Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

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DooDoot
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Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:49 am

Dear sutta forum

In the Brāhmaṇa Vagga of the Majjhima Nikaya and elsewhere in the suttas, we can read how Brahmins visited the Buddha for discussions and debates and, at the end of most suttas, the following statement/s is/are made by the Brahmins:
I go for refuge to Master Gotama, to the teaching, and to the mendicant Saṅgha.

From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.
However, my impression is these Brahmins remained part of the Brahmin religion & caste rather than became elusively Buddhist.

1. Is the above impression true, say as confirmed by a certain Brahmin who takes refuge in one sutta but appears in a later sutta as a Brahmin?

2. Were these Brahmims both Brahmins and Buddhists, i.e., Brahmin-Buddhists?

Please discuss, including any supporting sutta or commentary evidence. Thank you :smile:
Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Did the Brahmins taking refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:13 am

For example, the following two suttas look suspect therefore unhelpful, because if one sutta is true then the other sutta must be false, because each sutta is in a different location and because, at the start of each sutta, the two same Brahmins talk of the Buddha as non-followers and as have never spoken to him before; and, at the end of each sutta, the two same Brahmins say: "From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life."
MN 98 wrote:At one time the Buddha was staying in a forest near Icchānaṅgala... Now at that time several very well-known well-to-do brahmins were residing in Icchānaṅgala... Then as the brahmin students Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja were going for a walk they began to discussion the question of how one is a brahmin.... But neither was able to persuade the other.... So Vāseṭṭha said to Bhāradvāja, “Master Bhāradvāja, the ascetic Gotama—a Sakyan, gone forth from a Sakyan family—is staying in a forest near Icchānaṅgala. He has this good reputation:...

https://suttacentral.net/mn98/en/sujato
DN 13 wrote:At one time the Buddha was wandering in the land of the Kosalans... He stayed in a mango grove on a bank of the river Aciravatī to the north of Manasākaṭa.... Now at that time several very well-known well-to-do brahmins were residing in Manasākaṭa.

The students Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja were going for a walk they began a discussion regarding the variety of paths. But neither was able to persuade the other. Vāseṭṭha said to Bhāradvāja: "Bhāradvāja, the ascetic Gotama—a Sakyan, gone forth from a Sakyan family—is staying in a mango grove on a bank of the river Aciravatī to the north of Manasākaṭa. He has this good reputation:... "

https://suttacentral.net/dn13/en/sujato
The same two Brahmins reappear in the (mythical) DN 27 and do not appear to be referred to as Brahmins however they are probation monks so this probably does not help answer the questions:
DN 27 wrote:Now at that time Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja were living on probation among the mendicants in hopes of being ordained. Then in the late afternoon, the Buddha came downstairs from the longhouse and was walking meditation in the open air, beneath the shade of the longhouse.

Vāseṭṭha saw him and said to Bhāradvāja, “Reverend Bhāradvāja, the Buddha is walking meditation in the open air, beneath the shade of the longhouse. Come, reverend, let’s go to the Buddha. Hopefully we’ll get to hear a Dhamma talk from him.”

“Yes, reverend,” replied Bhāradvāja.

So they went to the Buddha, bowed, and walked beside him.

Then the Buddha said to Vāseṭṭha, “Vāseṭṭha, you are both brahmins by birth and clan, and have gone forth from the lay life to homelessness from a brahmin family. I hope you don’t have to suffer abuse and insults from the brahmins.”

“Actually, sir, the brahmins do insult and abuse us with their typical insults to the fullest extent.”

“But how do the brahmins insult you?”

https://suttacentral.net/dn27/en/sujato
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Re: Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by dharmacorps » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:09 pm

Are you asking if they would cease to be identified with the social group/caste of brahmin? If so, I doubt it.

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Re: Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:59 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:09 pm
Are you asking if they would cease to be identified with the social group/caste of brahmin? If so, I doubt it.
Thanks DhammaCorps. I agree but would like to read some evidence because this might resolve those debates about whether an individual can be a Christian-Buddhist or a Bu-Jew, etc. Regards. :)
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Re: Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by DooDoot » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:34 am

Just bumping this topic to the top of the list; looking for some learned comments. I think it is an important & interesting topic and would particularly elucidate the meaning of 'taking refuge'.

:smile:

I did some more searching but only found more suttas of the same Brahmin taking refuge multiple times "from this day forth".

* In MN 99, the brahmin student Subha, Todeyya’s son, discusses laypeople vs monks. The sutta ends with from this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.

* In MN 135, the brahmin student Subha, Todeyya’s son, discusses individual differences among people. The sutta ends with from this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.

* In DN 10, the Lord Buddha has passed away and the brahmin student Subha, Todeyya’s son, discusses the Buddha's teachings with Ananda. The sutta ends with from this day forth, may Master Ānanda remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.
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Re: Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by Volo » Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:43 am

Indeed an interesting question. What i could recollect relevant to the topic was the case of Brahmin Jāṇussoṇi, who declared several times his going for refuge to the Buddha. According to the Commentary he was a purohita of the king Pasenadi. PED defines purohita as:
Purohita [purah+pp. of dhā, ch. Vedic purohita] 1. placed in front, i. e. foremost or at the top, in phrase devā Inda -- purohitā the gods with Inda at their head J vi.127 (=Indaŋ pure -- cārikaŋ katvā C.). -- 2. the king's headpriest (brahmanic), or domestic chaplain, acting at the same time as a sort of Prime Minister D i.138; J i.210 v.127 (his wife as brāhmaṇī); Pug 56 (brāhmaṇa p.) Miln 241, 343 (dhamma -- nagare p.); PvA 74.
So, if he was king's chief priest, he would probably also need to perform brahmanic rituals. In AN 10.167 it's said he was following a certain brahmin tradition of paccorohaṇī festival, which required salutation and offerings to the fire:
Now on that occasion, on the uposatha day, the brahmin Jāṇussoṇī stood to one side not far from the Blessed One, with his head washed, wearing a new pair of linen clothes, holding a handful of wet kusa grass. The Blessed One saw him standing there and said to him:

“Why is it, brahmin, that on the uposatha day you stand to one side with your head washed, wearing a new pair of linen clothes, holding a handful of wet kusa grass? What is happening today with the brahmin clan?”

“Today, Master Gotama, is the brahmin clan’s paccorohaṇī festival.” [250]

“But how, brahmin, do the brahmins observe the paccorohaṇī festival?”

Here, Master Gotama, on the uposatha day, the brahmins wash their heads and put on a pair of new linen clothes. They then smear the ground with wet cow dung, cover this with green kusa grass, and lie down between the boundary and the fire house. In the course of the night, they get up three times, and with reverential salutation pay homage to the fire: ‘We descend in honor of the revered one. We descend in honor of the revered one.’ They offer abundant ghee, oil, and butter to the fire. When the night has passed, they offer excellent food of various kinds to brahmins. It is in this way, Master Gotama, that the brahmins observe the paccorohaṇī festival.
Of course, we don't know to which extend the brahmin was planning to follow this brahmin's tradition: whether he also did pay homage to the fire or was planning just to follow the tradition outwardly. But it seems that some involvement into the brahmanic religious life was acceptable for those who took refuge in the Buddha, i.e. became his followers. Although Buddha further tells him how the paccorohaṇī festival is followed in the discipline of the noble one's (namely abstaining from 10 unwholesome actions), which could maybe be taken as a mild reproach.

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Re: Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by DooDoot » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:22 am

Volo wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:43 am
According to the Commentary he was a purohita of the king Pasenadi... Indeed an interesting question. What i could recollect relevant to the topic was the case of Brahmin Jāṇussoṇi, who declared several times his going for refuge to the Buddha. ... In AN 10.167
Thanks Volo. Its difficult when they take refuge each sutta. Regardless, as I originally said, I never gained the impression the Brahmins ceased to be Brahmins. Regards
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Re: Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:40 am

Volo wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:43 am
Indeed an interesting question. What i could recollect relevant to the topic was the case of Brahmin Jāṇussoṇi, who declared several times his going for refuge to the Buddha. According to the Commentary he was a purohita of the king Pasenadi.
OK. Below is a summary of my sutta search, where I found at least 10 occasions of taking refuge by Brahmin Jāṇussoṇi. Note: MN 27 appears to report Brahmin Janussoni had never met the Buddha before and, in MN 27, he was taught the Triple Knowledge. Yet, in AN 3.59, Janussoni was again taught the Triple Knowledge, in a manner than appears novel to Brahmin Jāṇussoṇi.
MN 27 = Refuge #1

When this had been said, Jāṇussoṇi the brahman got down from his all-white chariot (drawn by) mares, and having arranged his outer cloak over one shoulder, having saluted the Lord three times with joined palms, he uttered this utterance:

“Reverence to this Lord, perfected one, fully Self-awakened One;
Reverence to this Lord, perfected one, fully Self-awakened One;
Reverence to this Lord, perfected one, fully Self-awakened One.

Perhaps we, somewhere, sometime will meet the honoured Gotama; perhaps there may be some conversation.

..... Thus with the mind composed, quite purified, quite clarified, without blemish, without defilement, grown soft and workable, fixed, immovable, he directs his mind to the knowledge and recollection of former habitations, that is to say:...

May the good Gotama accept me as a lay-follower, one gone for refuge from today forth for as long as life lasts.”
AN 3.59 = Refuge #2

“Master Gotama, the master of three knowledges according to the brahmins is quite different from a master of the three knowledges in the training of the noble one. And, Master Gotama, a master of three knowledges according to the brahmins is not worth a sixteenth part of a master of the three knowledges in the training of the noble one.

Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! … From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
AN 10.177 = Refuge #3

Then the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him.

When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha, “We who are known as brahmins give gifts and perform memorial rites for the dead: ‘May this gift aid my departed relatives and family. May they partake of this gift.’ But does this gift really aid departed relatives and family? Do they actually partake of it?”

“It aids them if the conditions are right, brahmin, but not if the conditions are wrong.”

“Then, Master Gotama, what are the right and wrong conditions?”

“Brahmin, take someone who kills living creatures, steals, and commits sexual misconduct. They use speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical. And they’re covetous, malicious, with wrong view. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in hell.There they survive feeding on the food of the hell beings. The conditions there are wrong, so the gift does not aid the one who lives there.

From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
AN 2.17 = = Refuge #4

Then the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him.When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha:

“What is the cause, Master Gotama, what is the reason why some sentient beings, when their body breaks up, after death, are reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell?”

From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
AN 10.119 = = Refuge #5

Now, at that time it was the sabbath. The brahmin Jāṇussoṇi had bathed his head and dressed in a new pair of linen robes. Holding a handful of fresh grass, he stood to one side not far from the Buddha.

The Buddha saw him, and said, “Brahmin, why have you bathed your head and dressed in a new pair of linen robes? Why are you standing to one side holding a handful of fresh grass?What’s going on today with the brahmin clan?”

“Master Gotama, today is the ceremony of descent for the brahmin clan.”

“But how do the brahmins observe the ceremony of descent?”

“The ceremony of descent observed by the brahmins is quite different from that observed in the training of the noble one. And, Master Gotama, the ceremony of descent observed by the brahmins is not worth a sixteenth part of the ceremony of descent observed in the training of the noble one. Excellent, Master Gotama, excellent! …

From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
AN 6.52 = = Refuge #6

And then the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him.When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha:

“Aristocrats, Master Gotama, have what as their ambition? What is their preoccupation? What are they dedicated to? What do they insist on? What is their ultimate goal?”

From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
AN 7.50 (AN 7.47) = Refuge #7

Then the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him.When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha, “Does Master Gotama claim to be celibate?”

“Brahmin, if anyone should be rightly said to live the celibate life unbroken, impeccable, spotless, and unmarred, full and pure, it’s me.”

From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
SN 45.4 Note: Jāṇussoṇi does not speak to the Buddha but the impression is he is regarded by Ananda as a Brahmin Priest

Then Venerable Ānanda robed up in the morning and, taking his bowl and robe, entered Sāvatthī for alms. He saw the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi driving out of Sāvatthī in a splendid all-white chariot drawn by mares. The yoked horses were pure white, as were the ornaments, chariot, upholstery, reins, goad, and canopy. And his turban, robes, sandals were white, as was the chowry fanning him.

When people saw it they exclaimed, “Wow! That’s a Brahmā vehicle! It’s a vehicle fit for Brahmā!”

Then Ānanda wandered for alms in Sāvatthī. After the meal, on his return from alms-round, he went to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and told him what had happened, adding, “Sir, can you point out a Brahmā vehicle in this teaching and training?”

“I can, Ānanda,” said the Buddha.

“These are all terms for the noble eightfold path: ‘vehicle of Brahmā’, or else ‘vehicle of truth’, or else ‘supreme victory in battle’.
MN 4 = Refuge #8

Then the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi went to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side and said: “Master Gotama, when clansmen have gone forth from the home life into homelessness out of faith in Master Gotama, do they have Master Gotama for their leader, their helper, and their guide? And do these people follow the example of Master Gotama?”

Ends with Triple Knowledge...

From today let Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge for life.”
SN 12.47 = Refuge #9

Then the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. Seated to one side he said to the Buddha:

“Master Gotama, does all exist?”

“‘All exists’: this is one extreme, brahmin.”

“Then does all not exist?”

“‘All doesn’t exist’: this is the second extreme.

Avoiding these two extremes, the Realized One teaches by the middle way: ‘Ignorance is a condition for choices.

When he said this, the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi said to the Buddha, “Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! … From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
AN 3.55 = Refuge #10

Then the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to the Buddha:

“Master Gotama, they say that ‘extinguishment is visible in this very life’. In what way is extinguishment visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves?”

From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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Re: Did the Brahmins taking lay follower refuge in the Buddha remain Brahmins?

Post by Volo » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:56 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:40 am
OK. Below is a summary of my sutta search, where I found at least 10 occasions of taking refuge by Brahmin Jāṇussoṇi. Note: MN 27 appears to report Brahmin Janussoni had never met the Buddha before and, in MN 27, he was taught the Triple Knowledge. Yet, in AN 3.59, Janussoni was again taught the Triple Knowledge, in a manner than appears novel to Brahmin Jāṇussoṇi.
I personally don't see much problems in his declaring of going for refuge many times. That is what we do as well. Although the DPPN mentions:
DPPN wrote:Buddhaghosa says that Jānussoni was not his personal name but the name of the rank he held as chaplain to the Kosala king. MA.i.90; according to AA. (i.308) it was the name of any noble family, members of which held this rank.
So, it might even be that several people were refered by this name in the suttas.

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