Is there a devil in Buddhism?

The closest thing to the devil that Buddhism has is Mara. Mara’s name comes from the Sanskrit and means “causing death”. Mara is said to be a demon.

The most famous story about Mara is when he tried to prevent Siddhartha from reaching enlightenment and becoming a Buddha. This story was first written in 100 CE. It is probably myth making by the author Ashvagosha. It was probably composed to show the advanced state of Siddhartha.

First Mara sent an army of demons to attack Siddhartha with deadly weapons. Siddhartha kept his composure and was unharmed. He summoned a flood to wipe out the army.

Mara then sent his beautiful daughters to seduce Siddhartha. Siddhartha was unfazed.

Mara then mocked him. Mara tells him that his work is for nothing, since no one is there to acknowledge his attainment.

Siddhartha became enlightened. He was now the Buddha (the awakened one). He responds to Mara by saying the earth will be his witness. He touched the ground and the earth trembled in agreement.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Painting: depicts the drowning army, one of Mara’s seductive daughters and the Buddha making the earth touching gesture.

Image from

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