clw_uk wrote:Two questions
First, what is your understanding of materialism, particularly Ajita Kesakambali view of it
But was Ajita's view really one of "materialism"? I'm not sure DD Kosambi's expertise lies in pre-Buddhist and early Buddhist "metaphysics" and there is a fairly clear pre-Buddhist understanding of rūpa
that may better inform how we interpret Ajita's view. The classification of "materialism" is certainly valid under Abhidharmic methods, but that is not the only legitimate model.
Taking that translation offered -
.A human being is built up of four elements. When he dies the earthly in him returns and relapses to the earth, the fluid to the water, the heat to the fire, the wind to the air, and his faculties pass into space.
This comes from the Pali -
Cātummahābhūtiko ayaṃ puriso yadā kālaṃ karoti, paṭhavī paṭhavikāyaṃ anupeti anupagacchati. Āpo āpokāyaṃ anupeti anupagacchati. Tejo tejokāyaṃ anupeti anupagacchati. Vāyo vāyokāyaṃ anupeti anupagacchati, ākāsaṃ induyāni saṃkamanti.
suffix to cātummahābhūta
functions as a relative adjective (qualifying purisa
) to open up the relative clause ending in kālaṃ karoti
. So, the translation above is straightaway defective. But small matter.
Does he correctly translate cātummahābhūtika
as "is built up of the 4 elements"? Elsewhere in DN 2, we have this very standard pericope appear in the insight section -
ayaṃ kho me kāyo rūpī cātummahābhūtiko
This body of mine, with form, cātummahābhūtiko ...
is a pretty standard kind of bahubbīhi
compound and -ika
can serve any number of grammatical functions. The simplest way to parse it is to interpret it as a possessive suffix (rather than a constitutive reading), making it in line with the rūpī
The 4 great bhūtas
are not quite "material" thingies in the pre-Buddhist literature or as used in the suttas. See the standard pericopes defining them on the conceptual level, eg MN 28. There are the qualitative aspects that give one and one's experience a nameable dimension.
It all went downhill after the Sarvas messed up in SA 298 with a new conception of nāmarūpa
that the older concept of "appearance" was displaced by a new concept of rūpa
= "material" and nāma
= "immaterial". The new definition of nāmarūpa
is found not only SA 298, but make their appearance in these Skt texts -
In these Agama definitions, nāma
= feeling, perception, formations and consciousness
. There are however, other Agama sutras that follow the standard Pali definition.
So, we have 2 conflicting authorities - one exemplified by DN 15's usage of these terms to denote appearance and name of contact/experience, and another stream that use it to describe the "material" versus the "immaterial" constitution of a person.
Which do you think is more authentic, given that the alternative Agama definitions are not found in the Pali suttas?