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Why can't a Buddha be born into a lower caste?

Greetings everyone! I am sorry to ask this question but I had some curiosity in my mind so I am asking it. This time I wish to ask that why Buddhas only take birth in higher caste and not in lower caste? The Lalitavistara sutra says that Buddha takes birth in a central land and only in higher caste. I know that the Buddha didn’t discriminate lower castes and ordained them equally like others. For example, the low caste scavenger Sunita was ordained by the Buddha. Similarly Upali, a barber, was ordained by the Buddha before Sakyans, so that the latter would pay homage to him as he would be senior to them. In the Assalayana Sutta, the Buddha debates with a Brahmin and disputes the claim that Brahmins are the highest caste, born from the mouth of Brahma. In my opinion, the Buddha was the greatest man ever born ever in this Universe. But still I have some doubts about the authenticity of some sutras. I am pasting a quote from Lalitavistara Sutra below where the Buddha says that a Buddha is not born into a lower caste despite the fact that in some Jatakas, the Boddhisatta is born in some lower castes many times.

"And why, monks, did the Bodhisattva behold the country of his birth? Because a
bodhisattva is not born in outlying lands where people are as stupid as sheep, with
dull faculties, ignorant, and incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. Rather a
bodhisattva is born in a central land.

And why, monks, did the Bodhisattva behold the family of his birth? Because a
bodhisattva is not born into an inferior family, like a family of outcastes, flute makers, cartwrights, or servants. A bodhisattva is only born into one of two families—a
priestly family or a family of the ruling class. When the priestly families are dominant in the world, the bodhisattva is born into a priestly family. When the rulingclass families are dominant in the world, the bodhisattva is born into a ruling-class
family. Thus, monks, at this time the ruling-class families were dominant in the
world, so bodhisattvas were born into such families. " (Lalitavistara Sutra)

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being cynical about it one can say that it’s because of conditioning, all Hindu avatars and buddhas are getting born in the Bharata because the stories about them are composed by Indians, and Bharata is one thing Indians have pretty good familarity with

but if playing along with this conditioning one may say that it’s because such birth provides the Buddha with the best logistic opportunities for fulfillment of his mission, if he has such, because it seems that Buddha Gotama hadn’t been compelled by any sense of mission (and as an arahant he really shouldn’t have been, since arahants are content with what they have and are), plus a boddhisattva must be having a very bright kamma so s/he simply by its virtue deserves to be born in favorable environment, which has historically been associated with wealth and status

In traditional Buddhist thought, advantageous life circumstances are typically the result of some past good deeds. That does not necessarily mean that the person has done all good things in this lifetime, but they must have planted the seeds of karma for these sort of fortunate circumstances to occur.

Because Gautama was viewed as having developed all good roots over innumerable lifetimes of cultivation, he had every advantage in his final birth. He was born as nobility into the family of a king, and enjoyed every type of life comfort. Then when he had fully experienced this type of life, he abandoned it and sought the highest goal of enlightenment.

The biggest theme in the Lalitavistara, as with the Jatakas, is the central role of karma, and the importance of developing the virtue necessary for recognizing and pursuing higher forms of cultivation. These narratives illustrate the manner in which every seed of karma was planted, and every root of virtue was developed in order for Gautama to become the Buddha.

These days we don’t like the idea that riches and poverty are the result of past karma, so people are uncomfortable with these themes. I think these sort of ideas would have been central to the world-view of Buddhists in ancient India, though. Then as well as now, many Buddhists throughout Asia give to the Triple Gem in order to develop merit for a fortunate human rebirth, into wealth, or as a deva in the heavens.

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[quote=“Abhinav, post:1, topic:3826”]
When the priestly families are dominant in the world, the bodhisattva is born into a priestly family. When the ruling class families are dominant in the world, the bodhisattva is born into a ruling-class family.[/quote]

I would speculate the answer is quoted above, namely, when a Buddha is from a priestly or ruling class family he will be sufficiently respected by the ruling authorities of the world & also have the spiritual authority to start the Buddhist religion.

This is probably the same reason why MN 115 states a Sammasambuddha cannot be a woman. A Buddha probably must have both the spiritual and worldly authority in the world to start the Buddhist religion. If a woman Buddha started teaching ‘anatta’ (‘not-self’) to priests & men that believed in Self (Atman), the men would probably not take the female Buddha seriously & label her a ‘witch’, similar to how many men labeled the Buddha a ‘nihilist’ or Jesus a ‘magician’ & ‘Satanic’.

I think the story of Jesus shows how difficult it can be to start a new religion thus a man born into a priestly or ruling family will do better; particularly of they are teaching something unheard of & revolutionary such as not-self (anatta) & emptiness (emptiness).

:seedling:

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[details=Summary]starting a new religion wasn’t Jesus’s aim, according to the Gospels he said

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Mt 5:17

rather his story shows how difficult it is to go against the mainstream no matter how wrong and/or corrupted it is, which isn’t exclusive to religion being true to any field inasmuch as human beings are involved, because they’re so attached to views and habits
[/details]

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I think we all do. The wikipedia article on the Lalitavistara Sutra states:

This scripture is an obvious compilation of various early sources, which have been strung together and elaborated on according to the Mahāyāna worldview.

I can’t see any reason to accept it as authentic at all - maybe parts if you can find those points made in other suttas that are recognized as early material. With regard to MN 115. I think in order to argue that a Sammasambuddha cannot be a woman one would have to find more than just one reference. Not being an authority on the suttas - can’t say if those exist or not. In general, both statements seem to go against the grain of the teachings.

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If you want to fight against color discrimination you are in a strong position if you are a white person.
If you want to fight against sex discrimination you are in a strong position if you are a male.
If you want to fight against cast discrimination you are in a strong position if you are a higher cast person.
If you want to fight against creed discrimination you are in a strong position if you are a belong to a major creed.
If you want to fight against discrimination of minor ethnic group you are in a strong position if your are belong to major ethnic group.
If you want to fight against disability discrimination you are in a strong position if you are a healthy person.
If you want to help poor you are in a strong position if you are a rich person.
If you want to save someone from drowning you better be a good swimmer.

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Ven Analayo in his paper demonstrates that this concept is featured in MN 115 parallels in other versions of the Canon, so it appears to be an established view

Thanks for the link, that is an interesting article.

Analayo points out the awkwardness of MN 115:

Returning to the Bahudhātuka-sutta and its parallels, when considered against the background of the purpose of the whole discourse, the theme of what a woman cannot achieve appears to be quite irrelevant. The different versions agree that the Buddha gave his disciple Ānanda an exposition on essential aspects of the Dharma that are required for the development of wisdom. … .

In contrast, to know if a wheel-turning king, a heavenly king, a Sakka, a Māra, a Brahmā, a Paccekabuddha or a Buddha can be female would be of little relevance to Ānanda, who was living at a time when the ruling positions in the various heavens were held to have been already occupied by males, and when the one male who according to tradition could have become a wheel-turning king had already become a Buddha instead.

In general, he views these statements regarding the inabilities of women to be later additions:

In sum, since an accidental loss or an intentional omission of an exposition on the inabilities of women in the Madhyama-āgama discourse seems improbable, the most straightforward conclusion would be that the theme of women’s inability is a later addition to the exposition on impossibilities in the different versions of the Discourse on Many Elements. Thus in this respect the Madhyama-āgama version quite probably testifies to an early stage, when the theme of what women cannot achieve had not yet become part of the discourse.
As part of the general tendency to expand on various impossibilities, however, this theme must have soon enough made its way into various versions of the discourse. Whereas the inability of a woman to be a Buddha can still be seen as an expression of leadership conceptions held in ancient Indian patriarchal society, once her ability to be a Pacceka-buddha becomes part of the listing of impossibilities, the implications are clearly a diminishing of the spiritual abilities of women. This tendency can safely be assumed to stand in contrast to the original teachings of early Buddhism, where—as far as the texts allow us to judge—gender was not considered to have an impact on spiritual abilities.

i believe it was already stated in earlier discussion, the point might stem not from inherent spiritual inferiority of women, because female arahants is a well attested phenomenon in the early Buddhism, but their inability or rather inexpediency to specifically be Buddhas, that is prominent spiritual and religious leaders professing new teaching, considering conventional gender roles in ancient India and status of women

i believe it all comes back to the Buddha being born into the most favorable conditions, which being a woman back then wasn’t one of

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It still isn’t in much of the world today. And any student of history knows that women have long been treated as second-class (sometimes blatantly so, sometimes less) in many, many cultures until recent times.

Some women today who grew up in families adhering to cultural traditions that view and treat women as second-class freely admit that if they could choose, they’d choose to be born male. I see that as a pragmatic view of how much more favorable and easier one’s life is to be male in such cultures. And one could argue that even in modern liberal cultures, it is still more favorable but to a lesser degree.

[quote=“Deeele, post:4, topic:3826, full:true”]

[quote=“Abhinav, post:1, topic:3826”]
When the priestly families are dominant in the world, the bodhisattva is born into a priestly family. When the ruling class families are dominant in the world, the bodhisattva is born into a ruling-class family.[/quote]

I would speculate the answer is quoted above, namely, when a Buddha is from a priestly or ruling class family he will be sufficiently respected by the ruling authorities of the world & also have the spiritual authority to start the Buddhist religion.

This is probably the same reason why MN 115 states a Sammasambuddha cannot be a woman. A Buddha probably must have both the spiritual and worldly authority in the world to start the Buddhist religion.[/quote]
I agree, and I’d extend that to the other major religions as well. This could change as time goes on—who knows what the major religions will be in 200 years?

I recall we have discussed this previously. Personally, I can’t understand the need for controversy or revision here on Ven Analayo’s behalf since the term ‘Sammasambuddha’ in MN 115 is universally found in the suttas & in Buddhism and the term exclusively applies to only one specific individual person, namely, the “Ekapuggala”:

170. Bhikkhus, one person is born in the world for the welfare and happiness of gods and men. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened, born out of compassion for the world.

171. Bhikkhus, one person’s appearance in the world is rare. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened, his appearance is rare in the world.

172. Bhikkhus, one person is born supreme in the world. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened. He is born supreme in the world.

AN 1.170

For me, the flaw in Ven Analayo’s paper was the term ‘Sammasambuddha’ was not differentiated from the terms ‘Buddha’ or ‘Arahant’.

Historically, Asian Buddhism has held there are four types of Buddhas. Many men & women can be of the three types of Buddhas but only one specific individual can be the one & only Sammasambuddha in a world-system

The logical conclusion, to me, is if MN 115 is debunked then the whole idea of a ‘Sammasambuddha’ is debunked; which debunks the very foundation of Buddhism. It would be similar to Christianity debunking the tenant of Christ as the Only Begotten Son.

Sorry, but I just can’t see a paper by a European monk overturning 2,600 years of Buddhism.

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

:anjal: :anjal: :anjal:

If I remember correctly, this is only in some very late Theravada works.

In mainstream Indian Buddhism, buddha was more or less synonymous with samyaksaṃbuddha. There was no unified position on whether a buddha and an arhat share the same awakening, or on whether they have followed the same path.