32. The Enlightened Sovereign
Buddhism and Kingship in India and Tibet
- Steven M. Emmanuel
Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy
How to Cite
Halkias, G. T. (2013) The Enlightened Sovereign, in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (ed S. M. Emmanuel), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch32
- Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
- Published Print: 25 MAR 2013
Print ISBN: 9780470658772
Online ISBN: 9781118324004
- political philosophy;
- social philosophy;
Many Buddhist rulers attained the cultic status of divinity as buddhas or celestial bodhisattvas and were expected to exercise their power in accord with Buddhist principles. The bodhisatta is depicted as perfecting both the virtues of kingship and the virtues of renunciation, thus preparing the way for his supreme enlightenment in which the two strands of sovereignty and renunciation “receive their final synthesis and fulfilment”. Politics was realistically seen as an unavoidable exercise of power that can and ought to be used to promote righteousness, while the philosophical interpretation of Buddhist doctrines reflects the pragmatic nature of Buddhist ethics, which, unlike the deontological and absolutist ethical traditions, allows for the expression of multiple and variant attitudes towards the state and the role of religion in shaping and being shaped by social and political conditions.