Sigālovāda Sutta

Sigalovada Sutta is the 31st Sutta described in the Digha Nikaya ("Long Discourses of Buddha").[1] It is also known as the Sīgāla Sutta,[2] the Sīgālaka Sutta,[3] the Sigālovāda Sutta,[4] and the Sigālovāda Suttanta ("The Sigāla Homily").[5]

Buddhaghosa has referred to this sutta as "the Vinaya [Buddhist code of discipline] of the householder."[6] In modern times, Bhikkhu Bodhi has identified this sutta as the "most comprehensive Nikāya text" which pertains "to the happiness directly visible in this present life."[7]

The Sigalovada Sutta takes place when Lord Buddha encountered a youth called Sigala in his morning stroll. The young man, in drenched attire, prostrated and worshipped the four compass direction (East, South, West and North), plus the Earth (Down) and the Sky (Up). When asked by Lord Buddha why he did so, the youth Sigala replied that he had been told by his late father to do so and he thought that it was right to uphold his father's wishes. Lord Buddha then, based on Sigala's point of view, taught him on how a noble one (Pali: ariya) should worship the Six directions.

The Buddha first describes fourteen evil ways that should be avoided by a householder. The Buddha enumerates these evil ways to be avoided as:

The Buddha then elaborated on the importance of having and being a true friend, as he described what true friends are; and what true friends are not; and, how true friends will aid in attaining a blissful life.

Finally, returning to the topic of the six directions, the Buddha described the Four Compass Direction as : parents (East), teachers (South), wife[10] (West), and friends and colleagues (North), and the two vertical directions as: ascetics and Brahmins (Up) and the Servants (Down). He elaborated on how to respect and support them, and how in turn the Six will return the kindness and support.

The householder's commitments and the reciprocal acts of those he honors, as identified by the Buddha, are represented below in accordance with the four directions on the horizontal plane (east, south, west and north):

Bhikkhu Bodhi has contrasted the Buddha's responsibility-reciprocity statements[11] with modern-day social theory, stating:

"This practice of 'worshipping the six directions,' as explained by the Buddha, presupposes that society is sustained by a network of interlocking relationships that bring coherence to the social order when its members fulfill their reciprocal duties and responsibilities in a spirit of kindness, sympathy, and good will.... Thus, for Early Buddhism, the social stability and security necessary for human happiness and fulfillment are achieved, not through aggressive and potentially disruptive demands for 'rights' posed by competing groups, but by the renunciation of self-interest and the development of a sincere, large-hearted concern for the welfare of others and the good of the greater whole."[12]