A Discourse on the Reflections of Buddhist Political Thought

Anand Shanker Singh


          Historically and philosophically, there are two paradigms that capture much of the course and development of Political thoughts. We can call these as western approaches i.e. European countries, United States of America etc. and Eastern approaches, i.e. China, Japan and India etc. The western approach has been appeared in literature of ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle etc. and developed the theory to be modern political science, which is studied still today. But the Eastern approach has been appeared in the religious scripture such as Confucianism of China, Taoism of Japan and Hinduism and Buddhism of India etc.

            The political ideas of Buddhism reflect the theory of the cosmic evolution of Nature. This comprises the origin and growth of the State; the evolution of man and his institutions including the political institution of the ruler and his office based on a social contract. It approaches political questions mainly, though not exclusively, from the ethical viewpoint, clarifies the position of the ruler and the nature of kingship, expects him to live a blameless life entirely devoted to ceaseless administrative labour. He should concentrate his efforts not on leading people to warfare, but on the promotion of public good and welfare, both spiritual and material. Thus a heavy responsibility is laid on him; bliss in heaven or tortures of hell are held out to him in accordance with his success or failure in the great moral and political venture.


Buddha, Sangha, Republic, Democracy, Social Welfare, Tripitaka.

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R.S. Tripathi, History of Ancient India, Motilal Banarsi Das, Delhi, 1992, pg. 85.

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A.K. Warder, Indian Buddhism, Vishwavidyalaya Prakashan, Varanasi, 1970, pg. 106.

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Su. S.S. 15/475/115.

Su. Di. M. 10/299/348; Su. M. Mu. 12/149/123

Su. A. Attha. 23/144/289-292.

Ibid 23/144/222

Su. Di. Pa. 11/56/61.

Ibid, pg. 272.

Ibid, pg. 76.

Ibid, pg. 43.

JK, IV, p. 176.

Su. Khu. Ja. 28/957-972/181-184

B.M. Barua, Lectures on Buddhism, pg. 217 quote in Shoba Mukherji. The Republican Trends in Ancient India, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1969, pg. 150-51.

Vi. M. 4/9-76/11-62.

B.C. Law, Geography of Early Buddhism, Munshiram Manohar Lal, Delhi, 1979, 189.

U.N. Ghoshal, A History of Indian Political Ideas, Bombay, 1959, pg. 136.


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