1. Casting ballots in making a majority decision
2. The distributor of the ballots in making a majority decision
3. "In accordance with the Dhamma" in making a majority decision
4. Conclusion

majority decision, yebhuyyasikā, casting ballots, casting lots 行籌, dispute-issues, Sangha, concord in the Sangha

This essay is a companion piece to Article 20, "Mediation of conflicts arising in the Saṃgha and judgements over offences." It takes up one of the seven methods of settling disputes mentioned there, how a majority decision (yebhuyyasikā) was reached to settle disputes about doctrine, and the idea behind it.

The majority decision was fundamental to the democratic and impartial administration of the Saṃgha. Nevertheless it has without doubt been misunderstood. In order for those supporting the leaders of the Saṃgha to command a majority, unlawful behaviour like behind-the-scenes consensus and collusion, not to mention vote-rigging, occurred, and if this failed, and the result went against the leaders' wishes, the ballot itself could be declared invalid.

This means that yebhuyyasikā did not occur in order for the majority to decide the wishes of the Saṃgha in a democratic and impartial way. Rather, when a dispute occurred in the Saṃgha, its leaders manouevred to hold a ballot so that those who agreed with them were in the majority, and then make this majority the platform for resolving the dispute.

Why was such a spurious and corrupt practice allowed as a method to resolve disputes? The running of the Saṃgha must have depended on strong leadership, and so if a dispute arose within it, the standpoint taken by its leaders was always the correct interpretation (dharma, dhamma). On this premise, issues had to be resolved according to what the leaders thought. This article considers how this kind of "majority decision" was practiced and on what kind of idea it was based.