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First Buddhist Council

Lectured by Dr. nanda

Edited and arranged by Rev. Dhammadpa (Joyadip)
First year Diploma ourse! "##$
According to the legend the first Buddhist council was held due to the untamed words of
Ven. Subhaddha when the Buddha has just passed away. Subhaddha said to other monks,
Sirs! eep not, neither lament. e are rid of the !reat Samana. e used to be annoyed
by being told " this beseems you, this is not. But now we shall be able to do whate#er we
would like, and not do what we shall not like to do$. hen this was uttered in a #ery
harsh manner this made the %lder monks #ery worried thinking " it is just few days that
the Buddha has passed away, but the disciple are speaking in such manner. So what will
happen to the &eaching in future$. &hinking in this manner in order to preser#e the
&eaching for long Ven. 'ahakassapa who was the most elder in the order at that time
summoned the council. (n brief this is the reason for the )irst Buddhist *ouncil.
'ah+s+nghikas mentioned about the first Buddhist *ouncil in their scriptures.
'his+sakas and hammaguptikas they too mention about this council in their ,hamma
books. Sabbatti#+dins also ha#e accepted this e#ent. Asoka#adana says the Bussha has
ad#ised Ven. 'ah+kassapa, Ven. Anuruddha, and Ven. 'ah+ -+ty+yana to preser#e the
teaching of the .ord Buddha. Behind happening of this )irst Buddhist *ouncil, other than
the harsh words of Ven. Subhaddha there were other reasons that the %lders compelled to
decode to call the )irst *ouncil. 'isbeha#ior of Buddhist monks is also one of the
(t is said that they ha#e taken place e#en when the Buddha was ali#e. &he Buddha has to
promulgate rules to control these people such as p+r+jikas to control the beha#ior of the
monks. At the beginning the Buddha did not like the idea of promulgating any rules e#en
when it was re/uested by Ven. S+riputta. (n 0+rajik+p+li the Buddha mentions as follows,
1yato ca kho sriputta, idhekacce 2some, certain3 savatthny 2defilements3 dhamm
2basic factors3 sanghe patubhavanti, atha satth svaknam sikkhpadam papeti,
dhammnam patightya4.
15 S+riputta! hen here certain basic factors of 2de#eloping3 defilements arise in the
order, then the 'aster promulgates training factors for disciples6 show supreme moral
codes for the complete destruction of those basic factors of defilements4.
&he abo#e fact shows how beautiful was the Buddhist 5rder was at the #ery start with
good moral disciplines, and full de#otion to the practice.
&he Buddha shows four factors that would cause defilements in the ssana. 5ut of the
four the second one is 1Vepulla mahattat " enlargement of the ssana or the order in
#arious ways4. e know Buddhism was promulgated in (ndia under the patronage of

7 'ah+parinibb+na sutta 2,83
7 *ulla#agga 0+li 2Vn03 9 Vinaya pitaka
royal families and other rich people in the community. Since the #ery rich millionaires
donated lot of money and wealth to the order, many people they just joined the order with
a #iew of obtaining a good secular life. &hese monks who had no knowledge of the
Dhamma instead of de#eloping themsel#es #iolated the discipline of the order. &he group
called *habbaggiyas was famous among them. &hey were famous as mischief makers. So
in order to preser#e the ,hamma in their pristine purity from the hands of these monks
the ,hamma was rehearsed in the )irst Buddhist *ouncil.
Another reason for this council also is that monks interpreted the ,hamma preached by
the Buddha according to their won understanding. Ven. S+ti who listened to the ,hamma
about vina thought by the Buddha6 misinterpreted that the Buddha also accepts the
tmavda theory.
&here was a competition for the leadership of the order Ven. ,e#adatta was the leader of
them for he claimed that he is the cousin brother of the Buddha. So he says that he has the
closest relationship with the Buddha. :e suggested introducing fi#e new practices to the
5rder of monks. &he fi#e rules; practices are as follows<
=3 &he monks should be forest dwellers during their life time as monks.
>3 'onks should beg for alms during their life as monks.
?3 'onks should wear robes taken from dust@heap during their life as monks.
A3 'onks should li#e at the foot of trees during their life as monks.
B3 'onks should not eat fish or flesh of animals during their life as monks; monk@
,ue to all abo#e reasons the elder 'ah+kassapa summoned a council which in present we
named it as the )irst Buddhist *ouncil. (n that )irst Buddhist *ouncil BCC elders
2arahants3 were participated. (t started in the month of Duly the beginning of 2Vass+na3,
the rainy season with the continuation for three months. ,uring this whoe#er were not
selected for the *ouncil were ad#ised to li#e outside the E+jagaha. &hat decision was
taken with the #iew to keep up the loading, food, and other facilities for %lders. Ven.
'ah+kassapa presided at the *ouncil. ith the consent of the other monks Ven.
'ah+kassapa in#ited Ven. Fnanda who was said to has just attained Arahantship at that
#ery moment. Ven. Fnanda re#ised all the suttas and recited them which were classified
under fi#e major groups called ,Ggha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara, and uddhaka.
,uring the first Buddhist *ouncil no any reference was gi#en for eHistence of the
Abhidhamma. Ven. Ip+li too was in#ited by Ven. 'ah+kassapa to re#iew the Vinya
2Buddhist moral #irtues3. (t is said that the whole Vinya@pitaka was rehearsed under the
leadership of Ven. Ip+li. ,uring the )irst Buddhist *ouncil no any reference was gi#en
to the Abhidhamma!
=3 ,id the abhidhamma eHist during the day of the BuddhaJ
>3 as the Abhidhamma included in the SuttapitakaJ
?3 (s it 2the Abhidhamma3 lately added into BuddhismJ
e can see many /uestions and arguments like this. &here was another argument about
the #inaya rules. hich are the major rules and what are those that belong to minorJ &he
%lders were of the #iew that all major and minor rules should not be re#ised.
Vinayo nma ssanassa yu
&hey must ha#e come to the decision to keep up the unity among monks. At this Buddhist
*ouncil the "rahmadanda was imposed on Ven. *hanna.