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Riven by LustIncest and Schism in Indian Buddhist Legend and Historiography$
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Jonathan A. Silk

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824830908

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824830908.001.0001

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The Buddhist Context of Sin

The Buddhist Context of Sin

(p.21) 4 The Buddhist Context of Sin
Riven by Lust

Jonathan A. Silk

University of Hawai'i Press

Buddhist scholastic tradition speaks of a classification of five “sins of immediate retribution”: killing one's father, mother, or an arhat; drawing the blood of a buddha; and creating a schism in the monastic community. These are crimes so heinous that their inevitable karmic result of descent into hell takes place immediately in the next life, rather than at some unspecified vague point in the future, as is usual for generic karmic results. These are the most serious crimes catalogued and studied within Indian Buddhist literature. This chapter examines indigenous Indian Buddhist thinking about the stock set of crimes of which Mahādeva is accused. Interestingly, no great stress is put on his incest, the focus being rather on his murders (for having murdered his father, he goes on to kill a Buddhist saint and his mother as well). The overwhelmingly positive nature of Buddhist ethics is highlighted in this context by the fact that commission of even the worst imaginable crimes does not lead to eternal damnation, that idea playing essentially no role in Buddhist thought or mythology.

Keywords:   Indian Buddhism, Indian Buddhist thought, crimes, murder, Buddhist ethics

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