Buddhist Studies Review, Vol 26, No 1 (2009)

Why Did Brahmā Ask the Buddha to Teach?

Dhivan Thomas Jones
Issued Date: 22 Aug 2009


The episode of Brahmā’s request to the Buddha to teach has been regarded as problematic from early times, since it suggests that the Buddha was initially lacking in compassion. Comparison of versions of the story shows it to be possibly pre-Aśokan in origin. A close reading of themes in the episode in relation to other incidents in the Buddha’s life described in the Pali canon show that it need not be taken as portraying an actual experience of the Buddha. The original purpose of the episode was not to describe the Buddha’s inner conflict but to show that Brahmā, representative of Brahmanical religion, was a follower of the Buddha. The episode was originally religious propaganda.

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DOI: 10.1558/bsrv.v26i1.85


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