This is an old post from Venerable Dhammanando (hope he doesn't mind me reposting his letters ) tp ven sujato.
In [email protected]
, Dhammanando Bhikkhu <[email protected]
Thank you for your response.
Sujato: That's an important point: the 'victors' are not necessarily the majority, but those on the side of Dhamma-Vinaya. Leaving aside qualms about how this event has been used to justify sectarianism."
Dhammanando: It might also be a good idea to leave aside this rather loaded word "sectarian," or at least restrict it to the sort of mental attitude conveyed by the words, "My sect is right because it's my sect." The word ceases to be of much value if one simply applies it to anyone who uncompromisingly adheres to what he believes to be sound doctrine and practice, or to a tradition that he believes embodies this.
The Buddha instituted procedures for varying degrees of ostracism and banishment to be applied to monks who were holders of wrong view or indulgers in various sorts of wrong conduct. Although the aim of these was to apply pressure to these monks to mend their ways, inevitably there would be situations where the banished monks were convinced that they were in the right and rather than seeking to be reconciled would instead turn the tables and banish their banishers. Assuming that the original act of banishment was well-founded according to Dhamma and Vinaya, the scrupulous monks' refusal to associate with the banished monks was simply the sangha taking the necessary steps to preserve its integrity. That it might appear to some as "sectarian" or "bigotted" or "sanctimonious" is just too bad.
"Do you mean that the Vajjiputtakas' ten theses are notexplicitly stated in the Mahasa`nghika *paatimokkha*? If so, then this would not be surprising, for most of the ten have to do with how the training rules are interpreted, not with how they are stated, and not all of them even pertain to Paatimokkha rules.
"This is clearly not the case with the money rules, which are
stated quite clearly and explicitly in the Vinaya (and
D: I did not mean to suggest otherwise. I was drawing a distinction between the Paatimokkha training rules and the Vinaya as a whole. My point was that from bare statements like...
"yo pana bhikkhu vikaale khaadaniiya.m vaa ...."
"yo pana bhikkhu jaataruuparajata.m ugga.nheyya vaa ...."
one cannot draw any particular conclusion about what time is "wrong" for eating, or how wide is the scope of "gold and silver". The solution to these questions needs to be sought elsewhere in the texts. Therefore the fact that the Mahaasanghika version of the Paatimokkha may phrase the relevant rules the same way as the Pali offers no evidence as to what view they took on the ten Vajjiputtaka theses.
For example, a Mahaasanghika might have phrased NP 18 the same as in the Pali, but then glossed "goldand silver" as "large quantities of bullion to be used in land transactions or for the purchase of elephants" (or whatever).
So what I was asking Stephen was whether he was drawing his conclusion merely from the Mahaasanghikas' Paatimokkha or from their Vinaya exegeses.
Sujato: "As per my previous message, contra Stephen, the Mahasanghika Vinaya maintains an identical attitude to the Theravada over money. How far this reflects actual practice is of course a different matter.
"So far, no-one has tried to answer my question: since there are monks and nuns of all schools today who handle money; and other monks and nuns of all schools who do not handle money, should we not regard the ones who do not handle money as the true heirs of the ancient Theriyas, regardless of which school they belong to?"
Dhammanando:No, not on that account alone.
Proper Vinaya observance is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to make a monk a true heir of the ancient theras.
According to one Chinese pilgrim the monasteries of one of the Puggalavaadin schools (I think it was the Sammitiyas) had the strictest Vinaya observance in the whole of India. Should we on that account consider the Puggalavaadins to have been the "true heirs of the ancient Theriyas" ?
I trust that you will answer no and agree that a monk's view is also of some relevance here. So, there is Vinaya, and there is right view. A third condition, I would suggest, is a Theravaadin upasampadaa
, but this is a view based upon the Pali Atthakathaas, so I suppose there is little likelihood of our agreeing on this point.
In another post you wrote:Sujato: "In the rule against using money, (Pali Nissagiya Pacittiya 18) Pachow pg 104 for Mahasanghika Vinaya does not note any relevant difference. He merely notes the Chinese translation 'sheng she shih she' for 'jaataruuparajata'. He also adds 'or has attachment for it', which presumably stands for the Pali 'saadiyeyya'. In other words, apart from translation issues, the rule seems to be identical."
Dhammananado: I have not read the Mahaasanghika recension of the Paatimokkha in any original language, so I'm dependent on Charles Prebish's translation of it (together with the Muulasarvaastivaada version) in his _Buddhist Monastic Discipline_. If his translation is accurate, then it seems to me that its differences from the Pali version are more substantial than you and Dr. Pachow suggest. Overall the impression I get is that the Muulasarvaastivaadins weren't much different to us in their Vinaya, but the Mahaasanghikas come across as a downright sleazy bunch. They remind me of the pigs in Orwell's _Animal Farm_, who kept altering the rules to make life more comfortable for themselves ("No animal shall sleep in a bed ... with sheets."). At first sight their rules don't seem much different to ours, but examine each one closely with alawyer's attention to detail and you will often find that some tiny addition, or subtraction, or just the alteration of a single wordhas changed the training rule entirely, either to make it easier to observe or in some cases almost impossible to transgress.
Let's take a look at three of the examples in your post...
"The other rules involving money are NP 19 (trading precious things) and NP 20 (buying and selling), and in both of thes the other schools, including Mahasanghika, add no variations of interest."
No variations of interest!? Good gracious, in Prebish's translation of NP 20 the Mahaasanghikas have inserted a loophole as wide as the Mersey Tunnel:"Whatever monk should undertake activity in various sorts of sales *in gold and silver*, that is a ni.hsargika-paacattika."
The Pali says nothing about gold and silver. If the Mahaasanghika version means using gold and silver as the means of exchange, then it would permit activities like bartering that are prohibited in the Pali. If it means only that a bhikkhu may not sell gold and silver, then it would permit almost everything that is prohibited in the Pali ! If the latter is the case, then just by the insertion of one compound word the Mahaasanghikas have whittled down the obligation to almost nothing.
"Nor is NP 10, about how to appoint a kappiya for receiving funds, significantly different."
I disagree. In this case too the Mahaasanghikas' phrasing completely undermines the rule. In all recensions of the Vinaya the last part of NP 10 begins in essentially the same way, with the monk asking the sangha steward for a robe up to three times and if that fails then hinting by standing in silence up to six times. The Pali version then continues:
tato ce uttari.m vaayamamaano ta.m ciivara.m
abhinipphaadeyya, nissaggiya.m paacittiya.m
...then, [having stood silently up to six times],
if upon exerting himself further that robe is
obtained [by the monk], it entails expiation with
So in this version (and in that of the Muulasarvaastivaada) the monk, having stood silently up to six times, is prohibited from making *any further effort* to obtain the robe. But the Mahaasanghika version only prohibits him from *asking* further. There is nothing to stop him from exerting himself by other means, such as the various forms of hinting. The Mahaasanghika monk can carry on pestering the sangha steward till the end of the kalpa and he still won't have broken any rule.
"Finally Pacittiya 84, the ratanapaacittiya (about picking up valuable items) is also substantially identical, except the Mula- sarv, evidently by mistake, adds an exception for when in the house of a householder (whereas the exception should be when in a monastery only)."
D: The Mahaasanghika version seems to have a much more serious flaw: it leaves out the word "nikkhipitabba" from the final clause. So, it would appear that if a lady were to mislay her diamond tiara in a Mahaasanghika monastery, a resident monk might pick it up and give it to his mother as a Christmas present without breaking any rule. He is only obliged to pick up the tiara, not to look after it for the owner as a Theravaadin bhikkhu must.