Abstaining from damaging plants and seeds

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    • #15212

      In the Brahmajaala Sutta (https://suttacentral.net/dn1/en/bodhi) it is stated that the Buddha refrains from damaging seeds and plants. ‘The recluse Gotama abstains from damaging seed and plant life.’
      Pali – ‘Bījagāmabhūtagāmasamārambhā paṭivirato samaṇo gotamo’

      And also that “He abstains from accepting uncooked grain, raw meat”
      Pali – Āmakadhaññapaṭiggahaṇā paṭivirato samaṇo gotamo …. Āmakamaṃsapaṭiggahaṇā paṭivirato samaṇo gotamo

      I have also come across this in other Sutta’s as well, where it is stated that a Bhikku will abstain from damaging plants and grains etc. What may be the reason for this?

    • #15214


      Seeds and plants: it’s strange yes for seeds and plants do not have a gandhabba, or they’ve ? It’s like there are two tendencies,one where the priority is existence/life-continuum the other the end of it.

      Raw food: Contrary to what alot might think raw food is bad for health and the Gotama had also great knowledge about health. Among his adepts there was a sotapanna (perhaps above sotapanna) that was the doctor of the royal family.

    • #15216
      Tobias G

      Damage to the environment without need is a bad deed (based on bad gathi), bad kamma is collected… to be avoided.

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    • #15217

      Akvan said: “Bījagāmabhūtagāmasamārambhā paṭivirato samaṇo gotamo”

      Please read The Living Plant Chapter for an understanding on why it needs to be abstained from.

      Akvan said: “Āmakadhaññapaṭiggahaṇā paṭivirato samaṇo gotamo …. Āmakamaṃsapaṭiggahaṇā paṭivirato samaṇo gotamo”

      Please read Misbehavior under “Inappropriate items” for an understanding on why it needs to be abstained from.

      Seng Kiat

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    • #15240

      Thank SengKiat,

      From the links provided I understand that one (in this case specifically referring to a Bikkhu) should not harm or kill a plant as it is living object. Not sentient but some kind of life form. So it can be a lower life form compared to sentient animals. This may be the reason such a rule is there for a bikkhu and not something told to lay people, because at a kammic level this might rank very low?

      I also don’t think it can be simply because people criticized monks of mistreating “one facultied life”. There has to be some solid reasoning behind it, if not such a rule will not be put in place. For example there were people who criticized monks for eating meat. However the Buddha did not ban eating meat because there was no Dhamma reasoning for it.

      With this in mind, I have a question regarding making fruit allowable. Making fruit allowable to monks is sometimes symbolic (as also mentioned in that link). If it is only symbolic then in reality a monk will be harming a seed when he accepts a fruit, which was symbolically made allowable.

      Do you think making it allowable has evolved into a symbolic gesture, when actually it is something more?

    • #15330

      These are rules for the bhikkhus, and not for the lay people, of course.

      The reason for prohibiting damaging plants is described in a sutta, but I forget the sutta’s name. It is described how a bhikkhu cut down a tree to make a hut for himself or something like that. There are bhummatta devas (devas of the lowest deva realm that reside alongside us), and most have their residences (vimana) on trees.
      – Of course, we cannot see them or their residences, so we don’t know which tress are “taken” by such devas. Anyway, this bhikkhu cut down that tree and the deva got upset and complained to the Buddha. That is when the Buddha made this vinaya rule for the bhikkus.
      – Furthermore, there are numerous insects and microscopic living beings that are sustained by a tree. There could be many insects on a single leaf! All those will be harmed by cutting down a tree.

      Seeds and raw meat: There are microscopic living beings living in seeds. We all have seen even larger insects in various kinds of grains. The same apply to raw meat too. If bhikkhus start cooking such items, those lives would be destroyed.

      Basically, the idea is that a bhikkhu is supposed to be taken care by the lay disciples. Thus, there is no need to cut down trees or to cook grains and raw meat (or engage in many activities stated in that sutta).

      A lay person would not be able to abide those two rules, since he/she may have to cut down trees for many purposes and need to cook grains and meat.

      The main idea is to avoid as many actions as possible, that could harm living beings. But there are some things that even a bhikkhu cannot avoid. For example, we know that there are numerous microscopic beings in water, and when we heat water or even drink water, they will die. But there is no way to live without water!

      I recommend this sutta to everyone. The English translation Akvan referred to is good enough, since it does not involve any deep concepts and only the moral standards for a bhikkhu. We, as lay people, can try to live by most of those rules too, except some like the two Akvan mentioned.

      P.S. There is more information on this topic at, “Tuvaṭaka Sutta – 4.14. The Quick Way“.

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