Buddhist Brahmans

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Himanshu Bhatt

Buddhist Brāhmans have been several in number and have been well known in scriptures and history for their contribution to Buddhism from the time of the Buddha. Some like Sariputra and Maudgalyayana were the Buddha's disciples, while some like Bodhidharma were missionaries spreading Buddhism beyond India. Others like Asvaghosa were poets; others like Chandragomin were grammarians. Both Sramanas and Brahmans (whether Sramana or not) are important in terms of spirituality.

There were also several other Brahmans who were not Buddhist but did contribute to the religion and its community.

At the time of Gautama Buddha, there were 2 types of Brahman clerics; Priests and paravrajakas (monks.) The monks were further divided into 2; categories Karmandinas and Parasarinas. Buddha discusses in Majjhima (3, 298), the opinions of a certain Parasariya and that it is probable this Parasariya was a member of one of the two orders.[1] Parivrajaka orders that were not strictly Brahman were 'Annatitthiya' ("Those of another school.")[2] These orders not strictly for Brahmans were listed in the Brahmanda Purana called Sakyas (Buddhists), Nigranthas, (Jains), Vrdhasravakis, Jivaskas, and Karpatas.

Notable scholars and sages[edit]

Statue of Bodhidharma constructed in commemoration by Emperor Wu. Bodhidharma was a monk of Pallava royalty and had established the Shaolin Temple and founded Kung-Fu.
Padmasambhava of Sahor (Himachal Pradesh) had traveled outside of India and had taught the dharma to many. This in Sikkim is the largest statue of him.

Many of the best-known Buddhists were Brahmins. They include Gautama Buddha's chief disciples Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, Vasubandhu and Mahakasyapa (founders of Mahayana Buddhism); Nagarjuna[3] and Asvaghosa,[4] the reformer of Theravada Buddhism; Buddhaghosa (founder of Vajrayana Buddhism; Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism; Shantideva, author of Bodhicharyavatara (The Way of the Bodhisattva); Bodhidharma, founder of Zen Buddhism and Kung Fu and Kumarajiva, both of whom brought Buddhism to China and beyond; Nagasena, the debater of Milinda Panha; Manjushri, mentor of Ashoka and Radhaswami, the person who brought Ashoka to Buddhism, and scholars of Nalanda such as Aryadeva and Shantarakshita, who taught Buddhism and new doctrines.

People born in Brahmin families feature extensively in Buddhist Tripitakas, and are found among the Buddha's chief disciples. The "Brahmana-Varga" (section on Brahmins) in the Dhammapada lists the Buddha's views on Brahmins.[5] Peter Masefield writes, "The canonical texts show the early Buddhists seeking their sustenance mostly from Brahmin families, and the dhamma-cakkhu (the insight into the Four Truths) that led to liberation was given almost exclusively to men of Brahmin descent."[6] Gurmukh Ram Madan states, "Also brahmans appear to have been taken up; but they were the distinguished representatives of a cultured laity - a secular strata of nobles who formed the majority of Buddha's disciples".[7]

A Buddhist layman, Jayadeva of Bihar, was imprisoned when the Odantapuri Buddhist learning centre was attacked; he advised a group of monks in Nalanda of the Muslim threat, and helped them flee to safety.[8]

Scholar Asim Chatterjee adds,

No one can deny that the Brahmin pupils of Gautama had save the Sangha in its hour of peril. The rebellion of Devadatta was foiled by Sariputta, and after the demise of the teacher, Mahakassapa, by convening the first council, at Rajagrha, practically rescued the entire Buddhist Sangha from sinking into oblivion."[9]

To add to Asim Chatterjee's statement, when Devadatta was making his order's monks believe that Gautama Buddha lives in luxury and abundance, it was Sariputra and Maudgalyayana's preaching that the misinformted monks left and became Buddhist monks.[10]

List of prominent historical Bhikshus[edit]

Name Birthplace and time period Sect Philosophy Compositions Significance
Abhaya Raja Built the Mahabouddha temple with his descendants in Patan in 1604.
(also Pu-k'ung)
Samarkhand, Central Asia (c. 705–774 CE) Mahayana Tantrayana Ganapati stotra, Ninno nenju giki, Prajñaparamita (translation of original) Spread Tantrayana Buddhism in China. He was born to a father from North India and a Sogdian mother from Samarkand.
Aryadeva Mahayana He was the successor of Nagarjuna. He was mentioned as a Bodhisattva in the Catuhsataka.[11]
Asanga Peshawar (Purushapura), NWFP, Pakistan Mahayana Yogacara He founded the Yogacarya and established Buddhism's classical age.
Asvaghosa Sravasti, Central India (2nd century CE) Mahayana Buddhacarita, Mahalamkarasastra, Saundarananda He is considered (with Nagarjuna) a co-founder of Mahayana Buddhism. His philosophy was favored in the court of Emperor Kanishka.
Basunaga Krisnaraja, Andhra Pradesh Had 500 (or more) followers who accompanied him to Central India in search of Acharya Asanga, requesting him to preach Buddhism to householders in Krishnaraja
Bhadra Palita[12] Odisha (6th century CE) Mahayana He was converted by Dignaga, was treasury minister for an Oriya king and founded 16 viharas.
Bhataghati Kashmir (13th century CE) Wrote four works on history of Buddhist acharyas.
Bhitka Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī sūtra He wrote the U??i?a Vijaya Dhara?i Sutra. He was the Buddha's fifth successor.
Buddhabhadra[13] Kashmir (5th century CE) Theravada Samyuktabhidharmavibhasa (translated from original) He was a missionary.
Buddhapala Kashmir (7th century CE) Sammatiya Vinaya-Dvavimsati-Prasannartha-Sastra
Buddhaghosa Magadha (5th century CE) Theravada Samantapasadika, Visuddhimagga He led a Theravada revival by preaching Theravada Buddhism amongst non-Buddhists. His Visuddhimagga was the most important Theravada scripture ever written.[14]
Buddhapalita Prasannamula (Tamlaba region), Tamli Nadu (c. 470–550 CE)
Buddhasena Kashmir Dhyana Meditation Sutra He was sent as a diplomat to China by Kashmir's King Laladitya.
Buddhayasas Kashmir (4th century CE) Mahayana Dharmaguptaka Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, the Dirgha Agama, Akasagarbha Bodhisattva Sutra Became the pupil of a monk at age 13, mastered one million verses at age 19, and age 27 he went to Kashgar to teach Buddhism where crown prince Dharmagupta appreciated his talented and invited him to live in his palace.
Cuda Panthaka Sravasti (near Balrampur), Uttar Pradesh (6th century BCE) Had 1,600 disciples at one period who he taught on Nemindhara Mountain. Was a disciple of the Buddha.
Dharmakirti Trimalaya (the then Chudamani Kingdom), Andhra Pradesh (in 7th century CE) Mahayana Dhyana Called a "Viprabhiksu" by Bhaskara.
Dharmapala Pataratitta, Kerala (c. 530–60 CE) Varna-Sutra-Vritti-nama, Aambaba-pratyaya-dhyana-sastravyakhya, Vidyamatra-siddhi-shastra-vyakhya, Satasastra-vaipulya-vyakhy, Vali-tattva-samgraha. Achieved Presidency of Nalanda in favor of Silabhadra. He wrote a Sanskrit grammatical commentary called Varna-Sutra-Vritti-nama on the original grammar of Chandragomin. He wrote four Buddhistic works in Sanskrit which are all translated into Tibetan.
Dharmapala Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu (c. 530-561 CE) Vijnana
(also Bodhiruchi)[15]
Tamil Nadu (c. 572–727 CE) Mahayana Monjushiri Hohozo Darani Sutra (translated from original), Ratnamegha (translated from original) Spread Buddhism in China and Japan. Appointed head of traveling Buddhist community with him of 700 who knew Sanskrit. Translated 53 works into Chinese. Empress Wu-Tso-thien had ordered his name to change from Dharmaruci to another name, and so he chose Bodhiruci.
Dharmottara Kashmir (c. 750-810 CE)
Dhitika[16] He was one of the monks of the Second Council of the Sangha.
Dhitika Ujjayini, Madhya Pradesh Converted King Minara of Tukhara (modern-day Kashgar), his son Imhasa, the Brahmin Siddha of Kamarupa and the Brahmin Adarpa of Malava. He converted many Brahmins.
Dignaga Simhavakta (near Kanchipuram), Tamil Nadu (5th century CE) Mahayana Yogacara Hetucakra Is very important in Buddhism, especially Buddhist logic. Wrote several works, including Hetucakra.
Gautama Dharmaprajna Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh (5th century CE) Theravada Went to China to preach the dharma; appointed governor of Yan-sen district.
Divakaramitra (7th century CE) Theravada Headed an ashram in the Vindhya mountains where followers of all schools (e.g., Charvakas, Jains, Vaishnavas) lived in harmony and debated. His ashram is where Rajyasri, the unfortunate sister of king Harsa was rescued from self-immolation.
Gunabhadra[17] Mahayana He preached the religion in China. He was so well-versed with the Mahayana tenants that he was nicknamed 'Mahayana'.
Harita Harita Dharmasutra Wrote the Harita Dharmasutra.
(Indian name NA)
China (c. 676–703 CE) He was a Brahmin born in China.[18]
Jagdish Kashyapa Wrote Pali Mahakavyakarana (The Great Pali Grammar.)
Jaya He built a Buddhist temple at Varanasi.[19]
Jayasri He was in Nepal and refused to be a convert to Shankara Acharya's doctrine. He has a statue dedicated to him in the Carumati Vihara.
Jivaka Mahayana Mahayana sage who restored the status of the Buddha.
Jnanasrimitra Vajrayana-dvau-antau-vikasana Wrote the Vajrayana-dvau-antau-vikasana.
Kamashila Kashmir Mahayana
Kalyana He built the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya.[19]
(also Jiumoluoshi)
Kucha, Kashgar (c. 334–413 CE) Mahayana Madhyamika Spread Buddhism in China; imprisoned for his work.
Kanaka Yamantaka Tantra
Kshitigarbha Mahayana
Padmasambhava Vajrayana He was the founder of Vajrayana.
Li Wu-t'ao[21]
(Indian name NA)
Lampaka (Lamghan), Afghanistan (7th century CE) He translated a dharani from Amoghapasa.
Maksika Odisha After being converted by Vasubandhu, he converted several people to Buddhism.
Manjushri Theravada Another mentor of Asoka that guided the emperor to convert to Buddhism.
Manjusrimitra Bodh Gaya, Bihar (55 CE) Vajrayana
Malitavamba Thera Bharuch (Bharukaccha), Gujarat Joined Buddha's order during the Buddha's lifetime.
Manomati Kashmir Garland of Flowers Wrote Garland of Flowers.
Matrceta A non-Buddhist sage, he defeated several Buddhist sages in debate until he was defeated by the Brahmin Aryadeva and converted. He wrote poems praising the Buddha, which became popular amongst Buddhists throughout India.
Nagabodhi[22] Vidharba, Maharashtra Mahayana Shunyata He was a disciple of Nagarjuna.
Nagarjuna Mahayana Shunyata He is considered (together with Asvaghosa) to have founded the Mahayana school.
Nagasena Mahayana He was the guru of the Emperor Milinda Panha.
Namobuddha He helped reconstruct a Buddhist temple made by King Suryaghosha.
(also Naropa, Mahapandita Abhayakirti)
Kashmir (11th century CE) He was a disciple of Tilopa.
Palden Dekyong
Parashari Divakaramitra
Pingala-Koccha Preached to the Buddha the Culasaropama Sutta, after which he became a dedicated student of the Buddha.
Punyatrata[23] Kashmir He was a missionary and friend of Kumarajiva.
Radhasvami Theravada Another mentor of Asoka that guided the emperor to convert to Buddhism.
(also Rahularuci, Sarojavajra, Padmavajra)[24]
Odisha Converted King Ratnapala and his Brahmin minister to Buddhism.[25]
Ratnavajra Kashmir
(also Saraha)
He was the master of Tilopa, and is one of the 84 Mahasiddhas.
Sakyamitra Kosalalankara He was a "Brahmin physician" from South India and a missionary to China.[26]
Samghadasa Built 24 centres in Vajrasana, and 2 viharas in Kashmir. He was invited to Kashmir by King Turuska Mahasammata.
Sawari Trained 11th century Tibetan Buddhist monk, Shangpa Kagyupa school's founder, Khyungpo Neljor.[27]
Shankarananda Wrote several scriptural commentaries.
Shantideva Gujarat
Shantarakshita Kashmir
Shilabhadra Comilla (Samatata Kingdom), West Bengal (c. 529–645 CE) Son of the Samatata Kingdom.
Sridhara Bhatt Wrote Nyaya-Kandall (991-992 CE) He was a patron of a Buddhist king.[28]
Subhadda[29] He was a wandering ascetic (udiccabrāhmanamahāsālakula) that met both Buddha and Ananda, and had become Buddha's disciple.
Sujaya He built a Buddhist temple in Venuvana, Rajgir.[19]
Suvishnu Mahayana Built 108 centres at Sri Nalendra to preserve the Abhidharma of Hinayana and Mahayana.
(Indian name NA)
Discovered the Chinese translation of Kasyapa Parivarta and Mahasanghika Vinaya at Pataliputra.
Tilopa Chatigava, Bangladesh Mahayana Mahamudra Upadesha, Ganges Maha A Mahasiddha.
Vajrabodhi[32] (c. 671–741 CE) Sarvatathdgatatattvasagraha (translated from original) He was a missionary that preached the religion in China, Lanka, and Indonesia. He was the son of King Isanavarman of central India and studied at Nalanda under Nagabodhi.
Vag Bhatt Kashmir He was a well-known Ayurveda acarya.
Vasubandhu[33] Peshawar (Purushapura), NWFP, Pakistan Mahayana Vaibhashika Built a total of 654 Mahayana Buddhist centres. He was one of the founders of the Yogacara philosophy and is the only historical Buddhist to be called the "second Buddha".
Varahadeva Constructed the Ajanta caves Nos. XVI and XVII during the reign of Vakataka King Harisena. He was the king's minister.
Vatsiputra Sinhha-vaktra (Kanchipuram), Tamil Nadu Theravada Vatsiputriya Founded the Vatsiputriya school.
Vimalaksa Kashmir (5th century CE) He was a missionary and friend of Kumarajiva.
Vighna Specialist in the Agamas that trained Chinese Buddhist monks in 3rd century CE.[34]
Vinitaruchi[35] South India (570 CE) Dhyana Went to China and Vietnam to spread Buddhism.
Viradeva[36] [37] Was a member of the Kanishka Maha Vihara.

Notable Buddhas[edit]

From the Jatakas that mention the twenty-eight Buddhas prior to the Gautama Buddha, it is clear noted clearly that seven are Brahmins. They are Dipankara (the first Buddha), Mangala, Revata, Anomadassi, Kakusandha, Konagamana, and Kasyapa.

Historically Buddhism was prominent in Kapilavastu before the birth of Gautama Buddha. This is evident by the worship of Buddhas in the time of Gautama Buddha[38] these Buddhas were Krakuchchanda, Kanaka Muni, and Kasyapa, and were all of Brahmin lineage. According to the Jatakas, several disciples of Buddhas prior to Gautama Buddha were Gautama's previous births. Many of them were Brahmin. The name Kapilavastu itself is from the Samkhya Brahmin hermit Kapila, whom is said in some Jatakas to be a previous birth of Gautama Buddha.[39]

In kingdoms[edit]


There have also been Brahmin Buddhists monarchs, including Brahmin-family dynasties which were almost exclusively Buddhist:

  • Boudh Dynasty of Odisa, as the name indicated was devoutly Buddhist although gave royal to support to other sects too. Gandhamardan Dev was the last king of this dynasty and adopted Ananga Bhanja of Keonjhar Bhanja royal family,[40] which in its span gave support to Buddhism too. The Parimalagiri inscriptions in the Gandhamardan Hills might have been built by him as the hill is named after the king. Parimalagiri was a university for Buddhist monks. It is even said that this site in the country of South Kosala was visited by Hiuen-Tsang and spoken highly of the popularity of Buddhism in this region.
  • Chandra Dynasty of Bengal are given references of Puranchandra and Subarnachandra adopting Buddhism, but more to their successors Trailokyachandra and Srichandra who ruled Harikel and Chandradwip (Barisal.)[41]
  • Kadamba Dynasty
  • Khadga Dynasty of Bengal that ruled a part of the-then Bengal, were a Buddhist dynasty that carried the surname Bhatt. They made several temples and monasteries. For example, Raja Bhatta was a very committed Mahayanist Buddhist.[42]
  • Kandy Dynasty's Ehelepola Maha Adigar of Sri Lanka was the Dissava of Sabaragamuwa, to Kandy for tyrannically King Rajasingha (whom he overthrew later), converting many to Buddhism.[43]
  • Samatata Dynasty was a Brahmin[44] Buddhist dynasty.
  • Sunga Empire had several devout Buddhists, and a stupa was dedicated to the Buddha at Bharhut. The existence of Buddhism in Bengal in the Sunga period can also be inferred from a terracotta tablet that was found at Tamralipti and is on exhibit at the Asutosh Museum, University of Calcutta. A Mahabodhi Temple inscription records help from the wives of King Brahmamitra and Indragnimitra in the temple construction.[45]
  • Vakataka Dynasty of the Basim branch[46] or western branch of the empire were Buddhist, even supporting the Ajanta caves.[47]
  • Vishnukundin Dynasty of Andhradesa were originally a Buddhist dynasty and made several Buddhist monuments and gave contributions to monks.[48] For example, kings Govindavarman I, Madhav Varma II and Vikramendrabhattaraka were great supporters. Madhav Varma II patronized Buddha-worship. Govinda Varma I was hailed as the Buddhist and builder of stupas and Viharas. His wife Parama Bhattari Kama Devi also patronized Buddhism and built a monastery. Vikramendra Varma II, made liberal grants to the same Mahadevi's Buddhist vihara.

In the Buddha's own times there were some monarchs that accepted his doctrine. In the Vinaya Pitaka (I, 3), the Buddha is meditating in a forest shortly after his enlightenment when a storm arises; the Naga King Mucalinda shelters the Buddha from the storm by covering his head with his seven snake heads.[49] The king then assumes the form of a young Brahmin, and gives homage to the Buddha.[49]

Ministers and clerics[edit]

There were many ministers of dynasties throughout India and abroad that made it their mission to propagate Buddhism. In Cambodia there is an edict stating that King Jayavarman and his son Rudravarman built a monument dedicated to the Buddha, and appointed a Brahmin to protect it.[50]

  • Amoghavajra
  • Bhadra Palita was converted by Dignaga, was treasury minister for an Oriya king and founded 16 viharas.
  • Bodhidharma
  • Dhitika converted King Minara of Tukhara (modern-day Kashgar)
  • Nagasena in 120 BC, the Indo-Greek King Milinda converted to Buddhism.
  • Varahadeva was Vakataka King Harisena's minister

Scriptures dedicated to Brahmins[edit]

Several Buddhist texts have been written on the subject of Brahmins:[51]

  • Annatara Brahmana Sutta: To a Brahmin
  • Aññatra Sutta: To a certain Brahman (SN XII.46); to Unnabha the Brahman
  • Cankii Sutta: To the Brahmin Cankii
  • Esukaari Sutta: To the Brahmin Esukari
  • Janussoni Brahmana Sutta: To the Brahmin Janussoni
  • Ganakamoggallaanasuttam B: To the Brahmin Ganakamoggallaana
  • Paccha-bhumika Sutta: To Brahmins of the Western Land (SN XLII.6)
  • Saleyyaka Sutta A: The Brahmins of Sela
  • Saleyyaka Sutta B: The Brahmans of Salahar

Gautama Buddha discussing Brahmins[edit]

The Buddha gives a sermon on who a true Brahman is, written in the "Brahmana-Varga" chapter of the Dhammapada.[52] Being Buddhist and of the Brahmin caste the, Buddhist Brahmins proved themselves as Brahman by deeds, as did many non-Buddhists.

Admiration of Brahmin traits[edit]

Early Buddhist scriptures describe orthodox Srauta Brahmins as different from the Sramana philosophies by practices such as sacrifices, although Gautama Buddha admires the five key attributes that were mandatory for Brahmins.

Five attributes of Brahmins from the Majjhima Nikaya:[53]

  1. The Truth (Sacca or Satya)
  2. Austerities (Tapas)
  3. Chastity (Brahmacariya)
  4. Study of Vedic lore (Ajjhena or Adhyayana)
  5. Munificence (Caga or Tyaga)

These five are mentioned in the Taittiriya Upanishad 1.9-11.[54]

Brahmins becoming Shramanas[edit]

Although the orthodox (but not all) Brahmin and Sramana philosophers of the Buddha's time were opposed to each other there were Brahmins that left the orthodoxy and became Sramanas. The Aganna Sutta distinguishes the orthodox Brahmin and Sramana beliefs and practices but describes that a Brahmin can become a Sramana.[55]

When Santati (the minister of Koasala's King Pasenadi) died, some Buddhist monks debated whether Santati should be considered a Brahman or a Sramana. The Buddha declared that he is both:

Even though a man be richly adorned, if he walk in peace,
If he be quiet, subdued, restrained and chaste,
And if he refrain from injuring any living being,
That man is a Brahman...a Sramana...a monk.

While at the same time it is possible to be of the Brahmin-caste and Sramana, it is also possible to be Brahman (by actions) and a Sramana. The Maha-Assapura Sutta illustrates that it is possible to be both of Brahmin caste and a Sramana. In this sermon (originally preached in Assapura, Anga), the Shramana tradition is explored; followers should be conscientious, scrupulous, pure in deed, word, and thought, guarding the senses, moderate in eating, vigilant, mindful, self-possessed, striving to put off nivarana and cultivating Dhyana. According to the scripture, such a person may be called a nahataka, vedagu, sotthiya, ariya, arhat, Shramana or Brahmana.[56]

Gautama Buddha's Brahmin heritage[edit]

Lord Buddha is said to be a descendant of Sage Angirasa in many Buddhist texts.[57] Scholars like Dr. Eitel connects it to the Rishi Gautama.[58] There too were Kshatiryas of other clans to whom members descend from Angirasa, to fulfill a childless king's wish.[59] Angirasa is also a sage whom Buddha honors in the Mahavagga.

Some scriptures refer to Buddha as a Brahman by his merit. An example is given in Nagasena's Milinda Pañha wherein Nagasena tells a story of Buddha claiming to be a Brahman and a king.[60] According to Buddha in the Assalayana Sutta the Brahmana (not just belonging to the Brahmin caste) category is the best of people, although it depends on karma.

Buddhism and Vedic scriptures[edit]

Buddhism not a nastik doctrine[edit]

According to Buddhist texts, Astikavada (Astika Path) is also known as Sabbathikavada.

Although Buddhists have been branded by orthodox or mainstream Hinduism as Nastika, the Buddhists themselves denied that status. For example, the Madhyamika philosopher Chandrakirti, who was accused of being a nastik, wrote in his Prasannapada that emptiness is a method of affirming neither being nor non-being and that nihilists are actually naive realists because they assume that things of this world have self-existent natures,[61] whereas Madhyamikas view all things as arising dependently within the context of casual conditions. Bhavaviveka declares that Buddhists are not nastika by refuting the nihilists annihilation of 'karmaphalasambandha' and demonstrating the transmigration of sentient beings.[62]

There were also Buddhists that were accused of believing in ideas outside of the Buddha's teachings, and they were called nastika in the "Bodhisattvabhumi" (a section of the Yogacarabhumi by Asanga) and the scripture also declared they should be subject to isolation so their views do not infect the rest of the Buddhist community.[63] Like the Manusmriti, the "Bodhisattvabhumi" also criticizes the nastika for reliance on logic only.[63]

Some Buddhist scholars went against nastik doctrines. For example, Nagarjuna wrote in his Ratnavali,[64] that nastikya (nihilism) leads to hell while astikya (affirmation) leads to heaven. According to the Sallekha Sutta, belief leading to evil conduct is of three kinds, and natthika ditthi (nastikavada or nihilism), is one of them (the others being ahetuka ditthi or accidentalism and akiriya ditthi or the view of inaction).[65]

Buddhist interpretation of Vedas[edit]

In the Buddhist Vinaya Pitaka of the Mahavagga (I.245)[66] section the Buddha pays respect to Angiras by declaring that the Veda in its true form was declared to the Vedic rishis "Atthako, Vâmako, Vâmadevo, Vessâmitto, Yamataggi, Angiraso, Bhâradvâjo, Vâsettho, Kassapo, and Bhagu"[67] and because that true Veda was altered by some priests he refused to pay homage to the altered version.[68]

According to Gautama Buddha (Vinaya 1.23-35), the Fire Sermon or "Adittapariyaya", the true fire sacrifice ('agnihotra') is internal and insists on removing the three fires of passion, hate, and delusion within oneself to succeed in this penance.[69] Buddhist scholar Tadeusz Skorupski linkens this to the three metaphorical fires to other allegorical ones in the Manu Smriti (2.231) wherein "Tradition holds that one's father is in fact the garhapatya fire, one's mother the daksina, one's teacher the ahavaniyal that triad of fires is the most important."[70]

Buddhists educated in Vedas[edit]

As there were several Brahmins in history after Gautama Buddha that were Vedic scholars and accepted Buddhism, according to Jatakas and other Buddhist literature, there were Buddhists that were educated in Vedas.

Legends about Brahmin figures[edit]

Deities appearing as Brahmins[edit]

Brahmin King Mucalinda sheltering Gautama Buddha at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Among the notable nagas of Buddhist tradition is Mucalinda, protector of the Buddha. In the Vinaya Sutra (I, 3) the Buddha shortly after his enlightenment is meditating in a forest when a great storm arises, but graciously Naga King Mucalinda gives shelter to the Buddha from the storm by covering the Buddha's head with his 7 snake heads.[49] Then the king takes the form of a young Brahmin and renders the Buddha homage.[49]

One of the seven female forms of Avalokitesvara will be of a Brahmin woman.[71]

Lord Indra took the avatar of a Brahmin to test whether Bodhisattva Sadaprarudita was pure enough to become a Buddha.[72] Indra also took the form of an old Brahmin to save Queen Maddi from being married to Prince Vessantara.[73]

On the advice of a Naga king called Suvarnaprabhasa, Nagaraja Elapattra assumed the form of a Brahmin and went round the cities of India promising a lakh of gold to anyone to who could interpret the enigma pronounced by the Buddha.[74]

nChog-sred was Shiva in a Brahmin form.[75] mGon-po Phyag-drug-pa was another 4-handed form of Mahakala (Shiva) in the shape of a Brahman (mGon-po Bram-ze.)

See also[edit]


  1. P. 77 Early Buddhist Monachism: 600 BC - 100 BC By Sukumar Dutt
  2. P. 132 Life in North-eastern India in Pre-Mauryan Times: With Special Reference to By Madan Mohan Singh
  3. Campbell, W. L. Ed. and trans. 1919. The Tree of Wisdom: Being the Tibetan text with English translation of Nagarjuna's gnomic verse treatise called the Prajñadanda. Calcutta University. Reprint: Sonam T. Kazi, Gangtok. 1975.
  4. [1]
  5. Brahmanavagga - The Holy Man
  6. Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism by Peter Masefield
  7. Western sociologists on Indian society: Marx, Spencer, Weber, Durkheim, Pareto By Gurmukh Ram Madan
  8. P. 563 Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Volume 4 By Front Cover Buddhist Council of Ceylon, Ceylon. Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Sri Lanka. Bauddha Ka?ayutu Departamentuva
  9. P. 41 A comprehensive history of Indian Buddhism By Asim Kumar Chatterjee
  10. P. 66 Buddha and Buddhist Synods in India and Abroad By Amarnath Thakur
  11. Four Illusions: Candrakirti's Advice for Travelers on the Bodhisattva Path: By Candrakirti
  12. P. 221 Journal and proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Volume 1 by Asiatic Society (Calcutta, India), Asiatic Society of Bengal
  13. P. 307 Zen: The Religion of the Samurai: A Study of Zen Philosophy and Discipline in China and Japan By Kaiten Nukariya
  14. P. 86 Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity By Kate Crosby
  15. P. 32 Pilgrimages and Spiritual Quests in Japan edited by Peter Ackermann, Dolores Martinez, Maria Rodriguez del Alisal
  16. P. 136 The Buddha and His Teachings By Tarthang Tlku, Elizabeth Cook
  17. P. 57 Some Aspects of Asian History and Culture By Upendra Thakur
  18. P. 212 Translating Buddhist Medicine in Medieval China By C. Pierce Salguero
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 P. 41 Taranatha's History of Buddhism in India By Taranatha, Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, Alaka Chattopadhyaya
  20. P. 14 Buddhist Divinities By Puspa Niyogi
  21. P. 892 The Cultural Heritage of India: The arts, Volume 7, Part 1 By Kapila Vatsyayan
  22. P. 67 A Companion to Tantra By S.C. Banerji
  23. P. 14 Saints and Sages of Kashmir By T.N. Dhar Kundan
  24. Sumpa Mkhan-po2 describes him as a ' Brahman Buddhist sage ', born of a Brahman and a Dakinl in the city of Rajnl in the eastern country. ; P. 348 The History of Bengal By Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  25. P. 348 The History of Bengal By Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  26. P. 381 Philosopher, Practitioner, Politician: The Many Lives of Fazang (643-712) By Jinhua Chen
  27. P. 228 Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement By Ronald M. Davidson
  28. P. 56 Visva-Bharati Annals, Volumes 6-10 By VisvaiBharati
  29. P. 1271 Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, Volume 1 By G.P. Malalasekera
  30. P. 67 Cultural Heritage of Ancient India By Sachindra Kumar Maity
  31. P. 5 Buddhist Councils and Development of Buddhism By Sumangal Barua
  32. P. The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion edited by Bernhard Scheid, Mark Teeuwen
  33. P. 130 The Emergence of Buddhism: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective By Jacob N. Kinnard
  34. P. 47 The Buddhist Conquest of China By Erik Zürcher
  35. P. 127 Greater India By Arun Bhattacharjee
  36. P. 121 The Grandeur of Gandhara: The Ancient Buddhist Civilization of the Swat, Peshawar, Kabul and Indus Valleys By Rafi U. Samad
  37. P. 21 Cultural History of Ancient India: A Socio-economic and Religio-cultural Survey of Kapiśa and Gandhāra By Jaya Goswami
  38. P. 187 The Pilgrimage of Fa Hian By Faxian, Abel Rémusat, Julius von Klaproth, Ernest Augustin Xavier Clerc de Landresse
  39. P. 514 Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, Volume 1 By G.P. Malalasekera
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  41. P. 22 European Trade and Colonial Conquest: Volume 1
  42. P. 261 Early Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism: The Mahayana Context of the Gau?apadiya By Richard King
  43. Ehelepola Adikaram
  44. P. 110 Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist records of the western world By Samuel Beal
  45. The inscription reads, "The gift of Nagadevi the wife of King Brahmamitra." Barua, B.M., 'Old Buddhist Shrines at Bodh-Gaya Inscriptions'
  46. P. 325 Three Mountains and Seven Rivers: Prof. Musashi Tachikawa's Felicitation Volume edited by Musashi Tachikawa, Shoun Hino, Toshihiro Wada
  47. P. 92 A History of India By Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund
  48. P. 5 Perspectives of archaeology, art, and culture in early Andhra Desa K. Ramamohan Rao
  49. 49.0 49.1 49.2 49.3 P. 72 How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings By Richard Francis Gombrich
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  53. P. 82 The Two Sources Of Indian Asceticism By Johannes Bronkhorst
  54. P. 180 Early Buddhist Theory Of Knowledge By Kulatissa Nanda Jayatilleke
  55. P. 81 The Two Sources Of Indian Asceticism
  56. P. 463 Dictionary of Pali proper names By G.P. Malalasekera
  57. The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward Joseph Thomas
  58. P. 95 A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms By James Legge
  59. P. 17 Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History and Literature By John Dowson
  60. The Debate of King Milinda: An Abridgement of the Milinda Pañha edited by Bhikkhu Pesala
  61. P. 187 Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy: Two Paths of Liberation from the Representation Mode of Thinking By Carl Olson
  62. P. 227 Studies in the Buddhist epistemological tradition: proceedings of the Second International Dharmakirti Conference, Vienna, June 11–16, 1989
  63. 63.0 63.1 P. 174 Unifying Hinduism: philosophy and identity in Indian intellectual history By Andrew J. Nicholson
  64. P. 101 A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy By Chandradhar Sharma
  65. P. 123 Sallekha Sutta: A Discourse on the Refinement of Character By Mahasi Sayadaw, Sobhana
  66. P. 494 The Pali-English dictionary By Thomas William Rhys Davids, William Stede
  67. P. 245 The Vinaya pi?aka?: one of the principle Buddhist holy scriptures ..., Volume 1 edited by Hermann Oldenberg
  68. The Vinaya Pitaka's section Anguttara Nikaya: Panchaka Nipata, P. 44 The legends and theories of the Buddhists, compared with history and science By Robert Spence Hardy
  69. P. 16 The Buddhist Forum edited by Tadeusz Skorupski
  70. P. 16 The Buddhist Forum edited by Tadeusz Skorupski
  71. P. 259 Women in Buddhism: Images of the Feminine in the Mahayana Tradition
  72. P. 119 Women in Buddhism: Images of the Feminine in the Mahayana Tradition
  73. Rediscovering the Buddha : The Legends and Their Interpretations: By Emeritus Dartmouth College Hans H Penner John Philips Professor of Religion
  74. P. 106 Indian Serpent Lore Or the Nagas in Hindu Legend And Art By J. Vogel
  75. P. 204 A Literary Transmission of the Traditions of Thang-stong RGyal-po: A Study of Visionary Buddhism in Tibet By Janet Gyatso