Template talk:People of the Pāli Canon

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Ordering of Appellations[edit]

When this table-cum-template was initially created in Householder (Buddhism), I ordered the appellations (BTW, is "appelation" better than "peoples" in the template title?) in terms of those spoken of most reverentially by the Buddha in the Suttapitaka. Thus, the order (from top to bottom) went as follows:

  • Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni
  • Samana
  • Brahmana [although Brahamana are sometimes debated, they are also upheld as spiritual leaders]
  • Upasaka
  • Gahattha, Gahapati

Now, significantly due to the shared knowledge and diligence of Sacca (thanks Sacca!), this table has expanded to include many others including different types of lay persons, additional monastics and additional ascetics.

Question: Should the ordering of appelations be changed? For instance, should the "Laity" category immediately follow the "Buddhist monastics" category to show a continuum (top to bottom) from Bhikkhu(ni) to Householder? I'm inclined to do it this way although, frankly, I'm reluctant to suggest that the spiritually accomplished of other religious paths (e.g., Hindus, Jains) are "beneath" Buddhist householders. Anyone else have any thoughts about this or desire to see the appellation ordering change? Thanks, LarryR 14:48, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
P.S. Anyone else have a minor concern about the heading "Other Religions" insomuch that it is not at the same level of abstraction as "Buddhist monastics" and "Laity." For instance, "Other religious seekers" might be a more consistent title (although too verbose for me to actually want to change it at this time). Any suggestions?

hi Larry, thank for the compliments, I think both ways are valid, it just depends on whether to organize acording to monk/laity or buddhist/other. Now it's done giving precedence to monk/priest status. But if you want to give buddhist more promenence, you could move the laysection up. But I do think that the householder can be a follower of brahmanism, too. They're not specifically Buddhist. The upasaka could be included since an upasaka is specifically buddhist. But then it's not very respectful to the other religions to put the laypeople above the monks and priests of other religions, I think Buddha also recognized this. And you'r have to change the title as 'buddhist monastic' would not apply any more. Anyway, this are some things to consider.
I'll think about some other title for 'other religions', it's not an easy one. maybe even non-buddhist something??
Greetings, Sacca 03:38, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Hi Sacca -- excellent points! And I agree what sounds like might be your inclination to be respectful of other religions and leave the laypeople below brahmins et al. Additionally, recognizing your points about the Buddhist upasaka/upasika, I'll leave them with the general lay people (and, in a moment, I'll move them above Agarika). Trying to put this consensus into words, it sounds like the overall structure is to give primary precedence to spiritual achievement (thus ordering monastics and ascetics over laypeople) and then secondary precedence to Buddhists (thus ordering Buddhist religious leaders over non-Buddhist religious leaders since, after all, the template's about the Pali Canon). I can live with all this. Thanks again for your great work and insights! LarryR 06:03, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Yes I think this would be good. Is there a word that unites monastics and priests in one? A word like that could be used for the 'Other religions' category. For example ???? in other religionsGreetings, Sacca 06:55, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

For what it's worth, in the PED definition of "Samana" it includes the definition of "samannabrāhmana" as "Samanas and Brāhmanas quite generally: 'leaders in religious life'...." Similarly, I think Bhikkhu Bodhi (in his notes regarding the Sigalovada Sutta? -- unfortunately, I'm currently on the road and don't have ready access to my books) has referred to "ascetics and brahmins" as "religious guides." (FWIW, I also see the PED definition of "Samana" uses the word "religieux" which is good in terms of brevity but probably not useful to most contemporary English-speaking people :-( ). Soooo, perhaps "other religious leaders" or "other religious guides" might be worth considering? Just a thought :) -LarryR 13:36, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

There's confusion here between 2 different senses of samana & brahmana. In their ordinary senses they rank below lay Buddhists. However, the Buddha often talks of the "true" samana or brahmana, meaning the arahant. Peter jackson 12:09, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Good points. I wasn't sure if the different uses of the words reflected the different times when the suttas were given (for instance, if a highly laudatory use of the words reflected a time when the bhikkhu sangha was just beginning vs. a latter time when a more cohesive bhikkhu sangha could differentiate itself from non-sangha [less ahuneyyo ...] wanderers and Brahmins) or was simply one requiring constant sensitivity to context. Regardless, I'm inclined to leave the template with its current over simplistic and hence distortive ordering, unless you feel it does a disservice to WP readers. Please let me know if a more compelling presentation of the terms is apparent. Thanks again, as always, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 13:17, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
There may well be scholars with theories like that. There usually are. Personally I'm inclined to agree with Lance Cousins' scepticism about all attempts to give relative dating to the early texts. On the "substantive" issue of the template, I'm not unhappy with its current arrangement. Peter jackson 17:52, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Great! And I certainly appreciate your caveat re: dating canonical material (though I admit to enjoying concocting such half-baked quasi-pseudo-intellectual completely-amateurish hypotheses from time to time). I'm grateful too for your bringing so much scholarship to WP Buddhism. I think you've been educating nearly all of us bit by bit. Best regards, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 19:13, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Sāvaka, Sāvikā[edit]

Sāvaka (male disciple) and Sāvikā (female disciple) can refer to monks, nuns and layfollowers. So either:

  1. the current division between Monastics and Laity has to be removed, or
  2. if the Monastic/Laity division is maintained, then Sāvaka and Sāvikā could simply be left off the list, or
  3. Sāvaka and Sāvikā can be inserted in either the Monastic group or the Laity group.

I chose the latter because:

  • for me to get rid of the Monastics/Laity division right now would require more thought than I can give
  • Sāvaka and Sāvikā are important and recurring peoples in the Pali canon that should be represented in this list

I then chose to insert it at the top of the Laity list since it can represent a transitional group between Laity and Monastics. But, frankly, this was just an intuitive call and I recognize the validity of someone wanting to place this in the Monastic group somewhere. If someone feels strongly about this and is familiar with the Pali canon, then please feel free to do so.

Hope I haven't made a mess of this! LarryR 23:49, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I decided to revisit aforementioned choice #1; I decided to regroup Monastics and Laity under "Community of Buddhist Disciples." I think this gets closest to the true definitions without a significant change to the table's structure (such as adding a left-hand vertical column to distinguish between Monks & Laity, etc., which would widen the table and thus create a bigger [possibly negative] impact to the text beside this table of any article in which it is transcluded). Let me know if you think this doesn't work.
Thanks, LarryR 03:44, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
P.S. I reverted back to HTML since: (a) when using Internet Explorer (the world's most popular browser) the wikimarkup continued to look lopsided; (b) as the one who does the most maintenance on this table (with Sacca), I'm simply not as good at wikimarkup as I am at HTML and thus maintaining the wikimarkup is a significant burden to this table's on-going maintenance/development.
P.P.S. I know the choice of moving "Other Religions" above or below "Laity" was decided differently by myself and Sacca in immediately prior entry, but that was before we had to consider integrating Sravaka (Disciple) into the table.

Savaka & savika usually refer to aryans, i.e. those of stream entry level or above, whether monastic or lay. Spiritually they rank above everyone else, but ritually seniority is strict: monastics rank before lay people. Peter jackson 12:09, 18 January 2007 (UTC)


I can't be positive the word doesn't occur in the Canon without checking the Concordance, but it's certainly never used in the sense of postulant, which is a modern invention, by the self-styled Anagarika Dharmapala. Peter jackson 12:09, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Wow! Nice catch! Honestly, guess I'm only familiar with its root in the phrase agārasmā anagāriya from the Canon. And a cursory glance at the PED certainly appears to support your edit. Anachronism begone! Thanks Peter! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 12:56, 18 January 2007 (UTC)