Current Theravada Bhikkhu lineage and Mahavihara

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

Current Theravada Bhikkhu lineage and Mahavihara

Postby Bankei » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:59 am

Buddhism first arrived in Sri Lanka in 249 BCE through the mission of the Indian Emperor Ashoka’s son, Mahinda. Although the date from which the name Theravada was used is in dispute, for the sake of simplicity we shall refer to this Buddhist lineage as "Theravada.” The Theravada bhikshuni ordination lineage was then transmitted to Sri Lanka in 240 BCE with the arrival of Emperor Ashoka’s daughter, Sanghamitta, to the island. By 1050 CE, this ordination lineage ended as a consequence of the Tamil invasion and subsequent rule of Sri Lanka under the Chola Empire.


from http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... art_1.html

Around 1070 the ordination lineage was reintroduced to Sri Lanka from Burma. After that it appears the lineage was broken and reintroduced many times back and forth between Sri Lanka and Burma and to a lessor extent Thailand.

Does this mean that the current Theravada Lineage does not trace itself back to the Mahavihara, but to that of Burma? Or is there evidence of an earlier transmission from Sri Lanka to Burma?

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Re: Current Theravada Bhikkhu lineage and Mahavihara

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jul 06, 2010 4:33 am

Bankei wrote:Does this mean that the current Theravada Lineage does not trace itself back to the Mahavihara, but to that of Burma? Or is there evidence of an earlier transmission from Sri Lanka to Burma?


But where did the Burma lineage come from? I think it must be India or Sri Lanka and the Mahavihara Theravada.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_in_Burma
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Re: Current Theravada Bhikkhu lineage and Mahavihara

Postby cooran » Tue Jul 06, 2010 7:45 am

Hello Bankei, David, all,

This might be of interest:

Pali tradition states (in the Samantapasadika 69.10, translated by N.A. Jayawickrama, p.61) that Emperor Asoka sent the monks Sona and Uttara to Suvannabhumi and that they established the Buddhadhamma there. On that occasion, 3500 noble men and 1500 women entered the Buddhist order. Suvannabhumi has been identified with Lower Burma. The city of Thaton has been identified with Sudhammanagara, the capital of a Mon kingdom of that time.
From archaeological remains, including stone inscriptions in Pali found in Lower Burma, we know that the Pyu people living there before the Burmese arrived were Theravada Buddhists.
http://www.enabling.org/ia/vipassana/Ar ... moser.html

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Re: Current Theravada Bhikkhu lineage and Mahavihara

Postby Bankei » Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:17 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
Bankei wrote:Does this mean that the current Theravada Lineage does not trace itself back to the Mahavihara, but to that of Burma? Or is there evidence of an earlier transmission from Sri Lanka to Burma?


But where did the Burma lineage come from? I think it must be India or Sri Lanka and the Mahavihara Theravada.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_in_Burma


Hello David and Cooran

Thanks for your replies.

If it was India, then it probably wasn't the Mahavihara tradition. It could have come from Sri Lanka earlier than the 9th century, or it could have been from the Asoka missions much earlier, or maybe somewhere else.

I wonder what the earliest evidence there is for contact between Burma and Sri Lanka.
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