The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

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robertk
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The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by robertk » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:01 am

This was in another thread
I think the Mahāniddesa is better classified as an early commentary. and it's probably due to concerns about such commentarial works being conflated with the Buddhavacana of the true suttas, that the Canon was closed, and subsequent works had to be regarded thereon as commentary, rather than as primary canonical material.
I would be interested to find why this should be classified as a Commentary and not be considered part of the Sutta-pitaka?

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:06 am

Greetings,
The Mahāniddesa or “Great Exposition” is really one half of a book together with the Cūḷaniddesa, the “Shorter Exposition”. They offer commentaries on certain portions of the Sutta Nipāta, and lack counterparts in the northern canons. The Mahāniddesa comments on the sixteen poems of the fourth chapter, the “Chapter of the Eights” or Aṭṭhakavagga.
( Source )

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by robertk » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:26 am

It is included in the Sutta Pitaka - so according to Theravada it is part of the canon.

It is an exposition by Sariputta of the Nidessa of Khuddaka Nikaya. Although it is Sariputta's exposition or commentary it is still not classified as part of the Atthakatha's - i.e. by Buddhaghosa or Dhammapala. Neither is it considered a later, important text such as the Milindapanha.
It was, Theravada holds, recited at the first council.

As well as Sariputta other leading disciples had their words recorded at the first council. Notably MahaKaccana - see for example the Madhupindika Sutta, The Honeyball, where he expands and elucidates the brief words that the Buddha had said- and then later the Buddha praises him for his explanation.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:51 am

Greetings Robert,

Yes, I realise it is included by the Sutta Pitaka by the Theravada tradition, and that in that regard it is not alone as being one of multiple documents included in the Pali Canon by the Theravada tradition, that are not the word of the Buddha. Typically when people speak of the suttas, they're referring to teachings reasonably traced to, or endorsed by the Buddha. This cannot be said however about the Mahanidessa because the Buddha would never have heard of it, on account of its later origins, and in that sense I find its classification as (capital S) Sutta incredibly unfortunate and misleading.

This is not to disparage the Mahanidessa, only to say it does not meet the Buddha's criteria for sutta, even if the Elders decided in their wisdom, for some reason I cannot personally fathom, to bundle this early commentary into the same basket as actual, true, legitimate "word of the Buddha" (Buddha-Vacana).

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by robertk » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:54 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:51 am
. This cannot be said however about the Mahanidessa because the Buddha would never have heard of it, on account of its later origins, and in that sense I find its classification as (capital S) Sutta incredibly unfortunate and misleading.

Hi
how do you know it had later origins, it was included in the first council according to Theravada.
:heart:

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:06 am

Greetings Robert,
robertk wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:54 am
how do you know it had later origins, it was included in the first council according to Theravada.
:heart:
The Khuddaka Nikaya can easily be divided into two strata, one being early and the other late. The texts Sutta Nipata, Itivuttaka, Dhammapada, Therigatha (Theragatha), Udana, and Jataka tales belong to the early stratum. The texts Khuddakapatha, Vimanavatthu, Petavatthu, Niddesa, Patisambhidamagga, Apadana, Buddhavamsa and Cariyapitaka can be categorized in the later stratum.
( A textual and Historical Analysis of the Khuddaka Nikaya – Oliver Abeynayake Ph.D. , Colombo, First Edition – 1984, p. 113)
The texts in the early stratum date from before the second council (earlier than 100 years after Buddha’s parinibbana), while the later stratum is from after the second council, which means they are definitely later additions to the Sutta Pitaka, and that they might not have been the original teachings by the Buddha, but later compositions by disciples.

The following books of the Khuddaka Nikaya can thus be regarded as later additions:

the Khuddakapatha
the Vimanavatthu
the Petavatthu
the Niddesa
the Patisambhidamagga
the Apadana
the Buddhavamsa
the Cariyapitaka
Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by robertk » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:08 am

Okk, so I take it this is a scholar's opinion. Did he provide any evidence for his opinion?

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:14 am

Greetings Robert,
robertk wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:08 am
Okk, so I take it this is a scholar's opinion. Did he provide any evidence for his opinion?
Well, I used to have this physical book, but I posted it to a bhikkhu in Sri Lanka who was keen to study it, despite it being out of print. In time, I was sent back a scanned copy of the document by the good bhikkhu. I haven't actually looked at the scan yet, to be honest, but I did file away a copy of it. In light of it being long out of print, I will upload a copy here, to enable you or anyone else interested to investigate the matter further. It seems like page 173-179 is a decent place to start...

I assume there is no active copyright on this text, but if anyone wishes to establish and enforce a copyright claim, please let me know and I will remove the PDF attachment.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Attachments
A Textual and Historical Analysis of Khuddaka Nikaya.pdf
(910.27 KiB) Downloaded 22 times
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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robertk
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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by robertk » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:32 am

thanks so much! I will read over when I have time.

To support the Theravada I add something from the Dipavamsa:
Mahasarp.gltika bhikkhil vil~marp. akarp.su sasanarp., bhinditva
miilassrp.gaharp. aiiiiarp. akarp.su sarp.gaharp. aiiiiattha sarp.gahitarp. suttarp.
aiiiiattha akarirp.su te, attharp. dhammaii ea bhindirp.su ye nikayesu paiieasu.
pariyayadesitaii eapi atho nippariyayadesitarp. nitatthaii e' eva neyyattharp.
ajanitvana bhikkhavo aiiiiarp. sandhaya bhai.J.itarp. aiiiiattharp. !bapayirp.su
te, byaiijanaeehayaya te bhikkhii bahu attharp. vinasayurp.. eha<;l<;letva
ekadesaii ea suttarp. vinayaii ea gambhirarp. patiriiparp. suttavinayarp. taii ea
aiiiiarp. karirp.su te parivaram atthuddhararp. abhidhammappakaranarp.
patisambhidan ea niddesarp. ekadesaii ea jatakarp. ettakarp. nissajjetvana
aiiiiani akarirp.su te. namaril lingarp. parikkhararp. akappakarai.J.ani ea
pakatibhavarp. vijahetva taii ea aiiiiarp. akarp.su te"
(Oldenberg, D!pava'T[tSa, Verses 32-38, p. 36).

The bhikkhus of the Great Council [the heretical Mahāsāṃghika] made a compilation of the doctrine quite opposite to the true faith. They destroyed the original redaction
of the dhamma and made a new redaction of the same. The sutta which has
been placed in one place originally was placed by them in another place.
They altered the meaning (attha) and the faith ( dhamma) in the five nikayas.
They not knowing what had been taught in long expositions nor without
exposition, neither the natural meaning nor the suppressed meaning, gave
a different meaning to that which had been said in connection with an
altogether different thing. They altered a great deal of meaning under the
shadow of letter. They discarded some portions of the sutta and of the
profound vinaya and compiled different sutta and vinaya which had only
the appearance of the genuine ones. They rejected the Parivara, that which
.enables one to arrive at the meaning, the Abhidhammapakaral).a, the
Patisarilbhida, the Niddesa and some portions of the Jataka and composed
new ones. They did away with the original rules regarding nouns, genders,
composition and the embellishments of style and made new ones.
So these Proto mahayana schismatic monks around the time of the second council rejected the Nidessa.

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:56 am

Greetings,

Taking a quick look at the PDF file, it suggests there was a difference of opinion amongst commentators on the subject of where the Nidessa belongs!
The Niddesa is included in the “suttanga” of the Ninefold Division
(Navanga) by Buddhaghosa. In the commentary to the Nettippakarana,
Dhammapāla confirms Buddhaghosa’s view. In this regard, Upasena
the author of the commentary to the Niddesa holds a different view. He
is of the opinion that the Niddesa should be included in the divisions of
gāthā and veyyākarana (gāthaṅgaveyyākaraṇaṅgadvaya saṅgahito). It
is to be noted here that Upasena’s opinion has been criticized in the
Sāratthadīpanī, the sub-commentary to the Samantapāsādikā, written
by Sāriputta in the Polonnaruwa period.

It seems that the author of the Sāratthadīpanī is in favour of the
opinion of Buddhaghosa and Dhammapāla, even though he has
accepted that the inclusion of Niddesa into “veyyākarananga” is
reasonable on the ground that the questions and answers (pucchāvissajjanā)
are found in the Niddesa. He has drawn our attention to the
question whether the Niddesa should be included in the division of
gāthā. The account found in the Sāratthadīpanī is however of great
significance, as it shows a controversy prevalent in the tradition in
respect to our text.
:popcorn:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by robertk » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:56 am
Greetings,

Taking a quick look at the PDF file, it suggests there was a difference of opinion amongst commentators on the subject of where the Nidessa belongs!
The Niddesa is included in the “suttanga” of the Ninefold Division
(Navanga) by Buddhaghosa. In the commentary to the Nettippakarana,
Dhammapāla confirms Buddhaghosa’s view. In this regard, Upasena
the author of the commentary to the Niddesa holds a different view. He
is of the opinion that the Niddesa should be included in the divisions of
gāthā and veyyākarana (gāthaṅgaveyyākaraṇaṅgadvaya saṅgahito). It
is to be noted here that Upasena’s opinion has been criticized in the
Sāratthadīpanī, the sub-commentary to the Samantapāsādikā, written
by Sāriputta in the Polonnaruwa period.

It seems that the author of the Sāratthadīpanī is in favour of the
opinion of Buddhaghosa and Dhammapāla, even though he has
accepted that the inclusion of Niddesa into “veyyākarananga” is
reasonable on the ground that the questions and answers (pucchāvissajjanā)
are found in the Niddesa. He has drawn our attention to the
question whether the Niddesa should be included in the division of
gāthā. The account found in the Sāratthadīpanī is however of great
significance, as it shows a controversy prevalent in the tradition in
respect to our text.
:popcorn:

Metta,
Paul. :)
But all agree it is part of the Sutta-pitaka and recited at first council . This was perhaps a matter of Upasena thinking the material was more suited for gatha.

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:09 am

Greetings,
robertk wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:06 am
But all agree it is part of the Sutta-pitaka . This was perhaps a matter of Upasena thinking the material was more suited for gatha.
Well, the Sutta Pitaka was where it was when it came to them. They would have been hard-pressed at that stage to put forward an argument to eject it from the Canon altogether (considering it clearly doesn't belong in the other two Pitakas).
robertk wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:06 am
recited at first council
Are you able to put forward something that substantiates this? I ask because the survey would suggest otherwise. Here's an extract from pages 173-74...
Tradition counts it as a canonical text, but it is evident that the Niddesa is an old
commentary which was included in the canon in a later period.
The
evidence which stands against the traditional view is examined here.
The antiquity of the Aṭṭhaka and the Pārāyana Vagga is well known.
There are references which stand for the existence of these sections
even in the Nikāyas and in the Vinaya texts. The language of these
vaggas is very archaic and teachings are highly philosophical. It seems
that they had been in existence as distinct anthologies for centuries
before the compilation of the Niddesa. During this long existence
, they
became unintelligible to the disciples because of their language and
philosophy which, to some extent, were remote from those of the other
discourses of the canon. In this circumstance, the discourses found in
the Aṭṭhaka and Pārāyana Vagga needed to be commented on in order
to make them intelligible; on the other hand, it was the time of the
emergence of various dissentient schools; the tradition of the
Theravādins was challenged. An attempt was therefore made to
elaborate the earliest discourses in the Theravāda tradition. It is
evident that at that time, the expositions were written not only to
establish their own tradition but also to elucidate the Dhamma. The
compilation of the Niddesa, an exposition on the Aṭṭhaka and Pārāyana
Vagga, was due to this enterprise.
Putting centuries between these texts, and the presence of various schools, doesn't sound very First Council to me...

:popcorn:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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robertk
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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by robertk » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:09 am
Greetings,
robertk wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:06 am
But all agree it is part of the Sutta-pitaka . This was perhaps a matter of Upasena thinking the material was more suited for gatha.
Well, the Sutta Pitaka is was where it was when it came to them. They would have been hard-pressed at that stage to put forward an argument to eject it from the Canon altogether (considering it clearly doesn't belong in the other two Pitakas).
robertk wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:06 am
recited at first council
Are you able to put forward something that substantiates this?
Yes indeed. The Attahasalini (expositor) p. 32:
"Which is the Khuddaka Nikaya? The whole of the Vinaya-pitaka, Abhidhamma pitaka and the fifteen divisions excluding the four nikayas" p35 "thus as rehearsed at the [first]council the Abhidhamma is a Pitaka by Pitaka classification, khuddaka -nikaya by Nikaya clasification, veyyakarana by part-classification and constitues two or three thousand units of text by classification of textual units"
and of the fifteen mentioned one is the Nidessa.
(don't be confused by the Burmese inclusion in the 20th century of such texts as the Milindapaha which were not recited at the first council-).

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:37 am

Greetings Robert,

Thanks, I think it's good to know the origin of different perspectives etc. as it helps people to come to their own conclusions on various matters.

:reading:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: The Mahanidessa is a Commentary?

Post by Volo » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:20 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:09 am
Tradition counts it as a canonical text, but it is evident that the Niddesa is an old
commentary which was included in the canon in a later period.
The
evidence which stands against the traditional view is examined here.
The antiquity of the Aṭṭhaka and the Pārāyana Vagga is well known.
There are references which stand for the existence of these sections
even in the Nikāyas and in the Vinaya texts. The language of these
vaggas is very archaic and teachings are highly philosophical. It seems
that they had been in existence as distinct anthologies for centuries
before the compilation of the Niddesa. During this long existence
, they
became unintelligible to the disciples because of their language and
philosophy which, to some extent, were remote from those of the other
discourses of the canon. In this circumstance, the discourses found in
the Aṭṭhaka and Pārāyana Vagga needed to be commented on in order
to make them intelligible; on the other hand, it was the time of the
emergence of various dissentient schools; the tradition of the
Theravādins was challenged. An attempt was therefore made to
elaborate the earliest discourses in the Theravāda tradition. It is
evident that at that time, the expositions were written not only to
establish their own tradition but also to elucidate the Dhamma. The
compilation of the Niddesa, an exposition on the Aṭṭhaka and Pārāyana
Vagga, was due to this enterprise.
This is a good example of how the modern so called "buddhology" works. What real arguments does the author have? Aṭṭhaka and the Pārāyana Vagga are old (this is indeed generally accepted), then he says "It seems that they had been in existence as distinct anthologies for centuries before the compilation of the Niddesa". To whom does it seem? How from A comes B? Why "for centuries"? On what this time scale is based? Then he continues "interfering" that these parts of Snp became unintelligible, and that Theravadins were challenged, and concludes that they started to "elaborate" the early discourses and so on. Form whence do all these "conclusions" come? I believe from his desire to get a PhD or to publish a paper.

And I'm not saying that Nidessa is old or not (I haven't read it, and cannot have my opinion therefore), but "conclusions" of buddhologists worth nothing without facts and direct evidences. Opinion of buddhologist on Buddhism is not the same as, say, opinion of physicist on physics.

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