Buddhism: Part-II

February 25, 2018

For Buddhism: Part-I (click here)



The Buddhist Sangha and the laity:

  • The Vinaya Pitaka has two main sections: the Sutta Vibhanga and Khandaka- and an appendix known as Parivara. The Sutta Pitaka contains the Patimokkha, a set of monastic rules, 227 for monks and 311 for nuns.

  • The Patimokkha was recited by congregations of monks in the fortnightly uposatha ceremony held on the full moon and the new moon days.


Monastic rules:


  • The Khandaha consists of the Mahavagga and Chullavagga, which include the monastic rules and accounts for episodes in the Buddha's life, the founding of the order of nuns, and the two councils.

  • The pravrajya ceremony marked a person's going forth from home to homeslessness and his/her becoming a novice under a preceptor.

According to tradition, the first lay followers of Buddha were 2 merchants: Tapassu and Bhallika. Thereafter, the ranks of the laity expanded swiftly. The laity included male followers (upasakas) and female followers (upasikas).


There are also instances of a layperson (example, Buddha's father) becoming an arhat for joining sangha.


Sangha of monks: bhikkhu sangha

Sangha of nuns: bhikkuni sangha


The duties of the laity were laid down in Sigalavada Sutta. A man's duties towards his parents, wife and children are listed in the Mahamangala Sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya.


The Buddha's discourse to Ananthapindika's difficult daughter-in-law, recounted in Anguttara Nikaya, describes what was considered appropriate  and inappropriate behaviour of a wife.



Social implications of Buddha's teachings:

  • More socially inclusive than the Brahmanical tradition.

  • Considered varna a man-made ordering.

  • In the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha describes a dream in which four birds of different varnas (kinds, colours) came from four directions and sat on his feet.

Some facts about monks:

  • The prominent Kshatriya monks: Buddha, Ananda, Aniruddha

  • The prominent Brahmana monks: Sariputta, Mahamoggallana, Mahakassapa

  • Upali, was originally a barber of the Sakyas.

  • Bhikkus were allowed to accept food from everyone. In fact, Buddha's last meal is said to be at the place of a blacksmith named Chunda.


Higher sippas: money changing, accounting, writing

Lower sippas: leather making, reed worker, potter, tailor, painter, weaver, barber.



Buddhism and women: 


Nibbana was possible for women) according to Buddhism. An example can be:

  • Patachara was born in a Shravasti banker's family. She got married and had two sons, both of whom died. Thereafter, she became wanderer and joined the sangha.

The sangha was not open for pregnant women, mothers of unweaned children, rebellious women who associated with young men and those who did not have husband's or father's permission to do so.



Buddhist texts have references to learned nuns.

  1. The Somayutta Nikaya refers to Khema, whose discourse to king Pesandi so impressed him that he bowed down before her.

  2. The Anguttara Nikaya tells us that when Buddha heard the answers Dhammadinna Their had given to a laywoman Vishakha, he claimed that the nun There is very wise.

Women, both bhikkhunis and upasikas-were very visible as donors at Buddhist stupa-monastery sites



Anguttara Nikaya: Buddha visited the home of Anathapindika, the famous gahapati of Shravasti, whose daughter-in-law, Sujata was advised by Buddha to be an ideal wife.


7 kinds of wives:

  1. Vadhaka (slayer) wife, who is cruel, pitiless, murderous, who neglects her husband at night, passes her time with others and is bought with money.

  2. The chorasama (thief-like) wife who takes husband's money.

  3. The ayyusama (mistress-like) wife, who is lazy, fond of luxuries, expensive to maintain.

  4. The matusama (mother-like) wife who takes care of her husband and his property.

  5. The bhaginisama (sister-like) wife who treats her husband with respect like a younger sister.

  6. The companion-like wife who is of good birth, faithful to her husband.

  7. The dasisama (slave-like) wife, who is calm, patient and obedient and meekly accepts her husband's beating.



Buddhism gave the greatest jolt to the orthodox Brahamism. Buddhism exercised profound influence in shaping the various aspects of Indian society.

It developed a popular religion without any complicated, elaborate and unintelligible rituals requiring necessarily a priestly class.

This was one of the reasons for its mass appeal. The ethical code of Buddhism was also simpler based on charity, purity, self sacrifice, and truthfulness and control over passions.


Rejecting the caste system and its evils including rituals based on animal sacrifices, conservation, fasting and pilgrimage, it preached total equality. Promotion of social equality and social justice helped Buddhism to cross the frontiers of Indian sub-continent and became a world religion.

In the field of education Buddhism tried to make education practical, action oriented and geared towards social welfare.

Most of the ancient Indian universities like Nalanda,Taxila were products of Buddhism.



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