cooran wrote:[i]The Suttas are not 'sound bites' recorded as the Buddha spoke. They are compacted summaries of what was said, rehearsed and agreed upon by the Arahants at the Great Councils and memorised and chanted together by large groups of monks called Bhanakas (Reciters).
Here is the problem. We believe that they didn't misunderstand the message, and said it like it was.
Unfortunately it is not always so simple. There is evidence that Mahāsāṃghika school had the earliest Vinaya and one of the major differences was that it portrayed Devadatta... as a saint... In Theravada suttas and especially the Jatakas, Devadatta is portrayed as super evil monk.
Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...
One reason for the interest in the origins of the Mahāsāṃghika school is that their Vinaya recension appears in several ways to represent an older redaction overall.
The Mahāsāṃghikas therefore saw the Sthaviras as being a breakaway group which was attempting to modify the original Vinaya
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%81s ... erated64-7
The Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya is also significant for its differing accounts from those of other schools. One such example of this is in the figure of Devadatta. The Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya mentions the figure of Devadatta, but the description and attributes of this figure are entirely different from those in the vinayas of sects from the Sthavira branch. In fact, there is no overlap in the characterizations of Devadatta between the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya and the other five extant vinayas which all come from the Sthavira branch. This has led some scholars to conclude that the story of Devadatta was a legend produced by the Sthaviras after they split from the Mahāsāṃghikas in the 4th century BCE. André Bareau has discovered that the earliest vinaya material common to all sects simply depicts Devadatta as a Buddhist saint who wishes for the monks to live a rigorous lifestyle.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%81s ... ite_ref-35