In Nikaya, it is said that wheel turning king runs the country without using stick or sword, since that term is quite abstract, what does it mean?

Some of my interpretations:

1/ Without waging war, since stick and sword are the symbol of weapon. But then what is the role of military, or how can he protect his people when needed?

2/ Runs the country without punishment. I don't see this as an realistic option, as even the sangha has offenses for monks, and managing the world without punishment is impossible.

3/ Without violent punishment. For example, jail is not violent but torture, beating or cutting hand of robber are violence. I see this as the most realistic interpretation, but I am not sure.

So what does it mean? Reference in Nikaya is appreciated.

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    FWIW I think the text might say, "He dwells having conquered this sea-girt land without stick or sword, by the law." – ChrisW Jan 13 '15 at 17:09

I believe "wheel" refers to tradition (in the broadest sense) and "turning" refers to establishing and/or continuing the tradition.

The wheel turning king (or, in modern terms, leader) rules by setting up a way of doing things that (most of) people find compelling enough to follow, without being forced to -- this is what I feel is referred to as "without stick or sword".

  • It is still not clear, setting up thing is easy, but I don't see a society without punishment is realistic. Does he conquer land by law, without "stick or sword", i.e. EU style, or does he rule the land without "stick or sword". The later is not realistic if it means, i.e. ruling by talk only without any way to prevent bad things, i.e. punishment, because even in sangha there were/ are bad monks – user2174870 Jan 14 '15 at 2:38
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    @user2174870, having a method of ruling the general population that is compelling enough to encourage most to comply without being beaten into submission does not imply that actual wrong doers would not be dealt with accordingly. But what does this have to do with Buddhism? :) – Robin111 Jan 14 '15 at 12:33
  • That is extracted from Buddhist text, so what does this have to do with Buddhism? – user2174870 Jan 15 '15 at 4:20
  • @user2174870, the original question is on topic. But your continued questions in comments regarding speculation about society without punishments would seem to be off topic particularly since the answer provided didn't refer to society without punishments. That is Sociology not Buddhism, no? – Robin111 Jan 15 '15 at 12:34
  • @user2174870, perhaps consider asking a new question about the Buddhist view of punishment? Not trying to give you a hard time, but I believe the format set up encourages a single question format as opposed to an ongoing thread that incorporates additional questions. – Robin111 Jan 15 '15 at 13:05

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