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On saṃbodhi in Aśoka's Edicts (2)

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  • アショーカ王法勅のsaṃbodhiについて(二)

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Asoka declares in his Minor Rock Edict I that he has been devoutly attached to the samgha and exerting himself vigorously as an upasaka, and adds the very important statement that as the result of his exertion, the gods, who were unmingled with the people inhabiting Jambudvipa, have been made to mingle with them. Though he says nothing about the gods any more, the meaning of "the gods' being mingled with the people" must have been at his time as clear as that of his title "the Beloved of the gods" (devanampiya). This assertion should be understood as showing his intimate relation to the Buddhist samgha, as he confesses himself in his Edict. In the Buddhist tradition, the beliefs in tree-gods (rukkha-devata) etc. were very common, e.g. the Sujata legend in the Nidanakatha. Such gods guarded Gotama before and after he became the Buddha. Besides these popular gods, Vedic or Hinduistic gods are also well known. When Gotama attained enlightenment and hesitated about his future duties, Brahma appeared before him and persuaded him to preach. But Brahma, Inda, Catumaharajika deva and other gods do not arise above Buddha, but serve Buddha. When Buddha preaches, they come around him to listen to him. Buddha is the teacher of the gods and men (sattha devamanussanam). The Suttanipata, the Dhammapada, and almost every sutta at the opening, are full of such descriptions. Asoka himself went to the samgha and learned really Buddhist texts, of which 7 paryayas are named in his Bairat Edict. At the first listening to the texts he must have found very vividly that Buddha was sitting in the center of the gods and men, and that the gods were "mingled" with men through the medium of the Buddha or the Buddha's teaching (dhamma). It must have been the very purpose of his exertion in the samgha to find out such teaching for himself as King, and he no doubt thought he had succeeded in attaining "enlightenment" (sambodhi). In the Mahaparinibbanasutta there is a very important text on Pataligama and Pataliputta, the future capital of Magadha and of the Mauryan Dynasty. At first the Buddha gives his teaching to the upasakas of Pataligama. Then he says that thousands of gods inhabit Pataligama and that, according to their own power,. kings or ministers intend to build dwelling places in such a place, where reside gods of power corresponding to that of kings and ministers. He adds that Pataliputta will flourish as the central city. These passages mean clearly that the prosperity of the Magadhan and Mauryan capital is endowed with the grace of the gods. Then come the last verses. These verses remind us of Asoka's Rock Edict, chapter VII: "King Piyadassi, Beloved of the gods, wishes that all religious sects should live in all parts of his dominions. Because all of them desire to achieve selfcontrol and purity of thought."



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