Are there any suttas on whistleblowers


What is the most ethical way to treat a whistleblower according to buddhist ethics.


A case of illegitimate whistleblowing against the Buddha himself is recorded in the Commentary of Dhammapada’s verse #176:



“A hag is reviling the Supremely Enlightened.” Forthwith they spat on her head, and taking clods of earth and sticks in their hands, drove her out of the Jetavana. As she passed out of sight of the Tathāgata, the great earth split apart, an abyss opened under her feet, and flames shot up from the Avīci Hell. Thus was she swallowed up, enveloped as it were in a scarlet blanket such as is presented by wealthy families, and reborn in the Avīci Hell.’



Right? It seems a little extreme.


On the topic of whistleblowing, pretty much all of origin stories behind the Vinaya rules could be understood as arising from some sort of whistleblowing by both members of the Sangha or those around it.

Note that in most of the cases, the first offenders are said to be exempt from penalties introduced once the rules were established.

And my interpretation is that even in the case of Sudinna, the monk who had sexual intercourse and triggered the first rule, was not expelled from the Sangha as a result of his unfortunate mistake.



There was a fable of a zen monk called Hakuin accused of getting a woman pregnant. He was reviled by the community but he said nothing and he ended looking after the baby. Eventually the woman who accused him of getting her pregnant confessed that she lied and the monk was redeemed. This was a case of ‘not picking or choosing’ which is the Zen way to deal with such accusations.


So why was the nun expelled. What happened to the monks who set her up to do it?


Are there any cases where whistleblowers where ostracised?


Ciñcā was a paribbājikā, not a bhikkhunī, and the plotters were titthiyas, not bhikkhus. And so neither were bound by the Vinaya nor subject to its penalties. The expulsion of Ciñcā from Jetavana wasn’t a Vinaya punishment but just the action of an angry mob.


thanks for clarifying but the angry mob were supporters of the Buddha?


No doubt!


Whether one is or has been a whistleblower in current life, or witnessed whistleblowing, it seems to me all the advice one needs is in that sutta. Not a simple answer, perhaps, or if it seems a simple answer, perhaps one needs to question one’s mind.

I recalled hearing a monk saying something about greeting each person, treating each person, as an old friend; with kindness, respect, compassion, no matter what… When I have tried this, it has seemed to help me avoid wrong thinking, speech, behavior.

Specifically for lay disciples,