Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Publisher's Note

Something About Late Shri V.R. Gandhi
Contents
Introduction
I - The Sankhya Philosophy
  II - The Yoga Philosophy
  III - The Naya Philosophy
  IV - Mimamsa
  V - The Vedanta Philosophy
  VI - Buddhism
  VII - Jainism
  Sanskrit Terms

VI - Buddhism

 

 

(g) It is by such prolonged self‑culture, by the breaking of ten fetters doubt, sensuality etc.8 that one can at last obtain Nirvana..

 

Dhammapada says: "There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey and abandoned grief who has freed himself on all sides and thrown off all fetters. They depart with their thoughts well collected they are not happy within abode. Like swans those have left their lake, they leave their house and home. Tranquil is his thought, tranquil are his words and deeds, who has been freed by true knowledge, who has become a tranquil man."

 

It was generally believed that Nirvana meant final extinction and death, and Prof. Max Muller was the first to point out, which most scholars have now accepted [viz.] that Nirvana does not mean death but only the extinction of the sinful condition of mind, that thirst for life and its pleasure which brings on new births. Nirvana was not applied to any state after death, it was a term applied to a certain state of the life here. What Gautama meant by Nirvana is something attainable in this life, it is the sinless calm state of mind, the freedom from desires and passions, the perfect peace, goodness and wisdom which continuous self‑culture can procure for man. As Rhys Davids puts it, "The Buddhist Heaven is not death and it is not on death but it is on a virtuous life here and now that the Pitakas lavish those terms of ecstatic description which they apply to Arhat‑ship as the goal of the excellent way and to Nirvana as one aspect of it."

 

(h) But is there no future bliss, no future heaven beyond the virtuous life here and now for those who have attained Nirvana? This was a question, which often puzzled Buddhists and they often pressed their great master for a categorical answer. Gautama was an agnostic and to all questions about a future life after the attainment of Nirvana his reply was: "I do not know. It is not given me to know."

 

Malunkyaputta pressed this question on Gautama and desired to know definitively if the perfect Buddha did or did not live beyond the death. Gautama inquired, "Have I said `come Malunkyaputta and be my disciple, I shall teach thee whether the world is everlasting or not everlasting?" "That thou last not said, sire", replied Malunkyaputta. "Then", said Gautama, "do not press the inquiry."

 

Once king Prasenajit of Koshala during a journey between his two chief towns' Saketa and Shravasti met the nun Khema renowned for her wisdom. The king paid his respect to her and said, " Venderable lady, does and perfect one exist after death?" She replied, "The Exalted one, O great king, has not declared that the perfect one exists after death." "Then does the perfect on not exist after death, Venerable lady?" inquired the king. But Khema still replied, " This also, O great King, the Exalted one has not declared that the perfect one does not exist after death."

 

This shows that Gautam's religion was a perfect agnosticism, which did not and could not look beyond Nirvana. We know that according to Gautam's theory there is nothing permanent in man, that every particle mental, spiritual or physical, perishes every moment and new aggregates come into existence by reason of the influence left by the karma or action of the former aggregates. Everything is momentary, and if a man leads a perfectly holy life he would not collect new karma which will lead him into new birth; and therefore the aggregates of which he is composed come to an end without the new aggregates coming into existence. So although Gautama might not have said in so many words that the future state after Nirvana is a state of annihilation, still the natural conclusion is that the state must be that of total annihilation. In an article in the Lucifer of march 1874, Mr. G. R. Meads tries to save Buddhism from the charge of propounding a theory of annihilation and quotes a passage by Col. Olcott sanctioned by the High Priest of Ceylon. He says that although soul according to Buddhism is impermanent and changeable, still there is in man the permanent part called spirit. He says, "Buddhism does not deny the impressible nature of an ultimate spiritual reality in man, of a true transcendental subject, of an immortal changeless self." Now this self or transcendental subject has been know in all Indian philosophy by the name of Atma. With reference to Brahma Gautama has distinctly said in Tevijjia Sutta that the talk of the Brahmins about that Brahma is foolish talk and that there existed no such state as Brahma with reference to Brahma, I have already quoted Gautama as saying that it is heresy to say that there is any such thing as Brahma Soul and spirit; Atma and Brahama are all identical in Indian philosophies and an attempt to put into the mouth of Gautama views which he never maintained is fruitless attempt.

 

(i) If a man does not attain, while he is living, the state of Nirvana he is liable to future birth. Gautama did not believe in the existence of the soul, but nevertheless the theory of transmigration of souls was too deeply implanted in the Hindu mind to be eradicated and Gautama therefore adhered to the theory of transmigration without accepting the theory of soul! But if there is no soul, what is it that undergoes transmigration? The reply is given in the Buddhist doctrine of karma, which in its result corresponds to the Jaina and Hindu doctrines of Karma but in its foundation is entirely different from them. The doctrine is that karma or the doing of a man cannot die but must necessarily lead to its legitimate result. And when a sentient being dies a new being is produced according to the karma of the being that is dead. The cause which produces the new being is Trishna (thirst) or upadan (grasping). Sensation originates in the contact of the organs of sense with the exterior world; from sensations springs a desire to satisfy a felt want, a yearning, a thirst. From thirst results a grasping after objects to satisfy that desire, that grasping stage of mind causes a new being not, of course, a new soul, but a new set of skandh, a new body with mental tendencies and capabilities). The karma of the previous set of skandh or sentient being then determines the locality, nature and future of the new set of skandh or the new sentient being. Gautama said that in his philosophy four things are incomprehensible. The first is the effects of karma. And from what I have said just it is plain that the doctrine of karma as propounded by Gautama is an incomprehensible mystery.

 

(j) But the theory of transmigration was not the only theory, which Gautama accepted from the ancient religion and adopted, in a modified form into his own religion. The whole of the Hindu pantheon of the day was similarly accepted and similarly modified to suit his cardinal idea, the supreme efficacy of a holy life. The innumerable Gods of Rig‑Veda were recognized but they were not supreme. Brahma, the supreme deity of the Upanishads, was recognized but was not supreme. Holy life alone was supreme and in preaching that doctrine. Buddha did an immense good; he raised goodness attainable by man above the gods and nature powers of Brahmins.

 

(k) How did Gautama deal with the caste system of the Brahmins? He respected a Brahman or Shramana., but he respected him for his virtue and learning, not for his caste which he altogether ignored. When two Brahmin youths, Vasishtha and Bharadwaja, began

 

(j) But the theory of transmigration was not the only theory, which Gautam accepted from the ancient religion and adopted, in a modified form into his own religion. The whole of the Hindu pantheon of the day was similarly accepted and similarly modified to suit his cardinal idea, the supreme efficacy of holy life. The innumerable gods of Rig‑Veda were recognized but they were not supreme. Brahma, the supreme deity of the Upanishads, was recognized but was not supreme. Holy life alone was supreme and in preaching that doctrine Buddha did an immense good; he raised goodness attainable by man above the Gods and nature-powers of Brahmins.

 

(k) How did Gautama deal with the caste system of the Brahmins? He respected a Brahman, Sherman or Arhat, but he respected him for his virtue and learning, not for his caste, which he altogether ignored. When two Brahmin youths, Vasishtha and Bharadwaja, began to quarrel on the question "How does one become a Brahmin?" and came to Gautama for his virtue and learning, not for his caste which he altogether ignored. When two Brahmin youths, Vasishtha and Bharadwaja, began to quarrel on the question "How does one become a Brahmin?" and came to Gautama for his opinion Gautama delivered to them a discourse in which he emphatically ignored caste and held that a man's distinguishing mark was his work, not his birth.

 

(I) Gautama not only expressed his pronounced disapprobation against the Hindu case system he also exclaimed against the Vedic rites, which were practiced according to the injections of the ceremonial works. In place of such rites he enjoined a benevolent life and conquest of all passions and desires, and he recommended a retirement from the world as the most efficacious means for securing this end. The recommendation was followed and led to the Buddhist monastic system.

 

(m) And lastly, although Gautama himself disapproved of philosophical discussion, a system of Buddhist philosophy soon arose on the lines laid down by him; it ignored the existence of soul and maintained living creatures to be only assemblages of skandhas or aggregates; it knew of no state of future existence for those who attained Nirvana.

 

(n) What was it then that the Buddhists worshipped? What was the concrete form which Gautam's religion took in its early career before vast monasteries and an unwieldy priesthood replaced the primitive faith? What was the actual form of worship, which drew and engaged the multitude, which could not all have practiced or worshipped the abstract idea of a holy life? The reply is simple. For centuries, the people worshipped holiness and virtue as typified in the life of Gautama. They revered the memories of the great Teacher, they worshipped his invisible presence. The sculptures at Sanchi, at Amaravati, Barhut and other places represent homage paid to tree, to serpent, to the wheel or to the umbrella, but in every case the object represents the presence of Buddha.

 

    (o) The moral precepts of Buddha are so well known that we shall pass over them and go at once to the history of Buddhism after Gautam's death. According to the Pali Scriptures, Buddha's death took place in 543 B.C. but the European scholars put it in 477 B.C. We are told in Chullavagga that on the death of Gautama, the venerable Maha Kashyapa proposed, "Let us chant the Dhamma and Vinaya" The proposal was accepted and 499 Arhat were selected for the purpose and Ananda, the faithful friend and follower of Gautama, completed the number 500. And so they went up to Rajagrha to chant together the Dhamma and Vinaya. Upali, who was barber before, was questioned as the great authority on Vinaya and Ananda, the friend of Gautama, was questioned as the authority on Dhamma. This was the Council of Rajagrha held in the year of Gautam's death to settle the sacred text and fix it on the memory by chanting it together.

 

A century after the death of Gautama, a second council of 700 was held at Vaisali to settle disputes between the more and the less strict followers of Buddhism. It condemned a system of ten indulgences, which had grown up, but it led to the separation of the Buddhists into two hostile parties who afterwards split into 18 sects. During the next 200 years Buddhism spread over northern India. About 257 B.C. Ashoka, the king of Magadha, became a zealous convert to this faith. He founded many religious houses and his kingdom is called the land of monasteries.

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

1. The earlier draft of the lecture here says: "The biography of Buddha is so well known that it is not at al necessary to refer to it." But Gandhi seems to have changed his mind afterwards. Hence the immediately forthcoming narration of Buddha's life‑story.

 

2. What are meant here are three increasingly advanced stages of spiritual development.

 

3. That the Buddhist council allegedly convened by Kanishka owed allegiance to Northern Buddhism is not a settled point.

 

4 The statement is somewhat obscure. May be Gandhi is here identifying `metaphysics' with ` ontology' and maintaining that early Buddhism in general and the Abhidhamma Pitakas in particular attached little importance to ontological investigations.

 

5. Abhidhammathasangaho, a standard manual of Theravada philosophy, would enumerate these 28 forms of matter as follows:

 

            1‑4 Pathvidhatu, Apodhatu, Taijodhatu, Vayodhatu,  (collectively known as Bhootrupan.

 

5‑9 Chakkhu, Sotan, Dhanan, Jivah, Kayo (collectively known as Godhar

 

10‑14 Gandho, Rakho, Photaban (collectively known as Gocharroopan.

 

15‑16 Purisatan, Ithitan (collectively known as Bhavroopan.

 

17 Hridyavathu (i.e. Hridyaroopan)

 

18 Jeevitindryan  (Jeevitroopan)

 

19 Akasdhatu, (i.e. Parichaidrupan)

 

20‑21 Kayavinti, Vachivinti (i.e. Vintiroopan)

 

22‑28 Roopas Lahuta, Muduta, Kambanta (collectively known as Vikarroopan),

 

(Roopras upcheyo, Santati, Jarta, Avichta  (collectively known as Lakkhan.roopan)

 

However, Abhidhammathasangaho tell us that Phottaban is not a separate form of matter but stands for the collectivity of Pathvidhatu and Taijodhatu, Vayodhatu. On the other hand, it enumerates an additional form of matter called Kavleecharo aharo i.e. Aharroopan ‑ meaning `the food consumed'. Hence the number of forms remains 28 in both lists.

 

6. In the language of abhidhammathasngaho, they will be Atvadupadanan, Kanupadanan, Dithupadanan, and Seelavyatupadanan.

 

7. In the Abhidhammathasangaho, these seven `jewels' are described under the title Vodhipakkhiysangho and as follows

 

1.       Chataro Satipadvana

2.       Chataro Sampadhano

3.       Chataro Idhipada

4.       Panch balani

5.       Panchindryani

6.       Satbojhaga

7.       Atth Mangangani

 

Gandhi's separate enumeration of these seven also follows that of this text. However, instead of saying "The five moral powers and five organs of spiritual sense are faith etc." he should say " The five moral powers, five organs of spiritual sense and seven kinds of wisdom are faith etc." again, this list beginning with `faith' should contain 9 rather than 8 entries, an English equivalent of Prgya (s.k.t.) coming after contemplation. The fact is that `faith, energy, thought, contemplation and Prgya are both the five moral powers and the five organs of spiritual sense while the seven kinds of wisdom are `energy, thought, contemplation, investigation, joy, repose, serenity.'

 

8. In the language of Abhidhammathasangaho Dassanyojnani.