I recall reading a sutta in which the Buddha rises from meditation and says that while he was meditating, it occurred to him: Is it possible for a king to rule righteously without killing? If anyone knows the text I am talking about, it would be much appreciated.


2 Answers 2


What you are referring to comes from the Discourses of the Sutta Pitaka, and can be found within the book The Connected Discourses of The Buddha; A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikku Bodhi, Vol. 1, pg 209.

"On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Kosalans in a small forest hut in the Himalayan region. Then when the Blessed One was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in his mind thus: 'Is it possible to exercise rulership righteously: without killing and without instigating others to kill, without confiscating and without instigating others to confiscate, without sorrowing and without causing sorrow?' "

--SN 4.20

  • Basically the Buddha says "no" due to the 3rd noble truth.
    – Ahmed
    Jun 10, 2016 at 5:06
  • Thank you, Bonnie!! I've been looking for this for a long time!
    – Adamokkha
    Jun 10, 2016 at 5:13

Try to read the "Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta" - D26. It is the Discourse on the Lion-roar of the Wheel-turner.

The Supreme Buddha once explained... sometimes a person is born to the world with 32 bodily characteristics that a Buddha has. That person is known as a Sakviti Raja (a universal monarch). Even though the universal ruler also has the great 32 bodily characteristics, he could be a Prutakjana (one who has not come into Dhamma) person who has the propensity to be born in low-level worlds. Once he became the universal monarch, he rules the world or the Chakkavatti Rājjyaya (ChakkavattiKingdom) with great moral qualities. As a result of this, he gained great merits and will be reborn in heaven. However, if he is still in the Prutakjana state, he can get a birth in one of the four low-level worlds at the end of his lifetime in heaven. On the other hand, a noble disciple of Tathāgata (the Supreme Buddha) even with many difficulties in his life as a human will overcome the Prutakjana state. This results in his rebirth in same divine worlds as the Universal King was born. Thus, he overcomes the birth in these low-level worlds after his lifetime as that poor person. This example clearly shows us how the possibility of a normal being to be born in Hell, Animal, Preta, or Asura worlds.

  • Can you quote a bit from the sutta, to show that this sutta answers the question (contains the story summarized in the question)?
    – ChrisW
    Jun 5, 2016 at 20:22
  • The explanation that I've given is more from the life of the Buddha, at the time of birth - how the acetic 'Asitha' and the other elders - explained thus. Also there are pointers from what the Srilankan monks have given - mostly taken from 'Atuwa' (Commentaries ?) In the artical ( dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/… ) which is 50 pages long and contains related sutta, info about such universal monarchs is found in bits and pieces. Jun 5, 2016 at 22:36

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