It is commonly asserted that Buddhism advocates for monasticism as an ethical ideal for at least some of humanity. I am interested not in arguments for monasticism full stop, but arguments from a Buddhist perspective that are counter to arguments against monasticism as such. Does such a thing exist? I realize that there will be fuzzy line between these two domains, so sources that touch on both are acceptable to me.

  • lots of suttas but these should not be used to attack the lifestyles of laypeople. these suttas are for monks & nuns to read (rather than for laypeople to read) May 7, 2021 at 2:21
  • Which suttas can I search for? I'm particularly interested in polemics that would be propagated widely across cultures and religions, but 'private' communiques are fine too.
    – Lucky
    May 7, 2021 at 3:01
  • 1
    Some of the anti-monastic arguments might come from people's parents (e.g. "we need you to help us earn a living"). I read that Buddhism tries to avoid that (conflict with lay society) by requiring that people have their parents' permission when they ordain.
    – ChrisW
    May 7, 2021 at 6:21

2 Answers 2


Notably, a senior layperson once dragged a junior fellow layperson by the hair to see a Buddha:

MN81:9.1: Then Ghaṭīkāra grabbed Jotipāla by the hair of his freshly-washed head and said,
MN81:9.2: ‘Dear Jotipāla, the Buddha Kassapa’s monastery is not far away.
MN81:9.3: Let’s go to see the Blessed One Kassapa, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha.
MN81:9.4: For I regard it as holy to see that Blessed One.’

The senior layperson was Ghaṭīkāra. The junior layperson Jotipāla. It's quite the compelling ant-anti-monasticism sutta. Here Ghaṭīkāra wishes Jotipāla to see the Buddha Kassapa. And Jotipāla stubbornly refuses in the most obnoxious anti-monastic way:

MN81:6.7: ‘Enough, dear Ghaṭīkāra.
MN81:6.8: What’s the use of seeing that baldy, that fake ascetic?’

But Ghaṭīkāra prevailed and they went to see the Buddha Kassapa. Inspired by that meeting, Jotipāla went forth.

MN81:12.4: And Jotipāla the brahmin student received the going forth, the ordination in the Buddha’s presence.

Ghaṭīkāra here takes the anti-anti-monastic role as a layperson. But Ghaṭīkāra is a special layperson, since he is also Buddha Kassapa's chief attendant in this sutta.

If you're interested, the sutta also explains why Ghaṭīkāra himself did not go forth. And Jotipāla? Jotipāla was eventually reborn as Gautama Buddha.


You can find some anti-monasticism stories and anti-anti-monasticism rebuttals in the following suttas. But I would say that anti-anti-monasticism arguments and for-monasticism arguments are more-or-less the same.

Please see Ud 1.8, MN 82, Thig 14.1.

  • Ud 1.8 and MN. 82 do not address arguments against monasticism insofar as they are arguments against worldly attachments. Thig 14.1 is closer to what I am looking for, thank you.
    – Lucky
    Oct 28, 2021 at 6:45

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