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Glorified Ape said:I agree, though I think you might be hard pressed on the Buddhist thing.
Cases for Violence—Interpretation of Duããhagãmani and the Reception of a Pervasive Myth in History of Sri Lanka
Though Pãli canonical texts do not contain explicit textual evidence to support violence or remarks to justify violence, certain genre of post-canonical literature, for example, one of the Pãli chronicles, the Mahãvamsa of Mahãnãma composed in Sri Lanka in the fifth CE, unfortunately contains a narrative which disturbs the pacifist image of Theravãda Buddhism. Though the intention of this particular monastic author, Mahãnãma, is open for debate, this isolated reference is problematic when placed within the early Buddhist Pãli canonical textual corpus. This pervasive narrative gives the impression that in certain circumstances when the ultimate end is noble, the use of certain degree of violence is not going to harm the Buddha’s doctrine of non-violence and pacifist path.
To examine justifications of political violence in Sri Lanka and the growth of nationalism, a careful study of the myth of the battle between King Duããhagãmani and King Elãra is essential. What Steven Kemper has rightly put as that: “The Past inhabits the present in a variety of ways—in practices, things and memory”6 demonstrates the implications of this myth on both Sinhala and Tamil communities in modern Sri Lanka.
The Mahãvamsa narrative discusses the war between King Duããhagãmani and King Elãra. While Duããhagãmani was a Sinhala in origin, a native of Sri Lanka, Elãra was a Dravidian and an invader. As the text records, in this complex ethnic battle, Duããhagãmani presented his war as a measure to protect Buddhism from the foreign rule of Elãra:
When the king Duããhagãmani had had a relic put into his spear he marched to Tissamahãrãma, and had shown favour to the brotherhood he said: ‘I will go on to the land on the further side of river to bring glory to the doctrine. Give us, that we may treat them with honour, bhikkhus who shall go on with us, since the sight of the bhikkhus is blessing and protection for us.’ (Mahãvamsa 25.1-4)
In this Mahãvamsa passage, the reference to “bring glory to the doctrine” can be taken as providing safety and protection to the Buddhist teachings, practices and institutions in Sri Lanka. “Brotherhood” refers to the Buddhist monastic community collectively known as the sangha. Having a company of bhikkhus (monks) with him while marching for war is perceived as an act of securing protection for Duããhagãmani himself at the time of war. However, the monks’ marching with troops is perceived by monks themselves “as a penance” (25.4). Placing a relic in the spear is an apotropaic action intended to ward off evil forces at times of troubles as believed in many pre-modern societies.
Nevertheless, the task at hand for Duããhagãmani was a rather difficult one since the text represents Elãra as a righteous king. In a dual battle, Duããhagãmani killed Elãra (25:67-70). After Elãra’s death, Duããhagãmani honoured him by cremating him and marking the place with a monument and instituting a worship there.
The remorse that Duããhagãmani had after the battle was quite severe and similar to the one that Emperor Asoka had after his battle in Kãlinga. Like in the case of Emperor Asoka, a transformation occurs, though not so dramatic, in the life of Duããhagãmani through the intervention of Buddhist monastic community. Their intervention in removing Duããhagãmani’s remorse can be seen as a ‘rehabilitation strategy’ for an evil king who had executed a lot of suffering in pursuing a battle. In this case, the rehabilitation strategy is used to direct the king to Buddhist works. Though the ‘rehabilitation’ of the king is a noble one, the justifications that the monks provided in consoling the king are controversial and problematic. They bear serious implications on the issue whether there are justifications of violence within Theravãda Buddhism.
The Mahãvamsa states (25:104) that the arahants in Piyangudipa knowing Duããhagãmani’s remorse sent a group of eight holy monks to comfort him; when Duããhagãmani confessed that he had slaughtered millions, what they said to Duããhagãmani to eliminate his remorse is highly problematic:
From this deed arises no hindrance in thy way to heaven. Only one and a half human beings have been slain here by thee, O lord of men. The one had come unto the (three) refuges, the other had taken on himself the five precepts. Unbelievers and men of evil life were the rest, not more to be esteemed than beasts. But as for thee, thou wilt bring glory to the doctrine of the Buddha in manifold ways; therefore cast away care from thy heart, O ruler of men! Thus exhorted by them the great king took comfort” (Mahãvamsa 25:109-112).
As this Mahãvamsa passage demonstrates, Duããhagãmani’s remorse is eliminated by telling him that killing ‘evil unbelievers’ carries no more weight than killing animals. As practitioners of ‘loving kindness’ (mettã), Buddhists have an obligation to protect all forms of life. It is important to note that not only human beings but killing even animals is not encouraged in Buddhism.7 When contrasted with canonical doctrines and early Buddhist practices, this fifth century chronicle position is rather controversial. This passage in the Mahãvamsa seems to suggest that certain forms of violence such as killings during war can be allowed in certain circumstances such as in the case of threats to the survival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka during the time of Duããhagãmani.
Deliberately taken out of context ;D (Gotta love those Google guys)