Do you find Hinayana offensive?

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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Bozworth » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:45 am

Doesn't bother me....

It's just sort of an arrogant, condescending thing that reflects poorly on the wielder of the term.

Sort of like a Mormon telling me I'm going to hell or something.... Pfft, whatever.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:19 am

Manapa wrote:
Kare wrote:Yes, I think you are right. The question then is: If there exist a Vinaya school in China (I've heard it said, but I have not read any documentation for this) - does it preserve the pre-mahayana teachings, or is it heavily influenced by its mahayana environments?

I don't know for certain but I don't think so.


(When somebody asks a A / not-A question, answering "I don't think so" is really ambiguous, because we don't know if you are disagreeing with the first, or the second statement.)

Wording this as a A OR B question, is somewhat misleading....

The so-called "Vinaya school" (lu-zong) in China is definitely a school of thought viz the Vinaya, but should be considered as a sect in the sense of being independent / apart from the other "schools". Rather, it is the standard Chinese representation of Vinaya, which includes the bodhisattva precepts, too. For example, when I was ordained, the classes we had included separate classes on the bhiksu vinaya, and also the bodhisattva sila. Our text of study for the bhiksu vinaya was a Chinese commentary on the dharmagupta bhiksu vinaya / pratimoksa. Our text of study for the bodhisattva sila was two commentaries on mahayana works. All of these are considered part of the Luzong.

It may be best to think of the "vinaya school" (luzong), as the Chinese tradition viz Vinaya, in all its forms.

Every bhiksu/ni in China is ordained with the system set up by the Luzong system, from the sramanera/ika, to the bhiksu/ni, to the bodhisattva precepts. The bhiksu/ni ordination is based on the Vinaya of the Dharmagupta school. In the early days of the Luzong, there was some debate about which Vinaya to use, Sarvastivada, Dharmagupta, or Mahasamghika, as before the Luzong, all three were used by different groups.

The bodhisattva ordination is based on the Mahayana systems, in particular the Mahayana Brahmajala sutra, and the Bodhisattvasila in the Yogacarabhumi sastra.

So: Yes, it does preserve the pre-Mahayana teachings - the bhiksu/ni ordination.
And, yes, it is also mahayana influenced - the bodhisattva ordination.

Hope that clears things up, somewhat.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby SamKR » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:20 am

Do you find Hinayana offensive?
Being a native speaker of Nepali language I find the word "hina" extremely offensive.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Preet » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:01 pm

As an Indian, and therefore knowing and using Hindi as my language, yes I do find Hinayana offensive. My two bits: it doesn't seem to be a name that would be chosen by any group to refer to themselves, its a name that would be accorded to a group by another group - trying hard to appear better, superior.

It unfortunately stuck, and came into common parlance, used very commonly in India by people who should know better. When I started out on this journey, it was highly irritating, now I can shrug it off. A rose by any other name and all that.

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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby 5heaps » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:05 am

The lesser/higher vehicle distinction comes straight from the mahayana sutras. From that point of view mahayana is higher in every way (ie. motivation, final goal, qualities of the path, etc) and non-mahayana is lesser in every way.

When talking about various vehicles there can be no element of being vile, despicable, inept, etc implied in the meaning of 'lesser' because they teach virtue, rely on the 4 seals, and assert the 3 characteristics.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:10 am

hi 5heeps
hina doesn't just mean lesser
hīna : [pp. of hāyati] diminished; dwindled; wasted away. (adj.), low; inferior; base; despicable.

although I would be interested on what hina means in Nepali & modern Indian if it is different?
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:27 am

5heaps wrote:The lesser/higher vehicle distinction comes straight from the mahayana sutras. From that point of view mahayana is higher in every way (ie. motivation, final goal, qualities of the path, etc) and non-mahayana is lesser in every way.

When talking about various vehicles there can be no element of being vile, despicable, inept, etc implied in the meaning of 'lesser' because they teach virtue, rely on the 4 seals, and assert the 3 characteristics.

In the Asokadattavyakarana Sutra, Asokadatta, a 12 year old princess who refused to stand and make obeisance to (“Hinayana”) 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.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby 5heaps » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:49 am

tiltbillings wrote:-- A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, Garma Chang page 116.

So? Assuming that the translation good, it's something you have to take up with the little princess. You could ask her about the sutras which lay out the bodhisattva vows, including the one where you break your vows if you denigrate or give up the lower vehicle.

The part where one shouldn't honor Shravakas seems extreme, because some of may be aryas, and because they are all taking refuge in the path (and are therefore holy objects). The other parts though seem correct, because as I said, according to the mahayana sutras the qualities of a realized mahayana person are infinitely more precious. For example in the same way that a Pratyekabuddha arhat greatly outshines a Shravaka arhat, a person who realizes bodhichitta alone (ie. a non-arya) outshines non-bodhisattva ARHATS.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:55 am

Greetings 5heaps,

Your comments are inappropriate for a Discovering Theravada forum.

:rules:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby 5heaps » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:06 am

retrofuturist wrote:Your comments are inappropriate for a Discovering Theravada forum.

How so, and where are the guidelines (I can't see them anywhere)?
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:21 am

Manapa wrote:hi 5heeps
hina doesn't just mean lesser
hīna : [pp. of hāyati] diminished; dwindled; wasted away. (adj.), low; inferior; base; despicable.

although I would be interested on what hina means in Nepali & modern Indian if it is different?


True.

I think it is interesting to note, though, that most people in the English language context who use the word "Hinayana" do so in this way:
They come from East Asian Buddhist traditions.
These traditions use the word "小乘" as a translation for the original Sanskrit "Hinayana".
But "小乘" literally translates as "small vehicle".
But when they translate the Chinese into English, they use the Sanskrit word "Hinayana", but think that it means "small vehicle".
This is what 5heaps seems to be doing.

So, even though the word may "Hinayana" may mean "inferior vehicle" or the like, a lot of the people who use this word in English use it to mean "small vehicle".
"Small vehicle" is no compliment, but they don't think that it is a nasty insult, either.
If we always think that when modern Anglophone Mahayanists use the word "hinayana" they mean it as "inferior / despicable vehicle", then we are probably misrepresenting them.
But misrepresentation seems par for the course in a lot of things in this area. :sigh:

This is one of the problems of using all these foreign languages by people who don't really know the meaning and original context of the words.
I don't mean the above as an apologetic for anyone, but as an explanation for what is going on.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:00 am

Greetings 5heaps,

5heaps wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Your comments are inappropriate for a Discovering Theravada forum.

How so, and where are the guidelines (I can't see them anywhere)?


This subforum is "A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravada (The Way of the Elders)", not about how great (or otherwise) Mahayana Buddhism is.

As for the Terms Of Service, you'll find them here - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2

Of particular relevance is the following...

Dhamma Wheel is an environment for the discussion of the Theravada. All are welcome but are required to abide by the TOS. Special forums have been created for special areas of interest so please respect these boundaries. Dhamma Wheel administrators and moderators reserve the right to edit inappropriate content, and to remove or transfer any posts or threads that are not relevant to the sub-forum in which they are posted. Any subject matter that may be off-topic or is intended only to cause disruption or harm to others may be removed without notice. This includes the badmouthing of other Buddhist discussion forums, trolling, solicitation of funds and proselytizing.


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:09 am

5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:-- A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, Garma Chang page 116.

So? Assuming that the translation good, it's something you have to take up with the little princess. You could ask her about the sutras which lay out the bodhisattva vows, including the one where you break your vows if you denigrate or give up the lower vehicle.
Which is a later Mahayana discourse. Also, contrary to what many Mahayanists might think, the Theravada is not hinayana, the garbage vehicle, or even the "lower" vehicle.

Also, there is no reason to think that the translation is not good. This is from an early Mahayana collection of sutras.

The part where one shouldn't honor Shravakas seems extreme, because some of may be aryas, and because they are all taking refuge in the path (and are therefore holy objects). The other parts though seem correct, because as I said, according to the mahayana sutras the qualities of a realized mahayana person are infinitely more precious. For example in the same way that a Pratyekabuddha arhat greatly outshines a Shravaka arhat, a person who realizes bodhichitta alone (ie. a non-arya) outshines non-bodhisattva ARHATS.
Let us not make the mistake here of assuming that when the Mahayana says arhat that it means the same thing as when the Theravada say arahant. It does not.

The point is that when coined, the term hinayana was a strong term of derision.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:21 am

Paññāsikhara wrote: "Small vehicle" is no compliment, but they don't think that it is a nasty insult, either.
If we always think that when modern Anglophone Mahayanists use the word "hinayana" they mean it as "inferior / despicable vehicle", then we are probably misrepresenting them.
But misrepresentation seems par for the course in a lot of things in this area. :sigh:

It is not really the word itself that is the problem; it is the triumphalist, supersessionist baggage carried by the term that is the real problem, when Mahayanists assume that their understandings of notions such as what a Buddha is, arahant, nibbana, bodhi are all appropriately applied without question to the Theravada.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:41 am

tiltbillings wrote:In the Asokadattavyakarana Sutra, Asokadatta, a 12 year old princess who refused to stand and make obeisance to (“Hinayana”) 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 for the translation, if it may be in dispute, it is okay.

《大寶積經》卷99:
大王。頗[12]見已求無上正真正覺之道。師子獸王。而禮小乘野干人耶。
大王。頗有已求大梵道處。而發進者。而當親近微少善根聲聞人耶。
大王。頗有欲到大智之海。欲求善知大法之聚。而求牛跡聲聞人耶。以彼從他聞音聲故。
大王。頗有欲至佛須彌山。為求如來無邊色身。而欲更求小芥子中空三昧力。諸聲聞人而禮敬耶。
(CBETA, T11, no. 310, p. 550, c28-p. 551, a8)
[12]見=有【宋】【元】【明】【宮】。

He translates "*maha-brahma-marga" as "great, pure path", which is a little interpretive, but no big problem.
The samaadhi in question is explicitly "zuunyataa-samaadhi", which should have been noted, as it is important.
And it is not "based upon the Buddha's oral teachings", but "heard from another".

I rate it at about 8/10. haha!

However, and this is important, there is an ambiguity in the language when referring to the sravakas. (Doesn't mention Hinayana, just "sravakas".)
Often, there are phrases on the "such-and-such so-and-so sravakas", BUT, does this mean that ALL sravakas are "such-and-such and so-and-so"? OR, does it mean "those sravakas who are such-and-such and so-and-so", but not necessarily all of them?

For example, if I say: "Where did all these crazy New Zealanders come from?"
Do I mean: "Where did all these New Zealanders (all NZers being crazy) come from?"
Or: "Where did all these crazy New Zealanders come from? (As opposed to non-crazy New Zealanders)"

In other words, are they insulting all "sravakas", or just those sravakas who are of limited knowledge?

This is a difficult question in any language, and perhaps more so in the Chinese.

Just throwing these things out there for a bit of thought, lest we think we already understand exactly what is going on! :P
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:42 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote: "Small vehicle" is no compliment, but they don't think that it is a nasty insult, either.
If we always think that when modern Anglophone Mahayanists use the word "hinayana" they mean it as "inferior / despicable vehicle", then we are probably misrepresenting them.
But misrepresentation seems par for the course in a lot of things in this area. :sigh:

It is not really the word itself that is the problem; it is the triumphalist, supersessionist baggage carried by the term that is the real problem, when Mahayanists assume that their understandings of notions such as what a Buddha is, arahant, nibbana, bodhi are all appropriately applied without question to the Theravada.


Sure, this is a problem. I think we've already covered this more than a few times. :)
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:45 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote: "Small vehicle" is no compliment, but they don't think that it is a nasty insult, either.
If we always think that when modern Anglophone Mahayanists use the word "hinayana" they mean it as "inferior / despicable vehicle", then we are probably misrepresenting them.
But misrepresentation seems par for the course in a lot of things in this area. :sigh:

It is not really the word itself that is the problem; it is the triumphalist, supersessionist baggage carried by the term that is the real problem, when Mahayanists assume that their understandings of notions such as what a Buddha is, arahant, nibbana, bodhi are all appropriately applied without question to the Theravada.


Sure, this is a problem. I think we've already covered this more than a few times.
But it seems to be needed to be said again from time to time.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:54 am

hi Paññāsikhara
this has already been discussed in the thread, I was pointing out that the word means more, nothing more or less.


Paññāsikhara wrote:True.

I think it is interesting to note, though, that most people in the English language context who use the word "Hinayana" do so in this way:
They come from East Asian Buddhist traditions.
These traditions use the word "小乘" as a translation for the original Sanskrit "Hinayana".
But "小乘" literally translates as "small vehicle".
But when they translate the Chinese into English, they use the Sanskrit word "Hinayana", but think that it means "small vehicle".
This is what 5heaps seems to be doing.

So, even though the word may "Hinayana" may mean "inferior vehicle" or the like, a lot of the people who use this word in English use it to mean "small vehicle".
"Small vehicle" is no compliment, but they don't think that it is a nasty insult, either.
If we always think that when modern Anglophone Mahayanists use the word "hinayana" they mean it as "inferior / despicable vehicle", then we are probably misrepresenting them.
But misrepresentation seems par for the course in a lot of things in this area. :sigh:

This is one of the problems of using all these foreign languages by people who don't really know the meaning and original context of the words.
I don't mean the above as an apologetic for anyone, but as an explanation for what is going on.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:31 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
In other words, are they insulting all "sravakas", or just those sravakas who are of limited knowledge?

This is a difficult question in any language, and perhaps more so in the Chinese.
Just to add about the Mahayana use of sravaka, as Red Pine states:

Shravaka means “one who hears” and originally referred to those disciples who actually heard the Buddha speak. Later, it was extended to include the members of such early sects as the Sarvastivadinds. And later still, it was used pejoratively by Mahayana Buddhists in reference to those who sought nirvana without concern for others. It should be noted, though, that this depiction of the Hinayana was a Mahayana invention and doubtlessly included a certain amount of distortion of the actual practice of those at whom it was aimed, namely monks and nuns who followed the letter and not the spirit of the Dharma. Thus, a shravaka was often described as one who merely heard the teachings of the Buddha but did not put them into practice. – The Heart Sutra, page 43.

...the earlier teachings, which Mahayanists refer to disparagingly as the Shravakayana, the Pupils Vehicle, as if its followers were mere laymen and not true shramanas, when they are being polite, and as hinayana, 'inferior vehicle,' when they wish to be rude... INDIAN BUDDHISM A.K. Warder, pg 355
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do you find Hinayana offensive?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:41 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:
In other words, are they insulting all "sravakas", or just those sravakas who are of limited knowledge?

This is a difficult question in any language, and perhaps more so in the Chinese.
Just to add about the Mahayana use of sravaka, as Red Pine states:

Shravaka means “one who hears” and originally referred to those disciples who actually heard the Buddha speak. Later, it was extended to include the members of such early sects as the Sarvastivadinds. And later still, it was used pejoratively by Mahayana Buddhists in reference to those who sought nirvana without concern for others. It should be noted, though, that this depiction of the Hinayana was a Mahayana invention and doubtlessly included a certain amount of distortion of the actual practice of those at whom it was aimed, namely monks and nuns who followed the letter and not the spirit of the Dharma. Thus, a shravaka was often described as one who merely heard the teachings of the Buddha but did not put them into practice. – The Heart Sutra, page 43.


I wouldn't take Red Pine as an expert in this area, he has a very Chinese way of reading Indian Mahayana at times. How does he know that "it was extended to include the members of such early sects as the Sarvastivadins"? A lot of people make this claim, but I have actually yet to see good evidence for it. Actually, several of the greatest Sarvastivadin leaders were known as "bodhisattvas", how about that!?! That is one in the eye for the "hinayana = sarvastivada" idea, for sure! How about that the "six paramita" model (and not 4 or 10) for the bodhisattvas, and other aspects of their path, is extremely close to that used by the Gandharin sarvastivadins?

The term was used to refer to a specific attitude, which really has nothing to do with sect or school. However, as things developed, it was used to include doctrinal tenets as well, and not just attitudes.

I don't think that this quote really solves the question that I am posing. Maybe I'm just asking in the wrong place.

...the earlier teachings, which Mahayanists refer to disparagingly as the Shravakayana, the Pupils Vehicle, as if its followers were mere laymen and not true shramanas, when they are being polite, and as hinayana, 'inferior vehicle,' when they wish to be rude... INDIAN BUDDHISM A.K. Warder, pg 355


I don't think that Mahayanists necessarily thought of them as "earlier teachings", because they thought that their own sutras were also taught by Sakyamuni.
Unfortunately, Warder only reads Sanskrit texts, and as we know quite well, now, the Sanskrit texts that we have now were developed upon over centuries. Earlier versions of the same texts, in Chinese (which Warder can't or doesn't want to read), tend to have less of this sort of stuff. The later Chinese translations (such as the Ratnakuta text quoted above) are more like the Sanskrit, though.

Lumping all the Mahayana together is not a good idea at all. But this is what Warder likes to do. (And many others are the same.) One should indicate particular texts, and then, even within a particular time-frame. That is scholarship.

Otherwise ...

While we are all trying to defend the Theravada from being insulted with the word "Hinayana", we are also going to inadvertently misrepresent quite a few Mahayanists too, in the process. :sigh:
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