I’ve been asked about suttas that are specifically relevant for a Buddhist response to domestic violence. We’re not so interested in general texts on hate and violence, of which there are many, but those that address this in the context of relationships. I’m not sure how detailed they are, but I think there are a few relevant passages on respect of partners, and perhaps some things in the Therigatha? Any ideas?
Thig 1.11 comes to mind:
Thig1.11:1.1: I’m well freed, so very well freed,
Thig1.11:1.2: freed from the three things that bent me over:
Thig1.11:1.3: the mortar, the pestle,
Thig1.11:1.4: and my humpbacked husband.
Thig1.11:1.5: I’m freed from birth and death;
Thig1.11:1.6: the attachment to rebirth is eradicated.
Bhante, just a suggestion…
It may be better to address current social issues with general dhamma principles (non-violence, compassion, etc.), rather than quoting specific suttas. The suttas are really too multivocal on many issues and it’s not difficult to find suttas that can be read in a way that enables domestic violence.
The same goes for most other social questions, such as sexism, misogyny, gender discrimination, racism, etc. There are plenty of suttas that support and justify discriminatory attitutes. It causes a lot of real harm to real people.
Mendicants, it’s totally impossible that a mendicant with bad friends, companions, and associates, while frequenting, accompanying, and attending, and following their example, will fulfill the practice ~ AN 6.67
Here, some person is immoral, of bad character, impure, of suspect behavior, secretive in his actions, … inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. Such a person is to be looked upon with disgust, not to be associated with, followed, and served. ~ AN 3.27
Good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life. ~ SN 3.18
My favorite on this subject is the encouragement to not be a zombie:
AN4.53:0.2: 6. Overflowing Merit
AN4.53:0.3: 53. Living Together (1st)
AN4.53:1.1: At one time the Buddha was traveling along the road between Madhura and Verañja,
AN4.53:1.2: as were several householders, both women and men.
AN4.53:1.3: The Buddha left the road and sat at the root of a tree,
AN4.53:1.4: where the householders saw him.
AN4.53:1.5: They went up to the Buddha, bowed, and sat down to one side. The Buddha said to them:
AN4.53:2.1: “Householders, there are four ways of living together.
AN4.53:2.2: What four?
AN4.53:2.3: A male zombie living with a female zombie;
AN4.53:2.4: a male zombie living with a goddess;
AN4.53:2.5: a god living with a female zombie;
AN4.53:2.6: a god living with a goddess.
AN4.53:3.1: And how does a male zombie live with a female zombie?
AN4.53:3.2: It’s when the husband kills living creatures, steals, commits sexual misconduct, lies, and uses alcoholic drinks that cause negligence. He’s unethical, of bad character, living at home with his heart full of the stain of stinginess, abusing and insulting ascetics and brahmins.
AN4.53:3.3: And the wife is also … unethical, of bad character …
AN4.53:3.4: That’s how a male zombie lives with a female zombie.
AN4.53:4.1: And how does a male zombie live with a goddess?
AN4.53:4.2: It’s when the husband … is unethical, of bad character …
AN4.53:4.3: But the wife doesn’t kill living creatures, steal, commit sexual misconduct, lie, or use alcoholic drinks that cause negligence. She’s ethical, of good character, living at home with her heart rid of the stain of stinginess, not abusing and insulting ascetics and brahmins.
AN4.53:4.4: That’s how a male zombie lives with a goddess.
AN4.53:5.1: And how does a god live with a female zombie?
AN4.53:5.2: It’s when the husband … is ethical, of good character …
AN4.53:5.3: But the wife … is unethical, of bad character …
AN4.53:5.4: That’s how a god lives with a female zombie.
AN4.53:6.1: And how does a god live with a goddess?
AN4.53:6.2: It’s when the husband … is ethical, of good character …
AN4.53:6.3: And the wife is also … ethical, of good character …
AN4.53:6.4: That’s how a god lives with a goddess.
AN4.53:6.5: These are the four ways of living together.
Well, there is AN7.63 … and if one substitutes ‘partner’ for wife/husband and updates the ending for modern times to read ‘like a friend’ (after all that is Sujata’s culturally influenced choice, not the Buddha’s) there is quite a bit of sense in it!
MN 87 may be appropriate. Its main theme is how attachment to loved ones can twist the mind and cause suffering for oneself and for others. A relevant part that unfortunately echoes some of the news stories we still hear today:
Once upon a time right here in Sāvatthī a certain woman went to live with her relative’s family. But her relatives wanted to divorce her from her husband and give her to another, who she didn’t want. So she told her husband about this. But he cut her in two and disemboweled himself, thinking, ‘We shall be together after death.’ That’s another way to understand how our loved ones are a source of sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress.