P. D. Premasiri is Emeritus Professor of Pali and Buddhist studies, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He is still affiliated with its Postgraduate Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities and with the Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy (SIBA). He has published extensively in the areas of Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist ethics, Buddhist psychology and comparative philosophy. He obtained a BA in Pali from Peradeniya in 1963, and a BA (1967) and MA (1971) in philosophy from the University of Cambridge. In 1980 he obtained his PhD in comparative philosophy from the University of Hawaiʻi.
This article, drawing on Pali materials, highlights the Buddhist emphasis on minimising suffering, even in the conduct of war, in line with principles of international humanitarian law (IHL). It reflects on the inner roots of conflict and explores ideals of governance and the conduct of war, especially as explored in the Jātaka stories and stories about the god Sakka, and then as reflected in the Edicts of emperor Asoka and the Mahāvaṃsa chronicle.
Abstract 73 Introduction 73 Reflections on war and conflict in the Suttas, discourses of the Buddha 74 The Jātaka stories on conduct in armed conflict 77 The restraint in conflict of the god Sakka 79 More from the Jātakas 81 The conduct of King Asoka, from his edicts 83 The Mahāvaṃsa chronicle of Sri Lanka on conduct during war 85 Conclusion 86 Abbreviations 86 Notes 87 References 87