Anders Honore wrote: Where do you draw the line? It sounds to me like you're saying no school should ever be defined except by their own definition. Which is fine in a world of "we all have our own truths and I'll stick to mine if you'll stick to yours", but it kinds ruins the prospect of intersectarian dialogue and analysis.
The Mahayana does not get to define what is what about the Theravada or how the Theravada should be called, and why should we use a derogatory polemical term, or set of terms, of one school to characterize another when the other finds those terms offensive? If the Mahayana gets to call the Theravada hinayana, then the Theravada can certainly with justification call the Mahayana the Grandiose Vehicle
, or worse. What ruins the prospects of inter-sectarian dialogue is the insistence that such categories as Mahayana/hinayana have any sort of objective reality and can be meaningfully applied to schools that find being called such offensive.
I don't really agree with Red Pine's assessment of Shravaka in this particular case. Early Buddhist schools use this term self-referentially themselves. It seems to me imputing a derogatory slant to it in its usage in Mahayana texts is basically by resort to the argument "of course it's derogatory. It's used by mahayanikas." As far as I can see, there is no real basis for Red Pine's analysis of the word here other than his own guesswork.
Red Pine and A.K. Warder are quite correct in their assessment, given that the Mahayana have shifted the meaning of Sharavaka significantly to make it coincide with the ugly word hinayana:
In the Mahayana sutra, the Asokadattavyakarana Sutra, Asokadatta, a 12 year old princess who refused to stand and make obeisance to (hinayana/shravaka) monks when they entered the palace, said to her father: ”Your Majesty, why should one who follows the path leading to supreme enlightenment, who is like the lion, king of beasts, salute those who follow the Hinayana, who are like jackals?
Your Majesty, if one is already engaged in a virtuous effort to seek the great, pure path, should he associate with S'raavakas of small and few good roots?
Your Majesty, if a person wishes to go to sea of great wisdom to seek thorough knowledge of the great Dharma in its entirety, does he bother to turn to S'raavakas, whose knowledge, based upon the Buddha's oral teachings, is as limited as the water in a cow's hoof print?
Your Majesty, if one wishes top reach Buddhahood, [the spiritual] Mount Sumeru, and acquire the infinite body of a Tathaagata, should he pay homage to S'raavakas, who seek only as much samaadhi power as could be confined to the space of a tiny mustard seed?” [And on and on and on]
-- A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, Garma Chang page 116
As one gray forum user said:
As Theravadins we do not have to accept the Mahayana framework when referring to the savaka. Our framework is such that the savakas are given the most exalted position as one of the three refuges. The term 'savaka sangho' is often used in the Pali text. As great as the bodhisatta may be, according to the Theravada framework, he/she is still not a noble one (ariya) like the savaka is. Strictly speaking the title savaka can only be given to the Buddha's closest disciples who have reached ariyahood. Which is also why as much as a Theravadin will give much respect to bodhisattas, a Theravadin usually does [not] take refuge in a bodhisatta. -- astroboy
In other words, like any number of commonly held terms among the Mahayana and the Theravada, the meanings are not the same.
BTW, does this also mean that monks who disrobe have opted for the 'piss poor path', since 'hina' is also used to refer to this? It sounds to me like you are basically imputing the worst of intentions onto Mahayana usage and taking that as your means of interpretation.
That is a gambit, to euphemize the word hina
, Namdrol tried on the gray forum, ignoring what the actual texts had to say. I'll repeat my response to him there, which went unanswered:
Namdrol, in his defense of the use of the word hinayana stated:
"The point is that in Buddhist Sanskrit texts the usage of word 'hiina' was considerably wider than Theravada scholars would have us beleive-- it is even wider in their own texts than they would have us beleive, as I have pointed out several times, and which has been completely ignored, since it is inconvientient [i.e. the term hiina being used to describe those who have given up their ordination]. "
What he is pointing to is the use of the Pali words, hinaya avattati/hinay'avatta, that refer to those who have gone from being monks to being layman again. It seems that Namdrol, in advocating a fluffy-bunny reading of the term hinayana, wants us to see these two terms as supporting his reading.
Namdrol, when asked to quote a text or two to support his position that this use of hiina in these compounds was fairly benign and neutral, he simply quoted this part of the PTS entry on hina:
hinaya avattati to turn to the lower, to give up orders, return to secular life Vin I.17; S II.231; IV.191; Ud 21; A III.393 sq.; M I.460; Sn p. 92; Pug 66; hinaya vattati id. J I.276; hinay'avatta one who returns to the world M I.460, 462; S II.50; IV.103; Nd1 147.
And he refused to say more on the subject.
Here is the whole Pali Text Society Dictionary’s entry on hina:
Hina (p. 732) [pp. of jahati] 1. inferior, low; poor, miserable; vile, base, abject, contemptible, despicable Vin I.10; D I.82, 98; S II.154 (hinan dhatun paticca uppajjati hina sanna); III.47; IV.88, 309 (citta h. duggata); D III.106, 111 sq., 215 (dhatu); A II.154; III.349 sq.; V.59 sq.; Sn 799, 903 sq.; Nd1 48, 103, 107, 146; J II.6; Pv IV.127 (opp. panita); Vv 2413 (=lamaka VvA 116); Dhs 1025; DhsA 45; Miln 288; Vism 13; DhA III.163. -- Often opposed to ukkattha (exalted, decent, noble), e. g. Vin IV.6; J I.20, 22; III.218; VbhA 410; or in graduated sequence hina (>majjhima)>panita (i. e. low, medium, excellent), e. g. Vism 11, 85 sq., 424, 473. See majjhima. -- 2. deprived of, wanting, lacking Sn 725= It 106 (ceto--vimutti°); Pug 35. -- hinaya avattati to turn to the lower, to give up orders, return to secular life Vin I.17; S II.231; IV.191; Ud 21; A III.393 sq.; M I.460; Sn p. 92; Pug 66; hinaya vattati id. J I.276; hinay'avatta one who returns to the world M I.460, 462; S II.50; IV.103; Nd1 147.
nn--adhimutta having low inclinations J III.87; Pug 26; °ika id. S II.157; It 70. --kaya inferior assembly VvA 298 (here meaning Yamaloka); PvA 5. --jacca lowborn, low--caste J II.5; III.452; V.19, 257. --vada one whose doctrine is defective Sn 827; Nd1 167. --viriya lacking in energy It 116; DhA I.75; II.260. (The texts in bold are quoted below.)
The nice thing is that the PTS Dictionary gives us a number of texts were the words in question are used. Given Namdrol's comments and insistence that the use of "hiina" in this context is fairly neutral, it is obvious that Namdrol did not bother to look up the passages referenced in the dictionary. Given that I don't have the complete Pali Canon at hand in translation, I'll given translations of the texts I have on hand and add a couple more beyond what the PTS has listed.
SN II. 231: He sees women there lightly clad or lightly attired and lust invades his mind; invaded by lust he gives up the training and returns to the hiina life.
SN IV.191: When a bhikkhu is conducting himself thus and dwelling thus [with mindfulness well-developed], kings or royal ministers, friends or colleagues, relatives or kinsmen, might invite him to accept wealth, saying: 'Come, good man, why let these saffron robes weigh you down? Why roam around with a shaven head and a begging bowl? Come, having returned to the lower life, enjoy wealth and do meritorious deeds.' Indeed, bhikkhus, when conducting self thus and dwelling thus [with mindfulness well-developed], it is impossible the he will give up the training and return to the hiina life.
Ud 21: Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at Anathapindika's monastery. On that occasion the Venerable Nanda, the Lord's (half-) brother, the son of his maternal aunt, informed a number of bhikkhus thus: "I am discontented with leading the holy life, friends. I am unable to endure the holy life. I will give up the training and return to the hiina life." ...
"But why, Nanda, are you discontented with leading the holy life?"
"On departing from home, revered sir, a Sakyan girl, the loveliest in the land, with her hair half-combed, looked up at me and said, 'May you return soon, master.' Recollecting that, revered sir, I am discontented with leading the holy life... I am unable to endure the holy life. I will give up the training and return to the hiina life."
AN III.393: This one, monks, who disavows his training, returns to the hiina life of the world.
DN iii 49: ...[he] does not approve of such harming, ... he does not crave for sensual pleasure ... Through this restraint, through making this his austerity, he takes an upward course and does not fall back into hiina things [hinaya avattati].
M I.459-460-1: In the same manner four fears should be expected by a person leaving the household to become a homeless. What four?. The fear of waves, fear of crocodiles, fear of whirlpools and fear of alligators. …
When I was a householder, I advised others, here I have to abide by the advice of those who are like my sons and grand sons. Then he gives up robes and returns to the hiina life, out of fear for waves, it is said. Bhikkhus, fear of waves is a synonym for anger and aversion.
Then it occurs to him, when I was a householder, I too partook these five strands of sensual pleasures, possessed and provided. I have wealth in my clan, to enjoy these sensual pleasures. I could do merit, too. Then he gives up robes and becomes a layman. He gives up robes and returns to the hiina life out of fear for whirlpools, it is said. Bhikkhus, fear for whirlpool is a synonym for, the five strands of sensual pleasures.
SN II 271:Drunk with the intoxication of youth, a monk leaves the training and returns to the hiina life.
Sn p 92: What if I were to return to the hiina life and enjoy sensual pleasures?
SN IV. 103: "Friend Sariputta, a bhikkhu who was my co-resident has given up the training and returned to the hiina life." "So it is, friend, when one does not guard the doors of the sense faculties, is immoderate in eating, and is not devoted to wakefulness."
These texts are what Namdrol would have found had he made the effort to read the texts referenced by the PTS Dictionary. Now, the question of what does hiina mean in these contexts.
From the opening lines of the Buddha's TURNING OF THE WHEEL DISCOURSE, SN v 420:
"Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. (What are the two?) There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is hiina, coarse, vulgar, ignoble, and leads to no good; and there is devotion to self-torment, which is painful, ignoble and leads to no good.”
When there is a string of words such as this in the Pali texts, they are understood as being synonyms, or at least carrying overlapping meanings. Hiina is seen here in decidedly negative terms, particularly in the context of sense pleasures. All of the reference I could find to in the "hiina" compounds hinaya avattati/hinay'avatta are in terms of monks leaving the order for less than noble reasons, and often for sense pleasures, which is to say, he leaves the monastic training for hiina, inferior, vulgar, coarse, ignoble reasons.
In the contexts of these two words, hinaya avattati/hinay'avatta, leaving the order is an "hiina” action, an inferior, degraded, action. These terms, hinaya avattati/hinay'avatta, are not, as Namdrol has suggested, benignly neutral, but are rather pointed and negative as is appropriate to the context. And they do not support the fluffy-bunny reading of hinayana that Namdrol and some others here would have us believe is appropriate to the word hinayana as they try to tag the Theravada with it.
Tilt, who prefers lean, sleek bunnies.
'Hina' is an elastic word. I don't think your rendering of 'piss-poor' applies to its most common usages.
It maybe "elastic," but it is decidedly negative, not only in it is definition, but also in its usage in Sanskrit and Pali.
At any rate, there is a linguistic philosophy argument to be made here as well (perhaps even foremost) and I don't really subscribe to the philosophy that the primary meaning of a word is necessarily its earliest meaning. Certainly, neither Tibetans nor Chinese would have understood Hinayana as 'piss poor' vehicle. Lesser? Certainly. Perjorative? Quite probable. But I do think you are guilty of overstating your case with fervour here.
The Tibetans and Chinese clearly euphemized, soft-peddled, the obvious dysphemism hinyana
As for me, as a Mahayana practitioner, I don't really use the word 'Hinayana', except when commenting on textual passages that use the word.
The term hinayana has its place solely within the context of the Mahayana. The problem is when it gets applied outside that context.
But really tilt, if one were to supplant your zeal for interpretation here to the other side of the coin, we could start writing articles about triumphalist and exclusive terms like 'mainstream' implying that Mahayana is heterodox and how dare you and bla bla bla.
You could, but the reality is that for most of the history of Indian Buddhism the Mahayana was a minority movement, and at times an almost invisible minority movement, or collection of small movements. “Mainstream Buddhism” is used in that context of Indian Buddhist history. That deprives your argument of any teeth. The reality is that the Mahayana schools more than any of the other Buddhist schools has stuck us with an us-versus-them-ism, which needs to be seen clearly for what it is.