Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cut And Thrust

Weapons (ayudha) are instruments used for protection and for killing. Some of the many weapons mentioned in the Tipitaka include the spear (setti), battle axe (vasi), club (mugara) and trident (suula). The most characteristic weapons of the time were the sword (khagga) and the bow (dhana) and arrow (sara). The standard sword was 33 fingers long (Ja.I,273). Arrows could have heads with a variety of shapes (M.I,429) and the heads were sometimes smeared with poison (J.V,231).
To practice the first Precept, the Buddha said, required one to ‘refrain from taking life, to lay aside the stick and the sword and live with care, kindness and compassion for all living creatures’ (D.I,4). Sometimes he used the word ‘weapon’ to mean threats, coercion and violence and killing. Probably using an idiom of the time, he said of people engaged in violent argument that they were ‘wounding each other with the weapon of the tongue’ (M.I,320). On another occasion he said that a person with a heart full of love cannot be harmed by, fire, poison or weapons (A.V,342).
People often expressed surprise at how well the Buddha's disciples were trained without pressure or threats. King Pasenedi once said, ‘I am a noble anointed king with the power to execute, fine or exile whoever deserves it. And yet when I am in council people will often interrupt me. Even if I tell them to wait until I have finished speaking, still they interrupt me. But here I notice that when the Buddha is teaching to several hundred people there is not even the sound of someone coughing or clearing their throat. Once, when the Buddha was teaching the Dhamma to several hundred people someone did clear their throat. And one of his companions in the holy life nudged him with his knee as said, “Quiet, sir, make no noise. The Lord is teaching us Dhamma.” Then I thought, “It is wonderful, truly marvelous, how an assembly could be so well disciplined without stick or sword.” In fact, I know of no other assembly so well disciplined’ (M.II,122).
The Buddha has never been depicted holding a weapon, a few Mahayana bodhisattvas are, many Tantric deities are, although these are only symbolic.


Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear David,
Send me your new email address. I've misplaced it.

Konchog said...

It should be mentioned that the weapons held by Tantric deities are specifically symbolic only, representing that which destroys the enemies of hatred, greed and ignorance.

Vasile Andreica said...

Bhante, I got the pdf of "Good Question, Good Answer" from its dedicated site and I'm seriously considering translation, first to be put on a dedicated blog and thereafter maybe published in book form by DharmaLion Publishing, which is ran by a friend of mine, Jodo Shinshu priest (http://www.dharmalionpub.com/).
Please inform me of the terms and conditions for doing this. My e-mail address is vasile_andreica@yahoo.com.

Shieldwulf said...

Bhante, several hundred people listening to a talk and only one recorded instance of a person clearing his throat? I think it is more of a metaphorical praise of sorts, than planted in reality.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Shieldwulf,
Only one person clearing their throat while King Pasenadsi happened to be there. Sounds quite possible to me – and thus quite realistic.

kumala said...

Dear Sir: My friend Jim Dixon of Berkeley California is searching for a means of contacting his friend and teacher Vimla Thakar. I note that you have visted with her recently and wonder if you might have contact info available.
Thanks for your trouble,
Dr. Gary Natahn Agertenberg

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Kumala,
I am out of Singapore right now and will be back on Sunday. When I return I will check my address book and give you Vimalaji’s address.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Kumala,
I have checked and found that I have misplaced the card I had with Vimalaji's address on it. However, if your friend goes to Mt Abu and asks around he will easily get the place. Most people know Vimalaji. Sorry I can't be of further help.