Newsletter – February 2020

Seven Noble Principles for a Nation to Prosper
The Sutta Pitaka shows that King Ajatasattu, the ruler of Magadha kingdom, never had a close relationship with the Buddha.  Ever since Ajatasattu became a patricide, the Buddha showed no interest in a close relationship with the king.  Ajatasattu, in the meantime, openly insulted the Buddha and attempted to destroy the Buddha’s reputation.  He would support various thinkers and religious leaders, but not the Buddha.However, over the time, the Buddha reached the pinnacle of his popularity as a great spiritual leader while the king had become a nuisance to the neighboring states as a war monger. Ajatasattu’s next preparation was to attack and destroy the Vajji Kingdom, a powerful state.

The king was not that much confident, anyway. He was well aware that Vajji was a powerful kingdom, and that an invasion of that state would not be that easy. However, his enormous power hunger ever increasing, Ajatasattu had no intention to give up the enticing attack.

Now, all of a sudden, Ajatasattu began to think about the Buddha—not as a source of moral support to subdue his uncontrollable hunger for power but as a possible prophet to predict about his war victory!  The king summoned Vassakara, his chief minister in the state of Magadha, and assigned him the following duty: “Visit the Buddha and show him my respect. Then, inform him my intended invasion of Vajji Kingdom.  Keep in your mind what the Buddha will say and report it to me immediately.”

This plan of king Ajatasattu is very shameful and unbecoming indeed if, at least, he remembered what the Buddha had told him during their only meeting many years ago. While explaining his and his disciples’ moral practices, the Buddha asserted on that occasion that he would never make predictions about victories and defeats of kings who would fight in wars. However, Ajatasattu, in his desperation, was now choosing the same Buddha to make a prediction about the war he intended to fight in.

When Ajatasattu’s chief minister visited the Buddha and conveyed to him the king’s message, Ven. Ananda was also there. After listening to the visitor, the Buddha turned to Ven. Ananda and addressed him. He reminded Ven. Ananda the seven noble principles of Vajjis, the principles that the Buddha himself had taught to them.

The following is the list of those seven principles:

  1. They hold regular and frequent meetings.
  2. They meet in harmony, leave in harmony, and carry on their work in harmony
  3. They refrain from imposing new rules and respect and follow the existent rules.
  4. They respect their elders and seek guidance from their elders.
  5. They refrain from abusing and ill-treating women.
  6. They show respect to and protect their religious places.
  7. They facilitate the leaders of other faiths to visit their kingdom and care about those who have already visited there.
After elaborating on these seven noble principles of Vajjis, the Buddha then turned to the minister of king Ajatasattu and said, “Because the Vajjis are placed on these seven great principles, one should expect only their progress, not their decline.” In other words, the Buddha implied that King Ajatasattu would never be able to defeat Vajjis.