Kshatriya and Brahman
Theosophical Quarterly, October, 1927
In the Pali Suttas the teachings of the Buddha are conveyed, not in philosophical abstractions, but in lively narratives with a picturesque background of Indian life with its cities and fields and forests. The characters of those to whom the Buddha addresses his teaching are vividly depicted, each in his proper setting, whether prince or peasant, and always with delightful touches of humour and irony, so characteristic of the Buddha and some of his greatest disciples.
Among these varied characters the Brahmans hold a conspicuous place. In the older Upanishads, the Brahmans, possessors of the magical hymns of the Rig Veda, and ministrants of the system of rites and sacrifices which gradually grew up around these hymns, are shown receiving the teaching of the Greater Mysteries, with the twin doctrines of Liberation and Reincarnation; for the first time from the Kshatriyas, who are also called Rajaputras or Rajputs. In the days of the Mahabharata war, traditionally dated over five thousand years ago, the Brahmans are represented as a very influential class, but not yet in possession of despotic power, not yet held to be sacrosanct and exclusively privileged, as they became during the centuries following that great war. The change in their position since the period of the older Upanishads is striking. It is evident that long centuries, perhaps millenniums, must have passed, much consolidation of Brahmanical power must have taken place, between the days of the older Upanishads, when “the Brahman sat at the feet of the Kshatriya,” and the time of the momentous conflict between the Pandus and Kurus, when the Brahmans had attained to great, but not yet overwhelming power.
Twenty-five centuries after the traditional date of the great war, and therefore twenty-five centuries ago, came the birth and teaching of Prince Siddhartha, known as Gotama Buddha, the Awakened One of the Gotama clan.
The graphic sketches of life in India at that day, which are the setting of his teachings in the Suttas, show at once that the power of the Brahmans, throughout the principalities of Northern India, had passed through a long period of development and concentration since the great war, and had, in some directions at least, reached an advanced stage of degeneration. The Brahmans of the Buddha’s day claimed to be sole possessors of the spiritual wisdom, which they had received in the beginning from the Kshatriyas, and, in virtue of this exclusive claim; they exercised a spiritual tyranny which the Buddha, teaching men and women of all classes equally, constantly sought to break down.
From this conflict of ideals and purposes many dramatic incidents arose.
They are faithfully, humorously and often ironically recorded in the Suttas, as for example in the narrative concerning the youthful Brahman Ambattha, who, like his remote predecessor Shvetaketu, was “conceited, vain of his learning and proud.”
We are told that, once upon a time, the Master was journeying through the land of the Kosalas, with a great company of disciples, with five hundred disciples, and that he came to a Brahman village, by name Ichanakala. There, indeed, the Master halted, and dwelt with his disciples among the grove of Ichanakala. At that time Pasenadi, king of the Kosalas, had given authority over Ukkatha, a district rich in meadows and wood and water and corn, to the Brahman Pokkharasadi, who heard the news of the Buddha’s coming, and of his dwelling with his disciples among the groves of Ichanakala. It had been reported also that the Master was an Arhat, perfectly awakened and illuminated, rich in wisdom and righteousness, a knower of the worlds, unequalled in leading men to the law of righteousness, a teacher of radiant beings and of the sons of men, one who had seen and known the universe face to face. And the Brahman Pokkharasadi bethought him that it was right to visit such an Arhat.
At that time it happened that the Brahman Pokkharasadi had a disciple, the young man Ambattha, who had learned the sacred verses, who had mastered the three Vedas with their subsidiary studies, one who had made such progress that his teacher could say, “What I know, that thou knowest, and what thou knowest, I know.”
So the Brahman Pokkharasadi addressed the young man Ambattha, saying, “Ambattha, beloved, Gotama of the Sakyas has come among the Kosalas, and is dwelling among the groves of Ichanakala; he whom they declare to be a Master, an Arhat, perfectly awakened and illuminated. It is right to visit such an Arhat. Go then, Ambattha, beloved, to the place where Gotama is dwelling, and learn whether Gotama is what report declares or not. Thus we shall know the truth concerning the worthy Gotama.”
“How am I to know whether the worthy Gotama is such as report declares or not?”
“There are, Ambattha, beloved, thirty-two distinctive marks of a great man. He who possesses these distinctive marks will either become a universal monarch, ruling the wide world surrounded by the ocean, or, if he make the great renunciation, he will become an Arhat, perfectly awakened and illuminated, a Buddha, unveiling the eyes of the world. I have given thee, Ambattha, beloved, the sacred verses; from me thou hast received the sacred verses.”
“So be it!” said the young man Ambattha, obedient to the Brahman Pokkharasadi, and, rising from his seat, and showing reverence to the Brahman Pokkharasadi, he mounted a chariot drawn by mares and, with a number of young men accompanying him, drove to the groves of Ichanakala. Driving to the end of the carriage road, he descended from the chariot and went on foot through the garden.
At that time many of the disciples were walking up and down, taking the air. So the young man Ambattha, coming to where these disciples were, said, “Where may the worthy Gotama dwell? We have come hither to see the worthy Gotama.”
So those disciples thought, “This young man Ambattha is of distinguished family, and a disciple of the distinguished Brahman Pokkharasadi. There is no difficulty in the way of the Master’s talking with such well-born youths.” They said to the young man Ambattha, “That is his dwelling, Ambattha, where the door is shut; go thither, making little noise, quietly across the veranda, cough discreetly and knock on the bar of the door. The Master will open the door for you.”
So the young man Ambattha did as he was bidden, and the Master opened the door, so that the young man Ambattha entered. The other young men who accompanied him also entered, and, exchanging with the Master the salute and the greeting which were befitting, sat down at one side. But the young man Ambattha, walking up and down while the Master was seated, saluted him carelessly and, standing while the Master sat, gave him a careless greeting.
Thereupon the Master said to the young man Ambattha, “Is it in this way, Ambattha, that you carry on a conversation with Brahmans, old and full of years, masters of disciples, as you do now with me, walking about while I am seated, and giving me a careless greeting?”
“No, indeed, Sir Gotama! Walking, Sir Gotama, a Brahman should speak with a Brahman who is walking; standing, Sir Gotama, a Brahman should speak with a Brahman who is standing; seated, Sir Gotama, a Brahman should speak with a Brahman who is seated; resting, Sir Gotama, a Brahman should speak with a Brahman who is resting. But, Sir Gotama, when it is a question of shavelings, ascetic fellows, servile, black men, offspring of the feet of Brahma, why, with such folk one talks as I am talking with you, Sir Gotama!”
“But you must have had some purpose, Ambattha, in coming here; concentrate on your purpose in coming! The young man Ambattha is ill-bred, though he highly esteems good breeding; how else than because he was ill taught?”
Then the young man Ambattha, thus spoken of as ill-bred, was angry and displeased, and, sneering at the Master, and thinking to himself, “The ascetic Sir Gotama has lost his temper!” he spoke thus to the Master, “Coarse, Sir Gotama, is the Sakya tribe! Rough, Sir Gotama, is the Sakya tribe! Harsh, Sir Gotama, is the Sakya tribe! Violent, Sir Gotama, is the Sakya tribe! Servile, of servile nature, they do not honour Brahmans, they do not venerate Brahmans, they do not esteem Brahmans, they do not make obeisance to Brahmans, they do not pay due deference to Brahmans. This is unseemly, Sir Gotama, this is improper!” Thus did the young man Ambattha lay the epithet of servile upon the Sakyas for the first time.
“In what, Ambattha, have the Sakyas offended you?”
“On a certain occasion, Sir Gotama, I had to go to Kapilavastu on business for my master, the Brahman Pokkharasadi. I entered the Sakya meeting hall. There were many of the Sakyas there, and young men of the Sakyas, sitting on high seats. They nudged each other and laughed, and I think they were laughing at me. And no one offered me a seat. This, Sir Gotama, was unseemly, this was improper, that these servile Sakyas should not honour, venerate, esteem, salute and pay due deference to Brahmans.” Thus did the young man Ambattha lay the epithet of servile upon the Sakyas for the second time.
“A quail, Ambattha, even though a little bird, may in its own nest say what it pleases. These Sakyas, Ambattha, were in their own Kapilavastu. You should not take offence at a little thing like that.”
“There are the four colours, Sir Gotama, Kshatriyas, Brahmans, Vaishyas, Shudras. Of these four colours, Sir Gotama, the Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras are nothing but the servants of the Brahmans. Therefore, Sir Gotama, it is not seemly, it is not proper, that these servile Sakyas should not honour, venerate, esteem, salute and pay due deference to Brahmans.” Thus did the young man Ambattha lay the epithet of servile on the Sakyas for the third time.
Then the Master thought, “This young man Ambattha comes down heavily upon the Sakyas with his epithet of servile. Let me ask him about his own family.” So that Master said to the young man Ambattha, “Of what family are you, Ambattha?”
“I, Sir Gotama, am of the Kanha family!” (That is, the “Black” family.) “Verily so, Ambattha, but should one call to mind your ancient name and family on the mother’s and father’s side, it would be seen that the Sakyas are sons of your masters, and that you are descended from a slave girl. For the Sakyas point to King Okkaka as their great father. And King Okkaka, Ambattha, had a slave girl, Disa by name, who gave birth to a little black. As soon as he was born, the little black said, ‘Wash me, mamma, bathe me, mamma, so shall I be profitable to you!’ Just as at the present time, Ambattha, people call an evil spirit an evil spirit, so at that time they called an evil spirit a blackie. So they said, ‘This new-born babe has spoken! A blackie has come to birth, an evil spirit has come to birth!’ And this, Ambattha, is the origin of the Kanhayana, the ‘Black’ family. This was the first man, the founder, of the ‘Black’ family. So, Ambattha, should one call to mind your ancient family on the mother’s side and father’s side, it would be seen that the Sakyas are sons of your masters, and that you are descended from a slave girl.”
Then said the young men, his companions, to the Master, “Let not the worthy Gotama come down so heavily upon the young man Ambattha, with the reproach that he is descended from a slave girl. For the young man Ambattha is well born; Sir Gotama, he is of good family, he has studied the scriptures, he recites the sacred verses beautifully, the young man Ambattha is a pundit. He is able to answer the worthy Gotama effectively in this matter!”
Then the Master said to the young men, “If, indeed, you thought that the young man Ambattha was ill-born; of no family, unlearned, unable to recite the sacred verses beautifully, ignorant, not able to answer the ascetic Gotama effectively in this matter, then it would be for you to take up the discussion. But, since you think so well of the young man Ambattha, let him answer me himself!”
“We do think well of the young man Ambattha. Therefore let him speak with the worthy Gotama himself!”
So the Master said to the young man Ambattha, “This, Ambattha, is a fair and lawful question, which you should answer even though you are unwilling. Should you not answer clearly, should you try to change the subject, should you remain silent or go away, your head will be split in seven pieces. How then do you think, Ambattha? What have you heard from Brahmans, old and full of years, masters of disciples, when they were, speaking of the origin of the Kanhayana, and who was the founder of this ‘Black’ family?”
Thus addressed, the young man Ambattha remained silent. Then the Master repeated his question, using the same words. A second time the young man Ambattha remained silent.
Then the Master spoke thus to the young man Ambattha, “Answer now, Ambattha, this is not the time for silence. For should anyone not answer a fair and lawful question, when it is asked him a third time by a Tathagata, his head will surely be split in seven pieces!”
Now at that time the spirit Vajrapani, taking a great mass of iron, blazing, throwing out flames and sparks, held it in the air above the head of the young man Ambattha, ready to split his head in seven pieces if he should not answer. The Master saw the spirit Vajrapani, and the young man Ambattha saw him. And the young man Ambattha was so startled and terrified that his hair stood on end, so that he sought refuge and safety and protection at the Master’s feet, saying to the Master, “What was that the worthy Gotama said? Will the worthy Gotama kindly say it again?”
“How do you think, Ambattha? What have you heard from Brahmans, old and full of years, masters of disciples, when they were speaking of the origin of the Kanhayana, and who was the founder of this ‘Black’ family?”
“I heard, Sir Gotama, exactly what the worthy Gotama has said; such is the origin of the Kanhayana, such is the founder of the ‘Black’ family!”
Then the young men who were with him cried out, and raised their voices, and made a great noise, saying, “Ill born is the young man Ambattha, of no family is the young man Ambattha, the young man Ambattha is descended from a slave girl of the Sakyas, the Sakyas are descended from the masters of the young man Ambattha. We were certain that the ascetic Gotama, a speaker of righteousness, was not to be gainsaid.”
Then the Master thought, “These young men are bearing too heavily on the young man Ambattha with their reproach that he is descended from a slave girl. Let me come to his rescue.” So the Master said to those young men, “Young men, do not bear too heavily on the young man Ambattha with the reproach that he is descended from a slave girl. For that Kanha, that ‘Black,’ was a noble Rishi!”
And the Buddha proceeded to relate an exceedingly entertaining story of how the strange, dusky infant grew to man’s estate, traveled through Southern India, which is to this day the home of black races, and there learned magical arts and incantations of such potency that, on his return, he was able to compel the aged King Okkaka to give him in marriage the royal princess Slender-form, his daughter. So it appeared that the young man Ambattha, like the Sakyas themselves, was descended from King Okkaka. “For Kanha was a noble Rishi!”
But there remained the question of superiority, as between Kshatriya and Brahman, and the Buddha did not intend to leave it open. He proceeded to put to the young man Ambattha a series of questions involving the relations of Kshatriyas and Brahmans, and, on the basis of the young man’s answers, he held it proven “that the Kshatriyas are best and that the Brahmans are inferior.”
Finally, he quoted an authority of overwhelming weight, no less than the Brahma Sanatkumara, the divine Mind-born, profoundly venerated by the Brahmans themselves, to this effect:
“The Kshatriya is best in the estimation of those who attach importance to lineage. He who is perfect in wisdom and righteousness is best among bright powers and men.”
So far the meeting between the Buddha and the young man Ambattha with his companions. There is one small but significant point in this spirited recital, which is worth noting, because it is the single case in which the pious Buddhist narrator has swerved from perfect dramatic propriety. It will be noted that, when he speaks of the four “colours,” the young man Ambattha names them in this order, “Kshatriya, Brahman, Vaishya, Shudra.” But it is quite certain that he, not only a Brahman, but even then maintaining the divine superiority of the Brahmans, would have named them thus, “Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra,” as they stand in the Brahmanical books. So it would seem that the Buddhist scribe, keenly alert as he is to every shade of literary art, could not bring himself to put the Brahmans first, even in the speech of a Brahman. He prefers to follow the unvarying practice of the Buddhist books.
It happens that there is a second Sutta in which the Buddha again takes up this question of Kshatriya and Brahman, and again cites the divine Sanatkurnara as a final authority. It is in many ways an exceptionally interesting scripture, for the reason that in it the Buddha departs from his general practice of making his discourse immediately practical, and of setting aside all problems of cosmology and origins, as being of secondary importance, as compared with the great and immediate problem of salvation, of release from sin and bondage. In this Sutta the Buddha gives what we may recognize as a somewhat vague and general outline of the cosmology which we find in The Secret Doctrine, and especially that part of Anthropogenesis which is concerned with our own planet in the present period: of necessity vague, since it involved teachings of Initiation, which it was not lawful to divulge in detail. Yet the parallelism is undeniable, and of immense interest, particularly because it represents a departure from the Buddha’s general rule.
As always, there is a vividly presented story in a concrete setting. We are told that, once upon a time, the Master was dwelling in Savatthi, in the stately dwelling built by the mother of Migara. At that time there were two Brahmans, bearing the high traditional names of Vasishtha, or, in Pali, Vasettha, and Bharadvaja, probationers, seeking admission to the Order. In the evening the Master, coming forth from meditation, descended from the dwelling and began to walk up and down in the shade of the dwelling, taking the air. Vasettha noticed the Master and said to Bharadvaja, “Friend Bharadvaja, the Master has descended and is taking the air. Let us go, friend Bharadvaja, to where the Master is. Perhaps we may hear from the Master some speech concerning righteousness.” Bharadvaja assented, and they went to where the Master was; So the Master said to Vasettha, “You, Vasettha, have come forth, being of Brahman birth, of a Brahman family, leaving the household life for the homeless life. Do not the Brahmans reproach and abuse you, Vasettha?”
“Certainly, Sire, the Brahmans reproach and blame us with marked abuse, not limited but unlimited.”
“In what terms, Vasettha, do the Brahmans thus abuse you?”
“The Brahmans, Sire, speak thus, ‘Brahmans are the best colour, inferior are the other colours; Brahmans are pure, not those who are not Brahmans; Brahmans are Brahma’s own sons, both from the mouth of Brahma, Brahma-born, Brahma-caused, Brahma’s heirs. But you have deserted this most excellent colour, and have betaken yourselves to an inferior colour, to these shavelings, ascetic fellows, servile, black men, offspring of the feet of Brahma.’ In these terms, Sire, do the Brahmans reproach and abuse us, with marked abuse, not limited but unlimited!”
“Certainly, Vasettha, you Brahmans forget the ancient teaching, when you say this, that Brahmans are born from the mouth of Brahma. For the Brahmans themselves see that their wives are fruitful and bear children and nurse them. Yet they say they are Brahma-born! They are bearing false witness, telling lies, making demerit.
“There are these four colours, Vasettha: Kshatriyas, Brahmans, Vaishyas, Shudras. It may happen, Vasettha, that a Kshatriya should be guilty of murder, theft, impurity, lying, slandering, evil speaking, garrulity, covetousness, malevolence, defense of false views. Such qualities, evil, blameworthy, immoral, un-Aryan, black, reprobated by the wise, may sometimes be found in a Kshatriya. Exactly the same with the Brahman, the Vaishya, the Shudra.
“On the other hand, Vasettha, a Kshatriya may be found who refrains from all such evils, whose qualities are noble, beyond reproach, admirable, Aryan, luminous, admired by the wise. So likewise, Vasettha, in the case of Brahmans, Vaishyas, Shudras. So among the four colours both good and bad qualities are distributed. How then can the Brahmans say that they are best, sons of Brahma, Brahma-born? The wise do not endorse this. Why? Among the four colours, Vasettha, he who is a disciple, an Arhat, who has purged himself of the poisons, who has fulfilled all righteousness, who has laid aside the burden, who has attained salvation, who has broken the bonds of rebirth, perfect in wisdom, liberated, he is esteemed the most excellent of these, rightly, not unrightly. For righteousness, Vasettha, is most excellent, both in this world and in the great Beyond.
“This is to be known, Vasettha, by this example. King Pasenadi of the Kosalas knows that the ascetic Gotama has gone forth from a Sakya family. Now the Sakyas are dependents of King Pasenadi. But as the Sakyas honour King Pasenadi, so King Pasenadi honours the Tathagata.
“You, Vasettha, who have gone forth from the household life to the homeless life, are of varying birth, varying names, varying tribes, varying families. But, when you are asked who you are, you reply, ‘We are sons of the Sakya sage!’ It is right for each of you to say, ‘I am the Master’s own son, born from his mouth, born of his righteous law, heir of his law.’ Why is this? Because this is the appellation of the Tathagata, ‘He who has the body of the law of righteousness, the body of Brahma, who has become righteousness, who has become Brahma.’
“There was a time, Vasettha, very long ago, when this world passed out of manifestation. When the world passed out of manifestation, the beings that were in it were for the most part reborn in the world of radiant shining. There they were formed of mind, feasting on delight, self-shining, traversing the ether, dwelling in happiness, and so they remained for a very long time. Then came the time, Vasettha, after a very long interval, for this world to be manifested again. And when the world came again into manifestation, those beings descended from the world of radiance and entered this world. Here, they remained mind-formed, feasting on delight, self-shining, traversing the ether, dwelling in happiness for a very long time.
“At that time, Vasettha, all was watery, wrapped in darkness, shrouded in darkness. Neither moon nor sun appeared, nor the constellations formed of stars, nor did night and day appear, nor the half-month, nor the month, nor the seasons of the year, nor was there yet any division into women and men. Beings then were all counted equally as beings. Then, after the passage of a long time, the flavour of earth became manifest among the waters. It was as when on milk boiled in rice and set to cool, a film forms on its surface, so was this manifested. It was rich in colour, rich in odour, rich in flavour; in colour it was like butter clarified by melting, or like fresh butter, and its flavour was like fine honey.
“So, Vasettha, one or other of these beings, incited by greed, and saying, ‘How now, what will this be?’ began to taste this earth-flavour with his finger. When he had tasted the earth-flavour thus with his finger, thirst for it overcame him. And others of those beings, Vasettha, seeing him and following his example, tasted the earth-flavour with their fingers. When they had so tasted, thirst for it overcame them also. And so those beings began to take pieces of the earth-flavour with their hands and to feast on it. And, as they began to feast on the earth-flavour, their self-shining disappeared. When their self-shining was thus withdrawn, the moon and sun became manifest to them. Then came the constellations of the stars. Then night and day began, with the half-months and months, the seasons and the years. So, Vasettha, this world came once more into manifestation.
“So for a long time these beings feasted on the earth-flavour, eating it, making it their food. And, in measure as they so feasted, solidity began to develop in their bodies, and difference of colour began to appear. Some of these beings were comely, some were ill-favoured. Then those who were comely despised the ill-favoured, saying, ‘We are comelier, but these are ill-favoured.’ When, through pride in their comeliness, vanity and conceit arose among them, that earth-flavour was withdrawn. When the earth-flavour was withdrawn, they gathered together and fell into lamentation, saying, ‘Alas for the flavour! Alas for the flavour!’
“When the earth-flavour was withdrawn, a mushroom-like growth began to appear on the ground. It possessed colour, odour and flavour. The colour was like fresh butter, the taste was like fine honey. Then those beings began to feast on this growth. They feasted on it, eating it, making it their food. As they so feasted, the solidity of their bodies increased, and difference in colour became more marked among them. As before, those who were comely despised the ill-favoured. And when vanity and conceit thereupon increased, the mushroom-like growth was withdrawn, and vegetation, like a small herb, appeared. This also was possessed of colour, odour and taste. The colour was like fresh butter, and the taste like fine honey.
“So they began to feast on this vegetation, eating it and making it their food for a long time. As they so feasted, their bodies became yet more solid, and differences of colour became still more marked among them. Once again vanity and conceit increased. Then that vegetation disappeared.
“When that vegetation had disappeared, rice began to grow, ripening without tillage, bearing clean grain without dust or chaff. When they plucked rice for the evening meal, it grew again and was ripe in the morning. So it grew continually. So, Vasettha, these beings thus feasted on the rice for a long time. As they so feasted, their bodies became yet more solid, difference of colour increased, and they grew in vanity and conceit as before. At this time also the sexes began to be separated, those who had been women (in an earlier cycle) taking the form of women, and those who had been men, taking the form of men.”
As has been suggested, there is a general correspondence between this picturesque cosmology or anthropology and the account, in The Secret Doctrine, of the appearance of the early ethereal races of mankind, their gradual consolidation as the world also grew more solid, and the division of the sexes in the second half of the Third Race. In carrying the story forward, the Buddha sketches the sociological history of the later races. On the one hand, there was a gradual development of agriculture, which led to the demarcation of fields and the growth of property in land. On the other hand, following the separation of the sexes and the beginning of family life, houses came to be built. With property came the violation of property rights, and general disorder inevitably followed. Then the Buddha comes to the point which he had in mind from the beginning.
“Then, Vasettha, these beings came together, bewailing what had happened, and said, ‘Sinful deeds, verily, have appeared among beings, theft and contumely and lying. Let us then choose from among us a being who will be angry when it is right to be angry, who will censure when it is right to censure, who will expel when it is right to expel. And we shall bestow on him in return a portion of our rice.’ So they chose from among them the most comely, the best looking, the most gracious, the most eminent, and said to him, ‘Thou being! When it is right to be angry, be thou angry, when it right to censure, do thou censure, when it is right to expel, do thou expel. We shall bestow on thee in return a portion of our rice.’ ‘So be it!’ said that being, complying with their desire.” This was the first of the Kshatriyas, therefore it follows that the Kshatriyas are more ancient, more venerable, than the Brahmans. The first Brahman was later chosen, to establish wise customs among mankind. In the course of time; they compiled the three Vedas and taught the recitation of the sacred verses. Then, with the development of trade, came the Vaishyas. “Then those who practised hunting and other mean pursuits became the first Shudras.”
So that all colours and classes arose in similar ways from among originally homogeneous mankind, and the Brahmans make false claims, when they say they are born of Brahma. All have a like origin.
And all have a like destiny. A Kshatriya who sins in body, in speech, in thought, will journey, when he departs from the body, on the bad way to a state of punishment. So also a Brahman, a Vaishya, a Shudra. And a Kshatriya who is righteous in body, in speech, in thought, will journey, when he departs from the body, on the good way to a state of reward. So also a Brahman, a Vaishya, a Shudra.
“The Kshatriya who is controlled in body, controlled in speech, controlled in thought; who follows after the seven forms of righteousness which are the wings of wisdom, is set free in wisdom and righteousness. So likewise the Brahman, the Vaishya, the Shudra.
“Of these four colours, Vasettha, he who becomes a disciple, an Arhat, who has purged himself of the poisons, who has fulfilled all righteousness, who has laid aside the burden, who has attained salvation, who has broken the bonds of rebirth, perfect in wisdom, liberated, he is esteemed most excellent of these, rightly, not unrightly. For righteousness, Vasettha, is most excellent, both in this world and in the great Beyond.
“So it was declared, Vasettha, by the Brahma Sanatkumara: ‘The Kshatriya is best in the estimation of those who attach importance to lineage. He who is perfect in wisdom and righteousness is best among bright powers and men.’”
It is well to remember that this was said to two Brahman disciples, of whom there were many in the Order, side by side with many Kshatriyas and a few men and women of the other classes. Not all Brahmans, therefore, opposed the establishment of the Order, which was open equally to all, on the sole condition that they practised the needed virtues. But many Brahmans did oppose the Order, and, as the centuries passed, this opposition increased and became more determined, until the followers of the Buddha were driven forth from Brahmanical India. To this selfishness, exclusiveness and obscurantism, must be attributed the progressive degeneration of the Buddha’s land, a degradation which must await the turn of the life-cycle before it can be overcome. Then once again, perhaps, the teaching of the Buddhas of compassion will become universal from the Himalayas to the uplands of Ceylon.