Sanjaya Belatthiputta

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Sanjaya Belatthiputta
Flourished6th century BCE
The views of six śramaṇa in the Pāli Canon
(based on the Buddhist text Sāmaññaphala Sutta1)
Śramaṇa view (diṭṭhi)1
Amoralism: denies any reward or
punishment for either good or bad deeds.

Niyativāda (Fatalism): we are powerless;
suffering is pre-destined.

Materialism: live happily;
with death, all is annihilated.
Sassatavada (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).

Sañjaya Belatthiputta (Pali: Sañjaya Belaṭṭhiputta; Sanskrit: Sañjaya Vairatiputra; literally, "Sañjaya of the Belattha clan"), was an Indian ascetic teacher who lived around the 6th century BCE in the region of Magadha. He was contemporaneous with Mahavira, Makkhali Gosala and the Buddha, and was a proponent of the sceptical ajñana school of thought.


Sanjaya is thought to be the first teacher of the future Buddha's future two great disciples, Maha-Moggallana and Sariputta. Both of them were followers of a person named Sanjaya Parabajjaka (Sanjaya the wanderer). Sanjaya Parabajjaka is considered to be same as Sanjaya Belatthiputta by many scholars. These two future arahants ultimately left Sanjaya's tutelage as it did not address their unresolved desire to end ultimate suffering.[1] Sanjaya Parabajjaka also had a follower named Suppiya, and so was Tattvalabdha, a minister at the court of King Ajatashatru.


Hecker (1994) contextualizes Sanjaya's thought as "a kind of dialectical existentialism" in juxtaposition to the popular materialist views of the day (for instance, typified by the ascetic teacher Ajita Kesakambalī.)[2] For example, in the Samannaphala Sutta (DN 2), Sanjaya is recorded as saying:

'If you ask me if there exists another world [after death], if I thought that there exists another world, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not. If you asked me if there isn't another world... both is and isn't... neither is nor isn't... if there are beings who transmigrate... if there aren't... both are and aren't... neither are nor aren't... if the Tathagata exists after death... doesn't... both... neither exists nor exists after death, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not.'[3]


In the Pali literature, Sanjaya's teachings have been characterized as "evasive"[4] or "agnostic".[5] In the Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1), Sanjaya's views are deemed to be amaravikkhepavada, "endless equivocation" or "a theory of eel-wrigglers."[6]

In Jaina literature, Sanjaya is identified as a Jaina sage (Skt., muni). It is believed that he was influenced by Jaina doctrine although Jaina philosophers were critical of Sanjaya.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hecker (1994).
  2. ^ Hecker (1994). Particularly regarding Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, see Chapter 2, "The Years of Wandering and Spiritual Search."
  3. ^ Thanissaro (1997).
  4. ^ Thanissaro (1997)
  5. ^ a b Bhaskar (1972).
  6. ^ Cited in Bhaskar (1972).


  • Bhaskar, Bhagchandra Jain (1972). Jainism in Buddhist Literature. Alok Prakashan: Nagpur. Available on-line at
  • Hecker, Hellmuth (1994). Maha-Moggallana (BPS Wheel 263). Available on-line at
  • 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.
  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997). Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life (DN 2). Available on-line at
  • 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.