Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

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Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby Son of Buddha » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:51 pm

I have come across many Buddhists who think a Buddhist having a Svastica or using the term Aryan Buddhist somehow means they are racist.
as many already know the Svastica is found in Mahayana sutras and is on many temples in Buddhists countries along with being on the maps to find temples in Japan.

But one thing most Buddhists dont know is that Aryan was a term in the Pali Canon for a person who followed the Buddhist path,it was commmonly known that all Buddhists were Aryans following the Aryan path.of course most people will never know this if they havent poured through the pali canon or havent met anyone who is a Buddhist who uses the term Aryan Buddhist,which the term generally is only found in Srilankan or indian Buddhist communies,and is not generally well known outside those comunities.

(of course I also understand why westerners would not want to use the term Aryan or wear a Svastica due to the social stigma,I myself wear a Svastica in public and do not suffer social stigma due to the fact that I am asian and its kinda hard to call an Asian a "white" supremacists)

here is where the term can be located in Sutta(I didnt post the entire sutta due to the length but the term is found all throughout the sutta,also this sutta is AWSOME in describing Buddhist pactice) Peace and love to all.

Digha Nikaya
Sangiti sutta 33
Translated by Mauice Walshe
commisioned from Wisdom Publishing(as is Bhuikku Bodhis translations)

IX. "Four Aryan lineages. Here, a monk
a. Is content with any old robe, praises such contentment, and does not try to obtain robes improperly or unsuitability. He does not worry if he does not get a robe, and if he does, he is not full of greedy, blind desire, but makes use of it, aware of such dangers and wisely aware of its true purpose. Nor is he conceited about being thus content with any old robe, and he does not disparage others. And one who is thus skilful, not lax, clearly aware and mindful, is known as a monk who is true to the ancient, original Aryan lineage. Again,
b. A monk is content with any alms food he may get...Again,
c. A monk is content with any old lodging place...and again,
d. A monk, being fond of abandoning rejoices in abandoning, and being fond of developing, rejoices in developing, is not therefore conceited...and one who is thus skilful, not lax, clearly aware and mindful, is known as a monk who is true to the ancient, original Aryan lineage.

XIV. "Four characteristics of a Stream Winner: Here, the Ariyan disciple is possessed of unwavering confidence in the Buddha, thus:
a. "This Blessed Lord is an Arahant, a fully enlightened Buddha, endowed with Wisdom and conduct, the well-farer, knower of the worlds, incomparable Trainer of men to be tamed, Teachers of gods and humans, enlightened and blessed."
XXXVII. "Four Aryan modes of speech: stating that one has not seen, heard, sensed, known what one has not seen, heard, sensed, known.
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:03 pm

And I know of people that believe they are Buddhists and believe that Buddhism is racist and a justification for white power.

Samsara, gotta love it! :smile:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby Son of Buddha » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:14 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:And I know of people that believe they are Buddhists and believe that Buddhism is racist and a justification for white power.

Samsara, gotta love it! :smile:


those people dont have a clue what they are talking about,I can find If you want the suttas that say there is no caste and all people are equal,(pureland sutras in Mahayana that say all beings will be reborn into Pureland and all will have the same color of gold)ect..ect..the Dharma was meant to save ALL living beings not just a specific color.

also I think you will like this one: Digha Nikaya Sigalaka sutta 31
30. 'There are five ways in which a husband should minister to his wife as the western direction: by honouring her, by
not disparaging her, by not being unfaithful to her, by giving authority to her, by providing her with adornments. And
there are five ways in which a wife, thus ministered to by her husband as the western direction, will reciprocate: by
properly organising her work, by being kind to the servants, by not being unfaithful, by protecting stores, and by being
skilful and diligent in all she has to do. In this way the western direction is covered, making it at peace and free from fear.

could you imagine how this went over in male dominated indian society at the time of the Buddha(suprised they didnt try to kill him 9 times ;)
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby jeeprs » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:23 am

I don't think that is the full story, actually. I believe that 'Aryan' was associated with a particular cultural heritage, specifically, the speakers of languages and dialects such as Sanskrit/Prakrit languages - the Indo-Europeans. These were the 'Aryas' in distinction from the various other ethnic and cultural groups that were encountered in the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere. (For instance, 'Iran' is actually a version of 'Aryan'). The Aryans were 'noble' in that they were associated with the Vedic culture, as distinct from the other indigenous cultures of the time. So I am sure it was an ethic and cultural division to begin with.

As with many other terms, the Buddha appropriated the term and re-defined it to signify those who were 'noble in conduct' as distinct from those 'of noble birth'. This is very much like the way he re-defined 'the brahmin' - in his terminology 'the brahmin' was the 'spiritually emancipated', not someone who was simply born in the Brahmin caste. As is well known, the Buddha did not observe the Hindu social divisions (which is arguably one of the main reasons why Buddhism died out in India).

But the 'myth of the Aryan peoples' which Nazism appropriated, certainly pre-dated Buddhism.

(This was the subject of a lot of work by Max Meuller, which I read decades ago, so I don't remember many of the details. There's a Wikipedia article on it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan_race. An article linked to that one says that the term 'aryan' is generally not used in scholarly circles any more, due to its association with Nazism, among other things.)
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby Namgyal » Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:44 am

jeeprs wrote:I don't think that is the full story, actually. I believe that 'Aryan' was associated with a particular cultural heritage, specifically, the speakers of languages and dialects such as Sanskrit/Prakrit languages - the Indo-Europeans. These were the 'Aryas' in distinction from the various other ethnic and cultural groups that were encountered in the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere. (For instance, 'Iran' is actually a version of 'Aryan')

...another is 'Eire' (Republic of Ireland). Even though the Indo-Europeans only accounted for 5-10% of Celtic DNA they completely replaced earlier cultures and languages. One of the attractive features of their culture was the ideal of the heroic warrior/knight errant who wandered the land righting wrongs and defending the weak. The Celts believed that these knights would return after death in another body, if they were truly noble 'Aryan'. This ideal of the noble knight-errant must be Central Asian in origin because it covers East Asia in an identical form. One can translate King Arthur and his knights directly into Wuxia martial arts fiction, and of course vice-versa into spaghetti Westerns ('Yojimbo' - 'A Fistful of Dollars').

As for the appropriation of these symbols by the Nazi party, the most famous and bizarre example is the SS expedition to Tibet...
Image
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...and inevitably :crazy:
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:51 pm

The expedition was given a complete set of the Kangyur (and other gifts) to present to "King Hitler".
Last edited by Konchog1 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:08 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:here is where the term can be located in Sutta

It's also used in the name of one of the most important Buddhist teachings: the four noble truths (catvāri āryasatyāni). The Lalitavistara Sūtra:

    These four, monks, are noble truths (āryasatyāni). Which four? Unsatisfactoriness, the origin of unsatisfactoriness, the cessation of unsatisfactoriness, and the way of practice leading to the cessation of unsatisfactoriness.

And the fourth noble truth is the noble eightfold path (āryāṣṭāṅgamārga). There's also the noble disciple (āryaśrāvaka) that you mentioned in the OP, being a disciple who has attained stream-entry, and the noble bodhisattva (āryabodhisattva), being a bodhisattva who has attained the first bodhisattva bhūmi, and so on.
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby Son of Buddha » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:13 pm

Jnana wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:here is where the term can be located in Sutta

It's also used in the name of one of the most important Buddhist teachings: the four noble truths (catvāri āryasatyāni). The Lalitavistara Sūtra:

    These four, monks, are noble truths (āryasatyāni). Which four? Unsatisfactoriness, the origin of unsatisfactoriness, the cessation of unsatisfactoriness, and the way of practice leading to the cessation of unsatisfactoriness.

And the fourth noble truth is the noble eightfold path (āryāṣṭāṅgamārga). There's also the noble disciple (āryaśrāvaka) that you mentioned in the OP, being a disciple who has attained stream-entry, and the noble bodhisattva (āryabodhisattva), being a bodhisattva who has attained the first bodhisattva bhūmi, and so on.



yea in the Digha Nikaya Sangiti sutta 33 it says the same thing about the 4 noble truths,I didnt qoute the entire sutta but at the begining of every teaching and dicription of all the different followers they are given the term Aryan,generally every single aspect of the Buddhst path in this sutta is termed Aryan,have you gotten an chance to read the sutta yet?It contains almost every single Buddhist teaching striped down from the storylines and compacted into one sutta(teachings from the pali canon perspective)
I didnt know it was used in a Mahayana Sutra though.I couldnt ever find the term,Ill read into the Lalitavistara sutra.
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby Jnana » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:37 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:I didnt know it was used in a Mahayana Sutra though.I couldnt ever find the term,Ill read into the Lalitavistara sutra.

Whenever you come across the English term "noble" in a translation of a Buddhist text, it's usually a translation of ārya (Sanskrit), or ariya (Pāli), or 'phags pa (Tibetan). (I don't know the Chinese term for ārya.)

Son of Buddha wrote:yea in the Digha Nikaya Sangiti sutta 33 it says the same thing about the 4 noble truths,I didnt qoute the entire sutta but at the begining of every teaching and dicription of all the different followers they are given the term Aryan,generally every single aspect of the Buddhst path in this sutta is termed Aryan,have you gotten an chance to read the sutta yet?It contains almost every single Buddhist teaching striped down from the storylines and compacted into one sutta(teachings from the pali canon perspective)

Yes, I've read it. Many modern scholars consider DN 33 & DN 34 to be proto-abhidharma type texts, that is, sets of doctrinal lists with no narrative (except for the brief narrative introduction and conclusion).
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Re: Misunderstandings about the term "Aryan" in Buddhism

Postby randomseb » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:34 pm

I just read about this, Aryans were forest dwelling conquerors, a people who invaded ancient India and eventually pushed down the original peoples, dhasiveras or some name like this. They set themselves up as kings and rulers, and they are the ones who brought the Vedic systems. Eventually Aryan took on the meaning of "noble one" or "your lordship", because of this top down rulership over everyone else, and that meaning stuck over the years, up to Buddha's time and so there you have it. I suppose the nazis brought the term back to it's original negative significance, a violent society of invaders!

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