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Sanjaya Belatthiputta

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Title: Sanjaya Belatthiputta  
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Subject: Criticism of Jainism, Buddhism
Collection: 5Th-Century Bc Philosophers, Indian Philosophers, Spiritual Teachers, Year of Birth Unknown, Year of Death Unknown
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Sanjaya Belatthiputta

The Views of Six Samana in the Pali Canon
(based on the Sāmaññaphala Sutta1)
Question: "Is it possible to point out the fruit of the
contemplative life, visible in the here and now?"1
samaṇa view (diṭṭhi)
Amoralism: denies any reward or
punishment for either good or bad deeds.
Fatalism: we are powerless;
suffering is pre-destined.
with death, all is annihilated.
Eternalism: Matter, pleasure, pain and
the soul are eternal and do not interact.
Restraint: be endowed with, cleansed by
and suffused with the avoidance of all evil.2
Agnosticism: "I don't think so. I don't think in
that way or otherwise. I don't think not or not not."

Suspension of judgement.

Notes: 1. DN 2 (Thanissaro, 1997; Walshe, 1995, pp. 91-109).
2. DN-a (Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi, 1995, pp. 1258-59, n. 585).

Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta (literally, "Sanjaya of the Belattha clan") was an Indian ascetic teacher who lived around the 6th or 5th century BCE, contemporaneous with Mahavira and the Buddha.

In the Pali literature, Sanjaya's teachings have been characterized as "evasive"[1] or "agnostic."[2] Hecker (1994) contextualizes it as "a kind of dialectical existentialism" in juxtaposition to the popular materialist views of the day (for instance, typified by the ascetic teacher Ajita Kesakambalī.)[3] For example, in the Samannaphala Sutta (DN 2), Sanjaya is recorded as saying:

'If you ask me if there exists another world [after death], if I thought that there exists another world, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not. If you asked me if there isn't another world... both is and isn't... neither is nor isn't... if there are beings who transmigrate... if there aren't... both are and aren't... neither are nor aren't... if the Tathagata exists after death... doesn't... both... neither exists nor exists after death, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not.'[4]

In the Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1), Sanjaya's views are deemed to be amaravikkhepavad, "a theory of eel-wrigglers."[5]

Sanjaya was the first teacher of the future Buddha's future two great disciples, Maha-Moggallana and Sariputta. These two future arahants ultimately left Sanjaya's tutelage as it did not address their unresolved desire to end ultimate suffering.[6]

In Jaina literature, Sanjaya is identified as a Jaina sage (Skt., muni). It is believed that he was influenced by Jaina doctrine although Jaina philosophers were critical of Sanjaya.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Thanissaro (1997)
  2. ^ a b Bhaskar (1972).
  3. ^ Hecker (1994). Particularly regarding Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, see Chapter 2, "The Years of Wandering and Spiritual Search."
  4. ^ Thanissaro (1997).
  5. ^ Cited in Bhaskar (1972).
  6. ^ Hecker (1994).


  • Bhaskar, Bhagchandra Jain (1972). Jainism in Buddhist Literature. Alok Prakashan: Nagpur. Available on-line at
  • Hecker, Hellmuth (1994). Maha-Moggallana (BPS Wheel 263). Available on-line at
  • Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu (trans.) and Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2001). The Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-072-X.
  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997). Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life (DN 2). Available on-line at
  • Walshe, Maurice O'Connell (trans.) (1995). The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya. Somerville: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-103-3.
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