Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
JBG
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:59 am

Re: Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Post by JBG » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:26 pm

"Human nature being what it is, it is perfectly credible that the Mahāsāṅghikas believed that they had preserved the original form of the Vinaya which had been altered by others. Their opponents are unlikely to have agreed. They probably felt that things had become lax and it was necessary to restore the pristine teaching. In such a dispute historians should not take sides. We may be sure that each party was able to make a case for its position."

"What is important is that the picture which now emerges is one in which the earliest division of the saṅgha was primarily a matter of monastic discipline. The Mahāsāṅghikas were essentially a conservative party resisting a reformist attempt to tighten discipline. The likelihood is that they were initially the larger body, representing the mass of the community, the mahāsaṅgha. Subsequently, doctrinal disputes arose among the reformists as they grew in numbers and gathered support. Eventually these led to divisions on the basis of doctrine. For a very long time, however, there must have been many fraternities (nikāyas) based only on minor vinaya differences. They would have been very much an internal affair of the saṅgha and the laity would have been hardly aware of them. Geographical differences and personalities would have been more important than doctrine."

The ‘Five Points’ and the Origins of the Buddhist Schools, by L.S. Cousins, 1992
From here: http://www.shin-ibs.edu/academics/_forum/v2.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"In current Buddhology, there are two primary but opposing hypotheses to explain the beginnings of Indian Buddhist sectarianism. The first, advocated by Andre Bareau, presumes the schism that separated the Mahāsāṃghikas and Sthaviras to have resulted from disciplinary laxity on the part of the future Mahāsāṃghikas, coupled with concerns over five theses predicated by the monk Mahādeva. The second hypothesis, more recently promulgated by Janice Nattier and myself, suggests that the initial schism resulted not from disciplinary laxity but solely from unwarranted expansion of the root vinaya text by the future Sthaviras."

"One of the major features of the second thesis revolves around the degree to which it can be demonstrated that the Sthaviras may have expanded the root vinaya text. A comparison of two very early vinayas, the Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravādin’s (in Sanskrit) and the Theravādin’s (in Pāli), amply shows that the two texts bear remarkable coincidence in all but one category: the śaikṣa-dharmas (simple faults or misdeeds, the least serious category of precepts). In that category, the Mahāsāṃghika text posits sixty-seven items, while the Theravāda text posits seventy-five."

"The paper argues that the divergent rules in the two nikāyas demonstrate an attempt on the part of the future Sthaviras to circumvent a potential saṃghabheda, or schism within the order, by making more explicit the general areas of disagreement that precipitated the second council. In so doing, they inadvertently provoked the split they were so diligently trying to avoid."

The Role of Prātimokṣa Expansion in the Rise of Indian Buddhist Sectarianism, by Charles S. Prebish, 2007
From here: http://www.shin-ibs.edu/academics/_pwj/three.nine.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Last edited by JBG on Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 884
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Post by ancientbuddhism » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:06 pm

JBG wrote:
...

The ‘Five Points’ and the Origins of the Buddhist Schools, by L.S. Cousins, 1992
http://www.shin-ibs.edu/documents/bForu ... ousins.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
This link is opening to an error page for me. An alternative location for this article can be found here:

Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies Series, Edited by Paul Williams:

Volume II –The Early Buddhist Schools and Doctrinal History; Theravāda Doctrine
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves

JBG
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:59 am

Re: Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Post by JBG » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:28 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
JBG wrote:
...

The ‘Five Points’ and the Origins of the Buddhist Schools, by L.S. Cousins, 1992
http://www.shin-ibs.edu/documents/bForu ... ousins.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
This link is opening to an error page for me. An alternative location for this article can be found here:
Hmmm, I don't know why the direct links to those pdf articles don't work, but I changed the links to the pages where they are available.

User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 884
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Post by ancientbuddhism » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:34 pm

Sects and Sectarianism by Sujato
  • “It seems tome that far too much weight has been ascribed to the Dīpavaṁsa, the earliest Sri Lankan chronicle. This version of events, despite straining credibility in almost every respect, continues to exert a powerful influence on the Theravādin sense of communal identity. The fact that some modern scholars have treated it favourably only reinforces this tendency.

    The research contained in this work was primarily inspired by my involvement in the reformation of the bhikkhuni order within Theravāda. While we will only glance upon this issue here, one of the central questions in the revival of the bhikkhuni lineage from the Theravādin perspective is the validity of ordination lineages in other schools. The traditional Theravādin view would have it that the bhikkhunis in existence today are ‘Mahāyāna’. Mahāyāna, it is claimed, is descended from the Mahāsaṅghikas, and the Dīpavaṁsa asserts that the Mahāsaṅghikas are none other than the ‘evil’ Vajjiputtakas, who advocated the use of money by monks, and who were defeated at the Second Council, but who later reformed and made a new recitation. Hence the Mahāyāna is representative of a tradition whose fundamental principle was to encourage laxity in Vinaya. They are ‘schismatic’ and it is impossible to accept them as part of the same communion.

    It seems to me that this view, ultimately inspired by the Dīpavaṁsa, underlies the position taken by many mainstream Theravādins today. I intend to show how the Dīpavaṁsa’s position is incoherent and patently implausible, and that a more reasonable depiction of the origins of Buddhist schools can be constructed from a sympathetic reading of all the sources. ...”
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Post by Alex123 » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:38 pm

Hello Huseng.
Huseng wrote: You pretty much pinned down the key differences. The purported founder of the Mahāsāṃghikas, Mahādeva, plays a vilified role in some Buddhist legends. He is said to have held five heretical views:

Arhats can be led astray by others;
Arhats are still subject to ignorance (despite their awakened state);
Arhats are subject to doubt;
Arhats can be taught by others (and are therefore not omniscient);
[various forms, all revolving around the notion that] it is [somehow] permissible or good to say "Oh, the suffering!" [etc.]
Well, even the Buddha didn't know everything regarding weather, people's names, names of streets, etc. So even He could be taught this by others.

I do wonder what is meant by "being subject to ignorance". Does it talk about above? Or avijjā as a fetter? If so, what is the evidence for that? What is the evidence that Arhats have avijjā?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6625
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:08 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Huseng wrote: It was the Sthaviravādins (ancestors of Theravada), not the Mahāsāṃghikas, who wanted to add material to the Vinaya, which led to the schism as the story goes.

Comparative analysis has lead some scholars to believe the Mahāsāṃghika material best represents the earliest available versions of Buddhist texts. They tend to have less material than from other schools, which in the context of religious literature usually means it is the earlier edition because material is usually added, not deleted, over time.
In most situations I would agree with that. However, 227 precepts are a lot of things to follow! And there are bound to be some, as we see even today, who want to relax some of those rules/precepts. And according to the accounts of the Second Buddhist council it was over 10 major points, including using money, eating after midday, etc., i.e., that some wanted to reduce the number of rules, not to add any. If the account we have for the Second Buddhist council is correct, I would say that gives more evidence that the Pali Canon is the earliest Buddhavacana that we know of.
well as David notes, there was more going on at the second council that wanting to add to the vinaya, there was (to put it in one way) a wanting to loose rules also, I think the names of the groups also give a clue as to who was keeping the original set of rules, although that isn't a guarantee.

I agree with David in that the Pali canon is the oldest complete canon available to us, as a general rule, the other existing texts may in some cases represent an older version, and it would be up to the individual or group to decide whether or not any noticeable differences add what is not dhamma, or add to better understanding of the dhamma.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6625
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:39 pm

after doing a little more reading on the vinaya differences it looks like the tightness or laxity of vinaya to be a cause of a schism to be relitively minor, yet no less so on either side
The Role of Prātimokṣa Expansion in the Rise of Indian Buddhist Sectarianism - Charles S. Prebish - p33 (as per number on page) wrote:the Mahāsāṃghika-Lokottaravādin’s (in Sanskrit) and the Theravādin’s (in Pāli), amply shows that the two texts bear remarkable coincidence in all but one category: the śaikṣa-dharmas (simple faults or misdeeds, the least serious category of precepts). In that category, the Mahāsāṃghika text posits sixty-seven items, while the Theravāda text posits seventy-five.
there is noted in this document by Charles Prebish that there are 4 rules only found in the Mahāsāṃghika and 12 rules found only in the Theravādin which are not directly found in the other, although without reading a rule by rule comparison it is difficult to precisely know if these are actula differences or just different forms of expression at least in the four rules of the Mahāsāṃghika.
the rules all seam to be dealing with the matters arrising on the Theravadin side and as the document says
The Role of Prātimokṣa Expansion in the Rise of Indian Buddhist Sectarianism - Charles S. Prebish - p42 (as per number on page) wrote:if the Buddhist community was plagued by the genuine threat of saṃghabheda in the aftermath of the council of Vaiśālī, and specifically with regard to matters of personal and institutional integrity and ethical conduct, it might well be both logical and reasonable to tighten the monastic code by the addition of a number of rules designed to make the required conduct more explicit.
So the answer may infact be a mix of the two, the Mahāsāṃghika were too lax and the Theravādin wanted to remedy this; and the Mahāsāṃghika wanted to keep the rules as they were and the Theravādin wanted to make things more binding due to the problem at hand.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 884
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: Favouring Mahāsāṃghika Scriptures

Post by ancientbuddhism » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:54 pm

Steven Collins discusses the “... Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha’s teachings...” claims in this article: On the Very Idea of the Pali Canon:
  • “In this paper I address the issue of the formation and role of the Pali Canon (1) in Theravāda history and culture. My perspective is strictly that of an external observer wishing to make a contribution to historical scholarship, or at least to initiate an academic discussion of the issue: I mean to imply no evaluation whatsoever of any way in which the Canon has been or is seen by Theravāda Buddhists. From this perspective and for these purposes, I want to suggest that the role of the Canonical texts in Theravāda tradition has been misunderstood, and that the usual scholarly focus on the early period of Theravāda is misplaced. We must, I will suggest, reject the equation ‘the Pali Canon = Early Buddhism’, (2) and move away from an outmoded and quixotic concern with origins to what I would see as a properly focussed and realistic historical perspective. Rather than pre-existing the Theravāda school, as the textual basis from which it arose and which it sought to preserve, the Pali Canon – by which I mean the closed list of scriptures with a special and specific authority as the avowed historical record of the Buddha’s teaching – should be seen as a product of that school, as part of a strategy of legitimation by the monks of the Mahāvihāra lineage in Ceylon in the early centuries of the first millennium A.D.”
  • 1. References to Pāli texts use the abbreviations of the Critical Pāli Dictionary.
    2. The general tenor of the re-evaluation I am recommending here is very much in line with the work being produced by Gregory Schopen, who has shown that for so many things either not found or not emphasised in the Canon, and usually seen as ‘later’ developments, there is in fact extensive evidence in the earliest archaeological and epigraphical remains: see, for example Schopen 1984, 1985 and 1989.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests