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What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 9:08 am
by bcol01
My friend seems to think that what King Ashoka says overrides what the Lotus Sutra says and teaches.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:05 am
by Bois de Santal
And what does King Ashoka say?

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:16 pm
by Queequeg
can't imagine what that conversation was...

was it a Seinfeld bit?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edicts_of_Ashoka

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:55 pm
by bcol01
Haha well, my Thai Buddhist friend seems to think Ashoka's understanding of Buddhism is superior to Nichiren's.
Queequeg wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:16 pm can't imagine what that conversation was...

was it a Seinfeld bit?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edicts_of_Ashoka

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:27 pm
by Queequeg
bcol01 wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:55 pm Haha well, my Thai Buddhist friend seems to think Ashoka's understanding of Buddhism is superior to Nichiren's.
Queequeg wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:16 pm can't imagine what that conversation was...

was it a Seinfeld bit?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edicts_of_Ashoka
That's about as meaningless a remark as they come, frankly.

I can't imagine this person is in a position to judge either Ashoka or Nichiren.

Indeed a Seinfeld schtick. A show about nothing.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:43 pm
by bcol01
Show about nothing?
Queequeg wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:27 pm
bcol01 wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:55 pm Haha well, my Thai Buddhist friend seems to think Ashoka's understanding of Buddhism is superior to Nichiren's.
Queequeg wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:16 pm can't imagine what that conversation was...

was it a Seinfeld bit?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edicts_of_Ashoka
That's about as meaningless a remark as they come, frankly.

I can't imagine this person is in a position to judge either Ashoka or Nichiren.

Indeed a Seinfeld schtick. A show about nothing.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:49 pm
by Queequeg
bcol01 wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:43 pm Show about nothing?
Nothing.


Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:51 am
by bcol01
It's something to me.

Maybe I didn't phrase the question better.
Queequeg wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:49 pm
bcol01 wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:43 pm Show about nothing?
Nothing.


Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:34 am
by Queequeg
Sorry. The joke probably doesn't translate.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:17 am
by Caoimhghín
bcol01 wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:55 pmHaha well, my Thai Buddhist friend seems to think Ashoka's understanding of Buddhism is superior to Nichiren's.
:jawdrop:

A Thai Buddhist thinks Japanese Buddhism is nonsense?!

It's almost as if every branch of Buddhism thinks its way better than the others.

:spy:

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:45 am
by Caoimhghín
Bois de Santal wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:05 am And what does King Ashoka say?
When king Devanampriya Priyadarsin had been anointed eight years, the country of the Kalingas was conquered by him. One hundred and fifty thousand in number were the men who were deported thence, one hundred thousand in number were those who were slain there, and many times as many those who died.

After that, now that the country of the Kalingyas has been taken, Devanampriya is devoted to a zealous study of morality, to the love of morality, and to the instruction of people in morality. This is the repentance of Devanampriya on account of his conquest of the country of the Kalingyas. For, this is considered very painful and deplorable by Devanampriya, that, while one is conquering an unconquered country, slaughter, death, and deportation of people are taking place there, but the following is considered even more deplorable than this by Devanampriya. To the Brahmanas or Sramanas, or other sects or householders who are living there, and among whom the following are practised: obedience to those who receive high pay, obedience to mother and father, obedience to elders, proper courtesy to friends, acquaintances, companions, and relatives, to slaves and servants, and firm devotion, to these then happen injury or slaughter or deportation of their beloved ones. Or if there are then incurring misfortune the friends, acquaintances, companions, and relatives of those whose affection for the latter is undiminished, although they are themselves well provided for, this misfortune as well becomes an injury to those persons themselves.

This is shared by all men and is considered deplorable by Devanampriya.

There is no country where these two classes, the Brahmanas and the Sramanas, do not exist, except among the Greeks; and there is no place in any country where men are not indeed attached to some sect.

Therefore even the hundredth part or the thousandth part of all those people who were slain, who died, and who were deported at that time when the country of the Kalingas was taken, would now be considered very deplorable by Devanampriya.

Here in the king's territory, among the Greeks and Kambojas, among the Nabhakas and Nabhapanktis, among the Bhojas and Pitinikyas, among the Andhras and Paladas, everywhere people are conforming to Devanampriya's instruction in morality.

Even those to whom the envoys of Devanampriya do not go, having heard of the duties of morality, the ordinances, and the instruction in morality of Devanampriya, are conforming to morality and will conform to it.

This conquest, which has been won by this everywhere; causes the feeling of satisfaction. Firm becomes this satisfaction, the satisfaction at the conquest by morality.

But this satisfaction is indeed of little consequence. Devanampriya thinks that only the fruits in the other world are of great value.

And for the following purpose has this rescript on morality been written, in order that the sons and great-grandsons who may be born to me, should not think that a fresh conquest ought to be made; that, if a conquest does please them, they should take pleasure in mercy and light punishments; and that they should regard the conquest by morality as the only true conquest.

This conquest bears fruit in this world and in the other world. And let all their pleasure be the pleasure in exertion. For this bears fruit in this world and in the other world.


Devanampriya is Aśoka. There's a lot to unpack up there.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:02 pm
by dude
Coëmgenu wrote: Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:17 am
bcol01 wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:55 pmHaha well, my Thai Buddhist friend seems to think Ashoka's understanding of Buddhism is superior to Nichiren's.
:jawdrop:

A Thai Buddhist thinks Japanese Buddhism is nonsense?!

It's almost as if every branch of Buddhism thinks its way better than the others.

:spy:
It would be overbearingly arrogant for me to say I do, though I would love to see the point debated sometime, in the context of modern views and practices. As it now stands, though, no such platform for real debate exists.
The next best thing is a mutually respectful exchange of views, which is fraught with the danger of flame wars (what online topic of conversation isn't), but I'm doing it anyway.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:57 pm
by narhwal90
lol, it wouldn't suprise me if Ashoka was better informed than Nichiren being that he lived only a couple hundred years after Shakyamuni- very nearly recent memory, and Nichiren lived ~1600 years later with all the intervening translation, adaptation, commentary, loss and confusion of dharma instruction. OTOH all that intervening churn might make for a more nuanced perspective.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:33 pm
by Queequeg
Ah, proximity in time or place is over rated. Devadatta was the Buddha's cousin. So was Ananda who was by Buddha's side for years, but who didn't "get it" until after the Buddha passed away. And what of all the people who encountered the Buddha and just thought he was another beggar?

There's nothing in Ashoka's edicts that evinces any particular insight, and much material for the cynic to draw some unflattering conclusions about the King. If the "deal with King Ashoka" is about his views on tolerance, in contrast to Nichiren who many might characterize as intolerant, there's ample reason to be suspicious of Ashoka's motivations that might be rooted in something other than spiritual insight. It also does not consider the sober and serious issues pertaining to shoju and shakubuku.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:13 am
by Caoimhghín
Queequeg wrote: Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:33 pmIf the "deal with King Ashoka" is about his views on tolerance, in contrast to Nichiren who many might characterize as intolerant, there's ample reason to be suspicious of Ashoka's motivations that might be rooted in something other than spiritual insight.
This is a good trajectory. I think I'll start with "how many people did Ven Nichiren personally murder?"

As a king of his time, Ashoka would have lead his army and fought in that army.

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:20 am
by Queequeg
Coëmgenu wrote: Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:13 am "how many people did Ven Nichiren personally murder?"
None.

Many tried to kill him, and did kill several of his disciples, though. Nichiren himself was hard to kill. I recently read about one of his disciples seeing his body and being shocked by all the scars.

Ashoka on the other hand, according to legend, left 100,000 dead on the battlefield. Legend has that he had an epiphany observing all those corpses. He turned to "Dhamma", why? To ameliorate the suffering he caused.

He professed to believe in a world after this where merit would be rewarded. He presumably also had in mind the retribution that his karma might have in store for him. He had a lot to make up for. He became a great patron of Buddhism. Did his merit equalize his demerit? Surely, though, a person who inspires such enmity might plead for tolerance after the fact.

:shrug:

Re: What's the deal with King Ashoka?

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:04 am
by narhwal90
No matter how principled, Ashoka as ruler has to act as one which means blood is going to be spilled and injustice will occur in his name. After his conversion, the question is how far such things went and how the edicts were applied to the powerful and wealthy vs the regular folks ie is it just lip service or not. Nichiren did not have the same kind of job, no delegates in charge of keeping the peace and so on.