The myth of "Sthaviravada"

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dzt
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by dzt » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:06 pm

Dmytro wrote:Thank you for bringing up this popular myth. Sanskrit was created around the beginning of Common Era, as an attempt to reconstruct Vedic language. The very name of this language means "refined", in contrast with "natural" (Prakrit) language. Sanskrit was created artificially, and was never spoken widely.

Being a reconstruction of Vedic language, Sanskrit is indeed quite similar to it. However there are a lot of differences.
Interesting. Is this view supported by only Mr. Burrow, or is it a dominant theory (or at least in a common scope) of linguistic studies though?

But nevertheless, "Sthavira" (be it Vedic Prakrit or Sanskrit) means "Thera" in Pali. Even if Sanskrit was developed later, Vedic language was known at the time, and had the same word. In fact, a few sentences further, Burrow states that Sanskrit was a direct development of the Vedic language.

Caodemarte
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:38 pm

_anicca_ wrote:
As you can see from the Dipavamsa quote...uses the name Theravada to describe the sect, - not the Buddhists on the island.
Dmytro's Buddhist-H links lead to a great discussion of the modern adoption of the the name "Theravada" in SE Asia. Just a note that Dipavamsa is almost universally regarded as having no historical value on the origin of Theravada since it is so clearly a propagandistic work with clearly false claims.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:35 pm

dzt wrote: Interesting. Is this view supported by only Mr. Burrow, or is it a dominant theory (or at least in a common scope) of linguistic studies though?

But nevertheless, "Sthavira" (be it Vedic Prakrit or Sanskrit) means "Thera" in Pali. Even if Sanskrit was developed later, Vedic language was known at the time, and had the same word. In fact, a few sentences further, Burrow states that Sanskrit was a direct development of the Vedic language.
Yes, Sanskrit and the Vedic language are one and the same, just as Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin are the same language. Panini didn't "invent" Sanskrit, he investigated the Vedic language and systemized and standardized it. Languages change over time. Would a speaker of the Vedic language understand post-Panini Sanskrit? Hard to say, although post-Panini Sanskritists can read the Vedas, meaning the two stages of the language are still mutually intelligible.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

Caodemarte
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Feb 15, 2017 5:19 pm

Dmytro wrote:....
Caodemarte wrote:Similarly, the Pali of the canon was so standardized, homogenized, and "reformed" by the grammarians and commentators of Sri Lanka that it cannot be said to be pre-"reformed" Pali, but can be said to be derived from it.
Why do you think so?
As previouly discussed in an earlier thread, "Suttas as History" by Walters in Defining Buddhism(s): A Reader ed. Karen Derris, Natalie Gummer, points out that what we know today as the Theravada suttas and Pali itself are the result of decisions made centuries after the Buddha's death in Sri Lanka, with an "extreme argument" that we can't know for sure the date of any sutta (or the source texts) before Buddhaghoṣa, a thousand years after.

Caodemarte
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Feb 15, 2017 5:42 pm

Dmytro wrote:...
Caodemarte wrote:AFAIK, it is not generally claimed that these " Sthavira" were quite different from what we now know as Theravada, but merely not the same
Well, I'm not the same as I was yesterday. Yet the name remains the same.
And Indian scholars of 8th-12th centuries described "Arya Sthavira Nikaya" as three Sri Lankan schools: Jetavaniya, Abhayagirivasin and Mahaviharavasin....
Caodemarte wrote:Theravada histories and claims are that it derived from a sect that broke away from a sect that broke away from this faction (or "dissolved into" rather than "break away")
Why do you think so?...
If we accept these accounts (and why not?) it is clear that "Sthavira" (or whatever the earlier group called itself) does equal what we now know as Theravada....
Scholars, including Theravadin scholars, don't accept the Dipavamsa as having any historical value as it is clearly a propgandistic revision and re-telling of history for a specific political point. They do accept actual historical records.

Our historical sources variously tell us that the Sthaviras were the group that sought
either to adapt the monastic regulations or to preserve them unchanged, or that refuted
various erroneous doctrinal positions (termed “heretical theses” in some secondary
sources). The original Sthavira community thus constitutes, historically, a relatively
intangible but religiously iconic identity that exerted a powerful appeal to incumbents
at the Mahāvihā a who wished to assert their legitimacy and worthiness for patronage
by activating more or less mythical links to these archetypal “elders.”
The history of the Theravada tradition as we know it is therefore properly pursued
in relation to institutions in Sri Lanka and later South-East Asia.....
At present the title Theravāda is applied to Buddhist communities derived largely from the hegemonic influence of a
single politically powerful temple tradition based at the Mahāvihāra Temple in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It seems likely that this title is used anachronistically, resulting from what might be seen as a strategic attempt by adherents of the Mahāvi āra temple (Sri Lanka) in the
twelfth century to link it to this tradition, during a period of major reform under
ParakramabāhuI (1123–1186) (see Bechert 1993 ; Collins 1990 ). Considerable historical
confusion surrounds any such claims of identity due to the ambiguity of textual
and inscriptional evidence for a thera community on the mainland of the subcontinent
before this time. To understand this we need to know that the Pāli language is a close
relative of the Sanskrit language, in which we find the parallel term sthavira, “elder.”
In any given occurrence of the term sthavira/thera , in text or epigraph, it can be difficult
to determine whether this refers to one and the same or indeed any institutional enity....

"Theravāda" by A. Skilton in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy, edited by Steven M. Emmanuel.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:37 pm

dzt wrote:Interesting. Is this view supported by only Mr. Burrow, or is it a dominant theory (or at least in a common scope) of linguistic studies though?
I believe any Sanskritist will tell you the same.
Coëmgenu wrote:Yes, Sanskrit and the Vedic language are one and the same, just as Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin are the same language.
No. They are two distinct languages, just as what was called "English" seventy years before the Norman Conquest...
Fæder ūre, ðū ðē eart on heofonum,
Sī ðīn nama gehālgod.
Tō becume ðīn rice.
Gewurde ðīn willa
On eorþan swā swā on heofonum.
(opening of the Lord's prayer, 995 CE)
is a completely different language from what was called "English" three hundred years after the Norman Conquest...
Our fadir that art in heuenes,
halwid be thi name.
Thi kingdom cumme to.
Be thi wille don
As in heuen and in earthe.
(from the same in Wycliffe's Bible)
But don't take my word for it. Just compare the description of their respective grammatical systems in these two links.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammar_o ... c_language

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskrit_grammar
Coëmgenu wrote:Panini didn't "invent" Sanskrit,
True, he didn't invent it, but the Dhātupatha and other lexical lists from which he worked belong to a language much later than the language of the Vedas.
Coëmgenu wrote:he investigated the Vedic language and systemized and standardized it.
He investigated the Vedic language chiefly for the purpose of explaining those of its features whose meaning or function had fallen into desuetude in the later language that he was systematizing.
Coëmgenu wrote:Languages change over time. Would a speaker of the Vedic language understand post-Panini Sanskrit? Hard to say
It's not hard to say. The answer is no.
Coëmgenu wrote:although post-Panini Sanskritists can read the Vedas, meaning the two stages of the language are still mutually intelligible.
That doesn't follow. Mutual intelligibility isn't always a two-way street. Modern Icelanders, for example, can read and readily understand the Old Icelandic verse of Egil Skallagrímsson, the 10th century Viking. But it's highly unlikely that Egil would make any sense of a Halldór Laxness novel. For a start he would be completely flummoxed by all the neologisms.

A speaker of the Vedic language, if presented with, say, a play by Kālidāsa, like Egil Skallagrímsson would have to deal with a mountain of neologisms, but unlike Egil he would also have to confront a radically altered grammar.
Last edited by Dhammanando on Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta

Caodemarte
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:09 pm

Dmytro wrote:
Caodemarte wrote:Theravada histories and claims are that it derived from a sect that broke away from a sect that broke away from this faction (or "dissolved into" rather than "break away")
Why do you think so?
‘Some sub-divisions of Sthavira school which adopted this approach were regrouped and termed as the followers of Vibhajjavāda. Those not included in the Vibhajjavāda group were the Mahāsāṃghikas, Sarvāstivāda and Sammitīya, who were regarded as having the ‘wrong view’ by the Vibhajjavādins, according to the Theravadin Kathavatthu, a work ascribed to Moggaliputta Tissa.
The Theravada tradition holds that after the Third Council, the Vibhajjavādins evolved into four groups: the Mahīśāsaka, Kāśyapīya, Dharmaguptaka, and the Tāmraparnīya. Theravada is descended from the Tāmraparnīya, which means 'the Sri Lankan lineage'. On the other hand, some sources suggest that Mahīśāsaka, Kāśyapīya and Dharmaguptaka did not evolve directly from the Vibhajjavādins, although an original connection between these groups is posited due to the similarities of their respective Vinayas.
The Vibhajjavadins are claimed to have seen themselves as orthodox Sthaviras.
According to Sinhalese tradition, Buddhism under the name of Vibhajjavāda was brought to Sri Lanka by Mahinda, who is believed to be the son of Emperor Asoka, an event dated by modern scholars to 246 BCE.’
http://www.worldlibrary.org/articles/vibhajyavada

'Here the fundamental issue was the conception of time, the special Sarvastivadin doctrine being
that all dhammas past, present, and future, exist. The Sarvastivada schism produced, as well as
the Sarvastivada, another school sometimes called the Vibhajjavada, the 'Analytical School'. This
label is used widely and inconsistently, but it is convenient to use it here as a term for the school
ancestral to the Theravada and the Dharmaguptaka.'

A HISTORY OF MINDFULNESS
How Insight Worsted Tranquillity in the Satipatthana Sutta
Bhikkhu Sujato

It is important to remember that these were not necessarily hard and fast divisions, but rather often what appear to be, at least at first, groupings of rather vague tendencies. What did cause sharper divisions were, in my humble opinion, not ideas, but more likely lineage differences or over vinaya. Hence I like Skilton's ( and others') usage of Sthavira community or Sthavira rather than Sthaviravada which may be a back formation by Warder as pointed out in the H-Buddhism links.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:18 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Interesting. Is this view supported by only Mr. Burrow, or is it a dominant theory (or at least in a common scope) of linguistic studies though?
I believe any Sanskritist will tell you the same.
I didn't say the above quote, but yes, I agree than any Sanskritist will be familiar with the deep divide between the Vedic and Classical stages of the language.
Dhammanando wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Yes, Sanskrit and the Vedic language are one and the same, just as Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin are the same language.
No. They are two distinct languages, just as what was called "English" seventy years before the Norman Conquest...
We are just using two different metrics for deciding what constitutes "two same languages". I am including different chronological manifestations of the language as being the same language. Just as Middle English and Modern English are not 100% intelligible, they are still both called "English". And there is also plenty Middle English that is comprehensible to modern speakers, particularly non-poetic, conversational spoken Middle English.
Dhammanando wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Languages change over time. Would a speaker of the Vedic language understand post-Panini Sanskrit? Hard to say
It's not hard to say. The answer is no.
This quote leads to the next:
Dhammanando wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:although post-Panini Sanskritists can read the Vedas, meaning the two stages of the language are still mutually intelligible.
That doesn't follow. Mutual intelligibility isn't always a two-way street. Modern Icelanders, for example, can read and readily understand the Old Icelandic verse of Egil Skallagrímsson, the 10th century Viking. But it's highly unlikely that Egil would make any sense of a Halldór Laxness novel. For a start he would be completely flummoxed by all the neologisms.

A speaker of the Vedic language, if presented with, say, a play by Kālidāsa, like Egil Skallagrímsson would have to deal with a mountain of neologisms, but unlike Egil he would also have to confront a radically altered grammar.
A Vedic speaker of Sanskrit may not understand the classical language, but the two could still be close enough for certain expressions to be intelligible across the dialect-divide. And the chronological dialect-divide between Old and Middle (Norman) English is much more severe a chasm than between Vedic and Classical Sanskrits. For the purposes of addressing your Old English example, take for instance this passage, from Beowulf:

þæt wæs gód cyning
That was good cyning [kooning]
That was [a] good king

If a modern speaker is familiar with Germanic languages as a whole they will no-doubt realize that cyning is familiar to the German könig, which is a similar word in many Germanic languages, in addition to simply "sounding like" the modern English "king". Similarly, it is not out of the question or unreasonable to assume that a speaker of Old English could hear

"That was a good king."

and understand something very close to what is being said. There isn't 100% mutual intelligibility, I should have caveated such, because that is what I meant, but there is a demonstrable strong relation that would no-doubt be illustratable if substantial amounts of native speakers of either still existed, I think at least. And that is just my own opinion. I may well be horribly uninformed.

That being said, I have the confidence of a friend, who is a serious linguist, that the divide between the Vedic and Classical registers of Sanskrit are much smaller than the divide between Old and Middle English, because Sanskrit lacks a "Norman Invasion" to transform the paradigms of the language to the extent that English was transformed by the Normans.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Assaji » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:55 am

dzt wrote:Interesting. Is this view supported by only Mr. Burrow, or is it a dominant theory (or at least in a common scope) of linguistic studies though?
It's in common scope. Russian Indologist Tatiana Yelizarenkova also described this difference between Vedic and Sanskrit.

Sanskrit has a powerful India-related lobby, - hence a considerable bias.
dzt wrote:But nevertheless, "Sthavira" (be it Vedic Prakrit or Sanskrit) means "Thera" in Pali. Even if Sanskrit was developed later, Vedic language was known at the time, and had the same word. In fact, a few sentences further, Burrow states that Sanskrit was a direct development of the Vedic language.
I have just looked the "Sthavira" article in Monier-Williams dictionary http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier/

Evidently the word "Sthavira" in Vedic meant "broad , thick , compact , solid , strong , powerful", and acquired the meaning "Elder" later, in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, as a sanskritization of Pali "Thera".

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Assaji
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Assaji » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:59 am

Caodemarte wrote:Just a note that Dipavamsa is almost universally regarded as having no historical value on the origin of Theravada since it is so clearly a propagandistic work with clearly false claims.
Wow, that's an argument! :twothumbsup:

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Assaji
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Assaji » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:15 am

Caodemarte wrote:As previouly discussed in an earlier thread, "Suttas as History" by Walters in Defining Buddhism(s): A Reader ed. Karen Derris, Natalie Gummer, points out that what we know today as the Theravada suttas and Pali itself are the result of decisions made centuries after the Buddha's death in Sri Lanka, with an "extreme argument" that we can't know for sure the date of any sutta (or the source texts) before Buddhaghoṣa, a thousand years after.
Sorry, not too convincing.

"... historians... have raised serious doubts. Thus, it is now widely recognized ... . Comparison ... makes certain ..."

https://books.google.com.ua/books?id=D7 ... frontcover

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Assaji
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Assaji » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:23 am

Caodemarte wrote:Scholars, including Theravadin scholars, don't accept the Dipavamsa as having any historical value as it is clearly a propgandistic revision and re-telling of history for a specific political point. They do accept actual historical records.
I also accept historical records. Let's discuss them instead of opinions of what "seems likely".

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Assaji
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Assaji » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:39 am

Caodemarte wrote:
Dmytro wrote:
Caodemarte wrote:Theravada histories and claims are that it derived from a sect that broke away from a sect that broke away from this faction (or "dissolved into" rather than "break away")
Why do you think so?
The Theravada tradition holds that after the Third Council, the Vibhajjavādins evolved into four groups: the Mahīśāsaka, Kāśyapīya, Dharmaguptaka, and the Tāmraparnīya. Theravada is descended from the Tāmraparnīya, which means 'the Sri Lankan lineage'.
If I may ask, where have you found here the Theravadan claim that it derived from a sect that broke away from a sect that broke away from this faction? There's no such claim, - just another sentence, based on unknown source.
It is important to remember that these were not necessarily hard and fast divisions, but rather often what appear to be, at least at first, groupings of rather vague tendencies. What did cause sharper divisions were, in my humble opinion, not ideas, but more likely lineage differences or over vinaya. Hence I like Skilton's ( and others') usage of Sthavira community or Sthavira rather than Sthaviravada which may be a back formation by Warder as pointed out in the H-Buddhism links.
Yes, the usage of "Sthavira" is more substantiated, than of the mythical "Sthaviravada". It is at least mentioned in Indian Sanskrit sources.

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Assaji
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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Assaji » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:49 am

As for the Sanskrit - the key question is, - could it be used at the time of Mahasanghika split?

And the answer is no, as evidenced by inscriptions, - "Sanskrit began to come into epigraphic use only in the first century B.C."

https://books.google.com/books?id=XYrG0 ... &q&f=false
https://archive.org/stream/IndianEpigra ... /mode/2up/

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Re: The myth of "Sthaviravada"

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:08 pm

Dmytro wrote: ]
...If I may ask, where have you found here the Theravadan claim that it derived from a sect that broke away from a sect that broke away from this faction? There's no such claim, - just another sentence, based on unknown source.
I answered your question ad given citations and links (when available) directly below the quoted material. I am sure you can find others. Your quarrel is with them, not with me.

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