by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words
This page describes “story of the suicide of the candala” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.
A certain srotāpanna had taken rebirth in an outcaste (caṇḍala) family. Time passed and he attained a man’s years. When he had to practice his family’s craft, he refused to kill living (prāṇa) beings.
“If you do not kill this sheep, you will not be allowed to go out to see the light of day (read: je ming) and get food.”
The son thought and said to himself:
“If I kill this sheep, I would end up by practicing their trade. Even for my life, how could I commit such great crimes?”
Then he killed himself with the knife. When his parents opened the door to look in, the sheep was standing up in a corner of the room (ekāntena) and their son was dead. At the moment he died, he took rebirth among the gods. A person like that sacrifices his own life to safeguard pure morality, and this is the sense in which we speak of the morality of abstaining from murder.