Does the Samajivina Sutta imply that a Buddhist should only marry another Buddhist?

Or does it leave room for Buddhists to marry non-Buddhists?


2 Answers 2


The sutta implies that, to be happy, people should be virtuous and equally virtuous -- literally samasaddhā samasīlā samacāgā samapaññā -- equal faith/devotion, equal virtue, equal giving/generosity, equal intellect.

  • Perhaps this is idealistic, and from personal experience I rarely in fact met married couples who seemed to me to be perfectly in tune. And so this sutta may be a counsel of perfection, an ideal -- more of a direction ("aim for this and remember these virtues") than an accomplishment ("expect married life to be perfectly harmonious"). And marriages which have seemed to me to be more harmonious have often been older couples -- more mature -- sometimes a second marriage.

  • Perhaps the answer logically depends on what you mean by "Buddhist". I've seen it written on this site, that the term "Buddhist" is a modern invention. So instead the question might be asking, something like, whether both must be a dhamma-follower; and by extension, whether the only dhamma is the Buddha-dhamma, and maybe whether people can learn virtue and wisdom only from the Buddha.

    Personally I like to hope that isn't so, to hope that non-Buddhists too can have happy lives: a bit like with Christianity, I like to think that "Christian charity" for example is a virtue practiced by non-Christians also.

See also this answer whose paraphrase of this sutta was that this affects whether people are "compatible".

Lastly the beginning of Piya Tan's introduction to this sutta says,

The importance of Nakula,pitā and Nakula,mātā are attested by the fact that the Nakula,pitā Vagga opens the Khandha Saṁyutta (S 3:1-21). The Aṅguttara records that Nakula,pitā and Nakula,mātā are declared by the Buddha to be the foremost of his lay disciples who show one another harmonious and mutual trust (vissāsika) (A 1:26).1 The Aṅguttara Commentary says that they have been for 500 lives the parents, for 500 lives the grandparents, and for 500 lives the uncles and aunts of the Buddha. As such, when they first meet the Buddha in Bhesakalā Forest, they immediately call him “son” (AA 1:400, 457, 3:95 f).

Perhaps that implies the answer was "no" -- i.e. that Nakula's father and mother had been well-married for 1500 lives before the Buddha was born.

In the end I don't think it's the label that matters -- Buddhist or non-Buddhist -- what matters is the actuality, i.e. whether people are actually wise and kind, well-behaved, and so on.

But the dhamma is "well-expounded by the Blessed one" so perhaps it's difficult these days to imagine or talk about a world-view that isn't Buddhist.


Yes it is implied, in the word discernment (clarity of thought, clear knowing, wisdom, vijjā)

“If both husband & wife want to see one another not only in the present life but also in the life to come, they should be in tune (with each other) in conviction, in tune in virtue, in tune in generosity, and in tune in discernment. Then they will see one another not only in the present life but also in the life to come.”

Only two who understand the teachings well enough to have discernment can be truly "in tune" with one another. And possibly, only two such discerning people would even want to "see one another not only in the present life but also in the life to come."

Also, if the fact that they are both "Buddhist" is not important, I don't think the story has much to teach.

On a side note: This couple is not equal in attainment, but that probably doesn't matter because they are both accomplished enough in right view.


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