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Purana Kassapa

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Purana Kassapa

Pūraṇa Kassapa was an Indian ascetic teacher who lived around the 5th or 4th century BCE, contemporaneous with Mahavira and the Buddha.

The Views of Six Samana in the Pali Canon
(based on the Sāmaññaphala Sutta1)
Question: "Is it possible to point out the fruit of the
contemplative life, visible in the here and now?"1
samaṇa view (diṭṭhi)
Amoralism: denies any reward or
punishment for either good or bad deeds.
Fatalism: we are powerless;
suffering is pre-destined.
with death, all is annihilated.
Eternalism: Matter, pleasure, pain and
the soul are eternal and do not interact.
Restraint: be endowed with, cleansed by
and suffused with the avoidance of all evil.2
Agnosticism: "I don't think so. I don't think in
that way or otherwise. I don't think not or not not."

Suspension of judgement.

Notes: 1. DN 2 (Thanissaro, 1997; Walshe, 1995, pp. 91-109).
2. DN-a (Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi, 1995, pp. 1258-59, n. 585).

Purana taught a theory of "non-action" (Pāli, Skt.: akiriyavada) whereby the body acts independent of the soul, merit or demerit.[1] In the Pali Canon, Purana (along with the ascetic Makkhali Gosala) is identified as an ahetuvadin, "denier of a cause" (of merit).[2]

As an example of Purana's beliefs, in the Samannaphala Sutta (DN 2) it is reported that Purana said:

"...[I]n acting or getting others to act, in mutilating or getting others to mutilate, in torturing or getting others to torture, in inflicting sorrow or in getting others to inflict sorrow, in tormenting or getting others to torment, in intimidating or getting others to intimidate, in taking life, taking what is not given, breaking into houses, plundering wealth, committing burglary, ambushing highways, committing adultery, speaking falsehood — one does no evil. If with a razor-edged disk one were to turn all the living beings on this earth to a single heap of flesh, a single pile of flesh, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the right bank of the Ganges, killing and getting others to kill, mutilating and getting others to mutilate, torturing and getting others to torture, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the left bank of the Ganges, giving and getting others to give, making sacrifices and getting others to make sacrifices, there would be no merit from that cause, no coming of merit. Through generosity, self-control, restraint, and truthful speech there is no merit from that cause, no coming of merit.'[3]

The Anguttara Nikaya also reports that Purana claimed to be omniscient. The Dhammapada commentary claims that Purana committed suicide by drowning.[4]

Views on the hierarchy of humans

According to Purana Kassapa, there were six jatis or castes of humans.[5]

  1. Black caste: Mutton butchers, pork butchers, fowlers, hunters, violent men, fisherman, robbers, robber-killers, jailers, and all who follow a bloody trade.
  2. Blue caste: Bhikkus who live as though with a thorn in the side, and all other who profess deed and doing theory (kiryavada).
  3. Red caste: Jains with one cloth.
  4. Yellow caste: White-robed householders and followers of naked ascetics.
  5. White caste: Ajivikas and their followers.
  6. Purest white caste: Leaders of the Ajivikas; Mankhali Gosala, Nanda Vaccha, and Kisa Sankicca.

See also


  1. ^ Bhaskar (1972). Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 215, entry for "Kiriya" succinctly defines akiriyavāda as: "denying the difference between merit & demerit."
  2. ^ Bhaskar (1972). See Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 733, entry for "Hetu" for a translation of ahetu-vādin as: "denier of a cause."
  3. ^ Thanissaro (1997).
  4. ^ Bhaskar (1972).
  5. ^ P. 154 Society at the Time of the Buddha By Narendra K. Wagle


  • Bhaskar, Bhagchandra Jain (1972). Jainism in Buddhist Literature. Alok Prakashan: Nagpur. On-line
  • Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu (trans.) and Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2001). The Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-072-X.
  • Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). The Pali Text Society's Pali–English Dictionary. Chipstead: Pali Text Society. On-line version
  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997). Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life (DN 2). On-line
  • Walshe, Maurice O'Connell (trans.) (1995). The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya. Somerville: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-103-3.
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