Timeline question on the Nikayas

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Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby adosa » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:27 am

Hi,

In SN I've ran across statements such as "Venerable sir (i.e Mahakaccana), this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya' of the Atthakavagga.." This indicates that these discourses were written down at the time of the Buddha or within the time frame of the lives of disciples who studied directly under the Buddha as did Mahakaccana.

So does this mean that some of the Buddha's teaching were written down during his lifetime? I was always under the impression that the teachings were verbally passed down for something like a couple of hundred years, then written down. Sorry for butchering the history.... :embarassed:

Not a big issue but it prompted my curiosity.

Thanks,

adosa
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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:34 am

Greetings Adosa,

Do you have a specific example?

Metta,
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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: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby adosa » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:58 am

Hi Retro,

In the Book of Aggregates - "Haliddakani" it says the following:

"Thus I have heard. On one occasion the Venerable Mahakaccana was dwelling among the people of Avanti on Mount Papata at Kuraraghara. Then the householder Haliddakani approached the Venerable Mahakaccana, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: "Venerable Sir, this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya' of the Atthakavagga:

'Having left home to roam without abode,
In the village the sage is intimate with none;
Rid of sensual pleasures, without expectations,
He would not engage people in dispute.'"

I'd give you the numbering but I still can't figure that out. I think I'll figure out D.O. before then most likely. :smile: I think its III. 3(3) 1 but that's probably not right.
I'm using Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation.

I ran across similar references earlier and later in SN and I wondered what was being referred to but the Atthakavagga evidently are some of the earliest teachings. I was surprised to see a reference to written material in what I had assumed were Suttas that were passed down verbally.

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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:10 am

There are many, many, cross-references in the Suttas.

Have a look at the last book of the Sutta Nipata for example:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... vagga.html
There is evidence that these sixteen dialogues were highly regarded right from the very early centuries of the Buddhist tradition. As concise statements of profound teachings particular to Buddhism, they sparked an attitude of devotion coupled with the desire to understand their more cryptic passages. Most of the Cula Niddesa, a late addition to the Pali canon, is devoted to explaining them in detail. Five discourses — one in the Samyutta Nikaya, four in the Anguttara — discuss specific verses in the set, and a sixth discourse tells of a lay woman who made a practice of rising before dawn to chant the full set of sixteen dialogues.


The verse in MN131 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nana.html
Is referred to by the three subsequent Suttas:
http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/M ... kaya-3.htm
[MN-131] Bhaddekaratta Sutta: One Fortunate Attachment.
The Buddha emphasizes the urgency for putting forth effort right now to develop insight. Now is all we have, "for -- who knows? -- tomorrow death may come."

[MN-132] Anandabhaddekaratta Sutta: Ananda and One Fortunate Attachment.

[MN-133] Mahakaccanabhaddekaratta Sutta: Maha Kaccana and One Fortunate Attachment.

[MN-134] Lomasakangiyabhaddekaratta Sutta: Lomasakangiya and One Fortunate Attachment.
The above four suttas all revolve around a stanza spoken by the Buddha emphasising the need for present effort in developing insight into things as they are.


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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby adosa » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:24 am

Thanks Mike,

I guess my question is more of a historical question. How could the householder Haliddakani ask the Venerable Mahakaccana a question about a written text when they both lived during the time of the Buddha (which as I understand it was a time that was pre-literate)? I have to be missing something here. Or maybe the translation is poor and the question was asked regarding what was passed down verbally. But it wouldn't seem that way considering this quote "Venerable Sir, this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya' of the Atthakavagga'"


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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:17 am

adosa wrote:I guess my question is more of a historical question. How could the householder Haliddakani ask the Venerable Mahakaccana a question about a written text when they both lived during the time of the Buddha (which as I understand it was a time that was pre-literate)?

I hope that one of our experts will chip in, but the obvious answer is that these teachings were memorised and passed around by word of mouth. The Buddha taught for 45 years according to the tradition, so this doesn't sound too far-fetched.

The skeptical answer is that some of the Suttas referring to other Suttas were assembled/edited later.

My non-expert impression is that both of these things happened in various cases. For example, the main contents of the last book of the Sutta Nipata that I referred to above is considered to be very old, whereas the introduction about who the questioners were appears to be a later addition.

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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby cooran » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:13 am

Hello all,

It is worthwhile searching DhammaWheel and on Google on the term Bhanakas to find further information on the authenticity and preservation of the Suttas.

Here is one post:
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=2437&p=35653#p34412

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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:44 am

adosa wrote:Hi,

In SN I've ran across statements such as "Venerable sir (i.e Mahakaccana), this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya' of the Atthakavagga.." This indicates that these discourses were written down at the time of the Buddha or within the time frame of the lives of disciples who studied directly under the Buddha as did Mahakaccana.

So does this mean that some of the Buddha's teaching were written down during his lifetime? I was always under the impression that the teachings were verbally passed down for something like a couple of hundred years, then written down. Sorry for butchering the history.... :embarassed:

Not a big issue but it prompted my curiosity.

Thanks,

adosa


Why assume "that these discourses were written down"? (emphasis added)

An earlier statement of "this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya'", could easily be extended to "this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya' of the Atthakavagga" once the teachings were collated.

Though neither of these imply or necessitate being "written down", however.

Buddha gives teaching to Magandiya. People remember it. They recite it. They call it "the questions of Magandiya". Then they organize the things that they have memorized. A group of memorized teachings are called a "vagga". The group that the "questions of Magandiya" is associated with is the atthaka group. They refer to the teaching as "the questions of Magandiya in the Atthaka group".

No need to assume that anything is "written down" yet.
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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:18 pm

I agree with Pannasikhara- the Buddha sometimes referred to some of the similies he used (like the similie of the saw or the son's flesh similie) when discussing the dhamma with monks, later on in his life. They serve as summarized and concentrated injections of dhamma into any sermon.

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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby adosa » Sat Dec 04, 2010 3:47 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:
adosa wrote:Hi,

In SN I've ran across statements such as "Venerable sir (i.e Mahakaccana), this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya' of the Atthakavagga.." This indicates that these discourses were written down at the time of the Buddha or within the time frame of the lives of disciples who studied directly under the Buddha as did Mahakaccana.

So does this mean that some of the Buddha's teaching were written down during his lifetime? I was always under the impression that the teachings were verbally passed down for something like a couple of hundred years, then written down. Sorry for butchering the history.... :embarassed:

Not a big issue but it prompted my curiosity.

Thanks,

adosa


Why assume "that these discourses were written down"? (emphasis added)

An earlier statement of "this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya'", could easily be extended to "this was said by the Blessed One in 'The Questions of Magandiya' of the Atthakavagga" once the teachings were collated.

Though neither of these imply or necessitate being "written down", however.

Buddha gives teaching to Magandiya. People remember it. They recite it. They call it "the questions of Magandiya". Then they organize the things that they have memorized. A group of memorized teachings are called a "vagga". The group that the "questions of Magandiya" is associated with is the atthaka group. They refer to the teaching as "the questions of Magandiya in the Atthaka group".

No need to assume that anything is "written down" yet.



Thank you Bhante. That makes sense. The way it was written, I assumed that the passage was referring to a written text, which I knew didn't fit the usual timeline. My original question wasn't skeptical but more one of curiosity.

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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:00 am

It is probably just us Modern people who immediately think that "sutta" means a written text.

On a different, but related point, I recall somebody doing a really "Mahayana is not taught by the Buddha" critique, and asking: "Does your favorite sutra refer to itself as a sutra?" and taking this as proof that it was a written text after the Buddha's time. Actually, this only shows the silly assumption of that person, that sutra = written, something which is not at all certain for most of Buddhist history.
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Re: Timeline question on the Nikayas

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:04 am

Greetings,

I think sutta literally means a thread or a string, doesn't it?

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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