by K.G. Justin de Silva

Vasetta Sutta

(Kuddaka Nikaya- Sutta Nipata)

An explanation of the Vasetta Sutta as described may be useful to the reader if one has not read it.

Two young Brahmins,Vasetta and Baradvaja, at the time of Lord Buddha were in the need of an answer to the question as to who would be a true Brahmin. Is it by lineage or by virtue of Moral living.

After declaring their knowledge in the Vedas of Hindu, and their Brahmin lineage, they inquired of the nature of a Brahmin. To this inquiry Lord Buddha answers in detail.

The grass and the trees and their species on this earth are many fold .

The worms and the moths and ants, as of their species are many fold.

The four footed animals , small and great, in their species are many fold.

Serpents and similar (unlegged creatures) are many fold in their species.

The birds and creatures who fly on their wings that mark a different species are many fold.

In the above species of animals the marks that differentiate their species are distinct.

In humans the marks that mark their species (caste) are not distinct and abundant, and cannot be identified by hair, head, ears, eyes , lips or brows.

Hands, feet, palms, nails, calves, thighs, color, or voice does not mark signs of a difference of human species.

Men are identified by the crafts that they have developed for their living such as archery, agriculture or war fare, or a ruler of areas or countries.

Lord Buddha explains that one becomes a “Brahmana” not by lineage by birth such as present day Brahmins who make sacrifices of animals etc. but by noble morals. One also does not become a low caste by the trade one lives with.

621. When all bonds are cut , if one is not worried Bonds are cut and unyolked , he is called a Brahmin.

654. by actions the world rolls on , by scions the populace rolls on , Beings bound to actions, go on , like the linch pin of a wheel.

656. “Endowed with the three knowledges appeased and rebirth destroyed vasettha know it as recognizing Brahma and Sakha.”

Having heard the sermon from Lord Buddha the two Brahmans took refuge in the Dhamma and began to follow the Buddha Dharma.

In “Vasala Sutra”, another sermon, Lord Buddha, emphasized that not all societies differentiate people by castes but certain societies differentiate people as rich class and poor class.

In the Vasala sutra Lord Buddha finally endorses the fact that “ Not by birth is one an out caste ; not by birth is one a Brahmin. By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes a Brahman.”

In Vasala sutra it is well explained that all who act without greed , hatred and delusion (ignorance) are absorbed in to the class of Brahmans and the rest are of low castes.(A proper Brahman follows the Eight fold Path as explained in Buddha Dharma.)

(In the ancient Hindu societies Hindu priests , wrongly interpreted the caste system as of lineage. The clans of Indians were named Brahmana (priests), Kshaktriya (Rulers) ,Vaishya (Agiriculturists and business man), and shudra ( physical workers) and the untouchable class.

The untouchable clan was not allowed to mix with others and the Brahman (Hindu) priests called them untouchables who were not allowed to enter even the Hindu temples (Kovils).Untouchables are still found in India, with their social limits.

In actual fact, in reality the four clans are to be classed in the society with their individual intelligences. Brahmans should be of beings of highest intelligence. Kshatriya should be the rulers to be managers with the next class of intelligence.

The Vaishya should be (businessmen and Agriculturists) who holds the next stage of intelligence.

Shudra, could be physical workers who are managed by the above classes of people and were of a lower class of intelligence, who normally worked on other’s instructions.

In the process of growing-up and maturing with education along with wisdom, one can elevate oneself and be classed onto one of the four classes of clans. Lineage is not a criteria of caste according to Buddhism.

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