Devadatta

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

Postby Dharmakara » Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:51 pm

A series of tragic events occurred when the Buddha was 72 years old and in the 37th year of his teaching mission. This was the year when his cousin Devadatta initiated a schism in the ranks of the Sangha, then instigated a palace coup in the city of Rajagriha, the capital of the kingdom of Magadha, and finally made four attempts to assassinate the Buddha. These events were a great test of the Buddha’s wisdom, compassion, patience, equanimity, and ability to skillfully lead the Sangha in the face of external and internal threats to its survival and integrity.

It should be noted that doubts have been cast on the veracity of the legend of Devadatta as told in the canonical literature and commentaries of the various schools of Buddhism. Reginald Ray, basing himself on the work of earlier scholars, sums up the various accounts in his book Buddhist Saints in India: A Study of Buddhist Values & Orientation (link below).

According to Reginald Ray, it is possible that Devadatta was no relation nor even a contemporary of the Buddha, but may have been a strict proponent of the life of the forest renunciant who opposed the softer life of monastic Buddhism over a century after the Buddha’s passing. This Devadatta apparently created a Sangha that considered itself a separate and purer stream of Buddhism than the Sangha founded by Shakyamuni Buddha. Devadatta’s rival order still existed in India as late as the seventh century C.E. according to the testimony of the Chinese monk Hsuan-tsang (602-664).

A Condemned Saint: Devadata (pp. 162-173)
Buddhist Saints in India: A Study of Buddhist Values & Orientation

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Re: Devadatta

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:04 pm


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Re: Devadatta

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:13 pm

Ven. Dhammika is also of the opinion that some of the accounts of Devadatta may be exaggerated:

http://buddhismatoz.com/d/Devadatta.html

There doesn't seem to be too much information about him in the Tipitaka, other than the schism and efforts to create an all-ascetic Order, similar to the Jains.
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Re: Devadatta

Postby Dharmakara » Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:52 am


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Re: Devadatta

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:54 am

I found Ray's study on the Devadatta story very informative and thought provoking.
There are several canons that all need to be examined to uncover "early Buddhism".
Looking into the Pali alone is insufficient.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Devadatta

Postby Dharmakara » Tue Sep 07, 2010 3:39 am

Pannasikhara, are you familiar with the Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project?

It's a joint project between the University of Washington and the British Museum, examining and reconstructing the ealy developement of Buddhism. You might find this article of interest:

http://www.neh.gov/news/humanities/2004 ... tpath.html

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Re: Devadatta

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 07, 2010 4:45 am


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Re: Devadatta

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:40 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Devadatta

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:45 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Devadatta

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:18 am

Hi Venerable,

I did read Ray's extract. That's where I got the quotation from... I suspect he's using various words in a different way from the sources that I'm used to. Yes, the Theravada texts attribute powers to Devadatta, but not any levels of awakening. [Perhaps such bickering is not unlike discussions here about definition of an arahant... :)]

Mike

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Re: Devadatta

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:48 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Devadatta

Postby Dharmakara » Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:07 pm

Well, it goes go without saying that one person's enlightenment is another person's delusion :jumping:

Wikipedia has a good description of the paradigm:

Scholar monks undertake the path of studying and preserving the Pali literature of the Theravada. They may devote little time to the practice of meditation, but may attain great respect and renown by becoming masters of a particular section of the Pali Canon or its commentaries. Masters of the Abhidhamma, called Abhidhammika, are particularly respected in the scholastic tradition.

Meditation monks, often called forest monks because of their association with certain wilderness-dwelling traditions, are considered to be specialists in meditation. While some forest monks may undertake significant study of the Pali Canon, in general meditation monks are expected to learn primarily from their meditation experiences and personal teachers, and may not know more of the Tipitaka than is necessary to participate in liturgical life and to provide a foundation for fundamental Buddhist teachings. More so than the scholastic tradition, the meditation tradition is associated with the attainment of certain supernatural powers described in both Pali sources and folk tradition. These powers include the attainment of Nirvana, mind-reading, supernatural power over material objects and their own material bodies, seeing and conversing with gods and beings living in hell, and remembering their past lives. These powers are called abhiñña. Sometimes the remain of the cremated bone fragment of an accomplished forest monk is believed able to transfom itself into crystal-like relics (sārira-dhātu).

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Re: Devadatta

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:34 pm

Sure, but I was merely commenting on the point that is very clear from the suttas that iddhis are not the same as ariyan attainments, and are not special to the Buddha-Dhamma.

E.g. see:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... #drawbacks

Mike

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Re: Devadatta

Postby suanck » Thu Sep 09, 2010 5:57 am


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Re: Devadatta

Postby fig tree » Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:30 am


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Re: Devadatta

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:10 am

Sure, there are plenty of suttas where a monk attains such powers and then awakens. But it's clear that the powers are not the awakening.

Mike


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