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Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera
(1920(1920-2007) A n Investigative Dhamma
The Six Councils
The Thera Elders
A DISCOURSE by
Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera
An Investigative Dhamma Collated by Jinavamsa
Published by Leong Yok Kee Unit E2L4A Selesa Hillhomes Bukit Tinggi 28750 Bentong Pahang Email: email@example.com Copyright @2010 by Leong Yok Kee This publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording without prior written permission from the publisher. Front and back cover by Leong Yok Kee
Title: The Ancient Thera Councils Author: Leong Yok Kee Buddhism - customs and practices Buddhism - doctrines
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CONTENTS The Six Councils of the Thera Elders
Prologue H.G.Wells: The Outline of History H.G.Wells: The Corruption of Buddhism Foreword Introduction: The Six Theravada Councils Ageless Words Chronological Order of the Six Councils 1st Council 2nd Council 3rd Council Buddhism’s Disappearance from India 4th Council 5th Council 6th Council Study Notes The Story of Nigrodha Appamada Vagga Vassa Maha Kassapa Four Stages of Arahant Vinaya Rules Relinguishing the Will to Live Maha Papajati Gotami Cause of Pollution of the True Dhamma The Tipitaka - Original Words
7 8 16 17 25 42 48 53 64 69 76 80 82 83 85 85 86 87 88 92 93 95 102 104 110
rateful Thanks are extended to All those who have helped in their special way to make this Dhamma Gift available to those who are seeking the Truth.
A Very Special thanks must be rendered to Ms. Carol Law for painstakingly proof-reading and improving the oft changing draft presented to her on as many occasions. From the myriad times she has proof-read this manuscript she would have realised the inconsistency and impermanence of existence. To those of you who made the request to remain anonymous, grateful thanks are also rendered and to those whom I have missed mentioning, no less are your merits. Grateful thanks are very much due to you who have made donations to the printing of this Dhamma literature; without which it will definitely not see the light of day. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! The publisher is much encouraged by the support and generosity that enabled this Dhamma literature to be printed for Free Distribution. Balance of funds will be channelled to future publications. Grateful appreciation of the donation of a Buddha rupa by: Tham Kok Hee, Yeoh Cheang Pew, Lai Kok Cheong, Lai Kok Hong, Lai Kok Heng, Lai Phooi Keng, Lau Chee Yong, Looi Swee Seng, Mah Siew Khoon, Mah Siew Soon, OK Teck, Oh Teik Bin, Teh Kee Keang & Sister Tan, Yeoh Suan Chioh, Bee Heang Choo, Chan Soon Chuan, Hor Ah Ha, Loo Chee Keong, Tan Choon Koong, Tan Yau Thuen, Teh Chiew Swee, Steven Lee, Susie Lai, Lai Lye Bee (Mimi), Ang Suan Choo, Ong Poh Choo, Khor Bee Ying, Mooi Hiong, Kok Khun Ying, Chu, Mooi Sing and Family.
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ROLOGUE The reality of the Dhamma of the Self-Enlightened One, The Buddha, is a progressively evolving journey, an investigative journey; a very long journey that has no parallel; for it is a journey as if one is on a raft that oft times sails through calm waters, sweet and pleasant; it can of a sudden enter stretches of turbulent malodorous sewage pools, clutching and overpowering; it can squeeze through tiny crevices storming into vast deep rapids of icy cold snow fields; it goes on and on; until when one hits upon the tiny outlet stream that runs into the ancient sea of knowledge that allows one to gently be absorbed into the cool waters of Nibbana. On such a journey, one may not necessary be possessed of a religious tendency; one will be a lost “self”, seeking a cure for a dire disease; the disease of a sick personality, deluded to imagine it can achieve all its desires with the sole power of the self. Through the thick faecal slough of delusion layered on through aeons upon aeons, one may, if one is so endowed with past merits, at some stage hit upon the Dhamma turn off. If so, great congratulations and great joy for within kaleidoscopes of little street bulbs of wisdom appearing upon the journey one may be struck with the final starburst and attain to the highest goal of all times – freedom from rebirth. The Sole Being that pried open the doorway to The Path gave specific directions to the key. It was not his intention to keep the secret to himself; once he had discovered the key, it was his earnest desire to share the secret with those who were sufficiently well disposed meritoriously and wise and who desired the secret too. He spent quite a number of years to pass the key to those who saw the benefit of it; alas, few realise the wonder of the secret. To those who do, let us begin the Dhamma journey from the outside. Let us begin by studying the view of one of the greatest historian of our times; H.G. Wells, as he wrote about the beginning of the journey we have been favoured with.
H. G. WELLS: THE OUTLINE OF HISTORY Being a Plain History of Life and Mankind The Rise and Spread of Buddhism Quote: It was somewhere between 500 and 600 B.C., when Croesus was flourishing in Lydia and Cyrus was preparing to snatch Babylon from Nabonidus, that the founder of Buddhism was born in India. He was born in a small republican tribal community in the north of Bengal under the Himalayas, in what is now overgrown jungle country on the border of Nepal. The little state was ruled by a family, the Sakya clan, of which this man, Siddhattha Gautama, was a member. Siddhattha was his personal name, like Caius or John; Gautama, or Gotama, his family name, like Caesar or Smith; Sakya his clan name, like Julius. The institution of caste was not yet fully established in India, and the Brahmins, though they were privileged and influential, had not yet struggled to the head of the system; but there were already strongly marked class distinctions and a practically impermeable partition between the noble Aryans and the darker common people. Gautama belonged to the former race. His teaching, we may note, was called the Aryan Path, the Aryan Truth. It is only within the last half-century that the increasing study of the Pali language, in which most of the original source material were written, has given the world a factual knowledge of the life and actual thought of Gautama. Previously his story was overlaid by monstrous accumulations of legend, and his teaching violently misconceived. But now we have a very human and understandable account of him. He was a good-looking, capable young man of fortune, and until he was twenty-nine he lived the ordinary aristocratic life of his time. It was not a very satisfying life intellectually. There was no literature except the oral tradition of the Vedas, and that was chiefly monopolised by the Brahmins; there was even less knowledge. The world was bound by the snowy Himalayas to the north and spread indefinitely to the south. The city of
Benares, which had a king, was about a hundred miles away. The chief amusements were hunting and lovemaking. All the good that life seemed to offer, Gautama enjoyed. He was married at nineteen to a beautiful cousin. For some years they remained childless. He hunted and played and went about in his sunny world of gardens and groves and irrigated rice-fields. And it was amidst this life that a great discontent fell upon him. It was the unhappiness of a fine brain that seeks employment. He lived amidst plenty and beauty, he passed from gratification to gratification, and his soul was not satisfied. It was as if he heard the destinies of the race calling to him. He felt that the existence he was leading was not the reality of life, but a holiday; a holiday that had gone on too long. While he was in this mood he saw four things that served to point his thoughts. He was driving on some excursion of pleasure, when he came upon a man dreadfully broken down by age. The poor bent, enfeebled creature struck his imagination. ‘Such is the way of life’, said Channa, his charioteer, and ‘to that we must all come’. While this was yet in his mind he chanced upon a man suffering horribly from some loathsome disease. ‘Such is the way of life’, said Channa. The third vision was of an unburied body, swollen, eyeless, mauled by passing birds and beasts and altogether terrible. ‘That is the way of life’, said Channa. The sense of disease and mortality, the insecurity and the unsatisfactoriness of all happiness, descended upon the mind of Gautama. And then he and Channa saw one of those wandering ascetics who already existed in great numbers in India. These men lived under severe rules, spending much time in meditation and in religious
discussion. For many men before Gautama in that land of uneventful sunshine had found life distressing and mysterious. These ascetics were all supposed to be seeking some deeper reality in life, and a passionate desire to do like-wise took possession of Gautama. He was contemplating upon this project says the story, when the news was brought to him that his wife had been delivered of his first-born son. ‘This is another tie to break’, said Gautama. He returned to the village amidst the rejoicings of his fellow clansmen. There was a great feast and a Nautch dance (traditional Indian dance) to celebrate the birth of this new tie, and in the night Gautama awoke in a great agony of spirit, ‘like a man who is told that his house is on fire’. In the ante-room the dancing girls were lying in strips of darkness and moonlight. He called Channa, and told him to prepare his horse. Then he went softly to the threshold of his wife's chamber, and saw her by the light of a little oil lamp, sleeping sweetly, surrounded by flowers, with his infant son in her arm. He felt a great craving to take up the child in one first and last embrace before he departed, but the fear of waking his wife prevented him, and at last he turned away and went out into the bright Indian moonshine to Channa waiting with the horses, mounted and stole away. As he rode through the night with Channa, it seemed to him that Mara, the Tempter of Mankind, filled the sky and disputed with him. ‘Return’, said Mara, ‘and be a king, and I will make you the greatest of kings. Go on, and you will fail. Never will I cease to dog your footsteps. Lust or malice or anger will betray you at last in some unwary moment; sooner, or later you will be mine’.
Very far they rode that night, and in the morning he stopped, outside the lands of his clan, and dismounted beside a sandy river. There he cut off his flowing locks with his sword, removed all his ornaments, and sent them and his horse and sword back to his house by Channa. Then going on he presently met a ragged man and exchanged clothes with him, and so having divested himself of all worldly entanglements, he was free to pursue his search after wisdom. He made his way southward to a resort of hermits and teachers in a hilly spur running into Bengal northward from the Vindhya Mountains, close to the town of Rajgir. There a number of wise men lived in a warren of caves, going into the town for their simple supplies and imparting their knowledge by word of mouth to such as cared to come to them. This instruction must have been very much in the style of the Socratic discussions that were going on in Athens a couple of centuries later. Gautama became versed in all the metaphysics of his age. But his acute intelligence was dissatisfied with the solutions offered him. The Indian mind has always been disposed to believe that power and knowledge may be obtained by extreme asceticism, by fasting, sleeplessness, and self-torment, and these ideas Gautama now put to the test. He betook himself with five disciple companions to the jungle in a gorge in the Vindhya Mountains, and there he gave himself up to fasting and terrible penances. His fame spread, ‘like the sound of a great bell hung in the canopy of the skies’, but it brought him no sense of truth achieved. One day he was walking up and down, trying to think in spite of his enfeebled state. Suddenly he staggered and fell unconscious. When he recovered, the preposterousness of these semi-magic ways of attempting wisdom was plain to him. He amazed and horrified his five companions by demanding ordinary food and refusing to continue his self-mortifications. He
had realised that whatever truth a man may reach is reached best by a nourished brain in a healthy body. Such a conception was absolutely foreign to the ideas of the land and age. His disciples deserted him, and went off in a melancholy state to Benares. The boom of the great bell ceased. Gautama the wonderful had fallen. For a time Gautama wandered alone, the loneliest figure in history, battling for light. When the mind grapples with a great and intricate problem, it makes its advances, it secures its positions step by step, with but little realisation of the gains it has made, until suddenly, with an effect of abrupt illumination, it realises its victory. So it would seem it happened to Gautama. He had seated himself under a great tree by the side of a river to eat, when this sense of clear vision came to him. It seemed to him that he saw life plain. He is said to have sat all day and all night in profound thought, and then he rose up to impart his vision to the world. Such is the plain story of Gautama as we gather it from a comparison of early writings. But common men must have their cheap marvels and wonders. It is nothing to them that this little planet should at last produce upon its surface a man thinking of the past and the future and the essential nature of existence. And so we must have this sort of thing by some worthy Pali scribe, making the most of it: ‘When the conflict began between the Saviour of the World and the Prince of Evil a thousand appalling meteors fell. . . . Rivers flowed back towards their sources; peaks and lofty mountains where countless trees had grown for ages rolled crumbling to the earth . . . the sun enveloped itself in awful darkness, and a host of headless spirits filled the air’.
Of which phenomena history has preserved no authentication. Instead we have only the figure of a lonely man walking towards Benares. Extraordinary attention has been given to the tree under which Gautama had this sense of mental clarity. It was a tree of the fig genus, and from the first it was treated with peculiar veneration. It was called the Bo Tree. It has long since perished, but close at hand lives another great tree which may be its descendant, and in Ceylon there grows to this day a tree, the oldest historical tree in the world, which we know certainly to have been planted as a cutting from the Bo Tree in the year 245 B.C. From that time to this it has been carefully tended and watered; its great branches are supported by pillars, and the earth has been terraced up about it so that it has been able to put out fresh roots continually. It helps us to realise the shortness of all human history to see so many generations spanned by the endurance of one single tree. Gautama's disciples unhappily have cared more for the preservation of his tree than of his thought, which from the first they misconceived and distorted. At Benares, Gautama sought out his five pupils, who were still leading the ascetic life. There is an account of their hesitation to receive him when they saw him approaching. He was a backslider. But there was some power of personality in him that prevailed over their coldness, and he made them listen to his new convictions. For five days the discussion was carried on. When he had at last convinced them that he was now enlightened, they hailed him as the Buddha. There was, already in those days a belief in India that at long intervals Wisdom returned to the earth and was revealed to mankind through a chosen person known as the Buddha. According to Indian belief there have been many such Buddhas; Gautama Buddha is only the latest one of a series. But it is doubtful if he himself accepted that title or recognised that theory. In his discourses he never called himself the Buddha.
He and his recovered disciples then formed a sort of Academy in the Deer Park at Benares. They made themselves huts, and accumulated other followers to the number of threescore or more. In the rainy season they remained in discourse at this settlement, and during the dry weather they dispersed about the country, each giving his version of the new teachings. All their teaching was done, it would seem, by word of mouth. There was probably no writing yet in India at all. We must remember that in the time of Buddha it is doubtful if even the Iliad had been committed to writing. Probably the Mediterranean alphabet, which is the basis of most Indian scripts, had not yet reached India. The master, therefore, worked out and composed pithy and brief verses, aphorisms, and lists of ‘points’, and these were expanded in the discourse of his disciples. It greatly helped them to have these points and aphorisms numbered. The modern mind is apt to be impatient of the tendency of Indian thought to a numerical statement of things, the Eightfold Path, the Four Truths, and so on, but this enumeration was a mnemonic necessity in an undocumented world. The Dhamma of Gautama Buddha The fundamental teaching of Gautama, as it is now being made plain to us by the study of original sources, is clear and simple and in the closest harmony with modern ideas. It is beyond all dispute the achievement of one of the most penetrating intelligences the world has ever known. We have what are almost certainly the authentic heads of his discourse to the five disciples which embodies his essential doctrine. All the miseries and discontents of life he traces to insatiable selfishness. Suffering, he teaches, is due to the craving individuality, to the torment of greedy desire. Until a man has overcome every sort of personal craving his life is trouble and his end sorrow. There are three principal forms the craving of life takes, and all are evil.
The first is the desire to gratify the senses, sensuousness. The second is the desire for personal immortality. The third is the desire for prosperity, worldliness. All these must be overcome ‘that is to say, a man must no longer be living for himself’ before life can become serene. But when they are indeed overcome and no longer rule a man's life, when the first personal pronoun has vanished from his private thoughts, then he has reached the higher wisdom, Nirvana, serenity of soul. For Nirvana does not mean, as many people wrongly believe, extinction, but the extinction of the futile personal aims that necessarily make life base or pitiful or dreadful. Now here, surely we have the completest analysis of the problem of the soul's peace. Every religion that is worth the name, every philosophy, warns us to lose ourselves in something greater than ourselves. ‘Whosoever would save his life, shall lose it’, there is exactly the same lesson. The teaching of history, as we are unfolding it in this book, is strictly in accordance with this teaching of Buddha. There is, as we are seeing, no social order, no security, no peace or happiness, no righteous leadership or kingship, unless men lose themselves in something greater than themselves. The study of biological progress again reveals exactly the same process; the merger of the narrow globe of the individual experience in a wider being. To forget oneself in greater interests is to escape from a prison. The self-abnegation must be complete. From the point of view of Gautama, that dread of death, that greed for an endless continuation of his mean little individual life which drove the Egyptian and those who learnt from him with propitiations and charms into the temples, was as mortal and ugly and evil a thing as lust or avarice or hate. The religion of Gautama is flatly opposite to the ‘immortality’ religious. And his teaching is set like flint against asceticism, as a mere attempt to win personal power by personal pains. Unquote.
WELLS: The H. G. WELLS: The Corruptions of Buddhism (excerpt) Tibet to-day is a Buddhistic country, yet Gautama, could he return to earth, might go from end to end of Tibet seeking his own teaching in vain. He would find that most ancient type of human ruler, a god-king, enthroned, the Dalai Lama, the ‘living Buddha’. At Lhassa he would find a huge temple filled with priests, abbots, and lamas; he, whose only buildings, were huts and who made no priests; and above a high altar he would behold a huge golden idol, which he would learn was called ‘Gautama Buddha’! He would hear services intoned before this divinity, and certain precepts, which would be dimly familiar to him, murmured as responses. Bells, incense, prostrations, would play their part in these amazing proceedings. At one point in the service a bell would be rung and a mirror lifted up, while the whole congregation, in an access of reverence, bowed lower. . . . About this Buddhist countryside he would discover a number of curious little mechanisms, little wind-wheels and waterwheels spinning, on which brief prayers were inscribed. Every time these things spin, he would learn, it counts as a prayer. ‘To whom’ he would ask. Moreover, there would be a number of flagstaffs in the land carrying beautiful silk flags; silk flags which bore the perplexing inscription, ‘Om Mani padme hum’, ‘the jewel is in the lotus’. Whenever the flag flaps, he would learn, it was a prayer also, very beneficial to the gentleman who paid for the flag and to the land generally. Gangs of workmen, employed by pious persons, would be going about the country cutting this precious formula on cliff and stone. And this, he would realise at last, was what the world had made of his religion! Beneath this gaudy glitter was buried the Aryan Way to serenity of soul.
OREWORD of An Excerpt from The Sixteen Dreams of King Pasenadi Excerpt from cerp Bhante Bhante Suvanno, published in 2001
From the very unfathomable beginning of their existence, the inhabitants of the world have generally lived as dictated by their emotions of greed, anger and delusion. Such powerfully energised emotions swirling within the immensity of timeless aeons build up and retain energies that are continuously changing form and never die away; so much so that these energies will be the source that will upset the natural sequence of ecological behavioural patterns in the environment living beings exist. From their greed, hatred and delusion, human kind have been responsible for creating suffering and hardships for themselves and others of their kind, begetting endless, deep rooted defilement in their minds. The negative energies of these defilement are affecting the natural environment of the universe, and natural phenomena such as the temperature and the quality of nutriments for humanity in their struggle for life. The seasons and climates prevailing at present times, conditioned by unnatural energies, become unbalanced, resulting in unexpected upheavals in the world’s atmosphere. Even when the rain clouds gather, thunder peals, lightning flashes and the signs of rain and storms are evident, yet they subside and pass away and the expected rain does not fall. Thus crops and produce are not forthcoming. When it is time for dry weather, yet the skies drench the earth with torrents of rain, flooding and destroying crops and produce. These happenings are not rare and occasional, but as humans deteriorate in their morality, natural phenomena too become unpredictable, thus causing great difficulties and suffering. When the inhabitants of a country are in difficulties the whole country is in turmoil.
When humans pollute the atmosphere with increasing accumulation of greed, hatred and delusion, these defiled energies become endemic and the world is gradually engulfed in the atmosphere so created. In time to come, the Buddha said, such a world will be consumed and destroyed by the fires of its own creation. When defilement increases and becomes uncontrollable, the world will experience great flooding. In the coming times of doubtful values, rulers and those wielding governing powers will, in their ignorance, compound the situation with all sorts of self-serving, unwholesome speeches and deeds that will accelerate and enhance future defilement. Governments will plan and develop weapons purportedly for self-defence but in actuality able to destroy other governments, who will in their turn develop weapons of defence and advance further in developing greater and more powerful weapons of destruction. Countries will test their weapons and their readiness to go to war and defend themselves. They will pollute the atmosphere with their weapons and equipment! They will not do good and will deliberately not differentiate right from wrong to serve their own selfish ends. They will not respect one another's integrity; the powerful will dominate the weak. Further disasters will ensue and earthquakes and typhoons and other calamities of vast proportions will be the order of the day and will wreak untold suffering on mankind. All these happenings have their root cause in men's greed, hatred and delusion. Greed, hatred and delusion create unwholesome energies which are powerfully destructive to the laws of nature. However, it is the cumulative effects of countless existences and the passing away of multitudes of humanity that create what is known as kamma. Kamma is very profound and generally it is of two types. There is individual (or personal) kamma. This is the result of actions performed by the individual, whether good or bad.
All forms of defilement create kamma in the present existence and future rebirths and are cumulative. Such accumulation is known as overflowing kamma or collective kamma, and to give a simile, it can be compared to the overflowing of boiling rice. When rice begins to boil, it overflows. The results of this form of kamma are felt even when a being to be is in the mother's womb during pregnancy. Overflow of good kamma, conditions good things to the parents; unwholesome ones conditions unwholesome things, even at the embryo stage of the being to be born. Kamma of this nature is powerful and relentless and will cause upheavals in natural phenomena such as climate, weather, temperature, the winds and such like. Then there is collective kamma. Each man’s kamma is his own individual experience. No one can interfere with the kamma of another beyond a certain point; therefore no one can intervene to alter the results of another’s kamma. Yet it often happens that numbers of people are associated in the same kind of actions, and share the same kind of thoughts; they become closely involved with one another; they influence one another. Mass psychology produces mass kamma. Therefore all such people are likely to form the same pattern of kamma. It may result in their being associated with one another through a number of lives, and in their sharing much of the same kind of experience. Collective kamma is simply the aggregate of individual kamma, just as a crowd is an aggregate of individuals. (Francis Story: The Wheel Publication – Vol.XII) The Buddha taught that unmindful thoughts, words and deeds create defilement in the mind; as these thoughts are not pure, speech and action too cannot be wholesome either. He further said that the tendency in human beings to do evil deeds has always been more prevalent than doing wholesome deeds. This is due to people’s increasing greed, hatred and delusions, the three major causes of suffering. Wind-born diseases and water-born diseases will be rampant. There will be pestilence and natural disasters; plagues of locusts,
typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and all sorts of natural calamities will occur. Lack of proper hygiene, health facilities, food and medicines, and the general ignorance of the populace will exacerbate the dangers to the people and cause hardship and suffering. Scences of such disasters can be seen all over the world. In this period, the year 2009, much of world is going through the throes of mosquito borne diseases. All over the world people are affected by this new disease and various other diseases as well. One disease - AIDS - has claimed millions of lives and is still spreading disastrously in Southern Africa, India, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The present trends dictating human activities and life styles are the diving boards for morality to spiral down towards lower realms of existence in future rebirths. The resulting damages are deeply rooted and of so vast a magnitude, through such a lengthy span of time, that to reverse and stop them would be almost impossible. However as individuals we can do so by bearing in mind the basic teachings of the Buddha: Do not do evil, do good and purify the mind. Though conditions are universally unwholesome, one should not be compelled and adversely influenced by them. By realising and knowing the true nature of defilement and its effects on the universe and its inhabitants, one can learn to live in a manner that keeps one away from the defilement. The Buddha saw the difficulty in teaching the Dhamma due its profound nature; even so, he decided that for the good of the few, he would endeavour to enlighten them. His Enlightenment enabled him to recognise and teach those who were ready to accept the Dhamma. Thus, though we are in an environment of filth and dross we should still practise good and wholesome habits to avoid the defiled state.
The Buddha has taught us three ways of living away from the defiled state we are caught in, these three ways are: Evil Do Not do Evil Good Do Good Purify the Mind That is to say: Keep the Precepts Live according to the Dhamma Practise Vipassana Meditation 1 Keeping the precepts; that is developing morality by refraining from unwholesome deeds. The five precepts are mostly recited in Pali. In the following the original Pali text is given in italics, and the corresponding English translation is given side by side: 1.
Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami:
I undertake the precept of abstaining from the life. destruction of life
2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I undertake the precept of abstaining from taking that which is not given. 3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I undertake the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct. misconduct 4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: und falsehood. I undertake the precept of abstaining from falsehood 5. Suramerayamajjapamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I undertake the precept of abstaining from intoxicants heedlessness. that cloud the mind and cause heedlessness. The refrain "I undertake the precept of abstaining from ..." which begins every precept clearly shows that these are not commandments. They are, indeed, moral codes of conduct that one willingly undertakes out of clear understanding and conviction that they are good for oneself and for society.
By constant contemplation and being mindful of the intent of the precepts, one tends to be aware of the moral quality of one’s thoughts, speech and actions; thus one will act with restraint when faced with unwholesome challenges. One will then be guarded in thought, speech and action. In this way one will be able to develop a noble morality in one’s life, reducing in one’s own small way the defilement around the environment. Keeping the Eight Precepts on certain Uposatha (holy days) days will be of great spiritual benefit. The Eight Precepts: Certain changes are made in the 3rd Precept and with the addition of 6, 7 and 8; the rest are the same as in the five precepts above. 3. Abrahmacariya veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual activity. 6. Vikalabhojana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami refrain eating I undertake the precept to refrain from eating after the period). noon period). 7. Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana mala-gandha-vilepana-
dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, dancing, entertainments, music, watching entertainments, wearing garlands, using cosmetics. perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics. 8. Uccasayana-mahasayana veramani sikkhapadam
I undertake the precept to refrain from lying on a high or place. luxurious sleeping place. 2 Live according to the Dhamma All defilement arises because of ignorance. By ignorance, the Buddha really meant not knowing the real core of suffering, the cause of suffering, and the way out of this suffering. Thus we must learn the Dhamma lessons well. These are the basic truths that one should be well-versed and practised in, that will be essential in wiping away the ignorance from one's mind and enable one to avoid evil and do good, thus
purifying the mind. It is only through contemplation and the practice of meditation that one is able to gain wisdom and wipe away ignorance, and though it may appear an easy matter, it will require great determination to understand and follow the path of such spiritual advancement. Practising Meditation 3 Practising Vipassana Meditation which will develop grad concentration gradually and finally leading to ultimate bliss. The Buddha said: “Bhikkhus; there is only one way to the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for the attainment of the right method and for the realisation of freedom from suffering; that is; the four foundations of mindfulness". (The Mahasatipatthana Sutta). Thus, the Lord Buddha exhorted that we should spend real time to learn and practise Vipassana Meditation; that is mindfulness of our bodily actions, our feelings, our minds and the mental objects arising due to workings of the mind. These three forms of trainings will raise us above the levels of living in the mundane field of defilement generated by uncountable unwholesome actions so as to know the correct way to practise. In the days where unwholesomeness reigns, the Sangha, too, will be infiltrated by those who are not practising the correct teachings of the Buddha. At that time the Sasana will be waning and the Sangha will be under the control of evil members, out only for personal material gain and fame. In the Anguttara Nikaya, the Book of the Ones the Buddha said: “Monks, those monks who point out what is not Dhamma as Dhamma, who point out what is not the Discipline as the Discipline, and what is the Discipline as not the Discipline, who point out what is not uttered by the Tathagata as uttered by the Tathagata and what is uttered by the Tathagata as not uttered by the Tathagata…, the conduct of such monks causes loss to many folk, misery to many folk, loss and injury and misery to deva and
mankind. Moreover, such monks beget great demerit (to themselves) and cause the disappearance of this true Dhamma.” Unfortunately, how ever much we wish that was not so, what the Buddha has said is coming to pass and the Dhamma is at death’s doors; this is not to say we must give up all hopes of achieving the Dhamma, but that we should strive strenuously at least to seek the true Dhamma, practise it diligently and strive to enter the stream of Nibbana, lest we find ourselves unable even to find a footing to its shore. These series of literature have been prepared for just that eventuality; for we abide by the credo that the true Dhamma must be made available should even a single being be seeking it. For this purpose we shall lay before true seekers the path trodden on by the Theras of old and how they pointed the way to the Truth of the Buddha’s Dhamma.
Parinibbana (part): The Maha Parinibbana (part): Quote: And the Blessed One recovered from that illness; and soon after His recovery He came out from His dwelling place and sat down in the shade of the building, on a seat prepared for Him. Then the Venerable Ananda approached the Blessed One, respectfully greeted him, and sitting down at one side, he spoke to the Blessed One, saying: "Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One at ease again! Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One recovered! For truly, Lord, when I saw the Blessed One's sickness it was as though my own body became weak as a creeper, every thing around became dim to me, and my senses failed me. Yet, Lord, I still had some little comfort in the thought that the Blessed One would not come to his final passing away until he had given some last instructions respecting the community of bhikkhus."
HE SIX THERAVADA COUNCILS
Thus spoke the Venerable Ananda, but the Blessed One answered him, saying: "What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back. Whosoever may think that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him, it is such a one that would have to give last instructions respecting them. But, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such idea as that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him. So what instructions should he have to give respecting the community of bhikkhus? "Now I am frail, Ananda, old, aged, far gone in years. This is my eightieth year, and my life is spent; even as an old cart, Ananda, is held together with much difficulty, so the body of the Tathagata is kept going only with supports. It is, Ananda, only when the Tathagata, disregarding external objects, with the cessation of certain feelings, attains to and abides in the signless concentration of mind, that his body is more comfortable. Therefore, Ananda, Yourselves, Be Islands unto Yourselves, Refuge; Refuges unto Yourselves, Seeking No External Refuge; Island, With the Dhamma as Your Island, Refuge, The Dhamma as Your Refuge, Ref efuge. Seeking No Other Refuge. Thus, said the Lord at his final passing away. His final words were that all should look towards His Teachings as the teacher and not to any human leadership. In the final analysis it is the teachings that He had left behind that will serve as the teacher.
The teaching is unique in that the essence of it is to realise its truth through experiencing the Dhamma for oneself. One cannot learn it from books or by knowledge acquired from a third person. The realisation of the Dhamma can only be through a process of graduated training ending in the self eradication of defilement and gaining freedom of mental effluent. Only the practitioner can ascertain his own freedom from defilement, no one else can. Thus, is the Dhamma unique. Those arahants who were left behind at the Lord’s passing away into Nibbana, knowing the intent of the Lord decided to ratify His Teachings for posterity and thus they gathered at the town of Rajagaha for this sole purpose. Rajagaha. Rajagaha. In the time of the Buddha, it was the capital city of Magadha, and is closely associated with the Buddha's life. He visited it soon after His renunciation, journeying there on foot from the River Anoma, a distance of a hundred and fifty kilometres. The Buddha spent His first vassa in Rajagaha and continued on till winter and the following summer. According to Scriptural Texts, He also spent the third, fourth, seventeenth and twentieth vassa in Rajagaha. It thus became the scene of several important suttas and many of the Vinaya rules were formulated here. It was one of the six chief cities of the Buddha's time, and it was also a much frequented trading city where popular trade routes passed through; routes that carry goods all over Hellenistic countries and to the furthest shores in Asia and China. Just before His Parinibbana, the Buddha paid a last visit there. Other cities of comparable importance were Campa, Savatthi, Saketa, Kosambi and Benares. These trade routes had very significant bearings on the propagation of the Buddha’s teachings; as traders passing through from other countries were able to hear the Buddha’s Words during His life time. Thus, was the Dhamma spread to other countries even before the Buddha’s Parinibbana.
It is possible that the Dhamma was brought to other countries by traders who were impressed by the teachings. Countries as far as China knew of the teachings even before the Parinibbana. This had very far reaching influences in the corruption of the Dhamma in later times, as those who did not have a full understanding of His Words were bound to imagine and distort the Words and even some realign the Words to adapt to their own beliefs and cultures. After the Buddha's death, due to its suitability as to accommodation and food supply, Rajagaha was chosen by Maha Kassapa, as the meeting place of the First Council. This took place at the Sattapanni Guha, and King Ajatasattu extended to the Sangha his whole hearted patronage in the convening of the recitation of the Dhamma-Vinaya. During the Council sitting, no other bhikkhus were to be present in Rajagaha and no disturbances were allowed in the city. From Kapilavatthu to Rajagaha was a distance of three hundred kilometres. From Rajagaha to Kusinara was a distance of one hundred and twenty five kilometres and the Maha Parinibbana Sutta gives a list of the places at which the Buddha stopped during his last journey along that road. From Rajagaha to the Ganges was a distance of twenty five kilometres, and when the Buddha visited Vesali at the invitation of the Licchavis, the kings on either side of the river vied with each other to honour Him. The Buddha expounded His Teachings for 45 years till He reached the age of 80 and passed away into Parinibbana in the year 543BC. Soon after His passing away, Rajagaha declined both in importance and prosperity.
Three months before this, both His chief disciples, Sariputta and Moggallana had passed away and the later chief disciple was Maha Kassapa. The Elder Maha Kassapa, with a large company of five hundred bhikkhus of different levels of attainment in the Dhamma, was on the road from Pava to Kusinara on the way to visit the Buddha, not knowing that He had already passed away. They had stopped for a while to rest and coming from the opposite direction to them was an ascetic who had with him a Mandarava flower, which is said to be found only in the celestial worlds. When Maha Kassapa saw this, he knew that something unusual must have happened for the flower to be found on earth. He stopped and asked the ascetic whether he had any news from where he was coming, and the ascetic replied that he had, saying: ‘The recluse Gotama passed into Nibbana a week ago. This Mandarava flower I picked up from the place where He is to be cremated’. Among the bhikkhus who heard that message, only the arahants like Maha Kassapa, remain composed and calm; while the others who were still unliberated from the passions, lamented and wept: ‘Too soon has the Blessed One passed into Nibbana! Too soon has the Eye of the World vanished from our sight’! There was one bhikkhu however, Subhadda by name, who had ordained in his old age. He addressed the other bhikkhus and said: ‘Enough, friends! Do not grieve, do not lament! We are well rid of that Great Ascetic. We have been troubled by his telling us: This is befitting, that is not befitting. Now we can do what we like, and we won't have to do what we do not like’. The Venerable Maha Kassapa not wishing to strike a discordant note in the mixed group, kept silent and gave no reply to those callous words. But, as we shall see later, Maha Kassapa quoted that incident when he spoke of the need for convening a council. At this moment, however, he consoled his group of bhikkhus and
advised them to be mindful that impermanence is the nature of all conditioned things. They then continued their journey to Kusinara. Until then it had not been possible to set the funeral pyre alight, for unseen by those present, the deities present prevented the pyre from being lit as they planned to wait until the Venerable Maha Kassapa had arrived and paid his homage to the remains of the Master. When the Venerable Maha Kassapa finally arrived at the place of cremation, he walked twice around the pyre, reverently, with clasped hands, and then, with bowed head paid his homage at the feet of the Tathagata. When his group of bhikkhus had done likewise, the pyre, then lit by the unseen deities, burst into flames. Hardly had the Tathagata been cremated then there arose a conflict about the distribution of the relics among the assembled kings and other dignitaries. The Venerable Maha Kassapa remained aloof from the noisy claimants, as did the other bhikkhus like Anuruddha and Ananda. It was a respected brahman, Dona by name, who finally divided the relics into eight portions and distributed them among the eight claimants. He himself took the vessel in which the relics had been collected. The Venerable Maha Kassapa himself brought to King Ajatasattu of Magadha his portion of the relics. Finally after all the business of the cremation and distribution of relics had been completed, Maha Kassapa turned his thoughts to the preservation of the Master's spiritual heritage, the Teaching (Dhamma) and the Discipline (Vinaya). King Bimbisara and Ajatasattu The Bodhisatta, soon after having renounced the world and became an ascetic, entered the city of Rajagaha and went house to house on alms round. Unusually royal and princely looking, he attracted a lot of attention; then having collected sufficient food for his sustenance, he went to a shaded place to have his meal.
King Bimbisara, being told of his unusual presence approached the Bodhisatta, and discerning in his princely deportment and appearance, a person of royalty lineage, offered to share his kingdom. "Great King", the Bodhisatta replied, "I do not seek for the gratification of my senses or my passions, but have retired from the world for the sake of the supreme and absolute enlightenment". "Truly”, said the King, when his repeated offers had all been refused, "you are sure to attain your goal, and when that happens honour us with your return and teach us the way”. The Buddha's Visit to Rajagaha Accordingly, after His Enlightenment, together with one thousand bhikkhus, the Buddha went to Rajagaha. When they arrived, the King and one hundred and twenty thousand people welcomed them heartily in great pomp and ceremony. The Buddha then gave a Discourse; King Bimbisara and one hundred and ten thousand people became Stream-winners; another ten thousand people became established in the three Refuges. The Great Donation of Veluvana Monastery The King then invited the Buddha and the bhikkhus to the next morning’s meal at his palace, where there was gathered a huge crowd awaiting to pay homage. After the alms food the King donated the great Veluvana Garden as a monastic dwelling to the Buddha and the community of bhikkhus. Thereafter, King Bimbisara became a regular supporter of the Buddha and served him whenever the Buddha visited Rajagaha. King Bimbisara had only one son, Ajatasattu. Urged on by Devadatta, the Buddha's cousin, who planned to use Ajatasattu's support in his bid to take over the Buddha's position as head of the Sangha, Ajatasattu arranged for his father's death so that he could secure his own position on the throne. As a result of this evil deed, he was destined not only to be killed by his own son, Udayibhadda, but also to take immediate rebirth in the lowest region of hell.
Ajatasattu eventually became a great devotee of the Buddha. In one instance Ajatasattu visits the Buddha in hope that the latter will bring some peace to his mind (for killing his father). At the end of the visit he took refuge in the Triple Gem. However his earlier unwholesome deeds were so heavy that this expression of faith could have only limited consequences in the immediate present. After Ajatasattu had left; the Buddha remarked to the community of bhikkhus: "The king is wounded, bhikkhus. The king is incapacitated. Had he not killed his father; that righteous man, that righteous king; the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye would have arisen to him as he sat in this very seat." (see Sammanaphala Sutta of the Digha Nikaya) After the Buddha's death, he sponsored the First Council, at which an assembly of arahants produced the sole pristine account of the Buddha's teachings. As a result of the merit coming from this deed and after his stay in hell, Ajatasattu is destined to final attainment as a Pacceka Buddha. The Necessity for Rules In the early years of the Buddha's career, the texts tell us, there was no need to formulate disciplinary rules. All bhikkhus then, without exception were men of high personal attainments who had succeeded in subduing many or all of the defilements of their minds. They knew His Teachings well and behaved accordingly. The Canon noted that the Venerable Sariputta, the Buddha's chief disciples, had asked the Buddha at an early date to formulate a code of rules, to ensure that the holy life the Buddha had founded would last long. The Buddha replied that the time for such a code had not yet come, for even the most backward of the men in the Community at that time had already had their first glimpse of the goal (the state of an arahant). Only when mental effluents (unwholesome mental states) appear in the Community would there be a need for rules. As time passed, the conditions that provided an opening for the effluents within the Community eventually began to appear.
When asked by Sariputta, the Buddha replied: “The Teacher does not lay down a training rule for his disciples as long as there are no cases where the conditions that offer a foothold for the unwholesome mental states have long arisen in the Community and as long as the Community has not become large. But when the Community has become large, then there are cases where the conditions that offer a foothold for the unwholesome mental states arise in the Community, and the for Teacher then lays down a training rule for his disciples so as to counteract those very conditions. When the Community possesses great material gains; great status; a large body of learning; when the Community is longlong-standing, then there are cases where the conditions that for offer a foothold for the effluents arise in the Community, and the Teacher then lays down a training rule for his disciples so as to counteract those very conditions." During the early years of the Buddha's life there were fewer ordained bhikkhus as all were ordained by the Buddha himself and they attained arahantship straightaway, and others had reached high levels of practice quickly. One could say that these were handpicked pioneers and the Buddha knew them in previous lives during His training in the acquisition of perfections to be a Buddha, and were positioned to accept the Dhamma as soon as they hear His Words. Their time was ripe as it were, and ready and awaiting the call. Hence there was no unruly behaviour among these bhikkhus. But as time went by, the Words of the Buddha spread far and wide and many were attracted by the fame of the Buddha and the erroneously perceived view of the easy life of the Sangha members; also at a later stage the Buddha was not personally involved in the ordination of the bhikkhus and thus people of different dispositions and different objectives found entry into the
Sangha. There were also bhikkhus who were not disposed to the proper training once they ordained. Thus, rules were necessary to create a uniform code of behaviour in the Sangha and serve to maintain the well being, convenience, safety and reputation of the well behaved Sangha members, so that future bhikkhus behave in acceptable manners. With good rules, well behaved bhikkhus will then serve to promote the Dhamma thus ensuring that new adherents will continue to respect and honour the Dhamma and the Sangha and in this way maintain and enhance the integrity of the Buddha's Sasana. When we follow the course of the Sangha from its early beginnings; we see the Holy Sangha beginning with the initial Sixty arahants; namely: the Five Ascetics; Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji followed by Yasa and 54 of his friends; ordained and taught by the Buddha himself. Each was a flawless gem of Dhamma, each personally coached by the Buddha himself to realise the Dhamma. Each was a pure minded arahant with all defilements eradicated. Such pure gems had no need to be told what is right or wrong. It was intrinsic in their nature to practise the truth. No rules were necessary for such members of the Sangha. As time moves along, the fame and desirability of the Buddha’s Dhamma filled a great need of the times and people saw the merits in the Dhamma. Many were also drawn by the popularity of the Buddha’s Dhamma and ordained into the Sangha, among them, some for unwholesome reasons. Thus, there were increasing unwholesome intentions and actions performed using the Dhamma as a rationalising factor. Rules were than necessary to protect those who were true adherents of the Dhamma, so as to distinguish and protect them from the opportunist. Later, more took up the Dhamma as an easy way of living. Some who joined the Sangha did so for reasons of shirking responsibilities and an easy way of life. Poor quality members of the Sangha present the greatest danger in the unwholesomeness of the times, as the ignorant, not wiser and not knowing better,
perceive realising bhikkhus bhikkhus
their actions as being exemplary and genuine, not these are unwholesome deeds. Further, viewing the as examples, they will thus encourage and support the in their wrong doings.
It can be seen that when the first rule was made it was the the Dhamma; beginning beginning of the eroding of the pure Dhamma; beginning of the end as it were. Though this process will take many more come complete years to come to a complete rot; this unwholesome situation had been seen by the Buddha. The unhealthy signs of the times ahead are depicted in the following report from a country that has for many centuries very strong roots in the Buddha’s Teachings. Judging from the contents of the reports, erosion to the purity of the members of the Sangha would have had happened a long time ago for it to come to the stage that it is now. EDITORIAL from The NATION, (a Thai Newspaper) Dated Wed, June 21, 2006 The Buddhism. A Recent Report: The sorry state of Thai Buddhism. There are better ways of ensuring the relevance of our national temples. religion than mass ceremonies or big temples. It has become customary for the Religious Affairs Department and Buddhist monastic authorities to intensify the enforcement of disciplinary standards for bhikkhus in the run-up to major religious holidays. With the approach of Buddhist celebration, which starts on July 11, they have decided to single out one bhikkhu in Nakhon Sawan's Takhli district who has won a huge following among the lottery-buying public for his supposed supernatural powers to predict winning numbers. This bhikkhu is being investigated for breach of Buddhist precepts. Monastic disciplinary enforcers will try to determine whether Phra Lek actually provided "lucky" numbers in exchange for cash donations amounting to the more than Bt10 million he was
alleged to have amassed. It might be useful to make an example of an errant bhikkhu like Phra Lek if bhikkhus' code of behaviour were consistently enforced. But Phra Lek is just a small fry among all the wayward bhikkhus who have sullied the good name of Buddhism in the Kingdom. The scope of what is ailing the religion is far greater than most of Thailand's Buddhists are prepared to admit. Many observant Buddhists have become so cynical that nothing; not even the most outrageous and despicable act imaginable committed by such morally challenged bhikkhus, would surprise them any more. Precious little has been done by monastic authorities to reverse what many see as a precipitous decline of Buddhism. All too many bhikkhus in this country do not observe even the most rudimentary precepts required of lay Buddhists; let alone the 227 precepts that saffron-robed bhikkhus, who are supposed to propagate and teach the religion, must observe. What is particularly worrying is that many people no longer even care and seem to believe the state of Buddhism in this country is beyond salvage. Many who call themselves Buddhist are apparently content with superficially observing religious rites that they don't see as having much relevance to modern society; let alone their personal lives. Buddhist temples used to be centres of learning and guardians of Thailand’s cultural heritage, but now many have turned into dens of iniquity. Instead of continuing to serve society as a guiding light, Buddhist institutions have become bogged down in anachronism and increasingly less relevant to the younger generations. Worse still, rampant misbehaviour and corruption by bhikkhus has further eroded these institutions. Lay followers, who share responsibility for supporting and nurturing Buddhist institutions, have consistently failed to demand drastic reforms that are so badly needed. Even the credibility of the Supreme Sangha Council has been compromised by high-profile scandals.
The commercialisation of Buddhism, including fraudulent fundraising and the selling of amulets, has become a national embarrassment. The number of temples continues to proliferate, but there are not enough well-qualified bhikkhus to go around. Buddhist studies are badly taught in schools by teachers who don't know any better. Boring and unimaginative teaching methods coupled with too much emphasis on rote learning turn young people off. Thai Buddhists are very good at organising mass ceremonies celebrating religious holidays, spending huge sums building everlarger religious statues and erecting ornately decorated temples to house them; as if these actions were all that mattered in perpetuating a religion supposedly practised by 95 per cent of our population. It's time for those who consider themselves Buddhist to stand up and be counted in the campaign to clean up Buddhist institutions. SoccerThailand: Soccer-mad bhikkhus too tired to take alms Reuters, June 22, 2006 Bangkok, Thailand -- Buddhist bhikkhus in Thailand are too tired to receive early morning alms because they are staying up late to watch the World Cup, a Thai newspaper reported on Wednesday. [Reuters] The Nation quoted a woman in the northern city of Chiang Mai who said her birthday celebrations were ruined because bhikkhus at a city temple were not awake to receive her morning offering, a mandatory religious ritual in the predominately Buddhist country.
The woman, who declined to be identified, said she was told by a senior bhikkhu that most of his young colleagues were still asleep because they had stayed up to watch the games which can go on well past midnight. The Sangha Council, which oversees the tens of thousands of Buddhist temples in Thailand, has not banned bhikkhus from watching the World Cup but said it should not interfere with religious activities. In neighbouring Cambodia, some 40,000 bhikkhus have been warned they could be disrobed if they became too excited while watching the games. "If they make noise or cheer as they watch, they will lose their bhikkhu-hood," Phnom Penh patriarch Non Nget told Reuters this month. ********** Unfortunately, the above are only tips of the icebergs, for hidden behind all the gloss and glitter of ornate temples and flowing saffron robes are insidious germs of corruptions that are rarely being understood or recognised by the laity as unwholesome. Thus, the laity themselves are condoning the rot; not understanding the real essence and intent of the Dhamma, and even if they do know, they may choose to close an eye rather than to go against peer pressure. Not only do the laity and the majority of the members of the Sangha NOT be “alert to these corruptions and, being alert, work to get rid of them”, but are in actuality working to increase the corruption and the rot that have already found entrenchment in the Sangha! Individual bhikkhus are owners of temples; not of one temple but of many; such ownership goes against the Buddha’s teaching. Sadly, these faulty practices are being aided and supported by the ignorant laity who, not realising the true goals of renunciation, collect funds to build the temples and extensions to existing temples. Better accommodations are necessary as deemed by the laity for the chief bhikkhus of the temples (or for that matter any bhikkhu who asked for it); a small room is insufficient for such a high
office as a chief bhikkhu. In most cases the bhikkhu agrees. Most will believe that chief bhikkhus should have some comfort to continue their work to dispense the Dhamma. Thus, more funds are needed; and the laity goes all out and sources the necessary funds for the building of larger and better accommodations; this goes on one project after another. And the laities are truly happy as they are made to believe that these deeds of supporting the Sangha are meritorious. The individual Sangha member too is happy as he has a comfortable life in the temple. Is this all? Next on the waiting list are; refrigerators, televisions and radios, hand phones and internet connections, even a temple car for the chief bhikkhu! The laity often organise overseas trips for individual member of the Sangha, travelling in groups and sight seeing is included in the trips. Meals are around a nice big table where the food is stacked dishes high and wide so that the member of the Sangha can have his choice of good and nutritious food. Even his plate is being piled up with food for him. And on top of all these opulences, the bhikkhu will be offered subsistence money in the form of allowable requisites properly intoned by the laity during the offer so the bhikkhu does not break his precept. The bhikkhus advise the laity how this is to be done so no one breaks the rules. Bhikkhus are often seen shopping in supermarkets and even at perfume counters, sniffing away at test samples and even to the extent of buying gifts for their female devotees! Thus, the central intention and true training for members of the Sangha is passed over for worldly desires and sense gratifications. And what are the central intention and training for renunciates? The singular word, Renunciation sums it all. Renouncing of Renunciation, household luxuries and comfort, renouncing of mundane ties and
attachments; by such renunciation and training in observing the mind, purity of mind and body prevails, leading to supramundane wisdom, knowledge and clarity of life’s impermanence, suffering and the lack of an ego or self. The Venerable Suvanno used to admonish: All sensations that arise at the six sense doors are fleeting and ever arising and passing away; they are booby traps. They lead one astray because the sensual pleasures one gets from impressions and sensations from the six doors are not permanent and eventually they bring suffering. Consequently, respect for the Sangha will diminish, as was the case in the time of the Third Council when unruly laity found entry to the Sangha due to the generosity of the king at that time. Here we have the same situation due to the generosity of the vast majority of ignorant laity in supporting unruly members of the Sangha with the view that such support garners for them great merits. Thus the laity’s support is not due to genuine intentions but on selfish greed to acquire merits for a better rebirth, not realising that wrong views do not gather merits. On the contrary, their wrong views will be to their unfortunate rebirths.
An Ordination Renouncing comforts of household life
Such are the unwholesome signs of the deterioration of the pure Dhamma, happening right here and now; the implication being that we are at the tail end of the present sasana. We have been
warned of such unwholesomeness by the Buddha even during His lifetime. These corruptions will be accelerated with the coming years not decelerated, thus, the more urgent will be for those who truly understand the essence of the Dhamma to make haste to practise the Buddha’s teachings… “meditate, lest you regret”.
HE AGELESS WORD Word, The Word, taught by countless Buddhas aeons ago without any definable beginnings, and after a great lengthy period in oblivion, was again rekindled on the Buddha’s Enlightenment 2600 years ago and thus, a New Sasana began. The rediscovered Dhamma took on life and through the 2600 years it thrived; initially in very fertile soil; but alas like an over-ripe fruit...its strong and powerful fragrance attracted unwholesome insects and bugs.
Because of the powerful intrinsic essence instilled into it by the Blessed One, the Word is still alive but sadly, its health is plagued by rot and cancerous tumours, results of the defiled minds of human beings and their inability to realise the intrinsic truth in the Words that the Blessed One took so much pain to set forth. This failure to see the truth of His Words had been seen by Him shortly after His Enlightenment. Thus, it was that He was reluctant to teach the rediscovered Dhamma initially, but was persuaded to do so by the Brahma Sahampati. Shortly after His Parinibbana, and even in the midst of His lifetime, His teachings evolved as traders from other countries and foreign societies, having affinity for His teachings and because of the universality of His Words, absorbed it into their own ways of life and bond with its essence. In the process, its geographical expansion became considerable so as to influence, at one time or another, most of the surrounding countries and even further to all of Asia, and internationally. The history of its development has been coloured and cosmetised by
the development of numerous movements and schisms within itself, so much so that it needs discerning wisdom and mindful contemplation for the pristine essence of His Words to be fathomed and realised. There is a singular difference in the Buddha’s teachings that bring it above and differentiate it from other teachings. In all other forms of teachings, beliefs, doctrines and religions, the necessary ingredient for the absorption of those teachings, etc., is the element of faith. The Buddha’s teachings is not about believe with faith; it is not “believe and you will gain this and that”; it is totally founded on experiencing the truth of the teachings; it is realising the essence of the teachings through practise. It is imperative that one practises the Teaching to truly realise the truth within. Without practise there is no realisation of the truth of His Words Mere intellectual understanding and faith in His Words. Words, Words is of no consequence. In His own Words the Blessed One has said that there is only one way to the realisation of the truth and that is through the mindful observation of the four pillars of emancipation; mindfulness of feelings, of the body, of the mind and of the essence of existence. This mindfulness can only be cultivated by a process of meditative practice known as Vipassana Bhavana. This is the sole difference that transcends the Blessed One’s Words over and beyond the beliefs and doctrines of other religious cultures. To be able to understand and practise the Blessed One’s teachings is to realise the pinnacle of universal truth...the only way to purity of mind and eradication of defilement leading to total eradication of suffering - Nibbana. A Gradual Training One’s training in the teachings or Dhamma begins with one’s basic introduction to the Buddha’s Words in various ways, then one goes onto an investigation of the Words finally finding basic Words; truth, one is guided to a graduated practice that develops insight knowledge and wisdom; with such development, faith is further developed and enhanced. Such practice enhanced by
investigation develops faith. With further advanced practice faith is supported with acquired wisdom; energizing the effort to strengthen the practice with greater mindfulness and concentration thus, acquiring deeper wisdom and knowledge. With continuing practise the faculty of faith is further developed by wise contemplation of the arising mental awareness until such time, the faculty of faith is balanced with the faculty of wisdom; both being enhanced and energized by wise efforts and mindful concentration; till the faculties of faith, wisdom, effort, concentration are being mindfully balanced in equal quantum; when these factors are balanced, they become powerful forces that enhances development of mental purity, leading to a developed mind able to eradicate defilement. Thus to realise the truth of the Words one starts with knowledge Words, and with practice, faith develops. In no way in the teaching is found a total belief based on plain faith. Faith alone without wisdom does not bring purity of mind; blind faith develops egoism and arrogance of the self. Practising the Buddha’s Word is self enabling; as one progresses in the practice one realises the essential truth of the Word. It is a complete life style redefining, leading to a pure undefiled mind. Thus, the singular difference in the Buddha’s Teaching from other discipline is the acquiring of a totally undefiled mind through a graduated practice of internal contemplation of arising mental and physical phenomena, confirming and realising the characteristics of the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and noncoreness of existence. For it is the delusion that one is permanent, having the means to prolong existence; that one is the architect of oneself; that one becomes a happy creature. All these bring false security and happiness till one is struck forcibly with the damaging truth that those are false concepts.
Today we find many different forms of the Buddha’s Words, not all of which are authentic and mostly do not truly portray what the Buddha taught or intended. Right after His Parinibbana, His arahant disciples gathered together and committed His Teachings to memory. This first compilation session is known as The First Great Council. In all there had been 6 Great Councils, recognised as authentic by the Theravada Elders and each Council was convened to counter different challenges to the authenticity of the Words of the Buddha. Since the Second Great Council, schisms developed and there are quite a few other Councils not acknowledged as such by the Theravada Elders. Furthermore, as the Buddha’s Teachings became much favoured in India, most Kings from nearby countries favoured Buddhist monks likewise, and as a result, great numbers of unscrupulous "priests" and "monks" from other religions conveniently crossed over to Buddhism. Most of them did not change their beliefs and practices. This polluted the teachings and many different schools developed. The Thera Elders kept aloof from these schools and maintained the purity of the Buddha’s Words through regular memorised chantings. Those who truly seek the truth must personally investigate within the literature of the Thera Elders and not depend on others, written or spoken, or this book for that matter, for the truth. This has been the Buddha’s own advice to certain people in His time who were uncertain as to which of the many teachings abounding in India at that time were genuine and lead to freedom and Nibbana. Bhante Suvanno constantly reminded his devotees of the Kalama Sutta.
Kalama Sutta in brief Do not believe just because one have heard or seen it repeatedly. Do not follow tradition without question. Do not place importance in rumours. Do not believe just because it agrees with traditional scriptures. Do not make assumptions based on hearsay Do not draw conclusions merely by what one hears or sees. Do not be deceived by physical appearances. Do not hold to views or ideas just because one is comfortable with it. Do not accept anything based purely on logical facts alone. Do not be convinced because of a spiritual teacher. To realise the Truth one should go beyond opinions and beliefs. One can rightly reject anything which, when accepted, practised and perfected lead to increased cravings, aversion and delusion. These things are not beneficial and are to be avoided. On the other hand, one can rightly accept anything which, when accepted and practised lead to declining of cravings, aversion and delusion. These things are beneficial and are to be further explored and acted on. This should be one’s criteria when investigating what is and what is not the truth and what should be and what should not be the spiritual practice (see glossary). Originality and Authenticity The originality and authenticity of the Buddha’s Teachings are confirmed and empowered by each successive Council. These Councils as a body serve as the sole ratifying authority of the Buddha’s Words for then and into the future and as long as the Sasana shall remain. Without these Councils there will not be the Teachings as we have at the present time. The authenticity and core of the teachings lie in the Nikayas Nikayas: The Digha, Majjhima, Anguttara and Samyutta Nikayas and to Digha, Majjhima, Nikayas; some extend, the Khudaka Nikaya.
Most schools have their beginnings in these four Nikayas. The word nikaya means a collection. In this case a collection of discourses spoken by the Buddha. The necessity to convene the First Council was due to Subhadda's challenge of the monastic discipline, and his advocacy of moral laxity, which the then Chief Disciple, Maha Kassapa took as a warning. If that attitude were to spread, it would lead to the decline and ruin of both the Sangha and the Teaching. To prevent this, Maha Kassapa proposed to the bhikkhus to convene a council where the Dhamma and Vinaya could be reliably established and secured. The bhikkhus agreed and at their request Maha Kassapa selected five hundred members, all but one of whom were arahants. Ananda, it was that who had not yet succeeded in reaching that final attainment, but as he excelled in remembering all of the Buddha's discourses, he too was admitted to complement the five hundred members of this council. The bhikkhus selected Rajagaha as the most suitable place to hold the council. All other bhikkhus were to leave Rajagaha for the duration of the council. There were in all a total of Six Great Councils and at each Council, the teachings of the Buddha were repeated and confirmed as according to the rules set up in the First Council. No addition, no retraction and no change in format were allowed. Up to the Fourth Great Council all the proceedings were verbal and committed to memory, till at this Fourth Council held in Ceylon the teachings were first written down on palm leaves. Thus was the original teachings of the Buddha kept strictly to its pristine purity by the Theras of the Theravada bhikkhus to the present time, a span of more than 2600 years. These sets of authentic Words are now known as The Tipitaka (refer study notes).
HRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF THE SIX COUNCILS Venerable Dr. Rewata Dhamma The First Council was sponsored by King Ajatasattu. A detailed account of this historic meeting can be found in the Cullavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka. According to this record the incident which prompted the Elder Maha Kassapa to call this meeting was his concern for the behaviour of monks in the course of the future years, especially after the remark made by the bhikkhu Subhadda, who was disgruntled about the disciplined monastic way of life with its restrictive rules formulated by the Blessed One.
The bhikkhu Subhadda, a former barber who had ordained late in life, upon hearing that the Buddha had died, voiced his resentment at having to abide by all the rules for bhikkhus laid down by the Buddha. Maha Kassapa was alarmed by his remark and feared that the Dhamma-Vinaya would be corrupted and not survive intact if other bhikkhus were to behave like Subhadda and regard the Vinaya rules at their whims and fancies. To circumvent this possibility, he decided he should convene a congregation of well behaved bhikkhus to find a way to ensure that the DhammaVinaya be preserved and protected for all time. To this end and after gaining the Sangha's approval he called to council four hundred and ninety-nine Arahants and Ananda. With the Elder Maha Kassapa presiding, the five-hundred arahant bhikkhus met in council during the rainy season. The first matter of importance to be attended to was the confirmation of the set of rules for the bhikkhus set up by the Buddha; and for this, Maha Kassapa seeked the advice of the foremost Vinaya expert of the day, the Venerable Upali. Maha Kassapa requested particulars of
the monastic rules, from the Venerable Upali; in the first instance about the ruling on the first offence (parajika), with regard to the subject, the occasion, the individual introduced, the proclamation, the repetition of the proclamation, the offence and the case of non-offence. Upali was well qualified for the task as the Buddha had personally taught him the Vinaya. To quote; there was the bhikkhu Sudina, who ordained without his family's consent and was persuaded into having sexual intercourse with his ex-wife so as to continue a family lineage to maintain the family's great wealth. Thus was the first Parajika rule promulgated to discourage such unwholesome actions in future. All the arahants present confirmed that such was the truth of that rule. The Vinaya rules were repeated by the Venerable Upali and in like manner, the 499 arahants repeated and confirmed the orginality and circumstances of the formulation of all the other Vinaya rules. Upali gave knowledgeable and adequate answers and his recitations met with the unanimous approval of the Sangha members present. The complete Vinaya rules were recited, ascertained and unanimously approved by this First Council of arahants. The Elder Maha Kassapa then turned his attention to confirming the details of the Suttas or Discourses the Buddha expounded during His forty-five years. For this he turned to Ananda, who by virtue of his being the Buddha’s cousin and the constant attendant in all matters connected with the Dhamma was the acknowledged expert. He was also possessed of a great retentive memory with which he had remembered all the discourses expounded by the Buddha. Happily, the night before the Council was to meet, Ananda attained arahantship. The Elder Maha Kassapa, therefore, was able to question him in depth with complete confidence about the Dhamma with specific reference to the Buddha's discourses.
Ananda achieving Arahanthood Just before His Parinibbana, the Buddha had exhorted the Venerable Ananda to practise diligently as he was still then not among the ranks of the arahants. Maha Kassapa knew that Ananda had not yet attain to the stage of an arahant; nevertheless, realising Ananda’s unique knowledge, he reserved the 500th seat for Ananda. Ananda, under extreme pressure as the only non-arahant in the Council, was practising earnestly right up to the day before the Great Council. Nearing the end of day and feeling very tired and anxious, he mused: “The Blessed One had already said that it is possible that I will be able to achieve arahanthood, how is it that it still eludes me?” He contemplated and realised that his energy expended in the practice was out of balance with the rest of the faculties of faith, wisdom, mindfulness and concentration. He was trying too hard. Having contemplated so, he decided to take a short rest. He approached his bed and lifting himself off the ground, was on the point of lying on it; in this not on the ground and not off the ground position, he attained fruition and achieved arahanthood! After resting and with the intention of going to the Council meeting and announcing his attainment, he decided rather to demonstrate his status as an arahant in a very convincing manner so that others would have no doubts as to his suitability at the Council. He rose in the air and approaching the council hall, floated onto the seat set aside for him! Maha Kassapa was the first to signal his joy by exclaiming three times in exultation; “Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu!”. Thus was five hundred arahants gathered to ratify and authenticate the Buddha's teachings. In the first twenty years after his Enlightenment the Buddha had no permanent attendant, but he eventually decided to appoint one person to the post. During the discussion to select a permanent attendant some bhikkhus were named but was not accepted for one reason or another; Ananda had kept silent.
Approached by the other bhikkhus to volunteer his services, he consented provided the Buddha agreed to eight conditions; that the Buddha: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. should not give him robes the Buddha had received; should not give him food which the Buddha had received; should not allow him to dwell in the same Fragrant Chamber; should not always take him along wherever the Buddha was invited; should kindly comply whenever Ananda had accepted an invitation on the Buddha’s behalf; should kindly give him permission to introduce visitors that came from afar to see the Buddha; should kindly grant him permission to approach the Buddha whenever any doubts arise; should kindly repeat to him the discourses that were declared in Ananda’s absence.
These conditions were graciously accepted by the Buddha. Ananda was a very devoted attendant and he eventually lived up to 120 years and had many of his own disciples. Because of his kind, compassionate nature, and being pleasant of appearance, Ananda was well loved and respected. This indepth investigation into the Dhamma sought to ascertain the Discourses, their nature, why and when and to whom they had been addressed. Ananda, aided by his perfect retentive memory was able to answer factually. The recitation of the Discourses were meticulously and stringently detailed. Bear in mind that all the members of this Council were arahants, perfect ones; all had no personal agenda to meet except to ensure that every detail of the Discourses was original and the truth. Every single member knew the purpose of the work he was performing; to ensure that each and every Discourse was genuinely uttered by the Blessed One so as to leave a perfect heritage to future generations. The recitation met with the unanimous approval of the Sangha, were confirmed, ratified and held as the original true Words of the Blessed One.
During the course of the Council meeting other matters were brought up for discussion and clarification. In particular the point about what constitutes minor or major rules were discussed, as during the time of the Buddha many different categories of rules of different importance were promulgated. Some had great importance to the Sangha and some were of a minor nature. The First Council also took the important step to confirm that all rules of the Vinaya were to be adhered to regardless of the degree of importance seen. It officially approved the observance of all rules whether considered as minor or lesser rules. It took the bhikkhus seven months to recite the whole of the Vinaya and the Dhamma. This historic First Council came to be known as the Pancasatika because five-hundred fully enlightened arahants had taken part in it. The reader will note that nothing has been mentioned about the third basket; the Abhidhamma (see section on Abhidhamma).
HE FIRST COUNCIL The Council of Rajagaha (Ref: Eleventh Khandhaka of the Cullavagga) Time: Three months after the demise of the Buddha: 544BC. Place: The Sattapanni Cave Pavilion at Mount Vebhara near the city of Rajagaha. Duration: Seven months. Presented here are the actual events leading to the establishing of the First Council in the Theravada tradition of the Blessed One’s Dhamma-Vinaya. Now the Venerable Maha Kassapa addressed the Bhikkhus, and said: “Once I was travelling along the road from Pava to Kusinara with a company of five hundred bhikkhus. And I left the high road and sat myself down at the foot of a certain tree”. “Just at that time a certain naked ascetic, who had picked up a Mandarava flower (this was a flower which grew only in the heaven realms, and its appearance on earth showed that the devas, on some special occasion, had been casting down heavenly flowers upon the earth) in Kusinara, was coming along the road towards Pava. And I saw him coming in the distance, and on seeing I said to him: ‘O, friend! Surely you know our Master?’” “Yes, friend, I know him. This day the Samana Gotama has been dead a week. That is how I obtained this Mandarava flower.” “Then, Venerable Sirs, of those of the bhikkhus who were not yet free from their passions, some stretched out their arms and wept; and some fell headlong on the ground; and some reeled to and fro in anguish at the thought: ‘Too soon has the Blessed One died! Too soon has the Happy One passed away! Too soon has the Light gone out in the world!’”
“But those of the bhikkhus who were free from the passions, the arahants, bore their grief, collected and composed at the thought: ‘Impermanent are all component things. How is it possible that they should not be dissolved?’ “Then I, Venerable Sirs, spoke thus to the bhikkhus: ‘Enough, Venerables! Weep not, neither lament! Has not the Blessed One already declared to us that it is the very nature of all things near and dear unto us that we must divide ourselves from them, leave them, sever ourselves from them? How then, Venerable Sirs, can this be possible; that whereas anything whatever born, brought into being and organised, contains within itself the inherent necessity of dissolution; how then can this be possible that such a being should not be dissolved? No such condition can exist!’ Then at that time, Venerable Sirs, one Subhadda, who had gone forth from the world in his old age, was seated there in the company of bhikkhus. And Subhadda, the late-received one, said to the bhikkhus: ‘Enough, Venerable Sirs! Weep not, neither lament! We are well rid of the great Samana. We used to be annoyed by being told, 'This beseems you, this beseems you not;' but now we shall be able to do whatever we like; and what we do not like, that we shall not have to do.’” The Venerable Maha Kassapa noted this and kept silent…and they went on to attend to the Master’s passing away. When all rites due to the body of the Master were completed and the relics had been distributed, Maha Kassapa, recalled to memory the evil words of the aged Subhadda. He further recalled that the Master had commanded that the Holy Truth be established after His death; thus desiring that the doctrine of the Master might long endure, and also reflecting that the Master had exchanged His garment with himself, and had thereby signify their equality, Maha Kassapa decided to make a verification of the Holy Dhamma.
“Come, Venerable Sirs”, Maha Kassapa said: “let us together chant the Dhamma and the Vinaya before what is not Dhamma is spread abroad, and what is Dhamma is put aside; before what is not Vinaya is spread abroad, and what is Vinaya is put aside; before those who argue against the Dhamma become powerful, and those who hold to the Dhamma become weak; before those who argue against the Vinaya become powerful, and those who hold to the Vinaya become weak!” The congregation of bhikkhus gave uanimous consent and answered: “Let then the Venerable Thera choose the bhikkhus.” Then the Venerable Maha Kassapa selected five hundred arahants less one. And the bhikkhus said to the Venerable Maha Kassapa: 'Lord, this Venerable one, Ananda, although he has not yet attained to arahant, yet is he incapable of falling into error through partiality, or malice, or stupidity, or fear, and thoroughly have the Dhamma and the Vinaya been taught to him by the Blessed One himself. Therefore let our Lord choose the Venerable Ananda’. And the Venerable Maha Kassapa chose also the Venerable Ananda. And the Sangha queried as to where to hold the Dhamma recitation; Rajagaha was decided as it was easy to gather food and King Ajatasattu, a strong supporter of the Buddha being able to offer protection. King Ajatasattu was informed of the intention of the Sangha and he made all necessary arrangements for the bhikkhus to meet in Rajagaha. Then the Venerable Maha Kassapa laid the resolution before the Sangha: “Let the Venerable Sangha hear me. If the time seems opportune to the Sangha, let the Sangha appoint that these five hundred bhikkhus take up their residence during the rainy season at Rajagaha, to chant over together the Dhamma and the Vinaya, and that no other bhikkhus go up to Rajagaha for the rainy season. This is the resolution. Let the Venerable Sangha hear. The Sangha appoints accordingly. Whosoever of the Venerable Ones
approves thereof, let him keep silence. Whosoever approves not thereof, let him speak. (The Sangha remains silent). The Sangha has appointed accordingly. Therefore is it silent. Thus do I understand.” So the Thera Bhikkhus went up to Rajagaha to chant over together the Dhamma and the Vinaya. And the Thera Bhikkhus thought: 'The Blessed One has spoken in praise of the repair of dilapidations. Let us, then, during the first month of the rainy season repair such dilapidations (of the dwellings), and during the middle month let us chant over the Dhamma and the Vinaya together.' And during the first month they repaired dilapidation. When the repair of the vihara was finished they said to the King: “Now we will hold the council”. To the question of the King, “What should be done”? they answered: “A place should be provided for the meetings”. When the King had asked: “Where these viharas were to be”? and the place had been pointed out by the Thera Bhikkhus, the King, with all speed had a splendid hall built by the side of the Vebhara Rock by the entrance of the Sattapanni Grotto, and it was like to the assembly-hall of the gods. When it was adorned in every way he caused precious mats to be spread according to the number of the Thera Bhikkhus. Placed on the south side and facing the north a lofty and noble seat was prepared for the Thera, and in the middle of the hall a high seat was prepared for the preacher, facing the east and worthy of the Blessed One Himself. Then the Venerable Ananda; anxious and thinking, 'Tomorrow is the assembly, now it is not right for me to go into the assembly while I am still only on the way (towards arahantship)'; he thus spent the whole night with mind alert. And at the close of the night, intending to lie down, he inclined his body, but before his head reached the pillow, and while his feet were still far from the ground, in the interval he became free from attachment to the world, and his heart was emancipated from the defilement (that is to say, from sensuality, individuality, delusion, and ignorance and thus became one of the Holy Ones, an Arahant).
Questioning of the Vinaya On the second day of the second month of the rainy season the Thera Bhikkhus met together in that splendid Hall; the arahants seated themselves according to their rank in age of ordination. Together the Thera Bhikkhus chose the Thera Upali to speak for the Vinaya, for the rest of the Dhamma they chose Ananda. The Great Thera, Maha Kassapa, laid on himself the task of asking questions touching the Vinaya and the Thera Upali was ready to explain it. Sitting in the Thera's chair, Maha Kassapa asked the Venerable Upali, the questions touching the Vinaya; and Upali (he who was taught the Vinaya by the Blessed One Himself), seated in the preacher's chair, expounded the doctrine. And as this great master of the Vinaya expounded each clause in turn all the Thera Bhikkhus, knowing too the custom, chanted the Vinaya after him. And concerning the detailed procedure of chanting, the Venerable Maha Kassapa laid the resolution before the Sangha: 'If the time seems appropriate to the Sangha, I will question Upali concerning the Vinaya.' And the Venerable Upali laid a resolution before the Sangha: 'Let the Venerable Sangha hear me. If the time seems appropriate to the Sangha, I, when questioned by the Venerable Maha Kassapa, will give reply.' Then the Venerable Maha Kassapa said to the Venerable Upali: 'Venerable Upali, where was the first Parajika promulgated?' 'In Vesali, Sir.' 'Concerning whom was it spoken?' 'Concerning Sudinna, the son of Kalanda.' 'In regard to what matter?' 'Sexual intercourse.' Thus did the Venerable Maha Kassapa question the Venerable Upali as to the matter, as to the occasion, as to the individual concerned, as to the (principal) rule, as to the sub-rule, as to who would be guilty, and as to who would be innocent, of the first Parajika.
'Again, Venerable Upali, where was the second Parajika promulgated?' 'At Rajagaha, Sir.' 'Concerning whom was it spoken?' 'Dhaniya, the potter's son.' 'In regard to what matter?' 'The taking of that which had not been given.' Thus did the Venerable Maha Kassapa question the Venerable Upali as to the matter, and as to the occasion, and as to the individual concerned, and as to the (principal) rule, and as to the sub-rule, and as to who would be guilty, and as to who would be innocent of the second Parajika. 'Again, Venerable Upali, where promulgated?' 'At Vesali, Sir.' 'Concerning whom was it spoken?' 'A number of bhikkhus.' 'In regard to what matter?' 'Human beings.' was the third Parajika
Thus did the Venerable Maha Kassapa question the Venerable Upali as to [all the particulars, as before] of the third Parajika. 'Again, Venerable Upali, where was the fourth Parajika promulgated?' 'At Vesali, Sir.' 'Concerning whom was it spoken?' 'The bhikkhus dwelling on the banks of the Vaggumuda river.' 'In regard to what matter?' 'Superhuman conditions.' Thus did the Venerable Maha Kassapa question the Venerable Upali as to [all the particulars, as before] of the fourth Parajika. And in like manner did he question him through both the Vinayas; and as he was successively asked, so did Upali make reply.
Questioning of the Dhamma Then Maha Kassapa questioned concerning the Dhamma, him the chief of those who had most often heard (the Word), him the personal keeper of the Great Seer (the Buddha); Ananda; and Ananda taking the task upon himself, expounded the whole Dhamma as he was asked. And all the Thera Bhikkhus knowing too all that was contained in the doctrine repeated the Dhamma in turn after the Venerable Ananda. Thus, then the Venerable Maha Kassapa laid a resolution before the Sangha: 'Let the Venerable Sangha hear me. If the time seems appropriate to the Sangha, I would question Ananda concerning the Dhamma.' And the Venerable Ananda laid a resolution before the Sangha: 'Let the Venerable Sangha hear me. If the time seems appropriate to the Sangha, I, as questioned by the Venerable Maha Kassapa, will give reply.' And the Venerable Maha Kassapa said to the Venerable Ananda: 'Where, Venerable Ananda, was the Brahmajala spoken?' 'On the way, Venerable Sir, between Rajagaha and Nalanda, at the royal rest-house at Ambalatthika.' 'Concerning whom was it spoken?' 'Suppiya, the wandering ascetic, and Brahmadatta, the young Brahman.' Thus did the Venerable Maha Kassapa question the Venerable Ananda as to the occasion of the Brahmajala, and as to the individuals concerning whom it was spoken. 'And again, Venerable Ananda, where was the Samanna-phala spoken?' 'At Rajagaha, Venerable Sir; in Jivaka's Mango Grove.' 'And with whom was it spoken?' 'With Ajatasattu, the son of the Vedehi.'
Thus did the Venerable Maha Kassapa question the Venerable Ananda as to the occasion of the Samanna-phala, and as to the individual concerned. And in like manner did he question him through the Discourses, and as he was successively asked, so did Ananda make reply. Then the Venerable Ananda spoke thus to the Thera Bhikkhus: 'The Blessed One, Venerables, at the time of his passing away, spoke thus to me: ‘When I am gone, Ananda, let the Sangha, if it should so wish, revoke all the lesser and minor precepts.’ 'Did you then, Venerable Ananda, ask the Blessed One which were the lesser and minor precepts?' 'No, Venerables.' Some Thera Bhikkhus then said that all the rules save the four Parajikas; others that all save those and the thirteen Sanghadisesas; others that all save those and the two Aniyatas; others that all save those and the thirty Nissaggiyas; others that all save those and the ninety-two Pacittiyas; others that all save those and the four Patidesaniyas were lesser and minor precepts (see glossary). Then the Venerable Maha Kassapa laid a resolution before the Sangha: 'Let the Venerable Sangha hear me. There are certain of our precepts which relate to matters in which the laity are concerned. Now the laity knows of us that; ‘such and such things are proper for you Samanas who are Sakyaputtiyas, and such and such things are not’. If we were to revoke the lesser and minor precepts, it will be said of us: ‘A set of precepts was laid down for His disciples by the Samana Gotama to endure until the smoke should rise from His funeral pyre. So long as their teacher remained with these men, so long did they train themselves in the precepts. Since their teacher has passed away from them, no longer do they now train themselves in the precepts’. If the time seems appropriate to the Sangha, not ordaining what has not been ordained, and not revoking what has been ordained, let it take upon itself and ever direct itself in the precepts according as they have been laid down. This is the resolution.
'Let the Venerable Sangha hear me. These things being so, the Sangha takes upon itself the precepts according as they have been laid down. Whosoever of the Venerable ones approves thereof, let him keep silence. Whosoever approves not thereof, let him speak. (The Sangha remains silent.) The Sangha has taken upon itself the precepts according as they were laid down. Therefore does it keep silence. Thus do I understand.' Now the Thera Bhikkhus said to the Venerable Ananda: 'That was ill done by you, friend Ananda, in that you did not ask the Blessed One which were the lesser and minor precepts. Confess your fault.' 'Through forgetfulness was it, Venerable Sirs, that I did not ask that of the Blessed One. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.' 'This also, friend Ananda, was ill done by you, in that you stepped upon the Blessed One's rainy-season garment to sew it. Confess your fault.' 'It was not, Venerable Sirs, through any want of respect to the Blessed One that I did so. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.' 'This also, friend Ananda, was ill done by you, in that you caused the body of the Blessed One to be saluted by women first, so that by their weeping the body of the Blessed One was defiled by tears. Confess that fault.' 'I did so, Venerable Sirs, with the intention that they should not be kept beyond due time. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.' 'This too, friend Ananda, was ill done by you, in that even when a suggestion so evident and a hint so clear were given you by the Blessed One, you did not plead with him, saying, "Let the Blessed One remain on for a kalpa! Let the Happy One remain on for a kalpa for the good and happiness of the great multitudes, out of
pity for the world, for the good and the gain and the weal of gods and men!" Confess that fault.' 'I was possessed by the Evil One, friends, when I refrained from so pleading with him. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.' (see glossary) 'This also, friend Ananda, was ill done by you, in that you exerted yourself to procure admission for women into the Dhamma and Vinaya proclaimed by the Tathagata. Confess that fault.' 'That did I do, friends, thinking of Maha Pajapati the Gotami, the sister of the Blessed One's mother; his nurse and comforter, who gave him milk; how she, when she who had borne him was dead, herself suckled him as with mother's milk. I see no fault therein. Nevertheless, out of my faith in you, I confess that as a fault.' (see glossary) Thus in seven months was that compiling of the Dhamma completed by those Thera Bhikkhus. `The Thera Maha Kassapa has made the Blessed One's message to endure five hundred years,' rejoicing in this thought, at the end of the council, the earth encircled by the ocean trembled six times and many wondrous signs were shown in the world in many ways. Now since the canon was compiled by the Thera Bhikkhus, it was called the Thera tradition.' The Theras who had held the First Council and had thereby brought great blessing to the world, having lived their allotted span of life, all attained nibbana. The aim of Maha Kassapa in calling for the affirmation of the Blessed One’s Words was to ensure that the True Teachings will not be tainted and subverted by unscrupulous people, even those in the holy robes. This goal was also the main theme as understood by the Theras who made up the members of this august assembly. They were all arahants without exception, the latest addition to their number was Ananda, who just made the grade at the eleventh hour. As arahants, they were pure in mind and were without defilement of any kind; they were special
human beings, having attained to the highest, the supreme level of spiritual purity. Their very thoughts, words and or deeds were of the purest motive and without taints of greed, anger and delusion. These arahants had disciples and pupils; the affirmed Dhamma was passed on to each and everyone of the arahants, who took it as their responsibility to teach their pupils and disciples the elements of the Dhamma as laid out at this Council. They made it an exercise of study to chant these knowledge on a regular basis. Thus each arahant was given specific passages to pass on to their disciples to memorise and chant and to keep the Dhamma within their group. Thus was the Words of the Blessed One kept alive and well for the future years. Until...
HE SECOND COUNCIL
Time: 100 Buddhist Era (443 B.C). Duration: Eight months. Place: Valukarama Monastery, near the City of Vesali.
After the First Great Council and for the rest of the next 100 years till the year 443 BC nothing untoward happened to be of great concern to the Teachings as enshrined at this Council. However, events that contribute to the dilution of the pristine purity of the original Dhamma was also appearing (see glossary). In fact, the harbingers of unwholesome changes were already being spawned by travellers from many countries, notably China, who with good intentions brought the Dhamma to their home countries. However, these well intentioned travellers had not grasped the essence of the Dhamma and while skimming the surface of the Dhamma, was more inclined to equate the Dhamma with their own traditions, thus in the process causing the true Dhamma to be incorrectly dispensed. This dilution of the Dhamma had already begun during the Buddha’s time, due to the many travellers plying the trade routes radiating from India. Vada in Pali means teachings, law or doctrine; thus was then the bhikkhus known as: Theravada bhikkhus. On them rested the responsibility of preserving the Words of the Buddha. The bhikkhus were assigned different texts for their recitation and they taught these texts, verbatim to their own disciples who further passed it on to their own disciples and so on. During this period, many took refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, till some bhikkhus of the Vajji clan from Vesali preached and practised ten unlawful deviations in the rules of the Order, specifically not approved by the Buddha. These illegal practices were:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Using salt in a horn (to salt their food). Eating after mid-day. Eating once and then going again to a village for alms. Holding separate uposatha within the same sima (a sacred area). Passing a formal act awaiting the sanction of other members. Mere following precedent in practices. Eating sour milk after one have had his mid-day meal. Drinking unfermented drink. Using a rug not of the proper allowed dimension. Accepting gold and silver.
Their nonconforming to the rules came to be a turning point in rallying the true bhikkhus to purge the Dhamma of the undesirables. It happened that the bhikkhu, the Venerable Yasa visited the town of Vesali and while staying in the monastery of the Vajjian bhikkhus noticed to his great dismay that they were collecting gold and silver purportedly for the upkeep of the monastery. He immediately criticised their behaviour and their response was to offer him a share of their illegal gains in the hope that he would be pacified. The Elder Yasa, however declined and chastised them. The Vajjian bhikkhus were unhappy with his censure and in turn accused him of having annoyed and angered their lay devotees; turning the devotees against the Venerable Yasa. The Elder Yasa however, was able to reconcile himself with the lay devotees, and at the same time, by quoting the Buddha's pronouncement on the prohibition against accepting or soliciting for gold and silver convinced them that the Vajjian bhikkhus had in fact done wrong. The laity immediately expressed their support for the Elder Yasa and declared that the Vajjian bhikkhus were the
wrong-doers saying: "The bhikkhus here are not Sakyan sons, only the Elder Yasa is the real bhikkhu and a Sakyan son. Let us hear from the Scriptural Text how the 2nd Council became necessary. bhikkhus’ money 1. Yasa’s discovery of Vajjian bhikkhus’ collection of money from the laity. He objected strongly to this practice. laity. The Venerable Yasa, son of Kakandaka, travelling in the country of Vajjis, came to Vesali, took up lodging in Mahavana, the Great Woods, in the hall of Belvedere (Kutagarasala). Then, it was an Uposatha (holy) day, the bhikkus Vajjiputtakas of Vesali, filled a copper basin with water, placed it in the midst of circle of bhikkhus, and exhorted the laypeople to “give to the community a kahapana, a half, a quarter, a sixth of a kahapana! The community has need for diverse things.” In vain, Yasa protested and admonished the laypeople, “Do not give! Gold and silver are not allowed to the ascetics, sons of Sakya….” Later, the bhikkhus shared the money amongst them, and offered a portion to Yasa who refused it. 2. Vajjian bhikkhus imposed ‘Act of reconciliation’ and ‘Act of Act suspension’ on Yasa Yasa had admonished lay disciples for giving ‘gold and silver’ to the Vajjian bhikkhus. The act of reconciliation, i.e., to ask pardon from laymen in the presence of an accompanying Vajjian bhikkhu was to ensure that lay disciples would consider the act of giving gold and silver as proper. Accompanied by another Vajjian bhikkhu, Yasa went into town and told the laymen, ‘I acknowledge that I blame you, pious laymen of good intention, but this giving of gold and silver is adhamma and avinaya.’ He cited discourses by Buddha, which were decisive on the question of bhikkhus being forbidden gold and silver. The laypeople believing Yasa, decided to break with the bhikkhus Vajjiputtaka: “There is none but Yasa who is an ascetic and a son
of Sakya, all the others are neither ascetics nor Sons of Sakyans.” The Elder Yasa was not satisfied with the situation and went in search of support of his stand from bhikkhus elsewhere. Many bhikkhus upheld his orthodox views on the Vinaya and together with the Elder Yasa, they decided to go to the town of Soreyya to consult a highly revered bhikkhu, the Venerable Revata, an expert in the Dhamma and the Vinaya. The Venerale Revata advised that a council should be called at Valikarama with himself asking questions on the ten offences of the most senior of the Elders of the day, the Thera Sabbakami, and to be heard by a committee of eight senior bhikkhus, and its validity decided by their vote. The eight bhikkhus called to judge the matter were the Venerables Sabbakami, Salha, Khujjasobhita and Vasabhagamika, from the East and four bhikkhus from the West, the Venerables Revata, Sanasambhiita, Yasa and Sumana. They debated the matter in depth with Revata as the questioner and Sabbakami answering his questions. Seven hundred other bhikkhus attended the council in support. After the debate, the eight senior bhikkhus decided against the Vajjian bhikkhus (a note of significance is that these eight Elders were of an advanced age and were known to have “seen the Tathagata”, that is to say they were living during the time of the Blessesd One and knew His teachings first hand. Bhikkhus were known to live beyond 140 years as was the case with Ananda, who passed away aged 120 years). Afterwards the seven-hundred bhikkhus recited the Dhamma and Vinaya and this recital came to be known as the Sattasatika because seven-hundred bhikkhus had taken part in it. This historic council is also called, the Yasatthera Sangiti because of the major role the Elder Yasa played in it and his zeal for safeguarding the Vinaya. Scriptural Texts: The Vajjian bhikkhus initially appeared to accept the admonishment of the theras in this 2nd Council but they were
not satisfied so they convened their own council; the Mahasanghika. Mahasanghika. Vajjian bhikkhus and even laities and monks of other disciplines numbering 10,000 gathered at Pataliputta to give support to overturning the decision of the Thera Bhikkhus. Thus, there became a great schism of the Sangha 100 years after the Mahaparinibbana of the Blessed One. This breakaway group was to be the beginning of the Mahayana tradition. This signify the period where the parting of the ways occur; the Theras in one direction, religiously following and guarding the original Words of the Buddha, and the others, who were zealous in their efforts to propagate the Dhamma within their own interpretation, away from its true essence. However, the Elders who had adhered to the original Teachings of the Buddha and had painstakingly repeated every word of the Buddha's Teachings regularly after the two great councils, kept strictly to the word, letter, intent and spirit of the original Teachings. Not a single word or sentence was changed, nothing was added to the texts and the format remained as it was during the time of Maha Kassapa. Thus, these Thera Elders kept the tradition intact.
Patron: King Asoka Bindusara Maurya Time: 235 B.E (308 B.C). Duration: Nine months. Place: The Asokarama Monastery in the city of Pataliputta In session: The Venerable Moggaliputta and 1000 bhikkhus.
304Emperor Ashoka (B.C. 304-239)
HE THIRD COUNCIL
The course of events leading to the Third Council is inseparable from the events in the life of King Asoka; the Third Council and King Asoka go hand in glove. Whereas the First and Second Councils were exercises in ratification of the Blessed One’s words and to ensure purity in the pristine Dhamma, the Third Council has one other selfpreserving feature over those of the previous Councils. It was the first time the Dhamma was brought to the outside world other than within the borders of India, and this propagation of the Dhamma internationally caused the Dhamma to be kept alive elsewhere when its home base was considerably weakened by outside forces. Thus, we begin the Third Council with the Mauryan Empire given life by King Chandragupta, further expanded by his son, King Bindusara and finally inherited by King Asoka. The impact of Chandragupta Maurya was tremendous. Due to Chandragupta’s strong military tradition and excellent government structure the Mauryan Empire was able to expand to cover the entire Indian subcontinent under the reign of his son and his grandson, the legendary Emperor Asoka. We quote from The Outline of History by the great historian and novelist, H.G. Wells:
Asoka had several elder siblings (all half-brothers from other wives of Bindusara). He had just one younger sibling, Vitthasoka (a much loved brother from the same mother). Because of his exemplary intellect and warrior skills, Asoka was said to have been the favorite of his grandfather. In his adolescence, he was rude and unruly. He was a fearsome hunter and being a kshatriya, the warrior caste (as was the Buddha), he was given all royal military training and other Vedic knowledge. He was a fierce warrior and a heartless general. Because of this quality he was sent to curb the riots at Avanti. After his father passed away, Asoka had all his brothers killed and ascended the throne. He expanded his empire over the next eight years, from the present-day boundaries and regions of Burma– Bangladesh and the state of Assam in India in the east to the territory of present-day Iran / Persia and Afghanistan in the west; from the Pamir Knots in the north almost to the peninsular of southern India (i.e. Tamilnadu / Andhra Pradesh). Conquest of Kalinga While the early part of Asoka's reign was apparently quite bloodthirsty, he became a follower of the Buddha's teaching after his conquest of Kalinga on the east coast of India in the presentday state of Orissa. Kalinga was a state that prided itself on its sovereignty and democracy. With its monarchical parliamentary democracy it was quite an exception in ancient India. The pretext for the start of the Kalinga War (265 BC or 263 BC) is uncertain. One of Susima's brothers might have fled to Kalinga and found official refuge there. This enraged Asoka immensely. He was advised by his ministers to attack Kalinga for this act of treachery. Asoka then asked Kalinga's royalty to submit before his supremacy. When they defied his request, Asoka sent one of his generals to Kalinga to make them submit. The general and his forces were, however, completely routed through the skilled tact of Kalinga's commander-in-chief. Asoka, baffled at this defeat, attacked with the greatest invasion ever recorded in Indian history until then. Kalinga put up a stiff
resistance, but they were no match for Asoka's brutal strength. The whole of Kalinga was plundered and destroyed. Asoka's later edicts state that about 100,000 people were killed on the Kalinga side and 10,000 from Asoka's army. Thousands of men and women were deported As the legend goes, one day after the war was over, Asoka ventured out to roam the city and all he could see were burnt houses and scattered corpses. This sight made him sick and he cried the famous monologue: What have I done? If this is a victory, what's a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Do I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity other's splendou or to destroy the other's kingdom and splendour? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant.... What's this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat? Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil? The brutality of the conquest led him to adopt Buddhism and he used his position to propagate the relatively new religion to new heights, as far as ancient Rome and Egypt. He made Buddhism his state religion around 260 BC. He seems to have ruled his vast empire in peace and with great ability. He organized a great digging of wells in India, and the planting of trees for shade. He appointed officers for the supervision of charitable works. He founded hospitals and public gardens. He had gardens made for the growing of medicinal herbs. Had he had an Aristotle to inspire him, he would no doubt have endowed scientific research upon a great scale. He created a ministry for the care of the aborigines and subject races. He made provision for the education of women. He made, he was the first monarch to make, an attempt to educate his people into a common view of the ends and way of life. He
made vast benefactions to the Buddhist teaching orders, and tried to stimulate them to a better study of their own literature. All over the land beset up long inscriptions rehearsing the teaching of Gautama, and it is the simple and human teaching and not the preposterous accretions. Thirty-five of his inscriptions survive to this day. Moreover, he sent missionaries to spread the noble and reasonable teaching of his master throughout the world, to Kashmir, to Ceylon, to the Seleucids, and the Ptolemies. It was one of these missions which carried that cutting of the Bo Tree, of which we have already told, to Ceylon (end of quote). The Reason for the Third Council The Third Council was held primarily in order to rid the Sangha of corruption and bogus bhikkhus who held heretical views. The Council was convened at Asokarama in Pataliputta. It was presided over by the Elder Moggaliputta Tissa and one thousand bhikkhus under the patronage of the Emperor Asoka. Asoka was crowned in the two hundred and eighteenth year after the Buddha's Parinibbana. At first he paid only token homage to the Dhamma and the Sangha and supported members of other religious sects as well, as his father had done before him. However, all this changed when he met the pious novice-bhikkhu Nigrodha who preached to him the Appamada-vagga (Refer to Study Notes). Thereafter, he ceased supporting other religious groups and his interest in and devotion to the Dhamma deepened. With his powers and his enormous wealth he caused to be built eightyfour thousand pagodas, temples and viharas all over his empire and supported the bhikkhus lavishly with the four requisites daily. His son Mahinda and his daughter Sanghamitta were ordained and admitted to the Sangha. Eventually, his generosity caused serious problems within the Sangha; the order became infiltrated by many unworthy men, holding heretical views and who were attracted to the order only
by the Emperor's generous support and costly offerings of food, clothing, shelter and medicine. Large numbers of faithless, greedy men espousing wrong views who were unfit for ordination joined the order. Some seized the chance to exploit the Emperor's generosity for their own ends and donned robes and joined the order without having been correctly ordained. Consequently, respect for the Sangha diminished. When this came to light, the genuine bhikkhus refused to hold the prescribed Uposatha ceremony in the company of the corrupt bhikkhus. When the Emperor heard about this he sought to rectify the situation and dispatched one of his ministers to the bhikkhus with the command that they perform the ceremony. However, the Emperor had given the minister no specific orders as to what means were to be used to carry out his command. The bhikkhus refused to obey and refuse to hold the ceremony in the company of their false and 'thieving' companions. In desperation the angry minister advanced down the line of seated bhikkhus and drawing his sword, beheaded all of them one after the other until he came to the King's brother, Tissa who had ordained. The horrified minister stopped the slaughter and fled the hall and reported back to the Emperor Asoka who was deeply grieved and upset by what had happened and blamed himself for the killings. He sought Thera Moggaliputta Tissa's counsel, who advised that false bhikkhus be expelled from the order and that a council be convened immediately to achieve this purpose. So it was that in the seventeenth year of the Emperor's reign the Third Council was called. The Emperor himself, questioned bhikkhus from a number of monasteries to ascertain their views about the teachings of the Buddha. Those who held wrong views were exposed and immediately expelled from the Sangha. In this way the Sangha was purged of false bhikkhus.
Thereafter, the Thera Moggaliputta Tissa convened the Council and hand-picked one thousand bhikkhus for the recitation of the Dhamma-Vinaya, which went on for nine months. Thus, was the Dhamma-Vinaya brought back to its pristine purity. This council achieved a number of other important things as well. Thera Moggaliputta Tissa, in order to refute a number of heresies and ensure the Dhamma was kept pure, compiled a book during the Council called the Kathavatthu. Sending Out Missions Overseas One of the most significant achievements of this assembly and one which was to bear fruit for centuries to come, was the Emperor's sending forth of bhikkhus, well versed in the Buddha's Dhamma-Vinaya who could recite all of it by heart, to teach it in nine different countries. These Dhammaduta bhikkhus included the Venerable Majjhantika Thera who went to Kashmir and Gandhara. He was asked to preach the Dhamma and establish an order of bhikkhus there. The Venerable Mahadeva was sent to Mahinsakamandala (modern Mysore) and the Venerable Rakkhita Thera was dispatched to Vanavasi (northern Kanara in the south of India.) The Venerable Yonaka Dhammarakkhita Thera was sent to Upper Aparantaka (northern Gujarat, Kathiwara, Kutch and Sindh). The Venerable Maharakkhita Thera went to Yonaka-loka (the land of the lonians, Bactrians and the Greeks.)
The Venerable Majjhima Thera went to Himavant (the place adjoining the Himalayas.) The Venerable Sona and the Venerable Uttara were sent to Suvannabhumi (now Myamar). The Venerabless Mahinda Thera, Ittiya Thera, Uttiya Thera, the Sambala Thera and the Bhaddasala Thera were sent to Tambapanni (now Sri Lanka). The Dhamma missions of these bhikkhus succeeded and bore great fruits in the course of time and went a long way in ennobling the peoples of these lands with the gift of the Dhamma and influencing their civilizations and cultures. Decline of Buddhism After King Asoka, Buddhism started its initial decline. Given herewith are some causes advanced for the decline of Buddhism in India, the home of its birth (see Study Note).
One of the supreme ironies of the history of Buddhism in India is the question of how Buddhism came to disappear from the land of its birth. Many scholars of Buddhism, Hinduism, Indian history, and of religion more generally have been devoted to unraveling this puzzle. There is no absolute consensus on this matter, and a few scholars have even contended that Buddhism never disappeared as such from India. On this view, Buddhism simply changed form, or was absorbed into Hindu practices. Such an argument is, in fact, a variation of the view, which perhaps has more adherents than any other, that Buddhism disappeared, not on account of persecution by Hindus, but because of the ascendancy of reformed Hinduism. However, the view that Buddhists were persecuted by Brahmins, who were keen to assert their caste supremacy, still has some adherents, and in recent years has been championed not only by some Dalit writers and their sympathizers but by at least a handful of scholars of premodern Indian history. What is not disputed is the gradual decline of Buddhism in India, as the testimony of the Chinese traveler, Hsuan Tsang, amply demonstrates. Though Buddhism had been the dominant religion in much of the Gangetic plains in the early part of the Christian era, Hsuan Tsang, traveling in India in the early years of the 7th century, witnessed something quite different. In Prayag, or Allahabad as it is known to many, Hsuan Tsang encountered mainly heretics, or non-Buddhists, but that is not surprising given the importance of Prayag as a pilgrimage site for Brahmins. But, even in Sravasti, the capital city of the Lichhavis, a north Indian clan that came to power around 200 AD, established their capital in Pasupathinath, and in a long and glorious period of reign extending through the early part of the ninth century endowed a large number of both Hindu and Buddhist monuments and monasteries, Hsuan Tsang witnessed a much greater number of “Hindus” (ie, non-Buddhists, such as Jains and Saivites) than Buddhists.
BUDDHISM ISAPPEARANCE OF BUDDHISM FROM INDIA Vinay Lal (An Excerpt)
Kusinagar, the small village some 52 kilometres from Gorakhpur where the Buddha had gone into mahaparinirvana, was in a rather dilapidated state and Hsuan Tsang found few Buddhists. In Varanasi, to be sure, Hsuan Tsang found some 3000 bhikkus or Buddhist monks, but they were outshadowed by more than 10,000 non-Buddhists. There is scarcely any question that Hsuan Tsang arrived in India at a time when Buddhism was entering into a state of precipitous decline, and by the 13th century Buddhism, as a formal religion, had altogether disappeared from India. But even as Buddhism went into decline, it is remarkable that the great seat of Buddhist learning, Nalanda, continued to flourish, retaining its importance until the Muslim invasions of the second millennium. Moreover, it is from Nalanda that Padmasambhava carried Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century. Consequently, even the story of Buddhism in India cannot be unequivocally written in a single register of decline. To consider the question somewhat more systematically, we might wish to consider in serial order the various reasons advanced for Buddhism’s decline and disappearance from India. The various arguments can be grouped under the following headings: histories, Sectarian and internal histories focusing on schisms within the Buddhist faith, the widening differences between the clergy, bhikkus, and laity, and the growing corruption within the sangha; Brahmanism, histories focused on Buddhism’s relations with Brahmanism dwelling on the alleged persecution of Buddhists by Brahmins, the defeat of the Buddhists by the great theologian Shankara in public debates, as well as on the supposedly characteristic tendency of Hinduism, or rather Brahmanism, to absorb its opponents; and, finally; histories, secular and political histories which emphasize the withdrawal of royal patronage from Buddhism and, later, the Muslim invasions which had the effect of driving into extinction an already debilitated faith.
Turning our attention to what I have described as sectarian histories, it is generally conceded that the Buddhist clergy paid insufficient attention to its laity. Buddhist mendicants kept their distance from non-mendicants, and as scholars of Buddhism have noted, no manual for the conduct of the laity was produced until the 11th century. Non-mendicants may not have felt particularly invested in their religion, and as the venues where the mendicants and non-mendicants intersected gradually disappeared, the laity might have felt distanced from the faith. The contrast, in this respect, with Jainism is marked. Some scholars have also emphasized the narrative of decay and corruption within a faith where the monks had come to embrace a rather easy-going and even indolent lifestyle, quite mindless of the Buddha’s insistence on aparigraha, or non-possession. The Buddhist monasteries are sometimes described as repositories of great wealth. The secular and political histories adopt rather different arguments. It has been argued that royal patronage shifted from Buddhist to Hindu religious institutions. Under the Kushanas, indeed even under the Guptas (325-497 AD), both Buddhists and adherents of Brahmanism received royal patronage, but as Brahmanism veered off, so to speak, into Vaishnavism and Saivism, and regional kingdoms developed into the major sites of power, Buddhism began to suffer a decline. The itinerant Buddhist monk, if one may put it this way, gave way to forms of life more conducive to settled agriculture. The Palas of Bengal, though they had been hospitable to Vaishnavism and Saivism, were nonetheless major supporters of Buddhism. However, when Bengal came under the rule of the Senas (1097-1223), Saivism was promulgated and Buddhism was pushed out towards Tibet. Though Buddhism had already entered into something of a decline by the time of Hsuan Tsang’s visit to India during the reign of Harsha of Kanauj in the early seventh century, it has also been argued that its further demise, particularly in the early part of the second millennium AD, was hastened by the arrival of Islam. On this view, Buddhism found competition in Islam for converts among low-caste Hindus. Even Ambedkar, whose
animosity towards Hinduism is palpable, was nonetheless firmly of the view that Islam dealt Buddhism a death blow. As he was to put it, “brahmanism beaten and battered by the Muslim invaders could look to the rulers for support and sustenance and get it. Buddhism beaten and battered by the Muslim invaders had no such hope. It was uncared for orphan and it withered in the cold blast of the native rulers and was consumed in the fire lit up by the conquerors.” Ambedkar was quite certain that this was “the greatest disaster that befell the religion of Buddha in India.” We thus find Ambekdar embracing the “sword of Islam thesis”: “The sword of Islam fell heavily upon the priestly class. It perished or it fled outside India. Nobody remained alive to keep the flame of Buddhism burning.” There are, of course, many problems with this view. The “sword of Islam” thesis remains controversial, at best, and many reputable historians are inclined to dismiss it outright. Islam was, moreover, a late entrant into India, and Buddhism was showing unmistakable signs of its decline long before Islam became established in the Gangetic plains, central India, and the northern end of present-day Andhra and Karnataka. Many narrative accounts of Buddhism’s decline and eventual disappearance from the land of its faith have been focused on Buddhism’s relations with Hinduism or Brahmanism. Nearly 20 years ago the historian S. R. Goyal wrote that "according to many scholars hostility of the Brahmanas was one of the major causes of the decline of Buddhism in India." The Saivite king, Shashanka, invariably appears in such histories as a ferocious oppressor of the Buddhists, though the single original source for all subsequent narratives about Shashanka’s ruinous conduct towards Buddhists remains Hsuan Tsang. Shashanka is reported to have destroyed the Bodhi tree and ordered the destruction of Buddhist images. Hindu nationalists appear to think that many Muslim monuments were once Hindu temples, but partisans of Buddhism are inclined to the view that Hindu temples were often built on the site of Buddhist shrines.
COUNCIL HE FOURTH COUNCIL Time: 450 B.E (29 B.C) The District, Place: The Aloka Cave in Matale District, Sri Lanka Duration: One Year The Fourth Council was held in Tambapanni (Sri Lanka) in 29 B.C. under the patronage of King Vattagamani. About 450 years after the Buddha’s Parinibbana, a famine struck Ceylon. For twelve years food was so scarce that the Order of monks was almost decimated partly. Some of the laity even turned to cannibalism. Due to this tragical condition, the Dhamma-Vinaya were in danger of being lost as monks were too weak to chant the texts. When at last the famine ended, it was decided that the texts needed to be put into writing for their greater protection. Not only the famine, but the danger of frequent invasions from South India, the entry into the Order of irresponsible and irreligious people, and the fickle favour of kings also played a part in this decision. Accordingly, a Fourth Council was convened. King Vattagamani supported the bhikkhu's idea and a council was held specifically to enshrine the Tipitaka in its entirety in written form. Thus in an endeavour to preserve the DhammaVinaya in its pristine originality, the Venerable Maharakkhita and five hundred bhikkhus recited the words of the Buddha and painstakingly wrote them down on palm leaves. This remarkable council took place in a cave called, the Aloka Lena, situated in the cleft of an ancient landslip near what is now Matale. Thus the aim of the Council was achieved and the preservation of the authentic Dhamma-Vinaya was ensured. After the Council, palm leaves books appeared, and were taken to other countries, such as Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
The Tipitaka and its commentaries were originally brought to Sri Lanka by the missionary bhikkhu Mahinda of the Third Buddhist Council. There is also another Council held and named as the Fourth Council. This 2nd Fourth Council is said to have been convened by the Kushan emperor Kanishka, perhaps around 100 CE at Jalandhar or in Kashmir. This Fourth Council of Kashmir is not recognised as authoritative in the Theravada tradition; reports of this council can be found in scriptures which were kept in the Mahayana tradition. It is believed that it was also around this time that a significant change was made to the language of the Buddha’s words. Learned scholars began to convert the Buddha’s words to Sanskrit. Although this change was probably effected without significant loss of integrity to the canon, this event was of particular significance since Sanskrit was the official holy language of Brahmanism in India, and was also being used by other thinkers (regardless of their specific religious or philosophical allegiance), thus enabling a far wider audience to gain access to Buddhist ideas and practices and thus open the gates to possible corruption of the original words of the Buddha. For this reason, all major Buddhist scholars in India thereafter wrote their commentaries and treatises in Sanskrit. Theravada however never switched to Sanskrit. The language of the Theravada scriptures has always been in Pali. In the centuries after this Council the texts continued to be preserved as much by recital as by manuscript, for making even one handwritten copy of the five Nikáyas, of the Vinaya, and of all the material that had evolved and survived alongside them, the Abhidhamma, the Commentaries, the Chronicles, and so forth, would have been a labour of many years and then the manuscript had to be preserved against the manifold dangers of destruction. But by this time the Dhamma-Vinaya were firmly embedded in the minds of those who learned them as being sacred and unalterable by as much as a single syllable.
HE FIFTH COUNCIL Time: 2415 B.E (November, 1871) Place: Mandalay in Myanmar Duration: Five months The Fifth Council took place in Mandalay, Burma now known as Myanmar in 1871 A.D. in the reign of King Mindon who was one of the most popular and revered kings of Myanmar. He founded the last royal capital of Burma, Mandalay, in 1857. The chief objective of this meeting was to recite the entire teachings of the Buddha and examine them in minute detail to see if any of them had been altered, distorted or discarded. It was presided over by three Elders, the Venerables Mahathera Jagarabhivamsa, Narindabhidhaja, and Mahathera Sumangalasami in the company of some two thousand four hundred bhikkhus. Their joint recitation lasted five months and after its completion and unanimous approval as matching the original recitation of the four previous Councils. The unique feature of this Council was the decision to inscribe in the Myanmar script, the entire Tipitaka on seven hundred and twenty-nine marble slabs. This task, by two thousand four hundred learned bhikkhus and many skilled craftsmen took seven years, six months and fourteen days to complete. Each completed slab was then housed in a beautiful miniature pagoda on a special site in the grounds of King Mindon's Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill, where they still stand.
HE SIXTH COUNCIL 1954); years. Time: 2498 B.E (May, 1954); Duration: Two years. Mahapasana KabaPlace: The Mahapasana Great Cave, Kaba-Aye, Yangon, Myanmar. The Sixth Council was held at Kaba Aye in Yangon, in 1954, eighty-three years after the fifth one was held in Mandalay. It was sponsored by the Burmese Government led by the then Prime Minister, U Nu. He authorised the construction of an artificial cave; the Maha Passana Guha, 'the great cave', similar to the original Sattapanni Cave of the (pic. shows entrance/interior of cave)
First Council. It measured 455 feet long and 370 feet broad. The interior dimensions of the cave are 220 feet x 140 feet. The assembly hall of the cave has the capacity to accommodate around 10,000 people. Upon its completion the Council met on the 17th of May, 1954, with the primary objective of affirming and preserving the genuine Dhamma-Vinaya. Two thousand five hundred learned Theravada bhikkhus from Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam convened for the purpose. The late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw was appointed the noble task of asking the required questions about the Dhamma-Vinaya of the Venerable Bhadanta Vicittasarabhivamsa who answered all of them learnedly and satisfactorily.
The traditional recitation of the Buddhist Scriptures took two years and the Tipitaka and its allied literature in all the scripts were painstakingly examined and their differences noted down and the necessary corrections made and all the versions were then collated. Happily, it was found that there was not much difference in the content of any of the texts. Finally, after the Council had officially approved them, all of the books of the Tipitaka and their Commentaries were prepared for printing on modern presses and published in the Myanmar (Burmese) script. This notable achievement was made possible through the dedicated efforts of the two thousand five hundred bhikkhus and numerous lay people. Their work came to an end in May, 1956, two and a half millennia after the Lord Buddha's Parinibbana. This Council's work was a unique achievement of representatives from the entire Buddhist world. The version of the Tipitaka which it undertook to produce has been recognised as being true to the pristine teachings of the Buddha Gotama and the most authoritative rendering of them to date. The authencity and originality of the Councils have never been in question and has served as the foundation for all streams of breakaway sects of the Buddha’s teachings.
21APPAMADA VAGGA - The Dhammapada Verses 21-32 21. Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already. 22. Clearly understanding this excellence of heedfulness, the wise exult therein and enjoy the resort of the Noble Ones. 23. The wise ones, ever meditative and steadfastly persevering, alone experience Nibbana, the incomparable freedom from bondage. 24. Ever grows the glory of him who is energetic, mindful and pure in conduct, discerning and self-controlled, righteous and heedful. 25. By effort and heedfulness, discipline and self-mastery, let the wise one make for himself an island which no flood can overwhelm. 26. The foolish and ignorant indulge in heedlessness, but the wise one keeps his heedfulness as his best treasure. 27. Do not give way to heedlessness. Do not indulge in sensual pleasures. Only the heedful and meditative attain great happiness. 28. Just as one upon the summit of a mountain beholds the groundlings, even so when the wise man casts away heedlessness by heedfulness and ascends the high tower of wisdom, this sorrowless sage beholds the sorrowing and foolish multitude. 29. Heedful among the heedless, wide-awake among the sleepy, the wise man advances like a swift horse leaving behind a weak jade. 30. By Heedfulness did Indra become the overlord of the gods. Heedfulness is ever praised, and heedlessness ever despised. 31. The monk who delights in heedfulness and looks with fear at heedlessness advances like fire, burning all fetters, small and large. 32. The monk who delights in heedfulness and looks with fear at heedlessness will not fall. He is close to Nibbana.
What is needed most urgently to train and subdue the mind is a quality called heedfulness (appamada). Heedfulness combines critical self awareness and unremitting energy in a process of keeping the mind under constant observation to detect and expel the defiling impulses whenever they seek an opportunity to surface. In a world where man has no saviour but himself, and where the means to his deliverance lies in mental purification, heedfulness becomes the crucial factor for ensuring that the aspirant keeps to the straight path of training without deviating due to the seductive allurements of sense pleasures or the stagnating influences of laziness and complacency. Heedfulness, the Buddha declares, is the path to the Deathless; heedlessness, the path to death. The wise who understand this distinction abide in heedfulness and experience Nibbana, "the incomparable freedom from bondage". THE STORY OF NIGRODHA (condensed from the Mahavamsa). When Bindusara had fallen sick Asoka left the government of Ujjeni conferred on him by his father, and came to Pupphapura, and when he had made himself master of the city, after his father's death, he caused his eldest brother, Sumana to be slained and took on himself the sovereignty in the splendid city. The consort of prince Sumana, who bore the same name (Sumana), being with child, fled straightway by the east gate and went to a candala village, and there the guardian god of a nigrodha-tree called her by her name, built a hut and gave it to her. And as, at that very day, she bore a beautiful boy, she gave to her son the name Nigrodha, enjoying the protection of the guardian god. Then, as the thera Mahavaruna saw that the boy bore the signs of his destiny, the arahant questioned his mother and ordained him, and even in the room where they shaved him, he (Nigrodha) attained to the state of arahant.
Going thence to visit his royal mother, Nigrodha entered the splendid city by the south gate, and following the road that led to that village, he passed (on his way) the king's court. Well pleased was the king by his grave bearing, but kindly feeling arose in him also by reason of a former life lived together. The king summoned him in all haste into his presence; but he came staidly and calmly thither. And the king said to him: 'Sit, my dear, upon a fitting seat.' Since he saw no other bhikkhu there he approached the royal throne. Then, as he stepped toward the throne, the king thought: 'To-day, this samanera will be lord in my house!' Leaning on the king's hand he (the monk) mounted the throne and took his seat on the royal throne under the white canopy. And seeing him seated there king Asoka rejoiced greatly that he (Asoka) had honoured him (Nigrodha) according to his rank. When he had refreshed Nigrodha with hard and soft foods prepared for himself he questioned the samanera concerning the doctrine taught by the Buddha. Then the samanera preached the Appamadavagga. And when the lord of the earth had heard the Venerable Nigrodha, he was won to the doctrine of the Conqueror. VASSA: The annual rain-retreat undertaken by bhikkhus for a three-month period during the rainy season usually from July to October. During this time bhikkhus remain in a single place, generally in their monasteries. Most monks dedicate the Vassa to intensive meditation. Taking benefit from the Sangha’s presence, the laity will also take the opportunity to reaffirm and further develop their spiritual training. Some will even adopt ascetic practices and some take up temporary monkhood for the period of Vassa and return to lay life afterwards. Commonly, the number of years a monk has spent in monastic life is expressed by counting the number of Vassas he has ordained.
The observation of Vassa arose due partly to the practical difficulties of travel in that season, and also to ethical concerns about causing injury to the tiny creatures that become abundant after the rains and in order to avoid damaging crops. Vassa begins on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month. The end of vassa is marked by joyous celebration. The following month, the Kathina ceremony is held, during which the laity gather to make formal offerings of robe cloth and other requisites to the Sangha. KASSAPA: MAHA KASSAPA: Among those of the Buddha's disciples who were closest to him, there were two friends, Sariputta and Maha Moggallana, who were the chief disciples of the Buddha, an exemplary pair of disciples. There were also two brothers, Ananda and Anuruddha, who were likewise eminent "Fathers of the Order." In between these two pairs stands a great solitary figure, Pipphali Kassapa, who later was called Maha Kassapa, Kassapa the Great, to distinguish him from the others of the Kassapa clan, such as Kumara Kassapa and Uruvela Kassapa. After Sariputta and Maha Moggallana had passed away, predeceasing the Buddha, it was Maha Kassapa who was held in greatest respect and reverence in the Order. But even after the Buddha's passing away, Maha Kassapa did not become the elected head of the Order of Monks, as it had been the Buddha's express wish that there should not be a supreme authoritative head of the Sangha. Shortly before his passing away, the Buddha had said: "That which I have proclaimed and made known, Ananda, as the Teaching and the Discipline (Dhamma-Vinaya), that shall be your Master when I am gone" (D.16). Yet the leadership characteristics emanating from Maha Kassapa made him particularly honoured and venerated in the Sangha. There were many factors that contributed to his pre-eminent position after the death of the Master. He had been praised by the Buddha as being equal to him in many respect and he shared with the Master seven of the thirty-two "Marks of a Great Man." He had been the only monk with whom the Buddha had
exchanged robes. Maha Kassapa possesses to the highest degree the ten "qualities that inspire confidence. He was also a model of a disciplined and austere life devoted to meditation. So it is no wonder that he was elected to preside over the First Council of the Sangha which had been summoned on his urgent advice. Like the two chief disciples, Sariputta and Maha Moggallana, Maha Kassapa too descended from the brahman caste, and again like them, he was older than the Buddha. He was born in the Magadha country, in the village of Mahatittha, as the son of the brahman Kapila and his wife Sumanadevi. He was called Pipphali. His father owned sixteen villages over which he ruled like a little king, so Pipphali grew up in the midst of wealth and luxury. Yet already in his young years there was in him the wish to leave the worldly life behind, and hence he did not want to marry. When his parents repeatedly urged him to take a wife, he told them that he would look after them as long as they live, but that after their deaths he wanted to become an ascetic. Yet they insisted again and again that he take a wife, so to comfort his mother he finally agreed to marry; on the condition that a girl could be found who conformed to his idea of perfection. For that purpose he shaped a golden statue of a beautiful woman, had it bedecked with fine garments and ornaments, and showed it to his parents, saying: "If you can find a woman like this for me, I shall remain in the home life." His parents approached eight brahmans, showered them with rich gifts, and asked them to take the image with them and travel around in search of a human likeness of it. The brahmans thought: "Let us first go to the Madda country, which is, as it were, a gold mine of beautiful women." There they found at Sagala a girl whose beauty equaled that of the image. She was Bhadda Kapilani, a wealthy brahman's daughter, aged sixteen, four years younger than Pipphali Kassapa. Her parents agreed to the marriage proposal, and the brahmans returned to tell of their success.
Bhadda Kapilani too did not wish to marry, as it was her singular wish to live a religious life as a female ascetic. Such identity between her aspiration and Pipphali Kassapa's may well point to a kammic bond and affinity between them in the past, maturing in their present life and leading to a decisive meeting between them and a still more decisive separation later on. When Pipphali heard that what he had thought most unlikely had actually occurred, he was unhappy and sent the following letter to the girl: "Bhadda, please marry someone else of equal status and live a happy home life with him. As for myself, I shall become an ascetic. Please do not have regrets." Bhadda Kapilani, like-minded as she was, independently sent him a similar letter. But their parents, suspecting such an exchange would take place, had both letters intercepted on the way and replaced by letters of welcome. So Bhadda was taken to Magadha and the young couple were married. However, in accordance with their ascetic yearning, both agreed to maintain a life of celibacy. To give expression to their resolve, they would lay a garland of flowers between them before they went to bed, determined not to yield to sensual desire. This young wealthy couple lived thus happily and in comfort for many years. As long as Pipphali's parents lived, they did not even have to look after the estate's farms. But when his parents died, they took charge of the large property. One day, however, when Pipphali Kassapa was inspecting the fields, it happened that he saw, as if with new eyes, what he had seen so often before. He observed that when his people plowed, many birds gathered and eagerly picked the worms from the furrows. This sight, so common to a farmer, now startled him. It now struck him forcefully that what brought him his wealth, the produce of his fields, was bound up with the suffering of other living beings. His livelihood was purchased with the death of so many worms and other little creatures living in the soil. Thinking about this, he asked one of his laborers: "Who will have to bear
the consequences of such an action?" — "You yourself, sir," was the answer. Shaken by that insight into kammic retribution, he went home and reflected: "If I have to carry along the burden of guilt for that killing, what use is all that wealth to me? It will be better if I give it all to Bhadda and go forth into the ascetic's life." But at home, at about the same time, his wife had a similar experience. She too saw afresh with a deeper understanding what she had very often seen before. Sesamum seeds had been spread out in the open to dry, and crows and other birds ate the insects that had been attracted by the seeds. When Bhadda asked her servants who it was that had to account morally for the violent death of so many creatures, she was told that the kammic responsibility was hers. Then she thought: "If even by that much I commit a wrong, I won't be able to lift my head above the ocean of rebirths, even in a thousand lives. As soon as Pipphali returns, I shall hand over everything to him and leave to take up the ascetic life." When both found themselves of one accord, they had paleyellow cloth and clay bowls brought for them from the bazaar, and then shaved each other's head. They thus became like ascetic wanderers, and they made the aspiration: "Those who are Arahants in the world, to them we dedicate our going forth!" Slinging their almsbowls over their shoulders, they left the estate's manor, unnoticed by the house servants. But when they reached the next village, which belonged to the estate, the laborers and their families saw them. Crying and lamenting, they fell to the feet of the two ascetics and exclaimed: "Oh, dear and noble ones! Why do you want to make us helpless orphans?" "It is because we have seen the three worlds to be like a house afire, therefore we go forth into the homeless life." To those who were serfs, Pipphali Kassapa granted their freedom, and he and Bhadda continued on their road, leaving the villagers behind still weeping.
When walking on, Kassapa went ahead while Bhadda followed behind him. Considering this, Kassapa thought: "Now, this Bhadda Kapilani follows me close behind, and she is a woman of great beauty. Some people could easily think, 'Though they are ascetics, they still cannot live without each other! It is unseemly what they are doing.' If they spoil their minds by such wrong thoughts or even spread false rumors, they will cause harm to themselves." So he thought it better that they separate. When they reached a crossroads Kassapa said: "Bhadda, you take one of these roads, and I shall go the other way." She said: "It is true, for ascetics a woman is an obstacle. People might think and speak badly about us. So please go your own way, and we shall now part." She then respectfully circumambulated him thrice, saluted him at his feet, and with folded hands she spoke: "Our close companionship and friendship that had lasted for an unfathomable past comes to an end today. Please take the path to the right and I shall take the other road." Thus they parted and went their individual ways, seeking the high goal of Arahantship, final deliverance from suffering. It is said that the earth, shaken by the power of their virtue, quaked and trembled. Each went their different ways and both attained to the stage of arahant in due time.
ARAHANTHOOD: HE FOUR STAGES OF ARAHANTHOOD A person on the road to being an arahant passes through four stages.
The first stage is that of Sot panna literally meaning "one who Sotapanna panna, enters the stream of Nibbana”. A stream-enterer is guaranteed enlightenment after no more than seven successive rebirths, and may even be fewer. The stream-enterer can also be sure that he will not be reborn in any of the unhappy states (an animal, a peta, or in hell). He can only be reborn as an intelligent human being, or in a heaven plane.
The stream-enterer has complete faith in the Buddha, eradicated the concept of “self” and is not concerned with rites and rituals concepts. Sakadagami OnceSakadagami: A Once-Returner The second stage is that of the Sakadagami literally meaning "one who return once” or a once returner. The once-returner will return to the human world only one more time, and will attain nibbana in that life. Anag mi NonAn gami or a Non-returner The third stage is that of the Anagami, literally meaning "one who does not come again” or a non-returner. The non-returner does not come back into human existence, or any lower world, after death. Instead, he is reborn in one of the Suddhavasa worlds, or "Pure Abodes", where he will attain Nibbana; some of them are reborn a second time in a higher world of the Pure Abodes, but in no case are born into a lower state. An Anagami has abandoned the five lower fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth. An Anagami is thus partially enlightened, and on the way to perfect and complete Enlightenment. An Arahant The fourth stage is that of Arahant, a fully enlightened human being who has abandoned all fetters, and who upon decease, he enters Nibbana and will not be reborn in any world, having wholly eradicated all defilement.
RULES: HE VINAYA RULES The first division of the Tipitaka, is the textual framework upon which the monastic community (Sangha) is built. It includes not only the rules governing the life of every Theravada bhikkhu (monk) and bhikkhuni (nun), but also a host of procedures and conventions of etiquette that support harmonious relations, both among the monastics themselves, and between the monastics and their lay supporters, upon whom they depend for all their material needs.
When the Buddha first established the Sangha, the community initially lived in harmony without any rules of conduct. As the Sangha gradually grew in number and evolved into a more complex society, occasions inevitably arose when a member would act in an unskillful way. Whenever one of these cases was brought to the Buddha's attention, he would lay down a rule establishing a suitable punishment for the offence, as a deterrent to future misconduct. Parajika The four parajikas are rules entailing expulsion from the sangha for life. If a monk breaks any one of the rules he is automatically 'defeated' in the holy life and falls from monkhood immediately. He is not allowed to become a monk again in his lifetime. Intention is necessary in all these four cases to constitute an offence. The four parajikas for bhikkus are: (1) Sexual intercourse (2) Stealing (3) Intentionally bringing about the death of a human being, even if it is still an embryo (4) Deliberately lying to another person that one has attained a superior human state, such as claiming to be an arahant when one knows one is not, or claiming to have attained one of the jhanas when one knows one hasn't. Sanghadisesa The thirteen sanghadisesas are rules requiring an initial and subsequent meeting of the sangha (communal meetings). If the monk breaks any rule here he has to undergo a period of probation or discipline after which, if he shows himself to be repentant, he may be reinstated by a sangha of not less than twenty monks. Like the parajikas, the sanghadisesas can only come about through the monk's own intention and cannot be accidentally invoked. Aniyata The aniyata are two indefinite rules where a monk is accused of having committed an offence with a woman in a screened (enclosed) or private place by a lay person. It is indefinite because the final outcome depends on whether the monk acknowledges
the offence. Benefit of the doubt is given to the monk unless there is over-riding evidence. Thus it is not proper for a monk to be alone with a woman, especially in screened or private places. Pacittiya Nissaggiya Pacittiya The nissaggiya pacittiya are thirty rules entailing "confession with forfeiture." They are mostly concerned with the possessing of items which are disallowed or obtained in disallowable ways. The monk has to forfeit the item and then confess his offence to another monk. Patidesaniya Patidesaniya are acknowledged.
ELINQUISHING THE WILL TO LIVE The Blessed One's Prompting Then the Blessed One, getting ready in the forenoon, took bowl and robe and went into Vesali for alms. After the alms round and meal, on his return, he spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "Take up a mat, Ananda, and let us spend the day at the Capala shrine." "So be it, Lord." And the Venerable Ananda took up a mat and followed behind the Blessed One, step by step. And the Blessed One went to the Capala shrine and sat down on the seat prepared for him. And when the Venerable Ananda had seated himself at one side after he had respectfully saluted the Blessed One, the Lord said to him: "Pleasant, Ananda, is Vesali; pleasant are the shrines of Udena, Gotamaka, Sattambaka, Bahuputta, Sarandada, and Capala." And the Blessed One said: "Whosoever, Ananda, has developed, practised, employed, strengthened, maintained, scrutinised, and brought to perfection the four constituents of psychic power could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it. The Tathagata, Ananda, has done so. Therefore the Tathagata could, if He so desired, remain throughout a worldperiod or until the end of it."
But the Venerable Ananda was unable to grasp the plain suggestion, the significant prompting, given by the Blessed One. As though his mind was influenced by Mara, he did not beseech the Blessed One: "May the Blessed One remain, O Lord! May the Happy One remain, O Lord, throughout the world-period, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men!" And when for a second and a third time the Blessed One repeated his words, the Venerable Ananda remained silent. The Blessed One Relinquishes His Will to Live And at the Capala shrine the Blessed One thus mindfully and clearly comprehending renounced His will to live on. And upon the Lord's renouncing His will to live on, there came a tremendous earthquake, dreadful and astonishing, and thunder rolled across the heavens. Then it came to the mind of the Venerable Ananda: "Marvellous it is indeed, and most wonderful! The earth shakes mightily, tremendously! Dreadful and astonishing it is, how the thunders roll across the heavens! What could be the reason, what the cause, that so mighty an earthquake should arise?" He seeks the Blessed One’s words. Mara's Former Temptation "There was a time, Ananda, when I dwelt at Uruvela, on the bank of the Neranjara River, at the foot of the goatherds' banyan-tree, soon after my supreme Enlightenment. And Mara, the Evil One, approached me, saying: 'Now, O Lord, let the Blessed One come to his final passing away! Let the Happy One utterly pass away! The time has come for the Parinibbana of the Lord.' "Then, Ananda, I answered Mara, the Evil One, saying: 'I shall not come to my final passing away, Evil One, until my bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen, have come to be true disciples; wise, well disciplined, apt and learned, preservers of the Dhamma, living according to the Dhamma, abiding by appropriate conduct and, having learned the Master's word, are able to expound it, preach it, proclaim it, establish it, reveal it,
explain it in detail, and make it clear; until, when adverse opinions arise, they shall be able to refute them thoroughly and well, and to preach this convincing and liberating Dhamma. "'I shall not come to my final passing away, Evil One, until this holy life taught by me has become successful, prosperous, farrenowned, popular, and widespread, until it is well proclaimed among gods and men.' "And again today, Ananda, at the Capala shrine, Mara, the Evil One, approached me, saying: 'Now, O Lord, bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen, have come to be true disciples of the Blessed One; wise, well disciplined, apt and learned, preservers of the Dhamma, living according to the Dhamma, abiding in the appropriate conduct, and having learned the Master's word, are able to expound it, preach it, proclaim it, establish it, reveal it, explain it in detail, and make it clear; and when adverse opinions arise, they are now able to refute them thoroughly and well, and to preach this convincing and liberating Dhamma. "'And now, O Lord, this holy life taught by the Blessed One has become successful, prosperous, far-renowned, popular and widespread, and it is well proclaimed among gods and men. Therefore, O Lord, let the Blessed One come to His final passing away! Let the Happy One utterly pass away! The time has come for the Parinibbana of the Lord.' "And then, Ananda, I answered Mara, the Evil One, saying: 'Do not trouble yourself, Evil One. Before long the Parinibbana of the Tathagata will come about. Three months hence the Tathagata will utterly pass away.' "And in this way, Ananda, today at the Capala shrine the Tathagata has renounced His will to live on."
Ananda's Appeal At these words, the Venerable Ananda spoke to the Blessed One: "May the Blessed One remain, O Lord! May the Happy One remain, O Lord, throughout the world-period, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men!" And the Blessed One answered, saying: "Enough, Ananda. Do not entreat the Tathagata, for the time is past for such an entreaty." But for a second and a third time, the Venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: "May the Blessed One remain, O Lord! May the Happy One remain, O Lord, throughout the world-period, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men!" Then the Blessed One said: "Do you have faith, Ananda, in the Enlightenment of the Tathagata?" And the Venerable Ananda replied: "Yes, O Lord, I do." "Then how, Ananda, can you persist against the Tathagata even up to the third time?" Then the Venerable Ananda said: "This, O Lord, I have heard and learned from the Blessed One Himself when the Blessed One said to me: 'Whosoever, Ananda, has developed, practised, employed, strengthened, maintained, scrutinised, and brought to perfection the four constituents of psychic power could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it. The Tathagata, Ananda, has done so. Therefore the Tathagata could, if He so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it.'" "And did you believe it, Ananda?" "Yes, O Lord, I did." "Then, Ananda, the fault is yours. Herein have you failed, inasmuch as you were unable to grasp the plain suggestion, the significant prompting given by the Tathagata, and you did not then entreat the Tathagata to remain. For if you had done so, Ananda, twice the Tathagata might have declined, but the third
time He would have consented. Therefore, Ananda, the fault is yours; herein have you failed. "At Rajagaha, Ananda, when dwelling at Vultures' Peak, I spoke to you, saying: 'Pleasant, Ananda, is Rajagaha; pleasant is Vultures' Peak. Whosoever, Ananda, has developed... Therefore the Tathagata could, if He so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it.' "So also at the Banyan Grove, at Robbers' Cliff, at the Sattapanni Cave on the Vebhara Mountain, at the Black Rock of Isigili, at the Serpents' Pool in the Cool Forest, at the Tapoda Grove, at the Bamboo Grove in the Squirrels' Feeding-ground, at Jivaka's Mango Grove, and at Small Nook in the Deer Park I spoke to you in the same words, saying: 'Pleasant, Ananda, is Rajagaha, pleasant are these places. Whosoever, Ananda, has developed... Therefore the Tathagata could, if He so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it.' "So also at Vesali, Ananda, at different times the Tathagata has spoken to you, saying: 'Pleasant, Ananda, is Vesali; pleasant are the shrines of Udena, Gotamaka, Sattambaka, Bahuputta, Sarandada, and Capala. Whosoever, Ananda, has developed... Therefore the Tathagata could, if He so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it.' "Yet, Ananda, have I not taught from the very beginning that with all that is dear and beloved there must be change, separation, and severance? Of that which is born, come into being, is compounded and subject to decay, how can one say: 'May it not come to dissolution!' There can be no such state of things. And of that, Ananda, which the Tathagata has finished with, that which He has relinquished, given up, abandoned, and rejected; His will to live on; the Tathagata's word has been spoken once for all: 'Before long the Parinibbana of the Tathagata will come about. Three months hence the Tathagata will utterly pass away.' And that the Tathagata should withdraw His words for the sake of living on; this is an impossibility.
The Final Admonition "So, then, Ananda, let us go to the hall of the Gabled House, in the Great Forest." And the Venerable Ananda replied: "So be it, Lord." And there He spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "Go now, Ananda, and assemble in the hall of audience all the bhikkhus who dwell in the neighborhood of Vesali." "So be it, Lord." And the Venerable Ananda gathered all the bhikkhus who dwelt in the neighborhood of Vesali, and assembled them in the hall of audience. And then, respectfully saluting the Blessed One, and standing at one side, he said: "The community of bhikkhus is assembled, Lord. Now let the Blessed One do as he wishes." Thereupon the Blessed One entered the hall of audience, and taking the seat prepared for Him, He exhorted the bhikkhus, saying: "Now, O bhikkhus, I say to you that these teachings of which I have direct knowledge and which I have made known to you; these you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice, that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men. "And what, bhikkhus, are these teachings? They are the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right efforts, the four constituents of psychic power, the five faculties, the five powers, the seven factors of enlightenment, and the Noble Eightfold Path. These, bhikkhus, are the teachings of which I have direct knowledge, which I have made known to you, and which you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice, that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men."
Then the Blessed One said to the bhikkhus: "So, bhikkhus, I exhort you: compounded All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness. The time of the Tathagata's Parinibbana is near. Three months hence the Tathagata will utterly pass away." And having spoken these words, the Happy One, the Master, spoke again, saying: years My years are now full ripe, the life span left is short. Departing, I go hence from you, relying on myself alone. Be earnest, then, O bhikkhus, be mindful and of virtue pure! With firm resolve, guard your own mind! Discipline Whoso untiringly pursues the Dhamma and the Discipline Shall go beyond the round of births and make an end of suffering. AHA PAJAPATI GOTAMI Pajapati Gotami was the younger sister of Queen Maha Maya and the second consort of King Suddhodana. She was called Maha (great) Pajapati as sages had predicted that she would be the leader of a large following. When her beloved sister passed away seven days after giving birth to Prince Siddhattha, she brought up her sister's baby as her own. Delegating the care of her own son, Nanda, to nurses, Maha Pajapati nursed the new-born child. When the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu and dispensed the Dhammapala Jataka to King Suddhodana, Maha Pajapati attained the first stage of sainthood, Sotapanna. After King Suddhodana passed away, Maha Pajapati decided that she too would enter the Noble Order and lead the holy life under the Buddha. Her son, Nanda, and grandson, little Rahula, had entered the Order under the great sage.
The Buddha was visiting Kapilavatthu to settle a dispute that had arisen between the Sakyans and the Koliyas regarding the waters of the Rohini River when Maha Pajapati first approached Him with the request to permit women to enter the Noble Order. Without stating the reason the Buddha refused, saying, "O Gotami, let it not please you that women should be allowed to do so". Maha Pajapati, however, did not give up. A second and a third time she requested ordination for women. In each instance the Buddha gave the same reply. The Buddha then proceeded to Vesali to reside at the Mahavana in the Kutagara Hall. The determined Maha Pajapati was not discouraged. Cutting off her hair, she donned the yellow robes of a monk, and with a large retinue of 500 Sakyan royal ladies, walked the 150 miles to Vesali. Having entreated the Buddha and again been refused ordination, the ladies all covered in dust, their feet swollen and bleeding, they stood outside the hall, weeping. When Ananda, the Buddha’s personal attendant, saw Maha Pajapati and her group of ladies and heard the cause of their grief, he decided to approach the Buddha on their behalf. The compassionate Ananda pleaded on behalf of the ladies. When the Buddha refused, Ananda asked Him if He felt that women were incapable of reaching spiritual heights and Arahanthship. The Buddha replied that women were as capable as men of attaining spiritual development. He then looked back into Maha Pajapati’s past lives. Seeing that Maha Pajapati had made an aspiration many aeons ago to initiate the order of the nuns, the fulfilment of which was to occur during His dispensation, the Buddha relented, granted Ananda’s request, and formed the order of the nuns.
The Buddha did not give the reason for His initial refusal to Maha Pajapati. initial refusal was to strengthen the determination and resolve of the noble ladies and to prepare them better for the hardships they would have to face. In India at the time of the Buddha, women were thought to be inferior to men. They did not have much freedom and were often not treated with respect. Women from noble families were carefully secluded and shielded from abuse. The men ensured the safety of the women. The Buddha's disciples often meditated in forests and walked alone from city to city on lonely roads, preaching the Dhamma. The Buddha dispensed eight extra disciplinary (Vinaya) rules for the nuns, mostly regarding the manner in which they would have to respect and honour the monks who through necessity, would have to protect them. He also prophesied that ordination of nuns would result in the shortening of the time span in which His teachings would remain on Earth. AUSES OF POLLUTION TO THE TRUE DHAMMA Introduction The region separating China from Europe and Western Asia is not the most hospitable in the world. Much of it is taken up by the Taklimakan desert, one of the most hostile environments on our planet. There is very little vegetation, and almost no rainfall; sandstorms are very common, and have claimed the lives of countless people. The land surrounding the Taklimakan is equally hostile. the The Early History of the Region On the eastern and western sides of the continent, the civilisations of China and the West developed. The western end of the trade route appears to have developed earlier than the eastern end, principally because of the development of the empires in the west, and the easier terrain of Persia and Syria. The Iranian empire of Persia was in control of a large area of the Middle East, extending as far as the Indian Kingdoms to the east.
Trade between these two neighbours was already starting to influence the cultures of these regions. This region was taken over by Alexander the Great of Macedon, who finally conquered the Iranian empire, and colonised the area in about 330 B.C., superimposing the culture of the Greeks. Although he only ruled the area until 325 B.C., the effect of the Greek invasion was quite considerable. The Greek language was brought to the area, and Greek mythology was introduced. The aesthetics of Greek sculpture were merged with the ideas developed from the Indian kingdoms, and a separate local school of art emerged. Close on the heels of the Parthians came the Yuezhi people from the Northern borders of the Taklimakan. They had been driven from their traditional homeland by the Xiongnu tribe (who later became the Huns and transferred their attentions towards Europe), and settled in Northern India. Their descendents became the Kushan people, and in the first century A.D. they moved into this crossroads area, bringing their adopted Buddhist religion with them. Like the other tribes before them, they adopted much of the Greek system that existed in the region. The product of this marriage of cultures was the Gandhara culture, based in what is now the Peshawar region of northwest Pakistan. This fused Greek and Buddhist art into a unique form, many of the sculptures of Buddhist deities bearing strong resemblances to the Greek mythological figure Heracles. The Kushan people were the first to show Buddha in human form, as before this time artists had preferred symbols such as the footprint, stupa or tree of enlightenment, either out of a sense of sacrilege or simply to avoid persecution. Secondly, the Silk Road was not a trade route that existed solely for the purpose of trading in silk; many other commodities were also traded, from gold and ivory to exotic animals and plants. Of all the precious goods crossing this area, silk was perhaps the most remarkable for the people of the West.
In addition to silk, the route carried many other precious commodities. Caravans heading towards China carried gold and other precious metals, ivory, precious stones, and glass, which was not manufactured in China until the fifth century. In the opposite direction furs, ceramics, jade, bronze objects, lacquer and iron were carried. Many of these goods were bartered for others along the way, and objects often changed hands several times. There are no records of Roman traders being seen in Changan, nor Chinese merchants in Rome, though their goods were appreciated in both places. This would obviously have been in the interests of the Parthians and other middlemen, who took as large a profit from the change of hands as they could. The Han dynasty set up the local government at Wulei, not far from Kuqa on the northern border of the Taklimakan, in order to `protect' the states in this area, which numbered about 50 at the time. At about the same period the city of Gaochang was constructed in the Turfan basin. This developed into the centre of the Huihe kingdom; these peoples later became the Uygur minority who now make up a large proportion of the local population. Many settlements were set up along the way, mostly in the oasis areas, and profited from the passing trade. They also absorbed a lot of the local culture, and the cultures that passed them by along the route. Very few merchants traversed the full length of the road; most simply covered part of the journey, selling their wares a little further from home, and then returning with the proceeds. Goods therefore tended to moved slowly across Asia, changing hands many times. Local people no doubt acted as guides for the caravans over the most dangerous sections of the journey. After the Western Han dynasty, successive dynasties brought more states under Chinese control. Settlements came and went, as they changed hands or lost importance due to a change in the routes. The most significant commodity carried along this route was not silk, but religion. Buddhism came to China from India this way, along the northern branch of the route.
The first influences came as the passes over the Karakorum were first explored. The Eastern Han emperor Mingdi is thought to have sent a representative to India to discover more about this strange faith, and further missions returned bearing scriptures, and bringing with them India priests. With this came influences from the Indian sub-continent, including Buddhist art work, examples of which have been found in several early second century tombs in present-day Sichuan province. This was considerably influenced by the Himalayan Massif, an effective barrier between China and India, and hence the Buddhism in China is effectively derived from the Gandhara culture by the bend in the Indus river, rather than directly from India. Buddhism reached the pastures of Tibet at a rather later period, not developing fully until the seventh century. Along the way it developed under many different influences, before reaching central China. This is displayed very clearly in the artwork, where many of the cave paintings show people with clearly different ethnic backgrounds, rather than the expected Cental and East Asian peoples. The greatest flux of Buddhism into China occurred during the Northern Wei dynasty, in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. This was at a time when China was divided into several different kingdoms, and the Northern Wei dynasty had its capital in Datong in present day Shanxi province. The rulers encouraged the development of Buddhism, and more missions were sent towards India. The new religion spread slowly eastwards, through the oases surrounding the Taklimakan, encouraged by an increasing number of merchants, missionaries and pilgrims. Many of the local peoples, the Huihe included, adopted Buddhism as their own religion.
Faxian, a pilgrim from China, records the religious life in the Kingdoms of Khotan and Kashgar in 399 A.D. in great detail. He describes the large number of monasteries that had been built, and a large Buddhist festival that was held while he was there. Some devotees were sufficiently inspired by the new ideas that they headed off in search of the source, towards Gandhara and India; others started to build monasteries, grottos and stupas. The development of the grotto is particularly interesting; the edges of the Taklimakan hide some of the best examples in the world. The hills surrounding the desert are mostly of sandstone, with any streams or rivers carving cliffs that can be relatively easily dug into; there was also no shortage of funds for the work, particularly from wealthy merchants, anxious to invoke protection or give thanks for a safe desert crossing. Gifts and donations of this kind were seen as an act of merit, which might enable the donor to escape rebirth into this world. In many of the murals, the donors themselves are depicted, often in pious attitude. This explains why the Mogao grottos contain some of the best examples of Buddhist artwork; Dunhuang is the starting point for the most difficult section of the Taklimakan crossing. The grottos were mostly started at about the same period, and coincided with the beginning of the Northern Wei Dynasty. There are a large cluster in the Kuqa region, the best examples being the Kyzil grottos; similarly there are clusters close to Gaochang, the largest being the Bezeklik grottos. Probably the best known ones are the Mogao grottos at Dunhuang, at the eastern end of the Taklimakan. It is here that the greatest number, and some of the best examples, are to be found. More is known about the origins of these, too, as large quantities of ancient documents have been found. These are on a wide range of subjects, and include a large number of Buddhist scriptures in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Uygur and other languages, some still unknown. There are documents from the other faiths that developed in the area, and also some official documents and letters that reveal a lot about the system of government at the time.
The grotto building was not confined to the Taklimakan; there is a large cluster at Bamiyan in the Hindu Kush, in present-day Afghanistan. It is here that the second largest sculpture of Buddha in the world can be found, at 55 metres high. For the archaeologist these grottos are particularly valuable sources of information about the Silk Road. Along with the images of Buddhas and Boddhisatvas, there are scenes of the everyday life of the people at the time. Scenes of celebration and dancing give an insight into local customs and costume. The influences of the Silk Road traffic are therefore quite clear in the mix of cultures that appears on these murals at different dates. In particular, the development of Buddhism from the Indian/Gandharan style to a more individual faith is evident on studying the murals from different eras in any of the grotto clusters. Those from the Gandharan school have more classical features, with wavy hair and a sharper brow; they tend to be dressed in toga-like robes rather than a loin cloth. Those of the Northern Wei have a more Indian appearance, with narrower faces, stretched ear-lobes, and a more serene aura. By the Tang dynasty, when Buddhism was well developed in China, many of the statues and murals show much plumper, more rounded and amiable looking figures. By the Tang dynasty, the Apsara (flying deity, similar to an angel in Christianity) was a popular subject for the artists. It is also interesting to trace the changes in styles along the length of the route, from Kuqa in the west, via the Turfan area and Dunhuang, to the Maijishan grottos about 350 kilometres from Xian, and then as far into China as Datong. The Northern Wei dynasty, that is perhaps the most responsible for the spread of Buddhism in China, started the construction of the Yungang grottos in northern Shanxi province. When the capital of the Northern Wei was transferred to Luoyang, the artists and masons started again from scratch, building the Longmen grottos. These two more ‘Chinese' grottos emphasised carving and statuary rather than the delicate murals of the
Taklimakan regions, and the figures are quite impressive in their size; the largest figure at Yungang measures more than 17 metres in height, second only in China to the great Leshan Buddha in Sichuan, which was constructed in the early 8th Century. The figures are mostly depicted in the ‘reassurance' pose, with right hand raised, as an apology to the adherents of the Buddhist faith for the period of persecution that had occurred during the early Northern Wei Dynasty before construction was started. The Buddhist faith gave birth to a number of different sects in Central Asia. Of these, the ‘Pure Land' and ‘Chan' (Zen) sects were particularly strong, and were even taken beyond China; they are both still flourishing in Japan. The height of the importance of the Silk Road was during the Tang dynasty, with relative internal stability in China after the divisions of the earlier dynasties since the Han. The individual states has mostly been assimilated, and the threats from marauding peoples was rather less. During this period, in the seventh century, the Chinese traveller Xuan Zhuang crossed the region on his way to obtain Buddhist scriptures from India. He followed the northern branch round the Taklimakan on his outward journey, and the southern route on his return; he carefully recorded the cultures and styles of Buddhism along the way. On his return to the Tang capital at Changan, he was permitted to build the ‘Great Goose Pagoda' in the southern half of the city, to house the more than 600 scriptures that he had brought back from India. He is still seen by the Chinese as an important influence in the development of Buddhism in China, and his travels were dramatised in the popular classic ‘Tales of a Journey to the West'. (Source: Wikipedia) Thus, the investigator into the Buddha’s trail can appreciate the influences that Buddhism had on the different cultures in Asia and now worldwide. It was a case of assimilation and being assimilated by and into many various cultures, till Buddhism is almost unrecognised from the early period of the Theras.
HE TIPITAKA - Original Words Three months after the demise of the Lord Buddha in 544 B.C., an initial Council was convened to confirm and preserve the authenticity of His teachings. The members forming this initial First Council were all arahants who collectively confirm the authenticity of the Lord Buddha’s teachings. Five other Councils followed in the course of the next two thousand years. These teachings were enshrined in a collection known as the Tipitaka. Tipitaka [In the Pali language, “ti” means three and “pitaka” means
basket; 'tipitaka', literally means; the three baskets or collections].
The Tipitaka is divided into three parts. 1. Vinaya The first part is known as the Vinaya Pitaka and comprises rules which the Lord Buddha laid down for monks and nuns. 2. The second part is the Sutta Pitaka, comprising the Discourses. 3. The third part is known as the Abhidhamma Pitaka and psychocomprises the psycho-ethical teachings of the Buddha. The First, Second and Third Great Councils were convened by learned and knowledgeable monks in India between 544 B.C. and 308 B.C., and the Tipitaka texts were authenticated, confirmed and accepted as the true teachings of the Buddha. All the texts were chanted orally to confirm their pristine originality. The Tipitaka was again repeated; its authenticity re-confirmed and written down on palm-leaves during the Fourth Great Council which was convened in Sri Lanka in 94 B.C. At the Fifth Great Council which was convened in Mandalay in 1871, the Tipitaka texts were inscribed on 729 stone slabs and housed in a pagoda there. In 1954 which marked the 2500 years of the Buddha Sasana, the Sixth Great Council was convened inside the Mahapasana Cave, Kaba Aye Hillock, Yangon. Bhikkhus from five Theravada Buddhist countries; Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, took two years to recite and verify the Tipitaka texts. The purified texts were later printed into book form.
The Tipitaka texts also known as the Pali Canon was written down 2,000 years ago, and before that it had been transmitted strictly by a firm and consistent oral tradition. Qualified monks would wake up in the early morning and assemble in a hall to recite the discourses. They would form small groups and recite in concert to ensure that the discourses were correctly memorised. If there were any ambiguities or doubts, the Elders would be consulted for clarification and affirmation. Groups of monks would recite to other groups of monks in the same way, and this was a requirement for every monk in the Sangha. After the Pali Canon was finally written down, it was further reaffirmed and re-examined in the Councils led by Great Arahants and learned monks, thus ensuring its unquestioned authenticity. The teachings of the Buddha were handed down from teacher to pupil, by word of mouth and later published in books at subsequent Councils. Doubts about the reliability of oral traditions will always arise, in the belief that in such traditions; additions, omissions and distortions are unavoidable. However, under the conditions mentioned such errors are rare, as those who had learnt the teachings by heart and kept them in their memory were not just a few, but thousands upon thousands and they were dedicated in their earnestness to upkeep the purity and authenticity of the texts in their care. Even if changes in the texts were to be made, these would have had to have the approval of all the other participating monks who too were so dedicated and conversant with the texts. Thus under such mindful and earnestness, errors if at all were kept to a minimum. Furthermore, those who hold the teachings in memory had too great a respect for the Buddha and his teachings to make addition and so on. [Ref: The late Venerable U Silananda, who held a prominent position in the Sixth Buddhist Council as the chief compiler of the comprehensive Pali-Burmese Dictionary and as one of the final editors of the Pali Texts, the Commentaries, Subcommentaries and other works.]
It is known, that whenever the Buddha gave a discourse to His ordained disciples or lay-followers or prescribed a monastic rule in the course of His forty-five year ministry He would punctuate important points with repetitive phrases for reason of memorising them, and those of His devoted and learned monks, then present would immediately commit His teachings word for word to memory. Thus the Buddha's words were preserved accurately and were in due course passed orally from teacher to pupil. Some of the monks who had heard the Buddha were Arahants, and so by definition, 'pure ones' free from passion, ill-will and delusion and therefore, was without doubt capable of retaining, perfectly the Buddha's words. Thus they ensured that the Buddha's teachings would be preserved faithfully for posterity. Even those devoted monks who had not yet attained Arahant status but had reached the first three stages of sainthood and had powerful, retentive memories could also call to mind word for word what the Buddha had preached and so could be worthy custodians of the Buddha's teachings. One such monk was Ananda, the attendant and constant companion during the last twenty-five years of the Buddha’s life. Ananda was intelligent and gifted with total recall whatever he had heard, and it was his express wish that the Buddha relate those discourses to him when he, Ananda was not present at the time of the discourse and he too committed to memory word for word all the Buddha's discourses. The combined efforts of these arahants, gifted and devoted monks made it possible for the Dhamma and Vinaya, as taught by the Buddha to be preserved in its original state till the present time. The Pali Tipitaka and its allied literature exist as a result of the Buddha's discovery of the noble and liberating path of the Dhamma. This path leads all those who follow it to a peaceful and pure existence now and in future existences. Indeed, in this day and age we are fortunate to have the authentic teachings of the Buddha preserved for future generations through the conscientious and concerted efforts of His ordained disciples down through the ages.
The Buddha had said to His disciples that when He was no longer amongst them, it was essential that the community of monks, the Sangha, should come together for the purpose of collectively reciting the Dhamma, precisely as He had taught it. The teachings contained in the Tipitaka are also known as the Doctrine of the Elders [Theravada]. These discourses number several hundred and have always been recited word for word ever since the First Council was convened. Subsequently, more Councils have been called for a number of reasons but at every one of them the entire body of the Buddha's teaching has always been recited by the Sangha participants, in concert and word for word. These collective recitations which were performed by the monks at all these Dhamma Councils are known as the 'Dhamma Sangitis,' the Dhamma Recitations. They are so designated because of the precedent set at the First Council, when all the Teachings were recited first by an Elder of the Sangha and then recited once again in chorus by all of the monks attending the assembly. The texts were judged to have been authentic, when and only when, it had been approved unanimously by the members of the Council. Ti(Vinaya Pitaka) Constituent of Ti-Pitaka (Vinaya Pitaka) The Vinaya Pitaka deals mainly with the rules and regulations of the Order of Bhikkhus (monks) and Bhikkhunis (nuns). For nearly twenty years after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, no definite rules were laid down for control and discipline of the Sangha (Order or Community of monks). Subsequently as occasion arose, the Buddha promulgated rules for the future discipline of the Sangha. When the Buddha first established the Sangha, the initially lived in harmony without any codified rules As the Sangha gradually grew in number and evolved complex society, occasions inevitably arose when would act in an unskillful way. community of conduct. into a more a member
Whenever one of these cases was brought to the Buddha's attention, He would lay down a rule establishing a suitable remedy for the offence, as a deterrent to future misconduct. The Buddha's standard reprimand was itself a powerful corrective: “It is not fit, foolish man, it is not becoming, it is not proper, it is unworthy of a recluse, it is not lawful, it ought not to be done. How could you, foolish man, having gone forth under well[commit this Dhamma and Discipline which are well-taught, [commit such and such offense]? It is not, foolish man, for the benefit of un-believers, nor for the increase in the number of unbelievers, but, foolish man, it is to the detriment of both unbelievers unbelievers and believers, and it causes wavering in some”.
(The Book of the Discipline, Part I, by I.B. Horner (London: Pali Text Society, 1982), pp. 36-37).
The monastic tradition and the rules upon which it is built are sometimes naively criticised as irrelevant to the "modern" practice of Buddhism. Some see the Vinaya as a throwback to an archaic patriarchy, based on a hodge-podge of ancient rules and customs; quaint cultural relics that only obscure the essence of "true" monastic practice. This misguided view overlooks one crucial fact; it is thanks to the unbroken lineage of monastics who have consistently upheld and protected the rules of the Vinaya for almost 2,600 years that we find ourselves today with the luxury of receiving the priceless teachings of the Dhamma. Were it not for the Vinaya, and for those who continue to keep it alive to this day, there would be no Buddha’s Dhamma. It helps to keep in mind that the name the Buddha gave to the spiritual path he taught was "Dhamma-Vinaya"; the Doctrine (Dhamma) and the Discipline (Vinaya), suggesting an integrated body of wisdom and ethical training. The Vinaya is thus an indispensable facet and foundation of all the Buddha's teachings, inseparable from the Dhamma, and worthy of study by all followers, lay and ordained, alike.
Lay practitioners will find in the Vinaya Pitaka many valuable lessons concerning human nature, guidance on how to establish and maintain a harmonious community or organisation, and many profound teachings of the Dhamma itself. But its greatest value, perhaps, lies in its power to inspire the layperson to consider the extraordinary possibilities presented by a life of true renunciation, a life lived fully in tune with the Dhamma (John T.
Bullitt. Access to Insight)
Reasons for the promulgated of rules, their various implications and specific ceremonies of the Sangha are fully described in the Vinaya Pitaka. The history of the gradual development of the present Sasana from its very inception, a brief account of the life and ministry of the Buddha and details of three Great Councils are some other relevant contents of the Vinaya Pitaka. Indirectly it reveals useful information about ancient history, Indian customs, ancient arts and sciences. One who reads the Vinaya Pitaka cannot but be impressed by the democratic constitution of the Sangha, their holding of possessions in common, the exceptionally high moral standard of the bhikkhus, and the unsurpassed administrative abilities of the Buddha. The Vinaya Pitaka consists of the following five books: 1. Parajika Pali (Major Offences) 2. Pacittiya Pali (Minor Offences) 3. Mahavagga Pali (Greater Section) 4. Cullavagga Pali (Lesser Section) 5. Parivara Pali (Epitome of the Vinaya) Sutta Pitaka The Sutta (Suttanta) Pitaka consists chiefly of instructive discourses delivered by the Buddha to both the Sangha and the laity on various occasions. A few discourses, expounded by disciples such as the Venerable Sariputta, Moggallana, and Ananda, are incorporated and are accorded as much veneration as the Word of the Buddha Himself, since they were approved by Him.
Most of the sermons were intended mainly for the benefit of bhikkhus, and they deal with the Holy Life and the exposition of the Doctrine. There are several other discourses which deal with both the material and the moral progress of His lay-followers. The Sigalovada Sutta, for instance, deals mainly with the duties of a layman. There are also a few interesting talks given to children. The Sutta Pitaka may be compared to a book of prescriptions, since the discourses were expounded on diverse occasions to suit the temperaments of various persons. There may be seemingly contradictory statements, but they should not be misconstrued as they were uttered by the Buddha to suit a particular purpose; for instance, to the self same question He would maintain silence, when the inquirer was merely foolishly inquisitive, or give a detailed reply when He knew the inquirer to be an earnest seeker after the Truth. The Sutta Pitaka consists of the following five Nikayas (Collections): 1. Digha Nikaya (Collection of Long Discourses) This Collection in the Sutta Pitaka, named Digha (Long) Nikaya as it is made up of thirty-four (34) long discourses of the Buddha, is divided into three divisions: (a) Silakkhandha Vagga, Division Concerning Morality (b) Maha Vagga, the Large Division (c) Pathika Vagga, the Division beginning with the discourse on Pathika, the Naked Ascetic. Middle2. Majjhima Nikaya (Collection of Middle-length Discourses) This collection of medium length discourses is made up of one hundred and fifty two (152) suttas in three books known as pannasa. The first book, Mulapannasa, deals with the first fifty suttas in five vaggas. The second book, Majjhimapannasa consists of the second fifty suttas in five vaggas too; and The third book, Uparipannasa, deals with the last fifty two suttas in five vaggas.
The suttas in this Nikaya throw much light on the social ideas and institutions of those days, and also provide general information on the economic and political life. 3. Samyutta Nikaya (Collection of Kindred Sayings) This Collection of Discourses in the Sutta Pitaka known as Samyutta Nikaya has 7762 suttas of varied length, generally short, arranged in a special order according to subject matter into five major divisions: (a) Sagatha Vagga, (b) Nidana Vagga, (c) Khandha Vagga, (d) Salayatana Vagga and (e) Maha Vagga. Each major vagga is divided into fifty six groups known as samyuttas; related subjects grouped together. The samyuttas are named after the subjects they deal with, for example, Bojjhanga Samyutta on the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, or after some principal personalities such as the Venerable Sariputta, King Pasenadi of Kosala, or Sakka. Kosala Samyutta is a group of discourses concerning King Pasenadi of Kosala, and Devata Samyutta deals with devas like Sakka, Indra, Brahma, etc. Each samyutta is further divided into sections which are made up of' individual suttas. Thus the well-known Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is the first discourse (sutta) in the second section of Sacca Samyutta which comes under the Mahavagga division of Samyutta Nikaya. 4. Anguttara Nikaya (Collection of Gradual Sayings) This Collection of Discourses, Anguttara Nikaya, containing 9,557 short suttas is divided into eleven divisions known as nipatas. Each nipata is divided again into groups called vaggas which usually contain ten suttas. The discourses are arranged in progressive numerical order, each nipata containing suttas with items of dhamma, beginning with one item and moving up by
units of one till there are eleven items of dhamma in each sutta of the last nipata. Hence the name Anguttara meaning 'increasing by one item'. The first nipata, Ekaka Nipata, provides in each sutta single items dhamma called the Ones; the second nipata, Duka Nipata, contains in each sutta two items of dhamma called the Twos, and the last nipata, Ekadasaka Nipata, is made up of suttas with eleven items of dhamma in each, called the Elevens. Anguttara Nikaya constitutes an important source book on psychology and ethics, which provides an enumerated summary of all the essential features concerning the theory and practice of the Dhamma. A unique chapter entitled Etadagga Vagga of Ekaka Nipata enumerates the names of the foremost disciples amongst the bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, upasakas, upasikas, who had achieved preeminence in one sphere of attainment or meritorious activity, e.g. the Venerable Sariputta in Intuitive Wisdom and Knowledge (Panna); the Venerable Maha Moggallana in supernormal powers (Iddhi); Bhikkhuni Khema in Panna, Bhikkhuni Uppalavanna in Iddhi; the Upasaka Anathapindika and the Upasika Visakha in alms-giving (Dana); and so on. 5. Khuddaka Nikaya (Smaller Collection) Of the five Nikayas, Khuddaka Nikaya contains the largest number of treatises (as listed below) and the most numerous categories of Dhamma. Although the word "Khuddaka" literally means "minor" or "small", the actual content of this collection can by no means be regarded as minor. The miscellaneous nature of this collection, containing not only the discourses by the Buddha but compilations of brief doctrinal notes mostly in verse, accounts of personal struggles and achievements by theras and theris also in verse, the birth stories, the history of the Buddha etc., may account for its title.
This fifth is subdivided into fifteen books: 1. Khuddaka Patha (Shorter Texts) 2. Dhammapada (The Way of Truth) 3. Udana (Paeans of Joy) 4. Itivuttaka ("Thus said" Discourses) 5. Sutta Nipata (Collected Discourses) 6. Vimana Vatthu (Stories of Celestial Mansions) 7. Peta Vatthu (Stories of Peta) 8. Theragatha (Psalms of the Brethren) 9. Therigatha (Psalms of the Sisters) 10. Jataka (Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta) 11. Niddesa (Expositions) 12. Patisambhida (Book on Analytical Knowledge) 13. Apadana (Lives of Arahants) 14. Buddhavamsa (History of the Buddha) 15. Cariya Pitaka (Modes of Conduct) 16. Netti 17. Petakopadesa 18. Milinda panha Abhidhamma Pitaka Abhidhamma, the Higher Doctrine of the Buddha, is the third great division of the Pitaka. It is a huge collection of systematically arranged, tabulated and classified doctrines of the Buddha, representing the quintessence of his Teaching. It is a most profound philosophy in contrast to the simpler discourses in the Sutta Pitaka. Abhidhamma. According to some scholars Abhidhamma is not a teaching of the Buddha, but is a later elaboration of scholastic monks. Tradition, however, attributes the nucleus of the Abhidhamma to the Buddha Himself. Whoever the great author or authors may have been, it has to be admitted that the Abhidhamma must be the product of an intellectual genius comparable only to the Buddha. This is evident from the intricate and subtle description in detail of the various causal relations.
To the wise truth-seekers, Abhidhamma is an indispensable guide and an intellectual treat. Here is found food for thought to original thinkers and to earnest students who wish to develop higher knowledge. It is not a subject of fleeting interest designed for the superficial reader. Modern Psychology, limited as it is, comes within the scope of Abhidhamma inasmuch as it deals with mind, thoughts, thoughtprocesses, and mental properties; but it does not admit of a psyche or a soul. It teaches a psychology without a psyche. Consciousness (Citta) is defined. Thoughts are analysed and classified chiefly from an ethical standpoint. All mental properties (Cetasika) are enumerated. The composition of each type of consciousness is set forth in detail. How thoughts arise is minutely described. Matter is summarily discussed, but it has not been described for physicists. Fundamental units of matter, material properties, source of matter, relationship of mind and matter are explained. Abhidhamma does not attempt to give a systematised knowledge of mind and matter. It investigates these two composite factors of the so-called being, to help the understanding of things as they truly are. Abhidhamma means Higher Teaching or Special Teaching; it is unique in its abstruseness, analytical approach, immensity of scope and conduciveness to one's liberation. The Buddha Dhamma has only one taste, the taste of liberation; in the Suttanta discourses, the Buddha takes into consideration the intellectual level of his audience, and their attainments in parami. He therefore teaches the Dhamma in conventional terms (vohara vacana), making references to persons and objects as I, we, he, she, men, woman, cow, tree, etc. In the Abhidhamma, the Buddha makes no such concessions; he treats the Dhamma entirely in terms of the ultimate reality (paramattha sacca). He analyses every phenomenon into its ultimate constituents. All relative concepts such as man, mountain, etc. are reduced to their ultimate elements which are
then precisely defined, classified and systematically arranged. A complete description of things requires detailing of how each component part stands in relation to other component parts. This entails a synthetical approach to study the interrelationship between constituent parts and how they are related to other internal or external factors. Thus the Abhidhamma approach covers a wide field of study, consisting of analytical and synthetical methods of investigation, describing and defining minutely the constituent parts of aggregates, classifying them under well-ordered heads and wellarranged systems and finally setting out conditions in which they are related to each other. Such a large scope of intellectual endeavour needs to be encompassed in a voluminous and classified compilation. Hence the Abhidhamma Pitaka is made up of seven massive treatises, namely; (i) Dhammasangani (Classification of Dhamma), containing detailed enumeration of all phenomena with an analysis of consciousness (citta) and its concomitant mental factors (cetasikas); Vibhanga (Divisions), consisting of eighteen separate sections on analysis of phenomena quite distinct from that of Dhammasangani; Dhatukatha (Discourse on Elements), a small treatise written in the form of a catechism, discussing all phenomena of existence with reference to three categories, khandha, ayatana and datu Puggala Pannatti (The Book on Individuals), a small treatise giving a description of various types of individuals according to the stage of their achievement along the Path; Kathavatthu (Points of Controversy), a compilation by the Venerable Moggaliputta, the presiding thera of the third Great Synod in which he discusses and refutes doctrines of other schools in order to uproot all points of controversy on the Buddha dhamma; Yamaka (The Book of Pairs), regarded as a treatise on applied logic in which analytical procedure is arranged in pairs;
(vii) Patthana (The Book of Causal Relations), a gigantic treatise which together with Dhammasangani, the first book, constitutes the quintessence of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. It is a minutely detailed study of the doctrine of conditionality, based on twenty four paccayas, conditions or relations.
onventional Truth (Sammuti Sacca) and (Paramattha Ultimate Truth (Paramattha Sacca). Two kinds of Truth are recognised in the Abhidhamma according to which only four categories of things, namely: Mind (consciousness), Mental Concomitants, Materiality and Nibbana are classed as the Ultimate Truth; all the rest are regarded as apparent truth. When we use such expression as 'I', 'you', 'man', 'woman', 'person', 'individual', we are speaking about things which do not exist in reality. By using such expressions about things which exist only in designation, we are not telling a lie; we are merely speaking an apparent truth, making use of conventional language, without which no communication will be possible. But the Ultimate Truth is that there is no 'person', 'individual' or 'I' in reality. There exist only khandhas made up of corporeality, mind (consciousness) and mental concomitants. These are real in that they are not just designations, they actually exist in us or around us.
It is known, that whenever the Buddha gave a discourse to his ordained disciples or lay-followers or when he prescribes a monastic rule in the course of his forty-five years, those of his devoted and learned bhikkhus, then present would immediately commit his teachings word for word to memory. Thus the Buddha's Words were preserved accurately and were in due course passed down orally from teacher to
pupil. Some of the bhikkhus who had heard the Buddha, in person were arahants, and so by definition, 'pure ones' free from passion, ill-will and delusion and therefore, without doubt capable of retaining, perfectly the Buddha's Words. Thus, this ensured that the Buddha's teachings would be preserved faithfully for posterity. Even those devoted bhikkhus who had not yet attained arahantship but had reached the first three stages of sainthood and had powerful, retentive memories could also call to mind; word for word what the Buddha had taught and so could be worthy custodians of the Buddha's teachings. The combined efforts of these devoted bhikkhus made it possible for the Dhamma and Vinaya, as taught by the Buddha to be made available to us in their original pristine form. The Tipitaka and its allied literature (the commentaries) exist as a result of the Buddha's discovery of the noble and liberating path of the pure Dhamma, which exists and have been in existence whether a Buddha is present or not. Indeed, in this day and age we are fortunate to have the authentic teachings of the Buddha preserved for us and for future generations through the conscientious and concerted efforts of his ordained disciples through the ages. The Tipitaka in the Pali, a north Indian dialect is uniquely Theravada (the word Theravada is a compound of thera and vada; thera means ‘elder’ and vada signifies ‘speech’, ‘talk’, ‘word’, ‘doctrine’. The word Theravada is frequently translated into English ‘the Doctrine of the Elders’). These discourses number several hundred and have always been recited word for word from the time of the First Council.