Book Four, Part I—His Place in His Dhamma

1. *What is Religion?* -- 2. *How Dhamma Differs From Religion* -- 3. *The Purpose of Religion and the Purpose of Dhamma* -- 4. *Morality and Religion* -- 5. *Dhamma and Morality* -- 6. *Mere Morality is not Enough: it must be Sacred and Universal*

§ 1. What is Religion?

    1. The word "religion" is an indefinite word with no fixed meaning.
    2. It is one word with many meanings.
    3. This is because religion has passed through many stages. The concept at each stage is called Religion, though the concept at one stage has not had the same meaning which it had at the preceding stage, or is likely to have at the succeeding stage.
    4. The conception of religion was never fixed.
    5. It has varied from time to time.
    6. Because most of the phenomena such as lightning, rain, and floods, the occurrence of which the primitive man could not explain, [were not understood], any weird performance done to control the phenomenon was called magic. Religion therefore came to be identified with magic.
    7. Then came the second stage in the evolution of religion. In this stage religion came to be identified with beliefs, rituals, ceremonies, prayers, and sacrifices.
    8. But this conception of religion is derivative.
    9. The pivotal point in religion starts with the belief that there exists some power which causes these phenomena, which primitive man did not know and could not understand. Magic lost its place at this stage.
    10. This power was originally malevolent. But later it was felt that it could also be benevolent.
    11. Beliefs, rites, ceremonies, and sacrifices were necessary both to propitiate a benevolent power, and also to conciliate an angry power.
    12. Later that power was called God or the Creator.
    13. Then came the third stage: that it is this God who created this world and also man.
    14. This was followed by the belief that man has a soul, and the soul is eternal and is answerable to God for man's actions in the world.
    15. This is, in short, the evolution of the concept of Religion.
    16. This is what Religion has come to be and this is what it connotes--belief in God, belief in [a] soul, worship of God, curing of the erring soul, propitiating God by prayers, ceremonies, sacrifices, etc.

§2. How Dhamma Differs From Religion

    1. What the Buddha calls Dhamma differs fundamentally from what is called Religion.
    2. What the Buddha calls Dhamma is analogous to what the European theologians call Religion.
    3. But there is no greater affinity between the two. On the other hand, the differences between the two are very great.
    4. On this account, some European theologians refuse to recognise the Buddha's Dhamma as Religion.
    5. There need be no regrets over this. The loss is theirs. It does no harm to the Buddha's Dhamma. Rather, it shows what is wanting in Religion.
    6. Instead of entering into this controversy, it is better to proceed to give an idea of Dhamma, and show how it differs from Religion.
    7. Religion, it is said, is personal, and one must keep it to oneself. One must not let it play its part in public life.
    8. Contrary to this, Dhamma is social. It is fundamentally and essentially so.
    9. Dhamma is righteousness, which means right relations between man and man in all spheres of life.
    10. From this it is evident that one man, if he is alone, does not need Dhamma.
    11. But when there are two men living in relation to each other, they must find a place for Dhamma whether they like it or not. Neither can escape it.
    12. In other words. Society cannot do without Dhamma.
    13. Society has to choose one of the three alternatives.
    14. Society may choose not to have any Dhamma as an instrument of Government.  For Dhamma is nothing if it is not an instrument of Government.
    15. This means Society chooses the road to anarchy.
    16. Secondly, Society may choose the police--i.e., dictatorship--as an instrument of Government.
    17. Thirdly, Society may choose Dhamma, plus the Magistrate wherever people fail to observe the Dhamma.
    18. In anarchy and dictatorship liberty is lost.
    19. Only in the third [case] liberty survives.
    20. Those who want liberty must therefore have Dhamma.
    21. Now what is Dhamma? and why is Dhamma necessary?  According to the Buddha, Dhamma consists of Prajna and Karuna.
    22. What is Prajna? And why Prajna? Prajna is understanding. The Buddha made Prajna one of the two corner-stones of His Dhamma because he did not wish to leave any room for superstition.
    23. What is Karuna? And why Karuna? Karuna is love. Because without it, Society can neither live nor grow; that is why the Buddha made it the second corner-stone of His Dhamma.
    24. Such is the definition of the Buddha's Dhamma.
    25. How different is this definition of Dhamma from that of Religion.
    26. So ancient, yet so modern, is the definition of Dhamma given by the Buddha.
    27. So aboriginal, yet so original.
    28. Not borrowed from anyone, yet so true.
    29. A unique amalgam of Pradnya and Karuna is the Dhamma of the Buddha.
    30. Such is the difference between Religion and Dhamma.

§ 3. The Purpose of Religion and the Purpose of Dhamma

    1. What is the purpose of Religion? What is the purpose of Dhamma? Are they one and the same? Or are they different
    2. The answer to these questions are to be found in two dialogues--one between the Buddha and Sunakkhatta, and the other between the Buddha and the Brahmin Potthapada.
    3. The Exalted One was once staying among the Mallas, at Anupiya, one of their towns.
    4. Now the Exalted One ,having robed himself in the early morning, put on his cloak and took his bowl and entered the town for alms.
    5. On the way, he thought it was too early to go for alms. Therefore he went to the pleasance where Bhaggava the wanderer dwelt, and called on him.
    6. On seeing the Blessed One Bhaggava got up, saluted him, and said, "May it please you, sire, to be seated; here is a seat made ready for you."
    7. The Exalted One sat down thereon, and Bhaggava, taking a certain low stool sat down beside him. So seated, Bhaggava, the wanderer, spake thus to the Exalted One :
    8 "Some days ago, Lord, a good many days ago, Sunakkhatta of the Licchavis called on me and spake thus: 'I have now given up the Exalted One, Bhaggava. I am remaining no longer under him (as my teacher).' Is the fact really so, just as he said?"
    9. "It is just so, Bhaggava, as Sunakkhatta of the Licchavis said," replied the Blessed One.
    10. "Some days ago, Bhaggava, a good many days ago, Sunakkhatta, the Licchavi, came to call on me, and spake thus: 'Sir, I now give up the Exalted One. I will henceforth remain no longer under him (as my teacher).' When he told me this, I said to him: 'But now, Sunakkhatta, have I ever said to you, Come, Sunakkhatta, live under me (as my pupil)?'
    11. "'No sir, you have not.'
    12. "Or have you ever said to me: 'Sir, I would fain dwell under the Exalted One (as my teacher)?'
    13. "'No sir, I have not.'
    14. "Then I asked him 'If I said not the one, and you said not the other, what are you and what am I, that you talk of giving up? See, foolish one, in how far the fault here is your own.'
    15. "'Well, but, sir, the Exalted One works me no mystic wonders surpassing the power of ordinary men.'
    16. "Why now, Sunakkhatta, have I ever said to you: 'Come, take me as your teacher, Sunakkhatta, and I will work for you mystic wonders surpassing the power of ordinary men?'
    17. "'You have not, sir.'
    18. "Or have you ever said to me: 'Sir, I would fain take the Exalted One as my teacher, for he will work for me mystic wonders beyond the powers of ordinary men?'
    19. "'I have not, sir.'
    20. "'But if I said not the one, and you said not the other, what are you and what am I, foolish man, that you talk of giving up? What think you, Sunakkhatta? Whether mystic wonders beyond the power of ordinary man are wrought, or whether they are not, is the object for which I teach the Dhamma: that it leads to the thorough, destruction of ill for the doer thereof?'
    21. '"Whether, sir, they are so wrought or not, that is indeed the object for which the Dhamma is taught by the Exalted One.'
    22. "'If then, Sunakkhatta, it matters not to that object whether mystic wonders are wrought or not, of what use to you would be the working of them? See, foolish one, in how far the fault here is your own.'
    23. "'But, sir, the Exalted One does not reveal to me the beginning of things.'
    24. "Why now, Sunakkhatta, have I ever said to you: 'Come, Sunakkhatta, be my. disciple and I will reveal to you the beginning of things?'
    25. "'Sir, you have not.'
    26. "Or have you ever said to me: 'I will become the Exalted One's pupil, for he will reveal to me the beginning of things?'
    27. "'Sir, I have not.'
    28. "'But if I have not said the one and you have not said the other, what are you and what am I, foolish man, that you talk of giving up on that account? What think you, Sunakkhatta? Whether the beginning of things be revealed, or whether it be not, is the object for which I teach the Dhamma, that it leads to the thorough destruction of ill for the doer thereof?
    29. "'Whether, sir, they are revealed or not, that is indeed the object for which the Dhamma is taught by the Exalted One.'
    30. "'If then, Sunakkhatta, it matters not to that object whether the beginning of things be revealed, or whether it be not, of what use to you would it be to have the beginning of things revealed?'"
    31. This illustrates that Religion is concerned with revealing the beginning of things and Dhamma is not.

§ 3 part 2 -- The other differences between Religion and Dhamma are brought out in the discussion between the Blessed One and Potthapada.

    1. The Blessed One was once staying at Shravasti in Anathapindika's pleasance of the Jeta's wood. Now at that time Potthapada, the wandering mendicant, was dwelling in the hall put up in Queen Mallika's park for a debate on general systems of philosophical opinion.
    2. There was with him a great following of mendicants; to wit, three hundred. A dialogue took place between the Blessed Lord and Potthapada. Potthapada asked:
    3. "Then, sir, if that be so, tell me at least, is the world eternal? Is this alone the truth, and any other view mere folly?'"
    4. "That, Potthapada, is a matter on which I have expressed no opinion," replied the Blessed Lord.
    5. Then, in the same terms, Potthapada asked each of the following questions:

(i) 'Is the world not eternal?'
(ii) 'Is the world finite?'
(iii) 'Is the world infinite?'
(iv) 'Is the soul the same as the body?'
(v) 'Is the soul one thing, and the body another?'
(vi) 'Does one who has gained the truth live again after death?'
(vii) 'Does he not live again after death?'
(viii) 'Does he both live again and not live again, after death?'
(ix) 'Does he neither live again, nor not live again, after death?'
    6. And to each questions the Exalted One made the same reply:--
    7. "That too, Potthapada, is a matter on which I have expressed no opinion."
    8. "But why has the Exalted One expressed no opinion on that?"
    9. "Because this question is not calculated to profit, it is not concerned with the Dhamma, it does not redound even to the elements of right conduct, nor to detachment, nor to purification from lusts, nor to quietude, nor to tranquillisation of heart, nor to real knowledge, nor to the insight (of the higher stages of the Path), nor to Nirvana. Therefore is it that I express no opinion upon it. "
    10. "Then what is it that the Exalted One has determined?"
    11. "I have expounded, Potthapada, what Dukkha is; I have expounded what is the origin of Dukkha; I have expounded what is the cessation of Dukkha; I have expounded what is the method by which one may reach the cessation of Dukkha."
    12. "And why has the Exalted One put forth a statement as to that?"
    13. "Because that question, Potthapada, is calculated to profit, is concerned with the Dhamma, redounds to the beginnings of right conduct, to detachment, to purification from lusts, to quietude, to tranquillisation of heart, to real knowledge, to the insight of the higher stages of the Path, and to Nirvana. Therefore is it, Potthapada, that I have put forward a statement as to that."
    14. In this dialogue it is clearly put forth what is the subject matter of Religion, and what is not the subject matter of Dhamma. The two are poles apart
    15. The purpose of Religion is to explain the origin of the world. The purpose of Dhamma is to reconstruct the world.

§ 4. Morality and Religion

    1. What is the place of morality in Religion?
    2. As a matter of truth, morality has no place in Religion.
    3. The content of religion consists of God, soul, prayers, worship, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices.
    4. Morality comes in only wherein man comes in relation to man.
    5. Morality comes into religion as a side wind, to maintain peace and order.
    6. Religion is a triangular piece.
    7. Be good to your neighbour, because you are both children of God.
    8. That is the argument of religion.
    9. Every religion preaches morality, but morality is not the root of religion.
    10. It is a wagon attached to it. It is attached and detached as the occasion requires.
    11. The action of morality in the functioning of religion is therefore casual and occasional.
    12. Morality in religion is therefore not effective.

§ 5. Dhamma and Morality

    1. What is the place of morality in Dhamma?
    2. The simple answer is, Morality is Dhamma and Dhamma is Morality.
    3. In other words, in Dhamma morality takes the place of God, although there is no God in Dhamma.
    4. In Dhamma there is no place for prayers, pilgrimages, rituals, ceremonies, or sacrifices.
    5. Morality is the essence of Dhamma. Without it there is no Dhamma.
    6. Morality in Dhamma arises from the direct necessity for man to love man.
    7. It does not require the sanction of God. It is not to please God that man has to be moral. It is for his own good that man has to love man.

§ 6. Mere Morality is not Enough: it must be Sacred and Universal

    1. When is a thing sacred? Why is a thing sacred?
    2. In every human society, primitive or advanced, there are some things or beliefs which it regards as sacred, and the rest [it regards] as profane.
    3. When a thing or belief has reached the stage of being sacred (pavitra), it means that it cannot be violated. Indeed it cannot be touched. It is taboo.
    4. Contrary to this, a thing or a belief which is profane (apavitra), i.e., outside the field of the sacred, may be violated. It means one can act contrary to it, without feeling any fear or qualms of conscience.
    5. The sacred is something holy. To transgress it is a sacrilege.
    6. Why is a thing made sacred? To confine the scope of the question to the matter in hand, why morality should [=should morality] have been made sacred?
    7. Three factors seem to have played their part in making morality sacred.
    8. The first factor is the social need for protecting the best.
    9. The background of this question lies imbedded in what is called the struggle of existence and the survival of the fittest.
    10. This arises out of the theory of evolution. It is common knowledge that evolution takes place through a struggle for existence, because the means of food supply in early times were so limited.
    11. The struggle is bitter. Nature is said to be red in claw and tooth.
    12. In this struggle, which is bitter and bloody, only the fittest survive.
    13. Such is the original state of society.
    14. In the course of [the] ancient past someone must have raised the question, is the fittest (the strongest) the best? Would not the weakest, if protected, be ultimately the best for advancing the ends and aims of society?
    15. The then prevailing state of society seems to have given an answer in the affirmative.
    16. Then comes, the question what is the way to protect the weak?
    17. Nothing less than to impose some restraints upon the fittest.
    18. In this lies the origin and necessity for morality.
    19. This morality had to be sacred, because it was imposed originally on the fittest, i.e., the strongest.
    20. This has very serious consequences.
    21. First, does morality in becoming social become anti-social?
    22. It is not that there is no morality among thieves. There is morality among businessmen. There is morality among fellow castemen and there is also morality among a gang of robbers.
    23. But this morality is marked by isolation and exclusiveness. It is a morality to protect "group interest." It is therefore anti-social.
    24. It is the isolation and exclusiveness of this kind of morality which throws its anti-social spirit in[to] relief.
    25. The same is true where a group observes morality because it has interests of its own to protect.
    26. The results of this group organisation of society are far-reaching.
    27. If society continues to consist of anti-social groups, society will remain a disorganised and a factional society.
    28. The danger of a disorganised and factional state of society is that it sets up a number of different models and standards.
    29. In the absence of common models and common standards, society cannot be a harmonious whole,
    30. With such different models and standards, it is impossible for the individual to attain consistency of mind.
    31. A society which rests upon the supremacy of one group over another, irrespective of its rational or proportionate claims, inevitably leads to conflict.
    32. The only way to put a stop to conflict is to have common rules of morality which are sacred to all.
    33. There is the third factor which requires morality to be made sacred and universal. It is to safeguard the growth of the individual.
    34. Under the struggle for existence or under group rule the interests of the individuals are not safe.
    35. The group set-up prevents an individual from acquiring consistency of mind, which is possible only when society has common ideals, common models. His thoughts are led astray, and this creates a mind whose seeing unity is forced and distorted.
    36. Secondly, the group set-up leads to discrimination and denial of justice.
    37. The group set-up leads to stratification of classes. Those who are masters remain masters, and those who are born in slavery remain slaves. Owners remain owners, and workers remain workers. The privileged remain privileged, and the serfs remain serfs.
    38. This means that there can be liberty for some, but not for all. This  means that there can be equality for a few, but none for the majority.
    39. What is the remedy? The only remedy lies in making fraternity universally effective.
    40. What is fraternity? It is nothing but another name for [the] brotherhood of men--which is another name for morality.
    41. This is why the Buddha preached that Dhamma is morality; and as Dhamma is sacred, so is morality.


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