19. What is the Theravada view on Vegetarianism?

“දසබලයන්වහන්සේ නමැති ශෛලමය පර්වතයෙන් පැන නැඟී, අමා මහ නිවන නම් වූ මහා සාගරය අවසන් කොට ඇති, ආර්ය අෂ්ටාංගික මාර්ගය නම් වූ සිහිල් දිය දහරින් හෙබි, උතුම් ශ්‍රීමුඛ බුද්ධවචන ගංගාවෝ, ලෝ සතුන්ගේ සසර දුක් නිවාලමින්, බොහෝ කල් ගලා බස්නා සේක්වා!”
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Q. What is the Theravada view on Vegetarianism?

A. "Majjhima Nikaya 55.5

The passage reads as follows: "I say that there are three instances in which meat should not be eaten: when it is seen, heard, or suspected that the living being has been slaughtered for The Bhikkhu. I say that meat should not be eaten in these three instances. I say that there are three instances in which meat may be eaten: when it is not seen, not heard, and not suspected, that the living being has been slaughtered for the Bhikkhu."

Lay people - The threefold rule specifies conditions under which meat could be eaten by monastic monks and nuns, but there is no indication if this rule applies to lay people. Thus, there has been controversy over if Buddhists should eat meat or not. The context of the passage and who it is addressed to indicate that the rule was meant for monastics only. The First Precept further stipulates against killing or causing to kill and lay people do make a decision when purchasing meat from a butcher or grocery store.

Therefore, the threefold rule does not necessarily rule out vegetarianism as a suggested or recommended diet and in fact many Buddhists have adopted the vegetarian diet to better practice the First Precept.

It is possible that the Buddha wanted to gradually phase out the consumption of meat as it should be noted that when the Buddha began teaching, the majority were still not Buddhist and thus, may not have had vegetarian food to offer the monks and nuns. This would be an example of skilful means."

"BU - Bhikkhu - භික්ඛු - (m.) a Buddhist monk.
ND - භික්ඛු - Bhikkhu - A fully ordained disciple of the Buddha is called a bhikkhu. "Mendicant monk" may be suggested as the closest equivalent for "Bhikkhu", literally it means "he who begs" but bhikkhus do not beg. They silently stand at the door for alms. They live on what is spontaneously given by the supporters. He is not a priest as he is no mediator between God and man. He has no vows for life, but he is bound by his rules which he takes of his own accord. He leads a life of voluntary poverty and celibacy. If he is unable to live the Holy Life, he can discard the robe at any time.
PS - භික්ඛු - Bhikkhu - [cp. later Sk. bhikṣu, fr. bhikṣ] an almsman, a mendicant, a Buddhist monk or priest, a bhikkhu. <-> nom. sg. bhikkhu freq. passim; Vin iii.40 (vuḍḍhapabbajita); A i.78 (thera bh., an elder bh.; and nava bh. a young bh.); iii.299 (id.); iv.25 (id.); Sn 276, 360 411 sq., 915 sq., 1041, 1104; Dh 31, 266 sq., 364 sq. 378; Vv 801; acc. bhikkhuṁ Vin iii.174; Dh 362, ;bhikkhunaṁ Sn 87, 88, 513; gen. dat. bhikkhuno A i.274; Sn 221, 810, 961; Dh 373; Pv i.1010; & bhikkhussa A i.230; Vin iii.175; instr. bhikkhunā Sn 389 pl. nom. bhikkhū Vin ii.150; iii.175; D iii.123; Vism 152 (in sim.); VbhA 305 (compared with amaccaputtā) & bhikkhavo Sn 384, 573; Dh 243, 283; acc bhikkhu Sn p. 78; M i.84; Vv 2210; & bhikkhavo Sn 384, 573; gen. dat. bhikkhūnaṁ Vin iii.285; D iii.264 Sn 1015; Pv ii.17; & bhikkhunaṁ S i.190; Th 1, 1231 instr. bhikkhūhi Vin iii.175; loc. bhikkhūsu A iv.25 & bhikkhusu Th 1, 241, 1207; Dh 73; voc. bhikkhave (a Māgadhī form of nom. bhikkhavaḥ) Vin iii.175; Sn p. 78; VvA 127; PvA 8, 39, 166; & bhikkhavo Sn 280 385.
There are several allegorical etymologies (definitions of the word bhikkhu, which occur frequently in the commentaries. All are fanciful interpretations of the idea of what a bhikkhu is or should be, and these qualities were sought and found in the word itself Thus we mention here the foll. (a) bhikkhu=bhinnakilesa ("one who has broken the stains" i. e. of bad character) VbhA 328; VvA 29, 114, 310; PvA 51. <-> (b) Another more explicit expln is "sattannaṁ dhammānaṁ bhinnattā bhikkhu" (because of the breaking or destroying of 7 things, viz. the 7 bad qualities leading to rebirth, consisting of sakkāyadiṭṭhi, vicikicchā sīlabbata -- parāmāsa, rāga, dosa, moha, māna) This def. at Nd1 70=Nd2 477a. -- (c) Whereas in a & b the first syllable ;bhi( -- kkhu) is referred to bhid, in this def. it is referred to bhī (to fear), with the further reference of (bh -- ) ikkh(u) to īkṣ (to see) and bhikkhu defined as "saṁsāre bhayaṁ ikkhati ti bh." Vism 3, 16 (saṁsāre bhayaṁ ikkhaṇatāya vā bhinna -- paṭa -- dharaditāya vā). -- A very comprehensive def. of the term is found at Vbh 245 -- 246, where bhikkhu -- ship is established on the ground of 18 qualities (beginning with samaññāya bhikkhu, paṭiññāya bh., bhikkhatī ti bh., bhikkhako ti bh., bhikkhācariyaṁ ajjhupagato ti bh., bhinna -- paṭa -- dharo ti bh., bhindati pāpake dhamme ti bh., bhinnattā pāpakānaṁ dhammānan ti bh. etc. etc.). -- This passage is expld in detail at VbhA 327, 328. -- Two kinds of bhikkhus are distinguished at Ps i.176; Nd1 465=Nd2 477b, viz kalyāṇa[ -- ka -- ]puthujjana (a layman of good character and sekkha (one in training), for which latter the term paṭilīnacara (one who lives in elimination, i. e. in keeping away from the dangers of worldly life) is given at Nd1 130 (on Sn 810).
-- gatika a person who associates with the bhikkhus (in the Vihāra) Vin i.148. -- bhāva state of being a monk, monkhood, bhikkhuship D i.176; Sn p. 102 -- sangha the community of bhikkhus, the Order of friars D iii.208; Sn 403, 1015; Sn p. 101, 102; Miln 209; PvA 19 sq. & passim.;"

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"දසබලසේලප්පභවා නිබ්බානමහාසමුද්දපරියන්තා, අට්ඨංග මග්ගසලිලා ජිනවචනනදී චිරං වහතූ!"

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