Adultery in Buddhism

Adultery in Buddhism: Punishment for adultery in Buddhism, Is adultery allowed in Buddhism. Adultery is indeed a sin in many cultures and religious institutions. Adultery is deliberate sexual intercourse between a married man or woman with a person other than their legal spouse.

Adultery in Buddhism: Punishment for adultery in Buddhism, Is adultery allowed in Buddhism.
Adultery in Buddhism: Punishment for adultery in Buddhism, Is adultery allowed in Buddhism.

Many religions explicitly prohibit adultery and prescribe punishments, and many do not state any penalty. It is an unethical practice that destroys others and the adulterers themselves. 

Buddhism prohibits anything that causes suffering and pain to others. Buddhism puts less emphasis on marriages and sin. 

However, Gautam Buddha taught its followers that; a man and woman in a loving relationship should remain faithful. Sexual misconduct, such as adultery, leads to suffering and destruction. 

According to Buddhism, adultery is a sexual relationship out of the marital bed is a grave transgression that results in the suffering of human beings.

Is adultery punishable in Buddhism? Does adultery come under the definition of the third precepts of Buddhism?

In this article, we will discuss adultery according to the reference in Buddhism. We will discuss the potential consequences of committing adultery and Buddhist teachings about adultery.

Is adultery allowed in Buddhism?

Buddhism forbids sex out of marital bed. It is believed that marital infidelity leads to the road of suffering. 

Adultery refers to Aticaria means having sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse or with a person married to someone else. The male adulterer gets referred to as Paradarika and the women adulterer as Aticarini.

In Buddhism, exchanging gifts, watching movies, secret meetings, and going on dates is not considered adultery. 

According to Buddhism, when a person establishes a sexual relationship with another’s wife or husband, it is adultery.

Adultery is a transgression and forbidden in Buddhism. According to Buddhism, one should not establish a sexual relationship with another person other than their spouse. 

In Buddhist scriptures, Digha Nikaya described infidelity as “sexual maleficence leads to immorality and suffering.”

In early Buddhist scripture, adultery was an evil that originated from the previous lives’ greed and sexual cravings. A greedy and lustful soul reborn on earth as; a man and woman, some born ugly and some beautiful.

Ugly envy beautiful and commits adultery with the wives of beautiful. Buddhism defined adultery as an outcome of jealousy, greed, and sexual cravings.

Gautam Budha stated that “engaging in sex outside of marriage, with the wife of another man, or with a girl engaged to be married, or a girl under the protection of preparators (father or brother) or extramarital sex with prostitutes; ultimately causes suffering to other human beings and oneself. It must get avoided.”

The third percept out of the five precepts of Buddhism morality instructs that any sexual intercourse is illegal except between the legally wedded couples. It is sexual misconduct, including rape, masturbation, adultery, pre-marital sex, and prostitution. These precepts form the basis of guidelines differently for laity and clergy.

Clergy, Monks, and Nuns need to maintain their chastity and refrain from indulging in any sexual activity. Buddhism reckoned celibacy as a monastic norm. Those committed to celibacy must refrain from indulging in any sexual act.

The laity people must remain faithful to their spouses. Indulging in a sexual relationship with another wife or another’s husband is sexual misconduct which will open the doors to self-destruction.

A marriage is a commitment to remain faithful to each other no matter what situation arises. Faith and trust are the essences of a successful marriage. 

Although Buddha does not bother about marriages as it is a choice, he taught Buddhists a path to a successful marriage. Budha said a man should remain faithful to his wife and the wife to his husband. 

Those who break the promise to remain faithful lead to self-destruction.

Gautama Buddha in Parabhava Sutta depicted, “Not satisfied with one’s wife and to be seen with harlots and the wives of others, is a cause of self downfall.”

This statement means that a person looking for others’ wives and prostitutes because of his desires not getting satisfied with his wife; opens the way to destruction for himself. 

Adultery contains elements, such as lying, deceit, and pretence, which is the sinful path to hell. 

Adultery can impact others too. It has potential impacts such as breaking trust, humiliation, and disgrace in society, destroying families, and affecting children’s mental health. Even the person committing adultery welcomes self-destruction.

Thus Buddhism is a culture that forbids any wrongdoing that leads to suffering and pain to others. One should not indulge in any activity that is immoral and miserable. Adultery is considered one of the most destructive and immoral acts in Buddhism that ultimately causes suffering for human beings and self downfall. Budha suggests avoiding such sexual misconduct.

The third precept of Buddhism morality:

Budha taught Five fundamental precepts of morality. This percept shows the path and guides both the laity and clergy. These five fundamental precepts instruct a Buddhist not to;

  1. Commit murder or kill 
  2. Commit theft
  3. Indulge in sexual misconduct
  4. Give false speech
  5. Use intoxicants

The third percept of Budha teachings instructs a person to refrain from any sexual misconduct, including adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, masturbation, and rape. The third precept suggests, do not commit adultery as it is a cause of self-destruction. 

Sub-commentator of Buddhism describes a wife’s sexuality as “belonging to the husband” and states that, “yā hi sāmikassa santakaṃ phassaṃ thenetvā paresaṃ abhiratiṃ uppādenti, tāsaṃ micchācāro.

These statements mean there is misconduct on the part of the women who 

steal the sexuality belonging to the husband and let others have fun 

According to him, when a married woman sleeps with another man, not being their husband, both the adulteress and her lover get held liable for stealing that solely belongs to the husband.

A man and woman belong to their spouse only and are committed to remaining faithful to each other. Getting involved with another wife or another husband is adultery.

The third precept, sexual misconduct utters a different meaning for both; the laity and clergy.

Monks and nuns get instructed to maintain chastity. They are not allowed to cohabit while living in a monastic community. Celibacy is the monastic norm, and monks choose to remain celibate to achieve enlightenment. Although they must maintain their celibacy, they can re-enter mainstream society at their will.

For the laity, they can enjoy sex between the limits of their marital bed. Sexual intercourse with another wife or husband is sexual misconduct. Buddhism teaches Buddhists not to commit adultery. It is a cause of suffering. 

 A marriage is a union of men and women forming one flesh, and a sexual relationship must get established within the marital boundaries only.

These precepts aim to avoid any action which ultimately causes suffering and pain to others.

Punishment for adultery in Buddhism

As every religion or culture prescribes punishment for adultery, Buddhism does not state any punishment for adulterers. Buddhism nowhere exculpates adultery. 

However, adultery is a violation of the third precept out of the five precepts of Buddhism. It is sexual misconduct that involves elements such as lying, deceit, unfaithfulness, breaking a promise, and pretense.

Although Buddhism does not prescribe any punishment, it describes potential karmic consequences of adultery.

Buddhist Pali scripture, Buddha explains the karmic consequences of adultery.

A karmic debt does not mean that if you cheat your partner, your partner will cheat you again. A karmic debt refers to a person committing adultery who will experience suffering, guilt, shame, disgrace, and sometimes diseases. They will get confined in hell for thousands of years and then reborn again and again until they get reborn as a monk or monastic life.

For instance, Buddha depicted in the Soreyya tale that “men committing adultery will suffer hell for thousands of years after rebirth, and be reborn as women on earth, hundred times. At that time, they must earn merit by utter devotion to their husbands in these lives until they get reborn again as men to pursue a monastic life and freedom from samsara.”

Dhammapada, Pancasiksanusamsa Sutra stated that “heedless man who runs after another man’s wife acquires flaws, blemishes, discomfort and gets reborn in hell.”

Since ancient times, many cultures such as Hinduism and Christianity prescribed grave punishments for committing adultery. These punishments include beheading, burning to death, stoning, and mutilation. Whereas; Buddhism described the karmic consequence of infidelity and punishment in hell.

Their greed and sexual cravings will open the doors of hell and self-destruction. The sin they have committed will have grave spiritual consequences. An adulterer will get reborn again and again in hell; until they are born as a man and lead a monastic life or Monk. 

The cycle of reincarnation will not stop until it achieves the enlightenment of salvation.

Buddhism believes that adulterers should get punished according to the law of the land and bear the karmic consequences of their deeds.

Read also: Adultery in ancient Egypt and India ; Adultery in China; Adultery in the Catholic Church; Adultery vs Affair; Adultery in the New testament; What is adultery in the bible?; Buddhist wedding; Buddhist Christmas; Are Buddhists Celibate?; What does Buddhism say about women?; Buddhist wedding; Buddhism and marriage

External resource: BBC

This post is also available in: English Français (French) Deutsch (German) Español (Spanish) Dansk (Danish) Nederlands (Dutch) Svenska (Swedish) Italiano (Italian) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))