The name given to the ascetics and recluses (not otherwise
classified) of the Buddha's time. They were not exclusively brahmin. Their
presence seems to have been recognized and respected from earlier times.
Generally speaking, their creed is formulated as a belief in perfect bliss after
death for the self purged from evil, and as a conviction that this bliss can be
won by brahmacariyā, by freedom from all evil in acts, words, aims, and mode of
livelihood (See, e.g., M.ii.24).
All these four standards of conduct were bodily
incorporated in the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path, and the last of the four gave
to the Ajīvakas their specific name as a separate sect. The Paribbājakas
claimed to be identical with the followers of the Buddha in their tenets and
teaching (E.g., M.i.64f, 84f), but the Buddha maintained that the two teachings
were quite distinct. This is clearly indicated (E.g.,Vin.i.39.) in connection
with the conversion of Sāriputta and Moggallāna, who were Paribbājakas under
Sañjaya. The goal of the Paribbājakas was deathlessness (amata) which, to them,
probably meant birth in the world of Brahmā. Their conversion to the Buddha's
Doctrine followed the recognition that Gotama dealt, not with effects but with
causes, and that he went to the root of the matter by teaching how casual states
of consciousness arose and how they could be banished for ever. (Chalmers:
Further Dialogues i. Introd. xxi. For discussions on the views of the
Paribbājakas as compared with those of the Buddha, see also A.iv.35ff., 378;
The Paribbājakas were not ascetics except in so far as
they were celibates; some of them were women. They were teachers or sophists who
spent eight or nine months of every year wandering from place to place for the
purpose of engaging in friendly, conversational discussions on matters of ethics
and philosophy, nature lore and mysticism. They differed very much in
intelligence, earnestness, and even in honesty. Some of the views discussed in
the Brahmajāla Sutta, for instance, and described as those of "Eel wrigglers"
and "Hair splitters", were undoubtedly truly thus described. The books mention
halls erected for the accommodation of the Paribbājakas, such as those in Mallikā's park at Sāvatthi (D.i.178), and the
Kūtāgārasālā at Vesāli.
Sometimes special places were set apart for them in the
groves near the settlements, as
It was in such places that the Paribbājakas met each
other, and in the course of their journeys they would visit each other in order
to exchange greetings of courtesy and to engage in profitable discussion. The
utmost cordiality seems to have prevailed on these occasions, intercourse and
discussions were free, there were no restrictions of creed, caste or pride. Thus
- Dīghanakha calls on the
- the Buddha on Sakuladāyī
(M.ii.29; also A.ii.175ff)
- and Sarabha (Ibid., i.185).
- Vekhanassa calls on the Buddha (M.ii.40),
- as do Timbaruka (S.ii.22),
- and Sivaka
Moliya (Ibid., iv. 230).
- Potaliputta calls on Samiddhi (M.iii.207),
- Susīma on Ananda (S.ii.119), and
- Jambukhādaka on Sāriputta (Ibid., iv. 251).
The inhabitants of the towns and villager, near which the
Paribbājakas stopped, visited them, both to show their respect and to benefit by
their teachings. The names of a considerable number of Paribbājakas, besides
those already mentioned, who were well known in the time of the Buddha, are
given in the texts (e.g., Annabhāra, Varadhara, etc., A.ii.175), also
(S.iv.26) and the Paribbājikā Sucimukhī (S.iii.238f). In most cases they are
represented as having large followings, so that they were evidently regarded as