Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby Chula » Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:09 am

I've heard that the Vimānavatthu and Petavatthu are considered later additions to the canon by scholars.
Does anyone know on what basis this judgment is made? Is it a matter of doctrine because these tales seemingly trivialize the workings of kamma?

Also, regarding the Jātakas, I've heard that sections of them are considered to be later additions. Is there any consensus on what those are? I've read some jātakas referenced in the four nikāyas, and the earliest classifications of the teachings in the suttas have the jātakas included:
"suttaṃ, geyyaṃ, veyyākaraṇaṃ, gāthaṃ, udānaṃ, itivuttakaṃ, jātakaṃ, abbhutadhammaṃ, vedallaṃ"
"dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions"

from MN 22: Alagaddūpamasutta -
http://studies.worldtipitaka.org/tipitaka/9M/3/3.2
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:57 am

Greetings Chula,

I know one of the suttas of the Digha Nikaya is very much jātaka (birth story) in nature. Alas, I don't have a copy of it with me here to check which one though.

The point being that it shouldn't be assumed that the canonical Jātaka and the non-canonical Jātaka Tales are to be classified in the same way, just because MN 22 says the word Jātaka.

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Re: Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby cooran » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:16 am

Hello Chula, Retro, all,

This might be of interest:

Jataka Legends occur even in the Canonical Pitakas; thus the Sukha-vihari Jataka and the Tittira Jataka, which are respectively the 10th and the 37th in this volume, are found in the Culla Vagga, vii 1 and vi. 6, and similarly the Khandhavatta Jataka, which will be given in the next volume, is found in the Culla Vagga v.6; and there are several other examples. So too one of the minor books of the Sutta Pitaka (the Cariya Pitaka) consists of 35 Jatakas told in verse; and ten at least of these can be identified in the volumes of our present collection already published; and probably several of the others will be traced when it is all printed. The Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas are generally accepted as at least older than the Council of Vesai (380 BC?); and thus Jataka legends must have been always recognised in Buddhist literature.
This conclusion is confirmed by the fact that Jataka scenes are found sculptured in the carvings on the railings round the relic shrines of Sanchi and Amaravati and especially those of Bharhut, where the titles of several Jatakas are clearly inscribed over some of the carvings. Thses bas-reliefs prove that the birth-legends were widely known in the third century B.C. and were then considered as part of the sacred history of the relilgion.
From the Preface to The Jataka or Stories of the Buddha's Former Births by E.W. Cowell 1995

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Re: Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby Chula » Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:27 am

Thanks Retro and Chris for the informative responses..

Regarding nikāya sources, the Mahāsudassanasutta (DN 17) recurs in Jā 95 according to LDB. Mahāgovindasutta (DN 19) is also a past-life story. I also remember reading a sutta in one of the other nikāyas where a birth story is referenced but I don't remember where anymore.

I would consider jātakas appearing in the Cūḷavagga and Cariyāpiṭaka to be possible later additions. Cariyāpiṭaka for obvious reasons and Cūḷavagga because it's definitely later than the four nikāyas. The archaeological evidence is interesting though.
I guess in that case one way of determining the early validity of a jātaka would be its appearance in the four nikāyas or archaeological evidence?

Any thoughts on the questions relating to the Vimānavatthu and Petavatthu?

Metta.
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Re: Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:54 am

Chula wrote:I've heard that the Vimānavatthu and Petavatthu are considered later additions to the canon by scholars.
Does anyone know on what basis this judgment is made? Is it a matter of doctrine because these tales seemingly trivialize the workings of kamma?

Also, regarding the Jātakas, I've heard that sections of them are considered to be later additions. Is there any consensus on what those are? I've read some jātakas referenced in the four nikāyas, and the earliest classifications of the teachings in the suttas have the jātakas included:
"suttaṃ, geyyaṃ, veyyākaraṇaṃ, gāthaṃ, udānaṃ, itivuttakaṃ, jātakaṃ, abbhutadhammaṃ, vedallaṃ"
"dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions"

from MN 22: Alagaddūpamasutta -
http://studies.worldtipitaka.org/tipitaka/9M/3/3.2
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Hello Chula! :smile:

Well, for a start, they are in the KN, and not in the first four Nikayas. There has always been a few disputes about the contents of the KN, even within the Theravada, and there is no other school at all which even has a KN (though the Dharmagupta has a Ksudraka-pitaka).

The nine-limb system for the teachings are not very clear classifications. For a start, they are not mutually exclusive categories. Also, there is good evidence that at first, it is basically just the first three types. The other ones slowly get added on later. The further down the list they appear, we could say the later they are. You may wish to check out the nine (and twelve) fold lists from other schools too, for comparison.

As far as doctrine and "trivialize the workings of kamma" goes, some schools would not "reject" them on account of their content, but may consider them as "to be drawn out" (neyyattha) teachings, whereas other sutta (and abhidhamma for some) would be "fully drawn out" (nitattha) teachings. I don't think that "trivialize" is the best word, maybe "give a more simplistic picture", may be more apt.

Still, all the schools did have Jatakas, the main difference being whether they were considered as key Buddhavac, or not. It appears that they weren't at first, but were slowly compiled a bit later. Note that "compiled ... later" does not mean "taught" or "composed" later, just when they were all brought together and put as a group.

I'm not sure that we actually have evidence of the Petavatthu and Vimanavatthu in other schools at all. This is just a "we in the present day do not have", and not a "they did not have in ancient times". Like a lot of things in so-called "early Buddhism", we don't have as much material and evidence as we would like to get a complete picture.
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Re: Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby Chula » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:06 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Also, there is good evidence that at first, it is basically just the first three types.

I don't think that "trivialize" is the best word, maybe "give a more simplistic picture", may be more apt.


Thanks Bhante for some context and clarification.

May I ask what the evidence is that only the first three types were the first classifications?

I agree that trivialize is the wrong word, I was trying to find the right word - "overly simplify" might be better.
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Re: Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:32 am

Chula wrote:
May I ask what the evidence is that only the first three types were the the first classifications?



The evidence is mainly from comparative studies between different versions of Nikaya / Agama literature, particularly their structure.
cf. Yinshun 1971: 867ff; Nakamura 1980: 27-29 has some clear statements in English on this, without the analysis.

The first three angas are possibly (summarized from Orsborn 2010: 36ff):

i. Sutta / sūtra – most of the suttas in the nidāna-, dhātu-, ṣaḷāyanata-, vedanā-, khandha-, magga-, bojjhaṅga-, satipaṭṭhāna-, indriya-, sammappadhāna-, bala-, iddhipāda-, anāpānāsati-, jhāna- and sacca-saṃyuttas of SN (& SĀ) (cf. Yinshun 1980: 526f).
ii. Geya / geyya – verses, also known as gāthā and / or udāna, = Sagāthā-vagga of SN (& SĀ).
iii. Vyākaraṇa / veyyākaraṇa, two types: Tathāgata- and sāvaka-veyyākaraṇa. Equal the lakkhaṇa-, nāga-, supaṇṇa-, garuda-, valāhaka-, sotāpatti-, diṭṭhi- (and moggallāna-)saṃyuttas of SN (& SĀ) (cf. Yinshun 1980: 526f). Mainly in the khandha-vagga.

The best comparative work has probably been done by Yinshun (after Lü Cheng), and even Mizuno praises him for his efforts in this area. But you'll probably have to learn Chinese and maybe Japanese too, to read about this, because that will probably be faster than waiting for somebody to translate their work into English. Sorry about that. Maybe try Nakamura (1980: 28-29) as above.
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Re: Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby Chula » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:16 am

Some textual evidence from T. W. Rhys Davids that the Petavatthu was a later addition:

"One story in the Peta Vatthu is about a king Pingalaka, said in the commentary to have reigned over Surat two hundred years after the Buddha's time; and another refers to an event fifty-six years after the Buddha's death."
http://www.viet.net/~anson/ebud/begin/begin6.htm#10ap

Also mentions that both the Vimānavatthu and Petavatthu is very late "in tone".
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Re: Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu & Jātaka

Postby pt1 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:40 pm

Hi Venerable,

Paññāsikhara wrote:The nine-limb system for the teachings are not very clear classifications. For a start, they are not mutually exclusive categories. Also, there is good evidence that at first, it is basically just the first three types. The other ones slowly get added on later. The further down the list they appear, we could say the later they are.


I'm wondering what's the time-frame for "later"? I mean, theravadin commentaries say that all the 3 major classifications (the 9 limbs, the 5 nikayas and the 3 pitakas) happened before or at the first council. So when you say "added on later", what would that mean approximately? Around the time of the first council, or second, third, etc? Thanks.

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