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Thesis submitted to the University of Delhi
for the award of the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY, 2005 

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I – General view:

In this Chapter, I am to investigate the seeds of Dissent and Protest which were sown at the First Buddhist Council. Thera Mahākassapa was the chairman of this Council. This Council was held at Rājagaha. It was capital of Magadha. Ajātasattu was the king. Here will be an attempt to see why the city Rājagaha was chosen as a venue of this great intellectual congregation of elder scholars of Theravāda Buddhism.

There is unanimity among all Buddhist schools that the First Great Council (Paṭhama Mahāsangīti) was held almost immediately after the great demise of the Buddha.[1] However, there are some scholars who question about the historicity of this council.[2] Nalinaksha Dutt in his work entitled Buddhist Sects in India has dealt in detail on this issue: The session of the First Buddhist Council took place soon after the mahāparinibbāna of Buddha (486 B.C) in the eight year of the reign of king Ajātasattu, who ruled for 32 years from 493 B.C.[3]

According to tradition, the council met in Rājagaha, a place in which Buddha had delivered many discourses. The participants were five hundred of his closest disciples who had become arhats (meaning that they had eradicated mental afflictions and transcended all attachment to mundane things). Such people, it was believed, would not be afflicted by faulty memories or biased by sectarian considerations.

The members of the assembly recounted what they had heard Buddha say on specific occasions, and they prefaced their remarks with the phrase, "Thus have I heard: At one time the Exalted One was residing in..." This formula indicated that the speaker had been a member of the audience, and it provided the context and background of the discourse. Other members would certify the veracity of the account or correct minor details, and at the end of the council all present were satisfied that the Buddha's words had been definitively recorded. The canon of Buddhism was declared closed, and the council issued a pronouncement that henceforth no new teachings would be admitted as the "word of the Buddha" (Buddhavacana).[4]

II- Views of Western scholars on the First Buddhist Council:

In the West, in Samuel Beal's translation from the Chinese Dhammagupta document presented by him to the Oriental Congress at Berlin in 1888 and reprinted in his Abstract of Four Lectures (1882) was the first related document to the Buddhist Councils. It is well known to students of the Sacred Books of the East that there is, in the twentieth volume of that series, an account of the first two Councils of the Buddhist Order, translated from the Pāli. The account is a later addition to the Minor Section on Discipline, and we may call it the Council Appendix Meanwhile, Hermann Oldenberg, in his pioneer essay on the Canon (1879) threw grave doubts upon the historicity of the First Council[5], and this issue was discussed in detail by Minayeff in 1887. For him, the chapter XI of the Cūlavagga which contains an account of the First Council is riddled with contradictions, and rejected the episode of chanting of the dhamma and vinaya as legend, for it was contradicted by traditions of earlier origin,[6] but this view of Minayeff is totally rejected by Oldenberg and by Louis De La Vallee Poussin.[7] This view of Minayeff is totally rejected by Oldenberg.[8] He neither finds any incoherence nor contradiction in the account of the Cūlavagga. Moreover Oldenberg rightly points out that so far as the official resolution regarding the chanting is concerned, neither 'can be more probable nor more conformable to the habits made known to us by the literature'. He further states that the 'point of view of Minayeff who claims to recognize in these episodes (and those of the failings of Ānanda) an old kernel of authentic tradition and to separate them from the rest of the account due to a much younger time, is illusory'. So Oldenberg neither accepts the view that the episodes of Subhadda etc. are historic and earlier in origin than the legendary account of, nor accepts that there is any contradiction between the chanting and the other episodes. This does not mean that Oldenberg believes in the authenticity of the Council. He has other reasons to discard it as a legend.

Oldenberg points out that much of the Cūlavagga XI. 1 agrees almost verbatim with certain portions of the Mahāparinibbānasutta.[9] In order to understand the relationship between the Cūlavagga and the Mahāparinibbānasutta we will give below a synopsis of the Cūlavagga XI.1.[10]

'Now the venerable Mahākassapa said to the monks that one day he was traveling from Pāvā to Kusinara with about five hundred monks. Along the road there came a Ājīvaka monk who informed Mahākassapa and other monks about the death of the Buddha. The faithful but imperfect monks abandoned themselves to grief, but those who were already perfect told that all things are impermanent. Kassapa also reminded the grieving monks that it was in the nature of things that one had to be separated from the near and dear ones. Among the monks there was an old monk called Subhadda who rejoiced at the news of the death of the Master and told: "Enough Sirs, weep not, neither lament! We are well rid of the great Samana. We used to be annoyed by being told: 'This beseems you, this beseems you not'. But now we shall be able to do whatever we like; and what we do not like, that we shall not have to do."[11]

The Cūlavagga does not record the reaction of Kassapa to the statement of Subhadda. After narrating this incident Kassapa simply told the monks: "Come, my brethren, let us chant together the dhamma and vinaya before the non-dhamma spread and the dhamma be put aside." Then the Cūlavagga goes on to narrate how the formal resolution to chant was adopted, the monks selected and the place for chanting decided upon.

It is to be noted that the account about the formal resolution etc., are not recorded in the Mahāparinibbānasutta. The Mahāparinibbānasutta in fact does not contain the slightest hint as to the chanting of the dhamma and vinaya. Otherwise the two texts agree with each other verbatim, and Oldenberg is of the opinion that the Cūlavagga copied this part of the narraration from the Mahāparinibbānasutta. As the Mahāparinibbānasutta does not breath a single word about the chanting, Oldenberg came to the conclusion that all the incidents connected with the Council (viz. Kassapa's proposal to chant, his selection of the monks, selection of the place for chanting, formal proposal for chanting, and its acceptance by the Saṁgha, the chanting of the dhamma and vinaya etc.) and mentioned in the Cūlavagga but omitted in the Mahāparinibbānasutta are nothing but fiction. And this elaborate fiction, according to Oldenberg, was concocted in imitation of the Second Buddhist Council which is historical.[12] It is, however, not properly explained by Oldenberg why the Cūlavagga would have to copy the Mahāparinibbānasutta or to feel inclined to create such a fiction in imitation of the Second Council. Oldenberg is equally determined to deny the historical nature of even those incidents which are not inseparably connected with the chanting of dhamma and vinaya. For example, Oldenberg also regarded the episodes of Channa and the khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhāpadāni as legends. "The hypothesis forces itself upon us", says Oldenberg "that the redactor of our Chapter of the Cūlavagga spoke of these things (i.e. stories of Channa etc.), because the Mahāparinibbānasutta has spoken of them."[13] "Buddha has given orders to be executed after his death: ought not one, when one had to speak of what had happened after the death of the Buddha, to explain how these orders have been executed? The tradition of the Mahāparinibbānasutta speaks in the sense which we know of the khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhāpadāni; on the other hand the Buddhists did not know that the community had suppressed any of the intended rules. Hence what is simpler than to suppose that the community had resolved to keep all the established rules? "[14]

Thus according to Oldenberg the redactors of the Cūlavagga were familiar with the account of the Mahāparinibbānasutta regarding the khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhāpadāni and the punishment of the Channa, but were not aware whether the instructions of the Buddha had already been carried out or not. So they imagined fitting sequels to the account of the Mahāparinibbānasutta and wrote about the actual execution of the orders of the Buddha. Oldenberg is also skeptical about the historical nature of the episode of the faults of Ānanda which is not connected with the chanting directly.

Poussin has excellently summarised the opinion of Oldenberg in the following way:[15] "Wishing to set forth the primitive compilation of scriptures, postulated by orthodoxy, the compiler of Cūlavagga has naturally brought forward Kassapa, Ānanda and Upāli. He added the story of Kassapa's journey and the episode of the lesser precepts, had grouped and developed several other souvenirs relative to this period: almost all were known to him through the Mahāparinibbāna sutta. In one word Oldenberg believes that all our chapter of the Cūlavagga is a forgery."

(i) - Finot and Obermiller’s critical views toward that of Oldenberg:

As against Oldenberg's contention that the Mahāparinibbānasutta maintains utter silence concerning the First Council, Finot[16] offers the following arguments. He points out that the chapters XI and XII of the Cūlavagga which contain the accounts of the two Councils, have such an abrupt beginning unlike the other chapters of the Cūlavagga that they could not have been originally a part of this work. He further points out that the Mahāpaninibbānasutta also differs from the other suttas of the Dīgha Nikāya in the nature of its contents, being more historical in character, and that the Mahāpaninibbānasutta and the two chapters (XI, XII) of the Cūlavagga are so similar in nature that they must have been originally parts of one and the same work. In support of his view he refers to a work entitled Samyukta-vastu (Nanjio 1121), the Vinaya of the Mulasarvastivadins, which contains the account of both parinibbāna and the Councils, and concludes therefrom that the Theravadins too had a work corresponding to the Saṁyutta-vatthu (Sanskrit: Samyukta-vastu) and that it was dismembered at a later date by the ancient editors of the Nikāyas and Vinaya. Dr. Obermiller[17] corroborates Finot's contention and gives us in detail the contents of the Vinayakhuddaka (Sanskrit: Vinaya-ksudraka) which roughly corresponds to the Cūlavagga, and shows that it not only contains the account of the two Councils but also the Mahāpaninibbānasutta. He further points out that: "The stories of the Councils begin just on the same line in which the narrative of the burial of the Buddha finishes, without any indication whatsoever".

In view of these evidences Prof. N. Dutt[18] takes Finot's contention as sound, viz., that the Mahāpaninibbānasutta and at least the chapter XI (and not the chapter XII) of the Cūlavagga originally formed one treatise, and in the analogy of the Vinayakhuddaka it may further be stated that the Mahāpaninibbānasutta formed originally the first portion of the chapter XI of the Cūlavagga. This takes away the force of Oldenberg's arguments and we may now brush them aside. Poussin[19] also is inclined to support the conclusions of Finot drawn on the basis of his finding of the text of Saṁyutta-vatthu.

(ii)- Investigation of Finot's View

It is difficult to support the views of Finot and others. Both the Saṁyutta-vatthu and the Vinaya-khuddaka belong to the Mulasarvastivadins. And it is only the Mulasarvastivadins who have joined the Mahāparinibbānasutta and the account of the two Councils into one single text.

This arrangement has not been followed by any other school which arose out of the Sthaviras. The tradition followed by these schools definitely shows that the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta was regarded as a sutta which was held separate from the account of the First Council. Though the Mahāsaṁghika version of the Mahāparinibbānasutta has not come down to us, it is certain that the Mahāsaṁghikas possessed this sutta. The Mahāsaṁghika Vinaya[20] refers to this sutta by name and reproduces certain informations mentioned in the available Mahāparinibbānasutta versions belonging to schools which developed out of the Sthaviras. Thus the compilation of the Mahāparinibbānasutta must have been completed before the Sthavira-Mahāsaṁghika split. It is clear that even in this early period the Mahāparinibbānasutta was known as sutta to the Mahāsaṁghikas, and that, according to the Mahāsaṁghika tradition also, it existed separately from the account of the First Council. So it is obvious that the arrangement discussed by Finot and other scholars is to be taken as a later development peculiar to the Mulasarvastivadins, and can be of no use in determining the arrangement of the Buddhist traditions in the earliest period. This cannot solve the problem raised by Oldenberg due to the silence of the Mahāparinibbānasutta. As for the abrupt beginning of the Cūlavagga account it has been shown later that this perception of the abruptness is only due to the misunderstanding of the real nature of this part of the Cūlavagga account. There are, however, some objective grounds for rejecting the view of Oldenberg which may now be discussed.

(iii)- Examination of Oldenberg's hypothesis:

The grand edifice of Oldenberg's theory rests on a number of facts and assumptions. The observations that certain parts of the Cūlavagga agrees verbatim with the Mahāparinibbānasutta, and that the Mahāparinibbānasutta does not mention anything about the First Council refer to facts. As for the assumptions which contribute greatly to giving the final shape to the theory of Oldenberg we may note the following:

1. The Mahāparinibbānasutta is earlier in origin than the Cūlavagga XI.

2. The compilers of the Cūlavagga XI were quite familiar with the Mahāparinibbānasutta and under the influence of the second Buddhist Council copied some portions of the Mahāparinibbāna-sutta (e.g. the report of Kassapa about Subhadda) as well as elaborated and brought to reasonable completion some episodes mentioned in the Mahāparinibbānasutta (e.g. the episode of Channa etc.). This suggests a long gap between the completion of theMahāparinibbānasutta and the compilation of the Cūlavagga XI.

3. The Mahāparinibbānasutta would have recorded the traditions connected with the chanting of dhamma and vinaya mentioned in the Cūlavagga provided these were known to the compiler of the Mahāparinibbānasutta.

4. Such Cūlavagga episodes which should have been mentioned by the Mahāparinibbānasutta but find no mention there are to be taken as legends. Accordingly the chanting of the dhamma and vinaya in a council passed over in utter silence by the Mahāparinibbānasutta but given a prominent place in the Cūlavagga XI was taken to be a legend by Oldenberg. Similarly all the other events exclusively mentioned in the Cūlavagga and inseparably bound up with the chanting also came to be regarded as legends by Oldenberg.

5. The compiler of the Cūlavagga had to imagine fitting sequels to the episodes of Channa and the khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhā-padāni mentioned in the Mahāparinibbānasutta.

6. Conversely, if an episode is recorded in both the Cūlavagga XI and the Mahāparinibbānasutta it should be regarded as authentic. For example, the Buddha's instructions about Channa and the minor rules as well as Kassapa's report to the monks about the Ājīvaka monk and Subhadda mentioned in both the Mahāpari-nibbānasutta[21] and the Cūlavagga XI[22] have not been marked out as legends by Oldenberg.

Before we start our examination of the theory propounded by Oldenberg we would like to enumerate the following principles which should guide us in our investigation:

a. Any tradition mentioned not only in the Vinayas of the Buddhist sects which developed out of the Sthaviras, but also in the Mahāsaṁghika Vinaya can be reasonably taken to have originated before the Sthavira-Mahāsaṁghika schism. Such an early tradition should be regarded as authentic unless there is some strong evidence to the contrary. The rejection of such a tradition without unassailable arguments cannot be justified.

b. On the other hand, if a tradition finds mention only in the canon of the Sthavira sects or of the Mahāsaṁghika, it can be said to have become a part of the canon at the hands of the Sthaviras or the Mahāsaṁghikas, but cannot be taken for granted to have been known to the undivided Buddhist community before the Sthavira-Mahāsaṁghika schism. The mention of a tradition in this stage should not, under normal condition, affect adversely the authenticity of a tradition belonging to the earliest period.

c. According to earliest traceable classification of the Buddhist literature ‘dhamma' and 'krtya' belonged to mutually exclusive categories, the former referred to the suttas while the latter dealt with the collection of krtyas or Formal Acts. A tradition belonging to one category did not form a part of another category.[23] The Mahāparinibbānasutta was included in the category of dhamma while the Cūlavagga is basically a collection of krtyas.[24] The accounts of the chanting of the dhamma and vinaya, the discussion of the minor rules etc. are all Formal Acts performed by the Saṁgha, though in some cases all the steps in the procedure of a fully developed Formal Act are not mentioned. There is no doubt, that if the early Buddhists wanted to group together such events, they could have done so only under the category of 'krtya'.

d. According to the ancient Buddhist law each krtya is to be regarded as separate from or independent of other krtyas, each of them being introduced by a separate proposal and concluded by a particular resolution. So the incidents described in the Cūlavagga XI are to be treated as independent Formal Acts performed separately by an identical group of competent monks within the legal boundary of a Saṁgha. It also follows that to the early Buddhists the Cūlavagga XI is neither an account of a Council nor that of a tribunal but represents merely a collection of Formal Acts.

We may start our criticism of Oldinberg's view by pointing out that there is no decisive reason to hold that the Mahāparinibbānasutta is earlier than the Cūlavagga XI. It is true that the Mahāparinibbānasutta deals with events that took place before the holding of the First Council. However the fact that the Mahāparinibbānasutta records earlier events does not by itself prove that this was composed at an earlier date. The possibility that the Mahāparinibbānasutta might have been composed at a later date cannot be ignored. The Mahāparinibbānasutta not only describes the last days and the funeral ceremony of the Buddha but also records the distribution of the relics and the construction of the stupas over the relics which certainly took place quite some time after the death of the Buddha. On the other hand the First Council took place, according to the tradition of the undivided Buddhist community during the first rainy season after the Buddha's Parinibbāna. The time gap between these two events is quite short, and it is obvious that the Mahāparinibbānasutta could not have been composed before the First Council or discussed during the Council. In short, the Mahāparinibbānasutta or rather the genuine traditions exclusively recorded in the Mahāparinibbānasutta had not yet become a part of the official canon fixed during the First Council. On the other hand, the Cūlavagga XI records different Formal Acts performed during the First Council and so the core of this account must be contemporaneous with the Council.

A careful analysis of the Cūlavagga XI will even now reveal to us traces of such traditions which became part of the Buddhist scripture during the time of the First Council and therefore, before the compilation of the Mahāparinibbānasutta. Some of these traditions came to be included in the Mahāparinibbānasutta at a later date. Let us, for example, first discuss that part of the Cūlavagga XI where Kassapa is reporting to the monks about the reaction of Subhadda to the news of the death of the Buddha. This incidence is also given in the Mahāparinibbānasutta. From the Cūlavagga account it is clear that the monks in general have not yet heard of the Subhadda episode. This detail would be out of place if we have to admit that the Cūlavagga XI was composed at a later period when the Mahāparinibbānasutta had already become quite well known to the Buddhist community. This ignorance on the part of the Buddhist monks indirectly shows that the Mahāparinibbānasutta was not yet composed at that time.

As already pointed out, the Cūlavagga XI mainly consists of a number of krtyas or Formal Acts performed by the Saṁgha. The chanting of the dhamma and the vinaya, the deliberations on the minor rules etc. are different Formal Acts. The features of a Formal Act have been carefully preserved, in case of the chanting of the dhamma and the vinaya. which is mentioned in all the vinaya versions including that of the Mahāsaṁghikas, and thus belongs to the earliest strata of tradition. This is the most important of all the Formal Acts discussed in this chapter, and for the sake of which the First Council was probably held. Now as the chanting is a Formal Act, it, according to the ancient legal custom, was performed with reference to the vatthu, nidāna and puggala,[25] i.e. the subject-matter, the place and the person or persons concerned. The necessary information about these three points were generally supplied as a sort of introduction to the legal act of krtya. The Formal Act of chanting of the dhamma and the vinaya also has its introduction which still can be discerned in the first few sections of the Cūlavagga XI.[26]This introduction which contains the story of Subhadda[27] must be as old as the First Council, and consequently must have been a part of the Buddhist canon long before the Mahāparinibbāna-sutta came to be recognised as a canonical work.

But how this episode came to be later included in the Mahāparinibbānasutta? The reason would be clear if we once again pay attention to the contents of the Mahāparinibbānasutta. This work deals with among other things the parinibbāna of the Buddha and other incidents directly connected with it. So it is but natural that the compiler of the Mahāparinibbānasutta got interested in the incidence of Subhadda as it is directly related to the death of the Buddha. The state of things thus influencing the composition of the Cūlavagga XI and the Mahāparinibbānasutta may be described as follows: The incidence of Subhadda became widely known to the Buddhist monks in that early period after Kassapa's report. It came to be first included in the official Buddhist tradition as a part of the krtya related to the chanting of the dhamma and the vinaya. And the same story due to its connection with the death of the Buddha became an episode in the Mahāparinibbānasutta. The verbatim identity existing between the two accounts can be safely put to the credit of the later editors. The other details exclusively connected with the krtya of chanting such as the official proposition to chant, the selection of the place for chanting etc. were ignored by the compiler of the Mahāparinibbānasutta as these were not directly related to the parinirvāna of the Buddha. We can justly reject the thesis of Oldenberg that the chanting of the dhamma and vinaya together with other relevant details given in the Cūlavagga XI but not found in the Mahāparinibbānasutta are but later fictitious additions to the earlier account of Subhadda. We find that there is no reason to doubt the historical nature of the First Council simply because it has not been mentioned in the Mahāparinibbānasutta.

The cases of the minor rules (Khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhāpadāni) and the monk Channa are slightly different. Each of these episodes consists of two parts: i) the Buddha's instruction, and ii) the execution of this instruction. The instructions on these two cases are mentioned both in the Mahāparinibbānasutta [28]and the Cūlavagga[29] while the account of their execution is only found in the Cūlavagga. Oldenberg[30] came to the conclusion that the monks were no longer aware whether the Buddha's instructions had already been carried out or not. So they imagined fitting sequels to those-instructions in the form of suitable actions taken by the Saṁgha. This theory of Oldenberg is solely based on two presuppositions:)

1. The Mahāparinibbānasutta is an earlier work which influenced the composition of the Cūlavagga XI at a later date.

2. The time-gap between the Mahāparinibbānasutta and the Cūlavagga is long enough to make the monks uncertain about the execution of the Buddha's orders.

But these presuppositions cannot be accepted. The entire Buddhist canon does not provide us with the slightest ground to suppose that the devoted disciples would be so indifferent to the instructions of the Buddha that they would not only neglect to execute them but would not even be certain whether the instructions have been carried out or not. It would be more reasonable to accept as fact the Cūlavagga account that the monks lost no time to act according to the orders of the Buddha. The other objections to the theory of Oldenberg would be the same as what we have already pointed out regarding the chanting of the dhamma and vinaya, viz. i) the Cūlavagga XI is as old as the First Council and the Mahāparinibbānasutta is a comparatively later work; ii) the instructions of the Buddha being connected with the last days of the Buddha naturally find mention in the Mahāparinibbānasutta while official actions taken on the basis of the instructions by the Saṁgha should belong to the category of krtya and as such are justifiably excluded from the Mahāparinibbānasutta and included in the Cūlavagga .

(iv) - Poussin's view on the First Council:

Poussin does not subscribe to the view of Oldenberg and puts it aside as a mere hypothesis.[31] The path he treads is not entirely different from his predecessors; he develops a view which is an improved version of Minayeff's theory. Like Minayeff, he perceives multiple internal contradictions in the account of the Cūlavagga XI, regards the chanting of dhamma and vinaya as a later product of imagination because of such contradiction but ascribes the other episodes to an authentic earlier tradition. Actually the main thrust of his arguments is to prove the legendary nature of the account of chanting the dhamma and vinaya. He strongly believes in the legendary nature of this episode, and this attitude has influenced his summarisation of the Cūlavagga XI, the beginning of which may be quoted below:[32]

Mahākassapa suddenly appears on the scene, no one knows where and whom he is addressing and how he has learned the death of his Master during his journey The expressions given in italics by me were used by Poussin to emphasise the vagueness and suddenness of the rambling Cūlavagga account, and thus to raise doubt about its authenticity. It is to be noted that this imperfect beginning was made to gradually lead us to the account of the chanting of the dhamma and vinaya in the Council.

He proceeds further to show that the account of the chanting does not fit well with the two other episodes narrated in the Cūlavagga XI, viz. the account of the charges brought against, Ānanda, and the discussion on the minor rules (khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhāpadāni). We may first start with the episode of Ānanda.[33]

The monks reproach Ānanda with a number of faults which he had committed before his attainment of the status of an arhat. For example, they told Ānanda: "You committed a fault for you had not enquired about the minor rules. Confess your fault. "Ānanda confessed the faults which he had done either through forgetfulness or with a good intention. And all his replies end with the formula: "I do not see any wrong in that nevertheless out of deference to you (āyasmantānaṁ saddhāya) I confess this sin."

Minayeff[34] questions the propriety of charges being brought against one who is an arhat.

Ānanda has already become an impeccable saint, that is an arhat, and yet he submits to a trial; the assembly calls upon him to do penitence for some sins at any rate, it is a fact that the most ancient accounts have, in spite of their late reaction, preserved the vagueness of the primitive ideas with regard to the saint. We can hardly consider even the fact of the trial an invention of the legend.

It is obvious that Minayeff takes the tradition of Ānanda's trial to be genuine which leads him to conclude that the ideal of an arhat was still vague. This speaks in favour of the antiquity of the tradition. On the other hand, the episode of chanting which could only be done by Arahats, shows that the Arahats were already valued as perfect saints. This is, no doubt, a later tradition, and is contradicted by the earlier tradition. Hence the episode of chanting is a legend.

Oldenberg[35] objects to this view. He points out that the Arhat ideal must have been clear from very ancient time, but he holds that one can naturally make mistake before becoming an arhat, and he can be judged for such a mistake even after he has attained the status of an arhat. Oldenberg points out that anybody who is familiar with the Vinaya, will agree that every offence committed must find its disciplinary action without taking account of the fact as to the guilty person has in the meantime attained to some degree of spiritual perfection. Against this view of Oldenberg, Poussin[36] draws our attention to the episode of Channa and works out a long and complicated thesis in defense of Minayeff. Let us take a look at the episode of Channa [37] so that we would be in a better position to understand the view of Poussin.

After the chanting of dhamma and vinaya, Ānanda informed the monks that the Buddha had instructed the Saṁgha to impose the brahmadanda on Channa. Being asked by the monks Ānanda explains the nature of this punishment: "Let the monk Channa speak whatever pleases him; the monks will not speak to him, will not exhort him, neither will they warn him. “Ānanda agrees to go and announce this sentence to Channa, provided a group of monks accompanies him, "for this monk is fierce and passionate“. Ānanda announces this sentence to Channa who receives it with great humility. His grief and remorse is such that he attains the state of an arhat. He then tells Ānanda: "Suppress for me, O Ānanda, The brahmadanda." From the same moment, O Channa, that you realised the quality of arhat, from that same moment the brahmadanda was suppressed."

The point which Poussin wants to make is that while in case of Channa the punishment is lifted due to his attainment of 'arhat', Ānanda, on the other hand, is subjected to disciplinary action even after he becomes arhat. The saṁgha is adopting different types of action against two Arahats. Poussin further states that Channa finds himself absolved from the brahmana and when it is no longer harmful to him.

This state of things, according to Poussin,[38] shows that from very ancient time the Buddhists were having two very different concepts about the state of an arhat. It refers to a very early period when the concept of arhat had not yet been dogmatically propounded. This is what Minayeff saw here. He is therefore, justified in pointing out the contradiction between the Ānanda episode and the tradition of chanting.

In support of this contention Poussin further states that according to orthodox argument, not only the arhat cannot fall, but also the counsel, assistance etc. of others is absolutely useless to him. The story of an arhat culpable and subject to penance against will is contrary to the orthodoxy of the non-Mahāsaṁghikas. The story of Channa reflects the attitude of the conservative group while episode of Ānanda shows the existence of the non-orthodox group which later championed the five points of Mahādeva and facilitated the rise of the Mahāsaṁghikas.

Poussin[39] is further of the opinion that "in the oldest account there is no question of a Council; they reprimand Ānanda. If one adds to this nucleus the legend of a Council, the reprimand of Ānanda will not at first change its character: and if orthodoxy, just about to be formed exacts that all the members of the Council should be Arahats, there will be no difficulty in assigning to the reprimand the second rank which is suitable to it after the narration of an event of so great importance as the reaction of the Scriptures. Orthodoxy is not yet sufficiently sensitive to feel the contradiction of the chronological arrangement; it is not sufficiently rigid to exclude the precise mention of the 'non-sanctity' of Ānanda at the time of gathering the object of which was to punish him. All that the orthodox tendency can obtain is to promote Ānanda to sanctify during the night of the Council.

The elaborate speculations of Poussin can be summarised thus: Originally the episode of Ānanda who was not an arhat was an independent matter which became in course of time the nucleus to which was added the imaginary account of the Council. Due to the importance of the Council its account was related first and then was narrated the episode of Ānanda. Up to this stage of development there is no contradiction, for the arhat element has not yet been introduced. The contradiction arises when due to the demand of orthodoxy Ānanda is first made an arhat before the Council starts, and then because of the previously arranged sequence of events, is made to face the charges brought against him.

Poussin comes to the same conclusion regarding the discussion on the minor rules (Khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhāpadāni)[40] during the First Council. Poussin draws our attention to the three references to the minor rules in the Mahāparinibbānasutta VI. 3; the Cūlavagga XI. 9; and the Pācittiya LXXII. In the Mahāparinibbānasutta the Buddha permits the Order to abolish the minor rules if it deems it necessary to do so. In the Cūlavagga XI, we read that Ānanda informed the Saṁgha about this permission of the Buddha. On being asked Ānanda admitted that he had not asked the Buddha which these rules were. The monks offered six different suggestions about the identity of the minor rules, but could not come to any decision. On the advice of Kassapa the Saṁgha adopted the resolution not to change anything which the Buddha had approved. The Pācittiya LXXII states: "If a monk at the time of recitation of the Pātimokkha should speak thus: 'What is the good of recitation of the minor rules, except to engender doubt, weariness and perplexity? ' this monk is guilty of condemning the rules."

In his discussion on these three references Poussin[41] agrees entirely with Minayeff. He points out that whether these references are considered separately or collectively, it becomes clear that here one is dealing with a datum ‘bearing the mark of great antiquity' and which is irreconcilable with a rigorous constitution already fixed by discipline.

Let us first discuss how old could these references be. The compilation of Mahāparinibbānasutta was done at a comparatively later time, after the First Council but before the rise of different Buddhist sects. The Pācittiya rule in question also appears to have been promulgated after the First Council. Poussin[42] thinks that Kassapa, Upāli, Ānanda etc. missed this rule during the First Council. This view is not tenable. It is really unthinkable that the Vinaya experts among the monks would not recall this rule when they were discussing the problem of the minor rules. It is even most likely that the other monks also would be able to point out this Pācittiya rule, for they listened to the recital of Pātimokkha every month. We have good reasons to hold that this rule was not yet formulated at the time of the First Council, and that this Pācittiya rule came into existence later under the influence of the First Council's discussions on the minor rules. It was only during the First Council that the monks for the first time came to know that the Buddha had designated a part of the Pātimokkha rules as khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhāpadāni, and also became aware of the fact that they did not know which rules the Buddha meant when he talked about the abrogation of some minor rules. It was also shortly before his death that the Buddha for the first time used this particular term for the minor rules. So it is not possible that this Pācittiya rule was promulgated before the First Council.

In the Mahāparinibbānasutta the Buddha permits the Saṁgha to annul the minor rules, but the arhats during the First Council decided to preserve all the Vinaya rules, for they lacked precise knowledge as to the identity of the minor rules. They virtually put an end to all future deliberations on this problem. It is obvious that the statement of the Pācittiya rule that any discussion unfavourable to the recitation of the minor rules will lead to uncertainty, and therefore it is an ecclesiastical offence to do so reflects faithfully the cautious spirit of the First Council, but runs counter to the generous attitude of the Buddha. This suggests that the Pācittiya LXXII was promulgated after the First council.

The Cūlavagga XI account of the minor rules, however, really belongs to a very early period. It has been mentioned in all the Vinaya versions, and therefore surely goes back to the time of the undivided Buddhist community. And this genuinely old tradition of the minor rules according to Poussin cannot be reconciled with the tradition of chanting the Vinaya, for while the former shows that the disciplinary rules at the time of the death of the Buddha were very far from being fixed, the latter speaks of the rules being officially fixed during the First Council. This contradiction shows that the account of the chanting is a later fabrication. Poussin further thinks that this episode also shows a clash between the liberal and orthodox forces.[43]

(v) - Censure of Poussin's view:

We have seen that one of the reasons for which Poussin considers the chanting to be a legend is that the initial part of the account of the Cūlavagga XI leaves out many necessary details and so appears to be disconnected and abrupt. This objection of Poussin is not tenable when we comprehend the true nature of this part of the Cūlavagga account. Here we are actually dealing with an introduction to the Krtya of chanting the dhamma and vinaya. An official act performed by the Saṁgha, that is a krtya, must be accompanied by informations regarding vatthu, nidāna and puggala. The initial portion of the Cūlavagga XI provides us with necessary informations on these points. It tells us about the business the monks are to perform (vatthu) the place where the chanting is to take place (nidāna) and the persons selected for the chanting (puggala). As all these relevant details are contained in this portion of the Cūlavagga XI account, it cannot be regarded as disconnected and abrupt. The introductory part of the Cūlavagga account has even indirectly mentioned the story of Subhadda as the cause of the chanting. Though this piece of information was not legally necessary for the krtya, it was naturally recorded as it was so closely connected with the proposal of chanting. This also seems to be an authentic piece of tradition as it not only finds mention in the different Sthavira accounts but also in the Mahāsaṁghika Vinaya. The other details to which Poussin drew our attention while summarising the Cūlavagga account are so superfluous from the legal point of view of the Buddist Saṁgha and so far removed from the account of the chanting that they were quite naturally ignored in the Vinaya accounts. It is absolutely superfluous to introduce the introduction containing the legally necessary information concerning the krtya, and the recording of these details would be unnecessary even for introducing the introduction. Thus the non-mention of these details does not in the least affect the authenticity of the Cūlavagga account.

It is also not correct to maintain that the two episodes of Channa and Ānanda prove the imposition of different punishments where uniformity was expected. From the Mahāparinibbānasutta and Cūlavagga accounts it is clear that Channa has not actually committed any offence. He was known to be of passionate and violent nature, and the brahmadanda was imposed on him not as a punishment for some offence already done, but as a preventive measure. It was imposed to prevent the arising of a situation that may provoke Channa to act violently to others. The narration in the Cūlavagga does not show that due to his attainment of 'arhatva'. Channa is getting absolved from any offence committed by him in the past. Ānanda, on the other hand, has actually done something which was wrong in the opinion of the Saṁgha, and must be met with disciplinary action. Thus the cases of Channa and Ānanda represent two different legal problems, and the Cūlavagga is, therefore, justified in recording two different types of actions being taken against them. This account of the Cūlavagga cannot be interpreted as showing the existence of two different concepts of arhat followed by the orthodox and non-orthodox monks. Moreover the contention that an arhat cannot be subjected to any disciplinary action does not stand to reason. The term ‘arhat' simply stands for a spiritual concept. Arhat is an enlightened person who has attained freedom from ignorance, passions and rebirth. But he is liable to commit mistake about anything which is not integral to the enlightened state of an arhat. In the Cūlavagga XI itself we have passages which confirm our characterization of an arhat. Here we read the Ānanda[44] became free from passions (āsava) when he attained the spiritual height of arhatva (Pāli: Arahatta). We also know from this chapter of the Cūlavagga that the arhats made mistake about the definition of minor rules. Similarly the mistakes Ānanda made had nothing to do with the ‘arhatva'. From the confession of Ānanda it appears that the actions of Ānanda were not even mistakes according to the current monastic rules, though the Saṁgha had the legal authority to interpret them as mistakes. These actions of Ānanda came to be regarded as offences of which Ānanda was absolved by confession. It should be also noted in this connection that there is no doctrine belonging to this early period explicitly stating that an arhat can never act in a culpable manner, or that he cannot be charged for any violation of the discipline done by him. Thus there is no reason to conclude that the episode of the charges against Ānanda contradicts the tradition that he had attained arhatva before he was subjected to disciplinary action.[45] The incidence of charges against Ānanda does not reveal the vagueness of the arhat concept, but it shows that the spiritual perfection of an arhat does not automatically exempt him from his past mistakes in disciplinary matters. This legal standpoint is in conformity with the Buddhist doctrine of karma. Even a Buddha has to suffer the effects of his past actions.

Likewise Poussin's observations, on the account of the Khuddānukhuddakāni sikkhāpadāni cannot be accepted. Poussin first emphasises the antiquity of the tradition regarding the minor rules, and then proceeds to point out that this tradition is irreconcilable with the episode of chanting the entire Vinaya, thereby implying that the tradition of chanting cannot be trusted as an authentic piece of history.[46] The view that the tradition of the minor rules goes back to remote antiquity can be fully supported. We have seen that the promulgation of the Pācittiya LXXII was caused by the discussion of minor rules in the First Council. This indirectly proves the antiquity of the tradition about its discussion in the First Council. The fact that this tradition finds mention in all the Vinayas including that of the Mahāsaṁghikas, proves that it originated before the Sthavira- Mahāsaṁghika schism, and should be taken to be as old as the First Council. However the other part of Poussin's theory viz. The traditions of the minor rules were earlier than, the tradition of chanting and contradicts it, cannot be supported. Poussin based his conclusion on the assumption that at the time of the discussion of the minor rules no fixed code of discipline existed. It appears that this surmise of Poussin is too far fetched and does not take into consideration other relevant traditions. The discussions on the minor rules show that the Buddhists were already certain about the definition of Vinaya, and they also knew that the minor rules consisted of a part of this Vinaya, though they had no precise knowledge as to which part it was. The definition of Vinaya that emerges from the discussions on the minor rules is in conformity with the concept of Vinaya[47] that emerges from our discussion of the schismatic matters. And the discussions on the minor rules and the chanting of the Vinaya were done by the same group of monks. So it is obvious that the Vinaya was already a fixed code at the time of the First Council, and the tradition about the chanting cannot be later than that of the discussion on the minor rules. Both these traditions belong to the same period and find mention in all the Vinayas. Moreover, that the Buddhists were discussing the minor rules in order to abrogate a part of the Vinaya does not in any way prove that the Vinaya, as understood by them in that early period, was not already compiled and fixed. The monks cannot be expected to abrogate a part of the Vinaya, unless they know what is exactly meant by Vinaya. This opinion is also supported by the tradition that the Buddha told Ānanda that the Dhamma and Vinaya would be the teacher of the monks after his death.[48] Moreover the fact that the Vinaya consists of the rules promulgated by the Buddha did not form a bar to the abolition of a part of it. It was the Buddha himself who had authorized the monks to abrogate the minor rules if necessary. Thus the contention of Poussin that the tradition of chanting the vinaya at the First Council is a legend for it is contradicted by the earlier tradition of the minor rules is not acceptable.

To sum up, the historic nature of the Cūlavagga XI account, specially the episode of chanting the dhamma and vinaya, has been denied either because of the silence of the Mahāparinibbānasutta about the chanting, or due to the internal contradictions supposed to be existed between the different episodes narrated in the Cūlavagga XI. But we found that these objections against the authenticity of the account are not valid, for they are based on the following wrong assumptions:

1. The Mahāparinibbānasutta is earlier than the Cūlavagga XI.

2. The Mahāparinibbānasutta would have recorded the krtyas concerning, the chanting, the minor rules, charges against Ānanda etc. if these were known to it.

3. The episodes of Ānanda and the minor rules represent earlier tradition and contradict the account of chanting which is of later origin.

These assumptions are shown to be wrong by our finding that while the Mahāparinibbānasutta deal with materials connected with the dhamma, the Cūlavagga XI is concerned with krtya traditions, and as such the Mahāparinibbānasutta will naturally omit traditions that rightfully belong to the category of krtya. Moreover we have shown that all these episodes including that of the chanting belong to the earliest traceable tradition current before the Sthavira-Mahāsaṁghika schism, and there is no objective ground whatsoever to hold one episode earlier than the other.

On the other hand, there is strong internal evidence to show that the episode of chanting also bears mark of great antiquity. If we analyse materials bearing upon the connotation of the term 'vinaya' as given in accounts of the First Council, and the list of schismatic matters, we will see that the term 'vinaya' has been used in an extremely archaic sense, viz. to mean some of the disciplinary rules at present included in the Pātimokkha-sutta and the informations regarding vatthu, nidāna and puggāla with reference to these rules. Hence not only the episodes of Ānanda, minor rules etc. but also the account of chanting the dhamma and vinaya should be regarded as history.

III - The traditional view on the First Council:

The traditional Buddhist sources show that Collection tells us that Kaccāna was the foremost among those who could accurately expand an utterance of the Master's which had been spoken concisely.[49] The Middling Collection adds that Buddha complimented Kaccāna upon his ability to do this.[50] The same Nikāya no.84 tells us that Kaccāna converted the King of Avanti after Buddha's decease, and the monarch was ready to take him for his master. Besides this learned Kaccāna, there was Ānanda learned in the Suttas, Upāli in the Vinaya etc. So obviously does this great list of disciples bear upon the First Council, that the oldest Chronicler of Ceylon gives a poetic abridgment thereof in his two accounts.[51] These documents probably emanate from the Great Minister and some other monastery in the ancient capital of Ceylon.

There is, in the Pāli Canon, an archaic work, the Itivuttaka. Each paragraph in this venerable Gospel-source is attested by the solemn words: "Exactly this is the meaning of what the Blessed One said, and thus it was heard by me." Though no names are given, this formula implies that earwitnesses made depositions as to what they had heard from the Master.

Another ancient document, the Great Section on Discipline, exhibits a charming picture of the monks reciting the Master's words even during his lifetime: on the last night of the yearly residence during the rains, the reciters sat up late comparing notes and fixing in their minds the discourses they had chanted together. Another document of the Discipline, the Minor Section, tells us how the famous disciple Dabba, the Mallaputta, (who could light the monks to bed by emitting magnetic flames from his fingers) allotted apartments to the different reciters: the Sutta-reciters and the Vinaya-reciters were housed together. Another ancient Discipline document, the Pārājika, enumerates Nine Divisions into which the sacred lore was divided. Three of these divisions, Jātaka, Udāna, Itivuttaka, are names of leading books of the Canon to this day; a fourth one, Sutta, is the name of the great fivefold collection; while three other names enter into the titles of books or discourses.

Thus we have reason to believe, from the Canon itself, even in its oldest documents, that a Council to fix it after Buddha's decease was inevitable. The monks had been used to hold just such a council every year through the long decades of his life-work, and they could not have done without one when he was no more.

(i) - Sketch biography of the chief Council:

When the Buddha Gotama appeared in the world, Kaccāna was born as the son of the chaplain (purohita) in the city of Ujjeni, the capital of Avanti, to the southwest of the Middle Country.[52] His father's personal name was Tiritivaccha, his mother's Candima,[53] and they were of the Kaccāyana clan, one of the oldest and most highly respected lines of brahmanas. Since he was born with a golden colored body, his parents exclaimed that he had brought his name along with him at birth, and they named him "Kañcana," which means "golden." As a brahmana and the son of the court chaplain, when Kañcana grew up he studied the Three Vedas, the traditional sacred scriptures of the brahmanas, and after his father's death he succeeded him in the position of court chaplain.

The king of Avanti at the time that Kaccāna became chaplain was Candapajjota, Pajjota the Violent. He was known by this epithet because of his explosive and unpredictable temper. When King Candapajjota heard that the Buddha had arisen in the world, he assembled his ministers and asked those who were so capable to go and invite the Blessed One to visit Ujjeni. The ministers all agreed that the only one who was truly capable of bringing the Buddha to Avanti was the chaplain Kaccāna. The king therefore assigned him to go on this mission, but Kaccāna laid down a condition before he would accede to the king's request: he would go only if he would be permitted to become a monk after meeting the Enlightened One. The king, ready to accept any condition in exchange for a meeting with the Tathāgata, gave his consent.

Kaccāna set out accompanied by seven other courtiers. When they met the Master, he taught them the Dhamma, and at the end of the discourse Kaccāna and his seven companions all attained Arahantship together with the four analytical knowledges (paṭisambhidā-ñāna). The Buddha granted them ordination simply by welcoming them into the Saṁgha with the words, "Come, bhikkhus."[54]

The new bhikkhu, now the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna, then began to praise the splendors of Ujjeni to the Buddha. The Master realized that his new disciple wanted him to travel to his native land, but he replied that it would be sufficient for Kaccāna to go himself, as he was already capable of teaching the Dhamma and of inspiring confidence in King Candapajjota.

In the course of their return journey the party of monks arrived at a town named Telapanali, where they stopped to gather alms. In that town lived two maidens, merchants' daughters of different families. One girl was beautiful, with lovely long hair, but both her parents had expired and she lived in poverty, looked after by her governess. The other girl was wealthy, but was afflicted with an illness that had caused her to lose her hair. Repeatedly she had tried to persuade the poor girl to sell her hair so she could make a wig but the poor girl had consistently refused.

Now, when the poor girl saw the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna and his fellow monks walking for alms, their bowls as empty as if they had just been washed, she felt a sudden surge of faith and devotion arise in her towards the elder, and she decided to offer alms to the party of bhikkhus. However, as she had no wealth, the only way she could obtain money to buy provisions was to sell her hair to the rich girl. This time, as the hair came to the rich girl already cut, she paid only eight coins for it. With these eight coins the poor girl had almsfood prepared for the eight bhikkhus, using one coin for each portion. After she had presented the alms, as an immediate fruit of the meritorious deed, her full head of hair instantly grew back to its original length.

When the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna arrived back in Ujjeni, he reported this incident to King Candapajjota. The king had the girl conveyed to his palace and at once appointed her his chief queen. From that time onwards the king greatly honored Mahā Kaccāna. Many people of Ujjeni who heard the elder preach gained faith in the Dhamma and went forth under him as monks. Thus the entire city became: (in the words of the commentary) "a single blaze of saffron robes, a blowing back and forth of the banner of sages." The queen, who was exceedingly devoted to the elder, built for him a dwelling in the Golden Grove Park.

So says the Anguttara Commentary, but the Pāli Canon itself suggests that, the Saṁgha was not as well established in Avanti as the commentator would lead us to believe. This fact can be discerned from a story involving the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna that is reported in the Mahāvagga of the Vinaya Piṭaka.[55]

When this story unfolds, the elder was dwelling in Avanti at his favorite residence, the Osprey's Haunt on Precipice Mountain. A lay disciple of his named Sona Kuṭikanna came to him and expressed the wish to go forth under him as a monk. But Kaccāna, seeing perhaps that the householder was not yet ready to take such a big step, discouraged him with the words: "Difficult, Sona, is it to sleep alone, to eat one meal a day, and to observe celibacy for as long as life lasts. While remaining a householder, you should apply yourself to the Buddha's teaching, and at the proper times you may sleep alone, eat one meal a day, and observe celibacy."

With these words Sona's enthusiasm for ordination subsided. Some time later, however, the urge was rekindled, and he approached the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna with the same request. A second time the elder discouraged him, and a second time Sona's desire for ordination abated. When Sona approached him for the third time and asked for ordination, Mahā Kaccāna gave him the "going forth" (pabbajjā), that is, the initial ordination as a novice (sāmanera).

During the Buddha's time it seems to have been customary to grant mature men, already endowed with faith in the Dhamma and well acquainted with its tenets, both ordinations in immediate succession. The novice ordination would be given first, and then right afterwards the ceremony of higher ordination (upasampadā) would be performed, making the postulant a bhikkhu, a full member of the Saṁgha. But at the time that the above incident took place Avanti was short of monks, being a region quite far from the Buddha's own missionary rounds and from the other centers of Buddhist activity. According to the disciplinary regulations that were still in effect, the higher ordination had to be performed by a chapter of at least ten bhikkhus (dasavagga-bhikkhusaṁgha). But such was the situation in Avanti that the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna could not easily find even nine other bhikkhus to confer the higher ordination on Sona. It was only three years later that the elder could, with trouble and difficulty, convene an assembly of ten bhikkhus from different places in the region to give Sona the higher ordination.

When the Venerable Sona had completed his first rains retreat as a bhikkhu, the wish arose in him to pay a visit to the Buddha. He had heard many times the highest praise of the Blessed One, his lord and refuge, yet he had never seen the Master face to face, and now the desire to do so have become irresistible. He went to his preceptor to ask for his permission to make the long journey to Sāvatthi, where the Buddha was residing. Not only did the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna applaud his disciple's desire to see the Buddha, but he asked Sona to convey to the Lord an appeal that certain monastic regulations be relaxed to suit the different social and geographical conditions that prevailed in Avanti and in other border regions.

When the Venerable Sona came to the Buddha and explained his preceptor's request, the Master readily agreed. First, to determine what districts should count as border regions, the Buddha defined the boundaries of the Middle Country, wherein the original regulations were to remain binding. Then he announced the revised versions of the rules that would apply in the border regions, though not in the Middle Country. These revised rules are the following:

(1) The higher ordination would not require ten bhikkhus but could now be given by a chapter of five, one of whom must be a master of the Vinaya, the monastic discipline.

(2) Monks are allowed to use sandals with thick linings, as the ground in those regions is rough and hard on the feet.

(3) Monks are permitted to bathe frequently, as the people of Avanti attach great importance to bathing.

(4) Sheepskins and goatskins, etc., could be used as coverlets.

(5) Robes could be accepted on behalf of a monk who has left the district, and the ten days' period during which (under the rule) an extra robe could be kept would begin only when the robe actually reaches his hands.

We cannot find in the suttas or in the commentaries offer us abundant biographical information about the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna's life in the Saṁgha. They focus, rather, on his role as teacher, especially on his detailed expositions of the Buddha's brief statements. From the settings (nidāna) to the suttas in which Mahā Kaccāna appears, we can infer that after his ordination he spent most of his time in Avanti. Usually, it seems, he dwelt quietly in seclusion, though when occasion arose he gave instruction to others. Periodically he would go to visit the Buddha at his main places of residence, and it seems likely that he also sometimes accompanied him on his preaching tours. The three suttas of the Majjhima Nikāya in which Mahā Kaccāna appears in the role of expositor open at three different locales, in Kapilavatthu, Rājagaha, and Sāvatthi. As these cities were, relative to the geographical extent of the Ganges Valley, widely separated from each other, and as all were far from Avanti, this suggests either that the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna spent long periods accompanying the Buddha on his journeys or that he would travel to the different monastic centers where the Buddha resided when he heard that the Master intended to stay there for some time.

We do not find in the texts indications that Mahā Kaccāna entered into close friendships with the other leading monks, as for instance Sāriputta, Mahā Moggallāna, and Ānanda did with one another. He seems to be one who generally lived aloof, though he did not place a strict emphasis on seclusion in the manner of one like the Venerable Mahā Kassapa, nor did he seem especially stern in his asceticism.[56] He was ready to assume teaching duties on request, as we shall see, but we find that he always appears in the suttas in the role of expositor and elucidator of the Dhamma to others. We do not see the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna engage in person-to-person dialogues with other monks, as we see in the case of all the above-mentioned elders; neither do we see him address inquiries to the Buddha, as even the wisest of the bhikkhus, the Venerable Sāriputta, often did. His absence is conspicuous in the Mahāgosinga Sūtta[57], wherein the other outstanding disciples gather on a full-moon night to discuss the ideal bhikkhu who could illuminate the forest. On that occasion six great elders -- Sāriputta, Moggallāna, Ānanda, Mahā Kassapa, Anuruddha, and Revata -- each describe the ideal bhikkhu according to their particular dispositions, and at the end the Buddha offers his own picture of the most worthy monk. Surely if Mahā Kaccāna was present on that occasion he would have described such a monk as one skilled in the detailed exposition of brief sayings.

Mahā Kaccāna did grant ordination, as we saw above in the case of Sona, though his pupils were probably not very numerous, despite the words of the Anguttara Commentary. One of his pupils was the bhikkhu Isidatta, who even while very young had impressed many of the older monks with his incisive replies to difficult questions on the Dhamma.[58]There can be little doubt that Isidatta's adroitness in tackling subtle points of doctrine reflects the rigorous training he must have received from the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna.

On one occasion when the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna visited the Buddha he received special homage from Sakka, the king of the gods.[59] This occurred when the Buddha was dwelling at the Eastern Park at Sāvatthi, in the Mansion of Migāra's Mother. The Lord was sitting surrounded by a company of great disciples on the occasion of the pavāranā, the ceremony of mutual criticism among the monks which ends the annual rains retreat. Because Mahā Kaccāna regularly used to visit the Buddha in order to hear the Dhamma, coming even from a long distance, the other chief elders would always reserve a seat for him in case he should unexpectedly turn up.

On this occasion Sakka, along with his celestial retinue, drew near to the holy assembly and prostrated himself before the Blessed One. Since he did not see the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna, he thought to himself: "It would be good indeed if the noble elder would arrive." Just at that moment Mahā Kaccāna approached and took his seat. When Sakka beheld him, he grasped him firmly by the ankles, expressed his joy over the elder's arrival, and honored him with gifts of scents and flowers. Some of the younger monks were upset and complained that Sakka was being partial in his display of reverence, but the Buddha reproved them with the words: "Monks, those monks who, like my son Mahā Kaccāna, guard the doors of the senses, are beloved both among gods and humans." He then pronounced the following stanza of the Dhammapada (v.94):

"Even the gods hold him dear,
Whose senses are subdued
Like horses trained well by a charioteer,
Whose pride is destroyed,
And who is free from corruptions."

That the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna was actually one who devoted much attention to the mastery of the sense faculties is borne out by his discourses, which (as we shall see below) often emphasize the need for guarding "the doors of the senses."

The commentaries record two curious series of events, both of which stemmed from the impression that the elder's physical form made on the minds of others. One of these, reported in the Dhammapada Commentary,[60] involved a young man named Soreyya, who was the son of the treasurer in the city of the same name. One day the youth Soreyya was driving out of the city in a carriage, en route to a bathing spot together with an intimate friend and a merry band of companions. Just as they were leaving the city the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna was standing at the city gate, putting on his outer robe before entering to walk on alms round. When the youth Soreyya beheld the golden-hued body of the elder, he thought to himself: "Oh, that elder might become my wife! Or may the hue of my wife's body become like the hue of his body!"

At the very moment this thought passed through his mind, Soreyya was instantly transformed from a man into a woman. Startled by this inexplicable change of sex, he jumped out of the carriage and fled before the others could notice what had occurred. Gradually he made his way to the city of Takkasīla. His companions searched for him in vain and reported his strange disappearance to his parents. When all attempts to trace him proved futile, his parents concluded that he had died and they had the funeral rites performed.

Meanwhile the woman Soreyya, on reaching Takkasila, met the son of the city's treasurer, who fell in love with her and took her as his wife. In the first years of their marriage she gave birth to two sons. Previously, while a man, Soreyya had fathered two sons through his wife in his native city. Thus he was the parent of four children, two as a father and two as a mother.

One day the former intimate friend of Soreyya came to Takkasīla on some personal business. Lady Soreyya saw him in the street and recognized him. She called him into her house and revealed to him the secret of her mysterious metamorphosis from a man into a woman. The friend proposed that Soreyya should offer alms to the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna, who was living close by, and then beg pardon from him for having given rise to such a lewd thought.

The friend then went to the elder and invited him to come to the lady's house for alms on the following day. When the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna arrived, the friend brought Lady Soreyya into his presence, informed him of what had happened long ago, and asked him to pardon her for that transgression. As soon as the elder uttered the words "I pardon you," Lady Soreyya was transformed back into a man. Shaken out of all worldly complacency by this double metamorphosis, Soreyya determined that he could never again lead the household life. He took ordination as a bhikkhu under Mahā Kaccāna, and after a short time attained Arahantship together with the supernormal powers.

Vassakāra, the chief minister of Magadha under the parricide King Ajātasattu, was less fortunate, though his misfortune sprang entirely from his own pride and obstinacy and not from some force outside his control. The commentary to the Majjihima Nikāya reports that one day, when Vassakāra saw the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna coming down from the mountain Vulture Peak, he explained: "He looks just like a monkey!"[61] Such an exclamation seems strange, particularly as Mahā Kaccāna is described in the texts as being especially handsome and graceful in his physical presence. Whatever the reason for the remark, news of the incident spread and eventually reached the Buddha. The Blessed One said that if Vassakāra should go to the elder and beg his pardon, all would be well; but if he does not ask pardon he would be reborn as a monkey in the Bamboo Grove in Rājagaha. This was reported back to Vassakāra. As the chief minister of the kingdom, he must have been too proud to beg forgiveness from a mendicant monk. Thus, reflecting that whatever the Buddha says must turn out to be true, he resigned himself to his future fate and made preparations for his next existence by planting trees in the Bamboo Grove and setting up a guard to protect the wild life there. It is said that some time after his death a monkey was born in the Bamboo Grove who would draw near when one called out "Vassakāra."

The circumstances of the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna's death are not recorded in the texts, but at the end of the Madhura Sutta, Mahā Kaccāna declares that the Buddha has attained Parinibbāna, so it is evident from this that he himself outlived his Master.

(ii) - The causes of First Council:

Thera Mahākassapa, the first Buddhist patriarch, was the originator of the first assembly for compiling the Piṭakas, is a matter of general acceptance by all schools of Buddhism. His motive, according to the Ceylon tradition, is ascribed to the imprudent utterance of a certain Bhikkhu Subhadda[62] who, hearing of Buddha's entrance into Nibbāna (Sanskrit: Nirvāna), unreservedly gave vent to his feeling of relief, for he thought the religious discipline demanded by his Master was too rigorous.[63]

This tradition agrees with the records in the Vinaya texts of the Mahīsāsaka, the Mahāsaṁghika, and the Dhammagupta schools, and also with those in the Vinaya-mātrikā-Sūtra and the Sudarsana-Vinaya-vibhāsā,[64] whereas in the Vinaya text of the Dhammagupta an additional reason why the Piṭaka should be rehearsed immediately after Buddha's death is given by Thera Mahākssapa thus: "We should now compile the Dhamma and the Vinaya, in order that heretics titthakas (Sanskrit: tīrthakas) shall not make us the subject of superfluous comments and censures, saying that the discipline of the Samana Gotama is like smoke; that when the World-honored One was living, all his disciples observed the precepts, but now, after his disappearance, there are none who observe them." But the Vinaya text of the Sarvāstivāda, Transmission of the Dhammapiṭaka and the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Śāstra do not make any allusion to the unwise Bhikkhu. The Sarvāstivāda-vinaya, the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Śāstra, and the Life of Asoka, on the other hand, state that Mahākassapa was requested or instigated by devas who deeply lamented the possibility of the future loss of the Piṭakas, if not compiled in due time. The Transmission of the Dhammapiṭaka, however, says nothing about the superhuman suggestion. To quote the Sarvāstivāda-vinaya: "Those devas whose long life extends over many kalpas were greatly afflicted at witnessing the Nirvāna of Buddha. But when they came to observe that many a sage had also entered into Nirvāna, they at last began to blame the disciples, saying: 'The Sūtra, Vinaya, and Mātrikā (which constitute) the genuine Dhammapiṭaka taught by the World-honored One are left uncompiled; but surely the disciples are not going to have the right doctrine turned into ashes?”

Surmising the wish of those devas, Mahākassapa said to all Bhikkhus: "You know that the venerable Sāriputta and the venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana, each with a large number of great Bhikkhus who could not bear witnessing Buddha's entrance into Mahānirvāna, had already reverted to a state of perfect tranquillity; and now the World-honored One himself, in turn with 18,000 Bhikkhus, has also entered into Parinibbāna. All those devas who are living innumerable kalpas, however, come forth to express their deep grief, and blame us, saying: 'Why do you not have the holy teachings of the Tipiṭaka compiled? Are you going to have the deepest spiritual doctrine of the Tathāgata turned into ashes?' So I declare to you all that the greatest thing we can do now is the compilation of the Piṭaka. All then responded: 'Well, let us do the work.”

In the Transmission of the Dhammapiṭaka, Mahākassapa is stated to have told all Bhikkhus, as follows: "Buddha is now cremated, but we have no concern with the relics sarīra (Sanskrit: sārīra) of the World-honored One, for kings, the rich, ministers of state, and lay-believers who desire the most excellent bliss will, of their own accord, make offerings to them. What we have to do is the collection of the Dhammacakkhu literally, the eye of the law, whereby to prevent an untimely extinction of the torch of the law in order that it may illuminate the future generation, let a prosperous perpetuation of the Tiratana be not interrupted." The Record of the Collection of the Tipiṭaka and the Samyuktapiṭaka, which was translated during the Eastern Jin dynasty, A.D. 317-420, agrees with the above-mentioned work in referring neither to the imprudent Bhikkhu nor to the suggestion of devas.

(iii) – The elimination of Ānanda

It is almost[65] unanimously recorded in all the Chinese books that Ānanda was not admitted to membership in the Convocation, until he attained to the state of mastery, through the reprimand of Mahākassapa, which successfully awakened in his heart the feelings of deep remorse and shame. There is, however, no agreement of statements as to how Ānanda was instigated by him in obtaining final emancipation.

According to The Sudarsana-vibhāshā-vinaya, Mahākassapa insisted on the exclusion of Ānanda from the Convocation in order to protect it against all the reprehension that might arise from admitting one who was still in the stage of training; but the rest of the congregation thought it impossible to compile the Suttas without Ānanda, so they admonished him to exert all his spiritual powers for the attainment of Arahatship.

The Life of Asoka, the Caturvarga-vinaya of the Dhammagupta School, and the Pañcavarga-vinaya of the Mahīsāsaka School, these three works generally agree in this connection. Ānanda was preaching the Law to a large crowd of people, not knowing anything about Mahākassapa's determination to exclude him from the meeting.

In the Sarvāstivāda-vinaya, a verse slightly different in meaning from the above is also mentioned, but it was given by a mysterious boy who served him as an attendant, instead of by a Bhikkhu. This incident occurred after a severe censure by Mahākasasspa of eight misdemeanors committed by Ānanda. The Vinaya text states that Mahākassapa at first considered what would be the proper way of treating Ānanda, whether with a severe reprehension or with a gentle encouragement. When he had determined to take the first course, Ānanda was brought before the congregation. Mahākassapa said: "You must leave this place. It is not proper for this congregation of worthy Bhikkhus to be associated with you in their work." Hearing this, Ānanda felt as if his heart were being pierced with arrows, and, trembling all over his body, he pleaded with Mahākassapa not to exclude him from the congregation, as he was not conscious of any faults which would justify this severe punishment Mahākassapa now enumerated his eight misdemeanors, which caused Ānanda at last to retire from the assembly and to train himself for the attainment of Arahatship.

In the Mahāsaṁghika-vinaya, Ānanda is stated to have received a very humiliating treatment from Mahākassapa When Mahākassapa was requested by Bhikkhus to admit the former to their assembly, he said: "No, if such a one who is still in the stage of training should be admitted into a congregation of those who are above training and are perfect in their meritorious powers, he would appear like a leprous fox in an assemblage of lions." When this ignominious comparison was communicated by a deva to Ānanda, who was traveling towards Rājagaha, it did not please him at all. But he thought that Mahākassapa who well knew to what family he belonged, would not have referred to him in such a way, if he were free from prejudices. But in the meantime, after attaining his final deliverance, Ānanda hastened through the air to the Convocation. Mahākassapa, it is stated, then explained to him that he used such a vigorous expression, only as he wished to encourage him to reach the stage of Arahatship.

In the Mahā-prajñā-pāramitā-Śāstra, the episode is described somewhat in a similar way to that in the Sarvāstivāda-vinaya. Ānanda is brought before the congregation by Mahākassapa, and is reproached first for his not being yet qualified to rejoin it, and then for his six (not eight) misdemeanors. When Ānanda is expelled from the assembly, Mahākassapa closes the gate behind him, and begins to compile the Vinaya with the remaining Bhikkhus. Exceedingly mortified, Ānanda during the night exercised all his spiritual powers to reach the Path, and when at last he attained to the state of freedom from all prejudices, he rushed at midnight to Mahākassapa's gates. Being told there to come inside through the keyhole, he did so by his supernatural power. Mahākassapa consoled him, saying that the severe reproach had been inflicted upon him simply because he wished to see him enter into the state of Arahatship.

In the Sutta on Kassapa's Compilation of the Tipiṭaka Ānanda is said to have been expelled from the congregation after he was censured by Mahākassapa for his nine misdemeanors in the presence of the Saṁgha.

(iv) - Ānanda’s misdemeanors

When Ānanda said to Mahākassapa that he was not conscious of any faults, and that therefore there was no reason to exclude him from the assembly, Mahākassapa enumerated several of his dukkaṭa (Sanskrit: duskrita), which were considered by him to be the proof that Ānanda was still in the stage of training. This incident is said to have occurred, according to some, before the compilation, but according to others, after it. To the former belong the Sarvāstivāda-vinaya, the Sūtra on Kassapa's compilation, the Mahā-prajñāpāramitā-Śāstra, and the Caturvarga-vinaya of the Dhammagupta School; to the latter belong the Vinayamātrikā Sūtra, the Pañcavarga-vinaya of the Mahīsāsaka, the Life of Asoka, and the Mahā-saṁghika-vinaya. But in the Caturvarga-vinaya, the Mahāsaṁghika-vinaya, [66] the Life of Asoka, the Pañcavarga-vinaya, the faults of Ānanda are simply enumerated without any reference to his qualification as a member of the Convocation.

The number of his faults as censured by Mahākassapa or Upāli is variously estimated at six, seven, eight, and nine. The following sums up all that was charged against him:

1. Ānanda asked Buddha for the admittance of women into the Saṁgha, in spite of Buddha's prediction that if women were admitted, the Law of the Tathāgata would not long abide on earth. [67]

 2. Ānanda did not ask Buddha for the prolongation of his life, when the latter expressly suggested this to him, by saying that those who were trained in the four supernatural powers could either prolong or shorten their life for the period of one kappa.

 3. When Buddha preached in parables, Ānanda made, in spite of his presence, some superfluous remark on them.

 4. Ānanda trod on Buddha's golden-colored robe while trying to wash it (a), or while trying to sew it (b).

 5. Being asked by Buddha to give him some water when he was going to enter into Nibbāna, Ānanda gave him muddy water (a), or he did not give him any, even when thrice asked (b).

 6. When Buddha told Ānanda that Bhikkhus might dispense with minor precepts, he did not make any inquiry as to what precepts should be regarded minor.[68]

 7. Ānanda exposed the secret parts of Buddha in the presence of women, thinking that the act would tend to the cessation of their passions, but how could he know this when he had not yet attained to the stage of Arahatship?

 8. Ānanda showed the gold-colored body of Buddha to a multitude of women, allowing them to defile it with their tears.

 9. Ānanda first allowed women to worship the remains of Buddha.

10. When Ānanda was one time reproached by Buddha, he secretly cherished ill-will, and was mischievous to others.

11. Ānanda was not yet free from the three evil passions: lust, malice, and ignorance, while all the other Bhikkhus assembled in the Convocation were free from these evils.

12. Buddha asked Ānanda three times to serve him as one who offers things to Buddha, but he declined it.

The number and the order of these faults committed by Ānanda are different in different works.

In the Sarvāstivāda vinaya eight faults are counted in the following order: 1, 2, 3, 4a, 5a, 6, 7, 8.

The Pañcavarga-vinaya counts six in this order: 6, 4b, 1, 2, 5b, 9.

The Life of Asoka, six: 6, 5b, 4 (simply stepping on Buddha's robe), 2, 7 (the reason given by Ānanda is that he wished to awake in the minds of women the desire to be born as men in their future life): 1.

The Sutta (Sanskrit: Sūtra) on Kassapa's Compilation has nine: 1, 2, 10, 4 (simply stepping over the golden robe of Buddha), 5b, 6, 7, 8, 11.

The Caturvarga-vinaya states seven: 1, 12, 4b, 2, 5b, 6, 8.

The Mahāasaṁghika-vinaya describes seven, thus: 1, 2, 4b, 5b, 6, 7, 8.

The Mahā-prajñā-pāramitā Śāstra has six: 1, 5b,[69] 2, 4 (when folding): 7.

The Vinaya-mātrikā Sūtra merely states that Mahākassapa accused Ānanda for his seven faults, but does not particularise any of them: on the other hand it relates nine disadvantages arising from the admittance of women into the Saṁgha.

It is significant that the Sudarsana-vinaya does not make any reference to Ānanda's misdemeanors.

(v) – The incident of Gavampati

The incident of Gavampati in connection with the First Convocation is stated in all the Mahāyāna literature and also in some[70] of the Hīnayāna. In the Mahāyāna literature we have the following works: The Life of Asoka, the Mahā-prajñā-pāramitā Śāstra, the Sūtra concerning Kassāpa's Compilation, the Record of the Transmission of the Dhammapiṭaka, and the Record of the Compilation of the Tipiṭaka (Sanskrit: Tripiṭaka) and the Samyuktapiṭaka. On the other hand, the Vinaya-mātrikā Sūtra, the Caturvarga-vinaya, the Pañcavarga-vinaya, and the Sudars’ana-vinaya, all of which belong to documents of the Hīnayāna class, make no statement about the Gavampati incident.

The incident of Gavampati, though it is more or less differently recorded as to its details in different works, is briefly this. Hearing the great bell rung by Mahākassapa, the five hundred Bhikkhus[71] hastened to the place of meeting, but when Mahākassapa found that one of them[72] called Gavampati[73]had not yet joined them, he asked Anuruddha of the whereabouts of the missing Bhikkhu. Being told that he was enjoying a peaceful life in one of the Heavens,[74] he sent a message thither to invite him to the convocation presided over by Mahākassapa. Gavampati, who knew nothing about the late events relating to Buddha and his disciples, scrutinisingly asked the messenger why Mahākassapa, instead of the Blessed One himself, stood at the head of the congregation: what was the object of such a grand religious convention, and some other questions.[75] When he was informed of all that had been going on below, he was so greatly afflicted that he said he had now no inclination to descend to the earth, which was made entirely desolate by the eternal departure of Buddha. So saying, Gavampati entered into a state of deep meditation, suddenly rose in the air shining with supernatural brilliancy, and then consumed himself in a heavenly fire. The Mahā-prajñā-pāramitā Śāstra says that Gavampati having been fully familiar with the Vinaya and the Sūtra, his presence was necessary to the assembly.

According to the Mahāsaṁghika-vinaya, Mahākassapa sent several messages to Heaven to summon those Bhikkhus who were abiding there, but all of them, having learned that Buddha had already entered into Parinibbāna, were so exceedingly mortified that they disappeared one after another in the same manner. Mahākassapa then declared that no more messages would be dispatched to Heaven, nor should those Bhikkhus who were living on earth enter into Nibbāna (Sanskrit: Nirvāna) until their work of great importance had been completed.

IV – The proceedings of the Council:

What was done by the Convocation? Were the Vinayapiṭaka and the Suttapiṭaka alone compiled? Did a compilation of the Abhidhammapiṭaka also take place? Did any dissension occur in the assembly? Is it possible for composing the Sutta and Vinaya completely in the short period of two or three months? And why it does not record in the Mahāparinibbānasutta?[76] These questions constitute the most important part of the First Convocation, and the following abstracts from various Chinese translations are calculated to throw some light on them.

 (i) - The Vinaya in Four Divisions (Caturvarga-vinaya)

When the cremation ceremony of Buddha was over, all the five hundred Bhikkhus went from Vesālī (Sanskrit: Vaisālī) to Rājagaha, where Mahākassapa intended to summon the assembly. First, Ānanda was blamed for his seven faults, as already mentioned; then Upāli was requested to recite the Vinaya, beginning with the first of the Principal Sins (Pārājika), as to the individual, the circumstance, and the nature of the crime. Rules concerning the Bhikkhu and the Bhikkhuni, the Pātimokkha (Sanskrit: Prāṭimoksha), the Poshadha, the Residing Season, the Wandering Season, the use of leather, the robes, medicaments, the Kaṭhina ceremonies,--all these regulations were incorporated in the Vinaya.

The Sarvāstivāda-vinaya, the Mahāprajñā-pāramitā Śāstra, and the Sūtra on Kassapa's Compilation relate, in addition, that four streams ran out of his transfigured body, each murmuring a gāthā which proclaimed the transiency of life and the lamentable departure of the Lord.

 Ānanda was next asked to compile the Suttapiṭaka. Such Suttas as the Brahma-jāla (translated Brahma-moving), the Ekuttara (increasing by one), the Dasuttara (increasing by ten), the Formation and Destruction of the World, the Saṁgīti (chorus), the Mahānidāna (great cause), the Questions of the Sakkadeva (Sanskrit: Śakradeva; Indra), were included in the Longer Āgama (Pāli: Dīgha Nikāya); those Suttas of middle length were called the Middling Āgama (Pāli: Majjhima Nikāya); those in which the subjects were arranged numerically from one to eleven were called the Āgama Increasing by One (Anguttara Nikāya); those which were miscellaneously preached for (?) the Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upāsakas, Upāsikās, Devas, Sakka, Māras, and Brāhmarājas, were called the Miscellaneous Āgama (Saṁyutta Nikāya); and lastly such Suttas as the Jātaka, Itivuttika,[77] Nidāna, Vaipulya, Adbhūta (Pāli: Acchariya, Abbhuta) Avadāna (Pāli: Apadāna), Upadesa, the Explanation of Aphorisms (Niddesa), Dhammapada, Pārāyana,[78] Miscellaneous Discussions and several Gāthās, were comprised in the Miscellaneous Piṭaka, (Pāli: Khuddaka Nikāya, with other matter). The Discursive [Book] (Kathā Vatthu),[79] the Non-discursive [Book] (Vibhanga or Puggala paññatti), the Yoking (Dhammasanganī), the Correlating (Yamaka), and the Place of Birth (Paṭṭhāna) made up the Abhidhammapiṭaka.[80]

(ii) - The Vinaya in Five Divisions (Pañcavarga-vinaya)

When the five hundred Bhikkhus were assembled in Rājagaha, Mahākassapa inquired of Upāli in due formulary of the four Principal Precepts (Pārājika) as to the place where they were occasioned, as to the individual with whom they were concerned, and as to the matter with which they dealt. All the Vinaya, for the Bhikkhus as well as for the Bhikkhunis, was compiled in this way.

Mahākassapa then asked Ānanda where Buddha taught the Ekuttara Sutta, the Dasuttara (Sanskrit: Dasōttara) Sutta, the Mahānidāna Sutta, the Saṁgīti Sutta, the Sāmaññaphala Sutta, the Brahmajāla (translated Brahmā-net), as well as those Suttas which were preached to Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upāsakas, Upāsikās, Devaputtas, and Devis. When all the Suttas were thus recited, Mahākassapa declared to the Saṁgha: "Those longer Suttas which are now compiled in one group shall be called the Longer Āgama; those Sutta (Sanskrit: Sūtras) which are neither long nor short, and are now compiled in one group, shall be called the Middling Āgama; those which are miscellaneously preached to Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upāsakas, Upāsikās, Devaputtas, and Devis, and are now compiled in one group, shall be called the Miscellaneous Āgama; those Suttas which start with one dhamma and increase by one, up to eleven dhammas, and are now compiled in one group, shall be called the Āgama increasing by One; while the remainder, all consisting of miscellaneous teaching, and now compiled in one group, shall be called the Miscellaneous Piṭaka. And to them all shall be given a collective name, Suttapiṭaka. We have now finished compiling the Law, and henceforth let us not put any unnecessary restraint on what was not restrained by Buddha; let us not violate what has already been restrained by Buddha; let us sincerely train ourselves according to the teachings of Buddha."

(iii) - The Vinaya-mātrikā Sūtra.

Ānanda being admitted to join the assembly, and the five hundred Arahats having taken their seats, they began to compile the Tipiṭaka out of the materials which consisted of Suttas in five or five hundred divisions. Rules for the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni, and the Khandhas (divisions) relating to the Kaṭhina and other things composed the Vinayapiṭaka. The four Āgamas, (1) Long, (2) Middling, (3) Increasing by One, and (4) Miscellaneous--the last one consisting of those Suttas which relate to Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, the Sakkinda (Sanskrit: Śakrendra), devas, and Brāhmarājās, as well as (5) the sundry collection which comprised the Dhammapada, the Exposition, the Pārāyana, the Upades’a and others, these five groups of the Suttas were classified under the Suttapiṭaka. The Discursive (or Dialogical) Treatise (Kathāvatthu), the Non-discursive (or Non-dialogical) Treatise (Vibhanga), the Mutual Enclosing (Dhamma-sanganī), the Correlating (Yamaka), and the Regions (Dhātukathā or Paṭṭhāna) [81] made up the Abhidhammapiṭaka. And the general name Tipiṭaka was given to them all.

Through all investigations of the different views of some scholars related to the sources of the first Buddhist council, we can conclude that the first Buddhist council is a historical even in Buddhism. Putting all doubtful theories about the motive, historical elements, we realize that reciting what the Buddha taught is the most essential thing which the Saṁgha need to do. The Buddha always deny his leadership toward the Saṁgha and always advice his disciples to follow the Dhamma is the main cause, if we consider, to assemble the holy monks and to form the Suttas for the present and next generations.

V- The Dissenters:

Based on definition of the title in chapter one, and some arguments of historians, we can see some dissenters recorded in the traditional sources such as the cases of Subhadda, Gavampati, Purāna. We lack the sources and historical data about these dissenters but the fact that in early Buddhist texts dissent in the community is discussed also shows that it did exist.[82] Although Subhadda’s attitude towards the death of the Buddha a personal reaction of the late-to be- monk, it is convincible that he is a dissenter in the early Buddhist Saṁgha. His argument becomes one of the causes leading the monks to hold the First Buddhist Council. One may go further to say that if MahāKassapa keeps silent on hearing the pleasure-annoucing argument from Subhadda, can it be expanded among the Buddha’s disciple?

Purāna is the old and respected monk, who is a leader of Five hundred monks, but he does not obey the Vinaya and Suttas recited in the First Buddhist Council. The historical sources give different proofs. According to Asokāvadāna and the Tibetan Dulvā, Gavampati and Purāna voted against the decisions of the council as informed and requested to accept the proceedings of the Sangīti which had just completed.[83] He chooses to remain aloof from the Rehearsal declaring that it did not fully record with what he had heard from the Buddha.[84] But the problematic history occurs in this issue. The Cūlavagga, the mainly recorded source of the first council, does not mention the role and the announcement of Purāna clearly; the only information we get from Cūlavagga is to describe Purāna arrival along with his Five hundred disciples and ignores the eight minor rules suggested by him as followed:

1. Cooking food indoors;

2. Cooking indoor;

3. Cooking of one’s own accord;

4. Taking food according to one’s desire;

5. Receiving food early in the morning.

6. Carrying food home in compliance with the wishes of the giver;

7. Having miscellaneous fruits;

8. Eating things grown in a pond.

These informations given by the Northern traditions and the Chinese version of Dhammagupta and Mahīsāsaka Vinayas and the Vinayamātrika Sūtra have fully developed this episode and mentioned him as the most important figure in the council.[85]

Gavampati is another senior monk who lives solely in the forest or on the trees. Although the Cūlavagga and all other Theravāda do not mention Gavampati, the Tibetan source Dulvā records that when Aniruddha checks the participants he realizes that Gavampati is absent in the council. Purana was sent to invite him to attend the assembly. He turns down the invitation as he had no interest in worldly transactions; because the Buddha had passed away. And he is astonished that Mahākassapa would govern the order which he dislikes.[86]

Thus it is evident that there were monks who did not fully co-operate with the Buddha during his life-time and with his chief disciples like Mahākassapa, Upāli and Ānanda, after his death.[87]

Historians have held the views that because of the denial of his leadership in the Saṁgha and unwell-organized community leading to the dissent in the Buddha’s lifetime. Socially speaking, dissent is the other side of democracy in any organization, so does it in the Buddhist Saṁgha.

Briefly, the proceeding of the First Council achieved results: The settlement of the Vinaya under the leadership of Upāli; - The settlement of the texts of the Dhamma under the leadership of Ānanda; - The trial of Ānanda and the Punishment of Channa.

The purpose of this Chapter is to aim at the survey of Buddhist and Non-Buddhist sources related to the Dissent and Protest during the First Council, which is fully explored in the next Chapter.



[1]. BCDB, Dr.Sumangal Barua, p.21.

[2]. AHOIB, S.R.Goyal, Book Two, p.2.

[3]. BSI, N.Dutt. p.1

[4]. ASWR, John Powers and James Fieser, published by McGraw-Hill, 1997, p.2.

[5]. JPTS, H.Oldenberg. pp. 8-12.

[6]. TBC, Louis De La Vallee Poussin, K.P. Bagchi and Co, Calcutta, 1976, p.10.

[7]. Ibid.p.10.

[8]. Ibid, p.10

[9]. MPS, VI. pp.19-20

[10]. Cūlavagga XI. p.1 Abbreviated as CV

[11]. Alaṁ āvuso mā socittha mā paridevittha, sumuttā mayaṁ tena mahāsamanena, upaddutā ca mayaṁ homa. Idaṁ vo kappati idaṁ vo na kappatīti, idāni pana mayaṁ yaṁ icchissāma taṁ karissāma, yaṁ na icchissāma taṁ na karissāmā ti.

[12]. TBC., Louis De La Poussin, p.10.

[13]. Ibid. p.22.  (The Buddhist Council), Louis De La Poussin, p.22

[14]. TBC., Louis De La Poussin, p.22..

[15]. Ibid. p.12.

[16]. EMB. Nalinaksha Dutt, Vol.I. p.337; IHQ, Vol.VIII, pp.241-246.

[17]. EMB. N.Dutt, Vol.I, pp.337-338; IHQ. vol.VIII, pp.781-784.

[18]. Ibid, p.338

[19]. TBC. Poussin, p.13, note 39; p.11, note 36.

[20]. T. 22, p.489 C27ff (T= Taisho ed. of Tripitaka).

[21]. MPS. VI. p.20

[22]. CV. XI. p.1

[23]. SMEBL. Biswadeb Mukherjee, p.89, 90, 95 -Journal of Research V. B. vol. 1, part I, Humanities and Social Sciences, 1977.

[24]. Ibid, p.94

[25]. I have shown that the invariable association of "vatthu", nidāna, and puggala with the vinaya was due to ancient legal Custom , krtya being a legal act should also be discussed together with vatthu, etc.

[26]. CV. XI.1. p.284ff.

[27]. Ibid.

[28]. MPS. VI. p.3.

[29]. CV. XI. p.12; XI. p.9.

[30]. TBC. Louis De La Poussin, p. 22 note 64.

[31]. TBC. Louis De La Pousin, p13

[32]. Ibid, p.2.

[33]. CV. XI. 10; T.22, p.191 b3ff; T.22, p.967b 2 7ff.

[34]. TBC, Louis De La Poussin, p.15; Minayeff, Cherches, p.31.

[35]. TBC Louid De La Poussin, pp.15-16;

[36]. TBC Louis De La Poussin, p.16

[37]. CV. .XI.12, T.22, p.192 a15ff, etc.

[38]. TBC. Louis De La Poussin, pp.15-17.

[39]. Ibid, p.17.

[40]. Ibid, pp.21ff

[41]. Ibid, p.22.

[42]. Ibid, p.22, note 63.

[43]. Ibid, p.25

[44]. CV. XI. 6; T. 22, p.190c 16ff;

[45]. TBC. Louis De la Poussin, p.17 points out that Ānanda was judged after he became an arhat. Thus this tradition appears not only in the account of the two Sthavira stereams but also in the Mahāsaṁghika Vinaya. So this tradition might have belonged to the earliest strata; for 3 streams of tradition, see, Mukherjee, ibid, pp.81-83

[46]. Both Poussin and Oldenberg think the tradition about the minor rules also is not historical, see Poussin, TBC, p. 26, note 64.

[47]. SMEBL, Mukherjee, pp.89-93.

[48]. MPS, VI. p.1

[49]. AN. I. p.4.

[50]. MN. p.18.

[51]. Dīpavaṁsa, 4&5.

[52]. The account here resumes as in commentary to Anguttara Nikāya (by nipāta and sutta)

[53]. His parents' names are mentioned at Apadāna (i = Therāpadāna,54:1, v.21)

[54]. According to commentary, at the moment the Buddha invited them to join the Order, their hair and beards disappeared and they were spontaneously provided with bowls and robes, created by the Buddha's psychic power.

[55]. Vin. I, p.194-98. The story of Sona is also related at Udāna (by chapter and sutta). 5:6, but without the passage on the modification of the monastic rules.

[56]. At Vin. II, p.299, in describing the preparations for the Second Council, it is said that eighty-eight Arahants from Avanti gathered on the Ahogangā mountain slope. They are described as "mostly forest-dwellers, mostly almsmen, mostly rag-robe wearers, mostly wearers of the three robes," and are contrasted with sixty Arahant bhikkhus from Pāvā, all of whom observe these ascetic practices. Though any conclusions drawn from this passage are speculative, these monks may have belonged to the pupillary lineage of Ven. Mahā Kaccana, and the reason they were "mostly" observers of the ascetic practices (rather than entirely such) is that he inspired his disciples to undertake such practices by personal example without making them mandatory.

[57]. MN. p.32

[58]. Isidatta is mentioned at Saṁyutta Nikāya (by saṁyutta and sutta) 41:1, 2. In the first sutta he answers a question on the diversity of elements, a topic that Mahā Kaccana also discusses (see below, pp. 29-30); in the second, on speculative views. To escape the fame and admiration which came to him on account of these replies, he disappeared into obscurity.

[59]. Dhammapada Commentary, V. p.94. See E.W. Burlingame, Buddhist Legends, PTS. 1969, 2, p.202-3.

[60]. Dhammapada Commentary, V. p.43. See Buddhist Legends, 2, p.23-28

[61]. Majjhima Nikāya Commentary. (=MN), p.108.

[62]. This monk is not the same name converted by the Buddha in his last time.

[63]. AHOIB, S.R.Goyal, Book Two, p.11.

[64]. The name of the imprudent Bhikkhu is Bhānanda in the Mahīsāsaka, the Dharmagupta, and the Vinaya-mātrīkā; Mahāllaka in the Mahāsanghika; Subhadda-Mahāllaka in the Sudarsāna-vibhāsā-vinaya.

[65]. Except the Transmission of the Dharmapitaka, where no mention is made of this incident.

[66]. Here the accuser is not Mahākassapa, but Upāli

[67]. Most of the Chinese books here referred to give all the reasons by which Ānanda justified himself for having committed those alleged misdemeanors, but from want of space, no mention here is made of them.

[68]. This naturally caused a vehement demonstration among the Saṁgha later.

[69]. The fault is viewed here from two points: (1) not giving any water, (2) not knowing the fact that Buddha is able to cleanse any kind of water .

[70]. That is, the Sarvāstivāda-vinaya and the Mahāsaṁghika-vinaya

[71]. The number of the Bhikkhus who took part in the First Convocation is generally estimated at five hundred, but according to the Mahā-prajñā-pāramitā Śāstra, the Convocation consisted of one thousand Bhikkhus.

[72]. According to the Mahāsaṁghika, two Bhikkhus were missing when the members were counted by Kassapa, but one of them, Anuruddha, soon joined them.

[73]. The Maha Mahā-prajñā-pāramitā sāstra makes him a disciple of Sāriputta

[74]. According to some, the Śrîvriksha (?) palace, but according to others the Śrîdeva palace.

[75]. So in the Sarvāstivāda-vinaya

[76]. AHOIB, S.R.Goyal, Book Two.

[77]. Not given by Beal.

[78]. Beal gives the Anāgata-Bhayāni and Munigāthā.

[79]. This and following four titles are so concisely given in the text that it is very difficult to make out what they are, and the translation and the reference to the Pāli Abhidhamma works here presented are merely tentative

[80]. The text is reticent about the author of the compilation of this Piṭaka

[81]. Those five titles of the books contained in the Abhidhammapiṭaka closely agree, though the translation is a little different, with those above referred to in the Vinaya in Five Divisions, but the terms being too concise, we cannot give anything more than a mere conjecture as to their correspondence to the Pāli works.

[82]. AHOIB, S.R.Goyal, Book Two, op.cit.

[83]. BCDB, Dr.Sumangal Barua, pp.35-6.

[84]. AHOIB, S.R.Goyal, Book Two, p.12.

[85]. BCDB .Dr.Sumangal Barua, p.37.

[86]. Ibid.p.36.

[87]. AHOIB, S.R.Goyal, Book Two, p.12.


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