Sigalo Sutta – The Code Of Discipline

Prof. Sudhakar Arjun  Pawar

Published in Issue III, September 2013

The Sigalo Sutta or Sigalovada Sutta is the Buddha’s preaching to a householder explaining the various way of establishing the cordial relationship amongst the people. The aim of Buddha’s doctrine of dhamma is to purify the mind and thereby spread the love and kindness and to sow the root of Equality, Liberty and Brotherhood in the world. It is therefore necessary to understand the same. The doctrine constitutes the three main features i.e.  sila (morality), Samadhi  (concentration) and  panna  (wisdom). Sila comprises of samma vaca i.e. right speech or purity of vocal action; samma kammanta i.e. right action or purity of physical action and samma ajivika i.e. right livelihood or means of livelihood which by no means are harmful to oneself as also to others. Samadhi comprises of Samma vayama i.e. right efforts or right exercise; samma sati means right awareness and samma sammadhi means right concentration. Panna comprises of samma sankappa i.e. right thoughts and samma ditthi  means  right understanding. These eight feathers (three each of sila and Samadhi and two of panna) are commonly known as “Astangika Marga”. It must be borne in the mind that attainment of perfection in sila (morality) is very necessary in order to attain samadhi (concentration). Since the morality is the base of dhamma the concentration is also required to be with the pure mind. For example, a hunter needs to deeply concentrate on his target. However, this cannot be treated as concentration with pure mind as it may involve killing of a life. As regards the attainment of wisdom, a person, however intelligent, will not be able to acquire the same (wisdom) unless he has attained the perfection in both i.e. morality and the concentration. The pariyatti (learning) patipatti (analyzing) and the pativendan (experiencing) of ‘astangika marga’ eradicates the four evils viz. desire (attachment), anger (animosity), Ignorance and the fear and thereby purifies the mind to  reflects the love, friendship, compassion, joy at others’ success and equanimity which together called “ bramhavihar” in Buddhism.


The Buddha preached his dhamma (doctrine) for a non-stop spell of exactly forty-five years i.e. from the time he attained the enlightenment at the age of 35 years up till the time of his ‘mahaparinibban’ at the age of eighty years. The Buddha’s was very keen in ensuring that the principles of Equality, Liberty and Brotherhood are meticulously followed by everybody. He made it compulsory even to his caring mother Mahaprajapati Gautami to follow the same. To practice Equality, Liberty and Brotherhood one needs to first cultivate the feeling of love, friendship, compassion and the joy at others’ success.  Since these feelings are found to have been practiced only in Buddha’s dhamma, the people in the world have a strong belief that the Buddha is the only savior of this world. This has resulted in the phenomenon that   the Buddha’s followers are increasing all over the world at galloping speed. It should also be noted that the Buddhist philosophy is free from blind beliefs and welcomes modern technologies, advancements and can easily adopt the modern civilization. This has made the people to believe that it is only the Buddha’s doctrine of dhamma that can bring peace, humanity and prosperity to the entire world. This view of the people is also supported by the fact that almost all the prospering countries in the world at present are Buddhists.


Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the great of greatest sons of this country, while highlighting the importance of sila as a basic component of the Buddha’s dhamma, quotes “the place and respect that people in other religions give to Gods, is given to sila in the Buddha’s dhamma”  Dr. Babasaheb also spoke in one of his speeches that “ a well educated person (a pandit) without morality is more dangerous than a savage animal.”


The scrutiny of entire “eighty-four thousand dhamma-desana” (preaching) of the Buddha reveals nothing but morality, good behaviour, good conduct and good relationship with all. The Buddha therefore expected people to behave amongst themselves with love, courtesy & politeness and have harmony & peacefulness. This may be the reason as to why the Buddha has defined the doctrine of dhamma as “the relationship of people amongst themselves in this world”.


 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar once categorically said that “the concept of dhamma has a meaning only when there is more than one person staying together. He further claimed that for a single person staying alone in the world there is no necessity of dhamma.”


When we speak about the relationship between human beings,  anyone in this world with little amount of prudence and the common sense will always expect such relationship to be based on love, friendship, compassion.  Such a relationship can result only if it is based on welfare & happiness, courtesy & politeness, and harmony & peacefulness. Further it will also promote the equality of status & opportunity, as well as the liberty of thoughts, expressions, beliefs, faith and worship,. Moreover such a relationship will be capable of fostering brotherhood. It is again interesting to note that besides the necessities of life, what a layman expects is love, friendship & compassion, and such humanitarian treatment is found to have been practiced only in doctrine of dhamma preached by the Buddha. In the Buddha’s doctrine of dhamma there are few ‘suttas’ which specifically talk more about the morality like, Sigalo Sutta and the Mahamanagala Sutta etc.


Sigalo Sutta is the discourse by the Buddha to a person name Sigala in the city of Rajagraha.

Sigalo Sutta preached by the Buddha is the part of Digha Nikaya (long discourse) and meant generally for the householders and layman. It is heard that Buddha was once staying in the bamboo grove, in the squirrels’ sanctuary near Rajagraha. On one morning the Buddha went out for his alms in Rajgraha. There he saw Sigala, a young householder, having finished his bath and with his body and cloths fully wet worshiping six directions i.e. the east, the south, the west, the north, the zenith and the nadir. On asking the reason for doing so, Sigala answered the Buddha that his father before death, had told him to do so. The Buddha pointed out that the way Sigala was doing was only a ritual and explained him as to how the six directions should be worshiped in the discipline of the noble.


Fourteen ways a person should avoid to cover the worship of Six directions


  • Eradication of Four Vices in the Conduct;
  • Not committing Evil in Four Ways &
  • Not pursue Six ways

The Buddha told Sigala that any person by avoiding the above said fourteen ways covers the worship of six directions and only such worship brings Happiness, Glory and Respect to a person.


The Buddha further explained that a person must eradicate Four Vices i.e. Killing of Life, Stealing, Sexual Misconduct and Lying. Any person not committing these four vices is said to have been observing the noble code of discipline and therefore a noble person.


The Buddha further told Sigala that the person commit four vices only when he does not follows a noble code of discipline and is led by the four evils viz.  desire (attachment), anger (animosity), ignorance and the fear. In other words if the person is free from these four evils he will never commit the act of Killing of Life, Stealing, Sexual Misconduct and Lying.


A person should also not pursue six ways which will diminish his wealth.


The Buddha explained the following SIX ways a person should avoid.

  1. Involvement in intoxicants which generally causes Illusion.
  2. Wandering in streets at untimely hours.
  3. Habit of Going to theatrical shows.
  4. Habit of gambling.
  5. Association with bad company.
  6. Habit of Idling.

 The Buddha then went on explaining as to what are the evils of each of the above Six Ways and evil tendencies arising out of them. e.g.:

The SIX evils of addiction to intoxicants are:


1. Loss of Wealth. 2. Increase in Quarrels
3. Susceptible to Diseases. 4. Bad Reputation
5. Undignified Exposure of        Body. 6. Loss or weakening of Intellect.


The evils of wandering in the streets at untimely hours are:


1. Person is unprotected. 2. His wife & kids are unprotected
3. His property is unprotected. 4. Others suspect him of evil deeds
5. Many rumours surround him. 6. He has to face many troubles


A person when addicted to witness the theatrical shows, he is prone to think about them. The Buddha reading the mind of such person quotes the evils as follow:


1. Thinks where is singing. 2. Thinks where is dancing.
3. Thinks where is music. 4. Thinks where is recitation.
5. Thinks where is play. 6. Thinks about similar other things


Gambling as per the Buddha gives rise to evils as below:


1. Winner in is seen with hatred view. 2. Feels sorry over his loss.
3. Generally wealth lost. 4. No faith on him by others.
5. He is look down by friends. 6. Considered unfit for matrimony relations


There after the Buddha explained Sigala the Evils of Idling, association with bad comrades and friends and companions, dice, woman, liquor, dancing, sleeping by day, adultery, and being avarice.   He also told who is a good friend, who can be trusted, from whom one needs to be careful, the benefits of good association and of good comrades, companions, friends who is foe etc.


Lastly, the Tathagata told as to how the noble discipline covers six directions, the east, the south, the west, the north, the zenith and the nadir. For example the parents represent EAST; the Teacher as SOUTH; The wife and children as WEST; the Friends & Companions as NORTH; The ascetics as ZENITH and the Servants and Employees as NADIR.


The Buddha further explained to Sigala the two way noble covering of each of the directions. For example, in case of EAST the sons’ duties towards the parents AND the Parents compassion towards children.


To indicate in detail: The Parents must be looked after to as EAST by the Children By:  a. Supporting parents; b. Undertaking their duties; c. Keep family tradition; d. Making oneself worthy of inheritance and  e. Giving alms on their behalf.


The parents in turn should show their compassion to the children by: a. Restraining children from evils; b. Encourage them to do good; c. Train them for profession; d. Look for suitable matrimonial relations for and d. Timely handing over their inheritance.


The Teachers must be respected to as SOUTH by the Pupil by: a. Rise from seat in salutation; b. Attending them; c. Giving personal service; d. Receive instruction respectfully and e. Showing eagerness to learn.


The Teachers as a rule should show their compassion towards the pupil by: a. Training children in the best discipline; b. Ensuring that children grasp the lessons properly; c. Giving their best in all the fields of knowledge; d. Arrange introduction of their friends and e. Provide safety and guard.


The Wife must be taken care to as WEST by the Husband by: a. Being courteous to her; b. Not irritating her; c. Faithful to her; d. Giving authority to her and e. Providing adornments.


It is the duty of a Wife to show her compassion to her husband by: a. Does her duties well; b. Shows hospitability to relatives and to attendants; c. She is Faithful; d. Protects what he brings and e. She is skilled and industrious in discharging her duties.


The clansman should behave with his friends and associates when bowing down to as NORTH by: a. Giving liberty; b. Courteous speech; c. Being helpful; d. Being impartial; e. Being Sincere.


It is the moral duty of the friends and associates to show compassion to Clansman By: a. Protect him when is in need; b. Protect his property; c. Take care of him when he is in danger; d. Not remaining away when he is in trouble and e. Show consideration to his family.


The Ascetics should be adored to as ZENITH by householder By: a. Good deeds; b. Polite words; c. Pure thoughts; d. Welcome them and e. Supply all their material needs.


The Ascetics in turn to show their compassion to householder By: a. Restrain him from evils; b. Pursue him for doing good; c. Love him; d. Give good advice and e. Give clarify all his doubt.


The servants and the employees should be administered to as NADIR by a master by: a. Assign work as per their ability; b. Supply the food and wages; c. To take care of them when they are sick; d. Sharing them the delicacies and e. Granting them leave when they most need it.


The Servants and Employees so treated by the master should show their compassion by: a. Rise before him; b. Go to sleep after him; c. Take what is given by master; d. Perform duties well and e. Uphold master’s name and fame.


In this manner the Buddha explained to Sigala the respective responsibilities of the Children, Pupil, Husband, Clansmen, Householder and Employees & Servants and in turn receiving from their respective counter parts the blessing-cum-duties resulting out of compassion. This is the way the SIX directions are covered and make them safe and secured.


On listening the above from the Tathagat Buddha Sigala was highly impressed and said to the Tathagata Buddha “Excellent Lord, what was overturned has been set upright, that which were hidden has been revealed, as if a man were to hold a lamp amidst the darkness, so that who has eyes can see and you have explained the doctrine in various way. So I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.  May the Exalted One receive me as a lay follower; as one who has taken refuge from this very day to life’s end.


In my opinion, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, have gifted us with ‘a nectar or a new lease of life’ (a sanjivani) in the form of Buddha’s Dhamma and we have to prove and justify that we are worthy of it by learning and experiencing the same.


(Professor Mr.  Sudhakar  Arjun  Pawar is presently 75 years old. He passed M.A. (PALI), University of Mumbai, in FIRST CLASS in June, 2012 which is a record. Also passed NET with distinction and 87% mark in Pali subjects. He gives discourses on Buddhist Philosophy & Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.)


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