Ñāṇa wrote:Here are some resources for anyone interested in the historical aspects of the bodhisattva path in Sri Lanka and other Theravāda locations:
Perhaps some of my notes will also be useful.
Jeffrey Samuels in his article "The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada" writes that:
"In the early examples, we find the relationship drawn between kings and bodhisattvas in numerous, albeit tempered, ways. For instance, King Du.t.tagaama.nii exhibited the quality of compassion by refusing to enter the heavenly realm after his previous life as an ascetic (saama.nera) so that he could be reborn as a prince and unite the regional rulers of Sri Lanka as well as help develop the sangha and the Buddha's teaching."
There's a detailed article about Dutthagamani at:http://www.vipassana.info/d/dutthagaamanii.htm
This king did not use any 'Bodhisatta ideal', since there was not such a thing at that time.
Jeffrey Samuels writes that "he appears to demonstrate certain bodhisattvic qualities", which is highly tenuous.
Mahavamsa just states that Dutthagamani was reborn in Tusita heaven, to become later a chief disciple of Metteya.http://lakdiva.org/mahavamsa/chap032.html
No 'remaining in Samsara to help others' involved. Mahavamsa was written still before the Bodhisattva cult was introduced in Sri Lanka.
The date and place when Bodhisattva's ideal was introduced in Theravada can be established by text where it first appears - A Treatise on the Paaramiis by Acariya Dhammapala, 6th century, Southeastern India.
The first Theravadan text on Bodhisattva's path, A Treatise on the Paramis, by Acariya Dhammapala, borrows from Bodhisattvabhuumi, the fifteenth chapter of the Yogaacaarabhuumi, a voluminous text of the Yogaacaara school ascribed to Maitreya-naatha, the teacher of Asanga.http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el409.htmlhttp://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/37687/Asangahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitreya-n%C4%81tha
I posed myself a question of how exactly the idea of 'remaining in Samsara to help others' originated in Buddhism, especially in Theravada.
Evidently, among Theravadin countries, this started in the 8th century in Sri Lanka (see citations in the end of the message). Simultaneously there developed the cult of Lokesvara Natha (Sri Lankan version of Avalokitesvara).
"The cult of Avalokitesvara also spread to Sri Lanka. This is a little surprising as Sri Lanka primarily follows Theravada Buddhism, while Avalokitesvara was originally a strictly Mahayana conception. In Sri Lanka, he is called Natha, which is an abbreviation of Lokesvaranatha, which means "Lord of the World". He has become identified with the bodhisattva Maitreya, the "future Buddha". He is also seen as being identical with several Hindu gods. Natha is seen as the guardian deity of Sri Lanka, and is reportedly worshipped primarily because he is regarded as a pragmatically useful source of advantages in the phenomenal world. Although I have been able to find very little information on it, apparently the cult of Natha has also spread with little change to other Theravada Buddhist countries, such as Cambodia and Burma.
In Nepal, Avalokitesvara is conflated with the Brahman deity Matsyendranath. He is worshipped in elaborate rituals which are performed by a priestly caste. Ordination is handed down from father to son, with some important positions being sold to the highest bidder from within the caste. According to one reporter, the meanings behind the rituals have been largely forgotten. However, they continue to be performed because they are customary and are considered to bring luck."
Avalokitesvara and Tibetan Contemplation, by Karen M. Andrewshttp://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Aval ... M._Andrews
The name Natha, and the Avalokitesvara connection, points to the Nath (Mahasiddha) tradition. There we find the statements like:
"According to a recent Nath Guru, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath, another aim was to avoid reincarnation. In The Magick Path of Tantra, he wrote about several of the aims of the Naths,
"Our aims in life are to enjoy peace, freedom, and happiness in this life, but also to avoid rebirth onto this Earth plane. All this depends not on divine benevolence, but on the way we ourselves think and act."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nath
"Mahasiddhas are a form of bodhisattva, meaning they not only have the spiritual abilities to enter nirvana whenever they please, but they are so compassionate they resolve to remain in samsara instead to help others."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasiddha
So it seems that the idea of remaining in Samsara emerged under the influence of such notion in Mahasiddha (Nath, Shaiva Siddhanta) tradition. The two key figures were Matsyendranatha (Lokesvaranatha) and Maitreyanatha.
"By the eighth century C.E., the amalgamation between the institution of kingship and bodhisattvas became even stronger. At this time, we find evidence of certain Theravaadin kings in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand who openly declared themselves to be bodhisattvas. For example, King Ni`s`sanka Malla (1187-1196 C.E.) of Polonnaruva, Ceylon, states that "I will show my self in my [true] body which is endowed with benevolent regard for and attachment to the virtuous qualities of a bodhisattva king, who like a parent, protects the world and the religion." (38) In other epigraphical markings, there is a reference to King Paraakramabaahu VI as "Bodhisatva [sic] Paraakrama Baahu." (39) Finally, the conflation of kings and bodhisattvas on the island of Sri Lanka is established most strongly by King Mahinda IV, who not only referred to himself as a bodhisattva as a result of his bodhisattva-like resolute determination, (40) but who even went so far as to proclaim that "none but the bodhisattas would become kings of prosperous La^nkaa." (41)
51 - There is evidence that suggests that certain lay people living in Sri Lanka took bodhisattva vows to attain buddhahood. For example, we find that two Sri Lankans, after freeing their children and wives from slavery, dedicated the merit derived from these actions "for the.benefit of all beings" (Epigraphia Zeylanica, 4:133, nos. 1-4) as well as to their own attainment of "Buddhahood as desired" (ibid., 4:133, nos. 2-3). We also find a similar wish made by a "lay" person who lived between the fifth and eighth centuries and who sculpted or commissioned the sculpting of a rock in the shape of a stuupa.http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha123.htm
"In Sri Lanka, in the 10th Century, King Mahinda IV (956-972 AD.) in an inscription proclaimed that "none but the Bodhisattvas would become kings of Sri Lanka (Ceylon)". Thus it was believed that kings of Sri Lanka were Bodhisattvas.
A Thera named Maha-Tipitaka Culabhaya who wrote the Milinda-Tika (about the 12th Century AD.) in the Theravada tradition of the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura, says at the end of the book in the colophon that he aspires to become a Buddha: Buddho Bhaveyyam "May I become a Buddha," which means that this author is a Bodhisattva.
We come across at the end of some palm leaf manuscripts of Buddhist texts in Sri Lanka the names of even a few copyists who have recorded their wish to become Buddhas, and they too are to be considered as Bodhisattvas. At the end of a religious ceremony or an act of piety, the bhikkhu who gives benedictions, usually admonishes the congregation to make a resolution to attain Nirvana by realising one of the three Bodhis - Sravakabodhi, Pratyekabodhi or Samyaksambodhi - as they wish according to their capacity.http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha126.htm
"By about the tenth century, this belief had become so strong that the king of Sri Lanka had not only to be Buddhist but also a Bodhisatta. The Jetavanarama Slab Inscription of Mahinda IV (956-972 AD) proclaimed
"None but the Bodhisatta would become kings of Sri Lanka …….(who) .... received assurance (vyaran) from the Omniscent Buddha."http://www.lankalibrary.com/Bud/establishment.htm
"The bodhisattva concept had its influence in the evolution of kingship in Sri Lanka, too. For some time between the fourth and the eleventh centuries CE, the kings of Sri Lanka began to be regarded not as ordinary human beings but as bodhisattvas. The Jetavanarama slab-inscription of Mahinda IV and the Pritidanakamanapa inscription of Nissanka Malla are instances where the rulers refer to themselves as bodhisattvas. The Rajatarangani (p. 470 and the Nikayasamgrahava, ed. Kumaranatunga, p. 24) also bear evidence to this. Parakramabahu II says that he would become a Buddha (Mahavamsa, ch. 86, stz. 7).http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha238.htm
In Burma, the relationship between kings and bodhisattvas is exemplified with King Kyanzittha, who claimed himself to be "the bodhisatva [sic], who shall verily become a Buddha that saves (and) redeems all beings, who is great in love (and) compassion for all beings at all times... [and] who was foretold by the Lord Buddha, who is to become a true Buddha." (42) In another instance, King Alaungsithu wrote that he would like to build a causeway to help all beings reach "The Blessed City [i.e., nirvaa.na]." (43) Finally, kings `Srii Tribhuvanaaditya, Thilui^n Ma^n, Ca~nsuu I, and Naato^nmyaa all referred to themselves as bodhisattvas. (44)
42 - Epigraphia Burmanica, 1:146.
43 - P. M. Tin, "The Shwegugyi Pagoda Inscriptions, Pagan 1141 A.D.," The Journal of the Burma Research Society 10 (2) (1920): 72.
44 - T. Tun, "Religion in Burma, A.D. 100-1300," The Journal of the Burma Research Society 42 (1959): 53.http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha123.htm
After a war between the Mon and the Myanmar in which the Mon initially attacked and then conquered Ava itself, the Myanmar king Alaungpaya (1752-60), who believed himself a Bodhisatta, crushed Mon resistance once and for all. After Pago had fallen into his hands in 1756, Lower Myanmar was devastated and many of the Mon survivors fled to Thailand or were deported as slaves.
Bodawpaya is also reputed to have been beset by a form of megalomania. He wanted to force the Sangha to confirm officially that he was the Bodhisatta of the next Buddha to come in this world cycle, the Buddha Metteyya.http://www.cambodianbuddhist.org/englis ... el399.html
In Thailand, a similar connection is drawn. One example of a Thai bodhisattva-king is Lu T'ai of Sukhothai who "wished to become a Buddha to help all beings... leave behind the sufferings of transmigration." (45) The relation between King Lu T'ai and bodhisattvahood is also manifested by the events occurring at his ordination ceremony that were similar to "the ordinary course of happenings in the career of a Bodhisattva." (46)http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha123.htm