The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:17 am

I went and read the guidelines for this "Dhammic free for all" Forum, but am still unclear about a few points.

Is this also a "Pali Theravada ONLY" zone, whereby all other sources from other Buddhists traditions are automatically considered incorrect if they do not completely conform to Pali Theravada orthodoxy?

Or, is this a Sthavira Forum? (Actually, this is a good question, by saying that "Dhamma Wheel" is "A buddhist discussion forum on the Dhamma of the Theravada" and writing the word "Theravada" in Prakrit / Pali, does this mean that only Mahavihara orthodoxy is being discussed here? Or, does this include all of the schools of the "Elders" (sthavira), such as the Hetuvadins / Yuktivadins, Dharmagupta, etc.? (Note: It is almost definitely the case that these other schools also used some form of Prakrit too, to begin with, and so the use of the word "Theravada" is not necessarily exclusive to the Mahavihara.)

Or, is this a Forum whereby all manner of reasoned argue and debate can be applied? eg. some modern literary analysis / criticism theory? strict philology? etc. etc. After all, this is named "free-for-all", and that seems pretty open and broad to me.

Awaiting a response from the people who run the show, such as TheDhamma, before I go further. It is, after all, my own assumption that "free for all" actually means "free for all", and I want to confirm this. It is not my aim to engage in posting contra to the Forum's intended usage and spirit.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:30 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Yes, that would be the classical Theravada position. However, considering that this is in the "Dhammic free for all" which is supposedly a place to debate things, simply saying "Well, the Classic Theravada says X, therefore it is X, case closed" seems to defy the very point of such a Forum.

Otherwise, we can just go to the Classic Mahavihara Theravada Forum, and quote Pali all day and pretend that nothing else exists.
Again, if we are just taking the Classic Theravada position, then there is absolutely no need to debate.
Why? Because the Abhidhamma is the word of the Buddha. The texts say so, therefore it must be true.
Okay, case closed. Glad to have solved that problem. We can close the thread now, huh? What's next?


Where on earth do I say or imply "case closed"?? If you read my posts, you will find that they are just about anything but the classical Theravada position. :tongue:

I was just showing what one view could be and mentioned that checking these other accounts is a good thing. If you look at my posts, I am actually agreeing with you on most counts.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:42 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Awaiting a response from the people who run the show, such as TheDhamma, before I go further. It is, after all, my own assumption that "free for all" actually means "free for all", and I want to confirm this. It is not my aim to engage in posting contra to the Forum's intended usage and spirit.


This is a Buddhist forum which focuses on the Theravada teachings found in the Pali Canon, but welcomes non-Theravadins and non-Buddhists and anyone else interested in these topics and/or the Pali Canon. Your views are welcome here and the only forums where the guidelines are a little more strict are in the Classical Theravada forums. This is a free-for-all sub-forum and thus, that is why this thread is located here in this sub-forum. We also have 'Modern Theravada' sub-forums.

I personally am very interested in the early teachings of Buddhism even if it may pre-date or contradict the Classical Theravada views and doctrines. So I welcome any and all evidence that you may have, but just throw out for consideration that there is a Classical view which sees the other early schools as possessing 'wrong views.' Just as the other accounts should not be ignored, I think the Theravada accounts should also not be ignored either. In my view, let's look at all the evidence and information from all sides.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:20 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Again, if we are just taking the Classic Theravada position, then there is absolutely no need to debate.
Why? Because the Abhidhamma is the word of the Buddha. The texts say so, therefore it must be true.


Strictly speaking, as I wrote earlier, the Pali Abhidhamma Pitaka does not contain the recorded words of the Buddha. As explained by Ven Buddhaghosa in the first Chapter of the Atthasalini (Commentary on the Dhammasanghani), six of the 7 books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka are the recorded words of Ven Sariputta, while the 7th book (Kathavatthu) contains the recorded words of Ven Moggali Tissa some 200+ years after the Buddha's Parinibbana.

IMHO, there are 2 questions related to the "authenticity" issue:

1) Given the fact that the Abhidhamma Pitaka contain only the words spoken by Sariputta (6 books) & Moggali Tissa (1 book), do we believe that those words actually reflect the Buddha's teaching as claimed by Buddhaghosa?

2) Do we believe the claim by Buddhaghosa that the Abhidhamma Pitaka is the words of Sariputta & Moggali Tissa, or the Abhidhamma was actually produced by someone else?

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby cooran » Sat Oct 17, 2009 6:16 am

Hello all,

Theravada Traditional Buddhist Scriptures

One hundred years after the death of the Buddha, different opinions
about the interpretation of some of his teachings arose among the
Sangha,(the commuity of monks). Based on these opinions, different
schools later developed among the Buddhists. At one time, there were
more than eighteen different schools. Some died out over the centuries,
but others continued to exist till the present day.
Today, we have two major divisions of Buddhism in the world. The first
group belong to Theravada. Theravada is a Pali word which literally
means the "Teachings of the Elders". The other group is called
Mahayana; it means "Great Vehicle". Different Mahayana schools spread
from the first century A.D. on to Nepal, Central Asia, Mongolia, China,
Korea, Japan and Vietnam; in the seventh century it spread to Tibet.
Therefore this group is said to belong to "Northern Buddhism". The
Theravada school, however, remained for some time in India and later
spread to Southern countries such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos
and Cambodia where it flourishes. It was therefore popularly called
"Southern Buddhism".

It is believed that the original teachings of the Buddha were recorded
and preserved in the Pali Canon of the Theravada Buddhists. From the
beginning, all teachings were transmitted orally, and the Sangha guarded
their authenticity and attempted to keep the teachings intact.
Therefore, in Theravada Buddhism, one hardly finds any later additions
to the Pali Canon, except some commentaries, which were composed by
various teachers in the centuries that followed.

THE FIRST BUDDHIST COUNCIL
Because the teachings had not been written down at the time of Buddha,
whatever he taught was learned by heart and memorized by his disciples.
It is believed that the Buddha gave 84,000 units of teachings during his
lifetime. Just after the death of the Buddha in 544 B.C., his
disciples, headed by the Elder Mahakasapa, decided to hold a council to
collect his teachings and record them by word of mouth. This was done a
little more than three months after the death of the Buddha, at the
Sattapanni Cave near Rajgiri, the capital of Magadha (now the Indian
state of Bihar). Five hundred arahants ("fully enlightened beings") met
to hold this council
. The Elder Mahakassapa presided over this council
and acted as the "questioner" and the Elder Upali and the Elder Ananda
acted as the "answerers" for the Vinaya ( displinary rules for monks,
nuns and novices) and the Dhamma( suttas or sermons and Abhidhamma)
respectively.
The teachings of the Buddha were minutely scrutinized as
to where, when, on what occasion, to which person or persons they were
taught, and many other points as well.. When all present were satisfied
with the authenticiry of a discourse to be the exact teaching of the
Buddha, all recited it to show their acceptance. By reciting the
discourse in unison, they gave their approval
. It took seven months to
bring this Council to conclusion. These teachings, accepted and recited
in unison at the First Buddhist Council, were handed down from teacher
to pupil by word of mouth to future generations.

At this council, the assembled arahants not only collected and
scrutinized the teachings, but also classified them and grouped them
into different divisions
. The most well known division is that into
what we call Pitakas ('baskets" or "learnings"), namely, the Vinaya
Pitaka, the Sutta ( or Suttanta) Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The
Vinaya Pitaka ( which deals with the rules and disciplines for monks,
nuns and novices) is the Book of Law for monks, nuns and novices. The
second Pitaka consists of discourses given by the Buddha on different
occasions. This Pitaka is the most popular among monks and lay people
alike. The third Pitaka, the Abhidfhamma,deals with the ultimate
truths: consciousness, mental factors and so on.
Another classification is into Nikaya or "Collections." They are Digha
Nikaya, Collection of Long Discoursses; Mjjhima Nikaya, the Collection
of Medium Length Discourses; Samyutta Nikaya, The Collection of Kindred
Discourses; Anguttara Nikaya, the Collection of Discourses with the
number of units increasing gradually, and Khuddaka Nikaya, the
Collection of Minor Discourses. Among them the first four Nikayas
belong to the Sutta Pitaka, whereas the last Nikaya comprises Vinaya and
Abhidhamma Pitakas, and other discourses that are not included in the
first four Nikayas.

THE SECOND BUDDHIST COUNCIL C. 444 B.C.
About one hundred years after the death of the Buddha, a second council
was held at Vesali to refute the unorthodox views of some monks
regarding Buddha's teachings. At this Council, the teachings accepted
at the 'First Council were reconfirmed and the same method of
recitations was used to show acceptance by all those present. This
Council lasted for eight months. It was at this Council that another
group, known as Mahasanghika,split from the original Sangha on the
doctrine of Vinaya. ( The Mahasanghika were the forerunners of Mahayana
Buddhism.)

THE THIRD BUDDHIST COUNCIL
Two hundred and thirty-four years after the death of the Buddha, during
the reign of King Asoka (who had unified India for the first time), the
Third Council was convened by the Elder Moggalliputta Tissa at the
capital, Pataliputta ( the modern Patna in the State of Bihar). The
authenticity of the texts were reaffirmed and two hundred and nineteen
points of controversy were scrutinized, refuted and documented in the
Kathavatthu, which is the fifth book in the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
THE FOURTH BUDDHIST COUNCIL
Thus the teachings were handed down from generation to generation by
word of mouth until the first century B.C., when they were written down
on palm leaves. The authenticity of the oral tradition was proven by
the following incident. At that time, Sri Lanka suffered from a great
rebellion which lasted for twelve years. During these difficult times,
food was scarce and many monks went over to southern India and stayed
there until the rebellion was over. When the monks returned to Sri
Lanka and met other monks who stayed behind, the latter compared texts
which they had held with those held by monks who went to south India
and found , to their immense joy, no discrepancies. However, the monks
became concerned about the endurance and purity of the texts in the
future when, in their opinion, monks would not be capable of memorizing
all teachings. Therefore, these Sri Lanka monks decided to write down
the Buddha's teachings on palm leaves. This writing down of Buddha's
teachings on palm leaves in the first century B.C., has been called the
Fourth Buddhist Council, although the ancient records did not
expressedly call this event the Fourth. From that time, palm leaves
books appeared and were also taken to other countries such as Burma,
Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
Commentaries and Treatises on Tipitaka
Commentaries to the Tipitaka recorded at the First Council and
reaffirmed at the Second and the Third Councils, were composed by the
Elders of old and brought to Sri Lanka by the missionary monk Mahinda,
of the Third Council. They were there rendered into Sinhalese tongue
and were edited and retranslated into Pali by the Venerable Buddhaghosa
and others. Buddhaghosa Thera, who lived in the fifth century A.D. was
also the author of the monumental work called Visudhimagga, the Path of
Purification. The Venerable Ananda wrote the Sub-commentaries in the
seventh century A.D. These were commented on in Sub-sub-commentaries of
the Venerable Dhammapala who probaby lived in the later part of the
seventh century.
THE FIFTH BUDDHIST COUNCIL
In 1871 A.D., during the reign of King Mindon of Burma, the Fifth
Buddhist Council was held in the capital, Mandalay. He ordered the
entire Tipitaka to be written first on palm leaves in gold ink and by
stylus and finally on marble slabs. Each marble slab is 5 1/2 feet high
and 3 1/2 feet wide and about 5 inches thick. It took 729 marble slabs
to inscribe the entire Tipitaka. King Mindon thought that when Tipitaka
was inscribed on marble, which endured longer than palm leaves, it
would endure as long as the world exists. It was very lucky that these
slabs were not hit by bombs or shells during World War II, so they still
stand intact. Each is housed in a brick building, and these buildings
were grouped around a cetiya, or stupa (pagoda).
THE SIXTH BUDDHIST COUNCIL
After World War II, when Burma had become independent, the elders of
Sangha and the political leaders decided to call the Sixth Buddhist
Council It was inaugurated in Rangoon, Burma in 1954. The Tipitaka
was reaffirmed at this Council and the reaffirmation and recitation of
the Texts (Pali) ended in 1956 which was the 2500th year after the
passing away of the Buddha. A superb edition of the Tipitaka and the
Commentaries, etc. is the glorious outcome of this Council. The Sixth
Buddhist Council edition of the Texts consists of forty volumes, and
that of the Commentaries and Sub-commentaries, 79 volumes. The
Abhidhamma Pitaka comprises twelve volumes and runs about 4950 pages.
The Tipitaka canonical Texts were also translated into Burmese. The
other remarkable thing about this Council is that both Theravada and
Mahayana leaders participated.
Question and Answer regarding Pali Buddhist Scriptures
Student Question: Is it possible to trust the reliability of the Pali
Buddhist scriptures since they were handed down by word of mouth for
such a long time?
Venerable U Silananda: The teachings of the Buddha were handed down
from teacher to pupil, first by word of mouth for over four hundred
years and later published in books whenever Councils were held. Some
people have doubts about the reliability of oral traditions, because
they think that in such traditions, additions, omissions and distortions
can be made easily. In my opinion, however, these are not possible.
Those who learnt the teachings by heart and kept them in their memory
were not just a few, but thousands and thousands, and they tried to keep
them intact and in perfect purity. Even if they wanted to make changes
in the texts, they must have the approval of all the monks who held the
texts, which was impossible.
At the First Buddhist Council there were officially five hundred
arahants who held the teachings
in memory. In fact, there were many more such persons. If a person
added or omitted something it would be easily detected at the meetings
and would certainly be rejected. It would be possible only if there
were only a group of a few monks holding the teachings in memory, and
such fortunately, was not the case. It was to prevent additions,
omissions and distortions that the First Council was held and the
succeeding Councils followed suit.
Furthermore, those who hold the teachoings in memory had too great a
respect for the Buddha and his teachings to make addition and so on.
Therefore, in my opinion, the Buddhist oral tradition is reliable as
written records.
With loving kindness,
Maung Tin-Wa, Ph.D.
P.S. Venerable U Silananda held a prominent position in the Sixth
Buddhist Council as the chief commpiler of the comprehensive
Pali-Burmese Dictionary and as one of the final editors of the Pali
Texts, the Commentaries, Sub-commentaries and other works.
http://acl.arts.usyd.edu.au/~hudson/buddhism_2.htm

metta

Chris
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:13 am

TheDhamma wrote:1. Discourses
2. Teachings in verse
3. Predictions
4. Summaries in verse
5. Dependent Origination
6. Instructions by simile
7. Quotations
8. Inspired sayings
9. Stories of previous births

None of the above appear to refer to the Abhidhamma. There are clear examples for the Suttas, Theragatha & Therigatha, even Jataka, but apparently not Abhidhamma.


Yeah, that's true if you don't believe the atthasalini quote that one of those nine divisions - veyyakarana in Pali - was in fact what we now call abhidhamma. I wonder if there are any other Pali sources that can confirm the veyyakarana thing.

TheDhamma wrote:By process of elimination, the best possible argument that the Abhidhamma may have been recited at the First Council would come from your no. 2 above. If it could be shown that Abhidhamma was considered a part of the Khuddaka Nikaya at that time, then the statement that the five Nikayas were recited could include the Abhidhamma.


Yeah, again, the problem is how to show that? I mean, the atthasalini quote says so explicitly that abhidhamma is classified as khudaka nikaya, but if one discards atthasalini, then are there any other ancient Pali sources that say so? At the moment, I'm not familiar with any.

TheDhamma wrote:I think some of the early schools did consider the Abhidhamma part of the Khuddaka Nikaya, but not the Theravada. Also, I think the commentaries claim that it was not Ananda, but another monk who recited the Abhidhamma.

Hmm, not sure about this, if you come accross a source for it, please let us know.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:28 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:This discussion could benefit an enormous amount by getting out of the "Pali only" fixation and referring more Sanskrit, Chinese and even Tibetan materials. A quite check to see if a passage also appears or not in other versions of the Vinaya or Sutras, for instance, is powerful evidence as to its originality or not.


Hi pannasikhara, it'd be great if you can share your knowledge with us on this topic, as you seem to know a lot more about it than most of us (more than me for sure). The only thing I can offer in that regard is a quote from an article on buddhanet I stumbled upon:
On the third pitaka (Abhidhamma) which should make up the Tipitaka ('Three Pitakas') there is disagreement. The Sthaviravada and Mahasamghika versions do not mention its recitation, and since the agreement of these two schools should establish the oldest available textual tradition it appears that originally there were only two Pitakas. However, even the Mahasamghika account mentions the Abhidhamma as among the texts handed down after the rehearsal. The Mahisasaka version makes no mention of a third Pitaka.The Sarvastivada and Dharmaguptaka Vinayas on the other hand have Ananda reciting the Abhidhamma as well as the Sutra. The Kasyapiya (=Haimavata) mentions the Abhidhamma Pitaka without saying who recited it. A later text of the Sarvastivada School, the Asokavadana states that Kasyapa recited the Matrka or Matrka Pitaka (two versions of the text). The same tradition is found in the Vinaya of the Mula Sarvastivada School, a late offshoot of the Sarvastivada which thoroughly revised and enlarged its Tipitaka. 'Whether a Matrka or Abhidhamma was actually recited at the First Rehearsal or not, all the early schools were equipped with a third, Abhidhamma Pitaka.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:48 am

BudSas wrote:
pt1 wrote:
Afaik, the classical position regarding abhidhamma pitaka goes like this (someone please correct me if I’m wrong):
1. Buddha preached abhidhamma in Tavatimsa.
2. Then he gave the summaries (matikas) of his Tavatimsa sermons to Sariputta.
3. Sariputta then organized and fleshed out these matikas into their current form and thought it to his disciples – what he thought to his disciples is pretty much what abhidhamma pitaka is today (except for the katthavathu).
...


That explanation was taken from the Commentaries (Atthasalini). If one accepts this explanation, then 6 out of 7 volumes of the Abidhamma Pitaka should be seen as the words of Ven Sariputta, not the Buddha's words. Similarly, the Kathavatthu of the Abidhamma Pitaka should be seen as the words of Ven Moggaliputta Tissa recorded in the 3rd century BCE (King Asoka's period).

Hi, yeah, that's a possible interpretation. My understanding so far is that the Buddha is considered the 'origin' of abhidhamma, because abdhidhamma is the provenance of the buddhas (I think the word used was "provenance" - I forget what word exactly was used in Atthasalini) and that it's considered the word of the Buddha because Sariputta got the abhidhamma matikas (I've seen this called "summaries", aslo "the method") from the Buddha.

So, my understandning is that Sariputta couldn't have come up with abhdhamma on his own, even though he was the foremost disciple in insight, and therefore abdhidhamma isn't the word of Sariputta in the same way that Majjhima Nikaya isn't the word of Bhikkhu Bodhi for example (even though he did a great work of transmitting the majjhima nikaya teachings to English-speaking people through his translation, his lectures on every sutta in it, his Pali lectures, etc). But that's just how I see it at the moment.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BlackBird » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:58 am

Chris wrote:Hello all,

...[snip]...

THE FIRST BUDDHIST COUNCIL
Because the teachings had not been written down at the time of Buddha,
whatever he taught was learned by heart and memorized by his disciples.
It is believed that the Buddha gave 84,000 units of teachings during his
lifetime. Just after the death of the Buddha in 544 B.C., his
disciples, headed by the Elder Mahakasapa, decided to hold a council to
collect his teachings and record them by word of mouth. This was done a
little more than three months after the death of the Buddha, at the
Sattapanni Cave near Rajgiri, the capital of Magadha (now the Indian
state of Bihar). Five hundred arahants ("fully enlightened beings") met
to hold this council
. The Elder Mahakassapa presided over this council
and acted as the "questioner" and the Elder Upali and the Elder Ananda
acted as the "answerers" for the Vinaya ( displinary rules for monks,
nuns and novices) and the Dhamma( suttas or sermons and Abhidhamma)
respectively.
The teachings of the Buddha were minutely scrutinized as
to where, when, on what occasion, to which person or persons they were
taught, and many other points as well.. When all present were satisfied
with the authenticiry of a discourse to be the exact teaching of the
Buddha, all recited it to show their acceptance. By reciting the
discourse in unison, they gave their approval
. It took seven months to
bring this Council to conclusion. These teachings, accepted and recited
in unison at the First Buddhist Council, were handed down from teacher
to pupil by word of mouth to future generations.

At this council, the assembled arahants not only collected and
scrutinized the teachings, but also classified them and grouped them
into different divisions


...[snip]...

metta

Chris


:goodpost:
Thank you Chris.

Arahants compiled the Tipitaka. I don't know about everyone else - But I am a mere worldling, and I'm happy to put my faith in a Noble One, how much more so 500.

Metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby pt1 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:22 am

Thanks Chris. It's really interesting that the author places both the Nikaya and Pitaka classifications at the time of the first council. It'd be great if we could find out what were the sources the author used to come to this conclusion.

Best wishes
Chris wrote:...
At this council, the assembled arahants not only collected and
scrutinized the teachings, but also classified them and grouped them
into different divisions
. The most well known division is that into
what we call Pitakas ('baskets" or "learnings"), namely, the Vinaya
Pitaka, the Sutta ( or Suttanta) Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The
Vinaya Pitaka ( which deals with the rules and disciplines for monks,
nuns and novices) is the Book of Law for monks, nuns and novices. The
second Pitaka consists of discourses given by the Buddha on different
occasions. This Pitaka is the most popular among monks and lay people
alike. The third Pitaka, the Abhidfhamma,deals with the ultimate
truths: consciousness, mental factors and so on.
Another classification is into Nikaya or "Collections." They are Digha
Nikaya, Collection of Long Discoursses; Mjjhima Nikaya, the Collection
of Medium Length Discourses; Samyutta Nikaya, The Collection of Kindred
Discourses; Anguttara Nikaya, the Collection of Discourses with the
number of units increasing gradually, and Khuddaka Nikaya, the
Collection of Minor Discourses. Among them the first four Nikayas
belong to the Sutta Pitaka, whereas the last Nikaya comprises Vinaya and
Abhidhamma Pitakas, and other discourses that are not included in the
first four Nikayas.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:25 am

pt1 wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:This discussion could benefit an enormous amount by getting out of the "Pali only" fixation and referring more Sanskrit, Chinese and even Tibetan materials. A quite check to see if a passage also appears or not in other versions of the Vinaya or Sutras, for instance, is powerful evidence as to its originality or not.


Hi pannasikhara, it'd be great if you can share your knowledge with us on this topic, as you seem to know a lot more about it than most of us (more than me for sure). The only thing I can offer in that regard is a quote from an article on buddhanet I stumbled upon:


On the third pitaka (Abhidhamma) which should make up the Tipitaka ('Three Pitakas') there is disagreement. The Sthaviravada and Mahasamghika versions do not mention its recitation, and since the agreement of these two schools should establish the oldest available textual tradition it appears that originally there were only two Pitakas.


I wonder what they mean by "Sthaviravada" here? Because, below, we see that some Sthavira schools did make such a claim.

However, this is the basic principle I mentioned above - where early Sthavira and Mahasamghika schools have commonalities, these can generally be regarded as pre-schism teachings. And thus, probably representative of what the Bhagavan himself taught. Of course, specific case examples will have specific circumstances, this is the basic principle, though.

I would generally aruge that "originally there were no Pitakas", because it appears that the term Pitaka may have been a slightly later usage. It seemed to come about the same time as the nine-limbs (navanga) classification system, and then the twelve-limb.

Just another note at this point, too, because a few arguments have been made about which of the nine (or twelve) limbs corresponds to the Abhidhamma. Firstly, "sutta" in the nine / twelve does NOT exactly correspond to "sutta" in "sutta-pitaka". The latter is broader in meaning. We can get back to the nine / twelve limbs in a moment, but for now, it is perhaps more useful to point out the twelve limb system is going to be more helpful than the nine limb system, because the relationship between vedalla and upadesa to the abhidhamma is much stronger.

Also, just because some Vinaya mention the recitation of the sutta [pitaka] in the First Council, best not to assume that this includes the KN (and then try to argue that the Abhidhamma was part of KN, therefore recited at the first council). This is because a comparison amongst schools quickly shows that the KN is really just a Theravada thing, and not shared by other schools. They either put its contents in other Agamas, or even in whole other Pitaka (eg. Jataka / Apadana in the Dharmagupta Bodhisatta-pitaka).

However, even the Mahasamghika account mentions the Abhidhamma as among the texts handed down after the rehearsal.


This comment from the (or rather "a") Mahasamghika is in a commentary to the Mahasamghika commentary to the Ekottara-agama (~ AN). This is an early Chinese translation, and is only partial (part of the eka-vagga, not the whole text). Possibly, this was only composed in maybe the 1st or 2nd cty CE. So, pretty late, and not that reliable a source. (Primitive translation too, not easy to read.) This group of Mahasamghika may have been lately influenced by other Sthavira schools in that area (~ Kasmir / Pamirs), such as the Dhammaguptas.

The Mahisasaka version makes no mention of a third Pitaka.


Correct. Remember, the Mahisasakas are also Sthaviravada.

The Sarvastivada and Dharmaguptaka Vinayas on the other hand have Ananda reciting the Abhidhamma as well as the Sutra.


Correct.

However, to add, the Dharmagupta description of what that Abhidharma contains matches up with the text known as the Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra (and thus not a Theravadin text). The Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra structurally is very, very close to the Theravada Vibhanga (and a bit of the Dhammasangani) and also the Sarvastivada Dharmaskandhapada Sastra. But, here, the Dharmagupta is most likely pointing to the Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra.

And, the Sarvastivada vinaya description of the Abhidharma supposedly recited at the first council matches their own Dharmaskandhapada Sastra, and definitely not any Theravadin text.

Again, both the Dharmagupta and Sarvastivada are Sthaviravada.

The Kasyapiya (=Haimavata) mentions the Abhidhamma Pitaka without saying who recited it.


Again, their description seems to match the Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra, and - yes, you guessed it - not any Theravada text. The Kasyapiyas (who maybe but maybe not are the Haimavata) are also Sthaviravada.

A later text of the Sarvastivada School, the Asokavadana states that Kasyapa recited the Matrka or Matrka Pitaka (two versions of the text). The same tradition is found in the Vinaya of the Mula Sarvastivada School, a late offshoot of the Sarvastivada which thoroughly revised and enlarged its Tipitaka.


Note "later text" and the Mula-sarvastivada is also a later school. By this time, the Sarvastivada (like the Theravada) were already so convinced that the Abhidharma was taught by the Buddha and recited at the first council, that this story was already embedded deeply into their own tradition.

I'd also like to add that the Vatsiputriyas had several Abhidhammic texts, such as the Lokapannatti Sastra, and the Tikkhandhaka. They may have also used the Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra, too.

'Whether a Matrka or Abhidhamma was actually recited at the First Rehearsal or not, all the early schools were equipped with a third, Abhidhamma Pitaka.


Really? The above only indicates that (most) Sthaviravada stated this, along with a (rather dodgy) Mahasamghika commentary.

The arguments about whether or not the Mahasamghika actually had an Abhidharma Pitaka are interesting. The canonical material has the Mahasamghika state explicitly that "abhidharma is the 'nine-fold' sutras", which is the navanga-sutta. Note, this is "is" and not "part of". To them, abhidharma is just "about (abhi) the dharma", a lot like dhammakatha. They also had a text known as the Petaka or Karanda, and there may be some relation to this Petaka and the Petakopadesa. People like Walser try to argue that the Mahasamghika did have an Abhidharma Pitaka, but I think that his arguments are pretty bad. I won't go into the details here, but if you want to know, I can list them and why they are incorrect.

So, actually, what do we have?

We have a couple of Sthaviravada schools say that there was an Abhidharma early on. Namely: Vatsiputriya, Theravada, Sarvastivada, Dharmagupta and Kasyapiya. This is also kind of the order in which they split off from the original schism Sthaviras. And, the Theravada, Sarvastivada and Dharmagupta all have commonalities around the Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra, but the Theravada then has their corresponding Vibhanga (and Dhammasangani) and the Sarvastivadins their Dharmaskandhapada Sastra.

But, the remainder six Abhidhamma texts of the Theravada and the six of the Sarvastivada are quite different. The later in time, the more they differ.

One very good argument to explain all this is: Between the first schism (second council) and the time of Asoka (third council), there was a large group of Sthaviras around the area from Mathura - Avanti, east of the old heart of the dispensation, and slightly south too. While they were here, they developed possibly a couple of forms of "abhidharma", which are "about the dharma", and basically forms that were very similar to the Vedallas, and Vibhanga suttas, and also the newer Upadesas. These actual suttas were taught by people like Sariputra, Mahakatyayana, Ananda, etc.

Now, during Asoka's time, when the various groups spread out across India, these Sthavira groups took the proto-type Sariputra Abhidharma with them. Because the Theravada ended up so far away, and likewise the Sarvastivada in Kasmir, they developed rather independently, and bear less similarity over time. In central India, the groups like the Vatsiputriyas and Dharmaguptas maintained more commonality, hence their Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra was used by a couple of schools.

The Mahasamghikas never had this in the first place, and used an earlier sutta meaning for "abhidhamma", which is like "dhammakatha", "about the dhamma". Probably later, when the Sthavira schools Abhidharmas were so powerful in explaining their whole doctrinal positions, they also developed similar texts, but this is really another type of literature.

Anyway, that's my take on it.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:26 am

If people want the actual sources for the above statements, please let me know.
Hope you can read Chinese, though.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Brizzy » Sun Oct 18, 2009 2:45 pm

Chris wrote:THE FIRST BUDDHIST COUNCIL
Because the teachings had not been written down at the time of Buddha,
whatever he taught was learned by heart and memorized by his disciples.
It is believed that the Buddha gave 84,000 units of teachings during his
lifetime. Just after the death of the Buddha in 544 B.C., his
disciples, headed by the Elder Mahakasapa, decided to hold a council to
collect his teachings and record them by word of mouth. This was done a
little more than three months after the death of the Buddha, at the
Sattapanni Cave near Rajgiri, the capital of Magadha (now the Indian
state of Bihar). Five hundred arahants ("fully enlightened beings") met
to hold this council
. The Elder Mahakassapa presided over this council
and acted as the "questioner" and the Elder Upali and the Elder Ananda
acted as the "answerers" for the Vinaya ( displinary rules for monks,
nuns and novices) and the Dhamma( suttas or sermons and Abhidhamma)
respectively.
The teachings of the Buddha were minutely scrutinized as
to where, when, on what occasion, to which person or persons they were
taught, and many other points as well.. When all present were satisfied
with the authenticiry of a discourse to be the exact teaching of the
Buddha, all recited it to show their acceptance. By reciting the
discourse in unison, they gave their approval
. It took seven months to
bring this Council to conclusion. These teachings, accepted and recited
in unison at the First Buddhist Council, were handed down from teacher
to pupil by word of mouth to future generations.

At this council, the assembled arahants not only collected and
scrutinized the teachings, but also classified them and grouped them
into different divisions
. The most well known division is that into
what we call Pitakas ('baskets" or "learnings"), namely, the Vinaya
Pitaka, the Sutta ( or Suttanta) Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The
Vinaya Pitaka ( which deals with the rules and disciplines for monks,
nuns and novices) is the Book of Law for monks, nuns and novices. The
second Pitaka consists of discourses given by the Buddha on different
occasions. This Pitaka is the most popular among monks and lay people
alike. The third Pitaka, the Abhidfhamma,deals with the ultimate
truths: consciousness, mental factors and so on.
Another classification is into Nikaya or "Collections." They are Digha
Nikaya, Collection of Long Discoursses; Mjjhima Nikaya, the Collection
of Medium Length Discourses; Samyutta Nikaya, The Collection of Kindred
Discourses; Anguttara Nikaya, the Collection of Discourses with the
number of units increasing gradually, and Khuddaka Nikaya, the
Collection of Minor Discourses. Among them the first four Nikayas
belong to the Sutta Pitaka, whereas the last Nikaya comprises Vinaya and
Abhidhamma Pitakas, and other discourses that are not included in the
first four Nikayas.


Hi Chris

With respect the Buddha called his religion Dhamma/Vinaya. The Abhidhamma is widely viewed as a later addition, with every school having there own. The suttas and vinaya are generally consistent across schools, unlike Abhidhamma which varies from school to school. The Abhidhamma, could not have been recited by Ananda at the first council, it did not exist! There were originally only two baskets of teachings, the Vinaya & Suttas. The fairy tale that was introduced to give authenticity to the Abhidhamma, would make Hans christien Anderson blush :smile:
The Buddha never told people to look for verification in the "Abhidhamma" he said to look for verification in the Dhamma/Vinaya.
The Buddha often stated that he was not a teacher with a closed fist, his teachings, he gave freely with no secrets. It is not surprising that every school would add on its own ideas & views, but it should not do this by putting words into the Buddhas (or sariputtas) mouth.

"The first council (Rjagaha) mentions only Dhamma,vinaya, without mention any Abhidhamma (Cv 11 = V2:284-293). According to Frauwallner, the Abhidhamma was probably composed between 200 BCE and 200 CE(Abhidharma-Studien IV. Der Abhidharma der anderen Schulen, WZKS 15, 1971b:106). Furthermore, the earlyBuddhist sects, each had their own Abhidharma Piaka, often at variance with one another. See Hinüber, A Hand-book of Pali Literature, 1996: II.3. See also Dhamma and Abhidhamma = SD 26.1."http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:y7JLE305gwcJ:dharmafarer.googlepages.com/21.6Silasamadhjipannapiya.pdf+vinaya+2:284&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au
That is not to say everything in the abhidhamma is wrong, but it must be viewed in the light of it not being the Buddhas direct teaching.

BTW I am not averse to believing in the many miracles that the Buddha and his disciples performed. However the story of how the Abhidhamma came into being, just does'nt ring true. It sounds more like the Mahayana & Vajrayana stories that are used to give authenticity to there teachings.

:smile:
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 18, 2009 3:23 pm

Brizzy wrote:According to Frauwallner, the Abhidhamma was probably composed between 200 BCE and 200 CE(Abhidharma-Studien IV. Der Abhidharma der anderen Schulen, WZKS 15, 1971b:106).


200 CE appears to be an exaggeration. The Abhidhamma was recited at the Third Council in approx. 250 BCE and written down on the palm leaves with the Suttas and Vinaya in approx. 100 BCE.

The question and debate remains open, however, as to whether it was recited or compiled before the Third Council.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:34 pm

Greetings sir,

Paññāsikhara wrote:Personally, I take questions like the "authenticity" or otherwise of a body of literature like the Abhidhamma extremely seriously. As such, it is absolutely vital to take all the possible relevant material into account. Otherwise, with extreme source bias of only examining on body of literature, or only taking information from one Nikayan school, rather than taking all the literature and information from all the schools, of course major errors in our conclusions will result. That would indeed be a shame, don't you think?


Yes... yes it would.

Well said.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:01 am

Hi Brizzy,
Brizzy wrote:The fairy tale that was introduced to give authenticity to the Abhidhamma, would make Hans christien Anderson blush...

Do you consider all of the Sutta/Vinaya to be accurate, or do you consider some of that to be "fairy tale" as well? How do you distinguish what in the Canonical Tipitika and Commentary to take as true and which parts were made up?

According to the Suttas the Buddha descended from the Tusita Heaven, the same place he taught Abhidhamma accoding to the Commentaries:
MN 123 The Discourse On Wonderful Things (not the best translation...)
http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... tta-e.html
`Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. "Ānanda, the one aspiring enlightenment abode with the gods of happiness, with mindful awareness. " Venerable sir, this I bear as something wonderful and surprising of the Blessed One

“Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. "Ānanda, the one aspiring enlightenment abode with the gods of happiness, until the end of that life span. " Venerable sir, this I bear as something wonderful and surprising of the Blessed One

“Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. "Ānanda, the one aspiring enlightenment, disappeared fromthe gods of happiness, and descended into the mother's womb with mindful awareness. " Venerable sir, this I bear as something wonderful and surprising of the Blessed One

“Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. "Ānanda, when the one aspiring enlightenment, disappeared fromthe gods of happiness, and descended into the mother's womb, in the world of gods and men, Māras, Brahmās, recluses and brahmins there arose an immeasurable effulgence transcending the splendour of the gods. Even the dark uncoveredrecesses between the world systems where the resplendent moon and sun do not shine there arose an immeasurable effulgence transcending the splendour of the gods. Beings born there saw each other on account of that effulgence and knew that there were other beings born there. The ten thousandfold world system shivered and trembled on account of that immeasurable effulgence transccending the splendour of the gods" Venerable sir, this I bear as something wonderful and surprising of the Blessed One.

Metta
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:34 am

TheDhamma wrote:
Brizzy wrote:According to Frauwallner, the Abhidhamma was probably composed between 200 BCE and 200 CE(Abhidharma-Studien IV. Der Abhidharma der anderen Schulen, WZKS 15, 1971b:106).


200 CE appears to be an exaggeration. The Abhidhamma was recited at the Third Council in approx. 250 BCE and written down on the palm leaves with the Suttas and Vinaya in approx. 100 BCE.

The question and debate remains open, however, as to whether it was recited or compiled before the Third Council.


Perhaps Frauwallner and some other Buddhist scholars (I can't remember names) believed that the Abhidhamma Pitaka was not closed at the Third Council (Asoka's time), but new material might still be added to it long after. According to those scholars, the Abhidhamma version we have today was closed anf fixed only before the Commentaries were written/compiled by Ven Buddhaghosa.

The question and debate on the "authenticity" of the Abhidhamma Pitaka continue to exist in may Buddhist forums & circles, and IMHO, we can never have any conclusive answer.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:43 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:If people want the actual sources for the above statements, please let me know.
Hope you can read Chinese, though.


Yes, please. Although I can't read classical Chinese of the Taisho, it's useful to have the references, so that one day, I could get help from my Chinese scholar friends.

I wish one day, the Abhidhamma Collection in the Taisho could be translated into modern languages (English, German, French, ...) so that we could study and compare with the Pali Abhidhamma.

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:37 am

BudSas wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:If people want the actual sources for the above statements, please let me know. Hope you can read Chinese, though.

Yes, please. Although I can't read classical Chinese of the Taisho, it's useful to have the references, so that one day, I could get help from my Chinese scholar friends.


Here they are (cf. Yinshun 印順 Research into the Śāstras and Pandits of the Mainly Sarvāstivāda Tradition 說一切有部為主的論書與論師之研究, 1971, pp. 8-12):

Ⅰ Mahāsāṃghika
Ekottarāgama, T2, 550c
『增一阿含經』卷一(大正二‧五五0下)。
*Guṅavibhaṇga Śāstra, T2, 32a
『分別功德論』卷一(大正二五‧三二上)。
Records from the Tripiṭaka and Kṣudraka Nikāya, T49, 3c
『撰集三藏及雜藏傳』(大正四九‧三下)。

Ⅱ Theravāda:
Samantapasādikā Vinaya Vibhāsa, T24, 676a
『善見律毘婆沙』卷一(大正二四‧六七六上)。

Ⅲ Mahīśāsaka
No reference.

Ⅳ Dharmaguptaka
Four Section Vinaya, T22, 968b
『四分律』卷五四(大正二二‧九六八中)。

Ⅴ Kaśyapīya / Haimavata
Vinayamātṛka Sūtra, T24, 818a
『毘尼母經』卷三(大正二四‧八一八上)。

Ⅵ Sarvāstivāda
Ten Recitation Vinaya, T23, 449a
『十誦律』卷六0(大正二三‧四四九上)。
Mahāprajñāpāramitā Upadeśa, T25, 69c
『大智度論』卷二(大正二五‧六九下)。

Ⅶ Mūlasarvāstivāda
Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya-kṣudraka-vastu, 24, 408b
『根本說一切有部毘奈耶雜事』卷四0(大正二四‧四0八中)。
Aśoka Avadāna, T50, 113c, 152a
『阿育王傳』卷四(大正五0‧一一三下)。卷六(大正五0‧一五二上)。

Ⅷ Some unnamed Vibhajyavāda Nikāya (NB: Vibhajyavāda is not exclusively Theravāda)
Texts on the Forest of Meanings in the Dharma Garden of the Mahāyāna, T45, 270b
『大乘法苑義林章』卷二引文(大正四五‧二七0中)。

I wish one day, the Abhidhamma Collection in the Taisho could be translated into modern languages (English, German, French, ...) so that we could study and compare with the Pali Abhidhamma. BDS


Here! Here! But it won't be for at least a few decades yet, from what I can see.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Postby BudSas » Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:07 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Here they are (cf. Yinshun 印順 Research into the Śāstras and Pandits of the Mainly Sarvāstivāda Tradition 說一切有部為主的論書與論師之研究, 1971, pp. 8-12):
.....


Thanks. Much appreciated.

I wish one day, the Abhidhamma Collection in the Taisho could be translated into modern languages (English, German, French, ...) so that we could study and compare with the Pali Abhidhamma. BDS


Here! Here! But it won't be for at least a few decades yet, from what I can see.


One never knows! It may happen sooner, especially with the young crops of monks/nuns/scholars from China (Hongkong, Taiwan), Korea, Japan who are well versed in both classical Chinese & English ...

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