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How to Deal with Dangerous and Annoying Animals: A Vinaya Perspective

Centre for Buddhist Studies, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Religions 2019, 10(2), 113;
Received: 12 January 2019 / Revised: 2 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
PDF [467 KB, uploaded 27 February 2019]


Against the background of guidelines on non-killing and developing ideas on the release of captured or domesticated animals, this study focuses on how vinaya (disciplinary) texts deal with dangerous and/or annoying animals, such as snakes, mosquitoes, and flies. Are there any circumstances in which they may be killed, captured, or repelled? Or should they be endured and ignored, or even protected and cherished, at all times? This paper discusses the many guidelines relating to avoiding—and, if necessary, chasing away—dangerous and annoying animals. All of these proposals call for meticulous care to reduce the risk of harming the creature. In this sense, animals, such as snakes and mosquitoes, seem to be assured a better life in comparison with domesticated or hunted animals. This distinction reflects the somewhat uncomfortable balance that Buddhist monastics must achieve between respecting the life of individual sentient beings, including all animals, and adhering to social conventions in order to safeguard their position in society. View Full-Text
Keywords: Vinaya; Buddhist normative texts; monks (bhikṣus); animals; insects Vinaya; Buddhist normative texts; monks (bhikṣus); animals; insects
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Heirman, A. How to Deal with Dangerous and Annoying Animals: A Vinaya Perspective. Religions 2019, 10, 113.

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