Was the Buddha advocating the caste system?


My biggest objection against (the luckily few) suttas that say that immoral people get reborn poor and ugly is exactly that it so easily leads to blocking compassion. This lack of compassion
is implied, and therefore accepted in these suttas.

Who is dogmatically the biggest ‘enemy’ of the EBT? In a way it’s the Jains and the proponents of self-mortification. But even more so it’s the Materialistic Nihilism of Ajita Kesakambali, and the doctrine of Predeterminism of the Ajivikas. Why? They are philosophically plausible - but the consequence of believing in them is that one applies no exertion and no effort in one’s ethical and spiritual development.

My point is, the suttas (and probably the Buddha) were very well aware of the implied consequences of what one thinks, and they were actually more interested in the consequences than in the ‘truth’. Which is why I see suttas as inauthentic which don’t care about consequences, which make me stop being compassionate with poor people because ‘they deserved it’.


It may seem like that to you. How about looking at it from a different perspective - talking in anger leads to bad looks, and that being taught in compassion so that one may know the negative outcome of angry speech; rather than this bein an indictment against those who don’t look good. Remember that loving- kindnesses is universal and that is not negotiable and applies to everyone even if bandits are sawing all 4 limbs. Your interpretation of a malicious intent is not in accordance with the broader dhamma-vinaya, even if someone slipped in that sutta at a much later date. In any case the Buddha didn’t belong to any caste after he became a monk and considered thoughts about caste as a fine defilement- see Pansadovaka sutta.

With metta


apparently also after rebirth:

I suppose, Bhante, that in some earlier life I was prone to anger… Therefore I am now ugly, ill formed, and unsightly. (AN 4.197)

… and man created the suttas in his image


You don’t have to believe kamma or rebirth, if you don’t want to (see Kalama sutta).

Kamma was never meant as a fixed destiny- we are all free to overcome most of our past kamma- apart from the five heinous acts. Even then, it seems limited to this lifetime. There is no eternal punishment for bad kamma. Even the Buddha would have been a murderer in a past life. Ven Moggallana was supposed to have killed his mother (parents?) having spent a long time in a hell world, ended up with blemished skin, and yet became and arahanth, though murdered by assassins eventually. There is no karma ‘unpardonable’, in that sense, in Buddhism. Caste isn’t recognized, except those who constantly pursue unwholesome actions would be considered ‘low caste’, and not to be associated with, less their influence rubs off on others, corrupting others.

with metta,


I guess you’re not really interested in the texts then. Sorry, but you seem to refer more to your pristine image of the suttas than to the real suttas. I pointed out suttas with castes, but you ignore them. Slaves cannot ordain, and you say that “caste isn’t recognized”?

I guess the Vinaya rule that protects monastics of lower classes from slander is also there for no reason:

…at that time, the group of six monks, quarrelling with well behaved monks, insulted the well behaved monks; they jeered at them, they scoffed at them about birth (jāti = ‘caste’) and name and clan (Bhikkhuvibaṅga Pācittiya 2-3).

So much for the reality of the Sangha back then. Or don’t they belong to ‘Buddhism’?


Not recognized in the sense that they didn’t see it as a valid distinction in how a person is valued and understood that it was a man made rule.

As for the rule about not ordaining slaves, I think this is because the sangha wouldn’t be protected from people joining it just to become free from slavery, a free ride, and not for genuine reasons of letting-go. Also they were completely dependent on their donors for their survival, and the Buddha didn’t undermine social rules of those who had nothing to do with religion, at the time. He would have felt that thousands eventually becoming enlightened is better than fight slavery and very few becoming enlightened in the end because the sangha doesn’t serve its function very well anymore. Who knows, it might be like it is today in some places- many robes, few enlightened.

I am interested in the texts- I think you don’t think the Buddha and his arahanths were enlightened, that they could suggest the things you imply they did. That is of course fine. No one is expected to have faith in the Buddha, dhamma and arya sangha or be called Buddhist, on this forum.

At the least this suggest there is no systematic discrimination against lower castes, and that they were ordained in number large enough for there to be order-wide rule, prior to the previous rule.

with metta


what a remarkable way of viewing people, motivations, and the value of effort. “a free ride” has only ever existed except as a mental construct imo


Exactly, this was what I was referring to. But then the verse I pointed out kinda contradicts this, thus I want to know what you guys think.


I think we have two alternatives, either gaslighting ourselves until we stop seeing what is clearly in front of us, or open up to the complex historical juggernaut that the texts are.

The texts are clear: there are suttas which say that are that everyone is the same, there are suttas which imply and proliferate classes and ‘castes’, and there are a few that support the disadvantaged.

My opinion is that the oldest layers are not interested in classes or castes or gender at all but that with time when the movement became big enough it had to include social aspects. And since society is and has been a mess this is what we get in the suttas as well.


echos, what are minor rules, and flexibility to the locale, and the Great Rule too i think.

images of museum restoration documentaries, time capsules, and the amazing market value of utterly undrinkable wine, float through my attention.

:slight_smile: One must respect Truth above all else, to dare to raise the topic, i think.

May all beings be liberated.


It’s fascinating how we assume putajjana will act like saints, and the Buddha and other arahanths will behave like putajjana so that they fall in line with our understanding of things.

Gas-lighting is interesting method where those who don’t conform to the states quo use tactics like belittling other people’s beliefs or cast doubt on them, using some method to chip away until the whole thing collapses. Doug could alter their name to Rob, for example on a forum such as this and use that to easily undermine the status quo.

With metta


… i do not know this word “putajjana” @Mat. Please, explain, for the benefit of the readers including me.

In questioning implied ideas, am i perhaps just offering other assumptions? … Yes, perhaps, that can happen. But if the comment about gaslighting was also directed to me _edit rather than to G who introduced the phrase) _: that tactic is abhorant to me, useless imo for learning or teaching or being harmless, and nothing i have offered here. But perhaps our definitions of gaslighting differ; i have understood it as a conscious malicious attempt to make a person doubt what they remember or know, with the objective of creating an appearance or reality of madness. “Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Wikipedia” Are you accusing anyone in this thread or forum of this?

Yeah, no idea what you are trying to say here; want to try to communicate whatever was meant again? Or am i not the person(s) to whom that message was/is intended, though it begins in a linked reply?

Feeling a need for a metaphorical palate cleansor, i offer this self deprecating observation: if Hanlon’s Razor is “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” …or honest ignorance. This, i easily admit to have, especially as i happily apply myself to its cure.

I think _edit: this _particular ignorance is not “delusion”, or wrong view… but :slight_smile: i am ignorant of millenia of opinions about this in Buddhism… and not really attracted to this scholarly knowledge, as it seems tangential to my focus.

May you be happy and peaceful, may i be happy and peaceful, may everyone be happy and peaceful. May everyone realize their ultimate well being - liberation.


Hi guys, this thread was opened purely for academic discussion purposes, I believe we should be polite and open to different opinions. But anyway, I would see it this way, that the real and true teachings of the Buddha might have changed and as well eroded over time, such things happen, no matter how much we don’t want it to be. In order to know what he really taught, it’s up to us to put in effort to achieve his level of understanding.


Speculation . Letting go, many of Buddha disciples did not have genuine intention and yet allow to ordain .


How do you know that? :slightly_smiling_face:

With metta


Such as devadatta interested in power to replace Buddha .


It seems many buddhist are unaware of slavery during the Buddha times or even after that .
The Digha Nikaya mentions existence of male and female slaves, both of whom were not masters of themselves and were completely dependent on their owners. A lot of the slaves were from the Shudra community .The Vinaya Pitaka mentions three types of slaves that existed in that period – slaves brought from another country (kara-mara-anito), children of women slaves (antojatako) and slaves who were purchased (dhankito). Other categories of slaves known – gifted slaves and self-accepted slaves (samam dasavayam upagato). Buddhist monks were not allowed to do manual labour but since they were expected to settle down as a group for certain period of time each year, the need for labour arose for construction and maintenance of the monasteries where they lived. Such labourers were known as aramikas and were most likely slaves rather than free men. There were also instances where after becoming a monk, the master would bring along his slaves because the master had rights over the slaves even after renunciation of world. Another group of workers called kappiya-karaka was present in the monasteries, which was responsible for arrangement of various things. The doubt over acceptance of aramikas was not present when kappiya-karakas were first employed but the status of both the groups was similar.


Interesting. A lil disturbing too, but imo neither the future or the Truth should be feared.

Thank yoy for the information.


Whatever the truth is all I need to know is the right thing to do now. Negative things may have crept into the Vinaya or the later texts, but exclusively focusing on them and forgetting the 99% wholesome teachings, while perhaps less provocative and promoting discussion less, will probably be more beneficial on the long run. However it is useful to discuss these things if only to be clear what is appropriate and what isn’t. Caste based discrimination clearly isn’t.

With metta


Devadatta was one person. You said many people entered the Sangha for wrong reasons. If we focus on finding fault that is actually what we will find. The suttas mention far more people joining for the right reasons so I don’t think there was a vast influx of people joining for the wrong reason.

With metta