Killer cows of the Pali Canon

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Killer cows of the Pali Canon

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:56 am

[ MODERATOR NOTE: This topic has been split from the Hell Officers topic @ viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3279 ]

Greetings,

SDC wrote:Later that day he is killed rather gruesomely


A common literary device of the Pali tradition so as to demonstrate the value and importance of a teaching... (I wonder if was another of those fired-up cows :tongue: )

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14624
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: hell officers

Postby SDC » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

SDC wrote:Later that day he is killed rather gruesomely


A common literary device of the Pali tradition so as to demonstrate the value and importance of a teaching... (I wonder if was another of those fired-up cows :tongue: )

Metta,
Retro. :)


Good call, Retro. It most certainly was a cow.
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 982
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: hell officers

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:05 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

SDC wrote:Later that day he is killed rather gruesomely


A common literary device of the Pali tradition so as to demonstrate the value and importance of a teaching... (I wonder if was another of those fired-up cows :tongue: )

Metta,
Retro. :)


May I ask how you conclude that such statements are "common literary device[s] ... to demonstrate the value and importance of a teaching"?

What kind of literary theory or literary criticism model are you using to come to such a conclusion?
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
Paññāsikhara
 
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am

Re: hell officers

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 am

Greetings venerable Paññāsikhara,

May I ask how you conclude that such statements are "common literary device[s] ... to demonstrate the value and importance of a teaching"?

What kind of literary theory or literary criticism model are you using to come to such a conclusion?


The improbable frequency (in sutta and commentary) in which the following scenario occurs...

- Obscure bhikkhu with little or no realisation receives a teaching from prominent bhikkhu or the Buddha
- Obscure bhikkhu instantly attains some significant degree of realisation
- Obscure bhikkhu is killed by a rampaging cow, later that very day
- The post-mortem fate of the deceased bhikkhu is revealed

I'm not saying a rampaging cow can't be deadly, but the above combination of events occurs all too frequently in the Pali literature for it to be coincidence.

For example, you never hear of other bhikkhus being killed randomly by cows. It's only the above (rare on a day-to-day basis in the life of a bhikkhu) combination of circumstances in which this occurs.

As for "literary theory" or "literary criticism model", I know nothing of these things, nor how such conveniently frequent occurrences could be defined as other than "literary device". I'm happy for others to interpret, label or categorise these reported events differently.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14624
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: hell officers

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:05 am

Thanks for your reply.

Maybe - in another thread, of course - we could outline the suttas in which such an event occurs, and examine them closer.

One consideration, in the meantime, is it all all possible that simply because the event was so out of the ordinary, that it was so recalled and maintained for prosterity in the first place? Moreover, - if a literary creation alone - why would a fabrication use such a bizarre event as accentuation? What is the significance involved?
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
Paññāsikhara
 
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am

Re: hell officers

Postby SDC » Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:00 pm

Retro and Paññāsikhara,

Considering that my comments eventually led to your exchange I feel I should say something.

Although I disagree with the scenario being a "common literary device", it is most definitely a common occurrence in several stories. Some more of which are in the Dhammapada. My take on it is that during that time in India, as may still be the case today, the streets were always very busy and there was always livestock around. Also just walking past a random cow in a field puts you at risk. So the potential for an encounter was high. It was probably a very common cause of death in those days. Just so happens it was the cause of death for people associated with the Buddha and the teaching so the story was passed along.

As far as why it happened so quickly in the stories, usually that same day, I'm not sure. Retro pointed out that in the story of the executioner he had a very fortunate rebirth after a very questionable life. He had heard the Dhamma so briefly yet it had such a profound effect. So I believe the manner of death is irrelevant. What is relevant is what occurs just before.

Hope this helps.
User avatar
SDC
 
Posts: 982
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm
Location: North Jersey

Re: hell officers

Postby catmoon » Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:20 am

I am no expert, but I have in my lifetime had several hundreds of encounters with cows, many of them with no fence between us. In none of those encounters did the cow attack me. Come to think of it, none of them threatened me though one might say some of them stalked me. Probably looking for treats.

OTOH I did once see a Scottish Highland (the shaggy ones with the long straight horns) take a swipe at someone who entered her stall. She had a young calf with her. I attribute this to her being a Scottish mother, which anyone knows is dangerous.

But in general, cows are about as threatening as a tree stump. Or maybe a large rock. The most common form of assault results in the victim getting slimed by those big wet noses. I don't know why the sight of a recently-awakened saint would arouse the murderer in the bovine soul. It must be some kind of ancient grudge.
User avatar
catmoon
 
Posts: 368
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:59 am

Re: hell officers

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:43 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Maybe - in another thread, of course - we could outline the suttas in which such an event occurs, and examine them closer.

That would be fun... :anjali:

I have seen three cases of murderous cows: MN140, Ud5.03 and Ud1.10.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html
See my comments here about how the commentary ties at least some of these people together (Bahiya of the bark cloth and Ven. Pukkusati):
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2350#p32931

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10136
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: hell officers

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:02 am

Greetings Mike, all,

mikenz66 wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Maybe - in another thread, of course - we could outline the suttas in which such an event occurs, and examine them closer.

That would be fun... :anjali:


Since we never really got back onto the topic of the Hell Officers, I've split these posts off so we've now got a topic about it!

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14624
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: hell officers

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:15 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Since we never really got back onto the topic of the Hell Officers, I've split these posts off so we've now got a topic about it!

Good call. Murderous cows are much more fun than hell officers if you ask me. :woohoo:

Perhaps our Venerable friend would care to look up the commentaries that I alluded to above that tied together those who perished by the hoof.

Metta
Mike

Image
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10136
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: hell officers

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:34 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Since we never really got back onto the topic of the Hell Officers, I've split these posts off so we've now got a topic about it!

Good call. Murderous cows are much more fun than hell officers if you ask me. :woohoo:


ha! Reminds me of the episode in the Simpsons, where Lisa becomes a vegetarian. The school gives classes from the Meat Council "Meat and You: Partners in Freedom", and it has the line at the end: "Don't kid yourself Jimmy, if a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!"

Perhaps our Venerable friend would care to look up the commentaries that I alluded to above that tied together those who perished by the hoof.

Metta
Mike


Me, read those commentaries?! My Pali isn't that good, I'm afraid.
However, they would be very important sources to understand what is going on.

Image


Cow Wars II: The Bovine Strikes Back!
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
Paññāsikhara
 
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am

Re: Killer cows of the Pali Canon

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:53 am

Hi Retro

I would caution you against ascribing death by attack by cow as a literary device. While in today's world it might be a rare event (or rarey reported event) - it may not have been the case 2,500 years ago in North India.
You might be interested to know that the No. 1 cause of death (outside of childhood diseases) in Australia during the 19th Century was falling from a horse. And today, the most dangerous animal in Australia is the horse.

I don't think it would be that unusual for people in North India to be attacked by cattle. They were then, more so than now, living amongst their great herd.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15967
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Killer cows of the Pali Canon

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:05 am

Greetings Ben,

I'm not saying people weren't killed by cows... it's this rather convenient sequence of events that I find a little too convenient...

- Obscure bhikkhu with little or no realisation receives a teaching from prominent bhikkhu or the Buddha
- Obscure bhikkhu instantly attains some significant degree of realisation
- Obscure bhikkhu is killed by a rampaging cow, later that very day
- The post-mortem fate of the deceased bhikkhu is revealed

It's the repetition of this pattern juxtaposed against an absence of other "death by cow" combinations in the Pali Canon and commentaries that piqued my interest, rather than simply "death by cow" per se.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14624
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Killer cows of the Pali Canon

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:45 am

From this angle it looks as though we've all got too much time on our hands... :coffee:
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1561
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: hell officers

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:07 am

Hi Venerable,
Paññāsikhara wrote:Me, read those commentaries?! My Pali isn't that good, I'm afraid.
However, they would be very important sources to understand what is going on.

Hmm, that's disappointing. As I said, two of the cow deaths are, as I understand it, connected in that the victims were spiritual seekers together in a previous life.
As I said here: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2350#p32931
Some interesting anecdotes from the Commentaries:
I don't recall all of the details, but from my memory of some of the talks I've heard about these two Suttas the commentaries state that both characters were part of a group who in a previous life were spiritual seekers together. That life ended when they climbed a mountain, discarded their ladders, and vowed to reach enlightenment. Some did, and some didn't and perished (including these two, obviously). At some earlier point in that life (or another?) they angered someone (I forget the details, perhaps they killed his cow, or caused him to be killed by a cow). That person was subsequently reborn as a cow in several lives and "paid them back".

It would be interesting to know if the other cow victim (the leper) I mentioned above was also said by the Commentary to be part of that group.

Perhaps, even if you're not up to translating the Commentaries, you might have some thoughts about the meaning we should take from such "Commentarial Connections".

I found a little here: http://dhammastudygroup.org/msg/099kc.txt
Not so much about cows, though...
We read in th Bahiya sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/kh ... d1-10.html
that Bahiya became fully enlightened (an arahant) after hearing a few
sentences from the Buddha on the nature of realities. His wisdom was such
that it penetrated the 3 characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta and
we may think that this is a relatively simple matter.

In the commentary to this sutta (Ud-a), we read in fact about how Bahiya
had first heard the Dhamma a hundred thousand kalpas in the past under the
Buddha, Padumuttara and in that life had performed great meritorious
deeds. He had gone forth under Buddha Kassapa and had lives in deva
realms with morality completely fulfilled. In fact he had spent one
entire Buddha sasana in the devaloka.

Even so, in the present life, when he became highly respected by people
after he was shipwrecked and wandered around with only garments made from
bark, he mistakenly assumed he was an arahant because he was treated as
one. In fact he had not achieved any level of attainment at all and was
completely misguided, deceiving those who supported him and paid him
respect. It took a visit by Grat Brahma, a former deva companion and an
anagami (non-returner)who took pity on him, to shock him to his senses.
Great Brahma tells him: You now, though being no arahant, roam about
wearing the guise of a religious in the belief that you are an arahant.
You Bahiya are certainly no arahant. Renounce this evil resorting to
views.

Hence, we see how even for those who have heard the Dhamma from Buddhas,
have had kalpas of rebirths as devas with wise companions, and have
attained all jhanas, they can still succomb badly to wrong views about
self if they havent reached the first stage of enlightenment. We read in
the Ud-a about how the conceit of arahantship arose in him because of
being used to wanting little, contentment and effacement for a long time
and misjudging these states or because of having attained jhanas and
therefore not experiencing defilements as a result of abandoning in the
form of suppression. In other words, wrong views about attainments as a
result of not experiencing defilements for a long time can be very
dangerous.

Urged by Great Brahma, he went to see the Buddha. As we read in the sutta,
it was only on a third occasion that the Buddha agreed to teach him the
Dhamma. In the Ud-a, we read that he was rejected twice because the Buddha
knew “the thrill of that joy is too powerful - even if he hears Dhamma he
will not, as yet, be able to pierce it. So let him wait until balance and
equanimity reasert themselves.

In order for Bahiya to be able to hear and fully comprehend the teachings
from the Buddha, so many different conditions had to be in place,
including the final meeting and listening to the Buddha himself. The
Buddha fully comprehended these conditions and knew the time was ripe for
Bahiya and so entered Savatthi in order that Bahiya would find him.


Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10136
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: hell officers

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:15 am

Greetings Mike,


Since we're now also mentioning commentaries, there's another instance in the commentary to Dhp 100: See: http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Ari ... avasa.html - same M.O. as above.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14624
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Killer cows of the Pali Canon

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:23 am

A friend of mine was badly injured and hospitalised by a Brahman cow he was taking food to. He was pinned against a fence and suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung. The fact that it was deliberate was confirmed by the cow then stomping on him. Not all cows are placid, modern Holsten/Friesens.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Killer cows of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:48 pm

OK, here's a little more Commentarial information...

http://www.aimwell.org/DPPN/pukkusati.htm
*The cow that killed Pukkusāti is said to have been a Yakkhinī who was a cow in one hundred births. In her last birth as a cow, she killed, in addition to Pukkusāti, Bāhiya Dāruciriya, Tambadāthika, and Suppabuddha the leper (DhA.ii.35).

Pukkhusāti was one of seven monks who, in the time of Kassapa Buddha, decided to abstain from eating until they should attain arahantship. They lived on the top of a mountain. The senior monk attained arahantship, the second became an anāgāmī, but the remaining five died of starvation and were reborn in Tusita. In this age they became, respectively, Pukkusāti, Kumāra Kassapa, Dārucīriya, Dabba Mallaputta and Sabhiya. Ap.ii.473; DhA.ii.212; UdA.81; but see MA.i.335, where only three are mentioned (Pukkusāti, Dārucīriya, and Kassapa).


http://www.aimwell.org/DPPN/baahiya.htm
Bāhiya met his death while searching for a robe in which to be ordained (UdA.77ff.; AA.i.156ff.; DhA.ii.209ff.; Ap.ii.475ff). The cow, which killed Bāhiya was identical with the one which killed Pukkusāti, Tambadāthika and Suppabuddha (for her story see DhA.ii.35f).


http://www.aimwell.org/DPPN/suppabuddha.htm
The cow was a Yakkhinī, who had once been a courtesan. These four men had then been sons of wealthy merchants, who, having taken her one day to a pleasure garden, took their pleasure with her. In the evening they killed her and took the jewels and money which they themselves had given her. At the moment of her death she had vowed vengeance on them and had killed them in one hundred existences.

In a previous birth, Suppabuddha had insulted the Pacceka Buddha Tagarasikhī by calling him a “leper” (kutthi) — because he wore a patched robe — and by spitting on him.


Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10136
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand


Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Ananda Thera, Bhikkhu Pesala, LXNDR and 9 guests