Q. 44.8( 9 Votes )

In what ways was the Buddhist theory of a social contract different from the Brahmanical view of society derived from the Purusha sukta?

Answer :

1. Brahmanical view of the society according to Purusha Sukta:-

a. according to Purusha Sukta, all the elements of the universe, including the four social categories were of “Divine Origin” and supposed to have emanated from the body of “Brahma” – the Brahmans from his mouth, Kshatriya from his arms, his thighs became the Vaishyas and of his feet the Shudra were born.


b. the occupations of the four categories or varnas were also decided accordingly. Brahmanas were supposed to study and teach the Vedas and perform sacrifices. The Kshatriyas were to engage in warfare, protect people and administer justice. The Vaishyas were expected to engage in agriculture, pastoralist and trade. Shudras were supposed to serve the three higher varnas.


2. Buddhist theory of Social Contract:-


a. In the Sutta Pitaka there is an alternative understanding of social inequalities.


b. According to them, originally human beings did not have fully evolved bodily forms. All beings lived in an idyllic state of peace deriving from nature only what they needed for each meal.


c. However, there was a gradual deterioration of this state as human beings because increasingly greedy, vindictive and deceitful.


d. Then they decided to select a person who would get angry on seeing something wrong; who would censure (criticize) that person who deserves to the censured (criticized); and banish that person who deserves to be banished.


e. Such a selected person would be known as THE MAHASAMMATA - the great elect and all the people would great elect and all the people would give him a proportion of rice.


f. Thus, according to Buddhist traditions the institution of kingship was based on human choice and they recognised the role of human agency in creating and institutionalising economic and social differences.


g. And since human beings were responsible for the creation of the system they could also change of in future.


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RELATED QUESTIONS :

Read the following extract carefully and answer the questions that follow :

‘‘Proper’’ Social Roles


Here is a story from the Adi Parvan of the Mahabharata :


Once Drona, a Brahmana who taught archery to the Kuru princes, was approached by Ekalavya, a forest-dwelling nishada (a hunting community). When Drona, who knew the dharma, refused to have him as his pupil, Ekalavya returned to the forest, prepared an image of Drona out of clay, and treating it as his teacher, began to practise on his own. In due course, he acquired great skill in archery. One day, the Kuru princes went hunting and their dog, wandering in the woods, came upon Ekalavya. When the dog smelt the dark nishada wrapped in black deer skin, his body caked with dirt, it began to bark. Annoyed, Ekalavya shot seven arrows into its mouth. When the dog returned to the Pandavas, they were amazed at this superb display of archery. They tracked down Ekalavya, who introduced himself as a pupil of Drona.


Drona had once told his favourite student Arjuna, that he would be unrivalled amongst his pupils. Arjuna now reminded Drona about this. Drona approached Ekalavya, who immediately acknowledged and honoured him as his teacher. When Drona demanded his right thumb as his fee, Ekalavya unhesitatingly cut it off and offered it. But thereafter, when he shot with his remaining fingers, he was no longer as fast as he had been before. Thus, Drona kept his word: no one was better than Arjuna.


(1) Why did Drona refuse to have Ekalavya as his pupil?


(2) How had Drona kept his word given to Arjuna?


(3) Do you think Drona’s behaviour with Ekalavya was justified? If so, give a reason.

History - Board Papers