If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
nibbuti
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If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by nibbuti » Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:06 pm

Hi friends

Do you know where the Buddha said (perhaps to Ananda) that if one is not sure whether a sutta or teaching is actually from him, one should see if it agrees with or contradicts the (other) suttas?

(It is not the Kalama Sutta, but probably also in the Anguttara Nikaya.)

:reading:

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Dhammanando
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by Dhammanando » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:26 pm

The passage to which you refer is included in the Dīgha Nikāya’s Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, but in the Anguttara Nikāya occurs as a complete discourse: the Mahāpadesa Sutta. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation in Numerical Discourses:

The Great References891

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Bhoganagara near the Ānanda Shrine. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus!”

“Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Bhikkhus, I will teach you these four great references.892 [168] Listen and attend closely; I will speak.”

“Yes, Bhante,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“What, bhikkhus, are the four great references?

(1) “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might say: ‘In the presence of the Blessed One I heard this; in his presence I learned this: “This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the Teacher’s teaching!”’ That bhikkhu’s statement should neither be approved nor rejected. Without approving or rejecting it, you should thoroughly learn those words and phrases and then check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline.893 If, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are not included among the discourses and are not to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. It has been badly learned by this bhikkhu.’ Thus you should discard it.

“But a bhikkhu might say: ‘In the presence of the Blessed One I heard this; in his presence I learned this: “This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the Teacher’s teaching!”’ That bhikkhu’s statement should neither be approved nor rejected. Without approving or rejecting it, you should thoroughly learn those words and phrases and then check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline. If, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are included among the discourses and are to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. It has been learned well by this bhikkhu.’ You should remember this first great reference.

(2) “Then a bhikkhu might say: ‘In such and such a residence a Saṅgha is dwelling with elders and prominent monks. In the presence of that Saṅgha I heard this; in its presence I learned this: “This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the Teacher’s teaching.”’ That bhikkhu’s statement should neither be approved nor rejected. Without approving or rejecting it, you should thoroughly learn those words and phrases and then check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline. If, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are not included among the discourses and are not to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. [169] It has been badly learned by that Saṅgha.’ Thus you should discard it.

“But … if, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are included among the discourses and are to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. It has been learned well by that Saṅgha.’ You should remember this second great reference.

(3) “Then a bhikkhu might say: ‘In such and such a residence several elder bhikkhus are dwelling who are learned, heirs to the heritage, experts on the Dhamma, experts on the discipline, experts on the outlines. In the presence of those elders I heard this; in their presence I learned this: “This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the Teacher’s teaching!”’ That bhikkhu’s statement should neither be approved nor rejected. Without approving or rejecting it, you should thoroughly learn those words and phrases and then check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline. If, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are not included among the discourses and are not to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. It has been badly learned by those elders.’ Thus you should discard it.

“But … if, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are included among the discourses and are to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. It has been learned well by those elders.’ You should remember this third great reference.

(4) “Then a bhikkhu might say: ‘In such and such a residence one elder bhikkhu is dwelling [170] who is learned, an heir to the heritage, an expert on the Dhamma, an expert on the discipline, an expert on the outlines. In the presence of that elder I heard this; in his presence I learned this: “This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the Teacher’s teaching!”’ That bhikkhu’s statement should neither be approved nor rejected. Without approving or rejecting it, you should thoroughly learn those words and phrases and then check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline. If, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are not included among the discourses and are not to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is not the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. It has been badly learned by that elder.’ Thus you should discard it.

“But a bhikkhu might say: ‘In such and such a residence one elder bhikkhu is dwelling who is learned, an heir to the heritage, an expert on the Dhamma, an expert on the discipline, an expert on the outlines. In the presence of that elder I heard this; in his presence I learned this: “This is the Dhamma; this is the discipline; this is the Teacher’s teaching!”’ That bhikkhu’s statement should neither be approved nor rejected. Without approving or rejecting it, you should thoroughly learn those words and phrases and then check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline. If, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are included among the discourses and are to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Surely, this is the word of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. It has been learned well by that elder.’ You should remember this fourth great reference.

“These, bhikkhus, are the four great references.”894

_______________

NOTES

891 This passage is also included in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, DN 16.4.7, at II 124–26.

892 Mahāpadese. Mp glosses as mahā-okāse (apparently as if the compound could be resolved mahā + padese) and as mahā-apadese, the latter explained as “great reasons stated with reference to such great ones as the Buddha and others” (buddhādayo mahante mahante apadisitvā vuttāni mahākāraṇāni). This second resolution is certainly to be preferred. DOP gives, among the meanings of apadesa, “designation, pointing out, reference, witness, authority.” Cattāro mahāpadesā is sometimes rendered “four great authorities” but the sutta actually specifies only two authorities, the suttas and the Vinaya. Walshe, in LDB, renders it as “four criteria.” I understand the term to mean “four great references,” the four provenances of a teaching.

893 Tāni padabyañjanāni…sutte otāretabbāni vinaye sandassetabbāni. Mp gives various meanings of sutte and vinaye here, some improbable. Clearly, this instruction presupposes that there already existed a body of discourses and a systematic Vinaya that could be used to evaluate other texts proposed for inclusion as authentic utterances of the Buddha. Otāretabbāni is gerundive plural of otārenti, “make descend, put down or put into,” and otaranti, just below, means “descend, come down, go into.” My renderings, respectively, as “check for them” and “are included among” are adapted to the context. Sandassetabbāni is gerundive plural of sandassenti, “show, make seen,” and sandissanti means “are seen.”

894 The clearer of the two Chinese parallels is in DĀ 2, at T I 17b29–18a22. Here cattāro mahāpadesā is rendered “four great teaching dhammas.” I translate the first declaration (T I 17c2–13) as follows: “If there is a bhikkhu who claims: ‘Venerable ones, in that village, city, country, I personally heard [this] from the Buddha, I personally received this teaching,’ you should not disbelieve what you hear from him, nor should you reject it, but through the suttas determine whether it is true or false; based on the Vinaya, based on the Dhamma, probe it thoroughly. If what he says is not the sutta, not the Vinaya, not the Dhamma, then you should say to him: ‘The Buddha did not say this. What you have received is mistaken! [Or: You have received it erroneously!] For what reason? Because based on the suttas, based on the Vinaya, based on the Dhamma, we [find] that what you said deviates from the Dhamma. Venerable one, you should not uphold this, you should not report it to people, but should discard it.’ But if what he says is based on the suttas, based on the Vinaya, based on the Dhamma, then you should say to him: ‘What you said was truly spoken by the Buddha. For what reason? Because based on the suttas, based on the Vinaya, based on the Dhamma, we [find] that what you said accords with the Dhamma. Venerable one, you should uphold this, you should widely report it to people; you should not discard it.’ This is the first great teaching dhamma.”

nibbuti
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by nibbuti » Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:13 pm

Excellent, thanks.

:thanks:

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Ron-The-Elder
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by Ron-The-Elder » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:53 pm

Venerable Dhammanando ;

With deepest respect as to your response: Please explain how a Bhikkhu would "verify and validate" the accuracy of Buddha's advisories (as reported from whatever source) by examining the commentaries if they had not yet been written? Weren't Buddha's teachings memorized by various Bhikkhus until hundreds of years later they were documented in writing?
The traditional Theravādin (Mahavihārin) interpretation of the Pali Canon is given in a series of commentaries covering nearly the whole Canon, compiled by Buddhaghosa (fl. 4th–5th century CE) and later monks, mainly on the basis of earlier materials now lost. Subcommentaries have been written afterward, commenting further on the Canon and its commentaries. The traditional Theravādin interpretation is summarized in Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga.[10]
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%81li_Canon
304 -240
Ven. Mahinda establishes the Mahavihara (Great Monastery) of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The Vibhajjavadin community living there becomes known as the Theravadins. Mahinda compiles the first of the Tipitaka commentaries, in the Sinhala language. Mahinda's sister, Ven. Sanghamitta, arrives in Sri Lanka with a cutting from the original Bo tree, and establishes the bhikkhuni-sangha in Sri Lanka.{1, 5}
source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/history.html
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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daverupa
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by daverupa » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:13 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:Please explain how a Bhikkhu would "verify and validate" the accuracy of Buddha's advisories (as reported from whatever source) by examining the commentaries if they had not yet been written?
No one here has been advised to examine the commentaries.

The standards advise comparison with the suttavinaya, and we have access to an early form extant ca. 250 BCE; it's not that bad of a situation, however, since it compares very well with what made it to China, so for all intents and purposes this overall textual bracket is a fairly solid baseline.

The various Abhidhammas arose as this material came to be discussed among the early Sangha and ossified into various scholastic shapes, and only after this process had been underway for some time do we get Commentaries. But these are just later folk working with their earlier texts, doing what they can, shaping things up in ways that make sense to them, which is exactly what we're doing here.

So if it comes to be relevant, compare e.g. the Commentaries with e.g. the Nikayas, as advised.

:anjali:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Ron-The-Elder
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by Ron-The-Elder » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:12 pm

Oops! My mistake! I meant "discourses" not "commentaries:
Without approving or rejecting it, you should thoroughly learn those words and phrases and then check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline.893 If, when you check for them in the discourses and seek them in the discipline, [you find that] they are not included among the discourses and are not to be seen in the discipline, you should draw the conclusion:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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daverupa
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by daverupa » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:25 pm

Well, it means comparing the texts, so you'd need a reciter and the verbal text to compare to that. Memory = paper, at that time. The Sangha used bhanaka, 'reciters'.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Ron-The-Elder
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by Ron-The-Elder » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:32 pm

Thanks, Dave. I suspected as much.

Never heard (read) the term, "bhanaka, 'reciters'." before, but I understand the meaning. Appreciate the feedback. :tongue:

_/\_Ron
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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daverupa
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by daverupa » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:21 am

This .pdf is the article "The Oral Transmission of the Early Buddhist Literature" by Alexander Wynne.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by ancientbuddhism » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:37 am

Also:
A Philological Approach to Buddhism, The Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai Lectures 1994, by K.R. Norman – Lecture III Buddhism and Oral Tradition
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

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cooran
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by cooran » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:40 am

Hello all,

This previous thread might be of interest re why the Suttas we're not originally written down, and how they were preserved by the Bhanakas:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7946

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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bharadwaja
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by bharadwaja » Mon May 12, 2014 5:41 pm

Bhanakas were not reciters from memory but readers from texts. In the early centuries of Buddhism not many could read aloud (i.e. recite) since most were illiterate, and those who could were held in high regard.

In the Vinaya I think, there is a story of Ananda correcting a bhanaka who reads out wrongly by mistake.

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daverupa
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by daverupa » Mon May 12, 2014 7:12 pm

arhat wrote:Bhanakas were not reciters from memory but readers from texts.
For example, Popularizing Buddhism: Preaching as Performance in Sri Lanka by Mahinda Deegalle discusses the bhanaka system as that of oral reciters, a tradition long-established in India and which was exported to Sri Lanka.

Indeed, writing was probably what brought the bhanaka system to an end.

---

What sort of evidence can you mention, which suggests that the bhanaka system was instead actually based on writing?
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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bharadwaja
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by bharadwaja » Mon May 12, 2014 10:35 pm

Does his book offer any evidences at all of the existence of an oral tradition in India; or for the belief that the bhanaka means an oral-reciter (rather than a 'reciter' who reads a written text)?

The very name tipitaka (three baskets) is almost as old as the emperor Ashoka (i.e. 3rd century BCE) i.e. as old as the earliest attested Pali itself.

Are you suggesting these baskets were 'mental baskets' of suttas, rather than 'physical baskets' containing sutta manuscripts? I don't find that convincing.

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cooran
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Re: If not sure about authenticity, compare with the suttas?

Post by cooran » Mon May 12, 2014 11:47 pm

Hello all,

This might be of interest regarding Bhanakas:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... as#p120448

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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