This extraordinary book is the only authentic document of its kind. Beginning with a detailed and lucid exposition of the
political background of India from Ajatasatru to Mahapadma Nanda, it goes on to trace the sources of the Second Buddhist
Council, to locate with unerring exactitude the disruptive forces in the Sangha and, in the fourth chapter, to classify the
Sects. In the chapters that follow, the learned author deals with the Mahasanghikas, doctrines of Group II-V Schools. In
every chapter, if not on every page, current but ill-founded assumptions are rejected and their illogicalities exposed to the
reader's view. The eager student is given a panoramic view of the doctrinal developments that took place during the period
concerned by this book. With irrefutable arguments and considerable ratio-cinative skill does the writer conclude that the
Mahasanghikas were evidently the earliest school of the Hinayanists to show a tendency towards conceiving Buddha
.there are not many systematic and authentic accounts of the evolution of the Buddhist philosophy and the emergence
of the different Schools. Dr. Nalinaksha Dutta's book fills an important gap in this field. The author traces the political
background in which the different sects had developed
.The special doctrines of the Bahusernityas Prajnapativadins and the
Vetulayas are also discussed, along with the doctrines of the Schools of the other groups. The author has dwelt in detail on
the doctrinal developments leading to the emergence of the Mahayana. One remarkable feature of the criticisms contained in
the Mahayana's works against the Hinayanists according to Dr. Dutt, is that they do not attempt to distort the position of
the Hinayanists in order to take advantage.
It is striking that as far back as 1859, i.e., over a century ago, the attention of European scholars was drawn to
the appearance of Buddhist sects in India, mentioning their names without, however, any comments. The earliest articles was
written by St. Julien, 'Listes diverses des noms des dix-huit sectes du bouddhisme' in the Journal Asiatique, 1959. This was
followed by M.V. Vassilief in 1860, Drs. Rhys Davids and Oldenberg in 1881, H. Kern in 1884 and I.P. Minayeff in 1884 (vide
for details, page 11-13) of this book.
It was after the publication of the translation of the Chinese version of Vasumitra's treatise on eighteen sects of
Buddhism in India by Prof. J. Masuda, who happened to be a Lecturer in the Calcutta University and also a colleague of the
present writer, in the Asia Major, vol. II (1925) supplemented by the Tibetan texts on the eighteen schools by Bhavya and
Vinitadeva entitled Nikaya-bhedavibhanga and Samayabhedoparacanacakra respectively.
(i) 'Shi-pa' pu' lun, ascribed either to Kumarajiva (401-13) or to Paramartha (546-69).
(ii) Pu'-chi-i-lun, ascribed to Paramartha. This translation, according to Masuda, appears to be more accurate.
(iii) I-pu'-tsung-lun, ascribed to Hiuen Tsang (662), is regarded by Masuda as the best of the translations.
(i) Vasumitra of Kaniska's Council and one of the authors of the Mahavibhasa.
(ii) Vasumitra of the Sautrantika school.
(iii) Vasumitra, who appeared a thousand years after Buddha's parinibbana, and
(iv) Vasumitra of the Sarvastivada school, from whom Hiuen Tsang learnt the Sarvastivada doctrines. It is curious that
none of the books and articles mentioned on pp. 11-13 refers to such an important Pali Abhidhamma text as the Kathavatthu
published in 1897 and its commentary in 1889 and the former work's English translation by Mrs. C.A.F. Rhys Davids entitled
Points of Controversy (1915).
The antiquity of the Kathavatthu traditionally goes back to the days of Emperor Asoka, under whose auspices the Third
Buddhist Council was held with Moggaliputta Tissa as its president. The special features of this book are that
(i) it presents the doctrines of the opponents, i.e., an exposition of the doctrines of a particular
(ii) It allows him to state his arguments as well as
(iii) to quote in their support the statements of Buddha, occurring in the Nikayas or elsewhere in any Pitakan text. There
views, Moggaliputta Tissa, the president, refuted them from the standpoint of Theravada by counter-arguments as well as with
the help of quotations from the Buddhavacanas.
The contribution of the present author lies not only in making an analytical study of the treatises of Vasumitra,
Bhavya and Vinitadeva but also the Kathavatthu and its commentary by Buddhaghosa as well as the Abhidharamakosa-vyakhya, an
excellent edition of which has been published by Prof. Wogihara of Japan and the Sammitiya-nikaya sastra translated from
Chinese by Prof. Venkataraman of the Visvabharati and The Gilgit Manuscripts, III, edited and published by the present
writer, containing the original Mulasarvastivada Vinaya, and also the Jnanaprasthana Sutra partially restored from Chinese by
Santi Bhiksu also of the Visvabharati.
This book ends with an Epilogue, in which an attempt has been made to show how Mahayanism developed as a natural
consequence of the views of the Mahasanghikas and as a development of the nebulous conception of Bodhisattva and Buddhakayas
in the Divyavadana and Avadana-sataka, ascribed to the Sarvastivadins and also as a reaction to the realism of the
Sarvastivadins, and how gradually Mahayanism surpassed Hinayanism both in populartiv and propagation.
To this book has been added an Appendix containing a synopsis of the ancient geography of India as described by Hiuen
Tsang; it also throws light on the dispersal of Buddhist seats in India along with a brief account of the Buddhist sects as
given by I-tsing and the localities where these were existing at his time, i.e., half a century after Hiuen Tsang's visit to
In fine, I should like to thank my learned friend, Sri K. L. Mukhopadhyay, M.A. for suggesting the appropriate title
of the book, which helped me to confine my attention exclusively to the Buddhist Sects in India. I should mention that I have
derived much benefit from the Histoire du Bouddhisme Indien (Louvain, 1956) of Prof. E. Lamotte, who has also published many
other valuable works on Mahayana Buddhism, utilizing exhaustively the Chinese versions of the lost Sanskrit texts. I also
thank my student Dr. Miss Ksanika Saha, Ph. D. for preparing the Indexes.
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