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Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system - Dhamma Wheel

Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Lazy_eye
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Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:19 pm


plwk
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby plwk » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:14 pm


My guess lazy, is that it's not a doctrinal issue that's at hand but rather the usual socio-political-economic forces at work.
As Cicero quoting Lucius Cassius puts it 'Cui bono?' "To whose benefit?"

What I think is that Buddhism did not conform to that kind of socio-political-economic force and the Nikayas have ample evidence of all classes of society and background becoming disciples and attaining the Path & Fruit and even how He dealt with the proud Brahmins of His time and showed them the drawbacks of their tradition. I can't remember where I read? I think it was a Hindu site that opined on how whilst Buddhism never was a conformist to the caste system but neither did it actively sought to reverse or abolish it. Can't remember the link now.

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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Nyana » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:05 pm


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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:07 pm

Buddhist kamma is not fatalism — it is a natural law of cause and effect. The differences between Buddhist kamma and Hindu karma are not immediately obvious.

Being born poor is a result of stealing in a previous life, or lack of charity. However, kamma done in the present existence is the means to escape from poverty by cultivating knowledge, working hard, being honest and prudent. The wholesome kamma done later is counteractive kamma to offset the unwholesome kamma done earlier. The converse is also true — a foolish child of millionaires may become destitute by negligence and having evil associates.

Being born in a family of low social status (hīna-kūlāni), is a result of the unwholesome kamma of not showing due respect to parents, elders, teachers, etc., due to pride and arrogance.

Being born in a low caste in the Hindu system is a life-long curse. There is no escaping from the fact of one's parentage, and those who believe in the caste system will do whatever they can to maintain the artificial barriers that they have established through centuries.

The Buddha rejected the caste system, but nevertheless it was a fact of life during his time as it still is in much of India nowadays, and even his own relatives were not free from prejudice based on their identity with the Sākyan clan, which they regarded as superior to others. Even in Western countries, where there is no caste system, there are clearly defined social classes that can be difficult to transcend.

Anyone can elevate their social status through education and diligence. They can become cultured, gentle, and noble-minded individuals who show humility. It is one's conduct (physical, verbal, and mental) that makes an individual worthy of respect and high social status.

All beings have kamma as their own property (kammassaka), they are the heirs of their (kammadayādā), they are born from their kamma (kammayoṇī), they have kamma as their relatives (kammabandhū), and have kamma as their refuge (kammapaṭisaraṇā). Whatever kamma they do, for good or for ill, of that they will be the heirs.

See the and .
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:30 pm

Thanks, all. Very interesting and informative. I get the sense that the distinction here has less to do with kamma per se (since the definition seems similar in both religions), and more to do with the Buddha's rejection of determinism/fatalism, as Bhante suggests. But I will need to read the essay by Malalasekera/Jayatilleke more closely.

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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby SamKR » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:44 pm


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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:59 pm

Last edited by Bhikkhu Pesala on Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby SamKR » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:09 pm


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daverupa
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby daverupa » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:25 pm


SarathW
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby SarathW » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:33 am

Sadhu,Sadhu,Sadhu Bhante Pesala,
I don’t think I can add any more to than what you said. However I like to share my experience with you here. This is a confession and a complain.

I was borne to a family with pride parents (Mana). I am from the highest cast, majority ethnic group, Buddhist majority, fair complexion, up country, middle class family.
I thought that the minority ethnic groups are second class citizens even though they were there for thousand years.
My parents did not want me to mingle with low cast people and I never thought that they have any dignity.
I was quite happy with my own little world.

My little world shattered when I had some experience when I went to a western country.
There is no cast system; most of the people are rich in comparison to a third world country, basically no discrimination except that I was subject to racial intolerance.
It really hearts me to the point that I wanted to go back to my country. However that experience taught me a good lesson.
I realise that how bad we were in our own country. This is a classic example of that you reap the Kamma in this life itself!

Pride (Mana – the thought that a person is higher, lower or equal) is such a curable cancer in our mind.
Only when a person becomes an Arahant that the person will be fully free from this defilement.
Until such time we have to be aware of it and learn to live with it. :)

Please note that the people live in western countries have the legal protection against discrimination.
Third world countries such as India and Sri Lanka do not have legal protection for discrimination.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:02 am

Ambedkerite Buddhists in India do not accept that a persons cast is the result of Karma. They see Karma as only one of many possible forces as play in a result coming about. They see good Karma as tending to support good results and bad Karma bad results but only in relationship to a number of other forces or processes at work in the world. I cant speak for all Ambedkerites but I have spent a bit of time in Nagpur studying and practicing with them. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism partly because the Buddha explicitly ridiculed exponents of the cast system. He felt he needed to reject Hinduism as it explicitly enshrines it as a religious truth. Buddhism is well suited to the Ambedkarites because it is historically Indian and is becoming increasingly popular around the world. The outcast people of India are so remarkably oppressed that it is hard to find anything comparable in the world. Their self esteem tends to be totally squashed. A religious system which says that their value in the world is reflected by the quality of their mind and not dictated by their birth is critical to lifting them out of utter depravity. They are overjoyed when people come from other parts of the world and share Buddhism with them. Its really quite a beautiful thing.

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:09 am

• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:12 am

"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Mr Man
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Mr Man » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:12 am


SarathW
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby SarathW » Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:04 am

Prasad: Thanks for the information. Sri Lankans also should follow Ambedker.

Mr. Man : Well said. You are correct. That is a classic example of bad behavior of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks. I wonder how these monks call them selves Buddhist.
:namaste:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Indrajala
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Indrajala » Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:31 am

Bronkhorst's idea is that Buddhism early on didn't have a caste system, but over time given the process of brahmanization it indeed did take on a modified, quite watered-down version of caste. Buddhists generally never accepted a predetermined social hierarchy and thus were oppressed and destroyed for it (the recent work by Giovanni Virardi is a good study of the downfall of Buddhism in India).

We need to keep in mind that a lot of what seems to be common culture between Buddhists and Brahmans even in ancient times was in fact cultural colonization. Buddhist scriptures and texts were modified over time to reflect prevailing sentiments and values. You see this a lot in Mahāyāna texts where moral norms reflect Brahman values in some ways.

There was less of this influence down south in Sri Lanka. The north, however, was heavily influenced to the point that stupa-worship culture diminished.

Modern day Hinduism generally refers to a nebulous hybrid of older traditions connected with this idea of the Indian nation. A lot of modern values which can be found somewhere in India's past are especially celebrated whereas other things like horse sacrifices according to the Vedas isn't practised or mentioned much.

I imagine for many Indians Buddhism the appeal to Buddhism is the fact it is both Indian and familiar enough so as not to come across as alien or colonialist.

Still, I sense there is a bias often against Buddhism.

Just the other day this upper class lady came into the temple uninvited, demanded a different kind of tea than what we had given her, told me that she thought Buddhism is a dirty religion, and then asked me if I could teach her meditation.

I've heard similar sentiments about Jains.

There's cause for this, though, because the old Brahmanical literature paints śramaṇa culture as that of asuras. It is atheist, uncontrolled, unfaithful to the gods and naked (i.e., without the Vedas).





Shaswata_Panja
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:57 pm


Shaswata_Panja
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:12 pm


Shaswata_Panja
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:56 pm

anyways If my posts came as confrontational or abrasive, I would like to apologize..there were some misrepresentations in my eyes which I wanted to correct!!

Aum!

Sanjay PS
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Re: Buddhism, Hinduism and the caste system

Postby Sanjay PS » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:15 pm

Sheer ignorance , feeling someone by his or her being born into a community .

People from diverse backgrounds , be it a sweeper , priest , king , makes for no high or low standing . Uprightness of the mind , free of discrimination makes all the difference .

The Buddhas words always resonates with the deepest of wisdoms " to have the humility of the beggars son , and strength of a bull with broken horns " .

sanjay
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka


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