In premodern warrior societies, religions often provided the institutional basis for an ethics and soteriology for warriors, for whom fighting was a social role. This paper examines a Buddhist case in ancient India. I focus particularly on the discourse related to warfare in the middle-late period Mahāyāna scripture, the Satyakaparivarta, and elucidate its ethics and soteriology for kings. In the Satyakaparivarta, a king is encouraged to be a bodhisattva, who is mindful of impermanence and compassionate, who is not greedy, hateful, or delusional, and who protects sentient beings in conformity with the Ten Good Deeds. The text also teaches how a righteous king such as this, who employs warfare as a last resort to protect his people, can be saved from rebirth in hell, which occurs as a karmic retribution for his engagement in warfare. This discourse consists of elements such as compassion, self-sacrifice, and karma, which are derived from traditions both within and outside Buddhism and arranged so as to allow a king to play his role and still attain salvation. Buddhist discourse on warfare has multiple aspects. Exploring its ethical and soteriological aspect will be conducive to clarifying a form of Buddhism as a redemptive institution for warriors, which previous studies did not conduct sufficiently.
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