Jun 22, 2010

1.3 Buddhism and its Literature

1.3 Buddhism and its Literature
The Buddha and Buddhism

Buddhism is a part of purification based on the Majjhima patipada (Middle path) which avoids the two extremes Kamesu kama sukhallakanuyoga (the attitude of sensual indulgence) and Attakilamathanuyoga (asceticism and self-mortification) This doctrine was enunciated by the historical personality of Gautama, the Buddha in the sixth century B. C. 1

Source of Buddhism
There is no consensus of opinion among scholars regarding the source of Buddhism, because Buddhism has been influenced by all the philosophical school prevalent at that time. As Oldenberg says: "Hundreds of years before Buddha's time, movementsw were in progress in Indian thought, which prepared the way for Buddhism." 2

The Buddha, before gaining enlightenment, went to Alara Kalama and Uddaka under whom he followed their religious observances. Alara Kalama is supposed to be the Acarya of Sankhya philosophy. But Keith, while pointing out several similarities between Sankhya and Buddhism, says that "the proof of Sankhya influence is obviously indirect and not in itself complete." 3 Oldenberg also thinks in a somewhat similar way. 4

On the other hand, Jacobi is of opinion that Buddhism has been derived from a corresponding theory of the forerunners of Jainism. 5 Pande also accepts this view though not very emphatically. 6 This view can be supported by reference to Pali literature itself. After being dissatisfied with the teachings of Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, the Buddha went at last to mount Gaya-Uruvela. Following the others, he himself occupied a spot beside the Nairanjara river and with full purpose of heart he set himself the task of enduring self-mortification, restraining every bodily passion, and giving up thought about substance With purity of heart, he observed the rules of fasting which no worldly man can bear. Silent and still, lost in thoughtful meditation, he spent six years. 7 He himself says that he experimented with the four types of religious practices of severe penance (tapa), selfmortification (lukha), avoidance (jeguccha), and seclusion (pavivitta). 8 Here avoidance appears to be a reference to Jainism for it is said "I used to walk up and down conscientiously extending my compassion even to a drop of water, praying that even the dangerous bacteria in it may not come to harm. 9 "Such practices are mentioned at another place in the Majjhima Nikaya. 10 We shall compare them later with Jaina practices in the chapter on Ethics. These may bear testimony to the Jain view that the Buddha was a Jain muni at a certain stage of his ascetic life.

Acarya Devasena (8th century) says that the Buddha was a great learned disciple of the saint Pihitasrava sho ordained him as muni Buddhakirti in the Sangha of Parsvanatha, the twenty-third Tirthankara of the present era. But after a time the Buddha started taking flesh and dead fish as food and putting on a red cloth, he preached his own Dhamma, saying that there was no harm in taking such food.

Siripasanahatitthe sarayutire plasanayarattho.Pihiya sabassa sismo mahasudo buddhakittimurno.Timi puranasanehim ahigayapavajjaoparibhatto.Rattam varam dharitta pavatthiyam tena eyantam.Mamsassa natthi Jivo jaha phale dahiya duddhasakkarae.Tamha tam vamchitta tam bhakkhanto na pavittho.Majjam na vajjanijjam davadavvam jahajalam taha edam 11Idi loe ghositta pavatthiyam sabbasavjjam

There is, however, no direct admission of this fact in any of the Buddhist texts, although the Buddha's own account of his six years of penance leaves little doubt as to the possibility of his being influenced by the doctrines of Jainism. It is also possible that the Buddha's attitude to meat-eating as well as to other forms of ultra-strict restrictions on human conduct (as seen also from his controversy with Devadatta in respect of the five rules, pancavatthu) was the reason for the establishment of a new religion where self-mortification is denounced as vulgar and futile.
Buddhist Literature

Buddist literature is rich and varied and is found in several ancient and modern languages such as Pali, Prakrit, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Nepale, Japanese, Sinhali, Burmese, Thai, Combodian Uigur, Sogdian, Kuchanese and other languages of Central Asia. But for this survey our attention will be confined only to the Buddhist literature in Pali and Sanskrit.
Buddhist literature can be classified as follows:-

(1) Pali literature consisting of (a) Canonical, (b) Extra Canonical, and (c) Non-Canonical works. The last is further divided into (a) Atthakathas, (b) Tikas, (c) Tippanis, (d) Sanghas, and (e) pakaranas. (2) Sanskrit literature consisting of (a) Hinayana, and (b) Mahayana works.
Pali literature

The Pali Canon, which represents the Theravada Buddhism, is popularly known as Tipitaka, the three baskets; 12 the three Pitakas (Baskets-or) parts, are the Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. Like most other literary works of Ancient India, the Tipitaka too grew gradually over a period of several centuries. The three Councils stand out as landmarks in the process of its growth and development. It is generally accepted by scholars today that the Tipitaka, as we have it, including Kathavatthu, the last work to be attached to it by the Chairman of the Council himself, was accomplished shortly after the Third Council. During the Third Council it was decided to propagate Buddhism abroad. Mahinda, a pupil of Tissa and a son (according to another tradition, the younger brother of Asoka) was appointed to introduce Buddhism into Ceylon. In Ceylon, the Canon was preserved through oral tradition until it was reduced to writing in 84 B. C. during the reign of king Valagamba. 13

The Vinaya Pitaka is the head of the canon and is considered earlier than the Sutta Pitaka. 14 It deals with rules and regulations to be observed by the members of the Buddhist order in their daily life. The Vinaya comprises three main parts: (1) Suttavibhanga, consisting of (a) Mahavibhanga, and (b) Bhikkhuvibhanga. (2) Khandaka, consisting of (a) Mahavagga. and (b) Cullavagga. (3) Parivara or Parivarapatha.

The Patimokkha is the main part of the Vinaya Pitaka. It is said that the life of a good monk "is restrained by the restrainst of the Patimokkha". (patimokkhasamvarasamvuto). 15
It contains 227 rules out of which 152 were probably original while the remainder may have been added at the time of the compilation of the Vinaya Pitaka. The Suttavibhanga is a commentary on the Patimokkha. It deals with Parajikadhamma, Sanghadisesadhamma, Aniyatadhamma, Pacittiyadhamma, Patidesaniyadhamma, and Sekkiyadhamma. The Khandhaka is the supplement of the Suttavibhanga. It contains the special rules for admission into the order, the Buddhist ceremonies such as Uposatha, modes of eating, begging, dwelling etc. The Parivara is of later origin. It consists of nineteen sections.

The Buddhist monachism as an institution was influenced by the Jaina monastic rules and regulations. For instance, Vassavasa, Uposatha, Pavarana and rules for admission to the order, are very similar to the rules of Jaina monachism. One may, therefore, expect many references to Jainism in the Tipitaka. But the direct references to Jain monachism are very few in the Vinaya Pitaka.

The Sutta Pitaka is the chief source of our knowledge of the Dhamma; it is, therefore, called Dhamma. It is divided into five Nikayas, viz. Digha Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara and the Khuddaka. The first four are mainly in prose and contain discourses, attributed to the Buddha and his disciples. The remaining Nikaya is a miscellaneous collection of smaller works, most of which are in verse. The Digha Nikaya contains the longest thirty-four Suttas arranged into three parts (Vaggas), viz. Silakkhandha (1-13), Mahavagga (14-23) and Patikavagga (24-34).
In several Suttas of Digha Nikaya there are references to Jainism and particularly to Nigantha Nataputta The most significant among them are the Brahmajala (1), Samannaphala (2), Kassapasihanada (8), Mahaparinibbana (16), Patikasutta (54), Pasadikasutta (21), Atanatiya (32), and Sangiti Sutta, which provide invaluable data on the life and thoughts of Nigantha Nataputta. The Majjhima Nikaya is a collection of 152 discourses. The Culasihanada (11), Culasaccaka (35), Mahasaccaka (86), Upali (56), Kukkuravatika (55), Abhayarajkumara (58), Dighanakha (74), Sandaka (76), Culasakuladayi (79), Devadaha (101), and Samagama (104) contain references to Syadvada and other Jaina conceptions, and are, therefore, helpful in assessing in greater detail the Buddhist attitude to Jainism. The Samyutta Nikaya and Anguttara Nikaya consist of various types of Suttas. They are older as well as later, shorter as well as longer. The Samyutta (grouped together) Nikaya is of 56 Samyuttas and atleast 2,990 Suttas with the division of five Vaggas, viz. the Sagathavagga (1-11), Nidanavagga (12-22). Khandhavagga (23-34) Sadayatanavagga (35-45) and mahavagga (45-56).
Sankhadhammasutta, Acelakassapasutta, Acelasutta, Sattajatilasutta and Nanatitthiyasutta refer to Jaina ethics and philosophy. The Anguttara Nikaya is very similar to the Thananga of the Jainas. It deals mainly with the religious topics under the numbers from one to eleven. The number of the Suttas in the Nikaya is about 2308 which are divided into Vaggas containing as a rule o10 Suttas each. Atthangikasutta, Anandavaga, Tikanipata, Tapodhamma-sutta, Vappa-sutta and Lokayatika-sutta provide some very useful data for the understanding of several ancient Jaina concepts. The Khuddaka Nikaya is a collection of short pieces which are both diverse and unsystematic both in content and arrangement. There is on unanimity about the pieces which belong to this Nikaya. According to the Ceylonese tradition it consists of (1) Khuddakapatha (a collection composed of only 9 short Suttas), (2) Dhammapada (a collection of 423 memorial verses), (3) Udana (a collection of solemn sayings of the Buddha), (4) Itivuttaka ("Thus-has-been-said" closely resembles the Udana) (5) Suttanipata, a very archaic in character consisting or four Vaggas, (6) Vimanavathu, (7) Petavatthu, (8) Theragatha, (9) Therigatha, (10) Jataka (11) Niddesa Mahaniddesa, and Calla Niddesa, (12) Patisambhida-magga, (13) Apadana, (14) Ruddhavamsa, and (15) the Cariyapitaka. Among these Udana (Sattajatilasutta), Suttanipata (Dhammikasutta), Therapadana, (Abhayattherapadana), Jataka (Mahabodhi) and the Dhammapada have preserved some valuable references to Jainism, though somewhat late.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka is a later development. It is an attempt at scholastic analysis of the Buddhist psychology and philosophy. It does not deal with systematic philosophy. It is merely a supplement to the Dhamma. 16 Abhidhamma is highly honoured particularly in Burma. It comprises the following books: (1) Dhammasangani (2) Vibhanga, (3) Kathavatthu, (4) Puggalapannatti, (5) Dhatukatha, (6) Yamaka and (7) the Patthana. The Abhidhamma of the Sarvastivadins was entirely different. There is no reference to Jainism in this Pitaka.
The Paritta or Mahaparitta is a collection of cano ical texts which is used for magical purposes Such Paritta ceremonies are still in vogue in Ceylon and are believed to avert evil and bring about well-being and happiness.

There is another classification of the Buddhist scriptures into nine angas: 17 (1) Sutta, (2) Geyya (mixed prose and verse), (3) Gatha (verse), (4) Udana (ecstatic utterences), (5) Veyyakarana (explanation) (6) Itivuttaka (sayings beginning with the phrase "Thus-said-the-Buddha") (7) Jataka (stories of former births of the Buddha), (8) Abbhutadhamma (stories of wonders), and (9) Vedalla (questions and answers). 18

Besides the Canonical literature, there are some other works which wee highly honoured and regarded as Extra-Canonical books, such as the Nettipakarana, Petakopadesa and the Milindapanha. The first two works are regarded as canonical in Burma. There are no references to Jainism in these two works. The third one the Milindapanha (P. 259), of course, referes to The Jain theory that water contains small insects and therefore should be used after getting it filtered and heated.

The Tripitaka consists of speeches, conversations, songs, sayings, narratives and monastic rules and regulations. The most of the Canon is placed in the mouth of the Buddha himself. But it is difficult to pick out with a certainty the actual words of the Buddha as there are in the Tripitaka contradictions, repetitions, interpolations which are characteristics of ancient religious works.
Rhys Davids 19 has given a chronological table of Buddhist literature from the Buddha's time to the time of Asoka which is as follows:-

(1) The simple statements of Buddhist doctrine now found, in identical words, in paragraphs or verses recurring in all the books.(2) Episodes found, in identical words, in two or more of the existing books.(3) The Silas, the Parayana, the Octades, the Patimokkha.(4) The Digha, Majjhim, Anguttare, and Samyutta Nikayas.(5) The Suttanipata, the Thera and Theri Gathas, the Udanas, and the Khuddakapatha.(6) The Suttavibhanga and the Khandhakas.(7) The Jatakas and the Dhammapada.(8) The Niddesa, the Itivuttaka and the Patisambhidamagga.(9) The Peta-and Vimana-Vatthus, the Apadanas, the Cariva Pitaka, and the Buddha-Vamsa.(10) The Abhidhamma books, the last of which is the Kathavatthu, and the earliest probably the Puggalapannatti.

Law reviews this chronological table and concludes that it "is too catechetical, too cut and dried and too general to be accepted inspite of its suggestiveness as a sure guide to the determination of the chronology of the Pali Canonical texts." 20 In his concluding chapter he presents his conclusions on the chronology of the Pali Canonical literature as follows:- 21

(1) The simple statements of Buddhist doctrine now found in the identical words in paragraphs or verses recurring in all the books.(2) Episodes found in identical words in two or more of the existing books.(3) The Silas, the Parayana group of sixteen poems without the prologue, the Atthaka grous of four or sixteen poems, the Sikkhapadas.(4) Digha, Vols. II and III, the Thera-Theri-gatha, the collection of 500 Jatakas, Suttavibhanga, Patisambhidamagga, Puggalapannatti and the Vibhanga.(5) The Mahavagga and the Cullavagga, the Patimokkha completing 227 rules, the vimanavatthu and Petavatthu, the Dhammapada and the Kathavatthu.(6) The Cullaniddesa, the Mahaniddesa, the Udana, the Itivuttaka, the Suttanipata, the Dhatukatha, the Yamaka and the Patthana.(7) The Buddhavamsa, the Cariyapitaka and the Apadana.(8) The Parivarapatha.(9) The Khuddakapatha.

On the whole we can say that the present Pali Canonical literature must have been compiled up to the third century B. C. In other words the Third Council is the lower limit for this purpose, though some very minor changes could have been made up to the final writing during the reign of king Vattagamani of Ceylon (1st century B. C.). Law Draws the conclusion that the lower limit is the last quarter of the first century B. C. His conjecture is based on the Mitindapanha (about the first century A. D.) which refers to the fact that when it was compiled, the division of the canon into three pitaks and five nikayas was well established. 22 He furthere says: "The Sinhalese commentaries, the Maha-atthaktha, the Mahapaccariya, the Maha-knundiya, the Andhaka and the rest pre-supposed by the commentaries of Buddhadatta, Buddhaghosa, and Dhammapala, point to the same fact, namely, that the Canon become finally closed sometime before the beginning og the Christian era. Thus we can safely fix the last quarter of the first century B. C., as the lower limit. 23

As a matter of fact, it is doubtful whether the Canon compiled in the Third Council was indeed the same which has come down to us in the Pali Tipitaka. For no one can deny that between the third century B.C. and the first century B. C. when then the writing down took place; the Tripitaka might have undergone many changes, especially muchaddition. Thus the Pali Tipitaka as it now exists is not exactly identical with the Pali Tipitaka compiled in the Third Council; but the later accretions, interpolations and amendments do not appear to be so numerous and significant as to make the present Canon less valuable as an authentic record of the life and teachings of the Buddha.

(b) Non-Canonical literature
Non-Canonical literature, as we have already stated, can be divided into four categories: (1) Atthakathas, (2) Tikas, (3) Tippanis, and (4) Pakaranas. Out of these Non-Canonical works only a few like the Atthakathas of Buddhaghosa were found to be useful for my study. Some of the references to Jainism in Commentaries throw much light on the attitude of the later buddhist monks to Nigantha nataputta and some of the impressions recorded by them do not coincide with the actual conditions as known to us from more authentic sources.

For instance, in the commentaries on 24 Dighanikaya and Majjhimanikaya, 25 Buddhaghosa in the course of explaining the reference to the death of Nigantha Nataputta states that Nigantha Nataputta enjoined upon his followers in his last hours to accept the Buddha's teachings as he had realised the folly and futility of his doctrines. Further Buddhaghosa misunderstood the principle of Syadvada and complained that Nigantha Nataputta taught his followers in two contradictory ways: to one he was supposed to have said that his doctrine was nihilism (ucchedavada) and to the other that it was eternalism (sassatavada). As a result, Buddhaghosa says they quarrelled violently among themselves, and the order of Nigantha Nataputta was divided into two. This reference certainly indicates the time around the fifth century when religious disputations were creating mutual misunderstanding and certain dogmas were being explained according to their own whims and fancies in order to influence the masses. Such instances are also found in Jaina literature.

Sanskirt Buddhist literature
while Pali had been the language of Theravada Buddhists only Sanskrit had been a medium which was utilized by both the Hinayana and the Mahayana Buddhists. The Vaibhasika and the Sautrantika schools belong to the Hinayana Buddhists and the Madhyamika or (Sunyava da and the Yogacara or Vijnanavada schools are of mahayana Buddhists The vast litereture of these schools is available in different languages. We find there some valuable references to Jain philosophy in the works of Nagarjuna. Aryadeva, Dharmakirti, Vasubandhu, Arcata, Santaraksita, Prajnakaragupta, Jetari etc. who refuted the Syadvada and other Jaina concepts which are dealt with in the present thesis in respective chapters. A large amount of work on Buddhist philosophy is lost and existed only in Tibetan or Chinese translation which could not be used here.

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