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Rahu - Lord of Asuras

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  • Rahu - Lord of Asuras

    Dear Venerable,

    A quite serious question to ask. It's not totally of an academic nature but of a right and wrong view.

    My mother, like many Thai people, believes in gods of each planet, and one of the most powerful gods she believes in is Rahu, who accidentally (?) appears to appear in some suttas.

    I've done some search in Thai and generally there are two sources to his stories. Indian folk tales talk about Rahu as a bad god who fight with good gods, and he has some issues with Sun God and Moon God, and who causes all the eclipses - which we now know is not true, but people still believe in his existence! The other source quotes the suttas: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....010.piya.html. as saying that the Buddha made Rahu release the sun and the moon (causing eclipses) and later when Rahu came to see the Buddha, the Buddha forecast that Rahu will become the fifth Buddha named Nārada after our current Buddha, with Buddha Maitreya as the very next one. (A Master's Degree thesis gives 10 names of the future Buddhas after our Buddha.)

    Of course, considering herself educated, my mum doesn't believe (much) in the first story, but she really believes in the second story because 'the suttas' say so. She somehow has been impressed with Rahu and has made a wish to be born and taught by Buddha Rahu. It might not be serious if she didn't stop trying to practice the teachings apart from giving dana.

    If you could please help my mum by giving her 'correct' interpretation of the suttas or correct understanding of the nature of the Pali texts, I would be forever grateful.

    With deep respect,

    Dheerayupa

  • #2
    Dear Dheerayupa,

    Ahh, the myriad of wrong views! I won't try and argue against the worship of gods like Rahu specifically. In all Buddhist cultures, both traditional eastern and transplanted western, we have many interpretations of the Buddha's teachings that seem to miss the point. Often when people put forward a view they will back it up with suttas that seem to support what they are saying.

    The Pali cannon alone has many thousands of suttas, and some of these suttas were almost certainly not the teachings spoken. But how do we tell the difference? A number of monks, including our own Ajahn Brahmali, are starting to develop criteria for gauging the authenticity of the suttas in the various collections. This scholarly work is extremely helpful both to people trying to interpret the texts and meditators wishing to practice in the way taught by the actual Buddha.

    Of course this work is ongoing, but in the future we will be able to give some evidence to back up our confidence in the Buddha.

    I hope this helps!

    Bhante Jhanarato

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    • #3
      Thank you very much, Venerable.

      I'm wondering if it is possible for Ajahn Brahmali and Ajahn Sujato to use this sutta (only one small page) as a case study?

      A pity Aj Sujato doesn't take a one-time walk-in student. However, I will definitely download the class discussions from BSWA website.

      With respect,

      Dheerayupa

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