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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:

As seen in the Fourth Chapter, the Ten Points of Vesālī monks and Five Points of Mahādeva had caused the schism in the Saṁgha. Here will be an attempt to investigate the controversial Ten Points of Vesālī Monks and the Five Points of Mahādeva, on the basis of Vinaya and other interactional concepts of literature, establishment and development of Ancient Buddhism. To find the truth of the protest from Vesālī monks and Mahādeva, here will be a discussion on philosophical and historical matters.

Historically speaking, after the Second Council, two Buddhist sects appeared: the Theravāda (Sthaviravāda) and Mahāsanghikas. The Theravādins were split up into eleven sub-sects known as Theravāda (or Ārya Sthaviranikāya), Mahīsāsaka, Dhammagupta, Sarvāstivāda, Sammitya, Kāsyapīya, Sankantika (Sautrāntika or Sankrātika), Vātsīputrīya (or Sammitīya), Dharmottarīya, Bhadhrayānīya, and Shan-nāgarika. The Mahāsaṁghikas were split into seven sub-sects known as the Mahāsaṁghika, Gokulika (Kukkulika), Paññattivāda (Prajñaptivāda), Bahusrutīya, Chetiyavāda, Ekvyavahārika and Lokottaravāda. Besides these eighteen, we are told, there arose a few more sub-divisions known as the Siddhatthika or Siddhārthika, Rājagirika, Aparasaila, Vetulyaka, Hemavatika (Haimavata), Vajiriya, Hetuvāda, and Sāgalīya.[1] In the academic field, these sects are summarized into the two main sects: The Theravāda and Mahāyāna.

This chapter does not aim at the origin and development of these two sects, but it focuses on the progress and the establishment of their suttas. Here is an attempt to re-examine the method used by researched works to examine the role of Vesālī monks and Mahādeva and the accusing judged by the intellectual. To do so, I believe that it will be found out what is the real meaning of so-called orthodox and heresy in Buddhism. Moreover, I aspire to testify that Buddhist doctrine is dynamic teachings, which focuses on the final goal, the personal enlightenment, and not on the means to achieve it. Therefore, my choice in this chapter concentrates on these above-mentioned issues.

II- The analysis of establishment of Pāli and Mahāyāna Canon:

The doctrinal differences of the concepts Nibāna, Arhat and Buddha between the suttas of the Pāli canon and the Mahāyāna have been widely debated by scholars, but seldom has attention been given to what the strikingly contrasting establishment styles of the Pāli and Mahāyāna suttas. David McMahan in his article: “Orality, Writing, And Authority in South Asian Buddhism: Visionary Literature and The Struggle For Legitimacy In The Mahāyāna”[2] expresses some valuable arguments as followed: scholars have had many productive debates on whether the doctrine of Nirvāna, Arhat and Buddha is radical departure from Pāli or Mahāyāna, but the most important element to discuss deeply on this issue center the establishment styles of suttas in which these doctrines emerge in the Mahāyāna suttas is so strikingly divergent from that of the Pāli suttas that an exploration of what might contribute to this divergence might be as fruitful for the study of the Indian Buddhist world as that of their doctrinal differences. We see that even just attention on only the introductory passages of certain suttas opens up a number of important issues in the study of Buddhism.[3] For instance, there are two suttas in the introductory passage. The first is an early Pāli text, the Salāyatana-vibhanga Suttaṁ, which discusses the sense, fields (āyatanas). It begins: “Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying at Sāvatthi, in Jeta Grove at Anāthapindika. The disciples greeted the Lord, and the Blessed one said: “Disciples, I will now discuss the distinctions between the six sense fields”.[4] This, of course, is the standard introduction that is common to virtually all of the Pāli suttas. The Buddha then goes on to give a straightforward presentation of the doctrine of the six āyatanas in the typical repetitive style of the text Nikāya, with many formulary expressions repeated often throughout the text for purpose of memorization. Compare this with the introduction to the Gandavyūha Sūtra, a Mahāyāna text from about the second or third century C.E., which is set in the same location: “Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying in Sāvatthi (Sanskrit: Śravasti), in a magnificent pavilion in the garden of Anāthapindika in Jeta Grove, together with five thousand Bodhisattas (Sanskrit: bodhisāttvas), led by Samantabhādra and Manjusri.”[5] So far, except for the mention of the bodhisāttvas, the two passages are almost identical, but the similarities dissolve quite abruptly. After the names and good qualities of a number of the bodhisāttvas present are listed, the bodhisāttvas observe that most beings are incapable of comprehending the great merits and abilities of the Tathāgata, and they ask the Buddha telepathically, not to tell them, but to show them (saṁdarsayet) these things. In response, the Buddha enters a state of profound concentration, and suddenly, the pavilion became boundlessly vast; the surface of the earth appeared to be made of an indestructible diamond, and the ground covered with a net of all the finest jewels, strewn with flowers of many jewels, with enormous gems strewn all over. The Jeta grove and Buddha-fields as numerous as atoms within untold Buddha-fields all became co-extensive. [6]

The text goes on in this vein for quite a few pages, describing in the most lavish terms the luxuriant scene that suddenly arises before the group right there in Jeta Grove, and the sight of so many of the Buddha’s talk. After the initial description of the scene, bodhisāttvas from distant world systems begin to arrive, and with each of their appearances, more wonders are revealed penetrating to the farthest reaches of the most remote worlds, then zooming back to the body of the Buddha, to the tips of his hairs or the pores of his skin, within which are revealed countless more world systems.

What can account for the striking stylistic differences between these two texts, and why would many Mahāyāna sutras make such a radical departure from the accepted genre of suttas composition established by the earlier suttas? For a full understanding of the stylistic differences between Theravāda and Mahāyāna sutras one factor must be seen. One is that the Mahāyāna was a written tradition, while many pre-Mahāyāna Buddhist works of literature are written versions of a vast corpus of orally transmitted sayings. One of the important changes in Indian culture at the time of the arising of the Mahāyāna was the development of writing. The beginnings of the widespread use of writing in India contributed to some of the transformations Buddhism faced a few hundred years after the founder’s death and was crucial to some of its most significant cultural and religious developments. Literacy disrupted the continuity of the oral-and aural-sense world to the visual world. The transition from pre-Mahāyāna to Mahāyāna Buddhist literature, then, provides a valuable case study of the changes that may occur during the transition from oral to written culture.

(i) - The structure of Pāli Suttas:

In an article on orality in Pāli literature, Steven Collins shows that the monastic Buddhist traditions was, even after the introduction of writing, largely an oral and aural one.[7] The traditional method of educating monks and nuns was for these students to hear and commit to memory the words of their teacher, and most of the words in the Pāli literature referring to the learning process are related to speaking and hearing.[8] Collins maintains that the oral or aural aspects of Pāli literature, are important “both as a means of preservation and as a facet of the live experience, the ‘sensual dimension’, of Buddhist scriptures.[9] While Buddhist vocabulary was rife with visual metaphor, vision in a literal sense and visual imagery were not emphasized as a way of communicating the teachings, as the anionic nature of early Buddhism indicates. The earliest phases of Buddhism produced none of the elaborate monuments and sculptures so characteristic of its later developments. Even after texts were being written down, it was not for the purpose of their being read privately-the Vinaya gives detailed lists of all the items of property a monk may have but never includes books or writing utensils.[10] Rather, the Buddha’s words were committed to the palm leaf so that they would be preserved and read aloud in the context of instruction or public recitations. Recently scholar works show that it is only after the Buddha has been gone for some four hundred years that the Saṁgha wrote down his words. For an orthodoxy trying to maintain the authenticity of its founder teachings, writing was probably seen as a danger that eventually became a necessary evil.[11] Pāli commentaries claim that the writing down of suttas began only after there was merely one man left alive who had particular text committed to memory and that the text was written down for fear of its being lost forever.[12] The repetition of words that were heard from the Buddha by a disciple, then transmitted to his disciples, and so on through a lineage of hearers. In the early Buddhist tradition, then, the written word had little inherent value; it was seen, at best, as a merely instrumental vehicle for the spoken word.

(ii) - The establishment of Mahāyāna Suttas:

In the Mahāyāna, however, the written work took on quite different significance, especially with regard to Mahāyāna suttas. Writing was crucial to the development and character of the Mahāyāna in at least three respects: first, written texts were essential to development of its tradition; second, they provided a basis for one of the most important aspects of early Mahāyāna practice, that is, the worship of written sutras themselves; third, writing contributed to a restructuring of knowledge in such a way that vision, rather than hearing, became a significant mode of access to knowledge. The Mahāyāna arose at about the same time when writing was becoming prevalent in India, and writing provided a means by which the teachings could be preserved without the institutional support of the Saṁgha. Closely connected to this issue is another implication of the uses of writing in the Mahāyāna - and particularly in its written sutras-namely, that it challenged the traditional notions of sacred space. As a developed minority movement, the early Mahāyāna was enabled through writing to expand and develop by granting to the book the sacrality of the Buddha himself. A further way in which writing was significant to the Mahāyāna-was that it shifted access to and organization of knowledge from a primary oral and auditory mode to a primarily visual mode. In order to explore some of the implications of this shift, it is necessary to make a digression into some general theoretical observations about these two cognitive-perceptual orientations and the effect that they may have on consciousness and culture. While these general observations about hearing, vision, and writing may be useful to a greater or lesser extent depending on the specific cultures to which they are applied.

(iii) - Buddhavacana and Mahāyāna Texts:

Of course, the implicit advantages of writing and written suttas were not the only factors in the relative success of the Mahāyāna movement(s) in South Asia. Aside from being composed in the propitious medium of mitten language, the content of Mahāyāna sutras written in South Asia went to great lengths to attempt to establish the movement's authority and legitimacy‑something that would have been quite difficult for what was probably a minority reform movement facing well‑established and powerful monastic institutions with their own claims to authority and legitimacy. . Before examining a specific instance of such a use, though, it would be helpful to place this claim in context by discussing some of the ways in which the early Mahāyāna struggled against the more orthodox school’s claims to exclusive authority based on possession of the Buddha‑vacana, the words of the Buddha. As we have seen, the early Buddhist community's identity involved its role as the keepers of the Buddha‑vacana given by Gotama and, according to tradition, memorized by his disciples and passed orally from generation to generation. This community considered itself to be those who heard, either directly or through others, the words of the Buddha. Thus, the hearers of the Buddha‑vacana were not only these who were actually present at the talks of the Buddha, but also disciples who received the teachings through hearing oral recitation. Although not the only criterion for legitimacy, the most important and unambiguous way in which a teaching was understood to be authentic was that it was considered to be the very words that the Buddha spoke.[13] Thus the Buddha‑vacana was the primary seal of authenticity.

Concern for the word of the Buddha continued in the Mahāyāna but became a more complex issue. A sutta is a composition containing a talk given by the Buddha and is therefore by definition Buddha‑vacana. Whether from the Pāli canon or the Mahāyāna, all suttas start out with the narrator uttering the same words: "Thus have I heard" (Pāli: evaṁ me sutaṁ); (Sanskrit: evam mayā srutam). Following this is a description of the particular place the sermon was heard, individuals and groups that were present, and so forth‑all reports that would seem to provide verification that the original hearer was in fact in the specified place at the time of the talk. Yet it is clear to modern scholars, as it probably was to most Buddhists in ancient India, that the Mahāyāna suttas were composed quite a long time after the death of Gotama and that it is highly unlikely that the "historical" Buddha ever spoke any of them. Thus, the need to explain the existence of these sutras and the attendant novel doctrines was of great concern to the. Mahāyāna and is an issue addressed, directly or indirectly, in many suttas and commentaries.

It is impossible to reconstruct precisely the attitudes and motivations of these early Mahāyāna sutta writers‑to imagine what they conceived of themselves as doing when, hundreds of years after the Buddha's death, they wrote the words "evam mayā srutam." Perhaps they had powerful insights that they were convinced and inspired by the Buddha, or perhaps stories and ideas generated in the environments of the stupa. Cults eventually were considered to be part of the Buddha's dialogues. These late sutta writers may have simply had a far more liberal interpretation of what counts as the word of the Buddha than did their orthodox contemporaries. It is conceivable that many doctrines and practices that we now consider uniquely Mahāyāna were in existence from very early but were simply marginalized by those 'who determined the legitimacy of teachings; thus we know nothing about them until the Mahāyāna became more organized and began writing its own texts.

Despite the inevitable obscurity to historical investigation of the intentions of these late sutta writers, many indications do exist as to how Mahāyānists construed their creative reformulations of the Dhamma and justified them to themselves and to outsiders once they were written. A number of explanations were offered for the emergence of these new suttas. According to one ancient reconstruction of the Mahāyāna, the Śrāvakas (Pāli: sāvakā) did not have the capacity to understand the advanced teachings of the Great Vehicle, so they were taught to otherworldly beings and bidden until teachers emerged who could understand them.[14] Another explanation was that the original hearers did not understand the content of these talks but transmitted them anyway for later generations better equipped to comprehend them. The claim was prevalent that certain teachings were revealed only to a select few. Many Mahāyāna commentators went to great lengths to reconcile the teachings of the Hinayāna with those of the Mahāyāna by a careful reworking of the story of the Buddha's life in which every teaching ever attributed to him was understood to be given to particular disciples on various levels of spiritual attainment. In these scenarios, less spiritually developed people were given teachings of the Hinayāna, while bodhisātivas and other nearly enlightened being received the higher teachings of the Mahāyāna.

III- The suggested method for approaching the protester in Ancient Indian Buddhism:

One of the well-known Scholar of Buddhist Vinaya, Charles S. Prebish in his article: Śaiksa-Dhammas Revisited: Further Considerations of Mahāsaṁghika Origins supplies some valuable evidences and analyses the circumstances of the early schism in ancient Buddhism.[15] In current Buddhist researched works, there are two primary but opposing hypotheses to explain the beginnings of Indian Buddhist sectarianism. The first, advocated by Andre Bareau, presumes the schism that separated the Mahāsaṁghikas and Sthaviras to have resulted from disciplinary laxity on the part of the future Mahāsaṁghikas, coupled with concerns over five theses predicated by the monk Mahādeva. The second hypothesis, more recently promulgated by Janice J. Nattier and myself, suggests that the initial schism resulted not from disciplinary laxity but solely from unwarranted expansion of the root Vinaya text by the future Sthaviras.

One of the major features of the second thesis revolves around the degree to which it can be demonstrated that the Sthaviras may have expanded the root Vinaya text. A comparison of two very early Vinayas, by the Mahāsaṁghikas ‑Lokottaravādins (in Sanskrit) and by the Theravādins (in Pāli), amply shows that the two texts bear remarkable coincidence in all but one category: the Śaiksa‑dhammas. In that category, the Mahāsaṁghika text posits sixty‑seven items, while the Theravāda text posits seventy‑five.

To date, no scholars have addressed this issue with specificity. Consequently, I examine the Śaiksa‑dhammas of the Pātimokkha Sutta (Sanskrit: Prātimoksa‑sūtra) of each Nikāya, isolating the divergent rules and relating them to the significant, major concerns expressed at the second Council of Vesālī, an arguably historical event that pre‑dated the actual sectarian split in early Indian Buddhism by no more than a few decades. I argue that the divergent rules in the two Nikāyas demonstrate an attempt on the part of the future Sthaviras to circumvent a potential saṁghabheda (split in the community) by making more explicit the general areas of disagreement that precipitated the second council. In so doing, they inad­vertently provoked the split they were so diligently trying to avoid.

Prior to Marcel Hofinger’s Etude sur le concile de Vaisālī (published in 1946), it was rather ordinary to assign the beginnings of Buddhist sec­tarianism to the events surrounding the Council of Vesālī and to con­clude that the initial schism that separated the Mahāsaṁghika from the Sthaviras in early Indian Buddhism resulted from the dual problem of disciplinary laxity on the part of the future Mahāsaṁghika and the fa­mous Five Points of the monk Mahādeva focusing on the nature of the arahant. This council has received a substantial amount of consideration in the scholarly literature,[16] and the bulk of it does not need to be re­hearsed here. Nor is it necessary to consider new information regarding the date of the historical Buddha that casts fresh light on the specific date of the Vesālī Council.[17] What does need to be considered is a review of the most recent general conclusions regarding the Vesālī Council.

With the possible exception of R.0. Franke and Paul Demidville,[18] virtually all scholars agree that the Vesālī Council was a historical event. While Hofinger states it quite directly: "The Council of Vesālī is not a fiction:” Bareau is indirect: "We see, therefore, that the hypothesis of the historicity of the Council of Vesālī appears as much more defensible than the contrary hypothesis”[19] Several Vinayas (namely, the Mahāsaṁghika, Sarvāstivādin, Theravādin, and Dhammaguptaka Texts) even identify the site of the council as the Vālukārāma monastery, although this may be a later addition. Further, all sources agree that the primary focus of the event was the now well known issue of the ten illicit practices of the Vṛjiputraka bhikkhus who dwelt in Vesālī. Nonetheless, there is serious disagreement on the interpretation of the council proceedings. While Ho­finger has admirably traced the rejection of all Ten Points in the Pāli Pātiti­mokkha,[20] Demidville aggressively pursues the thesis of Mahāsaṁghika laxity on the basis of the mention of only one of the ten points (i.e., the possession of gold and silver) in their council record. He writes, "Con­sequently, even on the single point of discipline which the Mahāsaṁghika mention in their recitation of the Council of Vesālī, their Vinaya turns out to be, infinitely more lax than the Pāli Vinaya."[21] However, even a cursory study of the Mahāsaṁghika Vinaya reveals that all ten points are included therein, and Bareau documents this carefully using the Chi­nese version of the text (Taisho 1425). He concludes about the Mahāsaṁghika: "if they do not speak of the nine other customs, this is not because they approved of them since they implicitly condemn them elsewhere. The nine customs of the monks of Vesālī; therefore, could not have been one of the causes of the schism which separated the Mahāsaṁghika from the Sthaviras, as the Sinhalese chronicles affirm and, following them, certain historians of Buddhism. In fact, the two sects were in accord on this point, as M. Hofinger has well shown."[22] A study of the Mahāsaṁghika‑Lokottaravādin texts preserved in Sanskrit yields a similar result.[23] In addition, the Mahāsaṁghika could not be considered to be eastern dwellers (i.e., Prācīnaka, in Sanskrit the same title as the Vṛiputrakas), as Hofinger would like to maintain (by adjusting the geographical tension theory of Przyluski[24] so as to categorize the Stha­vira, Mahīsāsaka, Dhammaguptaka, and Sarvāstivadin Nikāyas as western dwellers). On this point, Bareau asserts, "It is without doubt imprudent to draw conclusions on the primitive geographical redress of the sects from indications as fragmentary as those furnished by our recitations."[25] Although Demieville has serious doubts about the historicity of the Vesālī Council, he makes the following suggestions: "For my part, I cannot refrain from seeing in the tradition relative to the Council of Vesālī above all, a reflection of this conflict between rigorism and laxism, be­tween monasticism and laicism, between 'sacred' and ‘profane’, which tra­verses all the history of Buddhism and which, after having provoked the schism between the Sthaviras and Mahāsaṁghikas, is expressed later by the opposition between Hinayāna and Mahāyāna.[26] Despite Dem­ieville's aggressive claim to the contrary, there is nothing in any of the Vinaya council accounts of the various Nikāyas that attests to the separation of Sthaviras and Mahāsaṁghika at this point. Bareau confirms the ab­sence of sectarianism quite assertively when he proclaims: "The primitive version is, as M. Hofinger has well shown, anterior to the first schism which separated the Mahāsaṁghika from the Sthaviras"[27]

Although the famous ten points (dasa‑vastūni, pāli: dasa vatthūni) and the Council of Vesālī seem effectively eliminated from the historical actuality of the ini­tial schism in Indian Buddhist history, the notorious five points of Mahā­deva remained a primary causal factor in scholarly arguments. Convinced that the first saṁghabheda was historically removed from the Vesālī Council, Bareau developed a new theory, one that turned on:

(1) The notion that laxity on the part of the future Mahāsaṁghika developed after the Vesālī Council (although it is not precisely clear just how this laxity devel­ops), and

(2) The five points of Mahādeva. Moreover, it postulated a non-canonical council held at Pāṭaliputta in the year 137 A.N., from which the schism emerged. Bareau's theory is presented in full on pages 88 - 111 of Les premiers conciles bouddhiques and, until 1977, was rather widely accepted as a brilliant and ingenious solution to a knotty Buddhological problem. In 1977, Janice J. Nattier criticized Bareau's theory, sug­gesting in its place first, that Mahādeva has nothing to do with the primary schism between the Mahāsaṁghika and Sthaviras, emerging in a historical period considerably later than previously supposed, and taking his place in the sectarian movement by insti­gating an internal schism within the already existing Mahāsaṁghika school, second, that the sole cause of the initial schism. In Buddhist history pertained to matters of Vinaya, but rather than representing a reaction of orthodox Bud­dhists to Mahāsaṁghika laxity, as maintained by both Demieville and Bareau, represents a reaction on the part of the future Mahāsaṁghikas to unwarranted expansion of the root Vinaya text on the part of the future Sthaviras.[28]

The argument concerning Mahādeva’s five points is complex[29] and, until quite recently, has not received much additional attention. Lance Cousins, however, has published a fresh, new discussion of the five points, dividing their historical development into three phases,[30] and confirming our hypothesis that the five points of Mahādeva were not in­volved in the first schism.

Our hypothesis for the rise of Buddhist schism relies heavily on the Śāriputtaparipṛcchā sutta translated into Chinese between 317 and 420 C.E., but which, according to Bareau, was likely to have been com­posed by around 300 C.E., thus representing the oldest of all the sectarian treatises. This text relates an episode in which an old monk rearranges and augments the traditional Vinaya, said to have been codified by Kassapa (Sanskrit: Kās­yapa) at the alleged First Council of Rājagaha, consequently causing dissen­sion among the monks that required the king's arbitration and eventually precipitated the first schism. The relevant passage of the text (Taisho 1465, p. 900b) is translated on page 189 of Etienne Lamotte's Histoire du bouddhisme indien. It is clear from the Taisho passage that from the Mahāsaṁghikas perspective, the real issue culminating in the schism was Vinaya expansion. The Mahāsaṁghikas are designated in the passage as those who study the "Ancient Vinaya,” and this tallies extremely well with the conclusions of Bareau, W. Pachow, Holinger, Erich Frauwallner, and Gustav Roth that the Mahāsaṁghikas (and Mahāsaṁghikas‑Lokottaravāddin) Vinaya represents the most ancient of all the Vinaya traditions. Further, each of the above‑cited scholars reaches this conclusion by applying a separate critical technique. Bareau using text length of the Sikkha (Sanskrit: Śaiksa) section of the Prātimoksa‑sutta; Fachow using comparative Prātimoksa study; Holinger using all Second Council materials in the various Vinayas; Frauwallner using an analysis of the Khandhakas of the various Vinayas; and Roth using an examination of the language and grammar of the Mahāsaṁghikas‑Lokottaravādin texts preserved in Sanskrit. It also tallies well with the conclusion of the Chinese pilgrim Fa xian, who regarded the Mahāsaṁghikas Vinaya as the original.[31] Cousins agrees with the above conclusion heartily, in commenting on the Śāriputtaparipṛcchā-sutta; "Rather it sees the Mahāsaṁghika as the conservative party which has preserved the original Vinaya unchanged against the reformist efforts to create a reorganized and stricter version. He goes on: "Clearly the Mahāsaṁghika are in fact a school claiming to follow the Vinaya of the origi­nal, undivided saṁgha, i.e. the mahāsaṁghika.”[32] As to why the future Sthaviras would choose to enlarge the Vinaya, Nattier conclude: “It is not unlikely that the Council of Vesālī, in representing the first real threat of division in the quasi‑unified Buddhist saṁgha, made all Buddhists aware of the problem of concord now that the Buddha was long dead. In seeking to insure the continued unity that all Buddhists must have desired, they simply began to expand the disciplinary code in the seemingly appropriate direction. Just as the respect for orthodoxy inhibited the participants at the alleged First Council of Rājagaha from excluding the "lesser and minor points" which the Buddha had noted to be expendable, the same respect for orthodoxy inhibited the future Mahāsaṁghika from tolerating this new endeavor, however well intentioned it was.”[33] This latter conclusion also gains support from Cousins: “What is important is that the picture which now emerges is one in which the earliest division of the saṁgha was primarily a matter of monastic discipline. The Mahāsaṁghikas were essentially a conservative party resisting a reformist at­tempt to tighten discipline. The likelihood is that they were initially the larger body, representing the mass of the community, the Mahāsaṁghika. Subsequently, doctrinal disputes arose among the reformists as they grew in numbers and gathered support. Eventually these led to divisions on the basis of doctrine. For a very long time, however, there must have been many fraternities (Nikāyas) based only on minor vinaya differences.”[34]

If we acknowledge, in light of the above materials, that our hypothesis offers the most fruitful potential for identifying the causal basis of the first sectarian division in Buddhism, it becomes necessary to explore further the earliest Prātimoksa‑sutta texts extent in the hope of isolating precisely which rules appear to be those appended to the root Vinaya text by the future Sthaviras. Charles S. Prebish has argued elsewhere[35] that comparative Prātimoksa study involves considerably more investigation than simply creating con­cordance tables of correlation between the texts of the various schools preserved in Pāli, Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan. In an earlier article, Charles S. Prebish maintains that "a more sensible approach would be the developmental, concentrating more on the contents of the various rules than their numbers:”[36] In examining the Śaiksa‑dhamma section of the Sanskrit Mahāsaṁghikas ‑Lokottaravādin text and the Theravādin text in Pāli, numbering sixty‑seven and seventy‑five rules respectively, one finds this approach quite instructive, despite the fact, now acknowledged by most scholars, that the Theravādins can in no way be historically identified as the Stha­viras of the first schism.

While many scholars downplay the significance of the Śaiksa‑dhammas in the overall scheme of the Prātimoksa, John Holt takes the opposite approach in concluding, "These rules are much more than mere social etiquette. The motive which generated their inclusion into the disciplinary code was simply this: perfect control of inward demeanor leads to perfect control and awareness of outward expression, even the minutest public expressions."[37] As such, they are critical to an understand­ing of early Buddhist sectarian history.

I. B. Horner, in her classic trans­lation of the Pāli Vinaya Piṭaka, arranges these rules into three sections:

(1) Rules 1‑56, focusing on etiquette and behavior on the daily alms tour,

(2) Rules 57‑72, focusing on teaching the Dhamma with propriety, and

(3) Rules 73‑75, focusing on inappropriate ways of urinating and spit­ting.[38]

 In pursuit of more specific definition, Charles S. Prebish has suggested another classification, addressing the functionality of the entire section, which can be broken down as follows:

(1) The robe section,

(2) The section on village visiting,

(3) The section on Dhamma instruction,

(4) The section on eating. [39]

Irrespective of which classification is preferred, a compari­son of the two texts in question involves considerably more than a facile location of eight rules, primarily because the rules do not correspond directly by number.

After careful comparative cross‑referencing between the two texts, four rules in the Sanskrit Mahāsaṁghika‑Lokottaravādin text are found to have no counterpart in the Pāli text. These rules include numbers 20, 23, 27, and 56.[40]

Rule 20 reads:

Na osaktikāya[41] antaragṛhe nisīdisyāmiti siksākaranīyā. Pāli: Na ukkhittakāya antaraghare nisīdissāmīti sikkhā karanīyā

"I will not sit down amongst the houses in the utsaktikā posture," is a precept that should be observed.

Rule 23 reads:

Na antaragṛhe nisaonno hastam kokṛtyam vā pādakaukṛtyamvā karisyāmiti siksākaranīyā.

"Having sat down amongst the houses, I will not do evil with the feet or do evil with the hands:” is a precept that should be observed.

Rule 27 reads:

Nāvakīrnkārakaṁ pindapātram paribhuṁjisyāmīti sīksākaranīyā.

 "I will not eat alms food (while) nuking confused (speech):” Is a precept that should be observed.

Rule 56 reads:

Na osaktikāya[42] nisannsyāgilānasya dhammandesayisyāmīti siksākaranīyā.

"In the utsakatikā posture, I will not teach Dhamma to one seated who is not ill," is a precept that should be observed.

It is extremely significant that two of the four Mahāsaṁghika‑Lokottaravādin rules (rules 23 and 27) cited above have no counterpart in the various texts of the other schools. The remaining two (rules 20 and 56) seem to involve a posture cited in no other text, with the Mūlasarvāstivādin version possibly being excepted (and then, only if the term osaktikāya is a direct correspondent to utsaktikā as found in the latter text).

We must also point out that one's outward appearance was symbolic in at least two ways. In the first case, bhikkhus were considered to be "sons of the Buddha!' and objects of veneration for the laity. To appear in public in a disheveled fash­ion was insulting not only to the Buddha, but to the laity who considered bhikkhus as examples of high Buddhist spirituality and worthy receptors of mer­itorious acts of lay piety. In the second case, bhikkhus were bearers of the Dhamma and the chief source of learning for the laity. Casual attention to one's public habits would reflect a similar casual regard for the teachings of the Dhamma.[43]

Nor is it surprising to evaluate these apparently expanded rules in terms of eating protocol in light of the fact that five of the ten dasa‑vastūni (Pāli: dasavatthūni) of the Vaisāli, Council concerned matters of food or drink. Equally, the other five points of the council, in the most general sense, address matters of individual and communal respect. In other words, if the Buddhist com­munity was plagued by the genuine threat of saṁghabheda in the after­math of the Council of Vaisāli, and specifically with regard to matters of personal and institutional integrity and ethical conduct, it might well be both logical and reasonable to tighten the monastic code by the addition of a number of rules designed to make the required conduct more explicit. Of course, Vinaya expansion is precisely what the Śāriputtaparipṛcchā sutta records as the cause of Buddhism's initial schism, commenting as well that it was respect for the orthodoxy of the "ancient Vinaya” that pro­hibited the future Mahāsaṁghika from accepting the addition, irrespec­tive of motive.

Overall, the Vinaya of different traditional sources is the major pillar for investigating the schism, if any, in Ancient Buddhism because it carries itself the causes to divide the Saṁgha. It will be lack of convincible arguments if we use the historical data for this purpose; therefore, it may be a new way approaching to examine the historical events in Buddhism.

So far, there have been many more works related to the schism in Early Buddism with the strong arguments to accuse the Ten Points practiced by Vesālī monks and the Five Points of Mahādeva. We cannot deny some serious works done by well-known scholars, but we also can recognize the fact that very few works have approached these issues by using the evident sources from Vinaya which, I believe, records all information of the different Buddhist sects.

As we all know that Ten Points practiced by Vesālī monk and the Five Points of Mahādeva and the cause of the Second Buddhist Council are relevant to the Vinaya. One can say that without study from Vinaya, the works related to the Buddhist schism will limit the result.


[1]. Buddhist Councils, Dutt, Law Volume, I. p.283. Quoted at S.R.Goyal, AHOIB, Book Two, p.14.

[2]. OWA, David McMahān, History of Religions, Feb. 98, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p.249.

[3]. Ibid.

[4]. MN, Salāyatana-vibhanga-suttaṁ, ed. Roberrt Charles, London: Luzac, for the Pāli Text Society, 1960, pp.215-22.

[5]. Gandavyūha Sūtra, ed. P.L.Vaidya, Buddhist Sanskrit Texts no.5, Darbhanga: Mithila Institute, 1960, p.1.

[6]. Ibid., pp.4-5.

[7]. Notes on Some Oral Aspects of Pali Literature, Steven Collins, Indo-Iranian Journal 35, 1992, p.121-35.

[8]. For example, Collins (p. 124) notes the following: vāceti, “to make the pupil recite”; uddisati, “teaches, recite”; sunāti, “listens; ugganhati, “grasps in memory”; ādhīyati and pariyāpunāti, “learn (by reciting)”; sajjhāyati, “recites”; and dhāreti, “retains (what he has learnt in memory).”

[9]. Collins, p.129.

[10]. Ibid., p.128

[11]. OWA, David McMahan, p.254

[12]. How the Mahāyāna Began, Richard Gombrich, in The Buddhist Forum, vol.I, ed.Tadeusz Skorupski, London: School of Oriental and African Studies. p.28.

[13]. The other three criteria were that it wii be the words of a formally constituted Saṁgha, of a small group of elders, or of a single learned monk. It should also be in harmony with the other suttas and the Vinaya.

[14].  Indian Buddhism, K. Warder, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1970, p. 6.

[15]. History of Religions, Charles S. Prebish, 1996 .p.258.cff.

[16]. A Review of Scholarship on the Buddhist Councils, Charles S. Prebish, Journal of Asian Studies 33, no. 2, February 1974, p.239‑54.

[17]. A summary of the basic argument regarding the new approach to Buddha’s historical dating is best revealed by Richard Gombrich’s article "Dating the Buddha: A Red Herring Revealed:' its Die Datierung des historischen Buddha, pt. 2, ed. Heinz Bechert, Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992, pp. 239‑59, in which Gombrich dates the death of the Buddha to around 405 B.C.E. (actually between 411 and 399). A concise statement of the position on the Vesālī Council, dating the council to 70‑80 years after Buddha's death, is Lance S. Cousins's "The 'Five Points' and the origins of the Buddhist Schools,"The Buddhist Forum, vol. 2, ed. Tadeusz Skorupski, New Deli: Heritage, 1992, pp. 27‑31 and 54‑60.

[18]. Refer to R. 0. Franke, The Buddhist Councils at Rājagaha and Vesāli as Alleged in Cūlavagga XI, XII, Journal of the Pali Text Society 1908, p. 70; and Demieville, p. 258.

[19]. Etude Sur le Concile de Vaisālī, Marcel Hofinger, p. 249,  And Bareau, Les Premiers Conciles Bouddhiques, p.87.

[20]. A Propos du concile de Vaisālii, Paul Demieville. p. 216.

[21]. Ibid, p. 275.

[22]. Les premiers conciles bouddhiques, Bareau, p.78

[23]. Buddhist Monastic Discipline: The Sanskrit Prātimoksa Sūtras of the Mahāsaṁghika and Mūlasarvādins, Charles S. Prebish, University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1975, pp. 70, 80, 88, and 90.

[24]. Le Concile de Rājagaha, Jean Przyluski, Paris: Paul Geudwer, 1926‑1928, pp. 309‑14,

[25]. Les premiers conciles bouddhiques, Bareau, pp. 82-83.

[26].  A propos du concile de Vaisālī, Demieville, Toung Pao, pp. 259‑61

[27]. Les premiers conciles bouddhiques, Bareau, p.96.

[28]. Mahāsaṁghika Origins‑.The Beginnings of Buddhist Sectarianism, Charles S. Prebish and Janice J. Nattier, History of Religions 16, no. 3, February 1977, 238‑39.

[29]. See C.S. Prebish and J.J. Nattier, pp. 250‑65

[30]. Cousins, pp. 27‑460.

[31]. A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms: Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa‑hsien of his Travels in India and Ceylon, James Legge, trans 4.D. 399‑414, in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline, reprint, New York: Paragon, Dover, 1965, p. 98‑ One may also refer to Fa‑hsien Chinese translation of the Mahāsaṁghikas Vinaya, Taisho 1425, 1426, 1427, carried out with the assistance of Buddhabhadra between 416‑4l8c.E where he offers the same conclusion.

[32]. Cousins (n. 2 above), pp. 33‑34.

[33]. Mahāsaṁghika Origins‑.The Beginnings of Buddhist Sectarianism, Charles S. Prebish and Janice J. Nattier, History of Religions 16, no. 3, February 1977, p.270.

[34]. Cousins, p. 48

[35]. The Prātimoksa Puzzle: Fact versus Fantasy, Charles S. Prebish, Journal of the American Oriental Society 94, no. 2, April‑June 1974, 168‑76, and ‑Vinaya and Prātimoksa: The Foundation of Buddhist Ethics,‑ Studies in the History of Buddhism, ed. A. Y. Narain, Delhi: B. R. Publishing, 1980, pp. 223‑64

[36]. The Prātimoksa Puzzle, C.S. Prebish, p. 174.

[37]. Discipline: The Canonical Buddhism of the Vinayapiṭaka, John Holt, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1981 pp. 102‑3.

[38]. The Book of the Discipline, I. B. Homer, trans. pt. 3, reprint, London. Luzac. 1957, p.xxviii.

[39]. Vinaya and Prātimoksa, C.S. Prebish, p.251.

[40]. The Sanskrit text for each of the rules is taken from W. Pachow and Ramakanta Mishra, eds., "The Prātimoksa Sūtra of the Mahāsaṁghikas: “Journal of the Gagānāth Jhā Research Institute 10, no.1, November 1952; no. 2 February 1953; no. 3 May 1953; no. 4 August 1953.  App. 1-48

[41]. There is no Buddhist hybrid Sanskrit or Pāli equivalent for osaktikā. The nuns' text records the same form, but Gustav Roth offers no explanation in his edition of the text, other than to indicate that it could not be traced in any dictionary. See Gustav Roth. ed., Bhiksuni‑ Vinaya: Including the Bhiksunī‑Prakirnaka and a Summary of the Bhikkhu-­Prakīrnaka Arya ‑Mahāsaṁghika‑Lokottaravādin Tibetan Sanskrit Works Series, vol. 12, Patna: Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute, 1970, pp. 297,349.

[42]. Again, the tem osaktikāya is found in the nuns' text of this nikāya and is listed in the Mahāvyutpatti (no. 8608), corresponding to its counterpart in the Mūlasarvāstivādin text (Śaiksa-dhamma no. 86).

[43]. Discipline The Canocical Buddhism of the Vinayapiṭaka, John Holt, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, pp. 102‑3.


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