24 November, 2020

Sing Them Songs Of A Sacred Fight

Ambiguous dharma and an exact dhamma make allowances for righteous war

Photograph by Alamy
Sing Them Songs Of A Sacred Fight

Although extremely sensitive to violence in other contexts, Buddhist and Jaina texts do not unequivocally reject the king’s use of force or war.... Victories in war were often occasions for kings to make generous gifts of land to Brahmanas or monasteries. Kharavela’s Hathigumpha inscription refers to a prestigious religious icon as an important element in the war between the Nandas and Chedis. The popularity of deities such as Indra, Karttikeya, and Durga no doubt had a great deal to do with the fact that they were associated with war and victory. Violence was a part of the world of the gods, and, as we see in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, the wars between the gods and demons occasionally spilled dramatically into the human realm.

Religious texts and political narratives of early historic north India convey a distinct competition and one-upmanship between Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Jai­­­nism. Ashoka’s schism edict suggests dissension and acrimony within the Bud­dhist sangha. The twelfth major rock edict, where he makes a passionate plea...



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