In praise of literary merit

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

In praise of literary merit

Postby Jeffrey » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:01 am

Greetings.

I'm doing a bit of research on the arts as they appear in the Pali canon (which I read only in English, btw). I'm interested in tracking down suttas in which the Buddha comments directly on the arts, either positively or negatively.

An example of the former is the Talaputa Sutta, in which the actor that bears the sutta's name comes to ask the Buddha a question. Is it true, he inquires, that actors, on account of giving pleasure to audiences, are at death reborn among the laughing devas (the celestial angels)? The Buddha asks him not to ask, to leave the question, but Talaputa persists and the Buddha finally responds with unhappy news. Any actor who incites others to desire, aversion, and delusion will surely go straight to hell or be reborn as an animal.

An example of the latter can be found in the Sakapanha Sutta. The god Sakka wishes to have a discussion with the Buddha, but asks a celestial musician to act as an intermediary. The lute player Pancasikha approaches the Buddha in meditation and sings a verse “extolling the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Arahants, and love” to which the Buddha responds: “Pancasikha, the sound of your strings blends so well with your song, and your song with the strings, that neither prevails excessively over the others.”

If you know of any others, I would be most happy to hear about them.

Thank you.
Jeffrey
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:08 am

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby cooran » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:31 am

Hello Jeffrey,

One quote I could think of:
"Or he might say: 'Whereas some honorable recluses and brahmins, while living on food offered by the faithful, attend unsuitable shows, such as: shows featuring dancing, singing, or instrumental music; theatrical performances; narrations of legends; music played by hand-clapping, cymbals, and drums; picture houses; acrobatic performances; combats of elephants, horses, buffaloes, bulls, goats, rams, cocks and quails; stick-fights, boxing and wrestling, sham-fights, roll-calls, battle-arrays, and regimental reviews — the recluse Gotama abstains from attending such unsuitable shows.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7492
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby Sylvester » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:15 am

For an instance of the Buddha appreciating his disciple's poetry, see - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el417.html

Another example of praise noted in the Canon is in the Sakkapañha Sutta, DN 22. The subject was a love-song sung by Pañcasikha.
Sylvester
 
Posts: 1503
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby Jeffrey » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:51 am

Thank you, gentlemen.

Adding to my own list, there is the Brahmajāla Sutta, in which the Buddha dismisses Brahmatic poetry as a base art:
25. "Or he might say: 'Whereas some recluses and brahmins, while living on the food offered by the faithful, earn their living by a wrong means of livelihood, by such debased arts as predicting: there will be abundant rain; there will be a drought; there will be a good harvest; there will be a famine; there will be security; there will be danger; there will be sickness; there will be health; or they earn their living by accounting, computation, calculation, the composing of poetry, and speculations about the world — the recluse Gotama abstains from such wrong means of livelihood, from such debased arts.' (DN 1)
Jeffrey
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:08 am

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:35 pm

There are quite a lot of negative quotes, Jeffrey, but very few positive quotes. The Buddha consistently discouraged his followers from being caught up in popular entertainment - just as any modern teacher would discourage followers from going to nightclubs - and there are so few mentions of the arts being used for higher purposes that you begin to think the possibility hadn't been considered in that time and place. As a musician and writer, I naturally find that a bit disappointing.
The question comes up quite regularly here so if you want to find more quotes, try a site-specific Google search on 'music OR actor', maybe throwing in a few extra terms.

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 3047
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby daverupa » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:18 pm

SN 8.* is the Vangisa Samyutta, wherein a gifted poet composes some verses covering his progress on the Path, often delivering them to the Buddha and others. No talk of poetry in and of itself, but neither for nor against. Much of the first section of the Samyutta Nikaya is poetry.

We might note, also, the Thera-Theri-gatha, which is poetry, as is the Dhammapada, the Sutta Nipata... despite poetry being a "base art", it sure seems to have been well-used. These examples may stray from the requisites stated by the OP, but it's something.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4103
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby Jeffrey » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:57 am

Thank you, Kim and Dave, and everyone else.

I wonder if anyone knows where in the Anguttara Nikaya I can find the classification of poets. I have found references to such a sutta, but no citations except to the Nikaya. The Pali classification is cintākavi, sutakavi, atthakavi, and paṭibhānakavi. When I search these terms, I find a reference to here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... _utf8.html

But I can't get this match up with anything in these translations:
http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pit ... index.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/index.html

Kim, since you're a musician, you might appreciate this recent news item:
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/life/Th ... 95369.html
Jeffrey
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:08 am

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:22 am

AN4.231 but metta net has it as 4.230 Kavisutta Poets

Bhikkhus, these four are poets. What four?

One thinking becomes a poet, one hearing becomes a poet, one seeing meanings becomes a poet and one understanding becomes a poet.

Bhikkhus, these four are poets.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5743
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby Jeffrey » Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:03 am

Thank you, Cittasanto, and pardon my rather dense question, but I don't quite understand the numbering system employed in these texts. Where is 4.230 at metta.net?

Is the first number, 4, the volume? It is divided into two parts and in neither do I see 230. What am I doing incorrectly?
Jeffrey
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:08 am

Re: In praise of literary merit

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:04 am

I don't use Metta.net to search through the suttas. I use suttacentral.net which is far clearer as to what sutta is what.

http://suttacentral.net/disp_division.p ... _name=Pali

but AN4.230 is the fourth collection in this case the chapter called the fours and 230th sutta.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5743
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin


Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests