|What the Buddha preached
Edited by Mohan Shenoy.
All human beings are afraid and prey gods for quarters?
I wish to reproduce a paragraph from the book, Hinduism and Buddhism, An Historical
Sketch Vol 1 by Sir Charles Eliot.
Sigalovada Sutta relates how the Buddha when starting one morning to beg alms in
Rajagaha saw the householder Sigala bowing down with clasped hands and saluting the
four quarters, the nadir and the zenith. The object of the ceremonies was to avert any evil
which might come from these six points:
The Buddha told him that this was not the right way to protect oneself: a man should regard
his parents as the east, his teachers as the south, his wife and children as the west, his
friends as the north, his servants as the nadir and the monks and Brahmans as the zenith.
By fulfilling his duty to these six classes a man protects from all evil which may come from
the six points.
Then he expounded in order the mutual duties of (1) parents and children, (2) pupils and
teachers, (3) husband and wife, (4) friends, (5) master and servant, (6) laity and clergy. The
precepts which follow show how much common sense and good feeling Gotama could bring
to bear on the affairs of every-day life when he gave them his attention.
In India there is an widespread idea that he who devotes himself to a religious and
intellectual life (and the two spheres, though they do not coincide, overlap more than in
Europe) should be not only respected but supported by the rest of the world. He is not a
professional man in the sense that lawyers, doctors, and clergymen are, but rather an
aristocrat. ...the average Hindu has always believed in another kind of upper class, entered
in some sects by birth, in others by merit, but in general a well-defined body, the conduct of
whose members does not fail to command respect....he who has renounced the world, who
is pure in thought, word and deed, who follows the eight-fold path, and perfects himself in
knowledge, he is the true Brahman.
The ethical character of Buddhism and its superiority to other Indian systems are shown in
the precepts which it lays down for laymen. Ceremony and doctrine have hardly any place
in this code, but it enjoins good conduct and morality: moderation in pleasures and
consideration for others.
Only five commandments are essential for a good life... abstinence from the five sins of
taking life, drinking intoxicants, lying, stealing and unchastity. It is meritorious to observe in
addition three other precepts, namely, to use no garlands or perfumes, to sleep on a mat
spread on the ground and not to eat after mid-day. Pious laymen keep all these eight
precepts, at least on Uposatha days and often make a vow to observe them for some
The nearer a layman can approximate to the life of a monk the better for his spiritual health,
but still the aims and ideals and consequently the methods, of the lay and religious life are
different.... The law merely bids him be a kind, temperate, prudent man of the world...the
good respectable life... The Buddha even praised the ancients because they married for
love and did not buy their wives.
Edited by Mohan Shenoy.
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