High Birth Low Birth

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Pondera
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High Birth Low Birth

Post by Pondera » Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:08 am

Is the Buddha exemplifying racism in his discourse with Ambattha?

Ambattha starts by insulting the Sakyan clan three times. The Buddha thinks:
1.15. Then the Lord thought: ‘This young man goes too far in abusing the Sakyans. Suppose I were to ask after his clan-name? ’ So he said: ‘Ambattha, what is your clan?’ ‘I am a Kaṇhāyan, Reverend Gotama.’
The Buddha then takes Ambattha down a notch - but his methods are questionable.
Now King Okkāka (an ancestor to the Sakyans) had a slave-girl called Disā, who gave birth to a black child. The black thing, when it was born, exclaimed: “Wash me, mother! Bath me, mother! Deliver me from this dirt, and I will bring you profit!” Because, Ambattha, just as people today use the term hobgoblin (pisāca) as a term of abuse, so in those days they said black (kaṇha). And they said: “As soon as he was born, he spoke. He is born a Kanha, a hobgoblin!” That is how in former days...the Sakyans were the masters, and you are descended from a slave-girl of the Sakyans.’
So the Brahmins who are listening object
On hearing this, the young men said: ‘Reverend Gotama, do not humiliate Ambattha too much with talk of his being descended from a slave-girl: Ambattha is well-born, of a good family, he is very learned, he is well-spoken, a scholar, well able to hold his own in this discussion with the Reverend Gotama!’
http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitak ... ndans.html

The sutta goes on, but a question here arises about the Buddha’s intentions. Did he take offence at having his clan insulted? Is the Buddha using classism and racism to humiliate Ambattha? I find the “wash me! Wash me!” Part especially racist.
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DooDoot
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by DooDoot » Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:23 am

MN 93 tells a story about the seer Devala the Dark. :)

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Pondera
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by Pondera » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:01 am

“Turn to ashes - dribble spit!” :tongue: ...even so the Brahmans hold that...

Wow! The Buddha shows a lot of patience in this sutta - however what are his intentions in DN 3? And does he fulfill those intentions with classism and racism?
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santa100
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by santa100 » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:08 am

Notice the exceedingly arrogant attitude Ambattha displayed when he first met the Buddha:
DN 3 wrote:1.9. Ambattha went up to the dwelling and on to the verandah, coughed, and knocked. The Lord opened the door, and Ambaṭṭha went in. The young men entered, exchanged courtesies with the Lord, and sat down to one side. But Ambattha walked up and down while the Lord sat there, [90] uttered some vague words of politeness, and then stood so speaking before the seated Lord.

1.10. And the Lord said to Ambattha: ‘Well now, Ambattha, would you behave like this if you were talking to venerable and learned Brahmins, teachers of teachers, as you do with me, walking and standing while I am sitting, and uttering vague words of politeness?’ ‘No, Reverend Gotama. A Brahmin should walk with a walking Brahmin, stand with a standing Brahmin, sit with a sitting Brahmin, and lie down with a Brahmin who is lying down. But as for those shaven little ascetics, menials, black scourings from Brahmā’s foot, with them it is fitting to speak just as I do with the Reverend Gotama.’
I'm sure you've known this fact of life, that certain bad people will never ever learn anything until they get a taste of their own medicine. The Buddha's tactic had no evil intent and all it did was to get Ambattha off his high horse so he could listen to what the Buddha said. The method worked and the end result spoke for itself, Ambattha's master, Pokkharasati, received the Buddha's teaching and attained Stream-entry!

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Pondera
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by Pondera » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:24 am

santa100 wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:08 am
Notice the exceedingly arrogant attitude Ambattha displayed when he first met the Buddha:
DN 3 wrote:1.9. Ambattha went up to the dwelling and on to the verandah, coughed, and knocked. The Lord opened the door, and Ambaṭṭha went in. The young men entered, exchanged courtesies with the Lord, and sat down to one side. But Ambattha walked up and down while the Lord sat there, [90] uttered some vague words of politeness, and then stood so speaking before the seated Lord.

1.10. And the Lord said to Ambattha: ‘Well now, Ambattha, would you behave like this if you were talking to venerable and learned Brahmins, teachers of teachers, as you do with me, walking and standing while I am sitting, and uttering vague words of politeness?’ ‘No, Reverend Gotama. A Brahmin should walk with a walking Brahmin, stand with a standing Brahmin, sit with a sitting Brahmin, and lie down with a Brahmin who is lying down. But as for those shaven little ascetics, menials, black scourings from Brahmā’s foot, with them it is fitting to speak just as I do with the Reverend Gotama.’
I'm sure you've known this fact of life, that certain bad people will never ever learn anything until they get a taste of their own medicine. The Buddha's tactic had no evil intent and all it did was to get Ambattha off his high horse so he could listen to what the Buddha said. The method worked and the end result spoke for itself, Ambattha's master, Pokkharasati, received the Buddha's teaching and attained Stream-entry!
It sounds as though you are saying that the ends justify the means?
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santa100
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by santa100 » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:28 am

Pondera wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:24 am
It sounds as though you are saying that the ends justify the means?
No, one has to cook up something to qualify it as "ends justify means". In the DN 3 case, the Buddha didn't cook up anything. He simply stated the fact.

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Pondera
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by Pondera » Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:00 am

santa100 wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:28 am
Pondera wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:24 am
It sounds as though you are saying that the ends justify the means?
No, one has to cook up something to qualify it as "ends justify means". In the DN 3 case, the Buddha didn't cook up anything. He simply stated the fact.
[3] "In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.
MN 58
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SarathW
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by SarathW » Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:41 am

we could have been anything (even an animal) in a previous birth.
There are many Jataka that Buddha was an animal in a previous birth.
Perhaps Buddha wanted to point out this in a different way.
If we trace back our ancestry there will not be anything to be proved about our present or the past.
It is just the Samsara.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Pondera
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by Pondera » Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:47 am

SarathW wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:41 am
we could have been anything (even an animal) in a previous birth.
There are many Jataka that Buddha was an animal in a previous birth.
Perhaps Buddha wanted to point out this in a different way.
If we trace back our ancestry there will not be anything to be proved about our present or the past.
It is just the Samsara.
I can’t help but wonder if the Buddha’s pride was hurt by Ambattha’s repetitious insults to the Sakyan clan.
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salayatananirodha
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by salayatananirodha » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:06 am

Isn't it so the brahmin realized how skewed his sense of caste was, being that he was descended from low caste?
The buddha in so many ways has stated that actions make a holy man. He never said it was a bad thing the child was black
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

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Volovsky
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by Volovsky » Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:05 pm

Pondera wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:08 am
Is the Buddha exemplifying racism in his discourse with Ambattha?
Ambattha based the conversation on clan and ancestors, thinking he is better than Buddha because of that. Buddha assented to his rules and showed how empty is the object of his pride. He is ashamed of being a descendant of Kanha, but actually he should be proud, since Kanha was probably the only extraordinary individual in his family. Isn't it ridiculous then to feel special because of nobility of one's clan? After that the Buddha showed what really makes a person special.
Is the Buddha using classism and racism to humiliate Ambattha?
The fact that Buddha actually rescued Ambattha, when his friends disparaged him, shows that it wasn't his intention to humiliate Ambattha.

chownah
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by chownah » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:04 pm

Pondera wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:47 am
I can’t help but wonder if the Buddha’s pride was hurt by Ambattha’s repetitious insults to the Sakyan clan.
After having read a fair amount of the suttas I find it incredible that you would wonder if the Buddha’s pride was hurt by Ambattha’s repetitious insults to the Sakyan clan. The far gone one indulges in clan pride?....did you know that he buddha went to his father shortly after becoming enlightened (I think) and told his father that he was no longer of the sakyan lineage and that now he was of the lineage of the noble ones?
chownah

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rightviewftw
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by rightviewftw » Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:42 pm

Man i love a headsplitting story tnx for posting

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Pondera
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by Pondera » Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:06 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:42 pm
Man i love a headsplitting story tnx for posting
Most welcome - however, this raises another question. In what respect is a Buddha an all compassionate being if he has a prearranged agreement with a yakkha that someone’s head will split into seven pieces if he has to ask the same question more than three times?

This “strikes me” as a very violent friendship between the Buddha and the yakkha.
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rightviewftw
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Re: High Birth Low Birth

Post by rightviewftw » Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:19 am

Pondera wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:06 am
rightviewftw wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:42 pm
Man i love a headsplitting story tnx for posting
Most welcome - however, this raises another question. In what respect is a Buddha an all compassionate being if he has a prearranged agreement with a yakkha that someone’s head will split into seven pieces if he has to ask the same question more than three times?

This “strikes me” as a very violent friendship between the Buddha and the yakkha.
Why would you think that they are friends. How would you know that there isn't a class of non-humans that are into splitting heads and there is no talking to them out of it?

Yakkhas are weird.
And on that occasion two yakkhas who were companions were flying from north to south on some business or other. They saw Ven. Sāriputta — his head newly shaven — sitting in the open air. Seeing him, the first yakkha said to the second, "I'm inspired to give this contemplative a blow on the head."

When this was said, the second yakkha said to the first, "Enough of that, my good friend. Don't lay a hand on the contemplative. He's an outstanding contemplative, of great power & great might."

A second time, the first yakkha said to the second, "I'm inspired to give this contemplative a blow on the head."

A second time, the second yakkha said to the first, "Enough of that, my good friend. Don't lay a hand on the contemplative. He's an outstanding contemplative, of great power & great might."

A third time, the first yakkha said to the second, "I'm inspired to give this contemplative a blow on the head."

A third time, the second yakkha said to the first, "Enough of that, my good friend. Don't lay a hand on the contemplative. He's an outstanding contemplative, of great power & great might."

Then the first yakkha, ignoring the second yakkha, gave Ven. Sāriputta a blow on the head. And with that blow he might have knocked over an elephant seven or eight cubits tall, or split a great rocky crag. But right there the yakkha — yelling, "I'm burning!" — fell into the Great Hell.
Then four great kings[2] having placed a guard over the four quarters, with a large army of Yakkhas, of Gandhabbas, of Kumbhandas, of Nagas; having placed troops; having placed a barricade of soldiers on four sides, came to the presence of the Blessed One, when the night was far advanced, illuminating the entire Vulture's Peak with their surpassing radiance, saluted the Blessed One and sat on one side. From among the (attendant) Yakkhas, some saluted the Blessed One, and sat on one side; some exchanged greetings with the Blessed One conversing in a friendly and courteous manner, and sat on one side; some saluted him with clasped hands, and sat on one side; some announced their name and lineage, and sat on one side; some sat on one side in silence.

Then the great King Vessavana (Skt. Vaisravana[3]), who was seated on one side, said to the Blessed One:

"Venerable Sir (bhante), there are eminent Yakkhas who are not pleased with the Blessed One, there are also eminent Yakkhas pleased with the Blessed One. There are Yakkhas of middle rank who are not pleased with the Blessed One, and there are those who are pleased with the Blessed One. There are Yakkhas of inferior rank who are not pleased with the Blessed One, and there are those who are pleased with the Blessed One. The Yakkhas, bhante, as a rule, are not pleased with the Blessed One. What is the reason for this?"

"Well, the Blessed One teaches the Dhamma to establish abstention from killing, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from liquor that causes intoxication and negligence. To them such teaching is unpleasant and unpalatable."

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