour, of the flavour of liberation,’7 that is, to liberate one from
suffering and attain Nibbàna.
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It is true that the Buddhist view of caste is different from and more rational than the

religious justification which one finds in Brahmanism. But neither the Buddha

himself, nor any pre-modern Buddhist teacher after him has combated the caste

system. The explanation of the egalitarian attitude which we find in the Saægha, is

simple. Caste is a social distinction, which belongs in the world of the laity, where it

is completely proper and self-evident. As soon as someone becomes a monk, he in

principle steps completely out of the world.

So, caste system should be the matters belong to worldly people, why monks

in Sri Lanka have caste prejudice between monks and lay people. It is said that, “caste

exists in Sri Lanka because Buddhist monks believe in caste system, and each of

Buddhist temple inside Hinduism is hiding. Hindu word “Kula” is for caste. They say

Sri Lankan does not have caste system but among the Buddhist monks they have caste

system. It is the influence of Hinduism. There are three Nikàyas of Buddhist monks in

Sri Lanka:

1. Shyàma Nikāya—high caste,

2. Amarapura Nikāya—medium caste, and

3. Ramannya Nikāya—low caste.”8

The late venerable professor, Sayadaw Bhadanta Kosala also said that there are seven

castes for lay people in Sri Lanka in the present day, namely, (1) farmer caste,(high

caste), (2) merchant caste, (3) goldsmith caste, (4) carpenter caste(medium castes), 5)

fisherman caste, (6) jackery maker caste, and (7) washer man caste (low castes). And

whenever people of these seven castes seek ordination in the Order, they seek it from

different Nikàyas of Buddhist monks.

Farmer caste that is considered as high caste seeks ordination in Shyàma

Nikàya. Merchant caste, gold smith caste and carpenter caste that are considered as
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the medium caste seek ordination in Amarapura Nikàya. Fisherman caste, jackery

maker caste, and washer man caste that are considered as low caste seek ordination in

Ramannya Nikàya. This Ramannya Nikàya of Sri Lanka was originated in Myanmar

in Bago Division. According to Dr. Hema Goonatilake, from Sri Lanka in her lecture

on, “Myanmar-Sri Lanka Historical Relations”, also said the same thing that because

of caste problems, some monks came to be ordained in Myanmar. But she said that

most of educated monks in Sri Lanka are from Amarapura Nikàya.”9

In my opinion, in community of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka should not have

caste discrimination any more because the Buddha had already paved the way to

accept members from all castes into the Orders without caste-discriminating tendency.

Such a kind of discrimination should be eliminated from Buddhist monks’ community

because it is against the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha’s way which accepts

people from various castes into The Order in dispensation can be said as a proper way

to solve caste controversies in his time. So, all Buddhist monks now must follow the

Buddha’s path to lead Buddhist world to live peace and harmony in society.

Buddha created a path that facilitated social mobility in a society where such

movement was almost impossible, primarily because of caste and even class. The

community of monks organized had no caste or class distinction. Anyone hailing from

a rural family or from an ordinary low caste was accepted on equal bases. A new

name replacing the old name was given, and thus, nobility was made easier.

Mobility was facilitated by the emphases on achievement. Education or

gathering of knowledge and development of discipline and cultivation of positive

inner qualities (i.e. virtues) was considered as a factor that promotes mobility.

Skilfullness is thus over and over again praised in Buddhist teachings.10


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Society’s stratification system is caused by human beings. Such divisions

status regarded as high or low in status, weak or strong in power are influenced by

biological, physical. Psychological and karmic factors are pertaining to moral acts and

their consequences and laws pertaining to spiritual phenomena.

Buddhist thinking attempts to understand these influences which, coming

together causes the formulation of a particular stratification system. Primarily it is

man’s ignorance which causes the division of society into different levels, either

based on ascription or achievement. The Buddhist approach is to understand the basis

of this ignorance and realize the futility of social stratification in human society.

Buddhist thinking sometimes attempts to understand people in a society by

dividing them into strata based on the internal qualities they possess. The state of

inner development would provide according to Buddhism, a better way of grouping

people into various strata- if at all such a system is necessary. In such a division there

is logical explanation and a moral or ethical base where, as in social stratifications

based on caste, class or ethnicity one cannot find either an ethical or a logical

explanatory process.11

Instead, the Buddha contributed his ideas to this interpretation of arranging the

role and the status of an individual based on inner qualities. When some monks in the

order began to exert influence, being conscious of their birth or lineage, the Buddha

condemned such an attitude. These monks believed that the best lodging, best food

etc. should go for those of noble ranks. I.e. Brahmins, kshatriyas." in the religion I

teach, the standard by which precedence in the matter of lodging and the like is to be

settled is not noble birth or having been a Brahmin or having been wealthy before

entry into the order".


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Caste was prevalent in India from immemorial times. During the Buddha’s

days, caste was a fundamental principle in the social life of the people. A person

belongs to a caste by virtue of his birth, and under no circumstances could this caste

be changed during his lifetime. The Buddha’s contribution in this context is his

acceptance of the fact that one’s caste could be changed. He put this thinking into

practice by acceptance people from all castes – considered high and low-into his

community of monks.12

By analysing the Lord Buddha theory the eminent Bangladesh philosopher,

Dr. Govind Chandra Der said, “His objective was to ensure social equilibrium in the

spiritual sphere of all who are neglected”. Brahmins clan son Sàrìputta, the clans of

Barber Upàlì and the Kshatriya princes Ànanda and Anuruddha of the Sakya had no

difference. Queen Mahà Pajàpati Gotami, courtesan Ambapalì, widow without son

Their Chanda, slave Punnika sat in the same seat. Mahà Upàsikà Visàkhà and outcaste

Màtangi had no difference. Hence, they entered in the same holy order. Through the

Lord Buddha was in the Sakya clans before renouncing home, among His Chief

disciples many were Brahmin clans. His two foremost disciples were Sàrìputta,

prominent in wisdom and Moggalana, prominent in supernatural power. The Brahmin

clans were Nadì Kassapa, Gaya Kassapa, Mahà Kassapa, Mahà Kaccayana and

Punnamanti Putta. The Kshatriya were Ànanda, Anuruddha, Kimbila, Bighu,

Devadatta, accept Rahula and son of Barber clans Upali entered into holy order

among the Sakya clans. In order to drive out the pride of Sakya princes, the Lord

Buddha gave ordination first the Barber son, Upàli, then all the Sakya princes.

According to monastic discipline, if one received first ordination, the late have to

salute the first. What’s a marvellous view right for all!


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The Buddha admitted Upāli, the barber into the community of monks. Not

only was Upāli belonging to one of the despised occupations of the lower castes

admitted to the order of monks, but also was recognized as an expert on Buddhist

monastic law. Sunitā, an individual who was a scavenger was also admitted to the

Buddha’s order of monks regardless of the fact that he came from the Candāla caste-

one of the lowest in the caste hierarchy, virtually an outcast. Sunitā’s experience is

captured in the following manner:

“Humble the clan wherein I took my birth and poor was I and scanty was my

lot; mean task was mine, a scavenger of flowers, one for whom no man cared,

despised, abused, my mind I humbled and I bent the head in deference to a goodly tale

of folk. And then I saw the all- enlightened come, begirt and followed by his bhikkhu

–train, great champion entering Magadha’s chief town, I laid aside my baskets and my

yoke, and came where I might due obeisance make, and of his loving kindness just for

me, the chief of men hated won his way, low at his feet I bent, then standing by, I

begged the master’s leave to join the race and follow him, of every creature chief then

he whose tender mercy watcheth all the world, the master pitiful and kind gave me my

answer, ‘come bhikkhu,’ he said thereby to me was ordination.13

According to their practice people are classified like that but when any persons

from these classes become bhikkhus, there is no difference between them. As long as

they follow the monastic rules they are called bhikkhus. People treat them equally

without discrimination on the grounds of caste and class. Any one of these classes,

either bhikkhu or layman, can purify their defilements by practising wholesome deeds.

Because Dhamma, or the performing of wholesome deeds is the best thing for people

in every walk of life.14


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5.2 The Buddha-dhammas is for people from all walks of life

Buddhism is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but it is a realistic religion. Buddhism

is not a religion of only theory, but also a religion of practice.

What the Buddha preached from his mouth was not a theoretical knowledge he

obtained by studying from any school or any teacher. Buddha or an Arahant was not

interested in any B.A, M.A or Ph.D degrees of any subject specialization like us in

this modern day, but he was interested in freeing himself from all defilements and got

enlightenment through his experiential level in meditation practice. He preached the

Dhamma surely from his experience. So he practised what he preached and preached

what he practised.

The Buddha spent the vassa28 at the Deer Park at Isìpatana, sacred this
day to over 600 million of the human race. During these three months of
“rains” fifty others headed by Yasa, a young man of wealth, joined the
Order. Now the Buddha had sixty disciples, all arahats who had realized
the Dhamma and were fully competent to teach others. When the rainy
season ended, the Master addressed his immediate disciples in these
words: “Released am I, monks, from all ties whether human or divine.
You also are delivered from all fetters whether human or divine. Go now
and wander for the welfare and happiness of many, out of compassion for
the world, for the gain, welfare, and happiness of gods and men. Let not
two of you proceed in the same direction. Proclaim the Dhamma that is
excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, and excellent in the
end, possessed of meaning and the letter and utterly perfect. Proclaim the
life of purity, the holy life consummate and pure.
There are beings with little dust in their eyes who will be lost through not
hearing the Dhamma, there are beings who will understand the Dhamma. I
also shall go to Uruvela, to Senànigama, to teach the Dhamma.” Thus did
the Buddha commence his sublime mission, which lasted to the end of his
life. With his disciples he walked the highways and by ways of India
enfolding all within the aura of his boundless compassion and wisdom.
Though the Order of Monks began its career with sixty bhikkhus, it
expanded soon into thousands, and, as a result of the increasing number of
monks, many monasteries came into being. In later times monastic Indian
universities like Nàlandà, Vikramasilà, Jagaddalà, Vikramapuri, and
Odantapuri, became cultural centres which gradually inf luenced the
whole of Asia and through it the mental life of humankind. After a
successful ministry of forty-five years the Buddha passed away at the age
of eighty at the twin Sàla Trees of the Mallas at Kusinàrà (in modern
Uttara Pradesh about 120 miles northeast of Benàres).15
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In this way, the Buddha, for about 45 years, travelled far and wide, preaching the

sublime Dhamma and leading mankind on the path of Righteousness. Wherever he

went and preached He was honoured and respected. Khattiyas (the members of ruling

class), Brahmins (the members of the priestly class), ascetics, philosophers,

millionaires, peasants and even the very poor outcastes followed Him. The very year

He began His noble mission, the number of his converts marvellously increased. No

other religion in the world spread so fast as the Dhamma of the Buddha during the

very lifetime of its promulgator.

How is it that Buddhism appealed so much to the majority of people of that

time? This a question one might well ask. India, certainly, was not in a degraded

condition. There were great thinkers, revered leaders, powerful rulers, and great

exponents of the Law. There was freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and all

teachers were allowed to set forth their views. Many were the deep thinkers who had

renounced the pleasures of the flesh in order to find the way that would lead to

emancipation from all kinds of sufferings. That being the case, like the mushrooms,

after rain, there sprung up various religious teachers and philosophers. Summing up of

all their views and beliefs, the Buddha delivered on various occasions such discourses

as the Brahmajāla sutta, Mahātitåhayatan sutta, Mūlapariyāya sutta, and the like. The

ground being thus already prepared, only the seeds had to be sown. In such a land and

at such a time, the Law of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta could easily be comprehended

by the hearers who paid careful attention and listened without any bias or prejudice.

In those days, throughout the whole of India, caste distinction played an

important part in life. The Khattiyas (the members of the ruling class) were proud of

their lineage, and thought little of the members of the so-called inferior classes. The

same was the case with the Brahmins and others. The Vedas, the religious books of
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the Brahmins excluded those who were regarded as belonging to the lowest class. The

bowls, the cups, the pots and whatever things were used by the Brahmins were not

allowed even to be touched by the men of inferior castes. Men of inferior classes were

generally regarded as servants or slaves of the men of higher rank.

In such an age the Buddha’s sympathy for the poor and the down-trodden was

one thing that moved and won the hearts of the people who had any philanthropic

bent of mind. As, for instance, once the Buddha was going round for alms in the city

of Kapila vatthu, His farther, king Suddhodana, heard of it and considered it an insult

to his Sàkya race, and being excited, he hurried to the Buddha and exclaimed, “Why

do you, my son, thus shame me?” And the Buddha replied: “It is the custom of my

race.” Prompt was the king answered: “How can this be? You are a descendant of the

kings of the highest Sākya race. None of your forefathers ever begged for food.”

Thereupon the Buddha said, “But O great king, my descent is from the Buddhas of

old. They, as I now do, lived on alms that were offered on their alms-round.” This

event indicates the Buddha’s attitude towards men. Further, the Buddha never cared

for distinctions of rank, family or caste, but preached and helped all alike. He severely

attacked the stinking pride which emanated from the greatness of caste, and show

them that the distinctions of caste were meaningless and that they only added to the

confusion of the world. He welcomed as His disciples even the meanest Candāla

(outcaste) as well as the prince of the highest rank. His logical discourses were the

strongest blow ever given to the pride of birth of Khattiyas and Brahmins. He pointed

out that it was not by caste that a man might become high or noble but by his moral

character. When he admonished his hearers to lead a righteous life, he did not merely

preach it, but gave living examples from his present and past lives. Hence the
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Dhamma that He expounded in this most sympathetic and practical way was quickly

accepted by His hearers.16

Moreover, there is one more reason that we should consider clearly about what

the Buddha used Palì language to propagate Dhamma in India at that time.

Concerning this matter, many Buddhist scholars have demonstrated according to

commentary. They said, naturally, when the Buddha used Palì language for preaching

Dhamma so that all beings,viz.— animals ,human, deities , brahmas, hell beings and

hungry ghosts could understand his Dhamma , and also the Palì language able to use

to preserve or protect the sacred lines of his words or his teachings in its original

form.

Furthermore, if we observe carefully we can see further than this in Indian

social life at that time. India in the old day was not only introduced caste system to its

own society but also brought the language which was used to differentiate between

high and low class people. For instance, Chandha which is now know as Sanskrit, was

used for high caste , that is, the Brahmin, as for the common people in low caste could

not study or understand that language. This led to the consideration of the Buddha in

which language shall he use in preaching his Dhamma. As a result, he chose Pàli

language to use for propagating his Dhamma. This case really has particular reason

and also it is a remarkable event that should be studied to find out the fact which is

credible by society as a whole, especially for our younger generation. Here is the

reason that should be noted by one and all with relevance to the matter why the

Buddha used Pàli language.

‘During the time of the Buddha, Magadhì which was called palì in other
name was the language commonly spoken by general people in India. It
was the language spoken by common people as well as the high
intellectuals. Whereas, the Chandhas which was merely used by the
Brahmins alone to perform their rites and rituals and understood by them
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alone. Today this language is called Sanskrit after some modification. At


one time, two monks even asked the Buddha to allow them to teach the
Dhamma in Chandha language with the idea that if they were to teach the
Dhamma in that language, it would be highly respected, whereas the
Buddha strongly rejected their request. The Buddha arose in the world for
the sake of many and if the Buddha had allowed his disciples to teach the
Dhamma in Chandha language, then it would have been confined only to
the Brahmins, while other common people would not have benefited.
Therefore, concerning this fact if the Buddha did not use Pali language, his
wish to liberate all beings from suffering through the Dhamma would not
have been completed.’17

So the statement in the quotation above is more logical and reliable because it shows

the actual fact of Indian society on how Pàli language was commonly spoken in

ancient time by all people either in high or low classes rather than to say that the

Buddha used Pàli language even deities, Brahmas, hell beings, hungry ghosts and

animals could understand his words because such thing was supernatural for all of us

to believe even though it was in reality. Nevertheless Buddha Dhammas is for all

beings whatever reason maybe.

5.3 The Purification in Buddhism is for all castes

There should be no discrimination between classes and castes from the purification in

any religion. There are many kinds of purification in many religions. But different

religions have different concepts and practices of purification.

In Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, they have their own rituals to please their

Gods and to free themselves from evil deeds. In Hinduism, there are rituals by bathing

in the water to clean sins and to remove the pollutions or performing fire ceremony.

This religion has theory and practice for the removal of pollutions in that way.

‘Based on the analogy of cleansing outer dirt or stains by means of bathing or

washing in everyday life, purification of man's inner state of being is almost

universally believed to be effected by rituals involving various forms of washing. The


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polluted individual might be required to swim or bathe in the sea, a river, a pond, or

special tank. Bathing in swift-flowing streams is often considered especially effective

because the rapidly flowing water not only removes the impurities but carries them

away. A polluted person might wash his entire body with water or only certain parts

of the body that represent the body or person as a whole—rinsing or cleaning the

mouth by other means is common. Water may be poured, sprinkled, thrown, or blown

upon a polluted person or object. Simply touching water is a purifying gesture in the

Vedas; gazing at it is considered purificatory in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). In the absence of

water various kinds of moist substances may be used—clay, mud, wet herbs, or

plants. The Quoran (the Islamic sacred scriptures) directs desert dwellers and

travellers to rub themselves with high clean soil because of the scarcity of water. In

cultures in which saliva is not considered polluting, expectorating or breathing on

something may be viewed as purificatory gestures.’18

Other modes of purification based on the analogy of cleansing outer dirt

include: the use of wind or aeration to blow or carry away the impurities; sweeping a

house or certain area of the ground or brushing the polluted person or object, often

with a brush made of fibres from a symbolically pure source; scraping the surface of a

polluted object or utensil; shaving and cutting the hair and nails; removing clothing

and washing it or destroying it; and putting on clean or new clothes.

In some rites and rituals, they use fire because they believe that fire is the most

effective destruction of pollution. The most common means of destroying pollution is

by burning the polluted objects. Fire is a most efficient destroyer; when the flame no

longer exists there is virtually nothing left of the objects. Fire is generally conceived,

however, as having more positive purifying properties, not only destroying pollution

but creating purity. They believe that fire can transform the pollution into purity.
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Fire is perhaps one of the most symbolically complex phenomena in the

history of human culture. It renders raw meats and vegetables into cooked and edible

food, base minerals into useful and durable metals, and porous dirt and clay into

watertight pottery. It destroys the forests and brushlands, but its ashes make the earth

fertile and productive. Fire is thus viewed as a powerful transformer of the negative to

the positive. Because of such properties, fire is commonly found in purification rites

throughout the world. Polluted persons may be required to walk around, jump over, or

jump through fire. Polluted items may be singed, fumigated, or smoked. The

widespread use of incense smoke in purification rites is based on the transforming

powers of fire, as well as on the additional purificatory powers of sweet smells.

Polluted persons or things may be rubbed with ashes or soot, and polluted objects may

be boiled, subject to the double purificatory powers of fire and water. Exposure to sun

and to intense heat, are also regarded as practices falling into this same general

category. The extinguishing of old fires in temples and villages and the kindling of

new ones are common practices after a death or as part of annual renewal and

purification ceremonies. Alchemic experiments, which attempt to purify mineral

substances and turn them into gold, involve boiling or melting down the solution or

elements over pure and intense heat and then recrystallizing them in newer and higher

forms.

There are also other purification rites that should be known here. In highly

developed and elaborated systems of thought, purity and pollution meet and merge.

Buddhist monks are considered to be extremely pure, yet they are directed to make

their robes from cemetery cloths, and beds or litters used in funerals may be donated

to their monasteries. Buddhist relics with great purifying power are often composed of

bits of hair, nails, and bones (albeit of the Buddha or other great saints); in Sri Lanka
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the word (dhātu) for such relics is the same as the word for semen. Monks and nuns of

Jainism (an Indian religion founded by Mahāvīra in the 6th century BC) are ordered

not to bathe and under no circumstances to clean their teeth.

In Hinduism, if a Brahmin (a member of the highest caste) enters a street of

the untouchables (outcastes), he is polluted, but the whole street also falls prey to

disease, famine, and sterility.

In a Myanmar folktale, an alchemist became discouraged with his experiments

and threw his alchemic stone into a latrine pit; on contact with the excrement, the

stone achieved purity—thus indicating that contacts with pollution may bring about

purity.19

Cleansing outer dirt or stains on the body or any object by means of bathing or

washing in everyday life is one kinds of important thing according to the rules of

hygiene. Most of people in this modern world now they have already known this very

well through their education at schools and at public places. However, when the inner

state of the human mind is stained or defiled by evil deeds that a person has done

through bodily, verbal and mental doors, the way how to clean by bathing or washing

such thing with water is impossible. According to Buddhism, the way how to clean

sins by bathing in water is not encouraged to practise because it is not a correct

method that one should do.

Anyone, no matter who, may practise the Dhamma; caste and class do not
play an important part in the success of his teachings. According to
Buddhism, whoever, either Brahmins or others, does bad deeds such as
killing, stealing, etc., is not purified and is blame worthy. Caste and class
are man-made. They have nothing to do with purity and nobility. But, they
played an important role before the Buddha appeared on the earth. In those
days Brahmins thought that only their caste was the highest and the most
pure. Therefore, when other heavenly beings requested him to come to the
world of humans so that he might become an Enlightened One, the
Bodhisatta, whose last life but one was in a heavenly abode, considered
his future mother's caste in advance so that he would not be treated with
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disdain on the grounds of caste, and so he was conceived by a queen. But


the Buddha did not escape opposition, notably that stirred by the ritualistic
Brahmans anxious to preserve their religious monopoly, for a considerable
number of Brahmans were won over by his teachings and his replies to
questions, for his teachings ignored the caste system.20

In Saægārava sutta of Saöyutta Nikāya, the Buddha told the way to practise properly

to A Brahmin Saægārava. The Buddha was told by Ànanda about this story. It was,

then, in the morning, Venerable Ànanda went for alms round in Sāvatthī, and when he

had returned from his arms round, after his meal he went to the Blessed One and told

him that he had seen a Brahmin named Saægārava, a practitioner of water-purification,

one who believes in purification by water, who dwelt devoted to the practice of

immersing himself in water at dusk and at dawn.

Venearable Ànanda said this, “it would be good, venerable sir, if the Blessed

One approached the residence of the Brahmin Saægārava out of compassion.” The

Blessed consented by silence. After being told by Ànanda, on morrow, the Blessed

One took robe and bowl, going to the Brahmin’s residence and sat down on the

appointed seat. Then the Brahmin Saægārava approached the Blessed One and

exchanged greetings with him, after which he sat down to one side. The Blessed One

said to him: “is it true, Brahmin, that you are a practitioner of water-purification, one

who believes in purification by water, devoted to the practice of immersing himself in

water at dusk and at dawn? “Yes, Master, Gotama.”, The Brahmin replied.

“Considering what benefit do you do this, Brahmin?” The Blessed asked. So, the

Brahmin replied thus:

“Here, Master Gotama, whatever evil deed I have done during the day I
wash away by bathing at dusk. Whatever evil deed I have done at night I
wash away by bathing at dawn.”21
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The Blessed One considered that this is not the way to wash away the evil deed by a

person. So he told the Brahmin the true path of the practice in this way;

“The Dhamma, Brahmin, is a lake with fords of virtue—a limpid lake the
good praise to the good—where the knowledge-masters to bathe, and dry-
limed, cross to the far shore.”22

When this was said the Brahmin Saægārava praised the Buddha with exclamation

word and took refuge in him for life. In this case, The Buddha just speaks the truth

and shows the right path from his personal experience, many humans who were blind

or ignorant could see things as they really are, and many people from bottom up

became his followers. They believe Buddhism because it is a rationalistic religion. In

Buddhists’ thought all wrong path should be abandoned. Therefore, the Brahmin who

believes in achieving spiritual purity through water is actually not the path to the

purification.

Na udakena suci hoti, Bahvetha nhàyati jano;

Yamhi saccañca dhammo ca,

So suci so ca brahmaäo’ti.23

“Not by water is one cleaned, many people bathe in this. In whom is truth

and Dhamma, He is cleaned, he is a Brahmin.”

Brahmins believe that by bathing in the Ganges River, they can purify the pollution

and wash away the sins that they had done and by doing so, after death they go to

heaven. But Buddhists believe that no one is purified by bathing in water for the evil

deeds done bodily, verbally and mentally. If one can be purified by just bathing in the

water in that way, many fish, frogs, tortoises and all creatures that live and swim in

the water every day can also clean and will all wash away the sins and go to heaven
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after death in the same way. Buddhists do not believe in such kind of practice for the

purification of beings. The way for the purification of beings in Buddhism is different

from Brahmanism or other religions. It is neither simple and nor complicated.

It is really good if one has intimate friend (kalyàna mitta). Kalyàna mitta here

is referred to the teachers who are competent and virtuous one able to guide the

correct way of practice in one’s life. The Buddha is one of the greatest kalyàna mittas

for all beings. Any one who had a chance to associate with the Buddha in his lifetime

could get good benefit such as knowledge and experience to liberate from suffering

and so on. Many Brahmins who used to practised in wrong ways before, but when

they met the Buddha and practised under his guidance they became Arahant. Like a

Myanmar saying, “in association with the Noble Ones, a person may become a noble

one.”

In Vatthūpama Sutta,24 ‘Buddha explained to Bhikkhus by comparing the

condition of purity and impurity of the cloth with purity and impurity of the mind or

heart when they were defiled and stained and also when they were undefiled and

unstained.’ The Buddha says that, even as a dirty piece of cloth takes dyes badly, so in

an impure heart bliss is not to be found. He then proceeds to enumerate the heart's

impurities and to show how they can be cleansed. Sundarika Bhāradvāja, who is

present, asks the Buddha if he has bathed in the Bāhukā River. The Buddha then gives

a list of places whose waters are considered holy, and declares that the real cleansing

is the cleansing of the heart "to love all that lives, speak truth, slay not nor steal, no

niggard be but dwell in faith." Bhāradvāja seeks ordination and becomes an Arahant.

Here is the real way for cleansing of mind from Vipassanā point of view as taught by

the Buddha. It is the proper method for the purification of beings.


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For the purification of beings, means for the purification of the minds of
beings. Because Buddha is more concerned about the purification of mind
than the purification of the physical body-although it does not mean that
we do not take care of the cleanliness of the physical body—what is more
important for us is the cleanliness of our minds. So, the purification here
means purification of minds of beings.
In the commentaries it is said that personal cleanliness or cleanliness of the
body as well as the cleanliness of the place are conducive to concentration
and wisdom. So we also need to keep our bodies clean and keep the place
where we meditate clean. Although we are not to neglect the cleanliness of
the body we should be more concerned about the cleanliness of our minds.
So here the Buddha said that mindfulness is the only way for the
purification of minds of beings.25

Therefore; we should develop concentration to make our mind calm, pure, peaceful

and free from all mental bondages and blockages. The Buddha said.

Purity and Impurity Depend on Oneself. By oneself is evil done; by


oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is one
purified. Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one purifies another.26

In other religions like Hinduism and Christianity they take bath in the river to clean

their sins. They believe that by doing so the sins which are done can be removed in

the present lives and also through doing that they will be reborn in the heaven after

departing from this world to the next. We do not criticize them because they think that

is the way to purify their lives in their religions.

However, according to Buddhism, we have different ways to purify our lives,

especially the mind. We perform wholesome deeds to forget the former sinful objects

that we have already done before to make our mind clean and free from the

unskilfully complicated imaginations and also to curb the mind from the arising of

desire to do more new sins. After dispelling the sinful objects from our minds, soon

we grab the opportunity to do wholesome actions instead in order to purify our mind

free from nuisances such as by giving alms, undertaking morality, and developing

mental culture. In this way, we can make our mind pure and powerful with radiating
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of penetrative light as usual. Just that, it is not like the way of cleaning sins by taking

bath as other regions do.

As a matter of fact, meditation is probably like the best technique to clean sins.

Meditation has no religious labels. Or in other words, it is also possible to say that

meditation has no caste or religious label. Every person from any religion or any caste

can practise it, especially mindfulness meditation. Actually, when we sit practising the

meditation for the first time we will experience sleepiness, numbness and also the

painful feeling will arise in our body. But no problem, we should try to overcome

these difficult feelings because soon they will disappear. If they do not disappear, so

we can change our position and make effort again until our practice become

successful. Especially we should be patient with the painful feeling with neutral mind

because this is the chance for us to flow out the bad kamma right here through this

pain. Patience is a key for opening the door to Nibbàna. So please do not drop out our

practice.

Moreover, our feelings after they are arising soon they disappear naturally.

When we have insight wisdom that feelings cannot have influence on us and so we

can sit in meditation and see perfectly the arising and the disappearing of the feelings

for many hours with our neutral mind.

Reaching this stage, we are required to exert more strenuous effort to extend

our practice gradually from ten minutes to fifteen minutes until we can focus our mind

on the in-breath and the out-breath for one hours or two hours or even more than that

with an indifferent mind, then the bad kamma will also be gradually vanished until

they are totally exhausted. Not only just sitting but we can also practise mindfulness

meditation with any one of the four postures at any time of the day and night. That is

the way of purifying our mind to be free from evil sins that we had already done.
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Please try to free ourselves from the sins by training our mind according to

that. By doing so, we can gain strength and strong insight, and happiness befalls us

both day and night.

5.4 Castes and the emancipation of oneself from suffering

There is too much suffering in this world. If one realizes the truth of suffering, one

should find the way to liberate from it.

Some people used to say that “we are free thinkers and do not have a religion”.

But if any one is a free thinker then certainly he is a Buddhist because the Buddha

encouraged freedom of thoughts. The freedom of thought allowed by the Buddha is

unheard of elsewhere in the history of religions. This freedom is necessary because

according to the Buddha, man’s emancipation depends on his own realization of the

Truth and not on the benevolent grace of a god or any external power as a reward for

his obedient behaviour. The Blessed One never said to his disciples, ‘Pray and

believe.’ He used to say ‘Come and see, come and investigate. Don’t believe anything

with blind faith.’

In Buddhism blind faith is condemned and it is substituted by saddhà—

confidence, based on knowledge and understanding. Buddhism believes in man’s

potentialities which help him to attain the Buddhahood. All people are endowed with

the same capabilities, whereby they can get transcendental powers. To achieve it or

not, it depends on man’s choice. Brāhmanical thinkers considered it to be the union

with the Supreme Being i.e Brahmasahavyatā. Brāhmanical thinkers have propounded

a theory that only the brahmaäas have the sole monopoly or authority to attain that

union with the Supreme Being. This is a sort of depraving a man of his freedom of

thought.
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The Buddha, for the first time, drew His attention to this problem. He

maintained that any man irrespective of his caste, creed or colour, could get

emancipation. No one can enable another person to get purity. From the following

quotation, it becomes evident that the Buddha bestowed complete freedom on man.

He admonished His disciple that they should make effort and the Tathāgatas can only

show the way. Whereas the Bhagavad Gīta states that he who wants to get liberation,

should give up all other beliefs and seeks refuge in krishnà alone.

On the other hand, the Buddha says, “Attà hi attano nàtho, kohi nàtho

parosiyà. Attanà hi sudantena, nàthaö labhati dullabhaö. Self is the Lord of Self.

How can others be Lord of Self. By subduing oneself, one can obtain a Refuge (i.e

Arahataphala) which is so difficult to attain.”27

According to the Buddha, man’s emancipation depends on his own


realization of Truth and not on the benevolent grace of a god or any
external power as a reward for his obedient good behaviour. Although a
Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his moral teacher he makes neither
self surrender nor sacrifices his freedom of thought. Without sacrificing
his freedom of thoughts a Buddhist can exercise his own free will even to
the extent of becoming a Buddha himself. Any one who wishes to attain
Nibbàna—emancipation has only to rely on his own understanding
uninfluened by dogmas and blind belief.28

After a comparison of both Buddhist ideals and those of Bhagavad Gīta, one is

tempted to arrive at the conclusion that Buddhism is more liberal, democratic and

humanitarian than other philosophical thoughts of India. The human society is the

creation of man. Man who lives in such a society has certain primary or basis as well

as secondary requirements. Although these requirements are same for all, yet the ways

and means to fulfil them are wholly different. As far as the needs are concerned, man

is the same. Man is the same in so far as the four types of conditions are concerned.

The four postures are described as sitting, walking, lying and sleeping. These are
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common to all, so the man kind is the same. In the same manner, there is the same

path to be trodden on to get the highest goal i.e. emancipation. As the Buddha pointed

out the emancipation can be attained by anybody, by following the path which he

showed. There is no difference in it. It is common to all. Some people in His time

could not get this emancipation, as they followed different paths that were put forth

by Brāhmanical thinkers. These thinkers claimed that the path to purity was restricted

to only a particular society. This is quite clear from the questions that were put to the

Buddha by king Pasenadi of Kosala Kingdom. The king asked the Buddha whether

there is any difference in emancipation attained by the four castes.

The Buddha explained that people of the four castes, may get different kinds

of fire woods, such as mango stick, sāla stick, etc. and burn it. The fire that is created

from different kinds of firewood does not differ at all. In the same manner, people

aspiring for emancipation can get the spiritual flame in the hearts.29

The Buddha left to his followers this suggestion for freedom; "Be, each
one of you, your own island, and your own refuge; do not seek another
refuge. It is the way that you will reach liberation from all suffering." It
means that no one but oneself can free one from suffering. Liberation can
only come from one's own effort. One should not undertake excessively
austere practices or self-indulgence, nor rely on prayers to any deity. One
must liberate oneself from error and folly by following the Noble
Eightfold Path. The Buddha disclosed the way which enables people to
get, not only personal progress and happiness, but also the good order and
prosperity of society. He never sought to make people submit
unconditionally to his own teachings. He regarded man as free, truly
holding his destiny in his own hands.
Once, when the Buddha stayed at a monastery offered to him by Visàkhà
in Sàvatthì, a Brahmin named Ganaka-Moggallana approached and asked
him, "Do you lay down progressive learning in your teaching as in every
other teaching?" The Buddha said, "I lay down a gradual practice in
respect of my teaching: if I see a person who deserves to be taught, first of
all I teach him to observe precepts as a basis. Secondly, I urge him to
control the enjoyment of all his senses, for, if a person indulges his senses
in everything, his mind may be defiled with greed, lust, anger, ill-will and
so on. Thirdly, I suggest to him to be moderate in eating so as to be able to
practise insight meditation very well. Fourthly, I teach him how to be
constantly vigilant and how to be possessed of mindfulness as regards his
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every movement. After that I advise him to practise insight meditation to


get rid of mental defilement. A person has to take these steps to attain
perfect inner peace or Nibbana as long as he has not eradicated the ten
mental defilements; personal ego-belief (Sakkàya-diååhi), doubt
(Vicikicchà), wrong conception of practice (Silabbata-paràmàsa), ill-will
(Byàpàda), craving for material existence (Rùpa-ràga), craving for non-
material existence (Arùpa-ràga), conceit (Màna), restlessness (Uddhacca)
and illusion (Avijjà)."
The Brahmin asked the Buddha, "Do your disciples, taught by you, all
attain perfect inner peace or Nibbàna?" "Some of them attain perfect inner
peace but some do not" the Buddha answered. "Even if Nibbàna does
exists; the way leading to it exists and you exist as a teacher, why do some
of your disciples not attain Nibbàna?" the Brahmin asked. The Buddha
said, "Suppose, two people, who want to go to the city, Ràjagaha,
approach and ask you the way leading to the city, you explain in detail
how to get there and what they will pass on the way because you know the
road to the city very well. One of them, having taken your words to heart,
arrives at the city safe and sound but the other does not because he may
take a wrong way or else he may forget his aim, following other business.
What can you do for the latter?" "I can do nothing more for him" the
Brahmin said. The Buddha said, “In this way I too can only show the way
to practise to be free from suffering.”30

Some followers say that in their religion their God is the recipient of sins done by his

followers or others. So, they take refuge in their God for salvation. But this is not

reasonable. For example, if we step on fire, the fire will burn ourself, but not burn the

God. If we eat food by ourself we are surely full by ourself, but not full the God is.

So, the idea that God receives sins of others may encourage human beings to do sins

more and more. So, that is not the way to free oneself from suffering. Actually, sinful

action is hot like burning iron. It is shame or fear for us to touch or do it. Therefore,

the Buddha said he who does action, he will reap the result by himself. Not any others

can receive it instead of him. Generally, in society, if any one does sinful action by

killing other. In this case, no one volunteers to allow himself to be put in jail for him.

On the contrary, if we do good deed we can share with others. They will rejoice to

receive it. It is a power of good action, called kusala dhamma.


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The problem remains, however, of bringing together the two faces of the
Dhamma without sidling into self-contradiction. The key, we suggest, to
achieving this reconciliation, and thus to securing the internal consistency
of our own perspective and practice, lies in considering two fundamental
points: first, the guiding purpose of the Dhamma; and second, the strategy
it employs to achieve that purpose. The purpose is the attainment of
deliverance from suffering. The Dhamma does not aim at providing us
with factual information about the world, and thus, despite a compatibility
with science, its goals and concerns are necessarily different from those of
the latter. Primarily and essentially, the Dhamma is a path to spiritual
emancipation, to liberation from the round of repeated birth, death and
suffering. Offered to us as the irreplaceable means of deliverance, the
Dhamma does not seek mere intellectual assent, but commands a response
that is bound to be fully religious. It addresses us at the bedrock of our
being, and there it awakens the faith, devotion and commitment
appropriate when the final goal of our existence is at stake.
But for Buddhism faith and devotion are only spurs which impel us to
enter and persevere along the path; by themselves they cannot ensure
deliverance. The primary cause of bondage and suffering, the Buddha
teaches, is ignorance regarding the true nature of existence; hence in the
Buddhist strategy of liberation the primary instrument must be wisdom,
the knowledge and vision of things as they really are. Investigation and
critical inquiry, cool and uncommitted, constitute the first step towards
wisdom, enabling us to resolve our doubts and gain a conceptual grasp of
the truths upon which our deliverance depends. But doubt and questioning
cannot continue indefinitely. Once we have decided that the Dhamma is to
be our vehicle to spiritual freedom, we have to step on board: we must
leave our hesitancy behind and enter the course of training which will lead
us from faith to liberating vision.
For those who approach the Dhamma in quest of intellectual or emotional
gratification, inevitably it will show two faces, and one will always remain
a puzzle. But if we are prepared to approach the Dhamma on its own
terms, as the way to release from suffering, there will not be two faces at
all. Instead we will see what was there from the start: the single face of
Dhamma which, like any other face, presents two complementary sides.31

Actually, the purpose of Dhamma is not for grasping. The Dhamma is like raft for

crossing over the ocean. One who follows the Dhamma will reach the far shore that is

very difficult to cross; it means he will surely attain the Nibbàna—blissful state not

mingled with any suffering. Take refuge in the Dhamma, then we will have safe

refuge and safe happiness in our lives.


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The Dhamma support being from not falling into woeful states, but the

Dhamma helps the person who follows the Dhamma only. After realizing the truths in

this way, one should study and practise the Dhamma.

5.5 Truth was open to attainment by all castes alike equal in degree

People are beginning to accept as common sense that all major religions can teach the

truth and be different.

As we enter the new millennium, it is now becoming common sense that “the

paths are many, but they all lead to the same place.” We are seeing through illusion

there is only one way, or one superior people, or one superior teaching or religion, for

all people. As we see the wisdom in all religions, we are able to appreciate truths in

our personal paths even better. Anyway, we should know that “Buddhism rejects all

esoteric and restricted communication of knowledge and virtue. The Buddha

emphasized that there should be no secrecy in doing good. Secrecy and evil action

which need to be hidden , go together. All instructions should be clearly delineated to

differentiate religious and and spiritual knowledge and practice. Buddhism is a

spiritual path, not a sectarian religious tradition. This distinction needs to be

understood by all genuine seekers of truth.”32

Of course, In Buddhism, without discrimination, encourages all mankind to

pursue the truth by one own way through his or her experience. This is a freedom of

belief found in Buddhism. In the Buddha’s life time, people of Kàlàmas of Kesaputta

were mistaken upon the truth because there were many spiritual leaders came to

express their views in different ways among them. Some said, ‘their views are good

and the other’s views are bad’, while some others said, ‘their views are right and the

others’ views are wrong.’ In these cases, they were confused and could not find the
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truth, and then as one day the Buddha also came to their district. So, they came to

meet him and asked,

‘Sir, certain recluses and Brahmins come to Kesaputta. As to their own


view, they proclaim and expound it in full: but as to the view of others,
they abuse it, revile it, depreciate it and cripple it. Moreover, sir, other
recluses and Brahmins, on coming to Kesaputta, do likewise. When we
listen to them, sir, we have doubt and wavering as to which of these
worthies is speaking truth and which speaks falsehood.’33

At that time, relevant to this question, the Buddha gave the answer to them which is

free from dogmas and superstitious beliefs in his dispensation and it should be taken

into account and tested even by all men , women ,religionists, and free thinkers

today whether the Buddha addressed true words or not. He answered thus,

‘So then, Kàlàmas, as to my words to you just now: “Be ye not misled by
report or tradition or hearsay. Be not misled by proficiency in the
collections (or books), nor by mere logic or inference, nor after
considering reasons, nor after reflection on and approval of some theory,
nor because it fits becoming, nor out of respect for a recluse (who holds
it). But Kàlàmas, when you know for yourself: These things are
unprofitable, these things are blameworthy, these things are censured by
the intelligent, conduce to loss and sorrow,--then indeed do ye reject
them,” such was my reason for uttering those words.34

We can understand that the Buddha’s answer above to Kàlàma clans is really

practical. Of course, all major religions in the world teach the truth. Since there are

many truths in many religions we are difficult to accept. It is, however, truth needs no

label of any religion if we say in the deepest sense. The truth has value by itself and it

can be experienced and realized by every one. The most important thing is to know

oneself by oneself. The Buddha had found the truth in nature, that is, the very four

Noble truths, namely, (1) the truth of suffering, (2) the truth of the cause of suffering,

(3) the truth of the origin of suffering and (4) the truth of the path leading to cessation

of suffering. This four Noble truths, the truth of number (1) and (2) belong to
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mundane and (3) and (4) belong to supramundane, and these Four Noble Truths

should be realized by insight knowledge or we need to follow the Middle Path and

avoid two extremes. So, first we need to study the Four Noble Truths, and then we

need to follow the Eightfold Noble Path to experience the Truths.

Perhaps now one can better appreciate why the Buddha said the path was

straight. Crookedness of body, speech and mind are overcome by this threefold

training of sìla, samàdhi and paññà found in the Noble Eightfold Path. Walking

straight along this path, one transcends crookedness and is free from many dangers.

As it has been known by many Buddhists that the Buddha gave the five ascetics the

first sermon (Dhammacaka pavattana sutta), the discourse on Turning the Wheel of

Dhamma which is focused on the two extremes, the wrong ways that should be

avoided, while the Middle Path or right way (the Eightfold Noble Path) should be

followed because it leads to the cessation of suffering and finally to the attainment of

Nibbàna.

He delivered the Dhamma talk while he was living at Benares in the Deer

Park at Isipatana. There he addressed the bhikkhus of the Group of five thus:

Bhikkhus, there are these two extremes that ought not to be cultivated
by one who has gone forth. What two? There is devotion to pursuit of
sensual desires, which is low, coarse, vulgar, ignoble and harmful; and
there is devotion to self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble and
harmful. The middle way discovered by the Perfect One avoids both
these extremes; it creates an eye, creates knowledge, and leads to peace,
to direct-knowledge, to full-enlightenment, to Nibbàna. And what is that
middle way? It is this noble Eightfold Path, that is to say: right view,
right thought, right speaking, right acting, right living, right effort, right
mindfulness, and right concentration. That is the middle way discovered
by the Perfect One, which creates an eye, creates knowledge, and leads
to peace, to direct knowledge, to full-enlightenment, to Nibbàna.35

Over two thousand five hundred and fifty years ago, the Buddha had pave the way for

all mankind to follow his footstep in order to seek the truth and that truth stands well
151

for today and will stand forever as the Truth. “The Way to Realize the Truth” would

lead all to have a clear vision as well as real peace and happiness based on the

foundation of the Dhamma or unique Truth taught by the Buddha. The Dhamma

based on Ultimate Truth is for the weal and welfare of all living beings. By applying

the Dhamma in our daily life, it would give power to convert the mind from ignorance

to Wisdom. It develops a heart of Wisdom, a heart of love, a heart of understanding,

to overcome prevailing vices which have plagued man since the beginning of time, to

get rid of greed, hatred and misunderstanding.

There are two kinds of Right view (Sammà-Diååhi) viz. Right view based on

conventional Truth, Right view of worldling and Right view based on Ultimate Truth,

Right View of Buddha's teaching, Belief in Kamma (Own action) and Vipàka (its

result) is called Right View of worldling. All good worldly persons (Kalyàäa-

puthujana) have this Right View based on Conventional Truth, so they disgust and

dread to do evil. For this belief, they always observe precepts for the welfare of

themselves and others. They are always ready to do or help for the welfare of

themselves and others. So the good worldly persons have the mind of “Attahita-

Parahita” (the will to do for the benefit of himself and others). Due to their good

conduct of abstaining from evil and cultivating good they live in peace and happily in

this very life; when they die they would go to the blissful world.

Therefore, one who has realized the conventional Truth and possessed himself

Right view of worldling, whatever he does, it is for the gaining of the bliss of human

being, celestial being and Brahma. Moreover' he will gradually fulfil either the

perfection of disciple (Sàvaka pàramì) or the perfection of Silent Buddha (Pacceka-

pàramì) or the perfection of Omniscient Buddha (Sabbaññù-pàramì). Finally, he will

come to realize the Ultimate Truth of existence and headed by Right view of Buddha's
152

Teaching. Whatever he does it is for the attaining of either the Enlightenment of

disciple (Sàvaka Bodhi) or the Enlightenment of Silent Buddha (Pacceka-Bodhi) or

the Enlightenment of Omniscient Buddha (Sabbaññù-Bodhi).

The goal of Buddhism is the attainment of Enlightenment or Realizing the

Truth. The main aim of the Buddha's Teaching is to attain Nibbàna, i.e. the cessation

of all kinds of suffering. Buddhism is, in fact, a means for attaining Enlightenment,

Wisdom. In other words, the whole practice of Buddhism may be regarded as process

of gaining the knowledge of Right View of Ultimate Truth. For it is only through

practice of mindfulness or vigilant awareness and contemplate on Khandhas (the five

aggregates) or Mind and Matter that one can realize things as they really are. It is the

way to realize the Truth. Realizing the Truth puts an end to the erroneous views about

self, individuality or personality belief (Sakkàya Diååhi) which are based upon illusory

conceptions, and this enables one to escape from the world of suffering in worldly life

including caste prejudice and racial discrimination as well as life in the round of

rebirth (Saçsàra).

Fundamentally, Buddhism teaches that man must rely on himself in working

out his own deliverance and that he can liberate himself away from suffering and

woeful consequence of perpetual existence of birth and death by the perfect

realization of Truth or the Four Noble Truths. There is none that can liberate a man

but oneself. It is our right to work out the way to realize the Truth as well as to walk

along the Middle Way to progress Right View and Wisdom on how to lead a richer

life of real peace and happiness.36

We should study the Buddha’s experience. As a noble prince named

Siddhattha Gotama, after his happy marriage, he led a luxurious life, blissfully

unaware of the vicissitudes of life outside the palace gates. With the march of time,
153

Truth gradually dawned upon him. Amidst comfort and prosperity, he began to realize

the universality of suffering. One glorious day, as he went out of the palace, he saw

the four great omens, namely; the old, the sick, the death and the monk. The first three

sights convinced him of the inexorable nature of life and the universal sickness of

humanity. The fourth signified the means to overcome the ills of life and attain calm

and peace.

Realizing the worthlessness of sensual pleasures highly praised by ordinary

men and the value of renunciation in which the wise seek delight, he decided to leave

the world in search of Truth and Peace. When this final decision was made after much

deliberation, the seemingly happy news of the birth of a son was conveyed to him.

However, he was not overjoyed and regarded his first and only offspring as an

impediment to the search of Truth. So the infant son was accordingly named Ràhula

by his grandfather. The time was ripe for him to depart the palace of worldly pleasure.

It was in his 29th year, the turning point of his life that Prince Siddhattha made the

Great Renunciation. He grasped the Truth that all without exception were subject to

birth, decay, and death. He made himself as an ascetic and tried to find a way to

realize the Truth.

For six long years, he practised all forms of severe austerity at Uruvela forest.

As a seeker of the Truth and the Peace he got an idea from his view point of own

experience. There was a way to realize the Truth and the Peace, the Majjhima

Paåipadà or the Middle Path apart from two extremes, self-indulgence and self-

mortification. He sat cross legged beneath a Bodhi-tree on the bank of river Nerañjarà

in the forest of Uruvela at Bodhagaya in India and meditated with the earnest wish

and firm determination not to rise from his seat until he attained the Truth, the

Buddha-hood by way of Middle Path.


154

On the full-moon night of Vesak in 588 B.C, while meditating with mind

tranquillized and purified, he developed supernormal knowledge with regard to the

destruction of passions and comprehending all things as they truly are. He realize the

Truth that the cause of suffering lies in a selfish craving for life, and that the way of

escape from suffering lies in treading the eight-fold path. With discernment of this

Truths and their realization in life, the Boddhisatta eradicated all passions and attained

perfect Enlightenment or perfect Wisdom. And then He uttered these words of

Triumph, such works as countless myriads of Buddhas have spoken in the past:37

“I have run through the journeying-on of numerous births, without respite,


seeking the house-maker; birth again and again is painful.
“O house-maker, you are seen. You will not make the house again. All
these rafters are broken, the house-ridge is destroyed. The mind, set on the
destruction (of material things), has attained the termination of the
cravings.”38

It means the house is the body; the builder is craving, passions are the rafters and the

house-ridge is ignorance.

By realizing the Truth with Omniscience and great Compassion, the Buddha

expounded the Dhamma cakkapavattana sutta to his friends, the five Ascetics,

namely: Kondañña, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahànàma and Assaji which led the five

Ascetics to the attainment of Sotàpatti, the first stage of sainthood and a1l became

monks, disciples of the Buddha. Later the Buddha also preached to them the

Anattalakkhaäa Sutta or Discourse on Non-Self hearing which all attained

Arahantship or final stage of sainthood. This is also the realizing of the Truth of the

five Ascetics in this world after the Buddha.

Before His passing away (Parinibbàna) in 543 BC, which was in His 80th year

at a place called Kusinàrà, His famous last message to His disciples was: "Behold, O
155

disciples, I exhort you. Subject to decay are all component things. Strive on with

heedfulness."

In this way the Buddha had spent 45 years wandering and preaching to the

people of all castes and creeds, with only four hours for repose and the remaining

twenty for an indefatigable selfless service to give the way to realize the Truth.

His Dhamma that is summarized as "avoid evil, do good, purify the mind" (Dhp-185)

through Generosity, Morality, and Meditation.

Thus, ended the life of the Buddha the world has ever known. Otherwise the

Buddha leaves the Dhamma, the way to realize the Truth for all.

Therefore, if any one wants to realise the truths should follow the Buddha’s

way. As it is known from Vipassanà practical point of view taught by the Buddha is

that when a meditator practises insight meditation up to reaching the change-of-

lineage knowledge(gotrabhù ñaäa), the thirteenth stage of vipassanà ñàäa. This

knowledge succeeds the anuloma ñàäa, which includes three moments of citta for the

person who realises the Noble Truths more slowly than a person with keen paññà.

Change-of-lineage knowledge is mahà kusala citta ñàäa sampayutta and this citta has

Nibbàna as object but not yet eradicate defilements, is called ‘adverting to the path.’

Though it is not adverting (àvajjana), it occupies the position of adverting; and then,

after, as it were, giving a sign to the path to come into being, it ceases. So only when

the meditator continues to practise to get path knowledge (magga ñàäa), the

fourteenth stage of vipassanà ñàäa, then it is possible to eradicate the defilements. It

should be known in the following:

When gotrabhù has fallen away it is succeeded by the path-consciousness


of the sotàpanna and this citta transcends the state of the ordinary person
and reaches the state of the noble person, the Aryan. This citta eradicates
defilements in accordance with the stage of enlightenment that has been
reached.39
156

Here it is said when any persons even come from different castes but if he practises

insight meditation till the attainment of the path-knowledge in which has path-

consciousness to wipe up defilements, then he is said to become Ariyan and

therefore, even though he is different in quality, but he will be equal in degree with

the other Ariyans. The terms ‘Aryan’ (ariya) and ‘non-Aryan’ (anariya) here are

frequently found in the Buddhist texts, but never in a racial sense. The racial sense of

superiority associated with word ‘Aryan’ is completely eclipsed by the moral and

spiritual sense of superiority, which the word in a Buddhist context connotes, devoid

of any associations of race or birth. So, according to Buddhism, one who is highly in

morality and spirituality even though he was born in low class, but he is called Aryan,

noble person.
Conclusion

“In view of the close analogy between race and caste prejudice and their effects, it is

of little consequence for our purposes here whether caste prejudices originated in

whole or part in racial prejudices or not. But it interesting to note that the majority of

scholars who have offered theories or suggestions about the origins of caste had

admitted the important contribution made by the racial contact between the Aryan

invader and the non-Aryan aborigine and the prejudices resulting from it—even

though they were not always willing to trace caste prejudices and practices in their

entirety to the initial racial prejudices of the Aryan invader in his attempt to suppress

and subjugate a different race of people.”40

Till nowadays caste system is not as strong as it was like centuries backward.

It is weak in many parts but still prevail in many parts of India especially in the places

dominated by the strong belief of Hinduism. As they have known in human history,

caste like systems have been observed in the South Asian subcontinent and beyond (in

Japan, Africa, Iran, and Polynesia). Caste has also been used to describe the systems

of racial stratification in South Africa and the southern United States. Whether the

term ‘‘caste’’ is applicable to societies outside the South Asian region depends on

how the term is defined. Those who focus on its religious foundations argue that caste

is a particular species of structural organization found only in the Indian world.

Caste system is not yet totally eliminated in India since the majority of Indian

people are Hindu and Hinduism is based on caste system, if one wants to eliminate

caste system, that means it is like eliminating the whole Hindu society which

somewhat is like impossible since India is uprooted with this society from time

immemorial. But we can say this can be reduced becauce most of the younger
158

generation is now not interested in caste system any more, except the orthodox

family.

Indian society is unique; it could be that the upper class society so called the

Brahmin divided the class to enjoy more social influence and luxuries. If this is the

cause, there are no benefits since there is always injustice, conflict and protest among

the people. There are no peace and harmony in the extremely caste-prejudice society.

As they have known according to Buddhism that the main causes that lead to

the arising of caste prejudice and racial discrimination are greed (lobha), hatred

(dosa), delusion (moha), wrong view (diååhi), conceit (màna) and ignorance (avijjà) of

man. Generally, people, as long as they are still worldly persons, they have these

unwholesome dhammas. So, to uproot caste system they must uproot these

unwholesome Dhammas within themselves. The castes and racial discrimination exist

as long as one still practises it. The caste still exists if one still follows Hinduism.

Castes exist only in the ignorant persons. Caste does not exist in the well educated

persons who endowed with knowledge and moral conduct and establish themselves

well in morality, concentration and wisdom.

Some persons say we cannot eliminate caste system unless we destroy it. But

that is not the way to eliminate caste system. As it was obviously known in Pol Pot’s

regime of Cambodia from 1975-1979, one of aspects apart from political tendency

and cultural revolution, was an attempt to eliminate caste system to balance between

the rich and the poor in order to enjoy equal status in social life. People in this regime

were evacuated from the Phnom Penh City to live in the countryside and often they

were moved from one place to another. They were forced to work hard and severely

faced starvation and death. Pol Pot’s regime lasted for three years, eight months and

twenty days, and over two millions of innocent people in Cambodia were died in this
159

regime. It was useless and nothing was achieved in this regime but destruction of the

country and the agony of people remain. So, violence is not the way to solve caste

problem. Buddhism does not encourage people to use violence to settle any problem

because by using violence to solve problem it may bring bad results both to us and

others. Thus caste system and racial discrimination should be reduced or eliminated

by means of education, constitutional law, socio-economical development and mental

culture as well. Caste system and racial discrimination would also be minimized or

disappeared through the study and the practice of a proper religion. Buddhism teaches

us to know about equality and to have wisdom, but not to have caste system. It

teaches about the truth, the cause and effect, kamma and its result, the freedom and

the total liberation from suffering through the right method by following Eightfold

Noble Path. “Buddhism emphasizes the freedom of the will and that its morality is

autonomy par excellence. Autonomy is a paramount characteristic of this religion.”41

Many intellectuals in the East as well as the West say Buddhism is proper to

be believed and practised among many religions in the world. There is no

discrimination of castes in Buddhism, the Buddha taught obviously the excellent

Dhammas in the beginning (morality), excellent in the middle (concentration) and

excellent in the end (wisdom). People from all castes and all walks of life either black

or white are welcome to practise Buddhism in order to get purification and

emancipation from suffering and enjoy the same status equally in degree in the eternal

bliss of Nibbàna.

“The Buddha was the first man, in the history of India, who took up the cause

of the poor outcastes and the downtrodden. It was he who vehemently protested

against the caste system that blocked the progress of mankind, and granted equal

priviledges to all, irrespective of caste, colour, or rank. Lord Buddha made no


160

distinction between man and man. All were equal in his sight. No life was too

insignificant for his children. He led them all on the path of righteous-ness. From

child to aged man, from begger to king, from man to piety of man of wicked ways, all

received his love and compassion. In the first place he admitted members of all castes

and classes to the order of the monks established by him without any distinction

whatsoever. To the people in general, He explained that a man becomes superior or

inferior according to his good and bad actions and not according to his birth in a

particular family.

During the time of the Buddha, women were not given much recognition. It

was the Buddha Who raised the status of women. He established the Order to the nun

(the Bukkhunì Saægha), for the first time in history. For never before this was there an

Order where women had the opportunity of leading a celibate life of renunciation.

Buddhism is a universal religion. One of the Buddha’s messages say÷

“Come to me, all of you. I do not care what family you come from, whether

you are rich or poor, whether your class is high or low, whether you are man or

woman, for me you all belong to the same family, my own, whatever your race or

country or social standing. The only thing I want from you is purity of thought which

leads to purity of life, to compassion and universal love.”42


Endnotes

Endnotes of chapter I

1. M. pp.48-50
2. Supreme Patriarch Samdech Choun Nath, Khmer Dictionary, (Translation into
English is my own work), Vol. I, p.1155
3. James Hastings, M.A., DD. And T. Clark (ed)., Encyclopaedia of religion and
Ethics, volume III, p.234
4. William Allan Nellson, Ph.D., Webster New International Dictionary of the
English Language, p.418
5. Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabriged Dictionary of the English Language, p. 323
6. M.G Gale, The concise Universal Encyclopaedia, Volume II, p.370
7. Michael D. Harkavy (ed)., The New Webster’s International Encyclopaedia, p.201
8. “Caste” www.wikipedia.org, free Encyclopedia.com, access date: 18th August,
2009
9. Nagendra Kr. Singh (ed)., International Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Vol.22.
pp.1094
10. James Hastings, M.A., DD. And T. Clark (ed)., Encyclopaedia of religion and
Ethics, volume III, pp.234-235
11. “The history of the Indian caste system” ,www.wikipedia.org, free encyclopedia,
access date: 1st Sebtember,2009
12. Ibid
13. Facts resulted from an interview with Cambodian monk, the most venerable
Sàsanamunì Jet Din, second Ràjàgaäa, on 4th July, 2010
14. Nagendra Kr. Singh (ed)., International Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Vol.33.
pp.4433-4434
15. Jà., Vol. I, II, pp.57-58
16. Jà. Vol. III, IV, pp.235-236
17. K. Sri Dhammananda , Human life and Problems,p.32
18. Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium DVD 2009
19. Frederick Douglass, People In America, VOA Special English, Lesson 13
20. www.buddhismtoday.com, Buddhist Solution for the 21st century (CD Rom)
21. Gale Encyclopedia of religion (PDF File)
162

Endnotes of chapter II
1. Sayadaw Janakabhivamsa, Vipassanà Meditation and Lectures on Insight
Meditation, p.117
2. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, The Buddha and His Dhamma, p.147
3. D., p.189
4. Ibid
5. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda, The Buddhist Concept of Heaven and Hell, p.16
6. Wendy Doniger and Smith Brian K. (tr)., (Penguin Books) The law of Manu,
Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium DVD 2009
7. Ibid
8. “The caste system and the stages of life in Hinduism”, Encyclopedia Britannica
DVD Rom
9. www.wikipedia.org, free encyclopedia, The Kshatriya Varäa, access date: 4th
October, 2009
10. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda, What Buddhist Believe, p.233
11. Dr. B.R. Ambadkar, The Buddha and His Dhamma, pp.10-11
12. Ibid.,p.25-26
13. www.wikipedia.org, free encyclopedia, The Role of Brahmaäa Caste, access date:
4th October, 2009
14. Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium DVD 2009
15. Ven. Pidiville Piyatissa , An Exposition of Buddhism, p.43
16. A. Vol. III, p.153

17. K. R. Norman, (tr),. The Group of Discourses (Sutta-Nipàta), p.14


18. A. Vol.2, p.91
19. Ibid
20. Ven. P. A Payutto, Buddhism and the Business World, p17
21. Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Various Rules of Poem, pp 56-57
22. D., p.468
163

Endnotes of chapter III


1. Dr.B.R. Ambadkar, The Buddha and His Dhamma, pp.87, 92
2. Ven. Pategama Gnanarama, An Approach to Buddhist Social Philosophy, p.72
3. G.P Malalasekera and K.N Jayatileke, Buddhism and the Race Question, pp.26-28
4. Buth Savong, Women in Buddhism, Khmer Language, (Translation into English is
my own work), p.57
5. Ibid, p.78
6. http://en.wkipedia.org, free encyclopedia, Caste system social reformers, access
date: 7th October, 2009
7. Ibid
8. Ibid
9. Ibid
10. Associated Press, Thousands of Hindus convert to Buddhism in India racism
protest, 10th September 2001, cited by www.buddhismtoday.com
11. United Kingdom News, Caste slaves seeking salvation in India, 5th November
2001, cited by www.buddhismtoday.com
12. Sìtagu Sayadaw, Dr Ñànisàra, Lecture on Buddhism and Social Work or Buddhist
Missionary, 28th July, 2008, ITBMU, Yangon, Myanmar
13. Sìtagu Sayadaw, Dr Ñànisàra, Lecture on Four Essential Requirement for
Protection Promotion and Propagation of the Buddha’s Teaching, pp.168-169,
Quoted from “Buddhist Contributions to World Peace and Sustainable
Development”, Bangkok, Thailand
14. http://www.en.wikipedia.org, 22 wows of Ambedkar and his religious view,
access date: 24th October, 2009
15. Ibid
16. Aggatejo Nov Sakorn, History of Buddhism in India, Khmer Language, p.264
17. www.google.com, Constitutional law of Cambodian, access date: 4th January,
2010
18. Nagendra Kr. Singh (ed)., International Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, vol. 33,
p4435-4436
19. L.P.N. Perera, Buddhism and Human Right, p.4
20. Ibid, p.44
21. Padmasiri de Silva, Buddhism, Ethics and Society, the Conflicts and dilemmas of our
times, pp.120,127
22. Uk Chuon, Human right through Khmer culture and civilization, Khmer
Language,(Translation into English is my own work), pp.3-4
23. FEROZ Kapadia Mandira Mukherjee, Encyclopedia of Asian culture and society,
vol.4, p.205
24. P Lakshminarasu, The Essence of Buddhism, p.81
164

25. Ibid, p.84


26. Ma Thein Thuza, Article on Equality of Human Beings, ITBMU Annual
Magazine, p.126
27. Nagendra Kr. Singh (ed)., International Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, vol.21,
pp.752-753
165

Endnotes of chapter IV
1. M., pp.787-788
2. Ven. Dr. K. Sri. Dhammananda, Who is Responsible for Our Problems?, p.11
3. Prof. P.V. BAPAT, (ed), 2500 Years of Buddhism, p.196
4. Mil., p.53
5. Jà, Vol. III-IV, pp.128-129
6. Confucianism, world religion, CD-ROM
7. D., pp.118-119
8. www.buddhismtoday.com, Social Stratification, access date: 7th November, 2009
9. S. Vol. I., p.12
10. Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda, Gems of Wisdom, pp.268-269
11. Venerable Pyinnythiha, The Way to Social Harmony, 1990 (CD-ROM)
12. The Pa-auk Tawya Sayadaw, The working of Kamma, p.238
13. Ven. Sayadaw U Uttamasara, The Buddhist Way of Daily Life, p.141
14. Dh. I, Yamaka Vagga ( Verse No.9, 10)
15. M., p.801
16. Ibid, pp.806-807
17. Ven. Weragoda Sarada Maha Thero, The Greatest Man Who Has Ever Lied, p.176
18. Ibid, p.74
19. Introduction to Hindu Dharma, p.7
20. Sn., p.18
21. Sor Sa Run, Try Studying Khmer Sociology, Khmer Language, (Translation into
English is my own work), pp.25-26
22. Dr. Mehm Tin Mon, The Teachings of the Buddha, (Higher Level I), pp.232-233.
23. Sayadaw U Sìlànanda, Volition an Introduction to the law of kamma, pp.1-2
24. www.buddhismtoday.com, Social Stratification, access date: 7th Sebtember,2009
25. M., pp.1053-1057
26. www.buddhismtoday.com, Social Stratification, access date: 7th Sebtember,2009
166

Endnotes of chapter V

1. Nagendra Kumar Singh, (ed), International Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Vol.16,


p.25
2. Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, p.120
3. Nagendra Kr. Singh,(ed), International Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Vol.22,
p.1095
4. Lily de Silva, The Buddha & Christ as Religious Teachers, p.12
5. Ud., p.98
6. Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda, Buddhism in the Eyes of Intellectuals, p.16
7. Ud., p.99
8. Facts resulted from an interview with Nepalese monk Venerable Ram Kumar Rai,
2BBHM (Nep) 1 on 6th January 2010
9. Dr. Hema Goonatilake, Myanmar-Srilanka Historical Relation, lecture on 19th
August, 2009
10. “http://www.buddhismtoday.com,Socialstratification,access date: 9th November,
2009

11. Ibid
12. Ibid
13. Ibid
14. Venerable Pyinnythiha, The Way to Social Harmony, 1990 (CD-ROM)
15. Ven. Piyadassi Thera, The Buddha, His Life and Teachings, (CD-ROM)
16. Nagendra Kumar Singh, (ed), International Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Vol.6,
pp.414-415
17. Facts resulted from an interview with Indian monk Rev. Sujan, 2BBHM (Ina) 1 on
16th August 2010
18. “ Purification rite”, Encyclopedia Britannica DVD ROM 2009
19. Ibid
20. www.buddhismtoday.com, Buddhist Sociology , Updated: 1-1-2001
21. S., Vol. I, p.278
22. Ibid, pp.279
23. Jaåila Sutta, Udàna pàlì, khudakapàtha, bodhivagga, chaååha saægàyanà-CD ROM
24. DPP, Vol. II, p.826
25. Sayadaw U Sìlànanda, The Four Foundation of Mindfulness, p.6
26. Dh., p.24
27. DhA., pp.227-229
167

28. Venerable Pandit P. Sri Pemaratana Nayaka Mahathera, Buddha’s contribution to


mankind, pp.4-5
29. Ven. Dr. Bokandruwe Devananda Thera, Social Aspects of Early Buddhism,
pp.39-41
30. M. iii. 1
31. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Two Faces of the Dhamma, (CD-ROM)
32. Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita , Living Legacy of the Buddha, p.19
33. A. vol.I., p.171
34. Ibid
35. Ps. xvi, p.329
36. U Oo Tha Tun, The Way to Realization of the Truth, (M.A Thesis), pp.v-viii
37. Ibid, pp.1-3
38. Dh., p.22
39. Sujin Boriharnwanaket, A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas, p.337
40. G.P Malalasekera and K.N Jayatileke, Buddhism and the Race Question, pp.28-29
41. Tichibana, Ethic of Buddhism, p.92
42. Ven. Dr. Rastrapal Maha Thera, The Vision and Writing of Agga Mahà
Saddhamma Jotikadhaja, p.36
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Facts from Interview


1. Facts resulted from an interview with Cambodian monk, the most venerable
Sàsanamunì Jet Din, second Ràjàgaäa, Jumpouproeksa Monastery, Svay Rieng
Province, Cambodia, on 4th July, 2010

2. Facts resulted from an interview with Nepalese monk Venerable Ram Kumar Rai,
2BBHM (Nep) 1 on 6th January 2010

3. Facts resulted from an interview with Indian monk Rev. Sujan, 2BBHM (Ina) 1 on
16th August 2010