Origin of the khandas?

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Origin of the khandas?

Postby danieLion » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:14 am

Search yielded nothing so forgive me if this is redundant:

Are the khandas orginal to the Buddha? Ajaan Geoff says no, but I recall--but can't find the reference just now--reading a non-Buddhist scholar (probably Sue Hamilton) mentioning emerging evidence that the khandas existed in Indian culture before the Buddha.

Has anyone else come across this references or others?

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Re: Origin of the khandas?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:11 am

danieLion wrote:Search yielded nothing so forgive me if this is redundant:

Are the khandas orginal to the Buddha? Ajaan Geoff says no, but I recall--but can't find the reference just now--reading a non-Buddhist scholar (probably Sue Hamilton) mentioning emerging evidence that the khandas existed in Indian culture before the Buddha.

Has anyone else come across this references or others?

DanieLion :heart:


The general position taken by Gombrich and others*, is that the "five skandhas" is a retake on the five fires used in the brahmanic fire sacrifice, turned to an entirely Buddhist meaning, but retaining the brahmanic terminology.

"skandha" has the basic meaning of a "heap", or a "pile", in this case, a pile of firewood. The sacrificer has "five heaps of burning firewood", front, back, left, right and the blazing sun overhead.

This is also why the defilements (klesa) is rooted in the sense of a fire which burns (see the sutra on all is burning); and the metaphor of nirvana with substratum as the five heaps of firewood without fire (nirvana in this very life), and nirvana without substratum as the dispersal of even these (parinirvana, death of the body, etc.) While classic Theravada renders the "substratum" - upadana as "grasping", the sense of the substratum of burning fuel is also present.

* Check Jurewicz, and maybe Wynne, too.

~~ Huifeng
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
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Re: Origin of the khandas?

Postby danieLion » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:12 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:The general position taken by Gombrich and others*, is that the "five skandhas" is a retake on the five fires used in the brahmanic fire sacrifice, turned to an entirely Buddhist meaning, but retaining the brahmanic terminology.
Thanks, I'll check out the references. I've read Gombrich's works on the three brahmanic fires as the 3 roots of unwholesome consciousness (moha, lobha, dosa), and his works on the five khandas as "burning piles of wood", but am not aware of the reference you make. Do you recall the title?
Daniel :heart:
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Re: Origin of the khandas?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:13 am

danieLion wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:The general position taken by Gombrich and others*, is that the "five skandhas" is a retake on the five fires used in the brahmanic fire sacrifice, turned to an entirely Buddhist meaning, but retaining the brahmanic terminology.
Thanks, I'll check out the references. I've read Gombrich's works on the three brahmanic fires as the 3 roots of unwholesome consciousness (moha, lobha, dosa), and his works on the five khandas as "burning piles of wood", but am not aware of the reference you make. Do you recall the title?
Daniel :heart:


No. But you may like to look for the pancagnihotra (five fire sacrifice) in your searches.

~~ Huifeng
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
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Re: Origin of the khandas?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:22 am

Try Gombrich What the Buddha Thought, pg. 29-30.
There are other references to "five fire wisdom" in the index,
but less info or references than desired (a general problem
with this whole book, in my opinion).

There are a couple of references in Jurewicz, too,
if you have a copy.

~~ Huifeng
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
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Re: Origin of the khandas?

Postby danieLion » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:26 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:No. But you may like to look for the pancagnihotra (five fire sacrifice) in your searches....

Try Gombrich What the Buddha Thought, pg. 29-30.
There are other references to "five fire wisdom" in the index,
but less info or references than desired (a general problem
with this whole book, in my opinion).

There are a couple of references in Jurewicz, too,
if you have a copy.

~~ Huifeng

:anjali: Much obliged.
Daniel :heart:
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Re: Origin of the khandas?

Postby Alex123 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:13 pm

danieLion wrote:Are the khandas orginal to the Buddha?


In the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta the Buddha delivered to 5 ascetics He has said this "in short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

In that sutta Buddha has not defined what 5 aggregates are, so there are two possibilities:
1) Those ascetics knew about 5 aggregates and understood what Buddha meant
2) Detailed explanation of 5 aggregates was removed by sutta compilers. Why?
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Origin of the khandas?

Postby daverupa » Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:17 pm

Alex123 wrote:1) Those ascetics knew about 5 aggregates and understood what Buddha meant
2) Detailed explanation of 5 aggregates was removed by sutta compilers. Why?


3) The phrase was added by later redactors

Perhaps because the Buddha had not developed the teaching of the five aggregates by the time of that discourse, for example. The Nikaya reciters knew what it meant, of course.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Origin of the khandas?

Postby danieLion » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:15 am

daverupa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:1) Those ascetics knew about 5 aggregates and understood what Buddha meant
2) Detailed explanation of 5 aggregates was removed by sutta compilers. Why?


3) The phrase was added by later redactors

Perhaps because the Buddha had not developed the teaching of the five aggregates by the time of that discourse, for example. The Nikaya reciters knew what it meant, of course.


4) (a variation on (1)) The grouping was not original to the Buddha.

Who was it original to?
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