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death with equanimity

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CHAPTER – 4

VOLUNTARY PEACEFUL DEATH in PĀLI CANONICAL WORKS

4.1 – 4.2

4.1 Introductory –

The Buddhist emphasis on the middle path as a means of attaining spiritual emancipation, as opposed to the path of extremely severe and rigorous conduct and penance prescribed by the Jaina seers, is evident in the absence of as extreme practices, as fasts unto death etc, in the Buddhist scheme of things. However, Lord Buddha was not opposed to embracing of voluntary deaths under extreme circumstances of incurable disease, etc,i as we would see when we examine this issue in the light of Buddhist “Pāli” canonical works.

4.2 Pāli : The language Of Lord Buddha’s Teaching –

For the present we do not have sufficient evidence to say conclusively as to in which language Lord Buddha preached. Buddhaghoṣa says that He preached in the Māgadhī Prākṛta and that Pāli, the language of the Buddhist canonical works, is an offshoot of the Māgadhī. Rees Davids is of the opinion that the mother tongue of Buddha was the language of the Kosala region. Due to the political influence of the kingdom of Kosala, this language was spoken right from Magadha to Avanti and that Pāli was derived from the spoken language of the Kosalas. As the Pāli resembles the language of the Girnār rock inscriptions, Westerguard and E. Kunha have concluded that it was a derivative of the Prākṛta of the Avanti “Mālava region with its capital at Ujjayani” region. From these evidences and from the structure of Pāli we can deduce that it was a language spoken in the western part of India of the time and that its development was sufficiently influenced by Saṁskṛta.ii However, as the Śramaṇa tradition put little emphasis on the word and more on the meaning, it did not matter.

Though it is not possible to say, for certain, about the language of Lord Buddha’s preaching, from Cullavagga we come to know that he did not lay emphasis on any particular language. The legend has it that once two monks complained to Lord Buddha that the monks, in general, were converting His teachings into their own languages and not preserving the sanctity of His words. Lord Buddha replied that He approved of this practice and that He was authorising the monks to so convert and spread His teachings in their own languages.iii He did not care about the linguistic sanctity but desired that the people must know the faith, preached by Him, and act accordingly.

iREFERENCES

Section – 4.1

Samādhimaraṇa, Ibid, p. 25.

iiSection – 4.2

Ācārya Narendradeva, Bauddha Dharma Darśana, Bihar Rāṣṭrabhāṣā Pariśada, II Ed., 1971, 3, p. 25.

iii “Anujānāmi bhikkhave sakāya–niruttiyā Buddha vacanaṁ pariyā puṇittuṁ |”

  • Cullavagga, 5/33/1.

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