Sakra Indra Devanam

Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby plwk » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:21 am

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Today, 8th of February 2014, 9th Day/1st Lunar Month, the Chinese Mahayana world commemorates Sakra Indra Devanam, Lord of the Trayatrimsha Heaven, one of Buddhism's foremost Dharmapala besides Brahma, appearing in most of the list of protector deities in Dharma Assemblies as found in most Sutras.

Today, by extension, the Dharmapala devas of the trayo-dhātu (三界 / sān jiè / Triple Realms): kama, rupya and arupya (see page 181, Appendix A for reference on the Buddhist cosmological list of the 28 Heavens) are also honoured and an elaborate and extensive sadhana rite, The Golden Light Repentance and Offering to the Celestials, based on the Golden Light Sutra is performed. And some of the best layout of Chinese culinary vegetarian and miscellaneous offerings are part of this event. A good example and sample of devanusmrti which is part of the 40 listed practices of the karmasthana

More on Sakra/Sakka: 1 2 3 4 5

As recited in the extensive Surangama Dharani, in the list of many heavenly protectors: Namo Indraya 南無因陀羅耶 (nán wú yīn tuó luó yé) Homage to Indra
A short comment from the late Tripitaka & Dhyana Acarya Xuan Hua: The last line, "Na mo yin tuo la ye," refers to what Chinese people call the Jade Emperor. Those who do not understand the Buddhadharma say, "The Jade Emperor belongs to Taoism. We shouldn’t bow to him." They don’t realize that the Jade Emperor is just Lord Shakra. As Buddhist disciples, we should also respect him and gather him in.
Last edited by plwk on Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby plwk » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:24 am

Sample videos on this event: (1st video is sample actual sadhana rite in Chinese and the other 3, the ritual in progress)


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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Will » Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:19 am

A little more on Sakra by Master Hua:

The lord of this heaven is the one taken by most people as being God Almighty, ruler of heaven and earth. Although he is extremely powerful and does attend to divine matters as well as earthly ones, he is not really any different from ordinary folk since he still has sexual desires, still eats, drinks, and sleeps. Although he still has desires they are far lighter than those of humans who usually become famished after several days without food, exhausted after a few hours without sleep, and chafed after a short time without sexual activity. Sakra can go for one, two, or even three hundred days without eating and can pass a year or so without sleep or sex. Although his desires are light, he still has not cut them off.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Huifeng » Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:58 am

Tomorrow night for the West Coast... have just been discussing English translations for the service.

:namaste:

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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Zhen Li » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:24 am

Does anyone think that western deities will one day be identified as just being other names for Buddhist ones? Or does it presuppose a polytheistic system?
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby matthewmartin » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:09 pm

Zhen Li wrote:Does anyone think that western deities will one day be identified as just being other names for Buddhist ones? Or does it presuppose a polytheistic system?


There are 2 sense for this:

Thor is Indra. Indic and Scandinavian religions both share a common root in the Indo-european religion, in which a sky father and thunder god were most prominent. By similar matching, any Scandinavian god could potentially match up to a diety or Bodhisattva in the Buddhist system via Buddhist borrowings from Hinduism.

Buddhists have "buddhfied" pre-existing religious figures when Buddhism arrives in a new land. The system of Buddhism must at some level encourage this because it happens so often. Even Jesus is now imagined to have been a Buddhist monk, which seems unlikely historically-- Lopez's book about how little the West knew about Buddhist implies that most middle easterners would have only had the vaguest sense that Buddhism existed.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:00 pm

Zhen Li wrote:Does anyone think that western deities will one day be identified as just being other names for Buddhist ones? Or does it presuppose a polytheistic system?


Indeed, Zeus, Thor and Indra are basically the same deity. This goes back to the Indo-European roots.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo ... n_religion

The Buddha's heritage was basically Indo-European, so this makes sense.

I suppose one issue is that historically people sacrificed animals to figures like Zeus, whereas in Buddhism Indra is an enlightened being, and probably would not encourage such acts.

"Having gone to those whom I considered to be brahmans & contemplatives living in isolated dwellings in the wilderness, I asked them these questions. But when asked by me, they were at a loss. Being at a loss, they asked me in return, 'What is your name?'


"Being asked, I responded, 'I, dear sir, am Sakka, the deva-king.'


"So they questioned me further, 'But what kamma did you do to attain to this state?'


"So I taught them the Dhamma as far as I had heard and mastered it. And they were gratified with just this much: 'We have seen Sakka, the deva-king, and he has answered our questions!' So, instead of my becoming their disciple, they simply became mine. But I, lord, am the Blessed One's disciple, a stream-winner, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Nevertheless, Indra remains a cosmic deva king with ongoing battles against the asuras. He is flawed figure, yet nevertheless despite his status as a noble being continues being a warrior king leading armies into battle.

Like Zeus and Thor, he has no problem exercising violence for the benefit of mankind. Animal sacrifice to Indra might be taboo for Buddhists, but not non-Buddhists. Sacrifice might be seen as empowering a god. In this case it is a god charged with the protection of humanity.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Zhen Li » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:21 pm

I guess the issue I would have with the interpretation of Thor as Indra, would be that there are also equivalent myths where Indra's place is taken by Wotan. I am just thinking of the Kumarasambhava here, where Indra plays a similar role in aiming for the destruction of Taraka as Wotan does in aiming for the destruction of the dragon, both must do so through an intermediary due to some kind of bind they have against killing the enemy themselves. I would think the Judeo-Christian God probably is most similar to Brahma.
The Buddha's heritage was basically Indo-European, so this makes sense.

Probably a mixture of some kind of Munda-indigenous heritage, with Indo-Aryan. Since the names used in the Sutras for people and places in the Sakya kingdom are often of non-Indo-European origin. There's also the prominent evidence of trace Naga cults and tree cults, (not to mention Yakshas) which are definitely indigenous, and Mucilinda's name can be derived from Munda. There's also multiple stories in the Pali Canon about cousin-intermarriage among Sakya ancestors, which was forbidden in Brahmanical society. Also, indigenous burial customs were mound-based, in round mounds, while the Indo-Aryans abandoned the Kurgan-like mound burials centuries earlier in preference for square burial chambers. You will also note that many of the names of the Buddha's disciples are odd from the Brahminical perspective, such as Shariputra, who is named after his mother. There's also some evidence that the notion of a Mahapurusha was indigenous.

So there's high probability that there's some indigenous heritage at least. I am unwilling to believe, like some would, that there was an Indo-Aryan conspiracy to cover this up by inserting all sorts of Indo-Aryan stuff into the Sutras. I think it's far more likely there was a mix, after all, you'll be hard pressed not to find someone with mixed heritage like this in urban India or Nepal.
Like Zeus and Thor, he has no problem exercising violence for the benefit of mankind. Animal sacrifice to Indra might be taboo for Buddhists, but not non-Buddhists. Sacrifice might be seen as empowering a god. In this case it is a god charged with the protection of humanity.

Indra would never accept a blood-sacrifice. It's not a question of Taboo, it's just out of the question altogether. But in reality, Buddhists do (in Nepal) and likely did practice sacrifices in India. Currently the goddeses Taleju and Bhagavati (Durga) are served occasionally by Vajracaryas, though primarily by Brahmans and Karmacaryas. Vajracaryas also on a monthly basis, or occasionally, make sacrifices to Ganesh, Purnacandi, Bhimsen, or Bagalamukhi, or to the Mother Goddess and Bhairava temples (pitha) outside the city. While none of their shrines-proper are in Buddhist temples, the Vajracaryas obviously believe them to be forms of various Bodhisattvas. But the practice is becoming less common since Theravadans came to Nepal and started to criticise.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:09 am

Zhen Li wrote:I
Indra would never accept a blood-sacrifice. It's not a question of Taboo, it's just out of the question altogether.


If Indra is Zeus, then clearly many animals have been killed for him in the past.

It is rather problematic considering Buddhist ethics, but then from an alternative perspective killing and violence are just part of the cosmic order. Our little place in that order as Buddhists is to advocate non-violence and compassion, yet we remain direct beneficiaries of violence. Others kill for our well-being and protection. Others slaughter animals or till soil to feed us. The four Mahārāja protect the four directions from evil forces, and they are indeed armed and fierce in the iconography and scriptures.

Traditional polytheism tends to integrate both aspects of compassion and violence into their traditions. For example, in Nepal they might make offerings of food and garlands to all the street dogs on one day and then on another kill immeasurable goats to satisfy the blood lust of a goddess.

As Buddhists we're morally obligated to reject violence and killing, and this is our little role to play in the order of things, though it isn't the only role one can play.

A god like Indra might not be confined to this single role as we are. The cosmos is an eternal process of balancing. Death and violence are as essential to that balancing as are birth and nurturing love. This is why even demons have their role to play in the natural order of things. Our role of course is different. However, again, a higher god might need to play multiple roles. Just as a king might be benevolent and charitable, he still has to exercise violence to protect his people. He must also be fed.

Offering animals is abhorrent and wrong in Buddhist ethics, but it is still very powerful. This is why so many cultures practiced it (and many still do). It is like black magic. It actually often works.

Basically I don't think higher gods are necessarily bound to our limited scope of morality. We might think we know better (and a lot of Buddhists think of themselves as teachers of gods and men), but that could just be hubris on our part.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:12 am

I have always thought there might be an identity between Sophia who is venerated as the personification of Wisdom (here) and the Goddess Prajñāpāramitā (here). They are both depicted as beautiful maidens. If you look at the traditional iconographical depictions, they are quite similar, allowing for the cultural distinctions.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:30 am

Zhen Li wrote:I would think the Judeo-Christian God probably is most similar to Brahma.


It is an interesting fact that the name 'Jupiter' is derived from the Sanskrit 'Dyaus Pitar' meaning literally 'sky-father'. I often reflect that this is the kind of image or idea that many people (both believers and atheists) would identify as 'God'. It is also, co-incidentally (but not etymologically) similar to the word 'Jehovah', which, again, I am sure most people would regard as 'the one god' of the Bible.

Of course from the viewpoint of orthodox theology, all such ideas and depictions are indeed idolatrous and incorrect, and are at best concessions to the popular imagination.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:47 am

RE: Indrajala
I was talking more in terms of actual practice on the ground. Indra isn't classed as a "blood-sacrifice accepting" deva. He's just vomit it up.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:52 am

Zhen Li wrote:RE: Indrajala
I was talking more in terms of actual practice on the ground. Indra isn't classed as a "blood-sacrifice accepting" deva. He's just vomit it up.


Not if he's also Zeus.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:05 am

And this is clearly where the analogy breaks down. But if we were to rewind to the kurgan culture, then perhaps proto-zeus/thor/wotan/indra, would have accepted blood sacrifice. :P
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:15 am

Zhen Li wrote:And this is clearly where the analogy breaks down. But if we were to rewind to the kurgan culture, then perhaps proto-zeus/thor/wotan/indra, would have accepted blood sacrifice. :P


It's the same god.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:49 am

And of course all sorts of cults and traditions surrounding Zeus, Thor and Wotan transferred over to the Jesus cult. So essentially people are still worshipping Indra. Except Indra sacrifices himself so they don't have to. :roll:
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby rory » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:47 pm

Jesus is basically Attis, Osiris, Orpheus, nothing to do with Zeus. Now the middle Eastern storm deities: El, Yahweh, Allah are and were regarded by the Greeks and Romans as forms of Zeus/Juppiter.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:03 am

Thanks for you comment, but Heroditus said that Zeus is identical to Osirus and there are all sorts of astrological similarities as regards fish. I am not sure we can exclude anything much from anything else much with universality in this regard.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:52 am

The thing is though we can trace the Indo-European roots of Zeus and Indra to a common source. It isn't tentative association.
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Re: Sakra Indra Devanam

Postby rory » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:59 am

There is a wealth of archelogical and scholarly evidence and studies in comparative linguistics and mythology since 400 B.C.E. when Herodotus lived. You obviously never heard of the cults of Jupiter Dolichensis or Jupiter Heliopolitanus in Syria. Egyptian religion was extremely popular in ancient Rome and Osiris was never assimilated to Jupiter. Rather Isis became the great syncretic goddess, if you wish to read a contemporary account I suggest Apuleius's Golden Ass, when the protagonist has a vision of the Goddess. So please instead of giving mere opinions I 'd be more than happy to give you a good list of studies on Roman religion. Start with McEvilley's book.
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