The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravāda Buddhist Theory and Practice: A Reevaluation of the Bodhisattva-Śrāvaka Opposition Author(s): Jeffrey

Samuels Source: Philosophy East and West, Vol. 47, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 399-415 Published by: University of Hawai'i Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1399912 Accessed: 15/07/2010 10:08
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=uhp. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

University of Hawai'i Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Philosophy East and West.

http://www.jstor.org

THE BODHISATTVA IDEAL IN THERAVADA BUDDHIST THEORY AND PRACTICE: A REEVALUATIONOF THE BODHISATTVA-SRAVAKA OPPOSITION
and "HTnaIn the academic study of Buddhismthe terms "Mahayana" in are set contradiction to each and the two often vehicles other, yana" are described as having differentaspirations,teachings, and practices. The distinctionsmade between the Mahayanaand the Hinayana,however, force the schools into neat, isolated, and independentcategories that often underminethe complexitiesthat exist concerningtheirbeliefs, ideologies, and practices. the Mahayanaand While some of the categoriesused to differentiate the HTnayana are helpful in the study and interpretation of Buddhism, these distinctionsmust continuallybe reviewed. This article attemptsto review one such distinction:the commonly held theoreticalmodel that is to become buddhas postulatesthatthe goal of Mahayanapractitioners of the the bodhisattva whereas the by following path (bodhisattva-yana), goal of Hinayanapractitionersis to become arahantsby following the In demonpath of the Heareror the Buddha'sdisciples (sravaka-yana). in the inherent this this article will model, oversimplifications strating the and of the in bodhisattva ideal Theravada investigate presence scope Buddhist theory and practice. the Mahayana-HTnayana By raising issues surrounding opposition, however, I am not suggesting that distinctions cannot be made between the two vehicles, nor am I proposingto do away with the terms Rather,in exploringthe oversimplifica"Mahayana"and "HTnayana." tions inherentin the Mahayana-HTnayana dichotomy, it is my intention to replace the theoreticalmodel that identifies(1) MahayanaBuddhism with the bodhisattva-yana and (2) HTnayana Buddhismwith the sravakawith a model that is more of the two vehicles. In yana representative doing so, the impliedpurposeof this article,as is JohnHolt'sstudyof the in Sri Lanka,is to "raisequestions place and relevanceof Avalokitesvara students of Buddhism among regardingthe very utility of the terms ... and as Theravada Mahayana designatingwholly distinctivereligiohistoricalconstructs"1 (emphasisadded). Beforeturningto the presence and scope of the bodhisattvaideal in TheravadaBuddhism(the only extant school of HTnayana Buddhism),it be beneficial to the sources that may investigate briefly identify the with MahayanaBuddhismand the sravaka-yana with bodhisattva-yana Buddhism. Instead of looking at how this model is approHTnayana priated by scholars of Buddhism, I will turn to the writings of three MahayanaBuddhistsin which this bifurcationis suggested.

Samuels Jeffrey

Graduate studentin the of Religious Department Studiesat the University of Virginia

PhilosophyEast& West Volume47, Number3 July1997
399-415 ? 1997

of by University Hawai'iPress

399

One of the firstMahayanaBuddhists who identifiesthe bodhisattvawith Buddhism and the with HTnayana yana Mahayana sravaka-yana Buddhismis Nagarjuna.In his Precious Garlandof Advice for the King (Rajaparikatha-ratnamala), Nagarjuna rhetoricallyasks "Since all the deeds and dedications of Bodhisattvas were not explained in aspirations, the Hearers' how then could one become a Bodhisattva vehicle, through In anotherinstance,Nagarjuna its path?"2 writesthat "[Inthe Vehicle of the Hearers]Buddhadid not explain the bases for a Bodhisattva's enWhile the with the lightenment."3 Nagarjunacompares sravaka-yana in two these first he later states that "the bodhisattva-yana passages, subjects based on the deeds of Bodhisattvaswere not mentioned in the [Hinayana]sutras."4Nagarjuna's third passage, then, suggests that bodhisattvas are found subjectsconcerning only in Mahayanatexts and are absent fromall HTnayana texts. AnotherMahayanaBuddhistto uphold a Mahayana-HTnayana distinctionbased on a bodhisattva-sra,vaka oppositionis Asanga.As Richard S. Cohen illustrates,5 in that Asahga posits, his Mahayanasotralamkara, the GreatVehicle and the Hearers' Vehicle are mutuallyopposed.6Their contradictorynature includes intention, teaching, employment (i.e., means), support(which is based entirelyon meritand knowledge),and the time that it takes to reach the goal.7 After Asahga discusses the opposing nature of these two vehicles, he then identifiesthe sravakaand remarks thatthe lesservehicle yana as the lesservehicle (HTnayana), is not able to be the greatvehicle (Mahayana).8 (yanamhTnam) is yet anotherMahayanathinkerwho views the MahaCandrakTrti and the as being mutuallyopposed. LikeAsanga, Canyana HTnayana drakirti uses the bodhisattva-sravaka distinctionto separate Mahayana and HinayanaBuddhismas well as to promotethe Mahayanatradition over and against HTnayana Buddhism. In his Madhyamakavatara, for is the path instance, he remarksthat the lesser vehicle (HTnayana) reservedsolely for disciples and solitarybuddhas, and that the greater vehicle (Mahayana)is the path reserved solely for bodhisattvas.Not with Mahayana associate the bodhisattva-yana only does Candrakirti schools know Buddhism,he also clings to the belief that the HTnayana of of the career of the the future Buddha,the perfect "stages nothing virtues (paramita), the resolutions or vows to save all creatures, the applicationof meritto the acquisitionof the qualityof Buddha,[and]the (as for Nagarjuna), great compassion."9In other words, for CandrakTrti the Hinayanatraditiondoes not presenta bodhisattva doctrine. The points raisedby these MahayanaBuddhistsare problematicfor three reasons. First,the dichotomy presentedby both Asanga and Candrakirti sets up an opposition between an ideology and an institutional than comparingan ideology with an ideology (bodhiaffiliation.Rather or a Buddhistschool with another Buddhistschool, PhilosophyEast& West sattvaand sraivaka)

400

this oppositioncontrastsone ideology (arahantship throughfollowingthe with an institutional affiliation sravaka-yana) (MahayanaBuddhism).In order for a more accurate distinctionto be constructed,then, we must either compare the bodhisattva-yana with the sravaka-yana, or compare a MahayanaBuddhistschool with a HTnayana Buddhistschool. Another problem with the ideas put forth by Nagarjuna,Asaiga, and CandrakTrti concerns their statementsthat Mahayanaand HTnayana Buddhismare mutually contradictoryand exclusive. These assertions underminethe fact that the terms "HTnayana" and "Mahayana" referto numerousschools and that the category of "HTnayana" includes even a number of "proto-Mahayana" schools (e.g., the Mahasafighikas).10 By using the terms "Mahayana"and "HTnayana" monolithically,these thinkersignore the pluralityof doctrines,goals, and paths that are present in the schools. The third problem inherent in the statementsof these writers,and which will be the focus of this article, is that they assume that all followers of the HTnayana are sravakasstrivingto become arahantswhile all followers of the Mahayanaare bodhisattvason the path to buddhahood. As we shall see throughthe example of the only extant HTnayana school, the Theravadin tradition,this is clearly not the case. Before reevaluatingthe bodhisattva-sravaka opposition as it is preit is first necessary to sented by Nagarjuna,Asahga, and CandrakTrti, ascertainthe presence and scope of the bodhisattvaideal in Theravada Buddhism.This will be accomplished by looking at the presence of the ideal in the TheravadaBuddhistPali canon (theory)as well as by investigatinghow the same ideal permeatesthe lives of TheravadaBuddhists (practice). The presence of the bodhisattvaideal in the Theravada BuddhistPali canon is primarilyrestrictedto Gotama Buddha.The use of the term "bodhisattva" occurs in a numberof the suttas(Skt:sOtra) in the Majjhiand where the Buddha is purported ma, Anguttara, SamyuttaNikayas to have said: "Monks,before my Awakening,and while I was yet merely the Bodhisatta[Skt:bodhisattva],not fully-awakened...."11 In addition to referring to the present life of Gotama,the term "bodhisattva" is also used in relationto the penultimatelife of Gotama in Tusita(Pali:Tusita) heaven, as well as his conception and birth.12 In later canonical texts, the bodhisattvaideal is furtherdeveloped and associated with numerous concepts. These developments (which includethe concept of a bodhisattva vow) may be said to introduce"into TheravadaBuddhismwhat in Mahayana studies has been called 'the Bodhisattva ideal.'"13Inthe SuttaNipata,for example, the term"bodhisattva" refersto the historical Buddha prior to his enlightenmentand In addition,the bodhisattvaideal signifiesa being set on Buddhahood.14 Samuels in this text is also associated with the quality of compassion. This is Jeffrey 401

to Gotama'sfather(Suddhodana) exemplifiedby the sage Asita'sremark thatthe young bodhisattva-prince "will come to the fulfillment of perfect ... [and]will startturningthe wheel of Truthout of comEnlightenment for the passion well-being of many."15 In yet another canonical text, the Buddhavarmsa, the bodhisattva ideal is developed to the greatest extent. Here, the bodhisattvaideal refersto an ideal personage who makes a vow to become a fully and out of compassion completely enlightened buddha (sammasambuddha) for all sentient beings,16who performs and who variousacts of merit,17 In addition,the bodhireceives a prophecyof his futurebuddhahood.18 sattva depicted in the Buddhavamsa makes a vow to become a bodhisattva only after the attainmentof arahantshipis within reach. This is portrayedin the chronicle of Sumedha. While Sumedha was lying in the mud and offering his body to the Buddha DTpankara to walk on, Sumedhathought:"IfI so wished I could burnup my defilementstoday. What is the use while I (remain)unknown of realizingdhamma here? Havingreachedomniscience, I will become a Buddhain the world with the devas."'9 Anotheridea that arises in conjunctionwith the bodhisattvaideal is this the need to complete a numberof bodhisattva perfections(paramita); and the Cariyjpitaka.20 can be found most clearly in the Buddhavamsa In these two texts, ten perfections are delineated, as opposed to six perfectionsdescribed in certainMahayanatexts (e.g., the AstasahasrikaThe Buddhavamsa andthe Ratnagunasamcayagatha). Prajnaparamitiastra and the Cariyapitaka also discuss how each of the ten perfectionsmay be practicedat three differentlevels: a regulardegree, a higherdegree, and an ultimatedegree of completion. Though the concept of three degrees of perfection is suggested in the Cariyapitaka the Buddhavarmsa,21 explores the idea in more detail, with the of the first especially example paramita-giving (dana). To how the of perfection giving (dana) was completed in the exemplify lowest degree, we find storiesof how the bodhisattva gave people food; his own sandals and shade; an elephant; gifts to mendicants;wealth; and even his own familymemclothing,beds, food, and drink;offerings; how the same perfectionwas fulfilledin the middle bers.22To illustrate degree, we read how the bodhisattva gave away his bodily partssuch as his eye.23 And finally, to demonstratehow the perfectionof giving was fulfilled in the highest degree, we find a story of how the bodhisattva gave away his own life when he was a hare.24 Inthe Palicanon, the term"bodhisattva" is also used in referenceto other previous buddhas. For instance, in the Mahapadanasutta of the DTgha Nikaya,the notion of past buddhas(and hence past bodhisattvas) is elucidated. In the beginning of this sutta, the six buddhas who preEast &West ceded Gotamaare mentionedas well as theirnames,the eons when they Philosophy
402

became buddhas (i.e., when they attained enlightenmentand taught), their caste, their clan, their life span, the trees where they attainedenand the numberof theirdisciples, theirpersonalattendants, lightenment, their parents.25After briefly outlining the lives of these six buddhas, Gotamabegins an in-depthrecollectionof the firstbuddha,VipassT, from his life in Tusitaheaven until he dispersedhis monksfor the purposeof the Buddhanot only refersto spreadingthe teachings. In this narration, but also takes the life VipassT up to his enlightenmentas a bodhisattva,26 as the example for all futurebodhisattvas and buddhas, events of VipassT Gotama himself.27 including(retroactively) Another section of the sutta-pitaka where the term "bodhisattva" pertainsto each of the six previousbuddhasis the SamyuttaNikaya.For instance, in the fourthsection of the second book, we find the phrase "To Vipassi, brethren,ExaltedOne, Arahant,BuddhaSupreme,before his enlightenment,while he was yet unenlightened and Bodhisat[ta], there came this thought...." This same phrase, then, is used in conjunction with the other five previous buddhas in the following verses: and Kassapa.28 Sikhi,Vessabhu, Kakusandha, Konagamana, While most of the uses of the term "bodhisattva" concern Gotama Buddhaand the numerousbuddhas who preceded him, there are also references in the Pali canon to the possibilityof future buddhas (and hence bodhisattvas). For example, in the CakkavatisThanadasutta of the DTghaNikaya,the Buddhaforetellsof the futurewhen "an Exalted One named Metteyya [Skt:Maitreya],Arahant,Fully Awakened [i.e., sammasambuddha], abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with of the as a guide to mortalswilling to be worlds, knowledge unsurpassed a teacher for and and Exalted led, men, One, a Buddha,even as I gods am now," will arise.29 Though Maitreyais the only futurebuddha mentioned specifically, the possibilityof attainingbuddhahoodis not restricted solely to him. In the SampasadanTyasutta of the DTghaNikaya, for instance, Sariputtais One have I heard professedto have said: "Inthe presence of the Exalted him say and from him have received, that ... in times gone by and in future times there have been, and will be other Supreme Buddhas Thus, equal to himself [i.e., Gotama]in the matterof Enlightenment."30 no longer is the term "bodhisattva"used solely in conjunction with the bodhisattvaGotama, with other past buddhas, and with Maitreya; yana is regardedas a possible, albeit difficult,path open to anyone who desires buddhahood. This more expanded use of the term "bodhisattva"is explicitly Inthe eighth chapterof this canonical expressed in the Khuddakapatha. text (the Nidhikandasutta), the goal of buddhahoodis presentedas a goal that should be pursuedby certainexceptional beings. AfterdemonstratSamuels ing the impermanence and uselessness of accumulating and storing Jeffrey 403

material possessions or treasures,the sutta mentions another type of treasurethat is more permanentand which follows beings from birthto birth.This treasureresultsfrom giving (dana),morality(sia), abstinence and restraint (dama).Thistreasurefulfillsall desires, leads to (samyama), a rebirthin a beautiful body, enables one to become sovereign of a countryand a loving spouse, and leads to rebirthin the human realm (fromwhich liberationis possible). Moreover,the qualities of charity, lead to the wisdom which producesthe virtue,abstinence,and restraint or comof either arahants,pratyekabuddhas, "bliss of Extinguishment" read: buddhas. We pletely enlightened of a NobleDisreleaseof mind,the perfections Discriminating knowledge, Buddha theEnlightenment of a Silent [i.e.,savaka-paramT], ciple(ofa Buddha) andthe requisites for(Supreme) Buddhahood [i.e.,bud[i.e.,paccekabodhi] Thereall these(qualities) can be obtained dhabhumi], by this(treasure).... actions.31 menpraise the acquisition of meritorious forewise andeducated This sutta illustratesthat the goal of buddhahood and the path to the are no longer simply associated with spegoal (i.e., bodhisattva-yana) cific buddhas of the past and future; rather, buddhahood is one of three possible goals that may be pursued by "wise and educated"
people.32

Though the idea that anyone may become a buddha throughfolis only present in the TheravadaBuddhist lowing the bodhisattva-yana Pali canon in seed form, it appears, nonetheless, to have been taken seriously by Theravadins.This is illustratedin the lives of numerous Theravadinkings, monks, and textual copyists who have taken the to the eventual bodhisattva vow and are following the bodhisattva-yana attainment of buddhahood. has its source in the The relationship between kingsand bodhisattvas bodhisattvacareer of Gotama as depicted not only in his life as Prince Siddhartha(Pali: Siddhattha),but also in his penultimate earthly life the bodhisattvaexwhen he was KingVessantara.As KingVessantara, hibitedhis compassionby fulfillingthe perfectionof giving. Forinstance, we find that the bodhisattva gave away his elephant to alleviate a droughtin nearby Kalirga, his wealth, his kingdom, and his wife and children, and was even willing to give away his own life out of compassionfor other beings. Thoughthe paradigmfor the close association between the institution of kingshipand buddhahoodcame from Gotama when he was a bodhisattva,it was quickly adopted by Theravadin kings by the second afterthe eighth centuryc.E. In the centuryB.C.E. and fully incorporated early examples, we find the relationshipdrawn between kings and bodhisattvasin numerous, albeit tempered, ways. For instance, King West East & exhibited the quality of compassion by refusingto enter Philosophy DuttagamanT 404

so that the heavenly realmafterhis previouslife as an ascetic (samanera) he could be rebornas a prince and unite the regionalrulersof Sri Lanka as well as help develop the sanghaand the Buddha'steaching.33 Though in a bodhisattva the he not referred to as is Mahavamsa, DuttagamanT a certain as bodhito demonstrate bodhisattvic Just qualities. appears sattva renounces the enlightenmentof an arahantso that he could be reborncountless times in this world of impermanenceand sufferingout of compassionfor all beings, so, too, did KingDuttagamani renouncethe to this world of suffering for the sake world of the devas in orderto return of the Buddhist on the doctrineand out of compassionfor all inhabitants islandof Sri Lanka. Similarexamples of bodhisattva-like compassion are exhibited by to who is said have risked his life to save the King Sirisamghabodhi, inhabitantsof Sri Lankafrom a devastatingdrought34and who even offered his own head in orderto diverta potentialwar;35by KingBuddhadasa, who created "happiness by every means for the inhabitants of the island ... [and who was] gifted with wisdom [i.e., painnai] and virtue [i.e., sila],... endowed with the ten qualitiesof kings [i.e., the ten rajadhammas],... [and] lived openly before the people the life that bodhisattaslead and had pity for (all) beings as a father (has pity for) his children";36 and especially by King Upatissa,who fulfilled the ten bodhisattvaperfectionsduringhis reign.37 the amalgamation between the institution By the eighth centuryC.E., of kingshipand bodhisattvas became even stronger. At this time, we find evidence of certainTheravadin kings in Sri Lanka,Burma,and Thailand who openly declared themselves to be bodhisattvas.Forexample, King of Polonnaruva, NissankaMalla (1187-1196 C.E.) Ceylon, states that "I will show my self in my [true]body which is endowed with benevolent regardfor and attachmentto the virtuousqualitiesof a bodhisattvaking, who like a parent,protectsthe world and the religion."38 In other epithere is a reference to VI as Parakramabahu graphical markings, King Bahu."39Finally,the conflation of kings "Bodhisatva[sic] Parakrama and bodhisattvason the island of Sri Lankais establishedmost strongly to himselfas a bodhisattva as by KingMahindaIV,who not only referred a result of his bodhisattva-like resolute determination,40 but who even went so far as to proclaimthat "none but the bodhisattas would become kingsof prosperousLarka."41 In Burma,the relationshipbetween kings and bodhisattvasis exemwho claimed himselfto be "the bodhisatva plifiedwith KingKyanzittha, who shall become a Buddhathat saves (and) redeems all [sic], verily in who is love (and)compassionforall beings at all times ... great beings, [and] who was foretold by the LordBuddha,who is to become a true In another instance, KingAlaungsithuwrote that he would Buddha."42 Samuels like to build a causeway to help all beings reach "The BlessedCity [i.e., Jeffrey 405

nirvana]."43 Finally, kings Sri Tribhuvanaditya, Thiluih Man, CaisO I, and Natorimya all referred to themselves as bodhisattvas.44 In Thailand, a similar connection is drawn. One example of a Thai bodhisattva-king is Lu T'ai of Sukhothai who "wished to become a Buddha to help all beings ... leave behind the sufferings of transmigration."45 The relation between King Lu T'ai and bodhisattvahood is also manifested by the events occurring at his ordination ceremony that were similar to "the ordinary course of happenings in the career of a Bodhisattva."46 While it may by argued that these bodhisattva kings were influenced by certain Mahayana doctrines when they appropriated certain bodhisattvic qualities or took the bodhisattva vow, this does not invalidate the relationship between kingship and bodhisattvas in Theravada Buddhism. Though a link may be established between these bodhisattva kings and Mahayana Buddhism, this does not dismiss the fact that the bodhisattva ideal was taken seriously by Theravadin kings or that the bodhisattva ideal has a place in Theravada Buddhist theory and practice. Moreover, while it may be possible to posit that these kings were influenced by Mahayana concepts, it is impossible to demonstrate that these kings were only influenced by Mahayana Buddhism; just because a king may have been influenced by Mahayana ideas does not mean that certain Theravada ideas, including the ideas of a bodhisattva as found in the Buddhavamsa and Cariyjpitaka, were not equally influential. The presence of a bodhisattva ideal in Theravada Buddhism is also represented by the numerous examples of other Theravadins who have either referred to themselves or have been referred to by others as bodhisattvas. The celebrated commentator Buddhaghosa, for example, was viewed by the monks of the Anuradhapura monastery as being, without doubt, an incarnation of Metteyya.47 There are even some instances of Theravadin monks who expressed their desire to become fully enlightened buddhas. For instance, the twentieth-century bhikkhu, Doratiyaveye of Sri Lanka (ca. 1900), after being deemed worthy of receiving certain secret teachings by his meditation teacher, refused to practice such techniques because he felt that it would cause him to enter on the Path and attain the level of arahant in this lifetime or within seven lives (i.e., by becoming a sottapanna). This was unacceptable to Doratiyaveye because he saw himself as a bodhisattva who had already made a vow to attain buddhahood in the future.48 The vow to become a buddha was also taken by certain Theravadin textual copyists and authors. The author of the commentary on the Jataka (the Jatakattakatha),for example, concludes his work with the vow to complete the ten bodhisattva perfections in the future so that he will become a buddha and liberate "the whole world with its gods from the & East West Philosophy bondage of repeated births ... [and] guide them to the most excellent

406

Anotherexample of a Theravadin authorwho and tranquilNibbana."49 is the wished to become a buddha by following the bodhisattva-yana In his twelfth-century Sri Lahkanmonk Maha-Tipitaka subCOlabhaya. commentaryon the Questions of KingMilinda, he "wrote in the colophon at the end of the work that he wished to become a buddha: "50 BuddhoBhaveyyam 'May I become a Buddha.' A Reevaluation of the Bodhisattva-Sravaka Opposition While many canonical uses of the term "bodhisattva"refer to Gotamapriorto his attainment of buddhahood,in other canonical texts the as the (such Buddhavamsa), term designates a being who, out of compassion for other beings, vows to become a fully and completely variousacts of merit, enlightenedbuddha (sammasambuddha), performs renounces the enlightenmentof arahants,receives a prophecy of his futurebuddhahood,and fulfillsor completes the ten bodhisattvaperfections. Inaddition,the bodhisattva ideal was also developed in termsof its application.Not only does the word "bodhisattva" pertainto Gotamaand all previous buddhas before their enlightenment,it also applies to any being who wishes to pursuethe path to perfect buddhahood.This new developmentresultedin a moregeneraladherenceto the ideal by numerous Theravadin kings, monks,textualscholars,and even lay people.51 The presence and scope of the bodhisattvaideal in TheravadaBuddhist theory and practice,then, appearsto belie Nagarjuna's, Asahga's, and Candrakirti's claims not only that the "subjectsbased on the deeds of Bodhisattvas were not mentioned in the [HTnayana] sutras,"but also that the lesser vehicle (HTnayana) knows nothing of the "stages of the career of the future Buddha,52 the perfect virtues (paramita), the resolutions or vows to save all creatures,the application of merit to the acquisition of the quality of Buddha, [and] the great compassion." In addition,the presence of a developed bodhisattvadoctrine in the Buddhavamsaand the Cariyapitaka also calls into question the commonly held belief that the bodhisattvaideal underwentmajordoctrinaldevelopments in early MahayanaBuddhism;there are numeroussimilarities between the bodhisattva ideal as found in the Buddhavamsaand as found in certainearly MahayanaBuddhisttexts such as the RatnagunaBoth of these texts, for instance, express the need for samcayagatha.53 the completion of certain bodhisattvaperfections, the importance of making a vow to become a buddha, the notion of accumulatingand applying meritfor the attainmentof buddhahood,the role of compassion, and the implicitpresence of certainbodhisattvastages. Eventhough the bodhisattvaideal did not undergosubstantialdoctrinaldevelopmentsbetween the later canonical texts and certainearly Mahayanatexts, it was developed in terms of its application.Whereas the goal of becoming a buddha becomes the focus of the Mahayana Jeffrey Samuels

407

tradition. tradition,this goal remainsde-emphasized in the Theravadin In other words, althoughthe bodhisattvaideal in MahayanaBuddhism becomes a goal that is appliedto everyone, the same ideal in Theravada Buddhismis reservedfor the exceptional person. This distinctionis describedby Walpola Rahula:
believe that anyone can become a bodhisattva, Thoughthe Theravadins they do not stipulateor insistthateveryone mustbecome a bodhisattva-this is not to decide which pathto consideredto be reasonable.It is up to the individual that of the that of the or that of the Samyaktake, Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha, sambuddha[i.e., sammasambuddha].54

The state of buddhahood is highly praised in both traditions.In MahayanaBuddhism,this praisefor and focus on the ideal of buddhacentered on the bodhihood has resultedin a vast amountof literature sattva ideal. In the Theravadintradition,on the other hand, the high regardfor buddhahood has never led to a universalapplicationof the goal, nor has it resulted in a vast amount of literaturein which the bodhisattvaconcept is delineated. As K. R. Normanposits: "The Buddhavamsais thereforea developed Bodhisattva doctrine, but it was not in Abhidharma."55 even the developed further, These above-mentioneddifferencesbetween the two traditionsare essential and are a useful means to distinguishTheravadafrom Mahayana Buddhism. Ratherthan simply identifyingthe bodhisattva-yana with the various Mahayana schools and the sravaka-yanawith the numerousHTnayana the schools (as does the old model, which illustrates ideas put forth by Nagarjuna,Asarga, and Candrakirti), the revised theoreticalmodel may more accuratelyportray the differencesthat exist between the two yanas by referring to MahayanaBuddhism as a vehicle in which the bodhisattvaideal is more universally applied, and to Theravada Buddhismas a vehicle in which the bodhisattvaideal is reserved for and appropriatedby certain exceptional people. Put somewhat and the goal of buddhahood differently,while the bodhisattva-yana continues to be accepted as one of three possible goals by followers of TheravadaBuddhism,this same goal becomes viewed as the only acceptable goal by followers of MahayanaBuddhism.Hence, it should is not be stressedthatthe change introducedby the Mahayanatraditions so much an inventionof a new type of saintor a new ideology, but rather a takingof an exceptional ideal and bringingit into prominence.56 NOTES An earlierversion of this article was presentedat the AmericanAcadWest East & Philosophy emy of Religion, RockyMountains-GreatPlains Region, in April 1995. 408

in its completion. I would like Numerouspeople have been instrumental to thank Jose Cabez6n, Robert Lester,and Reginald Ray for reading the rough draftsand making valuable suggestions on how it might be improved. I also wish to thank the two anonymous readers for their comments and suggestions. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Benedicte F. Bossut,for her direct involvementin all stages of the productionof this article,especially for her editorialsuggestions.Any errors, oversights,and inaccuraciesthat remain,however, are solely the responsibilityof the author. 1 - JohnC. Holt, Buddhain the Crown:Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka(New York:Oxford UniversityPress, 1991), viii-ix. pp. 2 - Nagarjuna, PreciousGarland of Advice forthe Kingand the Song of the FourMindfulnesses,trans.JeffreyHopkinsand LatiRimpoche, The Wisdom of Tibet Series, no. 2 (London:George Allen and Unwin, 1975), v. 390. 3 -Ibid., v. 391. 4- Ibid.,v. 393. 5 - Richard S. Cohen, "Discontented Categories: HTnayanaand Mahayana in Indian BuddhistHistory,"Journalof the American Academy of Religion63 (1) (1995): pp. 2-3. 6 - Asarga, Mahayanasotralarmkara, trans.SurekhaVijay Limaye,Bibliotheca Indo-BuddhicaSeries, no. 94 (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1992), 1 :9. 7 - Ibid., 1: 10. 8 - YanamhTnam hinam eva tat na tan Mahayanambhavitumarhati of the HTnayana schools of Buddhism with (ibid.).The identification the sravaka-yana made by Asangahas been adoptedby certainlater scholars. Forinstance, Har Dayal makesthis same identification as follows: "Corresponding to these three kinds of bodhi, there are three yanas or "Ways," which lead an aspirantto the goal. The third yana was at first called the bodhisattva-yana,but it was subsequentlyre-namedmaha-yana.The other two yanas (i.e., the and the pratyekabuddha-yana) were spoken of as the sravaka-yana (The BodhisattvaDoctrine in BuddhistSanskritLiterhTna-yana" ature [Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975], p. 11). The identification of HTnayana Buddhism with the sravaka-yanais also made by scholars like Leon Hurvitz,in Scripture of the LotusBlossomof the Fine Dharma(New York: ColumbiaUniversityPress,1976), p. 116, and M. Monier-Williams,A Sanskrit-English Dictionary (Delhi: Samuels MotilalBanarsidass, 1990), p. 1097. Jeffrey 409

9-

Louis de La Vallee Poussin, "Bodhisattva,"in Encyclopaediaof Religion and Ethics (New York:Charles Scribner'sSons, 1913), 8:334.

10 -Andre Bareau, Les Sectes Bouddhiquesdu Petit Vehicule (Paris: Ecole Fran:aiseD'Extreme-Orient, 1955). 11 - "Pubbeva me, bhikkhave, bodhisambodha,anabhisambuddhassa sattassasato, edad ahosi." The suttas in which the word "bodhisattva"follows this prelude are: MajjhimaNikaya 1:17, 92, 114, 163, 240; 2:93, 211; 3:157; AnguttaraNikaya 3:240; 4:302, 438; and SamyuttaNikjya 2:4; 3:27; 4:233; 5:281, 316. Unless otherwise indicated, all referencesto the Pali canon are from the of the PaliText Society. Englishtranslation 12 - MajjhimaNikaya3 :119-120, and DTgha Nikaya2 :108. 13 - RichardGombrich, "The Significance of FormerBuddhas in the TheravadinTradition,"Buddhist Studies in Honour of Walpola Rahula,ed. SomaratnaBalasooriyaet al. (London:Gordon Fraser Gallery,1980), p. 68. 14 - H. Saddhatissa,trans., The Sutta-Nipata(London:Curzon Press, 1985), v. 683.
15- Ibid., v. 693.

16 - The vow to become a buddhaincludes both the qualitiesof mental determination(i.e., manopanidhi) and aspiration (abhinTharakato engage in the long and arduouspath rana)to attainbuddhahood: to complete and perfect enlightenment(i.e., sammasambuddha). Whereas the mental determinationto become a buddha is made silently to oneself and is analogous to the Mahayanaconcept of the aspirationis usually bodhicittaor "thoughtof Enlightenment," made in the presence of an existing buddha. Though the mental to become a buddha occurs only once, the aspiradetermination tion to attain buddhahood must be repeated in the presence of to the Buddhaall subsequentbuddhas (I. B. Horner,introduction vamsa [Chroniclesof the Buddha],Sacred Books of the Buddhists, vol. 31 [London: PaliText Society, 1975], pp. xiv-xv). The clearest 2A: 56 ff., of a bodhisattva vow is found in Buddhavamsa example Sumedhathought: where the bodhisattva over alone, beinga man awareof my Whatis the use of my crossing Iwillcausetheworld with reached omniscience, strength? together Having stream of the devasto crossover.Cutting the samsara, through shattering in the shipof Dhamma, I will causethe the threebecomings, embarking worldwiththe devasto crossover.

&West East Philosophy 410

17 - A list of the variousmeritorious acts performedby Gotamato each of the twenty-fourprevious buddhas is delineated by I. B. Horner, in her introduction to the Buddhavamsa, pp. xlix ff. One example of a meritoriousact performedfor a Buddha can be found in the chronicle of Sumedha. When Sumedha heard that the then buddha-Dipankara-was to pass along a road, he, as an act of merit,offeredto clear a section of the path: WhenI heard"Buddha," zest aroseimmediately. BudSaying"Buddha, in mind,I dha"I expressed thereelated,stirred Standing my happiness. "Herewill I sow seeds [of merit]; indeed,let not the moment reasoned, fora Buddha, will pass!Ifyou areclearing give me one section.I myself 2A:42 ff.). alsoclearthe direct (Buddhavamsa way,the pathandroad" BeforeSumedhawas able to finish the section of the road allotted arrivedaccompanied by four hundredthousand to him, DTpankara the arahants.As a resultof not havingfinished his task of preparing himself in the mud and offered his body road, Sumedhaprostrated for walkingon (2A: 52-53). to Dipankara 18 - See, for instance, Buddhavamsa2A:61 ff. These developments is have a greataffect on the ways in which the term "bodhisattva" used. As Gombrichposits, "AnyfutureBuddhais a Bodhisattva (by definition), but with the appearance of this theory one formally becomes a Bodhisattva by takinga vow in the presence of a Buddha and receiving his prediction" ("The Significance of Former Buddhas,"p. 68).
19 - Buddhavamsa 2A: 54-55.

20 - The ten perfectionsare mentioned numeroustimes in the Buddha2A: 117 ff., 4:14, 5:20, vamsa. See, for example, Buddhavamsa and 6:14. 21 In Buddhavamsa1 :76-77, Sariputtaasks the Buddha about his process of Awakeningand how he fulfilledthe ten perfections.He then asks: "Of what kind,wise one, leaderof the world, were your How were the higherperfectionsfulfilled,how the ten perfections? ultimateperfections?" 1:1-1 :8 and 1 :9. 22 - Cariyapitaka 23 - Ibid., 1 :8:2-3. 24 -Ibid., 1 :10:9, 1 :10:22-23.
25 - DTghaNikaya 2:1-7.

26 - For instance, we find: "Now VipassT, brethren,when as a Bodhisat[ta],he ceased to belong to the hosts of the heaven of Delight, descended into his mother's womb mindful and self-possessed" Samuels Jeffrey (DTgha Nikaya2:12).

411

27 - In many of the following paragraphs, for instance, we find the phrase "It is the rule, brethren, that...." (Ayam ettha dhammata) used to refer to the paradigm set by Vipassi. 28 - Samyutta Nikiya 2 :4 ff. The six previous buddhas mentioned in the DTghaand Samyutta Nikayas are increased to twenty-four and even to twenty-seven in later canonical texts such as the Buddhavamsa. In yet a later canonical text, the Apadana of the Khuddaka-Nikaya, the number of previous buddhas increases to more than thirty-five. 29 - Digha Nikaya 3:76. 30 - Ibid., 3:114. Though the possibility for the existence of other future buddhas beside Metteyya is mentioned only briefly in the Pali canon, in other post-canonical Theravadin texts, there are more specific references to future bodhisattvas and buddhas. For instance, in the Dasabodhisattuppattikatha, the Dasabodhisattaddesa, and in one recension of the Anagatavamsa Desana, the nine bodhisattvas who will follow Maitreya are mentioned. Moreover, in one recension of the Dasabodhisattuppattikatha, we even find the places of residence of seven of the ten bodhisattvas: Metteyya, Rama, Pasena, and Vibhuti are presently residing in Tusita heaven and Subhuti, Nalagiri, and Parileyya are now in Tavatimsa heaven. Thus, it appears that the Theravadin tradition acknowledges certain "celestial" bodhisattvas who are currently residing in various heavenly realms and not that the only recognized bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism is Maitreya (Edward Conze, Thirty Years of Buddhist Studies: Selected Essays by Edward Conze [Oxford: Bruno Cassirer, 1967], p. 38). 31 - Khuddakapatha 8:15-16. 32 - Though the accessibility of these three goals to all beings is only briefly mentioned in the Khuddakapatha, in the Upasakajanalahkara (a twelfth-century Pali text dealing with lay Buddhist ethics), all three ways of liberation are clearly admitted (Hajime Nakamura, Indian Buddhism: A Survey with Bibliographical Notes [Osaka: Kufs Publication, 1980], p. 119). 33 - Mahavamsa 22 :25-41. 34 - Ibid., 36:76. There is a remarkable parallel between King Sirisamghabodhi, who risked his life to avert a devastating drought, and King Vessantara, who gave away his precious elephant to avert a drought in Kaliiga. 35 - Mahavamsa 36:91 ff. The willingness to offer his own life to avert the potential suffering of his subjects appears to have some origin in the life of King Vessantara, who was willing to offer his life to fulfill

PhilosophyEast& West

412

the perfectionof giving. Aftercommentingon the bodhisattva-like natureof KingSirisamghabodhi, John Holt argues:"By his actions, very clearly cuts the figure of an earthly, royal Sirisanghabodhi bodhisattva,and almost a Mahayanabodhisattvaat that" (Buddha in the Crown,p. 59).
36 - Culavamsa, 37:106 ff.

37 - Ibid., 37:180.
38 - EpigraphiaZeylanica, 2:76.

on pages 68-69 of the same 39 - Ibid.,3:67. This passage is translated volume.
40 - Ibid., 1 :227. 41 - Ibid., 1: 240. 42 - Epigraphia Burmanica, 1 :146. 43 - P. M. Tin, "The Shwegugyi Pagoda Inscriptions, Pagan 1141 A.D.,"

TheJournalof the BurmaResearchSociety 10 (2) (1920): 72.
44 - T. Tun, "Religion in Burma, A.D. 100-1300," The Journal of the

BurmaResearchSociety 42 (1959): 53. 45 - E. Sarkisyanz,BuddhistBackgroundsof the Burmese Revolution (The Hague:Martinus Nijhoff,1965), p. 47. in the Reignof LuT'ai of Sukhodaya,"in 46 - B. W. Andaya,"Statecraft and of Power in Thailand,Laos, Burma,ed. Religion Legitimation BarwellL.Smith(Chambersburg: ConocosheagueAssociates,1978), p. 13. 47 - Culavamsa 37:242. In commenting on this story, Holt posits:
"What this ... seem[s] to suggest is that not only did Maitreya come

to be associated with visions of perfected kingship, but he also seems to have been continuouslyassociated with the ideal of the perfected monk" (Buddhain the Crown,p. 8). Even though Buddhaghosa was depicted as being an incarnationof Metteyya,he is never described as taking a bodhisattvavow and as practicing certainbodhisattvaperfections. 48 - F. L. Woodward, trans., A Manual of a Mystic: Being a Translation fromthe Paliand Sinhalese WorkEntitled"The Yogavachara's Manual"(London: OxfordUniversityPress,1916), pp. xvii-xviii. 49 - H. Saddhatissa, The Birth-Stories of the Ten Bodhisattasand the Sacred Books of the Buddhists,vol. 29 Dasabodhisattuppattikatha, Samuels (London:Pali Text Society, 1975), pp. 38-39. Jeffrey

413

50 - Milinda TTka (PaliText Society),p. 73; quoted in Walpola Rahula, "L'idealdu bodhisattvadans le Theravadaet le Mahayana," Journal Asiatique,1971, p. 69. 51 - There is evidence that suggeststhat certain lay people living in Sri Lankatook bodhisattvavows to attain buddhahood.Forexample, we find that two Sri Lankans, afterfreeingtheirchildrenand wives from slavery, dedicated the merit derived from these actions "for the benefit of all beings" (Epigraphia Zeylanica, 4:133, nos. 1-4) as well as to their own attainmentof "Buddhahoodas desired" (ibid., 4:133, nos. 2-3). We also find a similarwish made by a "lay" person who lived between the fifthand eighth centuriesand who sculptedor commissionedthe sculptingof a rock in the shape of a stupa. The person then dedicated the meritaccrued from his for the benefit of all beings and for his attainmentof undertaking buddhahood.He writes: to reliveall the rebirth, mayI be able, in everysucceeding Bythismerit, of the worldand to bestowcompletehappiness [on humanity]. suffering I alsoalways] be fullof forbearance andcompassion. [May attained to thatsupreme stateof Buddhahood, mayI,withmyhandof great fromthe extensivequagmire of deliversuffering compassion, humanity northe ellipses 3: 161;neither the brackets aremine). samsara (ibid., One cautionarynote concerning these examples must be made. While there is evidence that certainSri Lankans took a bodhisattva to there is not sufficient evidence vow, suggest that these people were, in fact, Theravadins. 52 While the concept of the bodhisattvastages is not overtly delineated in the Buddhavamsa, it is implicit in the text. The stages found in the Buddhavamsa,though, closely resemble the four and not the tradibhumi outlined in one section of the Mahavastu, tional ten stages found in the Dasabhumika Sutra.These fourstages outlined in the Mahavastu career (1: 1 and 46 ff.)are:(a)the natural in which a bodhisattva merit acquires (prakrti-carya), by living a alms to the and the righteouslife, giving sangha, honoring buddhas; in which a bodhisattva (b) the resolvingstage (pranidhana-carya), makes a vow to attain buddhahood; (c) the conforming stage in which a bodhisattvaadvances to his goal by (anuloma-carya), the and finally, (d) the preserving fulfilling perfections(paramita); a whereby bodhisattvais destined to bestage (anivartana-carya), come a buddhaand cannotturnbackfromthe pathto buddhahood. In the Buddhavamsa,these four stages are implicit in the chronicle of Sumedha. For example, Sumedha first performedan act of meritto the BuddhaDTpaikara PhilosophyEast& West by lying in the mud (natural
414 By this merit, may I vanquish the foes, Mara ... and sin; and having

career);he then made a mental resolutionto become a buddha in the future (resolving stage); he then examined (and worked on completing)the ten perfections(conformingstage);and finally, he became assured of the attainmentof buddhahood by receiving a prediction from DTparkara and by the occurrences of certain him to resolve to attain buddhaevents that caused supernatural to the Mahavastu, hood (preserving however, all of stage).Contrary are reached in each the four stages implicit in the Buddhavamsa lifetimeof Gotama'sbodhisattvacareer and not over a numberof lifetimes. 53 -This point is more fully developed in chapter four of my M.A. thesis, "BodhisattvaIdeal in TheravadaBuddhism:With Special Referenceto the SCtra-Pitaka" (Universityof Colorado, 1995). It containsthe may be argued,however,thatwhile the Buddhavamsa central doctrines associated with the bodhisattva ideal, this text was heavily influenced by certain MahayanaBuddhistschools of thought. While this idea is sometimes asserted (E.J. Thomas, The Historyof BuddhistThought[London:Routledgeand KeganPaul, 1953], pp. 147-148), it has not been confirmed.In fact, the opposite assertion may also be made. This may be supportedby the dating of texts. For example, though the Buddhavamsais a relatively late additionto the Pali canon, accordingto certainscholars Buddhas,"p. 68, and (e.g., Gombrich,"TheSignificanceof Former A. K.Warder,IndianBuddhism[Delhi:MotilalBanarsidass, 1991], from third to the second be dated the this text century may p. 298), date is also supportedby the fact that there B.C.E.This approximate which has been is a parallelversion of this text in the Mahavastu, dated to the firstcentury B.C.E.(EtienneLamotte,Historyof Indian Fromthe Originsto the Saka Era,trans.SaraWebb-Boin Buddhism: Orientalistede Louvain,1988], p. 158). Hence, L'lnstitute [Paris: the Buddhavamsa may actuallyprecede the earliestMahayanatext, the Ratnagunasamcayagatha (which has been dated by Conze to the firstcenturyB.C.E.),by at least one hundredyears. 54 - Walpola Rahula,"L'idealdu bodhisattvadans le Theravadaet le Journal Asiatique,1971, p. 69. Mahayana," in 55 - K. R. Norman,PaliLiterature: Includingthe CanonicalLiterature of of the Schools All and Sanskrit Prakrit Buddhism,A Hinayana vol. 7, fasc. 2 (Wiesbaden:Otto HarHistoryof IndianLiterature, rassowitz,1983), p. 94. 56 - ReginaldRay, BuddhistSaints in India:A Studyof BuddhistValues OxfordUniversityPress,1994), p. 251. and Orientations (London: Samuels Jeffrey

415

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful