Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

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Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby Sekha » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:21 am

I believe some pretend so.

what do you think?
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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:02 am

No — not by a long way. A Cakkavatti observes the five precepts always, Asoka came to rule a large part of India by violence, not by teaching and practising the Dhamma. Later, he become a compassionate and benevolent ruler, but he was not a Cakkavatti.
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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:43 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:No — not by a long way. A Cakkavatti observes the five precepts always, Asoka came to rule a large part of India by violence, not by teaching and practising the Dhamma. Later, he become a compassionate and benevolent ruler, but he was not a Cakkavatti.


Hi Bhante,

But can't a person change and become a Cakkavatti ? For example, in a similar way, Angulimala was a murderer, but still ended up becoming an Arahant.
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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby Sekha » Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:15 pm

Whether he was or not a cakkavatti, he must have been inspired by the cakkavattisihanada sutta:

'But what, sire, is the duty of an Ariyan wheel-turning monarch?' 'It is this, my son: Yourself depending on the Dhamma, honoring it, revering, cherishing it, doing homage to it and venerating it, having the Dhamma as your badge and banner, acknowledging the Dhamma as your master, you should establish guard, ward and protection according to Dhamma for your own household, your troops, your nobles and vassals, for Brahmins and householders, town and country folk, ascetics and Brahmins, for beasts and birds. Let no crime prevail in your kingdom, and to those who are in need, give property. And whatever ascetics and Brahmins in your kingdom have renounced the life of sensual infatuation and are devoted to forbearance and gentleness, each one taming himself, each one calming himself and each one striving for the end of craving, if from time to time they should come to you and consult you as to what is wholesome and what is unwholesome, what is blameworthy and what is blameless, what is to be followed and what is not to be followed, and what action will in the long run lead to harm and sorrow, and what to welfare and happiness, you should listen, and tell them to avoid evil and do what is good. That, my son, is the duty of an Ariyan wheel-turning monarch.'
http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Cakkavattisihanada_Sutta


But I agree with David's question: is it stated anywhere that a cakkavatti emperor must be endowed with good morality right from the birth?
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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby seniya » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:37 pm

No, Asoka is not a cakkavatti (ruler of the world), but dipacakkavatti (ruler of the continent, i.e Jambudipa or continent of west):

Asoka.-King of Magadha. He was the son of Bindusāra. Bindusāra had sixteen wives who bore him 101 sons.

The chief Pāli sources of information regarding Asoka are Dīpavamsa (chaps. i., v., vi., vii., xi., etc.), Mahāvamsa (v., xi., xx., etc.), Samantapāsādikā (pp. 35 ff. ). Other sources are the Divyāvadāna passim, and the Avadānasataka ii.200ff. For an exhaustive discussion of the sources and their contents see Prszlyski, La Legende de l'Empereur Asoka.

The Pāli Chronicles (Dīpavamsa and Mahāvamsa) mention only three of the sons, viz. Sumana (Susīma according to the northern legends) the eldest, Asoka, and Tissa (uterine brother of Asoka) the youngest. The Mahāvamsa Tīka (p.125; Mbv.98. In the northern tradition, e.g., Asokāvadānamālā, she is called Subhadrāngī, daughter of a brahmin of Campā) gives the name of his mother as Dhammā and calls her Aggamahesī (Bindusāra's chief queen); she belonged to the Moriyavamsa. The preceptor of Dhammā's family was an ājīvaka called Janasāna (which probably explains Asoka's earlier patronage of the ājīvakas).

In his youth Asoka was appointed Governor of Avanti with his capital at Ujjeni. The Divy. says he was in Takkasilā with headquarters in Uttarāpatha, where he superseded Susīma and quelled a rebellion. When Bindusāra lay on his death-bed, Asoka left Ujjeni and came to Pātalīputta where he made himself master of the city and possessor of the throne. He is stated in the Mahāvamsa (v.20; Mbv.98) to have killed all his brothers except Tissa that he might accomplish his purpose, and to have been called Candāsoka on account of this outrage (Mhv.v.189). It is impossible to say how much truth there is in this account of the accession. Asoka's Rock Edicts seem to indicate that he had numerous brothers, sisters and relations alive at the time they were written in Pātaliputta and other towns (see Mookherji, Asoka, pp. 3-6). His brother Tissa he appointed as his uparāja (advisor) (Mhv.v.33), but Tissa became a religious devotee attaining arahantship. The Theragāthā Commentary refers to another younger brother of Asoka, Vitasoka, who also became an arahant. (i.295f. The northern works give quite a different account of his brothers, see Mookherji, p.6).

Asoka had several wives. His first wife was the daughter of a merchant of Vedisagiri, whom he met when stopping at the merchant's house on his way to Ujjeni (Mhv.xiii.8ff). Her name was Devī, also called Vedisa-Mahādevī, and she was a Sākiyan, descended from a Sākiyan family who migrated to Vedisa to escape from Vidūdabha (Mbv., pp.98, 116). Of Devī were born a son Mahinda, and a daughter Sanghamittā, who became the wife of Aggibrahmā and mother of Sumana. Devī evidently did not follow Asoka to Pātaliputta, for his aggamahesī (chief-queen) there was Asandhamittā (Mhv.v.85). Asandhamittā died in the thirtieth year of Asoka's reign, and four years later he raised Tissarakkhā to the rank of queen. Mhv.xx.1-3. The Allahabad Pillar Inscription mentions another queen, Kāruvākī, mother of Tivara. The Divy. (chap. xxvii.) gives another, Padmāvatī, Kunāla's mother. Besides the children mentioned above, names of others are given: Jalauka, Cārumatī (Mookherji. p.9).

According to Mahāvamsa (v.21, 22), Asoka's accession was 218 years after the Buddha's death and his coronation was four years later. The chronicles (v.22ff) contain various stories of his miraculous powers. His command spread a yojana into the air and a yojana under the earth. The devas supplied him daily with water from the Anotatta Lake and with other luxuries from elsewhere. Yakkhas, Nāgas and even mice and karavīka birds ministered to his comfort, and thoughtful animals came and died outside his kitchen in order to provide him with food.

At first Asoka maintained the alms instituted by his father, but soon, being disappointed in the recipients, he began looking out for holy men. It was then that he saw from his window, his nephew, the young novice Nigrodha. Owing to their friendship in a past birth [Asoka, Devanampiyatissa and Nigrodha had been brothers, traders in honey, and they gave honey to a Pacceka Buddha. Asandhamittā had been the maiden who showed the honey-shop to the Pacceka Buddha. The story is given in Mhv.v.49ff], Asoka was at once drawn to him and invited him into the palace. Nigrodha preached to him the Appamādavagga and the king was greatly pleased. He ceased his benefactions to other religious orders and transferred his patronage to Nigrodha and members of the Buddhist Order. His wealth, which, according to the Samantapāsādikā (i.52), amounted to 500,000 pieces daily, he now spent in doing acts of piety - giving 100,000 to Nigrodha to be used in any manner he wished, a like sum for the offering of perfumes and flowers at the Buddha's shrines, 100,000 for the preaching of the Dhamma, 100,000 for the provision of comforts for members of the Order, and the remainder for medicines for the sick. To Nigrodha, in addition to other gifts, he sent sets of robes three times each day, placing them on the back of an elephant, adorned by festoons of flowers. Nigrodha gave these robes to other monks (MA.ii.931).

Having learnt from Moggaliputta-Tissa that there were 84,000 sections of the Dhamma, he built in various towns an equal number of vihāras, and in Pātaliputta he erected the Asokārāma. With the aid of the Nāga king Mahākāla, he created a life-size figure of the Buddha, to which he made great offerings.

His two children, Mahinda and Sanghamittā, aged respectively twenty and eighteen, he ordained under Moggaliputta-Tissa and Dhammapālā, in the sixth year of his reign (MA.v.197, 209). This raised him from a paccadāyaka to a sāsanadāyādin.

In order to purge the Order of undesirable monks and heretical doctrines, Moggaliputta-Tissa held the Third Council under the king's patronage. It is said that the pious monks refused to hold the uposatha with those they considered unworthy. The king, desirous of bringing about unity in the Sangha, sent a minister to restore amity, but the minister, misunderstanding his orders, beheaded many holy monks, being at last stopped by the king's brother Tissa, who was then a monk (MA.vs.240ff).

At the conclusion of the Council, held in the seventeenth year of his reign (Ibid., 280; in the northern texts Moggaliputta-Tissa's name is given as Upagupta. It was for this Council that the Kathāvatthu was written), Asoka sent forth Theras to propagate the Buddha's religion:

* Majjhantika to Kasmīra and Gandhāra,
* Mahādeva to Mahisamandala,
* Rakkhita to Vanavāsa,
* Yona Dhammarakkhita to Aparantaka,
* Mahārakkhita to Yona,
* Majjhima to the Himālaya country and
* Sona and Uttara to Suvannabhūmi;
* Mahinda with Itthiya, Uttiya, Sambala and Bhaddasāla he sent to Lankā

(Ibid., xii.1-8. For particulars of these missions and identification of the places mentioned, see under the different names; this list appears also in the Samantapāsādikā, where further interesting details are given. For a discussion on them see Mookherji, pp.33ff). In the eighteenth year of his reign he sent to Lankā, at Devanampiyatissa's request, Sanghamittā, with a branch of the great Bodhi Tree at Buddhagayā (Mhv.xx.1). A little earlier he had sent by his grandson Sumana, some relics of the Buddha and the Buddha's alms-bowl to be deposited in the thūpas of Lankā (Mhv.xvii.10f).

Asoka reigned for thirty-seven years (Mhv.xx.6). In his later life he came to be called Dhammāsoka on account of his pious deeds (Mhv.v.189). The Dīpavamsa gives his name in several places as Piyadassī. E.g., vi.1, 2, 25. The title Devānampiya used by Asoka in his inscriptions was also used by Tissa, Asoka's contemporary in Ceylon, and by Asoka's grandson Dasaratha (Nāgarjunī Hill Cave Inscription). It was used also by other kings in Ceylon: Vankanāsika Tissa, Gajabāhukagāminī and Mahallaka-Nāga (Ep. Zeyl. i.60.f).

The Chronicles state that Asoka and Devanampiya Tissa of Ceylon had been friends - though they had never seen each other - even before Mahinda's mission to Ceylon. Tissa had sent him, as a friendly gesture, various gifts, and Asoka had returned the courtesy. He sent an embassy of his chosen ministers, bearing gifts marvellous in splendour, that Tissa might go through a second coronation ceremony, and the messengers were directed to give this special message to the king: "I have taken refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and declared myself a follower of the religion of the Sākyaputta. Seek then, even thou, oh best of men, converting thy mind with believing heart, refuge in these best of gems." (Mhv.xi.18-36)

The Milindapanha (p.121) mentions an encounter of Asoka with a courtesan of Pātalīputta, Bindumatī, who, in order to show the king the power of an Act of Truth, made the waters of the Ganges to flow back.

According to the Petavatthu Atthakathā (244ff) there was a king of Surattha, called Pingala, who used to visit Asoka in order to give him counsel. Perhaps he was an old friend or tutor of the king.

Asoka is called a dīpacakkavatti as opposed to padesarājās like Bimbisāra and Pasenadi (Sp.ii.309).

Asoka had three palaces for the three seasons: Mahāsappika, Moragīva and Mangala (Ras.i.93).
I'm sorry if my words are not understandable and it is in impolite expression, because my native language is not English....

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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:25 pm

seniya wrote:Asoka is called a dīpacakkavatti as opposed to padesarājās like Bimbisāra and Pasenadi (Sp.ii.309).


I'm not sure, but I don't think that is saying that he is not a cakkavatti.

Dīpa means lamp, thus, that appears to be saying he is a 'lamp of a cakkavatti.'
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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby pt1 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:31 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
seniya wrote:Asoka is called a dīpacakkavatti as opposed to padesarājās like Bimbisāra and Pasenadi (Sp.ii.309).


I'm not sure, but I don't think that is saying that he is not a cakkavatti.

Dīpa means lamp, thus, that appears to be saying he is a 'lamp of a cakkavatti.'


Hi, I'm not sure whether India was considered a continent in those times, but what seniya is saying might be relevant because dīpa has two meanings - lamp and island (and continent in some instances):
Dīpa2 (m. & nt.) [Ved. dvīpa=dvi+ap (*sp.) of āpa water, lit. "double -- watered," between (two) waters] an island, continent (mahā˚, always as 4); terra firma, solid foundation, resting -- place, shelter, refuge (in this sense freq. combd w. tāṇa lena & saraṇa & expl. in Com. by patiṭṭhā) -- (a) lit. island: S v.219; J iii.187; VvA 19; Mhvs vii.7, 41. -- continent: cattāro mahādīpā S v.343; Vv 2010 (=VvA 104); VvA 19; PvA 74

http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :2467.pali

E.g. the variations in translation of the Buddha's advice to Ananda in Mahaparinibbana sutta - "be an island unto yourself" versus "be a lamp unto yourself" - because of the word dīpa.

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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:16 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
seniya wrote:Asoka is called a dīpacakkavatti as opposed to padesarājās like Bimbisāra and Pasenadi (Sp.ii.309).


I'm not sure, but I don't think that is saying that he is not a cakkavatti.

Dīpa means lamp, thus, that appears to be saying he is a 'lamp of a cakkavatti.'


Dīpa = island = continent.

PTSD (323-4): Dīpa2 (m. & nt.) [Ved. dvīpa=dvi+ap (*sp.) of āpa water, lit. "double -- watered," between (two) waters] an island, continent (mahā˚, always as 4); ... etc. etc.

As in Jambudvīpa = sub-continent of India, in the shape of a cart, wide at one end (the north), and narrow and pointed at the other (the south). One of the four great continents that make up the world.

Somewhere around is the idea of four types of cakkavatti, who respectively rule 1, 2, 3 and 4 continents. The latter, 4, means the whole world.
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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby seniya » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:34 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:
seniya wrote:Asoka is called a dīpacakkavatti as opposed to padesarājās like Bimbisāra and Pasenadi (Sp.ii.309).


I'm not sure, but I don't think that is saying that he is not a cakkavatti.

Dīpa means lamp, thus, that appears to be saying he is a 'lamp of a cakkavatti.'


Dīpa = island = continent.

PTSD (323-4): Dīpa2 (m. & nt.) [Ved. dvīpa=dvi+ap (*sp.) of āpa water, lit. "double -- watered," between (two) waters] an island, continent (mahā˚, always as 4); ... etc. etc.

As in Jambudvīpa = sub-continent of India, in the shape of a cart, wide at one end (the north), and narrow and pointed at the other (the south). One of the four great continents that make up the world.

Somewhere around is the idea of four types of cakkavatti, who respectively rule 1, 2, 3 and 4 continents. The latter, 4, means the whole world.


Thx for the info, guys. I think dipa here is "island", not "lamp".
I'm sorry if my words are not understandable and it is in impolite expression, because my native language is not English....

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Re: Was Asoka a cakkavatti emperor?

Postby kirana » Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:27 pm

seniya wrote:No, Asoka is not a cakkavatti (ruler of the world), but dipacakkavatti (ruler of the continent, i.e Jambudipa or continent of west):



Hi Seniya,
how about this, i found at Dīpavaṃsa :
asokadhammo ‘bhisitto paṭiladdhā ca iddhiyo, mahātejo puññavanto dīpe cakkapavattako [asokadhamma, after his coronation, obtained the miraculous faculties; exceedingly splendid and rich in meritorious works (he was), universal monarch of Jambudīpa]- Dīp vi,23

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