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If You C an ' t Remember, How to Make It Up : S ome Monastic Rules for Redacting C anonical Texts



Scholarly opinion has naturally varied in regard to the importance and value of the 'historical' elements - the names of places and persons - in the narrative frames found in early buddhist canonical literatures. L. COUSINS, for example, in discussing the "kind of variation which is actually found in the different versions of the four nikayas preserved by various sects and extant today in Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan," says "these divergences are " typically greatest in matters of little importance - such items as the locations of suttas, the names of individual speakers or the precise order of occurrence of events ."! A. K. WARDER, however, sees something quite different in these "matters of little importance." He says: "The individual ' Suttantas' , however, mostly have their place of origin noted, and sometimes the time, and they generally give a detailed and circumstantial account of the events leading up to the main discourse or dialogue. ' " These records of the activity of the Buddha were regarded by the Schools which rehearsed them as authentic historical records of the events connected with the foundation of their order (Sangha) and the promulgation of their doctrine. The records are circum stantial and realistic and purport to be eye-witness accounts of the events. It seems we must accept the conclusion that some such eye-witness reports, at ,, least, formed the model for this apparently unique style of literature . . 2 Still other scholars have seen still other things in these elements and in their patterns of occurrence. In "a series of observations C. A: F. RHYS DAVIDS noted the overwhelming preponderance of SriivastI as the setting for the "talks" of the Buddha - WOODWARD even counted the cases: 87 1 of the suttas of the four nikiiyas are set there. Mrs. RHYS DAVIDS came to the following conclusion: "Either the founder mainly resided there, or else Siivat thi was the earliest emporium (? library) for the collection and preservation

I L. S. COUSINS, "Pali Oral Literature", Buddhist Studies. Ancient and Modem, ed. P. DEN WOOD & A. PIATIGORSKY, London & Dublin, 1983, 5 ; cf. R. GOMBRICH, "How the Mahayana Began", The Buddhist Forum, ed. T. SKORUPSKI, London, 1 990, vol. 1, 21 -22. 2 A. K. WARDER, "The Pali Canon and Its Commentaries as an Historical Record", Histori. ans ofIndia, Pakistan and Ceylon, ed. C. H. PHILIPS, London, 1961, 47.



,, (however it was done) of the talks . 3 WOODWARD preferred the latter expla nation ("I think it likely, as Mrs . RHYS DAvms has conjectured . . . that the ,, whole collection was stored and systematized at SilvatthI 4), G. P. MALALA SEKERA the former ("The first alternative is the more likely, as the Commen taries state that the Buddha spent twenty-five rainy seasons in S avatthi"s) . Thich MINH CHAU, who pursued a comparative analysis of the Chinese Ma dhyama-iigama and the Pilli Majjhima-nikiiya, arrived at still stronger con clusions. He noted that there was "nearly 80% agreement" between the two collections in regard to the setting of the individual siitras and said: "This proves that both versions drew their contents from almost the same source, perhaps the old lost canon, and that at the time of compilation of these siltras, S anskrit and Pali, the oral traditions handed down were still fresh in ,, the memory of the compilers . 6 For "matters of little importance" these narrative elements have, then, entered into a surprisingly large number of discussions bearing on such things as the biography of the Buddha and the transmission of buddhist literature. But they may have played an even greater role in the increasingly frequent discussions of the relationship between early buddhism and the re-emergence of urbanism in early historic India. Here one example might suffice. B. G. GOKHALE begins his paper entitled "Early Buddhism and the Urban Revolu tion" by saying : "It is now generally accepted that early Buddhism rode to popular acceptance on the crest of a significant urban revolution . . . " He then goes on to show that "statistically, the number of suttas delivered in urban centers, even in our limited sample, is overwhelmingly large (83 .43 % ) while the rest ( 1 6.57%) are distributed over 76 different places, among which are included some towns, nigamas, villages and the 'countryside' (janapada). The share of rural areas in the total sample is thus very small." His numbers are impressive: "The total number of place names thus collected is 1 009. Of these, 842 (83 .43 %) refer to five cities, while the rest, 1 67 ( 1 6.57%) cover 76 separate places . . ". His methods and assumptions are also unusually clear: "Every place name associated with the delivery of the rule or sutta was carefully noted . . . the authenticity of place-association has been assumed, as it is based on a long tradition of faithful text-transmission with little possibil ,, ity of interpolation or extrapolation. 7
. .

, C. A. F. RHYS DAVIDS, The Majjhima-nikiiya, London, 1 925, vol. IV, vi; F. 1. WOOD WARD, The Book o/ the Kindred Sayings, London, 1 925, vol. III, x -xii; F. 1. WOODWARD, The Book o/ the Kindred Sayings, London, 1 927, vol. IV, xiv-v. 4 F. 1. WOODWARD, The Book of the Kindred Sayings, London, 1 930, vol. V, xvii -xviii. 5 G. P. MALALASEKERA, Dictionary of Piili Proper Names, London, 1 938, vol. II, 1 1 27. 6 Thich MINH CHAU, The Chinese Madhyama Agama and the Piili Majjhima Nikiiya. A Comparative Study, Saigon, 1 964, 52-56; esp. 55. 7 B . G. GOKHALE, "Early Buddhism and the Urban Revolution". ]lABS 5.2, 1 9 82, 7 ; 20; 10; 10.

Some Monastic Rules for Redacting Canonical Texts


Remarks like these o f GOKHALE have gained wide currency8 and are delivered as virtual facts even outside Indian studies . E. ZURCHER, for example, has recently said in a paper on Han Buddhism: "The urban setting of Buddhism is amply confirmed by the scriptural tradition: the Buddha' s sermons are generally situated at or near big cities like VaisiilI, SriivastI, Riijagrha and Benares, and the first famous donations made by lay supporters are not only reported to have been made by the local rulers, but also by , prominent citizens: the rich bankers AniithapiI).<;lada at SriivastI . , 9 - Once again these narrative elements appear to be carrying some fairly weighty matters, matters that one might want to be sure of, and here we strike a problem. We know next to nothing for certain about what GOKHALE has assumed the "authenticity" of the association of texts and their settings - because we know next to nothing for certain about how early buddhist texts were redact ed and transmitted. Apart from the traditional accounts of the first council, our literary sources seem to say very little about such issues . This more general silence makes a short text tucked away in the second volume of the Kudrakavastu of the Malasarviistiviida-vinaya that much more remarkable, although - as I think will become evident - it is remarkable in other ways as well. The Kudrakavastu passage deals with a specific problem of textual transmission: what is to be done when elements of texts are no longer re membered or lost or unknown ; it also deals with a problem of preservation: how can the loss of texts be avoided. Given that the various vinayas give little evidence for a clearly organized system that could carry over time even a moderately seized textual corpus - let alone the enormous collections that have been taken to. constitute 'early ' buddhist literature - both problems could well have been frequent. At least the Malasarviistiviida-vinaya, more over, seems to have taken for granted a low level of textual knowledge on the part of monks: its Vinayavibhmiga contains rules governing a situatign
. .

8 For a sampling of citations concerning the urban settings of early buddhism and the six great cities see N. WAGLE, Society at the Time of the Buddha, Bombay, 1 966, 12; 27; A. GHOSH, The City in Early Historical India, Simla, 1 973, 1 5 - 1 6; 64 -65; R. THAPAR, From Lineage to State. Social Formations in the Mid-First Millennium B. c. in the Ganga Valley, Bombay, 1 984, 109; R. F. GOMBRICH, Theravada Buddhism. A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, London & New York, 1 988, 54; H. HARTEL, "Archaeological Research on Ancient Buddhist Sites", The Dating of the Historical Buddha/Die Datierung des historischen Buddha, ed. H. BECHERT, Part I, G6ttingen, 1991, 63 ff.; G. ERDOSY, "The Ar chaeology of Early Buddhism", Studies on Buddhism. In Honour ofProfessor A. K. Warder, eds. N. K. WAGLE & F. WATANABE, Toronto, 1 993, 52-53; F. R. ALLCHIN, The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia. The Emergence of Cities and States, Cambridge, 1 995, 1 1 0; 1 1 5; D. K. CHAKRABARTI, The Archaeology of Ancient Indian Cities, Delhi, 1 995, 215; etc. 9 E. ZURCHER, "Han Buddhism and the Western Region", Thought and Law in Qin and Han China. Studies Dedicated to Anthony Hulsewe on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, ed. W. L. IDEMA & E. ZURCHER, Leideri, 1 990, 170.



where monks were unable to explain to visitors the wheel of rebirth painted on the porch of the monasterylO; its K'fudrakavastu has rules that are to be applied when monks - even the most senior monks - are incapable of recit ing the Priitimok'fa-satra 1 1 ; and both its Piiriviisika- and K'fudraka-vastus have specific provisions for dealing with the situation where a monk was incapable of reciting even the daily recitation of "the Qualities of the , Teacher ,12. The presence of such rules is not reassuring. The text we are most concerned with, however, addresses a specific form of this incompe tence.
Ksudrakavastu (Tog Tha 56b.5 -57 a.5; Derge Da 3 9 b . 3 -40 a. l ) 13 gleng gzhi ni mnyan yod na 'o I sangs rgyas beom ldan 'das la I tshe dang ldan pa nye bar 'khor gyis zhus pa I btsun pa ma 'ongs pa 'i dus na dge slong dran pa nyams pa I dran pa zhan pa dag 'byung ste I de dag gis gnas dang I grong dang I grong rdal gang dang gang du mdo sde gang bshad pa dang I bslab pa'i gzhi gang beas pa ma 'tshal bar gyur pa na I de dag gis ii ltar bsgrub par bgyi I gzhan yang mdo sde dang I 'dul ba dang I ehos mngon pa bskyud par 'gyur na I de dag gis ii ltar bsgrub par bgyi I gzhan yang rgyal po dang I khyim bdag dang I dge bsnyen mams kyi sngon gyi bka ' mehid dag (S7a) la gnas dang I rgyal po dang I grong khyer dang I grong rdal dang I khyim bdag dang I dge bsnyen mams kyi ming bSkyud par gyur na I de dag gis ii ltar bsgrub par bgyi I be om ldan 'das kyis bka ' stsal pa I nye bar 'khor gang gis gnas la sogs pa 'i ming

bried par gyur pa de dag gis grong khyer chen po drug las gang yang rung ba 'am I yang na de bzhin gshegs pa gang du Ian mang du bzhugs pa briod par bya 'o I ii ste rgyal po 'i ming brjed na ni gsal rgyal lo I khyim bdag gi ming ni mgon med zas sbyin no I dge bsnyen ma ni ri dags sgra 'i ma sa ga 'o I sngon gyi gtam gyi gnas ni wii rii nii si 'o I rgyal po ni tshangs sbyin no I khyim bdag

which it is often paired, it was a recitative formulary; see G. SCHOPEN, "The Lay Ownership of Monasteries and the Role of the Monk in Miilasarvastivadin Monasticism", JIABS 1 9 . 1 , 1 996, 95 n. 34. 13 The text as it occurs in Tog is cited here. Although there are no significant variations here between Tog and Derge - the only two editions available to me - this is certainly not the case 'for the Kudrakavastu as a whole. There are in fact significant differences between these two editions, in regard to numerous texts now found in the Kudraka - compare, for example, Tog du! 'ba Tha 127 a.2 - 1 27 b.7 and Derge du! 'ba Da 87 a.6-87 b.6, or Tog du! 'ba Tha 213 b.2-21 6 a.5 and Derge du! 'ba Da . 143 b. I - 145 aA. These differences may prove of use to students of Kanjur history.

!O Derge, du! 'ba Ja 1 1 3 b.3 ff. ; Divy 298.24 ff.; J. PRZYLUSKI, "La roue de la vie it AjaJ.1a", Journa! asiatique, 1 920, 3 1 6 ff. 11 Derge, du! 'ba Tha 201 b.2 -202 b.5 Tog, du! 'ba Ta 302 a.5 -303 b.7. 12 GM III, 3, 97. 1 7 Tog, dul 'ba Ga 241 a. l ; and Tog, du! 'ba Ta 1 57 aA Derge, du! 'ba Tha 1 03 b.7. Reciting or Praising the Qualities of the Teacher, iistur gUlJasarrtkinana, is re ferred to several times in the MUlasarviistivada-vinaya and GUI;laprabha' s Vinayasutra. Whether it refers to a specific text or not is not clear, although it appears that like the TridalJtjaka, with
= = =

S ome Monastic Rules for Redacting Canonical Texts


ni khyim bdag sdums byed do I dge bsnyen m a n i khyim bdag gso sbyong sky s kyi chung ma brjod par bya 'o I mdo sde dang I 'dul ba dang I chos mngon pa rnams brjed par 'gyur na I glegs bu la bris nas bcang bar bya ste I 'di la 'gyod par mi bya 'o I "The setting (nidiina) is in SravastI. The Venerable Upali asked the Buddha, the Blessed One: "Reverend One, in the future monks will appear who have imperfect memories, feeble memories. If they do not know in which place, village (griima), or town (nigama) which sutra was taught and which rule of training was promulgated how are they to supply (samudiinayitavya, vidhiitavya) them? If, moreover, they were to forget the sutra or vinaya or abhidharma, how are they to supply them? Or again, if they were to forget the name of the place or the king or the city (nagara) or the town or the householder or the lay-brother in a story of the past about a king or house holder or lay-brother, how are they to supply them?" The Blessed One said: "Upali, those who forget the name of the place, etc., must declare it was one or another of the six great cities, or somewhere where the Tathagata stayed many times. If he forgets the name of the king, he must declare it was Prasenajit; if the name of the householder, that it was Anatha pil).<;Iada; of the lay-sister, that it was Mrgaramata; of the place of a story of the past, that it was Varal).asI; of the king, that it was Brahmadatta; of the house holder, that it was the householder S aI)ldhana; of the lay sister, that it was the wife of the householder *PoadhajataI4. If he would forget the sutra or vinaya or abhidharma, when he has written it down on a folio it should be preserved. In this there is no cause for remorse."

The basic rules delivered by our text are straightforward. They indicate that when the name of the place or village or town where a sutra or rule was delivered is lost or unknown the reciter or redactor should supply the name of one of "the six great cities" (ljaT}-mahiinagara), or the name of "a place where the Tathiigata stayed many times ." Anyone at all familiar with early buddhist canonical literature as we have it will know that the two categories 'places where the Buddha stayed .many times ' , and 'the six great cities ' , are
14 This reconstruction is doubtful; I have not been able to find an attested equivalent for gsa sbyang skyes. In fact personal names are a particular problem in the Kudrakavastu. At Tog dut 'ba Tha 2 1 3 b.2ff., for example, the name of the nun involved is consistently given as gub ta, and it is only in the Ekattarakarmasataka, Derge, bstan 'gyur, dul 'ba Wu 191 b.3 ff., that we get the name written sbed ma. J. L. PANGLUNG, Die ErZiihlstaJfe des Mulasarviistiviida-vinaya analysiert auf Grund der tibetischen Obersetzung, Tokyo, 1981, 306, gives Guptika as the equivalent of sbed pa, so our nun's name was probably Guptikii. This sort of non-standard rendering is even used sometimes in regard to well-known names in the Kudrakavastu. The standard translation for Jetavana is, of course, rgyal byed kyi tshal but it is not uncommon to find it rendered as 'dza ta 'i tshal in the Kudraka (see Tog, dul 'ba Tha 204 b.3; 206 a.7; 2 1 2 a. l ; etc.); see also I.-U. HARTMANN, "Fragmente aus dem Dlrghagama der Sarvastivadins", Sanskrit-Texte aus dem buddhistischen Kanan: Neuentdeckungen und Neueditianen, bearbeitet von F. ENOMOTO, I.-U. HARTMANN, H. MATSUMURA (G6ttingen: 1989), 62 -63. Apart from *Poadhajata, all the other names in our text have attested equivalents which I have used. I have also occasionally inserted Sanskrit equivalents for other terms when they are well attested.



in fact almost, if not entirely, coterminous : the Buddha - according to that literature - only stayed "many times" in one or another, but mostly one, of the great cities . But notice, too, that even according only to our text when the name of a "village" or "town" was lost it was to be replaced by the name of "a great city" - this alone would shift the setting of buddhist teaching more and more to major urban sites. Our rules are, moreover, not as flexible as they might at first sight seem. At first sight it would seem that the unknown or forgotten name could be replaced by that of any of the six great cities - SravastI, Saketa, VaisaIr, VaraIJ.asI, RajagJ,"ha and Campa, according to the Miilasarvastivadin tradition (the Pali tradition substitutes KosambI for VaisalI, but is otherwise the same).IS But this range of options is then severely restricted by the addition al provisions of our rule. If the names of a king or householder or lay-sister are lost they must be replaced with the names Prasenajit, AnathapiIJ.<;Iada and Mrgaramata - there are no options . All three of these worthies are, however, frm SravastI and inextricably bound up with it. To replace the lost name of a king, for example, with that of Prasenajit would therefore, it seems, almost by necessity require that the setting - if preserved - also be changed to SravastI. Although buddhist redactors seem sometimes cavalier about consist ency, it almost certainly would not do to have a text associated with Prase najit or Anathapil).<;Iada set in Campa or Varal).asI. Our rules clearly favor SravastI. In regard to 'stories of the past' there can be no doubt and there are, again, no options. If the setting or the name of the king associated with such a story is not known, it must be declared to have been set in ViiraIJ.. asI, and the king must be said to have been Brahmadatta. The absence or narrow limitation of options allowed in our short text would suggest that, however unsophisticated, it was intended to provide a systematic solution to what could have been a frequent problem, to in effect systematically limit a redactor' s choices in regard to where he set a text whose provenance was unknown. But before we attempt to find evidence for the application of such a system we might make some attempt, however unsophisticated, to date it. Our text appears to present only one crude marker that might be of use in dating it. It refers to three categories of buddhist texts : sCUra, vinaya, and abhidharma. This list does not correspond with what appears to be the standard list found elsewhere in the Malasarviistiviida-vinaya . There we find

I S For the Millasarvastiviidin tradition see, for example, GM ill, 2, 1 19 . 1 9 - 1 20.3 (= G. SCHOPEN, "Deaths, Funerals, and the Division of Property in a Monastic Code", Buddhism in Practice, ed. D. S . LOPEZ, Jr., Princeton, 1995, 497); for the Pali, T. W. RHYS DAVIDS & 1. E. CARPENTER, The Df gha Nikaya, London, 1903, vol. II, 146. 1 3.

S om e Monastic Rules for Redacting Canonical Texts


sutra, vinaya and miitrkii. 1 6 If miitrkii represents the forerunner or earlier form of abhidharma there can, of course, be no doubt about which list is earlier, and this would suggest that our text could be relatively late, later at least than the bulk of the literature of which it now forms a part. 17 If we add to this that this literature, the Mulasarviistiviida-vinaya, is itself consider ed by many to be late LAMOTTE, for example, thinks it is the latest of the vinayas and says "we cannot attribute to this work a date earlier than the ,, fourth-fifth centuries of the Christian era 18 - then our text may represent a late piece of a late compilation and could, if LAMOTTE is right, be as late as the 4th/ 5th centuries C. E. Obviously, even the moderately frequent operation of our apparently late, perhaps 4th or 5th century, rules would have generated a sutra and vinaya literature dominated by SravastI, and a Jiitaka literature dominated by VaraJ.lasl. It is therefore at least worth noting that the collections that have come down to us, and that we conventionally take to be 'early ' , appear to represent just such literatures. The Pali collection of Jiitakas as we have it, for example, might be taken to instance in a particularly striking way the kind of collection rules like those found in our Mfilasarvastivadin text would - almost by necessity generate. All of its texts are 'stories of the past' so that if their setting was unknown they would, by the rule, have to be set in ViiraJ.lasI or B enares, and any reference to a king would have to be to Brahmadatta. Now, Franklin Edgerton noted almost incidentally in his great Dictionary that Brahmadatta was the name "of various kings of Benares city and the land of Kas!," and that reference to a Brahmadatta was "in many Pali Jiitakas formulaic at the ,, beginning of the story . . . playing no part in the story itself. 19 What Edger ton might have meant by "many" can be made a bit more precise by thumb ing quickly through the text of the Jiitakas published by the Pali Text Socie ty. Slightly more than four hundred of the five hundred and forty seven

16 See, for example, R. GNOL!, The Gilgit Manu;cript of the Sayaniisanavastu and the Adhikarar:'avastu, Rome, 1978, 3 . 18 ; 44. 15; 7 1 .6; GM ru, 2, 173.7; ru, 3, 1 1 6.21 ; ru, 4, 97 . 1 2 ; etc. (cf. H. HU-VON HINOBER, Das Posadhavastu. Vorschriften fiir die buddhistische Beichtfeier im Vinaya der Mulasarviistiviidins, Reinbek, 1994, 227 -31). But see also R. GNOL!, The Gilgit Manuscript of the Saitghabhedavastu, Rome, 1978, Part II, 205.8 where sutravinayadhariibhi dhiirmikiirar:'yakas are referred to, and GM ru, 2, 173 . 16. 1 7 On the relationship of miitrkii and abhidharma see the recent discussion and sources cited in R. GETHIN, "The Matikas: Memorization, Mindfulness, and the List", In the Mirror of Memory. Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, ed.

J. GYATSO, Albany, 1992, 149 -72; esp. 156 ff. 18 E t. LAMOTIE, History of Indian Buddhism. From the Origins to the Saka Era, transl. S. WEBB-BOIN, Louvain-La-Neuve, 1988, 657. My own view is that such a date is too late by more than one century, and LAMOTIE himself seems to have changed his mind after 1 958. But the question cannot be appropriately discussed here. 19 F. EDGERTON, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary, New Haven, 1 953, 403, s.v. Brahma. datta.



jiitakas found in that collection are set, by their opening phrase, in B enares during the reign of King Brahmadatta. Thirty-six additional jiitakas which do

not explicitly refer to Brahmadatta are also set in B enares . And there are as well some curious anomalies like that found in the Gangamiila liitaka where a king of B enares named Udaya is, in spite of his name, addressed as Brah madatta. The numbers involved here - something approaching consistency make it unlikely that the setting of these texts was accidental or, even, whimsical. The choice appears to have been made according to some sort of system, and that system must have looked very much like the rules in our late Miilasarvastivadin text.20 Evidence, perhaps, for the operation of that same system might also be found in the PaIi sutta collection. Rules like those found in our Miilasarvastivadin text would have required that any satra whose setting was unknown be set in one of the six great cities or - and as we have seen this comes down to the same - in a place where the Buddha had stayed many times . This would allow placing it in SravastI, S aketa, VaisalIlKosambI, Varal).asI, Rajagrha or Campa. But if the name of a king or householder were also unknown other rules determining their choice would - as we have also seen - restrict the first choice to SravastI. Again, assuming even a moderate operation of such rules, we should find a sutta literature dominated by SravastI, and that is exactly what we find in the Pali collection. For brevity' s sake we might simply cite GOKHALE' s figures . His sample contained 1 009 texts, 842 (83 .43%) of which were set in five cities, with the following breakdown: 593 are set in S avatthI; 1 40 in Raj agaha; 56 in Kapilavatthu; 3 8 in Vesali; and 1 5 in KosambL21 The same basic pattern occurs - to judge by Thich MINH CHAU ' S analysis - in the Chinese version of the Madhyama-iigama : out of ninety-four satras, forty-four are set in SravastI, thirteen in Rajagrha, etc.22 We do not have a certain unified satra collection for the Miilasarvastivadins23, but a quick look at its Vinaya would seem to indicate that the pattern holds there as well: a rough count of the settings in the first. one hundred folios of the first volume of the Kudrakava stu, for example, produces sixty-seven settings . Of these sixty-seven settings fifty-five are SravastI, four each are Rajagrha and VaisalI, etc.24 A more random sample produces much the same thing: I have been working lazily for the last couple of years on a representative anthology of translations of texts
20 Though very many years ago, my friend and colleague, Patrick OLIVELLE, remembered from his boyhood in Sri Lanka that all stories told of past times started: ekamat eka rataka baraniis nuvara brahmadatta nam rajakenek rajakaranakalhi, "In a certain kingdom, in the city of Benares, during the reign of a king named Brahmadatta . . . " 2 1 GOKHALE, "Early Buddhism and the Urban Revolution", 10. 22 CHAU, The Chinese Madhyama Agama and the pali Majjhima Nikaya, 52-56. 23 See, however, F. ENOMOTO, A Comprehensive Study of the Chinese Sa'!lyuktagama, Kyoto, 1 994, Part I, xiii, and the sources cited in n. 1 . 24 Notice that our tt;xt that contains the rules favoring S ravastI is itself also set there and looks as if it had been subjected to its own rules, its original setting being 'unknown' .

Some Monastic Rules for Redacting Canonical Texts


from the MalasarviistiVl'ida-vinaya ; o f those completed, seventy-eight, drawn from all parts of this Vinaya, contain a setting; of these seventy-eight, fifty-eight are set in SravastI; six in Raj agrha; four in Kapilavastu; etc. H would appear, then that in regard to their 'historical' settings the collections of early buddhist literature that we have look remarkably like what would necessarily have been expected if our rules, or a similar set of rules, had been applied to collections of texts whose settings - in a signifi cant number of cases - were unknown: in stories of the past Bemires and Brahmadatta would overwhelmingly predominate; in siitra and vinaya it would be SravastI, Prasenajit and AnathapiI).9ada. And so it is. The similarity between the patterns that would necessarily be created by the application of rules like those in the K-rudrakavastu, and the patterns that actually occur in our collections, is almost certainly too great to be explained by coincidence, and would appear to require that we conclude, for the moment, that our collections of 'early ' buddhist literatures reflect - at least in regard to their . 'historical' settings - the application of redactional rules that themselves cannot, as of now, be shown to have been 'early ' , and may be as late as the 4th or 5th century of the Common Era. The shape of all our collections would, moreover, seem to suggest that redactional rules very similar to those in the Kifudrakavastu operated in all traditions or monastic groups, even if the Miilasarvastivadin version is the only one so far discovered.25 Our little text also has something to offer to the discussion of the problem of preservation. Much has been said about the 'writing down' of the buddhist canon - as if there were only one. But virtually all of it has concerned events in Sri Lanka, not in India. ' Although Professor BECHERT has wisely argued otherwise, the general tendency has been to present the writing down of the canon in Sri Lanka as a significant, even definitive, event, and to ignore India. Indian sources , in turn, appear to by and large ignore any such 'event ' , but our text may at least suggest one reason why : our text suggests that at least for the Miilasarvastivadin tradition the writing down of canonical texts was not an event, but rather - as Professor BECHERT has suggested it really was in Sri Lanka - a process26, and a process to which no great significance
25 There is, of course, a distinct possibility that parallel sets of rules may still come to light in other vinayas, and this may allow some adjustments in dating such rules. It is, moreover, worth noting that in dating our rules we are strictly speaking only dating their explicit and formal expression or redaction. One could, of course, argue that such 'rules' circulated and were applied long before they themselves were formally or 'officially' redacted, but it is unlikely that this could ever be anything other than an argument, and it does not answer the question of why, if such rules were circulating earlier, they were not formally expressed. We have, after all, formally expressed and apparently 'early' rules governing other aspects of the transmission and authenticity of texts; see Bt LAMOTTE, "La critique d' authenticite dans Ie bouddhisme", India Antiqua, Leyden, 1 947, 2 1 3 -222. 26 H. BECHERT, "The Writing Down of the Tripi!aka in Pali", WZKS 36, 1 992, 45 -53 ; see, however, Bu-ston' s discussion, and the sources he cites, which is translated in C. VOGEL, "Bu-ston on the Schism of the buddhist Church and on the Doctrinal Tendencies of buddhist



was attached. The Malasarviistiviida-vinaya is, for example, familiar with a range of written legal instruments - written loan contracts, a written will, and written negotiable contracts of debt.27 In this regard it is - apart, it seems, from the will - in conformity with contemporary (?) Indian legal texts. That such instruments are not known to the Pilli Canon may have resulted from a lack of contact with the Indian legal environment and the apparent absence of a parallel system of law in early Sri Lanka. The Malasarviistiviida-vinaya also contains specific rules requiring monks to mark moveable property by writing on it 'This belongs to the vihiira of so-and-so' .28 The Malasarviisti viida-vinaya is familiar with books as well, both buddhist and non-buddhist, and suggests that, as in early Medieval Europe, they were of such value that they were included in wills; it also suggests that their sale could generate significant income,29 and it contains specific sanctions for the theft of books by monks .30 This same Vinaya also gives evidence of a system - never
Scriptures", Zur SchulzugehOrigkeit von Werken der Hfnayiina-Literatur, hrsg. H. BECHERT, vol. 1 , Giittingen, 1 9 8 5 , 1 04 - 10; esp. 1 0 8 -09. 27 For loan contracts see the text from the Millasarvastivadin Vinaya-vibhanga cited and discussed in G. SCHOPEN "Doing Business for the Lord: Lending on Interest and Written Loan Contracts in the Mulasarviistiviida-vinaya", JAOS 1 14, 1994, 527 -54; for the will, GM III, 2, 140. 1 5 ff. (translated in SCHOPEN, "Deaths, Funerals, and the Division of Property in a Monastic Code", 498 -500). Note that although it has not been recognized as such, there may also be a reference to a will in the Divyiivadiina' s account of the death of Asoka. There Asoka, on the point of death, declares that he is giving everything - except the treasury - to the community of monks. Then after reciting some verses describing the gift and his intentions the text says:

yiivat patriibhilikhitarr krrvii dattarr mudrayii mudritam I tato riijii mahiiprthivflr! sarrghe dattvii kiilagatalJ (Divy 433 . 1 ) This, of course, looks strikingly like GM III , 2, 140. 1 5 ff. : tatas tena marfll!akiilasamaye sarvarr santa[kalsviipateyarr patriibhilekhyarr krtviijetavane pre.ritam I sa ea kiilagatalJ. In this second passage context makes it all but certain that patriibhilekhya refers to some sort of written will. A few lines later on patriibhilekhya is three times replaced by patriibhilikhita, exactly the same term as in the Divyiivadiina). For negotiable contracts of debt, see Bhik.rurvinayavibhanga, Derge, 'dul ba Ta 123 a.5 - 1 24 a.2. 28 Derge, du ! 'baJa 1 5 a.30 ., 1 5 b. 1 . This text is cited and translated in .G. SCflOPEN, "The . .

29 GM III, 2, 143.5; SCHOPEN, "Deaths, Funerals, and the Division o f Property in a Monastic Code", 500. 3D Derge, dul 'ba Na 6 b.2: btsun pa re zhig dge slong gis glegs bam brkus na cir 'gyur lags I glegs bam gyi rin thang brtsi bar bya 'o ! "Reverend One, if then a monk steals a book, what will be done? The price of the book must be payed;" (see also Na 96 b.3). KalyliI,lamitra in his VinayiigamottaraviSeeiigamaprasnavr:tti, a commentary on the text, seems to take "book" here as meaning siistra (glegs bam ni bstan beos kyi snod do; Derge, bstan-'gyur, dul 'ba, Dzu 238 a. l ) , but this is probably because he has already treated 'canonical' books (mdo sde dang 'dul ba dang I ehos mngon pa la sogs pa'i ehos bzung ba 'i ngo bo) under a previous heading. There (Dzu 236 b . l ff.) he makes an interesting distinction between making a copy of a sutra, etc. - which could, after all, be considered a form of theft - and stealing a book which had already been written. In regard to the former he says 'di la ni rku sems med pa'i phyir nyes pa
med pa nyid do I 'di ltar mdo sde la sogs pa 'i ehos bri bar bya ba'i glegs bam mthong nas 'dri ba dang I 'dzin pa gang yin pa des ni pha rol po las cung zad kyang god par mi 'gyur te I 'di ltar bri bar bya ba 'i gzugs brnyan son 'dug pa 'i phyir TO I rku .ba ni god pa yin te de Ita bas na 'dir de ma gtogs so I ' 0 na glegs bam brim pa brkus pa la tshul ji Ita bu zhe na I de

JIABS 1 9 . 1 , 1996, 101 - 1 03 .

Lay Ownership of Monasteries and the Role of the Monk in MillasarVastivadin Monasticism",

S ome Monastic Rules for Redacting C anonical Texts


detailed - for funding the copying of texts,3 1 and on more than one occasion it specifies that individuals who had been scribes (kiiyastha) before entering the order should keep their equipment, apparently so that they could continue to practice their trade.32 None of this, however, is presented as out of the ordinary. This too may be a result of the fact that the history of writing in India may by no means have been the same as the history of writing - both sacred and secular - in Sri Lanka.33 In any case, our Kudrakavastu text
brkus na rin thang dang mthun par nyes pa sbom po la sogs pa 'i /tung bar 'gyur par shes par

bya 'o I . - For the theft of sillras in the Chinese translation of the Sarvustivuda-vinaya (T. 1 435) see M. HOFINGER. "Le vol dans la morale bouddhique", Indianisme et bouddhisme. Melanges offerts a Mgr. Etienne Lamotte, Louvain-La-Neuve, 1 980, 177 - 89, esp. 1 8 5 n. 3 8 : " . . . voler des rouleaux de sutra pour une valeur de cinq sapeques constitue un pech6 d'Exclusion"; this has an almost exact counterpart in Kalyfu,lamitra' s commentary : . . . rna sa ka Ingar tshad na des 'dis pham par 'gyur lao There are also close parallels to the passages cited by HOFINGER on the theft of relics and goods from stupas in this commentary and both Tibetan versions of the Vinaya uttara-grantha. - (There is some confusion about the latter. Although the Derge Kanjur - at least in the recent reprint published in Taipei - has two texts which are given the same Sanskrit title, bi na ya ud ta ra gran tha, they do not have the same Tibetan title. The first (dul 'ba Na 1 . 1 -92 a.7) is entitled 'dul ba gzhung bla ma; the second (Na 92 b . l -Pa 3 1 3 a.5) 'dul ba gzhung dam pa. At least in this edition both have their own long colophons, that to 'dul ba bla ma explaining in part how there came to be two versions (it also contains a reference to Puyami tra's "persecution" which corresponds very closely to the beginning of that cited by LAMOTIE (History of Indian Buddhism, 3 87) from the Chinese translation of the Vibhau, and a reference to monks collecting all the books of the Tripi!aka from various countries and places and attempting to make a complete collection in Mathura). In spite of this, the Tohoku Catalog (p. 2, no. 7), for example, gives no indication that two works are involved, while the Otani Catalog both recognizes two works (nos. 1036 & 1037) and translates the colophon of the first into Japanese. There is confusion in the secondary literature as well. A. C. BANERJEE (Sarvustivuda Literature, Calcutta, 1 957, 99 - I 00) does not recognize that two works are involved; nor, it seems, does C. VOGEL ("Bu-ston on the Schism of the Buddhist Church and on the Doctrinal Tendencies of Buddhist Scriptures", 1 1 0 n. 60). P. HARRISON ("In Search of the Source of the Tibetan Bka' ' Gyur: A Reconnaissance Report", Tibetan Studies. Proceedings of the 6th Seminar of the International Associationfor Tibetan Studies, ed. P. KVlERNE, Oslo, 1 994, vol. I , 306) recognizes the importance of some of the colophon material and makes a start on sorting l i out, but even here it is riot entirely clear that there are two Uttara -granthas (cf. his n. 61). 31 GNOLl, The Gilgit Manuscript of the SayanasanC/vastu and the AdhikaraTJavastu, 68.23 ; GM III , 2, 143 . 1 3 ; 146.4; etc. 32 GM III, 1 , 28 1 . 1 8 ; Derge, dul 'ba Da 87 b.5; etc. 33 On the early history of writing in Sri Lanka, and especially on recent archeological evidence that would seem to indicate "that the use of writing began [in Sri Lanka] some two centuries earfier than the first datable inscriptions currently kuown from any other part of South Asia", see ALLCHIN, The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia, 176-79; 2 1 5 -216; but also the cautionary note in K. R. NORMAN, "The Development of Writing in India and Its Effect upon the Pilli Canon", WZKS 36 (Supplementband; 1 992), 239 -49, esp. 247, and the sources cited in both. For India we now fortunately have O. von HINUBER, Der Beginn der Schrift und fruhe Schriftlichkeit in Indien (Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur . Mainz. Abhand lungen der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, Jahrgang 1989. Nr. 1 1 ), Stuttgart, 1 989, and H. FALK, Schrift im alten Indien. Ein Forschungsbericht mit Anmerkungen, Tiibingen, 1 993, although in neither has discussion of the Miilasarvastivildin material found a place (von HINUBER has been thoughtfully reviewed by P. KIEFFER-PULZ in Gottingische Gelehrte Anzeigen 246, 3 / 4, 1994, 207 -24; and both von HINUBER and FALK in R. SALOMON, "On the Origin of the Early Indian Scripts", JAOS 1 1 5.2; 1 995, 27 1 -79).



contains - in so far as I know - the earliest and main Millasarvastivadin rule regarding committing canonical material to writing, and this ruling is deliver ed in such a way as to suggest that those who delivered it saw in it nothing of particular note. They do not even refer to writing texts down in books (g/egs bam pustaka), but on folios (giegs bu pattra), perhaps even scraps - they seem to have had in mind something like notes, and clearly did not envision a major systematic enterprise. Again, our text suggests that for the Indian Miilasarvastivadin tradition the writing down of buddhist texts was simply not - unlike Professor BECHERT' s sixty-fifth birthday - a major event. We send our congratulations !
= =

Divy GM

& R. A. NE IL, The Divyiivadiina, Cambridge, 1 8 86, N. DUIT, Gilgit Manuscripts, vol. III, pt. 1 , Srinagar, 1 947 ; pt. 2, S rinagar, 1 942; pt. 3 ,

S rinagar, 1 94 3 ; pt. 4 , Calcutta, 1 950.

JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society. JIABS The Journal of the International Association ofBuddhist Studies. WZKS Wiener ZeitschriJt for die Kunde Siidasiens.