BUDDHISM is a religion of universal peace and concord. The present book fulfils its aim by placing emphasis on the facts in relation to this aspect of the creed
The book is divided into five sections, Section I is Introductory. It recounts, in particular, the sacred books of the Buddhist, literature subsidiary to the canon, the period of Origin of Buddhism and Indian thoughts and ideals contemporaneous with it. Section II deals with the life of Buddha from conception, birth and childhood to Parinirvana, cremation and partition of the relics. Section III includes the law of the Buddha - fundamental principles, the elements of existence, the road to Deliverance, spiritual exercises, description of Arhats, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and their peculiar traits. Section IV describes the Order of Samgha, their disciplinary and ascetic rules, Ordination, modes of worship, etc. Section V contains outlines of ecclesiastical history, the three Councils, rise of the Faith during the reign of Asoka, Kaniska, growth of the four philosophical schools and finally their decline in India.
The study is based on the original sources including Nepalese, Chinese and Simhalese and is documented with a list of abbreviated titles and Index.
The sacred lore of the Buddhists is based on the canonical books a complete collection of which is technically called Tripitaka i.e. the three Baskets I. Vinaya Sutra and Abhidharma of all the collections going by that name the Pali Tipitaka representing the only one which forms a well arranged whole and is sufficiently known to admit of a critical disquisition into the relative age of its component parts at least to a certain extent.
The Vinaya as its very name implies treaties chiefly of Discipline and all questions connected with it. About the development of the Vinaya we find most valuable hints in Prof. Oldenberg’s introduction to the Mahvagga’s his conclusion are summarized in the following list of successive events in the ancient literary history of Buddhism the gensis of the Patimokkha. The earlest beginnings of the Dhamma literature 2. the formation of the Vibhanga is compiled the Mahavagga and the Cullavagga 3. The origin of the main substance of the Suttanta literature 4. council at vesali 5. Origin of the Vinaya 6. Schisms in the Buddhsit community origin of the Abhidhamma 7. council at pataliputta the Kathavathu.
All these propositions are supported by sound reasoning and seem plausible enough though a more thorough knowledge of the remains of the old Northern versions than we now possess may necessitate us to modify our views in some particulars.
The Sutta Pitaka much more extensive and diversified than the Vinaya may be said in a loose way to treat of various subjects more or less related to doctrine. Its fivefold division into Nikavas already occurs in Cullavagga
XI, ‘, 8, but the separate works are not mentioned; we only meet with the titles of the two first Suttas of the D. N. At the same passage we are told that the text of the Nikhyas was rehearsed at the first council with the assistance of Anajida, who bore witness as to the place where, the person concerning whom, and the cause for which each Sutta had been delivered. This account, apart from the legendary character of the first Council, cannot be true, for the opening formula of the Suttantas is evam me sutam, which is impossible but in the mouth of one who derives his knowledge of the Master’s teaching from oral tradition; no contemporary disciple can speak in such a manner’. It may be remarked that the formula is absent from the Vinaya. In general we may assume that the disciplinary rules were elaborated much earlier than the doctrinal writings.
About the age of the sundry books in the 5th Nikaya little can be affirmed with any degree of certainty. This much, however, is plain that their contents belong to different periods. To begin with the Jatakas, it will hardly be doubted that many of these popular tales are very old, some of them older than Buddhism itself. It is by no means improbable that from the time of the first expansion of the sect those tales, modified according to the exigencies of the creed, were used by the preaching monks for didactic purposes. It appears from the sculptures at Bharhut and Sanchi that the Jitakas were known as an integral part of Buddhist lore at the time of Aoka.
Whatever may be thought of the relative age of the different Suttantast in the four Agamas, and of the various compositions in the Khudda-Nikaya, the great bulk of the Sutta-Pitaka in substance probably existed already in the d century B. C. The identification of the titles mentioned Ira the inscription of Babhra (Jiairat) is attended with difficulties, but one Sutta at least, the “Laghulovada concerning falsehood” is evidently the same as the “Rahulovada on Musdvada” in Majjhima-N. I. C. 414. It has been pointed out by BRLER that the occurrence of the title pacanekayika (*pañcanaikdyika) presupposes the existence of a collection of Nikayas. It is, however, necessary to add that the remark does not apply to all sects; for aught we know, the division of the Sutra-Pitaka of 5 Nikayas is peculiar to the Theravada. As to the subdivisions of the Nikiyas, there was some disagreement even among the Theravadins themselves.
The Abhidhamma-P.5 is not mentioned at all in CV. This fact is sufficient to warrant the conclusion that it is posterior to the Council of vesali a conclusion a Conclusion moreover strengthened by its character. “The compilers of the Abhidhamma books seem to have taken up such subjects, only as are discussed at full length in the Nikayas, dealing with them more or less in a purely scholastic and technical manner with some variation in regard to the order and arrangement of the numerous details connected with the Buddhist creed” The edited texts, in fact, consist of a bare enumeration of classifications and definitions, which justifies the use of the term matrka as synonymous with abhidharma in Northern writings’. “The period between the Council of Vesali and that of Pataliputta”, to use the words of OLDENBEEC “saw the origin of the schism, and was also the time of the development of the Abhidharnma literature”.
The canonical books of the various sects among the Northern Buddhists to use a more convenient than wholly accurate term — in so far as they
have their counterparts in the Pali canon and do not belong to the new canon of the Mahayanists, are but partially known. On comparing, first of all, the Chinese Vinaya of the Mahidasakas, a short analysis of which was communicated to Oldenburg by Beal, with the extracts of the Tibetan Vinaya of the Mahasarvastivadins, the editor of the MV. draws the following conclusions5: “All of the different versions of the Vinaya are based upon one foundation; the arrangement of the material is the same in all; a large portion of the stories interwoven in the text correspond in all6. It has been pointed out above, that of the elements which constitute the Vibhanga the narrative portions were added last; the addition of these stories was made at an earlier period than that in which the differences of the various schools arose. Even the story of the first two Councils — which is clearly the part of the Pâli Vinaya last composed, is also met with at the exactly corresponding place in the Vinaya of the Mahicâsakas, and of the Mahdsarvâstivâdinas.”
Here it should be observed that both the Mahisasakas and Mahasarvastivadins are offshoots of the orthodox Sthaviravada, and may be said to form subdivisions of the orthodox community. It is therefore very natural that their Vinaya bears so close a resemblance to that of the Theras. But from this it does not follow that all versions of the Vinaya, those of the different versions of the schismatic Mahasaighikas included, show the same degree of affinity. Apart from the biassed testimony of their opponents that the Mahasañghikas had altered the original redaction and made changes in the Vinaya and the 5 Nikäyas5, we can adduce a fact that one sect at least of the Mahasañghika party made a peculiar application of the term Vinaya. The Ma Mvastu, a book belonging to the school of the Lokottaravadins, a subdivision of the Mahasanghikas shows after the introduction the following title Aryamahasamghikanam Lokottaravadinam Madhyadesikanan pathen Vinyapitakasya Mahasvastu adi. As the badly arranged contents of this book are merly made up of chapters form the legendary life of the Bodhisattva of Jatakas of the praeshistory of the Sakya race etc without any admixture of matter connected with discipline it is strange to find it classed as a vinaya text.
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