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Significance of Bak Full Moon: Buddha and Good Governance

31 March 2018 12:01 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


On a Bak Full Moon day, in the fifth year of his enlightenment, the Buddha perceived a dispute brewing between the two Naga Communities in Northern Lanka led by two Kings Chulodara and Mahodara. Buddhism with a message of Peace for all humankind—the Buddha, preached his doctrine to the warring parties at Nagadeepa on his second visit to this land. Buddha quoted from several Jatakas to illustrate the evils of conflict and the value and benefits that one can accumulate from unity and peace.  

Hovering in mid-air, above the battle field and creating darkness and then illuminating the whole area in frequent intervals the Blessed one aborted a war between the uncle and nephew over a magnificent gem-studded throne.   


Most of us blindly hold into the view that Buddhism is a religion concerned about the interests in next birth, they fail to find a profound political thinking in Buddhism


During the Buddha’s time 25 centuries ago, there were two major governing systems. The Monarchial system and the Republican system each represented by famous Magadha Kingdom, under the Kings Bimbisara, Kosala and Pasenadi. The other one was represented by the Vajjins in Vaisali. Several Buddhist historians are of the view that the Buddha preferred the republican style over the monarchical.   

Most of us blindly hold into the view that Buddhism is a religion concerned about the interests in next birth, they fail to find a profound political thinking in Buddhism. The Buddha viewed a very closely shared relation between spiritual life and worldly life. His belief was an established and contended material life that provide the affable background essential for gradual movement with sacred life. In providing such a friendly secular surroundings, the Buddha decisively believed that state had a sitting untransferable constructive role to play. This is the rationale for laying down some thoughtful and practical political hypothesis.  


This view is based mainly on the above seven conditions. The Vajjins followed the Satta-Aparihaniya-Dhamma which the Buddha promoted for the monks to follow. However, this is not sufficient evidence to come to a conclusion, for these conditions of development were taught to the Vajjins who already ran a republican government. Buddha told Venerable Ananda Thera that the Vajjins would remain invincible, as long as they pursued the Satta-Aparihaniya-Dhamma.  

the Mahaparinibbana Sutta in the Digha Nikaya mention that King Ajatasattu of Magadha wanted to assault and defeat the Vajjian state. Before proceeding, he had requested his minister to go to the Buddha and ask the Buddha’s view on his idea. Buddha, instead of giving a straight answer, spoke about the seven conditions favorable to the growth of a nation’s benefit.   

The Buddha affirmed that, as long as the Vajjians meet regularly and hold many assembly; as long as they assemble together in harmony, rise in harmony and perform their duties in harmony; as long as they pass nothing not enacted, abrogate nothing that has previously been enacted, act in agreement with the already recognized ancient Vajjian ideology; as long as they maintain, admiration, venerate and respect the Vajjian elders, and pay regard to their commendable speech; as long as no females of their families are under arrest by force or abduction; as long as they maintain, respect, worship, honour those objects of reverence — internal and external — and do not desert those virtuous ceremonies held before. As long as the rightful safeguard, defence and support for the Arahants shall be afforded by the Vajjian,  so that Arahants who have not come may come into the realm and those who have entered the kingdom may live in peace — so long may the Vajjians be likely not to decline, but to flourish and thrive.  

 There were other guaranteed developments taking place in community conditions as well as in financial and religious circumstances. Perhaps, the Buddha contemplated a powerful centralized form of government was the finest form of government to engage in new situation that were cropping up.  


Buddha’s conception of Cakkavatti-raja or Universal Monarch 
The prevalent Brahmanic political viewpoint then was kingship as being of heavenly origin, and hence designed by an Almighty God; to hand out divine justice. Besides, politics was the exquisitely assigned obligation to a particularly honored class the Ksatriyas. Through His teachings on good governance, the Buddha presented a totally new political philosophy and a political culture. The Buddha discarding all these views presented the kingship or the state as a product of social evolution that takes place due to causes and conditions that arose in the society itself.  

Due to corruption in humanity, the people required a means to end the corrupt performance and have justice in society. The people were concerned in securing protection of life affluence, and family etc. So they, through general consent, preferred a suitable person and, on his accord to embark on the responsibility of providing justice, contracted with him to give him a quota of their harvest for his services. The king or the state was the Aryan, on behalf of not the divine will, but the common will of the people. So, the state’s or the king’s authority rested not on the determination of the God above, but on the general will of the people. While the regime looked after the wants of the people, the people, in reciprocation, remunerated the ruler.  

Thus, the basic principle in Buddhist political attitude is that the state represent and defend the common will of the citizens. Put into practice measures to maintain the will of the citizens the state was expected to stick to certain specific norms; and these are well specified in the concept of the Universal Monarch. The conditions that could occur in the course of governance would be so abundant, that the ruler has to understand the changing desires of people, the ground situation in a country where standing and everlasting laws cannot be operated. What are the standard rules of the Cakkavatti? Buddhist texts call the norms; A fundamental norm is to provide guard, righteous, protection and ward for all the subjects, those who live in all parts of the country, to all religious men, including the army, the householders, birds of the air, and to beasts of the forests.   

Another of his tasks is to eliminate all corruption; to secure economic stability and the subjects through the suitable manner in distribution of wealth. Besides, the ruler had to ensure there is peace and concord.

Buddhist political thinking is focused on constructing a peaceful society, happy and prosperous, free of any kind of wars, free of conflict, fears and worries, where people are not made to suffer. The king or the state had to be very responsive to the wants of the people, amenable to good advice, open to discuss policies. Good governance will fail by acting according to one’s individual will. A good leader must should have a shining set of ministers who are competent in advising him. Ministers, should be well-informed and conversant men, who are quite up to date with the traditions of good governance. A successful leader not only look for advice from professionals, while taking expert advice he should compare them with the suggestions of experienced men, who are in retirement and more disposed towards saintly life.

  Comments - 1

  • Dhammika Saturday, 31 March 2018 11:40 AM


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