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Aspects of Buddhism: Based on Pali Sources

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Item Code: IDF332
Author: Dr. H.S. Shukla
Publisher: Banaras Hindu University
Language: English
Edition: 2001
ISBN: 8185305013
Pages: 316
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10" X 6.3"
Weight 700 gm
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Book Description

It is a matter of pride and pleasure for me to introduce to the academic fraternity Aspects of Buddhism a collection of essays and seminar paper s by the Late Prof. Mahesh Tiwary an acknowledged authority on Pali and Buddhist literature, Prof. Tiwary is no longer in this world but those who have known him and benefited from his wide ranging scholarship will always nostalgically recall not only his vast erudition but also his deep personal humility and simplicity. He had risen from very humble origins he had known the value of goodwill and compassion in his own life’s struggles and what marked Prof. Tiwary from others was this attitude of compassion and understanding towards others. Snobbery and sophistication were unknown to him. He retained his child like curiosity and simplicity till the very end. He had internalized the dhamma and lived and breathed it. Rarely if every knowledge becomes wisdom Prof. Tiwary was a living embodiment of this rarity.

His contributors in the realm of scholarship specially Pali and Buddhism are varied and awe inspiring. These contribution sprang from his single minded desire for the growth and expansion of the teachings of the Enlightened one in a world moving from one crisis to another. Thus he took to Pali and Buddhism not merely in the spirit of academician but because of certain spiritual and ethical imperatives. He saw Buddhism as a source of redemption for the world’s ills. He became one of the pioneering figures of Pali and Buddhist studies in the country. His critical editions of many Pali texts are to high academic and scholarly significance. As the chief Editor of the Pali publication unit of Vipassana Research Institute Igatpuri, Maharashtra, he rendered valuable service in bringing out authentic critical editions of nearly 150 volumes of Pali literature.

Besides Prof. Tiwary’s original writings are contained in more than two dozen books, which were published during his life time.

He had been associated with a number of scholarly bodies and organizations in the country as well as abroad. Thus he would always be gratefully remembered as one who was always engaged in the furtherance of Ideas and the values enshrined in our ancient texts.

The present book is a collection of Prof. Tiwary’s twenty one seminar papers written for different occasions and dealing with various aspects of Buddha’s life and teachings the physico-psycho-ethical systems of thought that distinguishes Buddhism from other systems. Some of the papers pertain to an authentic and exhaustive examination of various philosophical religious social and economic issues present in the Pali literature. Thus the book covers a vast spectrum of ideas which have been discussed and analyzed in a lucid transparent style. I am confident that the presence of this book will have a immediate an inspiring impact on the growing interest in Pali and Buddhist Studies.

I take this opportunity of thankfully acknowledging the co-operation of Prof. Tiwary’s sons Dr. Yogesh Tiwary and Shri Dharmkirti Tiwary who put at the University’s disposal their father’s writings from which the present selection has been made. The task of selection was assigned to Prof. Tiwary’s able student and son in law Dr. Hari Shankar Shukla, Head Dept. of Pali and Buddhist Studies Banaras Hindu University. It was Dr. Shukla who proposed to the University to Publish Prof. Tiwary’s works and gladly accepted the University’s request to act as editor.


It was the evening of Jan. 7, 1999. While the sun was setting, Prof. Mahesh Tiwary entered into the state of eternal bliss. It was a wet evening. The sky was overcast with thundering clouds and the thick pal of darkness was occasionally brightened by the ear tearing roars of lightening. This seeming turbulence in fact denoted that nature was going to receive in its benign fold a great soul which had completed its earthly sojourn and was now returning to its primal source. We Indians believe that the arrivals and departures of such great souls are always greeted by nature, rain and wind, thunder and lightning express its moods and feelings. Of course, Prof. Tiwary was a great man supremely obvious for his greatness. He knew no hatred and jealousy and brimmed with loving kindness and universal friendliness. The Buddhist Brahma viharas seemed to have a permanent abode in his personality. His sudden demise came to the large number of his students and admirers as a very rude shock. Only recently had he retired from the University of Delhi, where Pali and Buddhist Studies had got a new impetus due to his presence. Death has snatched from us not only a teacher and a scholar but a savant and arhata as well. But even a savant and arhata has to submit to the wheel of becoming and decaying, which works continuously and uninterruptedly. Rightly has it been said:

Aniccã vata sarpkkhara, uppadavayadhammino,
Uppajjitva nirujjhanti, tesam vüpasamo sukho.

“All conditioned and compounded things (Samkkhära) are indeed impermanent. Arising and decay are inherent in them. Having come into existence, they cease. The realization of Nibbana on their cessation is blissful peace”.

Prof. Tiwary is no longer with us but his contributions to the Buddhist lore, specially in the field of early Buddhist tradition, will always be remembered with gratitude and reverence by scholars and students alike.

Prof. Tiwary was a very successful teacher in his life. He was fully dedicated to his duty and discharged all his responsibilities with utmost honesty and sincerely. He led an austere but ordered life and after retirement had planned to publish his writings scattered here and there. Another of his cherished plan was to bring out An Introduction to Abhidhamma Philosophy and Encyclopedia of Pall Abhidhammic Terms for which he had approached the University Grants Commission for financial support.

Now that he is gone, I consider it my pious duty to pay my gurudakshipa by first collecting his scattered and mostly unpublished essays and articles and publishing them in a book form, thereby preserving at least a part of his scholarship for the benefit of posterity.

It will not be amiss at this point to briefly indicate the themes of each of his twenty-one research papers that make up the present book. All of these research papers, written on various occasions, deal with various aspects of Buddhism and are substantially based on canonical Buddhist texts. The book opens with a discussion of the concept of Bodhisattva, who is regarded as an ideal personality in the Buddhist tradition and who assumes the human form for helping mankind in attaining Nibbana, the state of eternal bliss. The second paper is in the nature of a brief biographical account of the Buddha. It touches upon the different events in His life from the time of entering into the womb of mother (pasandhi) to the Mahaparinibbana. After becoming enlightened one under the Bodhi-tree, Lord Buddha through meditation conceived of the Law of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada) or the process of existence. This forms the substance of the third paper. The fourth essay entitled “Theravada and Ablidhamma” presents in a systematic form the development of the Theravada tradition which is supposed to be the earliest tradition of Buddhism and salient features of Abhidharnmic thoughts.

There is an authentic and exhaustive account of four basic elements (Bhuta-rupa) and twenty-four derived elements (Upadar upa) in the fifth and sixth papers. A detailed study of Sila, Samadhi and PañIh has been presented in the seventh, eighth and ninth chapters. These three steps constitute the Buddhist path of purification, which purifies the mind gradually and takes one from the state of suffering to the state of eternal bliss.

The next essay examines the facts related to the Nibbana and Parinibbana in an effort to enunciate the meaning of the Nibbana in detail. Nibbana is the central concept of Buddhism and its sumum-bonum Nibbana-para sukham natthi. Way-faring through mind is the subject matter of the eleventh paper. The term ‘way-faring has been used to denote the sense of wandering (Carika). It is of two types - external and internal. The external wandering is conducted through different geographical regions while the internal is conducted through the mind. The twenty-nine purposes of way-faring have been lucidly explained in this essay.

The twelfth article gives a description of five controlling factors such as saddha (faith), viriya (energy), sati (mindfulness), saniadhi (concentration) and pnna (right-understanding). The thirteenth paper entitled Vedananupassana elucidates the meaning of the word Satipafhana which is regarded as the only way for the purification of beings and realization of Nibbana: Ekayano ayazp maggo sattänaip visuddhiya. .. . nibbanassa sacchikiriyaya. The paper also includes a detailed discussion of Vedananupassana along with a brief account of the three fold mindfulness.

Brahmavihãra or Congenial Social Order is the subject- matter of the fourteenth chapter. It discusses the significance of the sublime way of living which consists of four noble virtues friendliness (metta), compassion (karuna), joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha). Like the soothing touch of the pleasant wind, they pervade and embrace the entire beings without any distinction of high and low status.

The fifteenth paper deals with Bhakti in Early Buddhist Tradition. The term Bhakti has not been popular in early Buddhist texts, yet it appears in the sense of sincerity, devotion, faith, etc., which clearly suggests that the idea of bhakti was not unknown in the early Buddhist tradition. The author has explained the term saddha as a form of Bhakti Saddha cannot function alone but with its associates like hiri (self-shame), ottappa (social shame) etc.

“PaIi-Tipiaka and Vipassana” is the title of the sixteenth chapter, which presents an exhaustive and authentic account of the word’ vipassanä’ on the basis of the Canonical literature. The practice of vipassanä brings out the real nature of things as impermanent (anicca), sorrowful (dukkha) and substancelessness (anatta).

The next three chapters deal respectively with Atthakatha-literture Buddhadatta and Atthakathas, and Buddhagosa, Dhammapala and their A t ha kathas. The tradition of writing commentaries and sub-commentaries by the great men of letters and saints has existed since ancient times in India. This tradition was also followed by the Pali saint-scholars. It appears that the Buddha himself commented upon the earlier texts. It is evident in Atthasalini that Mahinda, while going to Sri-Lanka, carried with him the words of the Buddha (Tipitaka) as well as Atthakat has. The tradition also has it that the Atthakatha too was recited in the first Buddhist Council along with the Tipitaka. Thus, Atthkathas whether preached by the Buddha or his able disciples have been in existence during and since the time of the Buddha.

Buddhadatta is regarded as the first commentator on the Tipitaka in India, though he could not do much due to his old age. On the basis of the materials provided by Buddha ghosa he wrote commentaries on Abhidhamma, Vinaya and Buddha vaipsa. Buddhaghosa and Dhainmapaia, carrying on the tradition, wrote fifteen and thirteen books respectively.

The twentieth article is “Socio-Economic Ideas in Early Buddhist Scriptures”. It presents the socio-economic conditions prevailing during the time of the Buddha, The Buddha has commented on the then existing four-fold division of the society based on birth. He said clearly that one, who is endowed with vijja and carapa, is superior to men and gods alike - “Vijjacarapasampanno so settho devamanussänarm “. Thus, simply being in the lineage of great seers does not make any one great or superior. Further, the Buddha, establishing his four-fold assembly, divided the whole society into six dimensional units on the basis of six climes and enumerated the duties and responsibilities related to the persons of each of these six units.

The concluding paper entitled “Social Work in Early Buddhist Tradition’ highlights the theory and practice of social work and the author has discussed the role of consciousness in doing work for the welfare of society. Three types of work wholesome physical work, wholesome vocal work and wholesome mental work are considered social work. Construction of dwelling places, cetiyas, donations, gifts, social services to the suffering humanity, giving moral discourses and transfer of merit (Pattidana) etc. have also been considered social work.

Thus, practically all the papers included here are related to the physico-psycho and ethical system of thoughts. Philosophical, religious, social and economic ideas available in Päli literature have also been elucidated in a precise and lucid language.

What now remains to be done is gratefully to place on record many debts of gratitude which I have incurred as the editor of this book. As mentioned at the outset of this preface, the book is made up entirely of the research papers and articles of the late Prof. Mahesh Tiwary. It was he who initiated me into Pali and Buddhist Studies and remained a beacon of light for me till the very end of his life. Now that he is beyond our formal thanks and expressions of gratitude. I can only salute his spirit and invoke his invisible presence to abide with us and light our path. The authorities of the Banaras Hindu University specially Vice-Chancellor Prof. Y.C. Simhadri and the Chairman of the University’s Publication Committee Prof. K.D. Tripathi extended their full cooperation for the publication of the present volume. I am grateful to Prof. Simhadri for his graciousness in accepting my request to write the Foreword. Among Prof. Tiwary’s friends and contemporaries who pressed me to undertake this project grateful mention must be made of Prof. S. Rinpocche, Prof. G.C. Pande, Prof. CS. Upasaka, Prof. R.S. Tripathi, Prof. L.N. Tiwari, Prof. N.H. Samtani, Prof. B.C. kin, Prof. R.S. Dwivedi and Prof. B.N. Sharma. Themselves leading scholars in their respective fields, they recognized the value of Prof. Tiwary’s contributions in the field of Pali and Buddhist scholarship. They have been unfailing in their suggestions and encouragements and I do not have adequate words to acknowledge their affection and kindness. Late Prof. Tiwary’s two sons Dr. Yogesh Tiwary and Shri Dharmakirti Tiwary made available to me their father’s research papers and articles and left the selection to me. I thank them for their courtesy and goodwill. My colleagues in the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies Prof. R Dubey, Dr. Preeti Dubey, Dr. Bimalendra Kumar and Dr. Siddharth Singh took keen interest in the project and deserve my grateful thanks for their help in selecting the essays for the present volume. I am fortunate to say that I have a house, wherein I breath the free air of academic joy with the members of my family. Here, I feel proud to express my deep and perpetual sense of gratitude to my wife Dr. Rama Shukla, Research Associate (U.G.C.) for identifying herself with my pursuits. I thank Dr. Laxmi Tiwary and Dr. Sanju Tiwary for their inspiration and kind cooperation in this project.

I also thank Dr. R.K. Upadhyaya manager and his staff at the B.H.U Press for working overtime without a fuss and for cheerfully bearing with avoidable delays and unpunctualities on my part.

As one of Prof. Tiwary’s Disciples I believe I owe it to the scholars and students of Pali and Buddhism to bring to light my guru’s unpublished writings. The present volume is a beginning. Providence willing, his other works will in due course of time reach the waiting readers. meanwhile the editor is looking forward to their thoughtful comments and observations on the volume.

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