Sigalovada Sutta which belongs to the Digha Nikaya, in Sutta Pitaka, is one of the most well known discourses in the Buddhist World. Also known as the Digha Nikaya 31, the Sutta is one of the most significant texts in Buddhist literature. It is also called Gihi-vinaya – the Code of Disciplines for layman. It presents a comprehensive guide to ethical conduct for laypeople and describes the social and ethical responsibilities of various roles in society.
The Sutta explains how layman must practise self-control, proper conduct, good manners and a sense of modesty as a preliminary step to be able to lead a happy, peaceful and progressive household life. In this connection , the instructions given by the compassionate Buddha particularly for the welfare and happiness of the layman are to be found in various suttas.
Among them, Maha Mangala Sutta, Parabhava Sutta,. Vyaggha-pajja Sutta, Dhammika Sutta and Sigalovada Sutta are well known to the Buddhists. These discourses prove that the Buddha’s Teachings are not only for the welfare of the present world but also for the next world.
Some people criticized that the Buddha was not unduly concerned with the social life, economic progress, worldly happiness and material welfare of his lay disciples in the world. The Suttas mentioned above are shinning examples showing that such criticism is entirely unwarranted.
The Sigalovada Sutta is named after Sigala, a young man who was seeking guidance from the Buddha on how to live a virtuous life. The Buddha responded by outlining the six directions of responsibility, which form the basis of the Sutta. In this essay, we will explore the Sigalovada Sutta in detail and examine its relevance to modern-day society.
Overview of the Sigalovada Sutta
The Sigalovada Sutta is divided into six sections, each corresponding to a different direction of responsibility. These directions are:
- Friends and companions
- Employers and employees
- Spiritual leaders
For each direction, the Buddha outlines the responsibilities of both parties and offers guidance on how to fulfill these responsibilities. For example, in the section on parents, the Buddha advises children to honor, serve, and obey their parents, while parents are advised to protect and support their children.
The Sutta also offers guidance on the virtues that laypeople should cultivate in their daily lives. These virtues include generosity, moral conduct, mindfulness, and wisdom. The Buddha emphasizes the importance of these virtues for achieving happiness and peace of mind.
Relevance to Modern Society
The Sigalovada Sutta provides a valuable guide to ethical conduct for laypeople, even in modern society. The responsibilities outlined in the Sutta are still relevant today, and the virtues that the Buddha advises laypeople to cultivate are still important for achieving happiness and well-being.
For example, the section on employers and employees can be applied to modern workplace relationships. Employers are advised to treat their employees with respect and to provide them with fair compensation and working conditions. Employees, in turn, are advised to work diligently and honestly and to avoid harming their employer’s interests.
The section on friends and companions can also be applied to modern social relationships. The Buddha advises laypeople to choose their friends carefully and to avoid associating with those who are dishonest, violent, or immoral. This advice is still relevant today, as the company we keep can have a significant impact on our lives.
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