The five precepts PANCASILA




The two basic character istics of a Buddhist. One is his taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha the TISARANA- with confidence. The other is his observation of the Five Precepts – PANCASILA.

A perso who, out of confidence, accepts the Buddha as the perfect teacher who could guide, the Dhamma as the perfect teaching to be practised and the Sangha as the perfect example to be follwed, takes them as his refuges a long as his life lasts. After that he begins his spiritual journey leading to the ending of dukkha by his undertaking to observe the Five Percepts. This is because moral conduct or virtue, Sila forms the first lap in his forward march towards mental culture, Samadhi and wisdom, Panna. he begins this journey by earnestly declaring his intention to observe the Five Precepts which contain the minimum moral duties expected of a lay Buddhist.

He says:

1) I undertake to observe the precept regarding abstention from killing – panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami-
2) I undertake to observe the precept regarding absten – tion from anything not given. – adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami-
3) I undertake to observe the precept regarding absten- tion from indulging in unlawful sexual relations.. – Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami-
4) I undertake to observe the precept regarding absten – tion from speaking lies. – musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami-
5) I undertake to observe the precept regarding absten- tion from taking intoxicating drinks. –surameraya majjhapamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami-

The Five precepts are of personal as well as of social significance. A man is basically a private individual; but at the same time he has to be concerned not only about himself but also about the society in which he lives. All his actions influence the society and all actions of the society influence him. It is because of this mutual influence that an individual should lead a life that is beneficial to himself as well as to the society. observance of the Five Precepts helps to lead such a life.

The First Precept is about abstention from killing. Though his precept means abstention from killing any living being, its main focus, however, is on human beings. The Buddha teaches that life is very dear to all. E everyone has the right to live safely. This is a basic human right, and each member of the society should help to safeguard this right. The First Precept acknowledges this basic human right and makes everyone, who follows the teachings of the Buddha, to uphold this right. If each and every member undertakes to abstain from killing, then every member of the society will be abstain from killing, then every member of the society will be able to enjoy his basic right to safe living. The Second is about the safety of personal property. This, too, is a basic human right. When one declares to abstain from taking anything that is not given to him, it directly assures the safety of personal property of other members. When each and every member of a society agrees to uphold this precept naturally there will be no fear of losing one’s personal possessions. In a society where there is no stealing all members will be able to live with peace of mind enjoying their personal property. They will enjoy the Bhoga-sukha, the happiness of being able to enjoy one’s possessions without any obstructions.

Family is the basic unit of the society . The unity and strength of the society depends on the unity and strength of each family. It is mostly the women folk, specially the mother, that helps to strengthen the family unity. Therefore, to protect the family, protection of women in the family is very important. The Third precept is mainly aimed at protecting happy family life. This precept makes one undertake to refrain from indulging in sexual relations with women who are under the protection of others. A wife is under the protection of a husband, daughters are under the care and protection of parents, brothers and other elders. Similarly, unmarried females are under the custody of other elder members. Any attempt to have sexual relations with such protected female members is unlawful. Such attempts lead to severe conflicts and will certainly ruin families. A society in which there is no safety of family life is bound to decline.

The Fourth Precept is regarding telling lies. The Buddha has said that a person who is capable of telling lies is capable of any other crime. Though this precept is mainly about abstention from telling lies, it covers all forms of abuse of speech namely, lying, tale-bearing, harsh-speech and idle-talk. Speech is a unique power of man. It is an asset as well as a liability. The Buddha’s advice is to use speech carefully and speak what is right. If this is not possible one should observe golden silence.

Abuse of speech leads to misunderstandings, quarrels and even to murders. Proper use of speech brings about friendship, harmony, mutual understanding and co-operation. Therefore one should always be truthful; he should always try to speak good of others, what is beneficial to to others; never should one use harsh speech that units the feelings of others; never should one engage in idle-talk which does no good to anyone.

Addiction to intoxicants has always been a major social problem. This is more so now. Buddhism clearly points out that all intoxicants cause physical ailments and mental confusion. Besides, addiction to intoxicants courses loss of wealth loss of shame and reputation; it increases quarrels quarrels and conflicts. Intoxicants damage the brain, cause inactivity carelessness. They are called ‘maddening substances’. Buddhism is most concerned about the ill-effects intoxicants have on an individual’s intellect. They blunt the intellect and prevent the development of insight that enables one to see things as they truly are.


Abstention from these five wrong-doings is only the negative side of the Five Precepts . There is a positive side, too. While abstaining from killing one should do everything possible to make others live happily. While refraining from stealing, one should practice giving (dana).While abstaining from unlawful sexual relations one should even regulate one’s lawful sexual relations . While abstaining from speaking what is untrue , one should always be truthful, speak in appreciation of the good qualities of other , use pleasant speech and always engage in meaningful talk .While abstaining from intoxicants one should consume only what is not harmful to one’s physical and mental health.


Thus it is seen that the observance of the Five Precepts is beneficial to oneself , and to the whole , will contribute to make the world a pleasant place to live in.

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