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The Spread of Buddhism and the Buddhist Schools - N. Dutt

The Spread of Buddhism and the Buddhist Schools - N. Dutt

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Published by: Dhammarathana Ilukewela on Jul 06, 2011
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02/09/2014

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SPREADOFBUDDHISM
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ThefirstportionofthisworkanalysestheforcesthathelpecthepropagationofBuddhisminIndia,anddelineatesthemissionaryactivitiesofBuddhaindetail.TherearescholarlybiographiesofthegreatTeachertouchingincidentallyontopicsconnectedwithhismissionaryactivities,butabiographycannolgivethefullestscopeforthepresentationofsuchanaccount.Itisonlyabookdevotedexclusivelyto.thesubjectthatcandojusticetoitstreatment,andsoMr.Dutt'sworkiswelcomeas
a
compendiumwhereallinformationconnectedwiththeprogressofBuddha'smissionaryworkisavailableinawell-orderedform.Suchasketch,thedetailsofwhichhavebeenlaboriouslycollectedfromtheBuddhistscripturesandarrangedinsuchawayastoenableonetoseethelargemassesofdetailsaboutBuddha'scareerintheirlogicalandchronologicalrelationsasfaraspossible,hascertainlyavalueintheeyeofscholarsinterestedinthehistoryofthespreadofBuddhism.TheattemptonthepartofBuddhaandhisdisciplestopreachthedoctrinesofthereligionandpropagateitfarand"ideinvolvedarduousworkfromvillagetovillage,anddistricttodistrict,eachlocalitypresentingproblemswhichhadtobesolvedasbestastheycouldbybringingtobearonthemtheapplicationofthebestqualitiesofheadandheartthatthepersonalitiesofBuddhaandhisdisciplespossessed.TheseandsimilarpointscanbeproperlytackledonlyinprofessedaccountsofthespreadofBuddhismandnotinbiographiesofBuddha,where~heymaynotfindatallalogicalsetting.ThedegreeofmfiuenceofBuddhismataparticularcentre,thevolumeofpatronageofferedtothereligionthenatureofcollisionsthattOokplacebetweenBuddhismandvariousotherreligions"andsuchlikecanbetreatedwithadequatejustictotheirimpor-
 
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vitanceonlyinatreatisedirectlyandexpresslydevotedtothe\,delineationofthesubject.AdetaileddelineationofthefourprincipalschoolsofBuddhismincludingresumesoftheirdoctrinesasfarastheyhavebeenascertainedatpresentistheobjectofBookII.The-studyofeitherthePaliortheBuddhistSanskritliterature~d.ngiveonlyapartialviewofBuddhism,assuchliteratureembodies.thebeliefsanddoctrinesofoneortwoschoolsofBuddhismwhichintimeattaineddominanceinIndiaovertheotherschools.ThediscoveryandpublicationofalargenumberofworksbelongingtothePallandtheBuddhistSanskritliteraturehavebroughtsomuchintoprominencethetenetsandphiloso-phyononeortwoschoolsthatonemaybemisledtothinkthattheyconstitutethewholeofBuddhirm.ButtherewereotherschoolswhichhadtheirdaysofprosperityinIndiaatsometime-orotherinthepast,andpossessedliterature,ofwhichtraces.areavailableintheaccountsofChinesetravellers,andintheTibetanorChinesetranslationsofworksofsomeofthem.The-Sammitiyaschool,forinstance,rosetobeadominantschoolinthesixthandseventhcenturies
A.
c.inregardtothenumberofadherentsandrangeofpropagation.Thereareindications,again,showingthatthesub-schoolsarisingoutoftheMahasan-ghikaschoolacquiredatonetimemuchinfluenceinSouthern.India.ThefollowersofeachoftheschoolsbelievedthattheypreservedmorefaithfullythantherestthewordsofBuddha.andwereactinguptotheirspiritmorethanothers.Eachoftheschoolsprofessedtopreserveintact,ormakethenearest.approximationtothewordsandthoughtsoftheTeacherinandthroughitsliteratureandpractices.Eachofthemisthus,asitwere,afacetofadimondcontributingitsmitetothetotalityofthebrilliance,andcannotbeleftoutofsightinaviewoftheentirediamond.Mr.Duttinhissketchesofthe'fourprincipalschoolshastakenastockoftheinformationavailableatpresent,enablingareadertoacquainthimselfwithoutmuchlabourwithwhatisnowknownabouttheschools.Theportionsofthesketchesbearingontheorigin,develop-ment,andactivitiesoftheschoolshavebeendrawnbyMr.Duttforthefirsttimefromtheexistingmaterials.Theimportanceoftheknowledgeofdetailsaboutthe-schoolsofIndianBuddhismisalsorealizedifwelookatthe-
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tthatitenablesustounderstandclearlytheformsoftheale..nthatweretransplantedfromIndiatoothercountries.
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theBuddhistswerecarriedoutsideIndia,theschoolo~Buddd~smwhichhappenedtobethemostprominentataparticulartimeS(;~titsmissionariesforpropagatingitinothercountries.ThepeopleofthecountrywheretheywentlookedupontheformofBuddhismpreachedbythemastheoriginalfoemofthereligionandadopted
it,
zealouslypreservingitsliteratureanddoctrines.Asanillustration,ImentionfirsttheSinhalese.AtthetimewhentheSthaviravadaschoolreachedtheacmeofitsinfluence,Ceylonwasconverted,andastheresultofthisconversion,theliteratureofthisschoolhasbeenpreservedinthatcountry.Similarily,whenunderthepatronageofKaniska,theSarvastivadaschoolbecamethemostpowerfulthepeopleofKhotanandCentralAsiawereconvertedtoBuddhism;forthisreason,thefragmentsofmanuscriptdiscoveredincourseofexcavationsinthoseplacesbelongmostlytotheSarvastiva-dins.ThecaseoftheSammitiyasisalsosimilar;thoughnomanuscripts(ortheirfragments)ofthisschoolhaveyetbeendiscovered,thepeopleofCampa,sofarashasbeenascertain-ed,werefirstconvertedtoBuddhismbythemissionaryeffortsofSammittyapreachers,whenthisschoolprevailedinIndiainthesixthorseventhcentury
A.C.
IappreciateverymuchthepointofviewfromwhichtheauthorlooksatBuddhaandhisactivities.Thoughheiswritinganhistoricalaccount,inwhichthecanonsofhistoricalcriti-cismshouldbeapplied,heisatthesametimenotunmindfulofthefactthatheishandlingasubjectinvolvingtopicsaboutwhich,intheabsenceofabetteralternative,respectfulsilenceiswelcomeinsteadofbarrenscepticalcriticisms.InconnectionwiththegreatpersonalitieslikeBuddha,theremaybemanythingswhichliebeyondthecomprehensionofpeopleunacquaintedwiththewaysofmeninthehigherorthehigheststagesofspiritualculture.Ameansofatleastpartiallycomprehendingthemisthroughanintimateknowledgeoftheactions,capabilities,andlinesofthoughtofmenactuallyadvancedinspiritualculture,supplementedbytheperusalofanthoritativeworksgarneringthepastexperiencesofpeopleonthesubject,elucidatingitsobscurepoints,orfurnishingcorro-

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