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Aggannasutta: Indian Political Thought, Duties & Qualification of King| Political Science

Title: Indian Political Thought-Aggannasutta


Aggañña Sutta is the 27th Sutta of the Digha Nikaya collection. The sutta describes a discourse imparted by the Buddha to two brahmins, Bharadvaja and Vasettha, who left their family and caste to become monks. The two brahmins are insulted and maligned by their own caste for their intention to become members of the Sangha.

Aggañña Sutta as Historical Text

  • This text is considered by Buddhists to be an actual teaching of the Buddha made in the sixth or fifth century before Christ, and preserved by his disciples in its present form. Texts such as this one is difficult to date. We know that they were put down into writing during the first few centuries of the common era, but there is evidence which strongly suggests that these texts were preserved and transmitted orally for several centuries.
  • Aggañña Sutta deals with two main features of the society: rice cultivation and cattle breeding and economic condition of the society. It is quite clear in the story that India was an agricultural society. The main food was rice. At first stage, there was self-grown rice. At the second stage, people started storing up rice.
  • It also has account about the social groups in the society viz. Family, Village and Town.
  • The Sutta gives two main accounts related to human society:
    • a comprehensive account of economic condition, social functions, men՚s behaviors, social changes, three basic unions in the society: family, village, and town, system of the institution (self-ruled institution) and
    • the origin of kingship, duties for the kings, King՚s qualification, and a man-made kingship.
  • With an introduction of private property, stealing came to exist, because until that time there was no their own property. Nothing belonged to them. With stealing, law and order were disturbed. So, people thought of remodeling their society. Then, they decided to change the system and elect a leader or King. The concept of kingship in Buddhism is clearly stated in the Aggañña Sutta.
  • As per the theory of Kingship elucidated in the text the mentality to hold private property ultimately led the society to establish the Institution of Kingship.

Duties of a King

  • He should be wrathful when indignation is right.
  • He should censure that which should rightly be censured.
  • He should banish him who deserves to be banished.

Qualification of a King

  • Abhiriipatara-the most handsome
  • Dassantyatara-the best favored
  • Pasadikatara-the most attractive
  • Mahesakkhatara-the most capable.


1. Agganna Sutta deals with:

(a) Origin of life

(b) Origin of social order and castes

(c) Origin of secularism

(d) Origin of six-fold policy

2. Aggannasutta belongs to which Pitaka?

Sutta Pitaka of Three Pali Pitaka

(Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka)

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