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CONFLICT WITH SAKYA SANGH

 

Eight years had passed by since Siddhartha was made a member of the Sakya Sangh. He was a very devoted and steadfast member of the Sangh. He took the same interest in the affairs of the Sangh as he did in his own. His conduct as a member of the Sangh was exemplary and he had endeared himself to all.

 In the eighth year of his membership, an event occurred which resulted in a tragedy for the family of Suddhodana and a crisis in the life of Siddharth. This is the origin of the tragedy. Bordering on the State of the Sakyas was the State of the Koliyas. The two kingdoms were divided by the river Rohini. The waters of the Rohini were used by both the Sakyas and the Koliyas for irrigating their fields. Every season there used to be disputes between them as to who should take the water of the Rohini first and how much. These disputes resulted in quarrels and sometimes in affrays. In the year when Siddharth was twenty-eight, there was a major clash over the waters between the servants of the Sakyas and the servants of the Koliyas, Both sides suffered injuries. Coming to know of this, the Sakyas and the Koliyas felt that the issue must be settled once for all by war. The Senapati of the Sakyas, therefore, called a session of the Sakya Sangh to consider the question of declaring war on the Koliyas. Addressing the members of the Sangh, the Senapati said : " Our people have been attacked by the Koliyas and they had to retreat. Such acts of aggression by the Koliyas have taken place more than once. We have tolerated them so far. But this cannot go on. It must be stopped and the only way to stop it is to declare war against the Koliyas. I propose that the Sangh do declare war on the Koliyas. Those who wish to oppose may speak." Siddharth Gautama rose in his seat and said : "I oppose this resolution. War does not solve any question. Waging war will not serve our purpose. It will sow the seeds of another war. The slayer gets a slayer in his turn; the conqueror gets one who conquers him; a man who despoils is despoiled in his turn." Siddharth Gautama continued: " I feel that the Sangh should not be in haste to declare war on the Koliyas: Careful investigation should be made to ascertain who the guilty party is. I hear that our men have also been aggressors. If this be true, then it is obvious that we too are not free from blame."  The Senapati replied: “Yes, our men were the aggressors. But it must not be forgotten that it was our turn to take the water first."  Siddharth Gautama said: “This shows that we are not completely free from blame. I therefore propose that we elect two men from us and the Koliyas should be asked to elect two from them and the four should elect a fifth person and these should settle the dispute." The amendment moved by Siddharth Gautama was duly seconded. But the Senapati opposed the amendment, saying: “I am sure that this menace of the Koliyas will not end unless they are severely punished." The resolution and the amendment had therefore to be put to vote. The amendment moved by Siddharth Gautama was put first. It was declared lost by an overwhelming majority. The Senapati next put his own resolution to vote. Siddharth Gautama again stood up to oppose it. “I beg the Sangh," he said, " not to accept the resolution. The Sakyas and the Koliyas are close relations. It is unwise that they should destroy each other." The Senapati encountered the plea urged by Siddharth Gautama. He stressed that in war the Kshatriyas cannot make a distinction between relations and strangers. They must fight even against brothers for the sake of their kingdom. Performing sacrifices is the duty of the Brahmins, fighting is the duty of the Kshatriyas, trading is the duty of the Vaishas and service is the duty of the Shudras. There is merit in each class forming its duty. Such is the injunction of our Shastras. Siddharth replied: “Dharma, as I understand it, consists in recognising that enmity does not disappear by enmity. It can be conquered by love only." The Senapati, getting impatient, said: "It is unnecessary to enter upon this philosophical disquisition. The point is that Siddhartha is opposed to my resolution. Let us ascertain what the Sangh has to say about it by putting it to vote." Accordingly the Senapati put his resolution to vote. It was declared carried by an overwhelming majority.

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