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OFFER OF EXILE

 

Next day the Senapati called another meeting of the Sakya Sangh to have his plan of mobilisation considered by the Sangh. When the Sangh met, he proposed that he be permitted to proclaim an order calling to arms for the war against the Koliyas every Sakya between the ages of 20 and 50. The meeting was attended by both sides, those who at the previous meeting of the Sangh had voted in favour of a declaration of war as well as those who had voted against it. For those who had voted in favour there was no difficulty in accepting the proposal of the Senapati. It was a natural consequence of their earlier decision. But the minority who had voted against it had a problem to face. Their problem was to submit or not to submit to the decision of the majority. The minority was determined not to submit to the majority. That is the reason why they had decided to be present at the meeting. Unfortunately, none of them had the courage to say so openly. Perhaps they knew the consequences of opposing the majority. Seeing that his supporters were silent, Siddharth stood up, and addressing the Sangh, said: “Friends! You may do what you like. You have a majority on your side, but I am sorry to say I shall oppose your decision in favour of mobilisation. I shall not join your army and I shall not take part in the war." The Senapati, replying to Siddharth Gautama, said: “Do remember the vows you had taken when you were admitted to the membership of the Sangh. If you break any of them you will expose yourself to public shame."  Siddharth replied: “Yes, I have pledged myself to safeguard the best interests of the Sakyas by my body, mind and money. But I do not think that this war is in the best interests of the Sakyas. What is public shame to me before the best interests of the Sakyas? “Siddharth proceeded to caution the Sangh by reminding it of another event where Sakyas have become the vassals of the King of Kosala by reason of their quarrels with the Koliyas.”It is not difficult to imagine," he said,” that this war will give him a greater handle to further reduce the freedom of the Sakyas." The Senapati grew angry and addressing Siddharth, said: “Your eloquence will not help you. You must obey the majority decision of the Sangh. You are perhaps counting upon the fact that the Sangh has no power to order an offender to be hanged or to exile him without the sanction of the King of the Kosalas and that the King of the Kosalas will not give permission if either of the two sentences was passed against you by the Sangh."  " But remember the Sangh has other ways of punishing you. The Sangh can declare a social boycott against your family and the Sangh can confiscate your family lands. For this the Sangh does not have to obtain the permission of the King of the Kosalas." Siddhartha realised the consequences that would follow if he continued his opposition to the Sangh in its plan of war against the Koliyas. He had three alternatives to consider joining the forces and participating in the war; to consent to being hanged or exiled; and to allow the members of his family to be condemned to a social boycott and confiscation of property.  He was firm in not accepting the first. As to the third he felt it was unthinkable. Under the circumstances he felt that the second alternative was the best. Accordingly, Siddhartha spoke to the Sangh. “Please do not punish my family. Do not put them in distress by subjecting them to a social boycott. Do not make them destitute by confiscating their land which is their only means of livelihood. They are innocent. I am the guilty person. Let me alone suffer for my stand which is not liked by the majority. Sentence me to death or exile, whichever you like. I will willingly accept it and I promise I shall not appeal to the King of the Kosalas".

 

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