God and Devil in Buddhism
The role of the denizens of the ancient Indian pantheon in Buddhist texts can in general be understood as part of a tendency to include, albeit in a subordinate position and at times with some significant modifications, central elements of rival institutions or movements into the framework of one’s own system.
An instance of such “inclusivism” can be observed in the case of the ancient Indian god Brahmā, who in Buddhist texts features in a plurality of manifestations. The inclusion of the god Brahmā in Buddhist texts occurs in two distinct modes. Several passages mock the claim that a Brahmā could be an all-knowing and eternal creator god, while in other discourses a particular Brahmā acts as a guardian of Buddhism.
The tendency to satirize Brahmā is exemplified in a discourse which professes to explain how the notion of a creator god came into being in the first place. This explanation is based on the ancient Indian cosmological notion that the...
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