AN 10.30 Kosala 2

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Re: AN 10.30 Kosala 2

Postby pulga » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:03 pm

culaavuso wrote:Overeating does not seem to be the sole reason for this claim.


Getting the Message by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Even King Pasenadi of Kosala, the king most closely associated with the Buddha, comes across as well-meaning but somewhat dense. An entire discourse, MN 90, is a satire of how his royal position has thwarted his ability to learn the Dhamma. He can't phrase his questions properly, has trouble following a discussion for more than a few sentences, and is unable to come to any certain conclusions about the truth. Still, in other discourses he has his occasional moments of spiritual clarity, and the Buddha uses those moments as opportunities to teach the Dhamma.


I hardly think that the Kaṇṇakatthalasutta was meant to display the king's dim-wittedness. Finding himself in a particular religious culture he had the opportunity to ask the Buddha about the nature of omniscience, whether caste had any bearing on liberation, and whether or not there actually are devas. While some might roll their eyes and see the king as someone stupid asking stupid questions, I see him as a man of his times asking questions that might very well occur to any thoughtful person familiar with other religious teachings of those times.
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Re: AN 10.30 Kosala 2

Postby culaavuso » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:52 pm

pulga wrote:Finding himself in a particular religious culture he had the opportunity to ask the Buddha about the nature of omniscience, whether caste had any bearing on liberation, and whether or not there actually are devas. While some might roll their eyes and see the king as someone stupid asking stupid questions, I see him as a man of his times asking questions that might very well occur to any thoughtful person familiar with other religious teachings of those times.


It doesn't seem that it's the content of the questions being asked that Ven. Thanissaro is referring to when he says "He can't phrase his questions properly", but the actual phrasing and the fact that Pasenadi seems to have difficulty asking what he actually means the first time.

MN 90: Kaṇṇakatthala Sutta wrote:"Lord, there are these four castes: noble warriors, brahmans (brahmans), merchants, & workers. Is there any distinction or difference among them?"

"Great king, of these four castes, two — noble warriors & brahmans — are held to be foremost in terms of receiving homage, hospitality, salutation, & polite services."

"I'm not asking about the present life, lord. I'm asking about the future life. Is there any distinction or difference among these four castes?"
...
"What the Blessed One says, lord, seems reasonable. What the Blessed One says seems logical. But, lord, are there devas?"

"But why do you ask, 'But, lord, are there devas?'?"

"Whether the devas come back to this life, lord, or whether they don't."
...
"What a joy he is! What a true joy! But, lord, are there brahmas?"

"But why do you ask, 'But, lord, are there brahmas?'?"

"Whether the brahmas come back to this life, lord, or whether they don't."


It's also interesting to note that in AN 10.30, face to face with the Buddha, he doesn't ask any questions or seek any teachings, but seems to just celebrate and leave. It's interesting to consider this in light of MN 135:

MN 135: Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta wrote:This is the way leading to stupidity: when visiting a brahman or contemplative, not to ask: 'What is skillful?... Or what, having been done by me, will be for my long-term welfare & happiness?'


Another interesting point to consider is in footnote 1 to Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation of MN 86, which seems to suggest that Pasenadi is portrayed as using improper grammar in MN 90:

MN 86: Angulimala Sutta (Footnote 1) by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The PTS reading here, followed in The Middle Length Sayings and The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha — "I will not stamp him out" — is surely a mistake. I follow the Thai reading on this passage, even though it is somewhat ungrammatical. There are passages in MN 90 where King Pasenadi's sentences don't quite parse, and perhaps this is another example of his brusque language.
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Re: AN 10.30 Kosala 2

Postby pulga » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:05 am

culaavuso wrote:It doesn't seem that it's the content of the questions being asked that Ven. Thanissaro is referring to when he says "He can't phrase his questions properly", but the actual phrasing and the fact that Pasenadi seems to have difficulty asking what he actually means the first time....


I see your point. There is a tendency in the Suttas to deflate figures of authority, be they gods or men. But King Pasenadi is depicted in such positive light that I think "dense" is too harsh a description for him. To me he is meant to represent the best qualities of a puthujjana with the sort of faith and piety in the Dhamma that inspires those of us who have yet to enter the stream.

Regarding AN10.30, there is a sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya (quoted by boris) that more or less parallels it -- the Dhammacetiyasutta MN89 -- that closes:

Atha kho bhagavā acirapakkantassa rañño pasenadissa kosalassa bhikkhū āmantesi: “eso, bhikkhave, rājā pasenadi kosalo dhammacetiyāni bhāsitvā uṭṭhāyāsanā pakkanto. Uggaṇhatha, bhikkhave, dhammacetiyāni; pariyāpuṇātha, bhikkhave, dhammacetiyāni; dhāretha, bhikkhave, dhammacetiyāni. Atthasaṃhitāni, bhikkhave, dhammacetiyāni ādibrahmacariyakānī”ti.

Then, soon after he had left, the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus, before rising from his seat and departing, this King Pasenadi uttered monuments to the Dhamma. Learn the monuments to the Dhamma, bhikkhus; master the monuments to the Dhamma; remember the monuments to the Dhamma. The monuments to the Dhamma are beneficial, bhikkhus, and they belong to the fundamentals of the holy life.

So I don't take the Anguttara sutta to be an underhanded slight.
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Re: AN 10.30 Kosala 2

Postby santa100 » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:49 am

pulga wrote:So I don't take the Anguttara sutta to be an underhanded slight.

+1. From the background story:
"Now on that occasion King Pasenadi of Kosala had returned from the war front, victorious in battle, his purpose having been achieved"
Ven. Bodhi's note:
Mp explains the historical background: When King Kosala the Great (Pasenadi’s father) presented his daughter in marriage to Bimbisara (the king of Magadha), he gave her the village of Kasi (between the two kingdoms) as a wedding gift. Years later, after Ajatasattu killed his father Bimbisara, his mother died of grief. Pasenadi decided: “Since Ajatasattu killed his parents, the village belongs to my father.” Ajatasattu, too, thought: “It belongs to my mother.” The two, uncle and nephew, fought a war over Kasi. Pasenadi was twice defeated by Ajatasattu and had to flee the battle, but on the third occasion he captured Ajatasattu. This was the purpose of which it is said “his purpose having been achieved” (laddhadhippayo).

Combine that with what he said in the end:
And now, Bhante, we must be going. We are busy and have much to do.

..it might be the case that he was actually quite busy and tired after the big battle and had to save the Dhamma conversation for other occasions like in MN 90, MN 89, etc.
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