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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Buddhism and concept of gods

Thursday was Duruthu full moon poya day

Buddhism and concept of gods

By Vitharandeniye Vajirawansa Thero, Incumbent, Singhagiri Vihara, International Buddhist Cultural Institute

There are many debates about Buddhism and the concept of gods. All religions in the world can be divided into two major categories as human centred and god centred. In Buddhism, man is the lord of himself and he has the freedom to think. God centred religions believe that man, all other creatures and the world is being controlled by an almighty god. Most religions of the world like Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are god centred religions.
Lord Buddha too has taught about gods in some of the sutras and Buddhism describes about three types of gods.

1. Samuththi Deva
2. Vishuddhi Deva
3. Opapathika Deva

‘Samuththi Deva’ are the elites of a society like kings, counts and ministers etc. ‘Vishuddhi Deva’ are the noble enlightened persons like Buddhas, pase Buddhas and Arahath. ‘Opapathika Deva’ are the gods who are born in the heavens, or higher levels of existence, because of their meritorious deeds in ‘Sansara’.
This article describes the ‘Opapathika Deva’ concept. The concept of god was believed even before Lord Buddha was born. People are said to have worshipped nature like trees and rocks. In addition during early times, they believed in devils, cobras and the dead as well. Then they believed in 33 000 000 gods and thereafter converted that in to the belief of one almighty god ‘Maha Brahma’. The ‘Tripitaka’ shows us that people used to believe in divisions of devils like ‘Gandarva’, ‘Kubmbhanda’ and ‘Naga’. They believed that ‘Deva’ (gods) and ‘Bhrahma’ as the noble ones. Buddhism describes about six heavens dwelt by gods who were born there because of their meritorious deeds. The one nearest to the world of humans is ‘Chathummaharajika’ heaven where there are four gods, tutelary of the four directions.
‘Dutharashta’ the chief of East, ‘Viruta’ the chief of South, ‘Virupashta’ the chief West and ‘Vaishravana’ the chief of North are the four gods in this ‘Chathummaharajika’ heaven. These gods are said to be the protectors of Buddhism. Above the ‘’Chathummaharajika’ is the ‘Thavathinsha’ heaven where the king of heavens, god ‘Shakra’ dwells. Above this are the two heavens ‘Yamaya’ and ‘Thusitha’. Next are the ‘Nimmanarathi’ and ‘Parinimmitha’ heavens. Creators of heavens are said to be dwelling in ‘Nimmanarathi’ heaven.
Most of the gods in these heavens have had conversations with Lord Buddha and Buddhism divides these gods into two categories.

1. ‘Samyak Drushtika’ gods.
2. ‘Mithya Drushtika’ gods.

‘Samyak Drushtika’ gods are the ones who have learned and accepted Buddhism. They always protect the humans who share merits with them (Punyanumodana) while ‘Mithyadrushtika’ gods, with wrong ideas, only enjoy the luxuries in heavens they are dwelling in. However, Buddhism teaches that one needs to do meritorious deeds in the human world to be born a god or a goddess of any sort. Lord Buddha has focused on gods in many sutras like Mangala, Dhajagga, and Atanitiya etc.
Lord Buddha was a god in ‘Thavathinsha’ heaven and, on a request of gods, was born in the human world after considering the five requirements (Pas Maha Belum). Gods too listened to Lord Buddha’s first sermon at Isipathnarama in ‘Baranesa’ which has itself described about heavens. It is said that 100 years in the human world is one day in some heavens while its a 1000 years in the human world is one day in some other heavens. In addition to that, the sutra describes about flowers in heavens like ‘Madara’, ‘Parasathu’ and ‘Kadupul’ and it describes happiness as the only food of the gods.
‘Maha Samaya’ sutra of ‘Deega nikaya’ describes about gods of time and their areas of power. According to the ‘Sakkapaha Sutra’ of ‘Sangyuktha nikaya’

Ye gahatta punnakara
Seelavantho upasaka
Dhammena darang posanthi
Thee namassami mathalee

The king of gods ‘Shakra’ respects the people who conduct meritorious deeds. Thus, those who live by the ‘dharma’ are blessed by gods. Sutras of ‘Anguththara nikaya’ also describe that the gods come to the human world and protect the people who live by the ‘dhamma’.
When Lord Buddha performed miracles, gods are said to have come and worshipped him and according to the Mahawamsa, when Lord Buddha came to Sri Lanka, god Sumana Saman held a parasol for him. God Sumana Saman was considered as the chief of the ‘Samanala’ area and Lord Buddha is said to have entrusted Sri Lanka to his care when Lord Buddha passed away. At this time the king of gods ‘Shakra’ is said to have expressed their sympathies, saying the verse ‘Anichcha vatha sankara’.
Buddhism teaches about twenty ‘brahma’ worlds which are above the heavens of gods. ‘Brahma’ are described as a nobler group than gods and those who have attained ‘Anagami pala’ (third stage of enlightenment) come to live in the ‘brahma’ world known as ‘Shuddha vasa’.
Buddhism shows that ‘Samyak Drushtika’ gods have attained stages of enlightenment ( marga pala) following the teachings of Lord Buddha and they attend to the needs of Lord Buddha and ‘Sangha’ and protect the people who live by the Dhamma. Thus, Buddhism broadly describes the concept of gods in its teachings.
But today, Sri Lankans and the people of the world have tended to believe in gods in a different manner other than how it is mentioned in Buddhism. As Sri Lanka was invaded by several foreign nations, Sri Lankans are used to the beliefs of Hinduism and Christianity. During the era of Polonnaruwa kingdom, kings married Hindu women and constructed ‘devala’ inside temples so that their queens could worship at the ‘devala’ when the king was worshipping at the temple. It kept evolving from then on and today ‘devalas’ can be seen in almost all the temples. Buddhists, in addition to worshipping at Buddhist temples, have started worshipping Hindu gods like Vishnu, Kataragama, Vibheeshana, Dedimunda, Natha and Paththini etc. The people, who believe that gods have a greater power than humans, make offerings to gods and wish for prosperity. But according to the Buddhist concept, this cannot be accepted as a wise act. One has to work to make his wishes come true and expecting the gods to come and do miracles will not help him all.


Keerthi said...

The explanation of gods given in this article is what poor Buddhists think as correct and people around the world laugh at.

You don't need a Buddha to teach the people about gods and other beings.

A Buddha is born to teach the path to Nirvana and nothing else. Unfortunately, Lord Buddha was made a story tellar who told stories suitable for the children of kindergarten.

The Buddhism today is one silly religion full of beliefs, myths and miracles. Buddhist monks play a leading role in spreading and taking to the next generation all the poor beliefs in it. If any monk tries to do any purification and find the original Dharma he will be chased out like how they did to Ven. Prof. Valpola Rahula.

In spite of having the great Kalama Suthra which tells not to believe any thing, they believe what is in Thripitaka is 100% correct(without any endorsement whatsoever from The Buddha), the statue they worship is that of Buddha's, Bodhi is Bo tree, Dharma is what is in Thripitaka, Sangha is Buddhist monks etc. etc.

The Buddha has said all what he taught must be "seen" by the follower (janato han bikkawe passato). Unfortunately no Buddhist monk knows the method as to how to "see" what the Buddha taught. Instead they teach and we laymen "believe"!

The Buddha said there is only one path to Nirvana and taught it to his followers. The path was the Noble Eightfold Path (NEP) and he mentioned this in almost all of his discourses. As, it is the only path to Nirvana it was his unique discovery which made him a Buddha and his followers Aryas.

We must realise that all his sermons and all his efforts were to give the NEP to the world and therefore all Suthras are explanations of this unique path!

Therefore, one must realise that all Suthras are various explanations of the NEP and it is our duty to discovere the path in hidden form from all Suthras!

Therefore, if in a Suthra you find mentions about gods you must realise it was told as another explanation to the unique path.

If you go on like that you will easily see gods are "chaitasikas".
You need deva-manussa chaitasika to attain Nirvana.

Now, you know it is said that Mahamangala Suthra was told to gods by the Buddha in answer to a question by a god. There you find Buddha saying "matha pitu upattanam" meaning treating the parents is a good deed. But you know the gods are born without parents!!!!!!!!!!

Was the Buddha a fool to tell this?
Or did our fools translated it wrong?

My advice is never accept the translations. Thripitaka is correct to a very high extent but it is full of interpolations.

The Buddha never wrote his teaching. Never did the Arhaths.

The original teaching lasted only 500 years and the last Arhath was Maliyadewa. Remember The Buddha has very clearly said if you have Magga (the path) you have Arhaths and if Arhaths are not there you don't have Dharma!

Thripitaka was written by Pruthagjana monks and was raped by Brahmins. Today's Buddhism is the product of brahmin Buddhagosa.
You can rather call Buddhism as Buddagoshaism. Buddhagosa closed the path to Nirvana.

All explanations, Atthakathas you have today have been written by Pruthagjanas who never even knew the path.

The Buddha never taught or give discourses untill he himself became a Buddha. He never allowed his followers to delliver sermons until they became Arhaths. Dhamma is the property of Arhaths. Pruthagjanas should not be allowed to teach and explane what The Buddha said!

godrealized said...

The most primary and fundamental belief of Hinduism is... every single human being on mother earth has potential of becoming an enlightened one like Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed! No matter what... the teachings of Bhagavad Gita are absolute! Lord Krishna has made this one particular point absolutely clear in doctrine of Bhagavad Gita.

Another fundamental belief is presence of a soul atman within human body! As per Hinduism beliefs journey of life belongs to our soul atman and not human form! Our soul atman manifested human body to work out its karma... remove dross impurities within! The moment complete dross impurities within soul atman removed... it reached stage of liberation (Mukti) forever!

Indika said...

Hey Keerithi,

such great wisdom you have, you must be the future Buddha Maitreya.

because of such intellectual bullshit of people like you, Buddhist doctrine will perish from the world soon. thanks Mara.

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