Good day .
I would like to apologize for the title since it sounds inflammatory but it encapsulates my question basically . I have a question that I have been ruminating over. I have done my own search and browsed the sutta central discourse to try to understand it but I am still left unsure. My question is in regards to slavery.
I have read in Sāmaññaphala Sutta that monks should not accept slaves and also in Vanijja Sutta that it is wrong livelihood for people to trade in human beings.
But what I am surpised about is that when I dove into papers published I have come across this : https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/jiabs/article/download/8824/2731 . It was a paper by Gregory Schopen titled : The monastic ownership of Servants or Slaves : Local and legal factors in the redactional history of the two Vinayas. I have tried my best to understand the paper and the Vinaya but based on my understanding is that the Buddha allowed slaves to be used by the Sangha. He referred to the Bhesajja : The story of Pilindavaccha in regards to the monastery attendant.
From the Vinaya Bhesajja :
Then the venerable Pilindavaccha gladdened, roused, rejoiced, delighted King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha with talk on dhamma. Then King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, gladdened … delighted by the venerable Pilindavaccha’s talk on dhamma, rising from his seat, having greeted the venerable Pilindavaccha, departed keeping his right side towards him. Then the venerable Pilindavaccha sent a messenger to the Lord to say: “Lord, King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha desires to present an attendant for a monastery. Now, Lord, what line of conduct is to be followed?” Then the Lord on this occasion having given reasoned talk, addressed the monks saying:
“I allow, monks, a monastery attendant.”
To quote Gregory Schopen :
First of all, it would appear that the accounts of Pilinda in both the
Mahaviharin and Mulasarvastivadin Vinayas contain or deliver the ini -
tial rule allowing for the acceptance by monks or monastic communities
of aramikas or kalpikaras. They were, as it were, the charters for such
practices. But since it also seems that neither account in either vinaya
can be early, then it would also appear that references to aramikas and
kalpikaras elsewhere in their respective vinayas also cannot be early. It
would seem unlikely that incidental references to aramikas or kalpikaras
would precede the rule allowing their acceptance. But since such references
are scattered throughout both vinayas as we have them the implications
of this are both far reaching and obvious.
Then there is the problem of what to call aramikas or kalpikaras: are
they servants, forced laborers, bondmen, slaves?
We might note first that the language of the Mahavihann account is not particularly helpful. It does, however, indicate that aramikas were human beings who could be, and were, given (datu-, dammi, dinna,detha, padasi) by one person (the king) to another (the Venerable Pilinda), and appear to have been, in this sense at least, chattels. "
I have also read this article online : Buddhist morality is Medieval | Vividness .
According to scripture, the Buddha himself (after enlightenment) accepted slaves as gifts to the sangha, and he did not free them
He referenced the Schopen paper and from” Encyclopedia of Buddhism" :
" In Buddhist literature of all varieties, stock descriptions of wealth, even that gifted to the Buddha, regularly include both male and female slaves along with silver, gold, fields, livestock, and so on. Some texts, emphasizing the moral obligation to receive whatever is given in reverence, declare that it is an offense not to accept such offerings, the lists of which regularly include slaves".
Also as said by Richard Gombrich in Theravada Buddhism - a social history from ancient Benares to modern Colombo :
While a famous sermon, the Sa¯mañña-phala Sutta, stresses the practical benefits for a slave in leaving his servitude and joining the Order, in fact runaway slaves were not allowed to join the Order. Moreover, though in ancient India there was no caste or other form of social ranking within the Order itself, the Order soon came to own (lay) slaves."
Did the Buddha allow in the Vinaya for slaves to be used ? Is it said that for individual monks it is improper to accept slaves but for the monastic order it is allowed for them to be used ? I have been made aware of slaves that have sadly been present in the history of the sri lankan , chinese and thai sangha , but I did not know that possibly it has been allowed for the monastic order possibly in the Vinaya ( (PDF) Buddhism and Antislavery | Michael Jerryson - Academia.edu) .
All of those are based on my understanding based on Mr.Schopen’s paper and I am very open for correction .I just am honestly bothered a lot by it so please correct me if my understanding is wrong .
Thank you .