Suicide: An Exploration of Early Buddhist Values

Alexander Wynne


Three canonical Pali Suttas tell the stories of early Buddhist bhikkhus who committed suicide: Channa, Vakkali and Godhika. Each text concludes that all three were arahants, but the accounts are not what they seem. Two texts treat the suicidal bhikkhus as unenlightened before concluding with their final Nirvana, whereas the other is deeply unorthodox. This article argues that the Suttas are not really about suicide, but rather the developing understanding of Nirvana, under the influence of non-Buddhist ideas

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