Some Evidence Suggesting the Great Antiquity of the Atthakavagga (Sutta-nipāta Ch.4)
1. The language of the Aṭṭhakavagga contains several rare and archaic grammatical forms reminiscent of Vedic Sanskrit which are absent in the more streamlined grammar of most of the rest of the Canon.
2. The Aṭṭhakavagga is referred to by name elsewhere in the Tipitaka at, for example, Udāna 5:6 in the Suttanta Piṭaka and Mahāvagga 5:13 in the Vinaya Pitaka. Both of these passages tell the story of a young bhikkhu named Sona Kuṭikaṇṇa who, when requested by the Buddha to speak some Dhamma, recites the Aṭṭhakavagga. The passage in the the Udāna also (correctly) specifies that the Atthakavagga has sixteen parts. Thus it was already compiled and named before the completion of the works in which the story is found.
3. The Aṭṭhakavagga is one of the very few portions of the Pali Canon with a line-by-line commentary that is also canonical - namely, the Mahāniddesa. (interestingly, the purpose of the Mahāniddesa is apparently not to expound upon the great profundity of the Aṭṭhakavagga, as it does more to trivialize than glorify it. Furthermore, the Mahāniddesa was probably not composed merely to comment upon a notably ancient text, as at the time of its composition many suttas were believed to predate the Aṭṭhakavagga - yet they are without a canonical commentary. lts most likely purpose seems to be to reinterpret - to explain away - a large body of proto-Theravadin or even pre-Theravadin philosophy that was clearly at odds with later doctrinal development but was nevertheless too well known to be deleted from the Canon.)
4. According to the literary evidence the Aṭṭhakavagga (but not the Sutta-nipāta as a whole) was common to many, probably most, and possibly all of the ancient schools of Buddhism, including the Mahasanghikas, who are historically the first to branch off from the proto-Theravada/Sarvastivada line (being equivalent to the Vajjiputtas in the Pali account of the second council). The story of ven. Kuṭikaṇṇa's recitation of the Aṭṭhakavagga
is also recorded in the Mahasanghika Vinaya, as well as in the vinayas of other ancient schools preserved in the immense Mahayana Tripiṭaka.
5. The text of the Aṭṭhakavagga contains none of the usual stock passages, little if any technical systematization of doctrine, and, with the possible exceptions of the introductory verses to the Māgandiya Sutta and Sāriputta Sutta, no fairy-tail narratives - all of which are characteristic of later material.
6. The teachings of the Aṭṭhakavagga are addressed to a Sangha of homeless, wandering ascetics, and are very simple (often to the point of being enigmatic) yet also exceedingly profound. They appear to come from a time when the Sāsana was still in a primitive state, most of its converts being veterans to the holy life, and being far more lnclined to practically realize than to theoretically philosophize. The existence of sedentary bhikkhus living in prosperous monasteries and dedicating their efforts to intellectual investigation of Dhamma, which became the norm very early in the history of Buddhism, is clearly at variance with the spirit of these teachings.
Alex123 wrote:I do like his:Some Evidence Suggesting the Great Antiquity of the Atthakavagga (Sutta-nipāta Ch.4)
Kim O'Hara wrote:Alex123 wrote:I do like his:Some Evidence Suggesting the Great Antiquity of the Atthakavagga (Sutta-nipāta Ch.4)
I haven't read it all but I did skip down to his quotes from the Atthakavagga. Very Zen-like indeed!
I will have to come back to all this.
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