1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Aryan Buddhism

Discussion in 'Religion & Spirituality' started by Plantagenet, 13 February 2014.

  1. Plantagenet

    Plantagenet Heroic Member

    To add some more material, one often hears the claim that the Buddha was a social reformer who wished to break down caste barriers and do away with hierarchy, a secularist who was decidedly against the Vedic traditions, etc...in short, the vision of the Buddha fostered by leftists and progressives who wish to make the Buddha in their own image. Like most of the popular images of the Buddha and Buddhism promoted by these types, it has no real basis in reality as I hope the following content will make clear:

    *One thing to consider is that while a racial element isn't necessarily to be read in what follows regarding caste, it is a fact that in India, particularly in ancient times, the top two castes of the Brahmins and the Kshatriya were more Indo-European racially. Despite the confusion of the castes and the loss of the original Indian Aryan racial types by and large, even today the upper castes are where there are to be found more purely Caucasoid features (the so-called "Nordindid" of racial anthropological literature), fairer skin, instances of light eyes, and R1 Y-DNA. Nakuul Mehta is a good example.

    The Buddha and Caste by Koenraad Elst

    Indians and Westerners who know Buddhism through Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and other modern pamphlet literature, sometimes believe that the Buddha started a movement of social reform, mobilizing against caste and recruiting among low-caste people. As against this, Chinese and Japanese Buddhists who have studied their religion only through its source texts, think that Buddhism was an elite movement, recruiting among the upper castes and patronized by kings and magnates. We will argue that these believers are right, while the neo-Buddhists in India and outside enthusiasts in the West are wrong.

    A good place to start is the Buddha's use of the term Ārya. Buddhists claim that when the Buddha lived and taught, the term Ārya had a general psychological-ethical meaning “noble”, a character trait larger than and not dependent on any specific cultural or religious tradition or social class (let alone linguistic or racial group). It is used in the famous Buddhist expressions, the “four noble truths” (catvāri-ārya-satyāni) and the “noble eightfold path” (ārya-astāngika-mārga). However, we must look at the historical data without assuming modern and sectarian preferences.

    Firstly, we must take into account the possibility that the Buddha too used the term Ārya in the implied sense of “Vedic”, broadly conceived. It no longer meant “Paurava”, the ethnic horizon of the Veda-composing tribes (whereas in Anatolian and Iranian it would retain this ethnic meaning, “fellow citizens” against “foreigners”, “us” against “them”), but in the post-Buddha Manu Smrti and in general Hindu usage, it would retain the association with the Vedic tradition, hence the meaning “civilized” in the sense of “observing Vedic norms and customs”. The Buddha too may have conceived of his personal practice as restored-Vedic and more Vedic than the “decadent” formalism around him. “Back to the roots” is of all ages, and it may have affected the Buddha as well. What speaks in favour of this thesis is that the Buddha himself, far from being a revolutionary, appealed to the “ancient way” which he himself trod, and which “the Buddhas of the past” had also trodden.

    After Vedic tradition got carried away into what he deemed non-essentials, he intended to restore what he conceived as the original Vedic spirit. After all, the anti-Vedicism and anti-Brahmanism now routinely attributed to him, are largely in the eye of the modern beholder. Though later Brahmin-born Buddhist thinkers polemicized against Brahmin institutions and the idolizing of the Veda, the Buddha himself didn’t mind attributing to the Vedic gods Indra and Brahma his recognition as the Buddha and his mission to teach. His disciples took the worship of the Vedic gods as far as Japan.

    As Luis Gómez [1999: “Noble lineage and august demeanour. Religious and social meanings of Aryan virtue”, in Bronkhorst & Deshpande: Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia, Harvard, p.132-133] points out, the Buddhist usage of Ārya is subject to “ambiguities”, e.g. in the Mahāvibhāsā: “The Buddha said, ‘What the noble ones say is the truth, what the other say is not true. And why is this? The noble ones […] understand things as they are, the common folk do not understand. […] Furthermore, they are called noble truths because they are possessed by those who own the wealth and assets of the noble ones. Furthermore, they are called noble truths because they are possessed by those who are conceived in the womb of a noble person.’”

    At the end of his life, the Buddha unwittingly got involved in a political intrigue when Varsakāra, a minister of the Magadha kingdom, asked him for the secret of the strength of the republican states. Among the seven unfailing factors of strength of a society, he included “sticking to ancient laws and traditions” and “maintaining sacred sites and honouring ancient rituals”. [Dīgha Nikāya 2:73] So, contrary to his modern image as a “revolutionary”, the Buddha’s view of the good society was close to Confucian and indeed Brahmanical conservatism. Far from denouncing “empty ritual”, he praised it as a factor of social harmony and strength. He wanted people to maintain the ancestral worship of the Vedic gods, go to the Vedic sites of pilgrimage and celebrate the Vedic festivals. In this light, his understanding of Ārya may have been closer to the Brahminical interpretation of the term as “Vedic” than nowadays usually assumed.

    This even applies to the Buddha’s view of caste. Of most of the hundreds of men recruited to the Buddha’s monastic order, we know the provenance, hence the caste. More than 80% of the hundreds of men he recruited, were from the upper castes. More than 40% were Brahmins. The Buddha himself was a Ksatriya, son of the President-for-life of the proud Sākya tribe, and member of its senate. His lay patrons, who had their personnel or their feudal subordinates build monasteries for the Buddha, included most of the kings and magnates of the nether Ganga region. Indeed, this patronage is the main reason why Buddhism succeeded in becoming a world religion where most other contemporaneous sects dwindled and disappeared.

    The successor-Buddha prophesied for the future, the Maitreya, is to be born in a Brahman family, according to the Buddha himself. When the Buddha died, his ashes were divided and sent to eight cities, where the elites had staked their claims purely in caste terms: “He was a Kshatriya and we are Kshatriyas, so we are entitled to his ashes.” Clearly, his disciples, after undergoing his teachings for forty-five years, were not in the least hesitant to display their caste in a Buddhist context par excellence.

    In his study of caste and the Buddha (“Buddhism, an atheistic and anti-caste religion? Modern ideology and historical reality of the ancient Indian Bauddha Dharma”, Journal of Religious Culture, no.50 (2001)), the German Indologist Edmund Weber quotes the biographical source-text Lalitavistara and concludes: “The standpoint which caste a Buddha should belong to has not been revised in Buddhism up to the present day. It is dogmatised in the Lalitavistara in the following way: a Bodhisattva can by no means come from a lower or even mixed caste: ‘After all Bodhisattvas were not born in despised lineage, among pariahs, in families of pipe or cart makers, or mixed castes.’ Instead, in perfect harmony with the Great Sermon, it was said that: ‘The Bodhisattvas appear only in two kinds of lineage, the one of the brahmanas and of the warriors (kshatriya).’”

    A word returning frequently in Buddhist texts is “nobly-born”. Buddhists were proud to say this of their Guru, whose noble birth from the direct descendants of Manu Vaivasvata was an endless object of praise. Birth was very important to the Buddha, which is why his disciples wrote a lot of hagiographical fantasy around his own birth, with miracles attending his birth from a queen. The Buddha himself said it many times, e.g. of the girls who should not be molested: they should be those of noble birth, as distinct from the base-born women who in the Buddha’s estimation were not equally delicate.

    The Buddha also didn’t believe in gender equality. For long he refused to recruit women into his monastic order, saying that nuns would shorten its life-span by five hundred years. At long last he relented when his mother was widowed and other relatives, nobly-born Kshatriyas like the Buddha himself, insisted. Nepotism wasn’t alien to him either. But he made this institution of female monastics conditional upon the acceptance that even the most seasoned nun was subordinate to even the dullest and most junior monk. Some Theravada countries have even re-abolished the women’s monastic order, and it is only under Western feminist influence that Thailand is gradually reaccepting nuns.

    The Buddha’s ascent to Awakening was predetermined by physical marks he was born with, according to his disciples. Buddhist scripture makes much of the Buddha’s noble birth in the Solar lineage, as a relative of Rāma. The Buddha himself claimed to be a reincarnation of Rama, in the Buddhist retelling of the Rāmāyana in the Jātakas. He also likened himself to the mightily-striding Visnu. Later Hindus see both Rama and the Buddha as incarnations of Vishnu, but the Buddha started it all by claiming to by Rama’s reincarnation.

    To play devil’s advocate, we could even extend our skepticism of the Buddha’s progressive image to an involvement in the racist understanding of Ārya. Some pre-WW2 racists waxed enthusiastic about descriptions by contemporaries of the Buddha as “tall and light-skinned”. [Schuman, H.W., 1989: The Historical Buddha, London: Arkana, p.194] That would seem to make him “Aryan” in the once-common sense of “Nordic”.

    Nowadays, some scholars including Michael Witzel [on his own Indo-Eurasian Research yahoo list] suggest that the Buddha’s Śākya tribe may have been of Iranian origin (related to Śaka, “Scythian”), which would explain his taller stature and lighter skin in comparison with his Gangetic fellow-men. It would also explain their fierce endogamy, i.e. their systematic practice of cousin marriage. Indeed, the Buddha himself had only four great-grandparents because his paternal grandfather was the brother of his maternal grandmother while his maternal grandfather was the brother of his paternal grandmother. The Brahminical lawbooks prohibited this close endogamy (gotras are exogamous) and, like the Catholic Church, imposed respect for "prohibited degrees of consanguinity"; but consanguineous marriages were common among Iranians. (They were also common among Dravidians, a lead not yet fully exploited by neo-Buddhists claiming the Buddha as “pre-Aryan”.) The Śākya tribe justified the practice through pride in their direct pure descent from the Ārya patriarch Manu Vaivasvata, but this could be a made-up explanation adapted to the Indian milieu and hiding their Iranian origin (which they themselves too could have forgotten), still visible in their physical profile. So, that would make the Buddha an “Aryan” in the historically most justified ethnic use of the term, viz. as “Iranian”.

    At any rate, nothing in Buddhist history justifies the modern romance of Buddhism as a movement for social reform. Everywhere it went, Buddhism accepted the social mores prevalent in that country, be it Chinese imperial-centralistic bureaucracy, Japanese militaristic feudalism, or indeed Hindu caste society. Buddhism even accepted the religious mores of the people (a rare exception is the abolition of a widow’s burial along with her husband in Mongol society effected by the third Dalai Lama), it only recruited monks from among them and made these do the Buddhist practices. In “caste-ridden India”, the Buddhist emperor Aśoka dared to go against the existing mores when he prohibited animal-slaughter on specific days, but even he made no move to abolish caste.

    Buddhism wasn’t more casteist than what went before. It didn’t bring caste to India anymore than the Muslims or the Britons did. Caste is an ancient Indian institution of which the Buddha was a part. But he, its personal beneficiary, didn’t think of changing it, just as his followers in other countries didn’t think of changing the prevailing system.

    Evola on Buddha and Caste

    It is not out of place to consider another point. The brahmana caste is habitually thought of in the West as a "sacerdotal" caste. This is true only up to a certain point. In the Vedic origins the type of Brahman or "sacrificer" bears little resemblance to that of the "priest" as our contemporaries think of him: he was, rather, a figure both virile and awful and, as we have said, a kind of visible incarnation in the human world of the superhuman (bhu-deva). Furthermore, we often find in the early texts a point where the distinction between the brahman—the "sacerdotal" caste—and the ksatram or rajam—the warrior or regal caste—did not exist; a feature that we see in the earliest stages of all traditional civilizations, including the Greek, Roman, and German. The two types only began to differ in a later period, this being another aspect of the process of regression that we have mentioned. Besides, there are many who maintain that in Aryan India the doctrine of the atma was originally confined almost exclusively to the warrior caste, and that the doctrine of brahman as an undifferentiated cosmic force was formulated mainly by the sacerdotal caste. There is probably some truth in this view. In any case, it is a fact that in many texts we see a king or a ksatriya (a member of the warrior nobility) vying in knowledge with and sometimes even instructing members of the Brahman caste; and that, according to tradition, primordial knowledge was handed down, starting from Iksvaku, in regal succession; the same "solar dynasty" (surya-varhsa) that we mentioned in connection with the Buddha's family, also figures here. We should have the following picture: in the Indo-Aryan post-Vedic world, while the warrior caste held a more realistic and virile view and put emphasis on the doctrine of the atma as the unchangeable and immortal principle of human personality, the Brahman caste was becoming little by little, "sacerdotal" and, instead of facing the reality, was moving among ritual and stereotyped exegeses and speculations. Simultaneously, in another way, the character of the first Vedic period was becoming overgrown with a tropical and chaotic vegetation of myths and popular religious images, even of semidevotional practices seeking the attainment of this, that, or the other divine "rebirth" on the basis of views on reincarnation and transmigration that, as we have said, had already infiltrated into the less illuminated Indo-Aryan mentalities. Leaving yoga apart, it is worth noting that it was the warrior nobility—the ksatram—that furnished the principal support not only of the Sarhkhya system, which is regarded as representing a clear reaction against speculative "idealism," but also of Jainism, the so-called doctrine of the conquerors (from jina, "conqueror"), which laid emphasis, though with a tendency to extremism, on necessity for ascetic action.

    All this is necessary for our understanding of the historical place of Buddhism and of the reasons of its most characteristic views.

    From the point of view of universal history, Buddhism arose in a period marked by a crisis running through a whole series of traditional civilizations. This crisis sometimes resolved itself positively thanks to opportune reforms and revisions, and sometimes negatively with the effect of inducing further phases of regression or spiritual decadence. This period, called by some the "climacteric" of civilization, falls approximately between the eighth and the fifth centuries b.c. It is in this period that the doctrines of Lao-tzu and Kung Fu-tzu (Confucius) were taking root in China, representing a renewal of elements of the most ancient tradition on the metaphysical plane on the one hand, and on the ethical-social on the other. In the same period it is said that "Zarathustra" appeared, through whom a similar return took place in the Persian tradition. And in India the same function was performed by Buddhism, also representing a reaction and, at the same time, a re-elevation. On the other hand, as we have often pointed out elsewhere, it seems that in the West processes of decadence mainly prevailed. The period of which we are now talking is, in fact, that in which the ancient aristocratic and hieratic Hellas declined; in which the religion of Isis along with other popular and spurious forms of mysticism superseded the solar and regal Egyptian civilization; it is that in which Israelite prophetism started the most dangerous ferments of corruption and subversion in the Mediterranean world. The only positive counterpart in the West seems in fact to have been Rome, which was born in that period and which for a certain cycle was a creation of universal importance, animated in high measure by an Olympian and heroic spirit.

    Coming to Buddhism, it was not conceived, as many who unilaterally take the Brahman point of view like to claim, as an antitraditional revolution, similar, in its own way, to what the Lutheran heresy was to Catholicism; (1) and still less as a "new" doctrine, the result of an isolated speculation that succeeded in taking root. It represented, rather, a particular adaptation of the original Indo-Aryan tradition, an adaptation that kept in mind the prevailing conditions and limited itself accordingly, while freshly and differently formulating preexistent teachings: at the same time Buddhism closely adhered to the ksatriya (in Pali, khattiya) spirit, the spirit of the warrior caste. We have already seen that the Buddha was born of the most ancient Aryan nobility; but this is not the end of the matter, as a text informs us of the particular aversion nourished by his people for the Brahman caste: "The Sakiya" (Skt: Sakya)—we read—"do not esteem the priests, they do not respect the priests, they do not honour the priests, they do not venerate the priests, they do not hold the priests of account." The same tendency is maintained by Prince Siddhattha, but with the aim of restoring, of reaffirming, the pure will for the unconditioned, to which in the most recent times the "regal" line had often been more faithful than the priestly caste that was already divided within itself.

    (1) This is the point of view held by R. Guénon, Man and His Becoming According to the Vedanta, with which we cannot—"according to truth"—agree. More correct are the views of A. K. Coomaraswamy, Hinduism and Buddhism, although in this book is apparent the tendency to emphasize only what in Buddhism is valuable from the brahmana standpoint, with disregard of the specific functional meaning he possesses as compared to Hindu tradition.

    There are, besides, many signs that the Buddhist doctrine laid no claim to originality but regarded itself as being, in a way, universal and having a traditional character in a superior sense. The Buddha himself says, for example: "Thus it is: those who, in times past, were saints, Perfect Awakened Ones, these sublime men also have rightly directed their disciples to such an end, as now disciples are rightly directly here by me; and those who in future times will be saints, Perfect Awakened Ones, also these sublime men will rightly direct their disciples, as now disciples are rightly directed here by me." The same is repeated in regard to purification of thought, word, and action; it is repeated about right knowledge of decay and death, of their origin, of their cessation and of the way that leads to their cessation; and it is repeated about the doctrine of the "void" or "emptiness," suffnata. The doctrine and the "divine life" proclaimed by Prince Siddhattha are repeatedly called "timeless," akaliko. "Ancient saints, Perfect Awakened Ones" are spoken of, and a traditional theme occurs in connection with a place (here called "the Gorge of the Seer") where a whole series of Paccekabuddhas are supposed to have vanished in the past, a series, that is, of beings who, by their own unaided and isolated efforts, have reached the superhuman state and the same perfect awakening as did Prince Siddhattha himself. Those who are "without faith, without devotion, without tradition" are reproached. A repeated saying is: "What for the world of the sages is not, of that I say: "It is not', and what for the world of sages is, of that I say: 'It is.'" An interesting point is the mention in a text of "extinction," the aim of the Buddhist ascesis, as something that "leads back to the origins." This is supported by the symbolism of a great forest where "an ancient path, a path of men of olden times" is discovered. Following it, the Buddha finds a royal city; and he asks that it should be restored. In another text the significance of this is explained by the Buddha in a most explicit way: "I have seen the ancient path, the path trodden by all the Perfected Awakened Ones of olden times. This is the path I follow." (2)

    (2) It is interesting that according to the myth, Buddha attained the awakening under the Tree of Life placed in the navel of the earth where also all the previous Buddhas reached transcendent knowledge. This is a reference to the "Center of the World," which is to be considered, in its way, as a chrism of traditionality and initiatic of orthodoxy whenever a contact with the origins was restored.

    It is quite clear, then, that in Buddhism we are not dealing with a negation of the principle of spiritual authority but rather with a revolt against a caste that claimed to monopolize this authority while its representatives no longer preserved its dignity and had lost their qualifications.

    Buddhism as Reformed Brahmanism

    Reproduction of an article by the insightful blogger "The Zennist" followed by a link to an article by Christian Lindtner, also mentioned in the blog post:

    Some modern scholars like Karl Werner and others have argued, and with good reasons, that Buddhism should be treated as “reformed Brahmanism”; not just some new religion on the block of ancient India, but one instead that cut away the heavy overgrowth of vines that for a long time hid the ancient Vedic path to the absolute.

    For those of us who have been frequent readers of the Pali canon there is much to support the theory that Buddhism, in fact, is reformed Brahmanism. Accepting this theory as plausible, not only does this theory help towards getting a clearer and more accurate picture of Buddhism, but it lays bare or rather makes explicit what is often implicit in Buddhism: that Buddhism is a path to the transcendent. This is clear in the last chapter of the Dhammapada, The Brâhmin chapter, consisting of forty-one verses and other places like in the Sutta-Nipata, in particular, the Vasettha Sutta which is about the correct definition of a Brahmin. In other passages from the Sutta-Nipata we learn that a Brahmin “has transcended the limits of mundane existence” (795) which is exactly what awakened Buddhists do. In the Itivuttaka (IV, i) the Buddha even declares that he is a Brahmin!

    "Monks, I am a brahmin, one to ask a favor of, ever clean-handed, wearing my last body, incomparable physician and surgeon. Ye are my own true sons, born of my mouth, born of dhamma, created by dhamma, my spiritual heirs, not carnal heirs."

    There is much more evidence to support the claim that Buddhism is reformed Brahmanism than I can present in this current blog. However, I will add this. The Sanskrit scholar Christian Lindtner, in a journal article entitled "From Brahmanism to Buddhism" (Asian Philosophy, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1999), argues that canonical Buddhism should be seen as reformed Brahmanism. The following is from his introduction.

    "In earlier as well as later Indian Buddhist sources we can often read, that the sramana Gautama is identified with Brahmâ (m.), or Mahâbrahmâ, that his Dharma is identified with Brahman (n.), that he and his monks—those that follow the true mârga—are the true brahmans, in other words that the ratnatraya of Buddhism is the true form of Brahmanism. Furthermore, Brahman and Nirvana are used as synonyms (not just in Buddhist texts), the Buddha is said to know the Veda(s), and the purpose of following his teaching about Dharma (dharmadesanâ) is to become one with Brahman.

    In a passage in the old Suttanipata (II.7) some wealthy brahmans ask Bhagavat: "Do brahmans now, Gotama, live in conformity with the brahmanical lore of the brahmans of old?" "No, brahmans, brahmans now do not live in comfort with the brahmanical lore of the brahmans of old." "Then let the venerable Gotama tell us about the brahmanical lore of the brahmans of old, if it is not too much trouble for him." "Then listen, brahmans, pay careful attention. I shall tell you."

    There are, of course, numerous scriptural passages to the same effect: that Gautama was considered (and considered himself) an authority on matters of Brahman, that he, in other words, was considered as a Vedic scholar. The Buddha, in short, is the true Brahmâ, who teaches about the true Brahman to his disciples, the true brahmans. If this is historically true, one can in this sense claim that ancient Buddhism is reformed Brahmanism."

    In the rest of the article, Lindtner goes into quite a bit of detail making his case that the transcendent of Brahmanism and Buddhism are essentially one and the same.

    As with most good reformations, the Buddha’s included, they attempt to bring back into focus what has been lost for various reasons. Gautama’s reformation did just that, it brought back into focus the transcendent and the path to reach it. The Buddha in one Sutta tells Ananda that the “Noble Eightfold Path is the designation for the vehicle of Brahma (brahma-yana), for the vehicle of Dhamma” (S. v. 5).

    Those who wish to argue to the contrary, that Buddhism was altogether anti-brahmanical really haven’t much evidence on their side when the canon is put under examination. There is no real evidence to suggest the Buddha was out to stomp down Brahmanism. He was only out to reform it.

    Source: http://zennist.typepad.com/zenfiles/2011/03/buddhism-is-reformed-brahmanism.html

    Christian Lindtner's article "Buddhism as Brahmanism":

    Last edited: 2 February 2017
    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. Plantagenet

    Plantagenet Heroic Member

    Figured I'd share these interesting articles. The first one here is a refutation of the notion that Buddhism is atheistic or repudiated the gods and that Buddhism was a social reformation that attacked caste:

    Buddhism: An Atheistic and Anti-Caste Religion? Modern Ideology and Historical Reality of the Ancient Indian Bauddha Dharma


    A similar article dealing with birth and caste in Buddhism:

    Buddhism and the Caste System


    A particularly interesting segment from the above article dealing specifically with the racial or lineal aspect of Buddha's thinking:

    The Buddha condemned miscegenation and upheld the Virtue' of caste blood purity.

    In the Assalayana sutta the Buddha explains that when a mare is mated with an ass a hybrid new jati--a mule--is born. From this passage it appears that the Buddha did not approve of mixed marriages. The Buddha concludes:

    First you (Assalayana) went about birth, leaving birth, you went about mantras (he who knows and can recite the Vedas), leaving mantras you arrived at the purity of four castes which is just I lay down.

    Here the Buddha was referring undoubtedly to purity of (caste) blood and not moral purity. And purity of blood is the most essential features of jati vada. In the Anguttaranikaya iii, 221 f., the Buddha severely criticizes the Brahmanas of his days for contracting marriages indiscriminately with women of other castes as it vitiates the purity of their blood. He observed:

    In former times brahmanas approached only a brahmani (a Brahmana lady), never a non-brahmani; now they go to the brahmani and non-brahmani alike.

    The Buddha adds that dogs only mate with dogs and not with any other species suggesting thereby that even dogs maintain the purity of blood better than the Brahmanas.

    Again the Anguttara CXCII (iii, 223 ff.) re-emphasizes that a true Brahmana should be well born on both mother's and father's sides (ubhato sujato matito ca pitito), pure in descent as far back as seven generations (yava sattama pitamahayuga). It further goes to describe five types of Brahmanas: (i) Brahma-like; (ii) deva-like; (iii) those who observe the maryada (the limits of morality, propriety, rule or custom); (iv) those who violate the rule of morality (sambhinnamariyadam) and (v) Candala like. The description of the last two types of Brahmanas is very significant.

    (a) Violator of the rules of morality-Brahmana: Such Brahmana goes to a Brahmani, the daughter of a Ksatriya, Vaisya, Sudra, Candala, Vena, Rathakara, and Pukkusa.

    (b) Brahmana-Candala. Such a Brahmana is one who makes his living rightfully (dhammena) or unlawfully (adhammena) from farming, trade, cattle-breeding, archery, as State official, from a craft or by begging, or who takes a wife according to law (dhammena) or unlawfully (adhammena), who goes to women of all castes (Brahmani, Ksatriya, etc. as above).

    In short the Buddha condemned varna samkara and thus upheld the cardinal rule of jati-vada of ensuring purity of blood through the rule of endogamy. That is why in the Brahmanadhammikasutta of the Suttanipata 315 the Buddha accuses those who are Brahmanas by birth but not by karma of violating or repudiating jativada:

    Khattiya Brahmabandhu ca, ye canne
    gottarakikhata, jativadam nirahkatva

    i.e., 'the caste regulations governing the Ksatriya, Brahmana and other gotra (castes) were repudiated by them'. We are justified in concluding that this disapproval of the
    violation of caste rules means unqualified approval of the caste system by the Buddha.

    To sum up, there was no essential nexus between caste (varna, jati) and various professions and avocations. The varna/jati of a person was determined by his birth, his parentage, his descent, irrespective of his profession or the avocation followed by him. A person's caste in the present birth is fixed and continues to be determined by the jati in which he is born and his caste in the next birth by his karmas. The members of the four varnas, Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras, could lose their caste identities in present life, that is before death, only on joining the Samgha. Again the birth-based caste structure was hierarchical. Likewise the old 'Hindu' law was discriminatory inasmuch as punishments for the same offence varied with the caste of the offenders. The law favoured the dominant castes and was severe towards the lower castes especially the Sudras and the outcastes. The lay Buddhists accepted this caste system and the discriminatory laws.

    In the Kunalavadana of the Asokavadana 21.4 king Asoka is credited with the advice: avahanakale atha vivahakale jateh pariksa na tu dharmakale dharma kriyaya hi guna nirmitta, i.e., 'caste may be considered when it is a question of invitation (to a function or dinner) or of marriage but not when it is a question of religion {dharma) as it concerned with virtues'. It deserves to be noticed that, according to the Lalitavistara, Sakyamuni as bodhisattva takes birth in the family of a Ksatriya or a Brahmana; his birth as a Sudra or an outcaste was excluded. In the Prajnaparamita sutra II. 11.2, the Buddha, speaking of the grave consequences of the 'Deeds conducive to the ruin of the Dharma' says that such deeds may lead the doer to 'acquire a human body and to be reborn, inter alia, among blind families or in the families of outcastes or refuse workers, or among keepers of oxen, hogs or in families which are mean, contemptible or low castes' (16). In short the low-caste births were retributory yonis, an essential feature of samsara.


    Another interesting passage concerning race and descent from the Ambattha Sutta. Here the goal of the Buddha is to remove the pride of a Brahmin with racially dubious origins but also to remind others that ultimately transcendent wisdom and magical power can potentially belong to anyone irrespective of caste or birth. Nonetheless it is interesting to see the frank recognition of racial reality here by the Buddha:

    Then the Blessed One thought thus: ‘This Ambaṭṭha is very set on humbling the Sākyas with his charge of servile origin. What if I were to ask him as to his own lineage.’ And he said to him:

    ‘And what family do you then, Ambaṭṭha, belong to?’

    ‘I am a Kaṇhāyana.’

    ‘Yes, but if one were to follow up your ancient name and lineage, Ambaṭṭha, on the father’s and the mother’s side, it would appear that the Sākyas were once your masters, and that you are the offspring of one of their slave girls. But the Sākyas trace their line back to Okkāka the king.

    ‘Long ago, Ambaṭṭha, King Okkāka, wanting to divert the succession in favour or the son of his favourite queen, banished his elder children—Okkāmukha, Karaṇḍa, Hatthinika, and Sinipura—from the land. And being thus banished they took up their dwelling on the slopes of the Himālaya, on the borders of a lake where a mighty oak tree grew.

    And through fear of injuring the purity of their line they intermarried with their sisters.

    ‘Now Okkāka the king asked the ministers at his court: “Where, Sirs, are the children now?”’

    ‘There is a spot, Sire, on the slopes of the Himālaya, on the borders of a lake, where there grows a mighty oak (sako). There do they dwell. And lest they should injure the purity of their line they have married their own (sakāhi) sisters.’

    ‘Then did Okkāka the king burst forth in admiration: “Hearts of oak (sakyā) are those young fellows! Right well they hold their own (paramasakyā)!”

    ‘That is the reason, Ambaṭṭha, why they are known as Sākyas. Now Okkāka had a slave girl called Disā. She gave birth to a black baby. And no sooner was it born than the little black thing said, “Wash me, mother. Bathe me, mother. Set me free, mother, of this dirt. So shall I be of use to you.”

    ‘Now just as now, Ambaṭṭha, people call devils “devils,” so then they called devils “black fellows” (kaṇhe). And they said: “This fellow spoke as soon as he was born. ’Tis a black thing (kaṇha) that is born, a devil has been born!” And that is the origin, Ambaṭṭha, of the Kaṇhāyanas. He was the ancestor of the Kaṇhāyanas. And thus is it, Ambaṭṭha, that if one were to follow up your ancient name and lineage, on the father’s and on the mother’s side, it would appear that the Sākyas were once your masters, and that you are the offspring of one of their slave girls.’
    • Interesting Interesting x 1
  3. Boreas

    Boreas Senior Member Staff Member Sustaining Member

    I am all for same caste and race relations, but today they are physically so mixed up that they are simply impossible to uphold in a large scale.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Plantagenet

    Plantagenet Heroic Member

    Yeah, the castes are confused in our era (I believe Guenon discusses this in depth somewhere but forget where now) and you even have some claim that practically there are no groups currently fulfilling the upper caste functions of brahmin/warrior aristocrat.

    My goal in posting much of this information about Buddhism is mostly to provide a counterbalance to the more widely popular misconceptions of Buddhism held in the modern world which essentially envisions it as pacifistic secular humanism, atheist-skepticism, nihilism, socially progressive or reformist, anti-Vedic or divorced from the Vedic tradition, anti-caste and pro-equality (whether racial, sexual, or caste), democratic, lacking any warrior ethos, and so on. To be blunt I think that modern liberal types, whether in the West or elsewhere, have disgraced the glorious Aryan Dharma by trying to turn it into politically correct liberalism plus meditation.

    That said, here's something further of interest regarding the differences between the puthujjana, sometimes translated as "common worldling" and the airyasavaka, the "Aryan/Noble hearer/disciple" from Peter Masefield's "Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism"

    Puthujjana vs Airyasavaka Differences

    Thus either because he does not get to hear the Dhamma or, ifhe does, because he remains unaffected thereby, the puthujjana lacks the insight* that arises on hearing that Dhamma and thus fails to see things as they really are* . As a result he remains foolish (M iii 2 19) and continues to take delight in the five strands of the sense-pleasures (S iv 196, 201) which are elsewhere styled the puthujjana-happiness, the unariyanhappiness and the dung-like happiness (M i 454 = iii 236; cp A iii 342). Moreover, it is through this continued attachment to the sense-pleasures that he remains subject to Mara and as a consequence does not pass beyond old age, decay, disease and death - he is troubled by such sights of impermanence (A i 145f) , remaining ignorant of the eightfold path* that leads to passing beyond these (A i 1 80). In short the puthujjana, unlike the ariyasavaka*, is still subject to dukkha in all its forms (S iv 206-210; A iv 158): he is still subject to repeated rebirth, often of an unpleasant kind (A i 267; A ii 126ff), and even though he may temporarily gain a good birth, he continually gives rise to the khandhas (S iii 152). The puthujjana, then, unlike the ariyasavaka* , is no endmaker (A ii 163).

    Sights, sounds, tastes, odours, things touched and objects of the mind are, without exception, pleasing, delightful and charming so long as one can say 'they are'; These are considered sukha by the world with its devas and when they cease to be this is by them considered dukkha. The cessation of the existing group (of khandhas) is seen as sukha by the ariyans'" - this (insight"') of those that can see is the reverse with the whole world: What others say is sukha, that the ariyans* say is dukkha; what others say is dukkha, that the ariyans* know as sukha. Behold this Dhamma, difficult to understand, wherein the ignorant are bewildered. For those enveloped there is darkness, blindness for those who cannot see; whilst for the wise there is an opening, like light to those with sight. Fools unconversant with the Dhamma (dhammass' akovida - cp above), though in its presence, do not discern it. By those overcome by lust for becoming and who drift with the current of becoming, gone to Mara's realm, this Dhamma is not properly awoken to; who else but the ariyans* are worthy of awakening to that place, that place by knowing which the amisavas* (arahants*) parinibbiiti with right anilii*? (S iv 1 27f = Sn 759-765; cp A ii 52).

    It is clear from the above passages that the puthujjana was often looked upon with little short of disgust. Although the Buddhists sought to express the spiritual division of the Buddhist world by means of the terms savaka* and puthujjana, one cannot but wonder to what extent their synonyms, ariyan* and unariyan, continued to convey a racial sentiment. A detailed discussion of this problem will be held in reserve for a later chapter but here at least this may be anticipated a little by noting that the Buddha, reputedly of ksatriyan origins, is on occasion portrayed as holding somewhat stronger views on racial purity than some of his brahmin contemporaries. In the Ambattha Sutta, for instance, we find him criticising the brahmin Ambattha - whose ancestry he traces to the black baby of a slave-girl of the k!iatriyans (D i 93) - on the grounds that brahmins would accept, and accord full brahmin status to, the offspring of a ksatriyan-brahmin marriage. This the ksatriyans would never do due to the impurity of descent on the brahmin side (D i 97ff) and indeed the Buddha's own clan are praised by him on the grounds that they went to the extent of incest rather than injure the purity of their line (D i 92). The manner in which the Aryan had shunned the non-Aryan, indigenous population seems to some extent perpetuated in the new ariyan* holding himself aloof from the low, pagan, unariyan practice of the puthujjana (hino gammo pothujjaniko anariyo - S iv 330f; A v 216; cp Vin i 10) and to daub such a practice 'pagan' (gammo) - both literally 'of the village' - may well have been intended to convey some degree of racial feeling since it was often to the village beyond the city that the despised groups, often the products of mixed marriages (cp Encyclopedia of Buddhism III 4692 n 6) and those from whom the truly Aryan should keep himself apart, were consigned.

    Such a sense of exclusion can be felt in many of the passages dealing with the puthujjana: he is apart from various good states (M i 1 48); he lives apart from knowledge and conduct (A ii 163); whilst Buddhaghosa defines the puthujjana as one who is separate and apart from those who are ariyans* given to virtue and learning (Dhs trans 2 58 n 3; cp Mhv i 28 n 8). The happiness of the puthujjana is an unariyan happiness (M i 454 = iii 236) and since he does not possess the sotapattiyangas* possessed by the ariyasavaka* (S v 397) nor the five indriyas of the sotiipanna*, sakadagamin*, anagamin* and arahant* (S v 202) he is, therefore, 'an outsider, one who stands in the ranks of the puthujjana' (bahiro puthujjanapakkhe thito - S v 202, 397). Thus as regards the meaning of the term puthujjana (Sanskrit pt;thag-jana) it is hard to credit the claim of PED that 'one rnay even say that puthul = PJ;thak (separate, apart) is not telt at all in the Pali word' (PED sv puthujjana). Rather the evidence of the texts suggests that puthujjana, in its primary sense, meant not only one who was apart, separate, from those who alone had insight* into things as they really are* but also one from whom, for this reason, the ariyans* should keep themselves apart - and probably in much the same manner that their ancestors had shunned the indigenous non-Aryan. Moreover, had it been the intention of the authors of these texts merely to denote the 'manyfolk' or the 'world at large' as all the renderings mentioned earlier give us to believe they could have conveyed this quite adequately by means of such terms as mahajana (cp Pv A 111 and passim) or bahujana: compare, for instance, how the Tathagata is said to arise for the welfare of the manyfolk (bahujanahitaya), for the happiness of the manyfolk (bahujanasukhaya) (A i 22); one never finds puthujjana in such contexts (cp M i 179f; A ii 37, etc.). For translators to have continually rendered assutavant puthujjana as 'uneducated manyfolk' or as 'unlearned average man' has done nothing but serve to obscure the true spiritual division of the Buddhist world in the Nikaya period in terms of those who had heard the Dhamma and had, as a consequence, attained insight* as to how things really are* , thereby gaining the assurance of liberation, and those who had not (Dhp 58-59):

    Just as on a rubbish heap swept up on a main road a purely fragrant, delightful lotus might there spring up, Even so amidst those rubbish heaps (of men) does the savaka* of the Perfectly Enlightened One outshine in insight* the blind puthujjana
    Last edited: 7 June 2017
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Myrddin

    Myrddin Senior Member

    Just found this
    Last edited: 7 June 2017
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Lithium

    Lithium Member

    I think my main issue with the concept of Aryan Buddhism is the ethnic origins of the Buddha. He's not white, nor is he Chinese as Plantagenet's avatar depicts. We know from historical records that the Buddha was Indian.

    You can conjure up fantasies about how ancient Indo-European people once taught the Rishis and that those teachings have been passed down through the Bhagava Gita and the Sutras but I think you need to simply face reality. The Buddha rebelled against the Brahmans and the Yogis. Siddartha believed that all that was cultivated in this life and all the spiritual epiphanies eventually faded when that individual died. All that effort obsolesced to nothing because it could not be perpetuated past the life cycle that it was wrought in.
    Last edited: 5 March 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Boreas

    Boreas Senior Member Staff Member Sustaining Member

    Everyone you mentioned are indo-aryans if we disregard the aboriginal matriarchal folks of the Indus valley who were quite dark and from whom the left handed tantric systems are originally from.

    To myself nowadays concepts like an Aryan or a jew or 'black' and 'white' or 'grey' are spiritual concepts first and foremost that mark man's soul and spirit race. Of course I cherish my own race and kin but most of the 'pure blooded' from whites today are the worst kind of jews.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Boreas

    Boreas Senior Member Staff Member Sustaining Member

    I would advice everyone reasa Sutta-Nipata, which is one of the oldest buddhist texts to realize that this racial origin question will dwindle into nothingness.