Buddhism and War:
A Study of the Status of Violence in Early Buddhism
By: James A. Stroble
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
December 17, 1991
There is something rather unsettling when one reads of Buddhist justifications
of violence. We can not but help thinking that the central ethical precepts
of Buddhism, ahimsa, karuna, and metta (non-harm, compassion and loving-kindness)
have somehow been lost. But in spite of the initial shock, the justifications
we encounter are quite similar to those we find in the other world religions.
Why do they jar in the case of Buddhism?
We propose here to consider the possibility of Buddhist justifications
of war, and to investigate not how they came about, for that is all too
obvious and not specific to Buddhism, but rather why they should not have,
which hopefully will explain the particular unease many of us feel in the
face of them.
Buddhism's problems with the state begin with the conversion of rulers
of states to the teachings of the Buddha. Unfortunately, these rulers did
not often follow the Buddha's own example and renounce their kingdoms.
More often it meant that Buddhism came to be under state protection. This
situation entails several problems for Buddhism, the first being how to
accept kingship as not being antithetical to Buddhist teaching and practice,
and a second being the price of such an accommodation which then places
the political on par if not superior to the religious. These problems are
in no way specific to Buddhism, but attend the political success of any
historical religion, the greatest example in the West being the acceptance
of Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine.
What we are interested in here is how Buddhism does, or fails to, come
to terms with the eternal prerogative of states: war. For states often
are modified by the influence of religions, but rarely if ever to the point
of surrendering the power to make war. Therefore we should be cautious
of cases where the religion comes to sanction the use of violence by the
state, especially where the religion everywhere else holds to a position
of non-violence. In the case of Buddhism, we must understand the basis
for the doctrine of non-violence or ahimsa in order to see whether or not
it can allow sanctioned state (or other) violence.
The doctrine of ahimsa is the distinctive feature of Indian moral thought.
But the basis for this precept can differ from one tradition to another.
The resulting interpretation and evaluations of action, then, admit of
great diversity or even contradiction, but almost no one ever explicitly
denies ahimsa itself. The arguments for the non-violent nature of explicitly
violent actions such as war, or the denial of human agency in the commission
of such carnage, as in the Bhagavadgita for example, do not challenge the
moral principle of ahimsa, but only quibble about the facts of the particular
We turn instead to the grounds for accepting ahimsa as the foremost
moral principle. Of these several are possible: a doctrine of unity with
the universe implies one ought not to hurt oneself; a doctrine of moral
pollution suggests abstention for purity; a doctrine of sympathy enjoins
us to refrain from those actions which we would not like to be the recipient
of [The Golden Rule and Kant's Categorical Imperative].1
Buddhism has elements of all of these, but adds the further, and central,
doctrine of causality which ties the others together and gives us moral
efficacy.2 As for violence, violence is caused, and causes
more violence, depending on conditions. This understanding of not just
the morality of non-violence but also of the world in general puts the
question of morality on par with that of any other phenomena. The causality
of violence is not something that can be supervened or suspended, is not
to be put aside as mere window dressing in the face of "political
realities". The fact that violence makes for suffering is not limited
to the victim, but also touches the perpetrator; thus the recognition of
"sympathy" is not merely an altruistic act. The analysis of violence
in Buddhism is of a piece with the rest of the dhamma.
The reality that the Buddha realized is to be found in the Four Noble
Truths. The first of these is that the world is suffering. Not surprisingly,
then, the analysis of violence belongs to the second Noble Truth: there
is a cause of suffering. The normative import of this analysis is found
in the assertion that there is a way out of suffering, the third Noble
Truth. Even without going into the fourth Noble Truth, the Eight- fold
Path, we can see that if violence is truly a source of suffering, and exclusively
so, then it must be renounced in the Eight-fold Path. This is to deny that
violence can in some cases be the instrument of the cessation of violence,
that even as the means of a noble intent it produces instead more suffering.
And indeed this seems to be the Buddhist position. Even the "successful"
use of violence does not escape from the production of more suffering:
§ 201 The victor begets enmity. The vanquished dwells in sorrow. The tranquilled lives happily, abandoning both victory and defeat.
The case of the vanquished is straightforward, no one likes to lose.
In the case of the victor, however, the connection is not as direct, but
is just as inexorable.
§5 Not at any time, indeed, are enmities appeased through enmity. However, they are appeased through non-enmity. This is an ancient tradition.
The enmity that the conquer generates through his own enmity toward
his enemy, or even vice versa, results in the further production of enmity
with the victory. In the discussion of war in the Samyutta Nikaya,3
we find the evil king Ajatasattu attacking the good king Pasenadi, with
Pasenadi being defeated. And here is stated what is quoted above from the
Dhammapada (§201), with Pasenadi being the one to suffer. When these
kings again met on the battlefield, Pasenadi captures Ajatasattu. But instead
of executing him (partly due to a family relation, Ajatasattu is his nephew),
Pasenadi only confiscates his army. The Buddha's response to the news is
A man may spoil another, just so far
As it may serve his ends, but when he's spoiled
By others he, despoiled, spoils yet again.
So long as evil's fruit is not matured,
The fool doth fancy `now's the hour, the chance!'
But when the deed bears fruit, he fareth ill.
The slayer gets a slayer in his turn;
The conqueror gets one who conquers him;
Th' abuser wins abuse, th' annoyer, fret.
Thus by an evolution of the deed,
A man who spoils is spoiled in his turn.
It is to be noticed that this applies equally to both of the combatants,
the point being that Pasenadi's largesse is not sufficient to put an end
to the conflict, and we can expect more war in the future. The only way
to answer violence that does not add to violence is with non- violence.4
At the opening of the Mahaparinibanna Sutta we find our same
king Ajatasattu sending a minister to seek an audience with the Buddha
in order inquire about a planned attack on the Vajji princes. Ajatasattu's
motivation for seeking advice is not based solely on respect for the Enlightened
One, but more because "Tathagatas never speak what is untrue."
5 The Buddha, in accordance with the moral teaching found in the Maha
Sila sections of the Brahmajala and Samannaphala suttas,6
does not "make predictions about kings going to war; about kings coming
back from war; ...; and probabilities of victories and losses of warring
kings," but instead inquires of Ananda as to the practices of the
Vajji princes, the seven factors of non-decline. Finding that the princes
do indeed possess the seven factors of non-decline, the Buddha says that
so long as they continue so, they will not decline.
Several points are to be made here. On the one hand, the `prediction'
as to how the Vajji will fare does not concern itself with the relative
strength of any other state, most significantly that of Ajatasattu. On
the other hand neither does it concern the internal material disposition
of the state, such as its defense readiness and economic vitality. Rather
the factors of non-decline are communication and harmony with each other,
and respect for tradition, elders, women, shrines, and arahants. Immediately
upon this follows several more sets of "seven factors of non-decline",
but these pertain not to a state but to the community of monks, an example
of the way in which much of the discussion of war and violence in the Suttas
is primarily metaphorical.7
It is significant that the Buddha's reply to Ajatasattu's minister does
not even metaphorically involve violence. The maintenance of the state,
as well as the Sangha or the individual monk, is a matter of its own cultivation.8
It is not necessary to respond in kind to threats from the outside, as
foolish as that may seem from the position of the political realist. If
the Vajji princes were to be concerned with the threat, already they would
be suffering in anticipation and uncertainty, on the path to decline. They
would have entered upon the same course of action as Ajatasattu and Pasenadi,
where even if they succeed in a defensive war, only "spoiling"
their enemy so far as necessary for their own security, nonetheless will
most likely face the same prospect in the near future, and will not necessarily
always be the victor.
That a nation should not take a serious interest in its own defense
is as popular proposition today as it was in Buddha's time. A cursory glance
at the Arthasaastra of Kautiliya will confirm that a very different approach
to politics was available. But the Buddhist approach is based not on sentimentality
or soft-headedness, but on the understanding of the dynamics of violence,
of its causality. The dependance on war or the threat of war to preserve
one's security is in the long run bound to fail, due to the further violence
that is produced by the inevitable suffering resulting from such a policy.
A doctrine of sympathy, based on fellow-feeling for the defeated even
where oneself is the victor, could not produce a justification for ahimsa
that entailed the renunciation of violence; instead it would only recommend
magnanimity in victory (along the lines of the Marshall Plan?) such as
that of Pasenadi above, in hopes of putting an end to the circle of violence
through victory. But this is precisely what the Buddha does not allow.
The awareness of how violence arises entails a broader view of conflict
than that which only involves one's own narrow self-interest. Thus the
position of the enemy is to be taken into account. Not responding with
violence, far from being an act of altruism, is in one's own interest in
the cessation of violence. Thus:
§166 One should not neglect one's own welfare through excessive altruism. Having understood one's own welfare, one should be devoted to true welfare.
The question that naturally arises is just how such an insight is to
be put in practice, especially when one is faced with an adversary who
has no qualms about the use of violence. In the Angulimaala Sutta we find
the Buddha purposely encountering just such a case. The robber Angulimaala
is described in the most fearsome terms, he wears a necklace of fingers,
parties of 40 men are not safe in traversing his domain, he has caused
the depopulation of whole villages. Even King Pasenadi is unable to bring
this criminal to account. The Buddha, in spite of profuse warnings, journeys
through the robber's territory alone. Predictably, Angulimaala sets upon
the Buddha. Through his psychic powers, the Buddha made Angulimaala unable
to overtake him. [the magic trick is problematic] When Angulimaala stops
and says "Stand still, recluse," the Buddha replies "I am
standing still Angulimaala, you too stand still." Puzzled by this
response, since he is not moving while the Buddha still is, Angulimaala
asks for an explanation. Buddha responds:
"I, Angulimaala, am standing still, having for all beings everywhere laid aside the stick,
But you are unrestrained regarding creatures; therefore I am standing still, you are not standing still."9
This is enough to make Angulimaala see the errors of his ways and immediately
become a monk. The motive of this conversion is not made explicit, but
the important point is that it is not effected by meeting his atrocious
violence with greater violence of punishment (danda), the Buddha having
"laid aside the stick" (danda?) even for Angulimaala.
Of course, not all of us have the psychic power to get an attacker to
stand still long enough to discourse with him about "standing still".
But nonetheless, insofar as we do not and instead meet violence with violence,
we will be perpetuating suffering rather than contributing to its cessation.
Thus even where one cannot eliminate violence by kindness, resort to violence
is still to be avoided. In the "Parable of the Saw" the Buddha
says to the monks:
Monks, as low-down thieves might carve one limb from limb with a double-handed saw, yet then whoever sets his mind at enmity, he, for this reason, is not a doer of my teaching.
(Majjhima Nikaya, I.129)
Taking the matter to such extreme, while very much a part of our interest
here, is to a degree only illustrative in this Sutta. The first step in
the cessation of violence is usually not nearly so difficult as getting
an elephant-overtaking Angulimaala to stand still. It is as difficult to
stand still ourselves, not so much when we are being carved by thieves
but when we are being slandered by another. Once we allow enmity to arise
in our own mind, the escalation to physical violence is only a matter of
degree, not of kind. Thus the parable is followed by the question,
If you, monks, were to attend repeatedly to this exhortation on the Parable of the Saw, would you, monks, see any way of speech, subtle or gross, that you could not endure?
The concern with one's own equanimity in the face of violent speech
or action does not seem to directly address our question about the practicalities
of the insight. But given an understanding of the causality of violence,
we can see that the first move in its eradication must be our own. Not
entering into the circle of violence is the only way to stay [get?] outside
of it. This means that we must concern ourselves with our own thought,
speech and action rather than with those of others,10
not only because this is what is most directly within our control, but
also because it is these that cause us to suffer.
§165 Evil done by oneself does oneself defile. Evil left undone by one does one oneself purify. Purity and impurity belong individually to oneself; no one shall another purify.
This then belongs to the third Noble Truth, the cessation of violence,
and gives us an explanation of why the Vajji princes will not decline.
The second aspect of this understanding of the causality of violence
involves how one affects others. Again the basis for this is not sympathy
per se, but the causality of one's actions which then not only affects
another but reacts upon oneself. We have already seen this expressed with
regard to the battles of Ajatasattu and Pasenadi, but it also applies as
well on the everyday interpersonal [interpsycho-physical?] level.
§133 Do not speak harsh to anyone. Those spoken to would perhaps answer you back. Painful is quarrelsome talk, lest retaliation affect you.
Having controlled one's own reaction to violence, it is wise to be aware
of how one's actions affect others11 not just to minimize
their suffering but as well to reduce the occasions on which we are tested
in our control.
Needless to say, all this runs against the prevailing opinion, in Buddha's
time as now, on how to control violence. The only effective counter to
violence it taken to be more violence, with the distinction being made
between "good" violence (just, licit, or sanctioned force, punishment)
and "bad" violence (unjust, illicit violence or crime, and more
recently, terrorism). The question here, then, is the proper, effective
use of violence in overcoming violence. The popular renditions of this
come readily to mind: "the stick is all they understand", "we
must fight fire with fire", "the war to end all wars",etc.
The implication of this kind of thinking is that violence itself is morally
neutral, and that what matters is the ends to which it is applied. Violence
itself, in this interpretation, is not a source of problems, only its application
by those with the wrong views.
How far this is from the early Buddhist position should be apparent.
Instead of understanding the causality of violence, common opinion relies
on the instrumentality of it to vanquish unjust violence. The one takes
as its first precept the prohibition of the killing of any creature; the
second requires the killing of certain beings, as necessary for the protection
of others. One advocates the control of one's own mind, where the other
legislates the control of the other's body. This seems to suggest at first
that the two are incompatible; but unfortunately, the usual interpretation
is that they belong to different spheres of life: the strict observance
of ahimsa for the monks and nuns, the moderate use of force by the householders
and the state.
V.P. Kothari, in his work The Law of Non- Violence seems to grasp the
underlying argument for ahimsa based on the causality of violence, but
backs away at the strict application of non-violence at the political and
An analysis of religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism leads us to recognize that they may make a distinction between the conduct of a layman, that is a person involved in a worldly pursuit of any kind, and that of persons who have entirely renounced all worldly pursuits and have become monks, ascetics or adopted the discipline of a saint.
The reasons that a householder cannot strictly pursue ahimsa is that
"A layman should be a good and successful citizen or ruler."
The duties of position and profession may require one to do some harm,
and in any case the necessity of violence in the defence of self and property
bears upon the householder. As long, Kothari allows, as the execution of
duty is not motivated by passion, it "cannot, it may be argued, be
deemed as Himsa or Violence. As the world consists of wicked people and
mischief- mongers as well as kind and peace-loving people, there are occasions
when non-violence may have to be tempered with the defensive use of violence."
(p. 34) The same responsibility for defence falls to the state, and is
also justified "within the limits of Ahimsa, as long as the motive
is national defence." Pure non-violence is restricted to the Saint
(monk, ascetic), but given the theory behind non-violence, the causality
of violence, how can it be held in abeyance for the householder, or the
nation-state? Why is it that we should perpetuate the realm of bondage
by allowing the use of violence to be justified at some level? This is
puzzling, but all too common.
We turn to a Jain writer here because his statement of this position
is quite clear, accords well with the teaching of the Bhagavadgita, and
is completely foreign to Buddhism. In order to make such a distinction,
the whole theory of dependent co-arising (paticcasamuppada) would have
to be rejected or not taken seriously. The householder's right and duty
to use violence cannot be separated from the conditions which give rise
to suffering.13 Thus we find U Nu, the former prime minister
of Burma, claiming "Unlike the theistic creeds [Buddhism] cannot sanction
(even) such acts of violence that are necessary for the preservation of
public order and society."14 But U Nu goes too far,
for he assumes that violence is necessary for public order, which also
denies the analysis of the causality of violence given above.
On the one hand we have the requirement of the absence of passion in
such instrumental application of violence, ignoring the effect on its object.
Related to this is the requirement of last resort, which replaces passion
with necessity.15 But in spite of the assertions that
such violence is not actually violence, this does not evade the inexorable
train of causality which attends violence, but at most limits its range.
This acknowledgement of the role of violence in the life of the householder,
which means strictly life outside the Sangha including such larger social
entities as the state, admits not that such violence is blameless, but
rather that it is a fact in the world such as it is, and that its eradication
is not immediately possible. But to say this is not to say that violence
is necessary or desirable, only that a reduction is to be accepted where
total abstinence is not feasible.16
What is in question, then, is how Buddhism could go from recognizing
the actuality of violence without approving of it to a position where violence
could be advocated by Buddhists. To understand this we will need to be
very clear about the difference between a recognition of actual violence
and the proposal of the use of violence for some end.
Surveying the Buddha's attitude toward violence in the Pali Nikayas,
we find many cases where violence and punishment are described as part
of the life of the householder or civil society. The fact that these are
for the most part descriptions rather than normative statements is to be
stressed, however. When there is occasion for the Buddha himself to deal
with one who is deserving of punishment, the method he uses is manifestly
one of non-violence. The difference between the descriptive portrayal of
violence and the normative example of the Buddha then establishes a distance
between the world of the civil authorities and that of the Sangha. Where
the enlightened one is said to "have stopped moving," "having
done what is to be done", the king and ministers and householders
are described as having many things to do, being very busy.17
This then forms the basis of the distinction between the political and
religious spheres. The political authorities are very busy, just as Angulimaala
was very busy plundering the countryside; both stand in contrast to the
Buddha, whose goal is to put an end to violence.
The Buddhist ideal that receives the most attention in regard to a Buddhist
politics is that of the Universal Monarch, the "Wheel-turner"
or cakkavattin. We will deal with it only so far as this ideal reinforces
the case for Buddhism not justifying the use of violence in securing social
order. The Cakkavatti Sutta18 begins with an exhortation
of the monks to be their own support, which as in Plato's Republic begets
a initial ambiguity over whether the work is to be taken as a serious political
proposal or an analogy for self- understanding and discipline. In any case,
the distinguishing characteristic of the cakkavattin is that he rules "the
Earth to the extent of its ocean boundaries, having conquered territories
not by force of arms but by righteousness." The noble duties of the
cakkavattin are to provide protection, shelter, and security for all, including
the birds and beasts, taking the Dhamma as his sole guide and support,
enquiring of the proper teachers as to the proper course of action. No
specific policies are here mentioned, but from the fact that the conquest
by righteousness is contrasted with one by force, we can surmise the same
held for domestic policy.
This is further confirmed by the tale of decline that attends the first
appointed king who does not consult his predecessor about the duties of
the cakkavattin.19 When, as a result of his ruling "in
accordance with his own ideas," inequities appear in the country,
the advisors seek to inform him of these duties (but notably not the Dhamma).
The appointed king then takes such measures, but neglects the welfare of
the poor. This leads to incidence of theft, which the king deals with only
in the individual case, providing the offender with money. This encourages
theft rather than dissuading it, a fact the king soon catches onto, and
the third offender loses the lottery, as well as his head. The imposition
of the death penalty does not dissuade theft either, pointing to the initial
failure of policy, but makes the thieves more desperate and hence more
violent. The process of disintegration continues on from this point.
What the Cakkavatti Sutta seems to tell us, then, is not that the application
of violence is a necessary component of maintaining social order, but rather
is the first sign of its disintegration, and leads only to more violence
and further disorder. This is in accordance with the understanding of the
causality of violence presented above. We must exempt Buddhism from the
company of Hinduism and Jainism in allowing a separate standard of conduct
for the householder and the king, and correct U Nu's assumption that some
violence is necessary for social order with the assertion that quite the
opposite is the case.
The early Buddhist attitude toward political authority, then, cannot
be one of approval in the form in which it exists. No doubt this does not
mean that Buddhists should engage in invective and harsh words toward political
authority, which would result in a further increase in violence--directed
at them. But this does call into question the close relation Buddhism has
had in later times with political authority. John Strong, in his study
of the Asokavadana, questions why terrible acts of the first Buddhist
king, Asoka, are preserved in the Buddhist texts.
The answer is rather complex, but, at least initially, I would suggest that the inclusion of these acts reflects an underlying Buddhist apprehension toward the institution of kingship as inherently, perhaps inevitably, prone to such actions.20
He also notes that Gokhale has pointed out in many Buddhist texts "a
distinct attitude toward kingship of `disquiet bordering on fear'."21
And Uma Chakravarti pushes the question further.
Did Buddhism envisage a close relation between the two, even if it is granted that the spheres of the king and the sangha were separate? Tambiah and Ling have argued that there was an intimate relationship between the king and the sa gha, and that Buddhist civilization is a triangular relationship between the king, the sangha, and the people. However, we suggest that, while this close relationship may have developed over time, it is not reflected in early Buddhist literature. The Buddha respected the power of the king, and therefore maintained good relations with all the prominent kings that came into his orbit, but there is no indication that the king had any crucial role to play in the propagation of the nibb nic goals of Buddhism. The king was nothing more than the highest member of the laity, whose patronage as the head of the social world was significant.22
Early Buddhism, then, did not approve of the use of violence by kings,
anymore than by anyone else, but merely accepted it as the fact, and did
what was proper to the circumstances. As Chakravarti concludes, even though
the Buddha did not propound the theory of the cakkavattin to any actual
kings, "the Buddhists ... developed the idea of the cakkavatti dhammiko
dhammaraagaa who, by a just exercise of power would play a pivotal role
in transforming society," as a counter to the excesses of actual kings.23
It must be noted that the intent of the Buddhist egalitarianism was
not to replace one caste with another, a constant struggle within the caste
system itself, but to allow everyone to attain to liberation. One implication
of this is the dissolution of the subordination of the ksatriya class to
the class of liberation-seekers, for to require the military class to engage
in activities which do not conduce to their own liberation is to sacrifice
their well-being, which contradicts the notion of equality of sentient
beings. Thus Buddhism would have to deny the instrumental use of violence
to defend even itself, and would have to pursue another method for the
overcoming of violence. This, as we find in the Dhammapada, is the understanding
of the causes of violence and the non- violent solution to it. At some
level the intricate mechanism of the state for maintaining social order
becomes unnecessary or even counter-productive. But faced with the actual
existence of kings and armies, the Buddhists put forward a model of kingship
that rules without punishment, legislates without enforcement. The problem
is that with the preeminence of the king preserved, it is all too easy
for the old methods to be put in service of the new goal without the separation
of powers between the political and religious communities. Thus the king
not only defends the Dharma from external threats, but also from internal
dissension within the Sangha itself, so we have an absolute monarch whose
use of force is justified only by himself. Thus we find the reversal of
priorities which gives us the idea of violence, and indeed war, that is
sanctioned by Buddhism, but in fact ignores the teaching of Buddhism concerning
violence and suffering.
Could it not be, however, that a fully enlightened one could commit
an act of violence without entering into the causality of violence (sans
karma)? What this would mean is that the actor (not victor in any sense)
would have no thought of enmity, no concern over victory or loss, no attachment
to the outcome. but further it would mean that the victim would suffer
no pain, no resulting hatred or enmity, would also have no attachment to
the outcome. And further that no other being would be affected by the sight,
report, recounting or knowledge, or any other effects of the violent act.
Can there be such a non- causal act of violence? Such a question belongs
to the same class of unhelpful speculation which the Buddha himself refused
1. The Dhammapada, § 130 "All tremble at punishment; to everyone life is dear. Taking oneself as an example, one should neither strike nor kill." (All references or quotes introduced with "§" are from the Dhammapada, translated by David Kalupahana.)
2. See Dharmasiri, Gunapala. Fundamentals of Buddhist ethics, "Objective Justification of Moral Actions", p. 32-3.
3. Pali Text Society, vol. 7, part 1, p. 109.
4. § 223 One should conquer anger with kindness, the wicked with goodness, the niggardly man with liberality and the liar with truth.
5. Digha Nikaya, 132; (Burma Pitaka Association, p. 187)
6. Brahmajala sutta, 23, (Burma p. 13) ; and Samannaphala sutta, 207. (Burma p. 100).
7. Where the Buddhist texts seem to advocate conquest or killing, more likely the intent is along the lines of the following: Dhammapada:
§103 Whosoever were to conquer in battle a thousand times thousand men, and another were to conquer one, that is, oneself, he indeed is the greatest victor in battle.
§104 The conquest of oneself is indeed better than the conquest of these other people. Of a person who has tamed himself and who is always restrained in conduct,
§105 the victory of such a being, not even a deity, nor a gandhabba, nor Mara along with Brahmä can turn into defeat.
Also Samyutta Nikaya, I,8, §8:
Wrath must ye slay, if ye would happy live,
Wrath must ye slay, if ye would weep no more.
Of anger, deva, with its poisoned source
And fevered climax, murderously sweet,
That is the slaughter by the Ariyans praised;
That must ye slay in sooth, to weep no more.
(PTS, v.7, p.58)
But being metaphorical is not protection against misplaced literalism,
as in the case reported by Ling, where the Buddhist Patriarch at the coronation
of King Rama VI of Thailand quoted the words of Buddha 'As a town situated
on the frontier must be prepared internally and externally, so too should
you be prepared' in support of his assertion that 'Wars must be prepared
for even in time of peace'. (Ling, Buddhism, imperialism and war,
8. The notion of "being one's own support" (Cakkavatti Sutta, 80) can be seen to apply to more than the life of the monk. The necessities of interstate politics, the maintenance of social order, the categorical right to self-defense, all depend on subordinating relations in which the cause of the action (war, punishment, violence) lies outside of the actor.
9. Majjhima-Nikaya, PTS no. 30, p. 285-6.
10. Cf. Dhammapada:
§161 Evil done by oneself, born of oneself, arising from oneself crushes an imprudent man, as a diamond destroys a gem of (inferior) stone.
§125 Whosoever bears ill-will towards a man who hates not, a person who is pure and without blemish, evil follows such an ignorant one himself, like fine dust thrown against the wind.
11. We would have to say, unintentionally, since ex
hypothesi one's action do not spring from enmity or hatred.
12. Kothari, Valchand P., The law of non-violence (ahimsa) and its relevance for all times. 1st ed. Sholapur: Jaina Samskrti Samrakshaka Sangha, 1975, p. 32.
13. Cf. Mahanidana Sutta:
§104. Ananda, I have said that because of watchful guarding (of possessions) there arise many wicked demeritorious acts, such as hitting with sticks, wounding with weapons, fighting, quarrelling, contentiously disputing, using unbearable expressions, backbiting and telling lies. ... Suppose, Ananda, there is no watchful guarding at all... Digha Nikaya, Burma Pitaka Assoc, p. 165.
14. As quoted in Ling, Trevor Oswald. Buddhism, imperialism and war, p. 135.
15. Of course, this necessity is only relative.
§6 Some do not know that we must die here. Should there be others who know it to be so, then conflicts come to be appeased.
16. The recognition of the "false labeling" is stated clearly in the Dhammapada:
§318 Beings, as a result of adopting wrong views, think of what is not blameworthy as blameworthy, and of what is blameworthy as blameless, and go to an evil bourn.
§319 Beings, as a result of adopting right views, knowing what is blameworthy as blameworthy, and what is blameless as blameless, go to a good bourn.
17. After meeting in person Angulimala the monk, king Pasenadi says to the Buddha: "Him, revered sir, that I was unable to tame with stick and sword, the Lord has tamed without stick and sword. Well, I am going now, revered sir, I am very busy, there is much to be done." Majjhima Nikaya II.102, PTS no. 30, p. 288.
Vassakaara, Chief Minister of Magadha, says, "Now we shall depart. We have many affairs (to attend to), much to do." Digha Nikaya, Mahaparinibb na Sutta, 135; Burma Pitaka Assoc., p. 191.
18. Digha Nikaya, Burma Pitaka Assoc., pp. 347-70.
19. The emphasis on consulting the tradition and the elders, or governing consensually, seems to be the main political message of Buddhism, as it is here with the Vajji princes.
20. Strong, John, The legend of King Asoka: a study and translation of the Asokavadana, p. 42.
21. Gokhale, "Early Buddhist Kingship," Journal of Asian Studies, 26(1966):15.
22. Chakravarti, Uma. The Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism, p. 171-2.
23. Chakravarti, Uma. The Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism, p. 176.
A Selected Bibliography for Buddhism and War
Burma Pitaka Association, Ten Suttas from the Digha Nikaya: Long discourses of the Buddha. Rangoon, Burma, 1984. Reprinted in the Bibliotheca Indo-Tibetica Series, No. XII, Sarnath, Varanasi, 1987.
Chakravarti, Uma. The social dimensions of early Buddhism Delhi; New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Chandel, Bhuvan, ed. Nature of Violence. Publication Bureau, Panjab University, Chandigarh; 1980
Demieville, Paul "Le Bouddhisme et la guerre" Melanges, 1:347-385. Paris, Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises, 1957.
Dharmasiri, Gunapala. Fundamentals of Buddhist ethics. Antioch, Calif.: Golden Leaves, 1989.
Dikshitar, V.R. Ramachandra. War in ancient India 2nd ed. Madras: Macmillan, 1948.
Ghosh, Indu Mala. Ahimsa, Buddhist and Gandhian. Delhi, India : Indian Bibliographies Bureau : Balaji Enterprises, 1988.
Gonda, J. (Jan), 1905- Ancient Indian kingship from the religious point of view Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1966.
Kalupahana, David J., 1975, Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.
Kalupahana, David J., A path of righteousness: Dhammapada: an introductory essay, together with the Pali text, English translation, and commentary. Lanham MD : University Press of America, 1986.
Kautalya. Arthasastra. English and Sanskrit. [by] R. P. Kangle. 2d ed. [Bombay] University of Bombay, 1969. University of Bombay studies: Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Pali, no. 1-2
Kothari, Valchand P., The law of non-violence (ahimsa) and its relevance for all times, extensively edited by Donald H. Bishop. 1st ed. Sholapur: Jaina Samskrti Samrakshaka Sangha, 1975.
Ling, Trevor Oswald. Buddhism and the mythology of evil; a study in Theravada Buddhism. London, Allen and Unwin .
Ling, Trevor Oswald. Buddhism, imperialism and war : Burma and Thailand in modern history. London; Boston: G. Allen & Unwin, 1979.
Obeyesekere, Gananath, Frank Reynolds [and] Bardwell L. Smith, editor. The two wheels of dhamma; essays on the Theravada tradition in India and Ceylon, Chambersburg, Pa., American Academy of Religion, 1972. AAR studies in religion; no. 3
Pali Text Society, 1954-1959, The Middle Length Sayings (Majjhima Nikaya). trans, I.B. Horner, London: Luzac & Co.
Pali Text Society, 1932- The Book of the Gradual Sayings (Anguttara-Nikaya). Translated by F.L. Woodward, London: Oxford University Press.
Pali Text Society, 1917 The Book of the Kindred Sayings (Samyutta- Nikaya).Translator, Mrs Rhys Davids. London: Oxford University Press.
Premasiri, Pahalawattage Don. Moral evaluation in early Buddhism : from the perspective of Western philosophical analysis. 1980. Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1980.
Saddhatissa, H. Buddhist ethics; essence of Buddhism. Foreword by M. O'C. Walshe. [1st American ed.] New York, G. Braziller [1971, c1970]
Saddhatissa, H. Buddhist ethics : the path to Nirvana. Hammalawa Saddhatissa. London : Wisdom, 1987.
Smith, Bardwell L., Religion and Legitimation of Power in Sri Lanka. South and Southeast Asia Studies, ANIMA Books, Chambersburg, PA., 1978.
Smith, Bardwell L., Religion and Legitimation of Power in Thailand, Laos, and Burma. South and Southeast Asia Studies, ANIMA Books, Chambersburg, PA., 1978.
Strong, John, 1948- The legend of King Asoka : a study and translation of the Asokavadana Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983. Princeton library of Asian translations.
Sunait Chutintaranond. Cakravartin, the ideology of traditional warfare in Siam and Burma, 1548-1605 by Sunait Chutintaranond. 1990. Thesis (Ph.D.)--Cornell University, 1990.
Tachibana, Shundo. The ethics of Buddhism. London: Curzon Press; New York: Barnes & Noble, 1975. Reprint of the 1926 ed. published by Oxford University Press, London.
Takakusu, Junjiro, 1866-1945. The new Japanism and the Buddhist view on nationality translated by Kiyoshi Maekawa and Eiichi Kiyooka. Tokyo: Hokuseido, 1932.
Tambiah, Stanley Jeyaraja, World conqueror and world renouncer : a study of Buddhism and polity in Thailand against a historical background. Cambridge [Eng.]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976.
Upadhyaya, K.N. Early Buddhism and the Bhagavadgita , Motilal Banarsidass: Delhi, 1983 (1971).
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