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Title: Anantarika-karma  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Avīci, Santi Asoke, Index of Eastern philosophy articles, Index of philosophy of religion articles, Index of Buddhism-related articles
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Ānantarika-karma or ānantarika-kamma is a heinous crime that through karmic process brings immediate disaster.[1][2] These are considered so heinous that Buddhists and non-Buddhists must avoid them. According to Buddhism, committing such a crime would prevent the sinner from attaining the stages of sotāpanna, sakadagami, anāgāmi or arhat in that lifetime.[3] The five crimes or sins are:[4][5][6]

In Mahayana Buddhism these five crimes are referred to as pañcānantarya and are mentioned in "The Sutra Preached by the Buddha on the Total Extinction of the Dharma".[7][8]


Devadatta is noted for attempting to kill the Gautama Buddha on several occasions including:

  • Throwing a large rock at him. Devadatta missed, but a splinter from the rock drew blood from the Buddha's foot.
  • Inciting an elephant to charge at the Buddha. The Buddha was able to pacify the elephant by directing Mettā to it.

According to Sutta Pitaka, after trying to kill Sakyamuni a number of times, Devadatta set up his own Buddhist monastic order by splitting the (sangha). During his efforts to become the leader of his own Sangha, he proposed five extra-strict rules for monks, which he knew Buddha would not allow. Devadatta's reasoning was that after he had proposed those rules and Buddha had not allowed them, Devadatta could claim that he did follow and practice these five rules, making him a better and more pure monk. One of these five extra rules required monks to be vegetarian. In the Contemplation Sutra, Devadatta is said to have convinced Prince Ajatasattu to murder his father King Bimbisara and ascend the throne. Ajatasattu follows the advice, and this action prevents him from attaining enlightenment at a later time, when listening to some teaching of Buddha. Devadatta is the only individual from the early Buddhist tradition to have committed three anantarika-karmas.

King Suppabuddha

King Suppabuddha was the father of Devadatta and Yasodharā and the father-in-law of Prince Siddhattha. One day Suppabuddha blocked the Buddha's path, he refused to make way, and sent a message saying, 'I cannot give way to the Buddha, who is so much younger than I.' Finding the road blocked, the Buddha and the bhikkhus turned back. As the Buddha turned back, he said to Ananda, 'Because the king has refused to give way to a Buddha, he has committed a bad kamma and before long he will have to face the consequences.' It is said that the king died on the seventh day after that event had taken place. He fell down the stairs, collapsed and died and was born in a suffering state, being unable to escape the effects of his evil kamma (according to Buddhist belief).[9] According to the Buddha's prediction the earth swallowed him. It is said, "So the king went down the stairs and as soon as he stepped on the earth, it opened and swallowed him up and dragged him right down to Avici Niraya.".[10]


Anyone who commits an anantarika-karma will go to hell, the five different actions which each constitute an anantarika-karma, are the only actions which can produce a definite result.[11]

Accounts claim that towards the end of Devadatta's life, he was struck by a severe remorse caused by his past misdeeds and did indeed manage to approach the Buddha and retook refuge in the Triple Gem, dying shortly afterwards.[12] Because of gravity of his sins, he was condemned to suffer for several hundred millennia in Avici. However, it was also said that he would eventually be admitted into the heavens as a Pratyekabuddha due to his past merits prior to his corruption.

In the Samaññaphala Sutta, Gautama Buddha said that if Ajatasattu hadn't killed his father, he would have attained sotapannahood, a degree of enlightenment. But because he had killed his father he could not attain it.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Gananath Obeyesekere (1990), The Work of Culture: Symbolic Transformation in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology,  
  2. ^ The Buddha's Bad Karma: A Problem in the History of Theravada Buddhism Jonathan S. Walters, Numen, Vol. 37, No. 1 (June, 1990), pp. 70-95
  3. ^  
  4. ^ "The Sutra Preached by the Buddha on the Total Extinction of the Dharma". Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Nyanatiloka (1980), Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, Buddhist Publication Society,  
  6. ^ Triplegem glossary
  7. ^ "The Sutra Preached by the Buddha on the Total Extinction of the Dharma". Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  8. ^  
  9. ^ IX:12 King Suppabuddha blocks the Buddha's path
  10. ^ Dhammapada Verse 128 Suppabuddhasakya Vatthu
  11. ^ See Ven. Pesala's exposition on Hell
  12. ^ Sarvastivada text the event creating a schism in the Sangha
  13. ^ Buddha say King Ajatasattu asking five grave offenses sutra
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