Why Did Brahma Ask the Buddha to Teach?


  • Dhivan Thomas Jones Wolfson College, Cambridge




Brahmā, Buddha, Teach


The episode of Brahma’s request to the Buddha to teach has been regarded as problematic from early times, since it suggests that the Buddha was initially lacking in compassion. Comparison of versions of the story shows it to be possibly pre-Asokan in origin. A close reading of themes in the episode in relation to other incidents in the Buddha’s life described in the Pali canon show that it need not be taken as portraying an actual experience of the Buddha. The original purpose of the episode was not to describe the Buddha’s inner conflict but to show that Brahma, representative of Brahmanical religion, was a follower of the Buddha. The episode was originally religious propaganda.

Author Biography

Dhivan Thomas Jones, Wolfson College, Cambridge

Wolfson College, Cambridge


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How to Cite

Jones, D. T. (2009). Why Did Brahma Ask the Buddha to Teach?. Buddhist Studies Review, 26(1), 85–102. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.v26i1.85