Previously, I compared and contrasted the Buddhist concept of padhana with the Islamic concept jihad. Both words can be translated as struggle,  striving, or endeavor; but get there via different idioms. Padhana can be very literally rendered as ‘for stabilizing.’ It is specifically a practice for stabilizing the mind in wholesome states. This is similar to the concept of jihad as an inner spiritual struggle to submit oneself, to develop  one’s faith, and to live righteously.  With padhana, the struggle is to block and abandon unwholesome mental states; while cultivating and maintaining wholesome mental states.

Whereas the cattarro padhana or fourfold struggle of Buddhism is clearly an inner  spiritual struggle; jihad is sometimes understood as an aggressive means of evangelism; a holy war to force others to submit, take faith, and live righteously. In Buddhism, there are two general ways of teaching, propagation or evangelism.  One of these is called parigrahana 攝受 {shoju}; the other is called samgrahana  折伏 {shakubuku}.

Graha literally means ‘seize’ or ‘capture.’  The suffix -na, a cognate of -ing,  is frequently used to form action nouns called gerunds, and can often be expressed with -ion, -tion, or -ness.  In this context,  grahana is used figuratively to refer to opinions, views,  or beliefs, — ideas people seize on and hold –  and is a rough synonym of  ditthi / drishti  見.  The prefix -pari is a cognate of peri- and means ’round about’ or around.  The sino-japanese term, shoju 攝受,  is a compound of 攝 = assimilate and 受 = accept.  Parigrahana 攝受 is a means of persuading people to practice without refuting their wrong views.

To accept, take in; to include. Especially the broadminded acceptance of the Buddha and his dharma to bring all kinds of suffering sentient beings into the fold of the saṃgha. There is also a connotation of the open-minded acceptance of the opinions of these people as contrasted to 折伏, the Buddha’s forcing of ideological opponents into submission (Skt. saṃgraha) ~~ DDB

Sam means ‘with,’ or ‘together with.’  Samgraha, as a means of teaching, debate, or propagation, could be translated as convince, refute, or remonstrate.  Conviction –  Merriam-Webster’s sense 2 a: “the act of convincing a person of error or of compelling the admission of a truth” — is a fairy direct translation of samgrahana. It could also be rendered as refutation or remonstration, and, in some situations; scolding, rebuking, or censure.  The sino-japanese term,  Shakubuku 折伏,  is  a compound word that consists of 折 = to break, subdue, [cause to] submit and 伏 = [cause to] bow down, prostrate.

In Buddhist use,  samgrahana  折伏 is usually about refuting mistaken ideas, through clear reasoning,  and intellectually forcing those who hold wrong views to honestly admit their errors.  A good example is found in the Cula Saccaka Sutta.

This discourse, given at Vesali, gives an account of the debate between the Buddha and Saccaka the wandering ascetic on the subject of atta. Saccaka maintained that rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana were one’s atta. It was atta which enjoyed the fruits of good deeds and suffered the consequences of bad deeds. The Buddha refuted his theory, pointing out that none of the khandhas was atta each being subjected to the laws of anicca, dukkha, and anatta, and not amenable to anyone’s control. Saccaka had to admit his defeat in the presence of his followers.

MN 35: Culasaccaka Sutta (The Shorter Discourse to Saccaka)

However, at some point, Saccaka falls silent, and refuses to answer the Buddha’s questions, even after three reasonable requests; which is a  violation of classical brahmodya rules of debate. At this point, Vajrapani the Yaksha,  visible only to the Buddha and Saccaka, appears above Saccaka holding a vajra — a flaming hammer or thunderbolt, and threatens to split his head into seven pieces; if he does not answer after three requests. The same image is also seen in the  Ambattha Sutta — Pride Humbled.

The same sort of visual imagery is adapted in the Lotus Sutra, where Vajjrapati’s role is assumed by the Yakshini 夜叉 {yasha} Hariti 鬼子母神 {kishimojin} and her ten Rakshasi  daughters 十羅刹女 {jurasetsunyo}.

“If there are those who fail to heed our spells and trouble and disrupt the preachers of the Law, their heads will split into seven pieces like the branches of the arjaka.”

The Lotus Sutra as Translated by Burton Watson Chapter Twenty-six: Dharani

Moreover, the Buddha, on very rare occasions, spoke harshly to those who behaved poorly.  One example was his rebuke of Devadatta.

“I would not even hand over the Sangha to Sariputta or Moggallana, let alone to you, you who should be coughed out like spittle.” ~~ Ajatasattu and Devadatta

In addition, it is well  known that Nichiren Shonin was an advocate of shakubuku and sometimes used harsh language when remonstrating with the ruling Hojo Regency of Kamakura Era Japan.  More recently, the Soka Gakkai  developed a reputation for a deploying a  combative, aggressive. and coercive style of propagation.  Some use this an excuse to set aside the practice of khanti / kshanti 忍 or 忍辱;  Buddhist forbearance or tolerance defined as patience with offensive people or actions that do not really deserve patience.

For these and other reasons,  shakubuku or samgraha is sometimes wrongly associated with enmity and intolerance. As previously noted, the word jihad is, too often, associated with aggressive and even violent forms of propagation. Some have suggested that aggressive shakubuku might be comparable to  violent applications of jihad, crusades, or so-called holy war.  I suppose it could, but I think this would be corruption or perversion of the Buddha’s intention.

Even when it became necessary to scold an unrepentant individual, the Buddha almost always remained equanimous, polite,  and cheerful.  At any rate, samgrahana or shakubuku  折伏 might be best defined as a method of education, debate, or  propagation in which wrong views are clearly exposed and refuted. There is no reason for this to turn into a ‘cold war’ or  an incessant battle of words. After three failed attempts at rational  persuasion,   it might be time to move on cheerfully and remain good Dharma friends, despite differences of view.