Theravada is a later sect?

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Caodemarte
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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:12 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
Caodemarte wrote:The reference cited says that there is no credible evidence of the claim of direct descent from Sthaviravada. Claims to be a pure continuation of Sthavirada from the putative 3rd Council on are impossible as Sthavirada had split up and did not exist as such by the time of that claimed event. You can claim that Sthavirada is one of the distant ancestors of Theravada if you have evidence of that. I suspect it to be true on logical grounds, but I, an admitted non-specialist, personally have not seen any evidence beyond partisan claims. Further details are available by examining the referenced text or the referenced discussion.
The historical materials of the different Buddhist schools have historical information on how different groups split up. They don't always agree with each other on who exactly split off from who and in what order, but they agree on certain basics, such as there being a split between the Mahasamgikas and the Sthaviravadins, and the Mahasamgikas gave rise to groups like Lokottaravada and such, and the Sthaviravada group gave rise to other groups like Sarvastivada, Dharmaguptaka, Theravada, Sammitiya, etc... There's no evidence that the Theravada school came from the Mahasamgikas, so if they didn't come from the Sthaviravada group, where did they come from?.....
But in the case of the various Sthavira schools already mentioned (i.e. the Sarvastivada, Theravada, etc...) there is a clear historical continuity between the early Sthaviravada group and the various groups which developed out of it. It's not a case of just general inspiration.

This is pretty murky area and I would not be confident in sharing any the assumptions here. There are obvious difficulties in relying on contradictory partisan literature or history. There is no reliable info establishing the claimed clear historical continuity. That does not mean that the claims are false; just that there is no convincing historical evidence at this point that such claims are historically true.

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Dmytro
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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Dmytro » Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:30 pm

Bakmoon wrote:What is wrong with using the technical term Sthaviravada to unambiguously refer to the group at the time of the second council?
It's not just a technical term, - it's a Buddhological invention that skews the whole view of history, as you demonstrate.
Bakmoon wrote:But did the Theravadins at the time of the second council uphold all of the tenets laid out in the Katthavatthu? Probably not, because those issues hadn't been debated yet, so it is misleading to refer to them with the term Theravada because they existed prior to the founding of the Theravada school as we know it.
So let's invent a new "technical term" for each school after each new Council, - won't this be more precise? I would propose Ukrainian names, for the sake of disambiguation, since Sanskrit can be confusing.
Bakmoon wrote:The historical materials of the different Buddhist schools have historical information on how different groups split up. They don't always agree with each other on who exactly split off from who and in what order, but they agree on certain basics, such as there being a split between the Mahasamgikas and the Sthaviravadins, and the Mahasamgikas gave rise to groups like Lokottaravada and such, and the Sthaviravada group gave rise to other groups like Sarvastivada, Dharmaguptaka, Theravada, Sammitiya, etc...
Would you please provide a single ancient historical source describing, literally, "a split between the Mahasamgikas and the Sthaviravadins", etc.?

Historical materials do describe one kind of split - secession of Mahasamghika and other schools from Theravada (called "Ariya-Sthavira Nikaya" in medieval Sanskrit sources, and "Тхеравада" in modern Ukrainian ones).
There's no evidence that the Theravada school came from the Mahasamgikas, so if they didn't come from the Sthaviravada group, where did they come from?
From the First Council, obviously. They couldn't come out of the group invented by 20th-century Buddhologist.

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Bakmoon » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:24 pm

Dmytro wrote:So let's invent a new "technical term" for each school after each new Council, - won't this be more precise? I would propose Ukrainian names, for the sake of disambiguation, since Sanskrit can be confusing.
We shouldn't make terms after every council. But we should do so after councils which produce schisms, because we need to be able to accurately say who we are talking about.
Would you please provide a single ancient historical source describing, literally, "a split between the Mahasamgikas and the Sthaviravadins", etc.?
They don't use the exact word Sthaviravada, and the term Sthaviravada doesn't refer to a school, but a general grouping and broad tradition.
Historical materials do describe one kind of split - secession of Mahasamghika and other schools from Theravada (called "Ariya-Sthavira Nikaya" in medieval Sanskrit sources, and "Тхеравада" in modern Ukrainian ones).
On what basis do we have for saying that the group after the second council schism should be called Theravada? It is because of the historical continuity between this group of people and the people who started calling themselves Theravadins, correct? The problem is that the Dharmaguptaka school and others have just as much historical continuity with this early group as we do, so you would have to say that the Dharmaguptaka school, the Sarvastivada school, the Bahusrutiya school, and the Sammitiya school are all Theravadins just as much as the Sri Lankans.
From the First Council, obviously. They couldn't come out of the group invented by 20th-century Buddhologist.
Can you show me any sources where the Monks after the first council called themselves Theravada? If not, then why is it you can call them a word they never used for themselves, but I can't call the group following the second council by a slight variation on a word they actually did use to describe themselves? That's a double standard.
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The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Dmytro » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:30 pm

Bakmoon wrote:We shouldn't make terms after every council. But we should do so after councils which produce schisms, because we need to be able to accurately say who we are talking about.
In my opionion, names shouldn't be invented, - they should be based on historical sources.
Would you please provide a single ancient historical source describing, literally, "a split between the Mahasamgikas and the Sthaviravadins", etc.?
They don't use the exact word Sthaviravada, and the term Sthaviravada doesn't refer to a school, but a general grouping and broad tradition.
So, you can't substantiate your claim with any ancient historical source? Fine.

I prefer to discuss points whis can be supported by strong historical evidence, and I'm not interested in discussions on modern invented terms like "Sthaviravada" which various people define in various ways. Nothing can't be proved or disproved about their exact meaning, since they are just pure fiction.

For example, some people interpret Sthaviravada as:
Sthaviravāda literally means the "Teaching Of The Elders", was one of the two main movements in early Buddhism.

"The Elders" referred to Buddha 500 immediate disciples who had attained Arahantship (Enlightenment), they held the First Council, and unanimously decided not to modify any of Buddha Vinaya and Dhamma.

The Sthaviravāda faith survives today in the Theravāda tradition.

https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Buddhis ... av%C4%81da
On what basis do we have for saying that the group after the second council schism should be called Theravada? It is because of the historical continuity between this group of people and the people who started calling themselves Theravadins, correct? The problem is that the Dharmaguptaka school and others have just as much historical continuity with this early group as we do, so you would have to say that the Dharmaguptaka school, the Sarvastivada school, the Bahusrutiya school, and the Sammitiya school are all Theravadins just as much as the Sri Lankans.
As described by the authoritative ancient Indian historical sources I referred to above, it is Sri Lankans, and not other schools, which maintain continuity with the original Ariya Thera (Skt. Sthavira) group.
Can you show me any sources where the Monks after the first council called themselves Theravada? If not, then why is it you can call them a word they never used for themselves, but I can't call the group following the second council by a slight variation on a word they actually did use to describe themselves? That's a double standard.
Obviously, the Elders of the First Council didn't need to call themselves in any other way than just followers of the Buddha, since there were no other Buddhist groups or schools.

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Dmytro » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:33 pm

Talking about authoritative ancient historical sources - here's a great post from Dan Lusthaus:

From: "Dan Lusthaus"
List Editor: Franz Metcalf
Editor's Subject: Re: QUERY>Modern use of "Theravada" (Lusthaus)
Author's Subject: Re: QUERY>Modern use of "Theravada" (Skilling)
Date Written: Sat, 23 Dec 2006 09:23:59 -0800
Date Posted: Sun, 23 Dec 2006 12:23:59 -0500


Just to complicate things a bit, if we put aside the additional concern of using "Theravada" (or any sectarian name) as a designation for lay and/or geographic communities in contradistinction to simply naming a monastic lineage, then the Chinese tradition does seem to attest to the term Thera-school.

If we look, for instance, at the three Chinese translations of Vasumitra's "Development of the Different Schools," which, unfortunately does not survive in Sanskrit or an Indic language, we find the following:

1. Xuanzang (T.2031) uses 上座部 shangzuobu to designate the Theravada school. Shangzuo literally means "High-Seated," and is a common term for Thera/Sthavira. Bu means a "school" or "sect" or something of that sort, and can correspond to --vaada (e.g., Sarvaastivaada is commonly rendered in Chinese as yiqieyou bu 一切有部 "everything exists school"). Of course, this is a translation, not a transliteration or transcription.

2. Kumarajiva (T.2032; the Taisho [mis-]attributes this to Paramartha) does give us a transliteration: 體毘履 which in modern pronunciation would be: ti pi lü. Someone better versed in early fifth century Chinese phonetics may be able to suggest how that sounded back then. However it sounded, its initial consonant was a -t-, not -sth-. Kumarajiva explains the term with another common term for Thera/sthavira, laosu 老宿 which means "elder." His gloss is (此言老宿唯老宿人同會共出律部也). So its meaning is not in doubt.

3. Paramartha (T.2033), in his version of Vasumitra, offers two forms of the name, both being translations rather than transliterations:

大德眾 da de zhong (Great Venerables)
上座弟子部 shangzuo dizi bu (High-Seat and Disciples School)

The first name is meant to convey Thera as an honorific (which is one of the common uses, even in Chinese translations). The second is interesting, since while Xuanzang (as is typical in Chinese) only indicates the "High-seated Ones" (shangzuo), Paramartha adds dizi "disciples", i.e., the high-seated (i.e., teachers) and their disciples. So we are not yet including laypersons, but he is clearly indicating that the term is not meant to be restricted only to actual "elders."

This would suggest that by Vasumitra's day the term Thera (-vada) was already a common designation. His text, of course, is one of the classic sources for the narrative by which the first schism involved the splitting off of Mahasanghikas from the Theras, and that later Sarvastivada also split from the Theras. According to him, the Vatsiputriyas split from the Sarvastivada, and each continued to engender further schisms or sectarian splits. But Thera-vada (if we can take the Chinese bu as an equivalent of vaada) remains consistent. This, of course, is centuries before Buddhaghosa.


In addition, the Foguang Dictionary (p. 719c) lists some additional transliterations (I've added canonical citations):

1. 銅鍱部 modern pronunctiation = tong ye bu. [cf. T.54.2128.646c 一切經音義]

2. 他鞞羅部 modern pronunciation = ta bi luo bu. [cf. ibid, 784b; also Guanding's commentary on the MahaNirvana Sutra T.1767.194c, re: the initial schism:

佛滅度後一百餘年育王設會。上座shangzuo 他鞞羅tabiluo
立義。摩訶僧祇大眾mahasanghika
不同。分為二部。後上座部shangzuo bu...]

In other words, Guanding (Tiantai Zhiyi's disciple and editor, 6th-7th c) initially gives the name BOTH in translation and transliteration (High-seated + tabiluo), and then continues with the translated version as a bu/vaada.

3. 體毘履 ti pi lü (this was what Kumarajiva used, as noted above).

4. 他毘利 ta pi li [cf. T.55.2149.262a 大唐內典錄: 他毘利律(他毘利齊言宿德見僧祐錄)]

If we take the transliterations -- tabiluo, tipilü, and tapili -- and stress the middle syllable, while also taking bi/pi as an approximation for Indic -vi- , then, while they begin with an initial T- sound rather than an S- or Sth-, we get stha-VI-ra (sthavira).

So we may consider both terms (Thera- and Sthavira- "school") as attested in China at least since the end of the fourth century, and, if we can trust the Chinese representations of Vasumitra, in use in India four to five centuries earlier than that.

Dan Lusthaus
Boston

http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse. ... dBnLtxuQgA

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by lostitude » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:35 pm

Hello, sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but:
robertk wrote:4. Out of compassion
for created beings, in order to establish the Faith for a
long time, he made, after the lapse of three months, when
the fourth month and the second beginning of the Vassa ^)
had arrived, the collection of the Dhamma.
What is the part in bold about?

Thanks.

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Dhammanando » Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:24 pm

lostitude wrote:Hello, sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but:
robertk wrote:4. Out of compassion
for created beings, in order to establish the Faith for a
long time, he made, after the lapse of three months, when
the fourth month and the second beginning of the Vassa ^)
had arrived, the collection of the Dhamma.
What is the part in bold about?
Just a translator's idiosyncrasy. The Pali is pāṇīnam anukampāya, "out of pity for living [lit. "breathing"] beings."

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:40 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
Dmytro wrote:
Caodemarte wrote:Now there is also a good argument that Sthaviravada is a back formation by A.K. Warder and that they were not a school or sect as such, but rather a general tendency among a loose grouping of like minded people.
Sthaviravada as an original early school is not just a back formation, it is a figment of imagination, made by Sanskritization of the word "Theravada" by some Buddhologists. During the Theravada-Mahasanghika split, Sanskrit didn't yet exist, so the Sanskrit word "Sthavira" couldn't have been used. It was coined only in the first centuries CE, during Sanskritization:

https://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=28943
Sanskrit most definately existed at the time. What language do you think the Vedas were composed in?
It seems there is a push to consider the Vedic language "not-Sanskrit".

As if we wanted to call Old English "not-English" (incidentally the divide between Old and Modern English is much much more severe than between Vedic and Classical Sanskrit).
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:02 pm

Bakmoon wrote:There's no evidence that the Theravada school came from the Mahasamgikas, so if they didn't come from the Sthaviravada group, where did they come from?
Theravāda was the island tradition of Sri Lanka for a long time, or at least that is the narrative I have inherited, we will see if it is pounced upon! :jawdrop: If it "came" from anywhere, probably there.

Theravāda is the last un-Mahāyānified school. That alone makes it very interesting, as there used to be more sects like Theravāda, but slightly different, but they all converted to Mahāyāna eventually except for Theravāda.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Caodemarte » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:50 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Bakmoon wrote:There's no evidence that the Theravada school came from the Mahasamgikas, so if they didn't come from the Sthaviravada group, where did they come from?
Theravāda was the island tradition of Sri Lanka for a long time, or at least that is the narrative I have inherited, we will see if it is pounced upon! :jawdrop: If it "came" from anywhere, probably there.

Theravāda is the last un-Mahāyānified school. That alone makes it very interesting, as there used to be more sects like Theravāda, but slightly different, but they all converted to Mahāyāna eventually except for Theravāda.

Would it not be truer to say that Tantric Buddhism was the island tradition, the Buddhism that Theravada (or rather Theravada with its court sponsors) replaced and suppressed on the island, before it became "the tradition for a long time?"

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:45 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:
Bakmoon wrote:There's no evidence that the Theravada school came from the Mahasamgikas, so if they didn't come from the Sthaviravada group, where did they come from?
Theravāda was the island tradition of Sri Lanka for a long time, or at least that is the narrative I have inherited, we will see if it is pounced upon! :jawdrop: If it "came" from anywhere, probably there.

Theravāda is the last un-Mahāyānified school. That alone makes it very interesting, as there used to be more sects like Theravāda, but slightly different, but they all converted to Mahāyāna eventually except for Theravāda.

Would it not be truer to say that Tantric Buddhism was the island tradition, the Buddhism that Theravada (or rather Theravada with its court sponsors) replaced and suppressed on the island, before it became "the tradition for a long time?"
But isn't it just as unrealistic to say that Theravāda "sprung up" after Tantric Buddhism in Sri Lanka as it is to parrot dominant Sri Lankan views of their own history? It strikes me as reasonable that the two co-existed. In fact, I thought that this was the dominant narrative: that Mahāyāna & Theravāda-antecedents co-existed in Sri Lanka after Mahāyāna sūtras arrived from India at some point that is unfortunately unknown given the effects of the climate of Sri Lanka on manuscripts. Perhaps its wrong or misinformed.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Caodemarte » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:04 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:But isn't it just as unrealistic to say that Theravāda "sprung up" after Tantric Buddhism in Sri Lanka as it is to parrot dominant Sri Lankan views of their own history? It strikes me as reasonable that the two co-existed. In fact, I thought that this was the dominant narrative: that Mahāyāna & Theravāda-antecedents co-existed in Sri Lanka after Mahāyāna sūtras arrived from India at some point that is unfortunately unknown given the effects of the climate of Sri Lanka on manuscripts. Perhaps its wrong or misinformed.
Many schools of thought existed in Sri Lanka and many texts were studied. I would be very cautious about claiming that texts that later became the Theravada canon arrived first. However, Tantric Buddhism became the court favorite and became "the tradition" of the country. Well, you know how state sponsorship ends. A new court took over and eliminated the religious allies of its rival and imposed Theravada. Theravada, by force, then becomes the dominant tradition of Sri Lanka.This is much more "pressing down" than "springing up." Any standard Sri Lanka history book written by Sri Lankan academics,if not every single oddball partisan, will go into detail on this. EDIT: So this is the "dominant Sri Lankan view of their own history." I don't believe even many partisans would dispute it, although they might add that they think the court did a very good thing!
Last edited by Caodemarte on Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:06 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:But isn't it just as unrealistic to say that Theravāda "sprung up" after Tantric Buddhism in Sri Lanka as it is to parrot dominant Sri Lankan views of their own history? It strikes me as reasonable that the two co-existed. In fact, I thought that this was the dominant narrative: that Mahāyāna & Theravāda-antecedents co-existed in Sri Lanka after Mahāyāna sūtras arrived from India at some point that is unfortunately unknown given the effects of the climate of Sri Lanka on manuscripts. Perhaps its wrong or misinformed.
Many schools of thought existed in Sri Lanka and many texts were studied. I would be very cautious about claiming that texts that later became the Theravada canon texts arrived first. However, Tantric Buddhism became the court favorite and became "the tradition" of the country. Well, you know how state sponsorship ends. A new court took over and eliminated the religious allies of its rival and imposed Theravada. Theravada, by force, then becomes the dominant tradition of Sri Lanka.This much more "pressing down" than "springing up." Any standard Sri Lanka history book written by Sri Lankan academics, not partisans, will go into great detail on this.
Oh indeed. As I recall there was also some violence towards non-Mahāyāna monasteries or practitioners or both at one point as well. But its always a shame when a tradition dies out.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

Caodemarte
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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Caodemarte » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:17 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Caodemarte wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:But isn't it just as unrealistic to say that Theravāda "sprung up" after Tantric Buddhism in Sri Lanka as it is to parrot dominant Sri Lankan views of their own history? It strikes me as reasonable that the two co-existed. In fact, I thought that this was the dominant narrative: that Mahāyāna & Theravāda-antecedents co-existed in Sri Lanka after Mahāyāna sūtras arrived from India at some point that is unfortunately unknown given the effects of the climate of Sri Lanka on manuscripts. Perhaps its wrong or misinformed.
Many schools of thought existed in Sri Lanka and many texts were studied. I would be very cautious about claiming that texts that later became the Theravada canon texts arrived first. However, Tantric Buddhism became the court favorite and became "the tradition" of the country. Well, you know how state sponsorship ends. A new court took over and eliminated the religious allies of its rival and imposed Theravada. Theravada, by force, then becomes the dominant tradition of Sri Lanka.This much more "pressing down" than "springing up." Any standard Sri Lanka history book written by Sri Lankan academics, not partisans, will go into great detail on this.
Oh indeed. As I recall there was also some violence towards non-Mahāyāna monasteries or practitioners or both at one point as well. But its always a shame when a tradition dies out.
Tantric Buddhism, which apparently replaced "Hindu" Tantricism in SE Asia, was also elimated for much the same reasons in Cambodia and elsewhere in the region. It was preserved in Central Asia. Tantricism was attractive for its reputation for the power of its rituals to protect the court. So when the court fell, its replacement often saw no reason to keep its enemy's power base around or any other alternative power base around for that matter.

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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:27 pm

Since Baxter-Sagart's Middle Chinese reconstructions happen to be available online...
Dmytro wrote:體毘履 which in modern pronunciation would be: ti pi lü. Someone better versed in early fifth century Chinese phonetics may be able to suggest how that sounded back then.
體毘履 = tʰeiX biɪ liɪX
Dmytro wrote:3. Paramartha (T.2033), in his version of Vasumitra, offers two forms of the name, both being translations rather than transliterations:

大德眾 da de zhong (Great Venerables)
上座弟子部 shangzuo dizi bu (High-Seat and Disciples School)
大德眾 = dɑiH tək t͡ɕɨuŋ

上座弟子部 = d͡ʑɨɐŋX d͡zuɑH deiX t͡sɨX buoX
Dmytro wrote:In addition, the Foguang Dictionary (p. 719c) lists some additional transliterations (I've added canonical citations):

1. 銅鍱部 modern pronunctiation = tong ye bu. [cf. T.54.2128.646c 一切經音義]

2. 他鞞羅部 modern pronunciation = ta bi luo bu.
銅鍱部 = duŋ d͡ʑiH buoX

他鞞羅部 = tʰɑ peŋ lɑ buoX <--- this one here seems closest to me, either that or the first.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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robertk
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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by robertk » Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:09 am

Would it not be truer to say that Tantric Buddhism was the island tradition, the Buddhism that Theravada (or rather Theravada with its court sponsors) replaced and suppressed on the island, before it became "the tradition for a long time
Please supply the evidence that Tantric Buddhism - what is that?- was the tradition in Sri Lanka before Theravada.

Caodemarte
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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:33 pm

robertk wrote:
Would it not be truer to say that Tantric Buddhism was the island tradition, the Buddhism that Theravada (or rather Theravada with its court sponsors) replaced and suppressed on the island, before it became "the tradition for a long time
Please supply the evidence that Tantric Buddhism - what is that?- was the tradition in Sri Lanka before Theravada.


The historic presence of Tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism (most obvious today in Tibetan Buddhism and Japan's Shingon) in Sri Lanka is pretty obvious and easily seen. Any good comprehensive history will briefly discuss it. I am a fan of A History of Sri Lanka by de Silva.

Interestingly, after it lost royal support and the subsequent suppression, archeological and literary evidence shows that it continued to have a presence until the 12th century and small groups of people continued to practice it, probably in secret, well into the 15th century.

Works composed by Sri Lankan Tantric masters are included in the Tibetan canon, including a commentary on the Sadharmapundarika Sutra by Prithibandhu and Jayabanda’s Cakrasamvara Tantra. The most important of these works, Manjusrimitra’s Bodhicittabhavana, is one of the seminal texts on Dzong chen. This may represent a branch of that school which evolved in Sri Lanka independently of India and Tibet. The Indian Tantric siddha Vanaratana (1384-1468) went to Sri Lanka about 1404 and studied meditation for six years under Dharmakirti. As India was no longer a congenial place for a Buddhist by the time he left Sri Lanka he went to Nepal and from there made several trips to Tibet where he taught what he had learned from Dharmakirti. The Nalanda Gedage is the only major Tantric monument still existing in Sri Lanka and was built in about the 9th century.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Mon Jul 31, 2017 2:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Dharmic
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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Dharmic » Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:46 pm

robertk wrote:
Would it not be truer to say that Tantric Buddhism was the island tradition, the Buddhism that Theravada (or rather Theravada with its court sponsors) replaced and suppressed on the island, before it became "the tradition for a long time
Please supply the evidence that Tantric Buddhism - what is that?- was the tradition in Sri Lanka before Theravada.
Hi,

Like the Pāḷi tradition which was brought to Sri Lanka from India, another tradition came to the island after it, it was known as Vajrayāna/Tantric Buddhism.

Its teachings and practices are esoteric and it is taught through personal oral instructions. I'm not a Vajrayāna initiate, so I'm not privy to its doctrine and I know almost nothing about it. I read in history books that it was popular in Sri Lanka (and many other Buddhist countries) but the tradition here died (suppressed by cousins across the road? :spy: ). At different points of time there was some sectarian fighting amongst the Buddhist factions in Sri Lanka. The various schools (at times, through influencing the ruler/ruling group) tried to gain an upper hand over each other. (The ugly details can be found in traditional and history books.)

Tantric Buddhism's presence in Sri Lanka is attested by the many sites, sculptures ,inscriptions, accounts etc.. Notable Vajrayāna teachers such as Amoghavajra,Vajrabodhi etc. traveled to Sri Lanka to study it. There is no Vajrayāna as a tradition on the island now.

Formal Mahāyāna tradition too became extinct yet its ideals of Bodhisattva, Mahākaruṇa(Great Compassion) and Bodhisattvas remained popular. I mentioned a research work ( Buddha in the Crown: Avalokiteśvara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka by John Clifford Holt ) in a previous discussion. From the book we know that thousand years later Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva veneration is still existing in Sri Lanka. It was an important feature of religious life.

While Mahāyāna is dominated by the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, the scene in Sri Lanka is permeated with gods,Hindu and local spirits. I don't remember the names but there are some other books by Obeyesekere, Gombrich and others who researched Buddhism on the island. Kataragama, Utpalavanna (aka Buddhist Viṣṇu- he is mentioned in one or more of the Pāḷi vaṃsas,the Mahāvaṃsa?), Pattini/Kannagi etc. Hindu deity cults are present in the Buddhism of Sri Lanka. The Lankātilaka Vihāra (built in CE 1340s) has a shrine for Ganesh!- another Hindu deity, along with some others.( One scholar mentioned that worship of Kālī goddess by some Sri Lankan Buddhists might be the latest fad!) The impression I got is that the ground reality of Buddhism in Sri Lanka is far away from what is imagined by most outsiders (some pristine form of Buddhism as depicted in the texts). Also this mixing is not something done by lay people alone. The book I mentioned above gives many examples, one is about a Saṃgharāja (head of the monastic community) -Śrī Rāhula Thera petitioning to Hindu gods!

In recent times, some monks having been trying to counter the extreme influence of Hinduism it exerts in the form of its gods, astrology, caste system, superstitions etc. I read about one such method in a research work about the revival of Buddhism in the recent history by advocating Buddha-vandanā i.e. as one of the means of bringing the Buddha into the focus. It seems that prior to two centuries, apart from monasteries, few persons had Buddharūpa (Buddha images). Another thing is that chanting in Pāḷi has become the norm now. Check this: THE ROLE OF VENERATING THE BUDDHA IN THE MODERNIZATION OF BUDDHISM IN SRI LANKA
( I doubt if the reform process is having much effect : http://bharanikumariyerdevo.blogspot.co ... angam.html :rolleye: ).


It is important to keep in mind that the concept of what constitutes 'dominant' changes when we observe from different angles, there is Buddhism of the texts, monastics Buddhism, lay Buddhism etc.
Coëmgenu wrote:Theravāda is the last un-Mahāyānified school. That alone makes it very interesting, as there used to be more sects like Theravāda, but slightly different, but they all converted to Mahāyāna eventually except for Theravāda.
Yes, they are different, but I heard that there are Pāḷi texts which show possible influence by Mahāyāna ideals. (Again I would suggest reading the first book mentioned above, you will see that there is a difference between theory and practice. Sri Lanka is not some far away isolated land, its few hours away from India. South India was a bastion of Buddhism of all kinds for thousand years.) Anyways, this an other topic and I'm not very knowledgeable about this, also I don't want to wade into this. As you have already studied a lot about Mahāyāna, if you have time then check this - The Buddhavaṁsa. Its looong,I read a little. :)

:anjali:
Aho! Buddho! Aho! Suddho! Aho! Saṃsuddhamānaso!
Aho! Aho! Mettāsindhu! Buddhaṃ taṃ paṇamāmyahaṃ!


Natthi me saraṅaṃ aññaṃ Buddho me saranaṃ varaṃ
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.

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robertk
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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by robertk » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:47 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
robertk wrote:
Would it not be truer to say that Tantric Buddhism was the island tradition, the Buddhism that Theravada (or rather Theravada with its court sponsors) replaced and suppressed on the island, before it became "the tradition for a long time
Please supply the evidence that Tantric Buddhism - what is that?- was the tradition in Sri Lanka before Theravada.

.

.

Works composed by Sri Lankan Tantric masters are included in the Tibetan canon, including a commentary on the Sadharmapundarika Sutra by Prithibandhu and Jayabanda’s Cakrasamvara Tantra. The most important of these works, Manjusrimitra’s Bodhicittabhavana, is one of the seminal texts on Dzong chen. This may represent a branch of that school which evolved in Sri Lanka independently of India and Tibet. The Indian Tantric siddha Vanaratana (1384-1468) went to Sri Lanka about 1404 and studied meditation for six years under Dharmakirti. As India was no longer a congenial place for a Buddhist by the time he left Sri Lanka he went to Nepal and from there made several trips to Tibet where he taught what he had learned from Dharmakirti. The Nalanda Gedage is the only major Tantric monument still existing in Sri Lanka and was built in about the 9th century.

Just a few posts ago you claimed that Tantric Buddhism was the main religion in Sri Lanka ( the "island tradition' as you put it) and later Theravada came along and gained the upper hand somehow. You mention some texts from.the about 600 years ago that were apparently Tantric?

What about Mahinda's arrival in Sri Lanka 2300 years ago - bringing the Theravada with him..Are you saying that tantric Buddhism predated this ?

Caodemarte
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Re: Theravada is a later sect?

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:33 pm

To be clear I am saying that it is extraordinary well established that Tantric Buddhism was the state supported religion before Theravada was established as the official sect or "the" tradition of Sri Lanka. A new court dumped Tantricism and instead formed an alliance with Theravada monks. This alliance then suppressed Tantric and other sects and Theravada became the dominant sect. This is simply so obvious and well evidenced (literature, archaeology, historical documents, art history, architectural evidence, etc.) that it is not the slightest bit controversial in Sri Lanka or among historians. I have suggested a number of sources if you are interested (not that everybody is!) in how and when Theravada became established in SE Asia.

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