The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and scriptures.
Individual
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Individual »

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

This is a topic in which to discuss issues surrounding the Abhidhamma Pitaka, such as its:

* Origins (including issues relating to Buddhist Councils etc.)
* Timeframes
* Inclusion in the Pali Tipitaka, versus other Canons (such as the Chinese Canon where it is absent)
* Content, and variations therein with respect to the teachings of the Sutta Pitaka

... plus any other issues of scholarly, academic, practical or casual interest that cannot be pursued within the Abhidhamma Forum on account of its Terms Of Service.

In doing so, please ensure you abide by the guidelines for the Dhammic Free-For-All forum - http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=175" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta,
Retro. :)
It would be hard for me to argue the specifics, but as I've remarked in the past, only a brief review of both is necessary to see that the two have a very different perspective on the importance of philosophy (specifically semantics and metaphysics). It really doesn't make sense for the Buddha to belittle philosophy in a few suttas, but then have a massive collection of texts devoted to it... Also, I've heard that the Abhidhamma makes factually inaccurate statements about the brain's function.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by cooran »

Individual said: I've heard that the Abhidhamma makes factually inaccurate statements about the brain and seems totally unaware of its actual function. With this in mind, the rest of its psychology seems totally without merit.
Please support your statements with a quotations from the Abhidhamma and quotations from respected critical sources. I don't think the Dhamma-free-for-all forum was meant for the unsubstantiated disparagement of the Tipitaka. Kammasakata.

Chris
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by tiltbillings »

Chris wrote:
Individual said: I've heard that the Abhidhamma makes factually inaccurate statements about the brain and seems totally unaware of its actual function. With this in mind, the rest of its psychology seems totally without merit.
Please support your statements with a quotations from the Abhidhamma and quotations from respected critical sources. I don't think the Dhamma-free-for-all forum was meant for the unsubstantiated disparagement of the Tipitaka. Kammasakata.

Chris
Chris,

I share your frustration with a statement such this. A willingness to dismiss something based upon no actual knowledge of it cannot be taken seriously.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Jechbi »

tiltbillings wrote:A willingness to dismiss something based upon no actual knowledge of it cannot be taken seriously.
I'm sorry, but I don't agree with this statement. I feel it is appropriate to take Individual's "willingness" seriously, if by "willingness" we mean his underlying motivations and intentions. I also feel it's appropriate to take one another seriously in these discussions unless there's a clear indication that a person is joking.

I agree, though, that Chris' question is a good one (although it appears Individual edited his post for clarity just before Chris hit the "submit" button on hers).

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS »

Paññāsikhara wrote:
TheDhamma wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:This discussion could benefit an enormous amount by getting out of the "Pali only" fixation and referring more Sanskrit, Chinese and even Tibetan materials. A quite check to see if a passage also appears or not in other versions of the Vinaya or Sutras, for instance, is powerful evidence as to its originality or not.
Good point. I am not that familiar with the Mahayana and Vajrayana versions, but have heard that there are some similarities, but also some marked differences. I am not sure of the extent of the differences, one big one being that there is no Katthavattu in the Mahayana Abhidharma or Abhidharma-kosa.
Who said anything about Mahayana or Vajrayana? I am referring to the Sarvastivada, Mulasarvastivada, Dharmagupta, Mahisasaka, Kasyapiya, Mahasamghika and other traditions.
Hi Paññāsikhara,

In your post you mentioned "Sanskrit, Chinese, and even Tibetan materials."

The Chinese and Tibetan texts are Mahayana and Vajrayana, correct?

The early Buddhist schools did not use those languages. But now I see you are probably referring to the fact that the Chinese and Tibetan versions used the early Buddhist school versions of the Abhidhamma, as far as we can tell.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by tiltbillings »

Jechbi wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:A willingness to dismiss something based upon no actual knowledge of it cannot be taken seriously.
I'm sorry, but I don't agree with this statement. I feel it is appropriate to take Individual's "willingness" seriously, if by "willingness" we mean his underlying motivations and intentions. I also feel it's appropriate to take one another seriously in these discussions unless there's a clear indication that a person is joking.
You and I differ on this. Dismissing something based upon ignorance cannot be taken seriously as an argument for dismissing something, and I cannot take seriously a person's willingness to dimiss something based upon ignorance of what is being dismissed as a reasonable basis for an argument against something. Does that make it any clearer to you?

Also, I do not care or know what his underlying motivations are, nor would I presume to guess. Also, read what I wrote as it is written.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by tiltbillings »

TheDhamma wrote:But now I see you are probably referring to the fact that the Chinese and Tibetan versions used the early Buddhist school versions of the Abhidhamma, as far as we can tell.
Yes, given that these text were translated into Tibetan and Chinese.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Paññāsikhara »

TheDhamma wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:
TheDhamma wrote:
Good point. I am not that familiar with the Mahayana and Vajrayana versions, but have heard that there are some similarities, but also some marked differences. I am not sure of the extent of the differences, one big one being that there is no Katthavattu in the Mahayana Abhidharma or Abhidharma-kosa.
Who said anything about Mahayana or Vajrayana? I am referring to the Sarvastivada, Mulasarvastivada, Dharmagupta, Mahisasaka, Kasyapiya, Mahasamghika and other traditions.
Hi Paññāsikhara,

In your post you mentioned "Sanskrit, Chinese, and even Tibetan materials."

The Chinese and Tibetan texts are Mahayana and Vajrayana, correct?

The early Buddhist schools did not use those languages. But now I see you are probably referring to the fact that the Chinese and Tibetan versions used the early Buddhist school versions of the Abhidhamma, as far as we can tell.
"The Chinese and Tibetan texts are Mahayana and Vajrayana, correct?" - well, no, too vague, so incorrect in this case.

Here, we shall answer in terms of the Buddha's method of Vibhajjavada, ie. an answer which makes distinctions, (as opposed to a direct categorical answer, a counter question, or setting the question aside):

Some of the Chinese texts are Agama, Vinaya and Abhidharma belonging to various Nikayan schools, some are other material belonging to various Nikayan schools, a large amount is Mahayana, some is Vajrayana.
Some of the Tibetan texts are also Agama, Vinaya, Abhidharma and other material belonging to various Nikayan schools, a large amount is common (non-Tantric) Mahayana, a large amount is Tantric / Vajrayana.
(By "other material" I am referring to material that for the Theravadins mainly composes the KN, but for other schools is categorized differently.)

The material I am referring to is mostly the non-Mahayanic (whether common or tantric).

In particular, the various Abhidharma Sastras themselves, of the Hetuvada / Yuktivada / Sarvastivada, and also the Sariputra Abhidharma Sastra. And also the later larger Vibhasa commentaries, and small manuals such as the Hrdaya, Amrtarasa, and so forth. Considering that all of these come from Sthavira traditions, to not consider these at all when discussing the "authenticity" or otherwise of the Pali / Theravada Abhidhamma is a methodological error of simply vast and totally unreasonable proportions.

Also, the Agamas and Vinayas of these other schools is extremely important, too. In many posts above, people have been basing whole arguments on a single passage in a sutta or vinaya, but have not bothered to check to see if these statements / passages are also found in the corresponding texts of other schools. In general, where texts and passages are common across schools, we can kind of establish cut off dates for when this text / statement appeared based on the relations between the schools involved. eg. if found in both Sthavira and Mahasamghika texts, then probably dates from pre-schism period. If found in Theravada, Vatsiputriya and Sarvastivada, but not in other Sthavira schools like Dharmagupta, Kasyapiya, then we can date these accordingly.

Regards the Theravadin material by comparison, all of this material basically pre-dates Buddhaghosa, for instance. This is very important when we consider that although Buddhaghosa is largely using material from earlier texts (see Adikarama, Mizuno, et al), however, in any given citation that he uses, we very seldom can pinpoint from what period or what type of text (eg. Sri Lankan or Indian) it derives. This is very frustrating, and means that we have the Canonical and para-canonical material, which is fairly easy to date, but then have a span of several centuries over which Buddhaghosa's Atthakatha material may derive.

In addition, there is some material that is also classified as "Mahayana" which is relevant here. (Classic examples being the Yogacarabhumi Sastra and Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesa.)

The use of languages is largely irrelevant, as the translations are accurate enough for the material viz the "authenticity" or not of the Abhidhamma / Abhidharma. Where the Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesa makes comments about Katyayana and other Abhidharmikas, for instance, the fact that the source we have is in a Chinese translation and not in its original Sanskrit, makes little difference. It too obviously predates Buddhaghosa, and provides insights from other perspectives.

Personally, I take questions like the "authenticity" or otherwise of a body of literature like the Abhidhamma extremely seriously. As such, it is absolutely vital to take all the possible relevant material into account. Otherwise, with extreme source bias of only examining on body of literature, or only taking information from one Nikayan school, rather than taking all the literature and information from all the schools, of course major errors in our conclusions will result. That would indeed be a shame, don't you think?
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS »

Paññāsikhara wrote: Personally, I take questions like the "authenticity" or otherwise of a body of literature like the Abhidhamma extremely seriously.
Me too!
Paññāsikhara wrote: As such, it is absolutely vital to take all the possible relevant material into account. Otherwise, with extreme source bias of only examining on body of literature, or only taking information from one Nikayan school, rather than taking all the literature and information from all the schools, of course major errors in our conclusions will result. That would indeed be a shame, don't you think?
Yes, I agree, however the classical Theravada position might be to take those other accounts with a grain of salt. Reason -- the Kathavatthu book in the Abhidhamma was compiled primarily to clarify the "wrong views" in the other early Buddhist schools and thus, their accounts may not be seen with as much importance as you or I might place on them.

Certainly similarities, those areas where there are no differences provide some evidence to authenticity, but by themselves, probably not enough, since the Theravadins at the Third Council rejected those other accounts.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Paññāsikhara »

TheDhamma wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote: Personally, I take questions like the "authenticity" or otherwise of a body of literature like the Abhidhamma extremely seriously.
Me too!
Paññāsikhara wrote: As such, it is absolutely vital to take all the possible relevant material into account. Otherwise, with extreme source bias of only examining on body of literature, or only taking information from one Nikayan school, rather than taking all the literature and information from all the schools, of course major errors in our conclusions will result. That would indeed be a shame, don't you think?
Yes, I agree, however the classical Theravada position might be to take those other accounts with a grain of salt. Reason -- the Kathavatthu book in the Abhidhamma was compiled primarily to clarify the "wrong views" in the other early Buddhist schools and thus, their accounts may not be seen with as much importance as you or I might place on them.
Yes, that would be the classical Theravada position. However, considering that this is in the "Dhammic free for all" which is supposedly a place to debate things, simply saying "Well, the Classic Theravada says X, therefore it is X, case closed" seems to defy the very point of such a Forum.

Otherwise, we can just go to the Classic Mahavihara Theravada Forum, and quote Pali all day and pretend that nothing else exists.
Certainly similarities, those areas where there are no differences provide some evidence to authenticity, but by themselves, probably not enough, since the Theravadins at the Third Council rejected those other accounts.
Again, if we are just taking the Classic Theravada position, then there is absolutely no need to debate.
Why? Because the Abhidhamma is the word of the Buddha. The texts say so, therefore it must be true.

Okay, case closed. Glad to have solved that problem. We can close the thread now, huh? What's next?
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by Paññāsikhara »

I went and read the guidelines for this "Dhammic free for all" Forum, but am still unclear about a few points.

Is this also a "Pali Theravada ONLY" zone, whereby all other sources from other Buddhists traditions are automatically considered incorrect if they do not completely conform to Pali Theravada orthodoxy?

Or, is this a Sthavira Forum? (Actually, this is a good question, by saying that "Dhamma Wheel" is "A buddhist discussion forum on the Dhamma of the Theravada" and writing the word "Theravada" in Prakrit / Pali, does this mean that only Mahavihara orthodoxy is being discussed here? Or, does this include all of the schools of the "Elders" (sthavira), such as the Hetuvadins / Yuktivadins, Dharmagupta, etc.? (Note: It is almost definitely the case that these other schools also used some form of Prakrit too, to begin with, and so the use of the word "Theravada" is not necessarily exclusive to the Mahavihara.)

Or, is this a Forum whereby all manner of reasoned argue and debate can be applied? eg. some modern literary analysis / criticism theory? strict philology? etc. etc. After all, this is named "free-for-all", and that seems pretty open and broad to me.

Awaiting a response from the people who run the show, such as TheDhamma, before I go further. It is, after all, my own assumption that "free for all" actually means "free for all", and I want to confirm this. It is not my aim to engage in posting contra to the Forum's intended usage and spirit.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS »

Paññāsikhara wrote: Yes, that would be the classical Theravada position. However, considering that this is in the "Dhammic free for all" which is supposedly a place to debate things, simply saying "Well, the Classic Theravada says X, therefore it is X, case closed" seems to defy the very point of such a Forum.

Otherwise, we can just go to the Classic Mahavihara Theravada Forum, and quote Pali all day and pretend that nothing else exists.
Again, if we are just taking the Classic Theravada position, then there is absolutely no need to debate.
Why? Because the Abhidhamma is the word of the Buddha. The texts say so, therefore it must be true.
Okay, case closed. Glad to have solved that problem. We can close the thread now, huh? What's next?
Where on earth do I say or imply "case closed"?? If you read my posts, you will find that they are just about anything but the classical Theravada position. :tongue:

I was just showing what one view could be and mentioned that checking these other accounts is a good thing. If you look at my posts, I am actually agreeing with you on most counts.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by DNS »

Paññāsikhara wrote: Awaiting a response from the people who run the show, such as TheDhamma, before I go further. It is, after all, my own assumption that "free for all" actually means "free for all", and I want to confirm this. It is not my aim to engage in posting contra to the Forum's intended usage and spirit.
This is a Buddhist forum which focuses on the Theravada teachings found in the Pali Canon, but welcomes non-Theravadins and non-Buddhists and anyone else interested in these topics and/or the Pali Canon. Your views are welcome here and the only forums where the guidelines are a little more strict are in the Classical Theravada forums. This is a free-for-all sub-forum and thus, that is why this thread is located here in this sub-forum. We also have 'Modern Theravada' sub-forums.

I personally am very interested in the early teachings of Buddhism even if it may pre-date or contradict the Classical Theravada views and doctrines. So I welcome any and all evidence that you may have, but just throw out for consideration that there is a Classical view which sees the other early schools as possessing 'wrong views.' Just as the other accounts should not be ignored, I think the Theravada accounts should also not be ignored either. In my view, let's look at all the evidence and information from all sides.
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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by BudSas »

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Again, if we are just taking the Classic Theravada position, then there is absolutely no need to debate.
Why? Because the Abhidhamma is the word of the Buddha. The texts say so, therefore it must be true.

Strictly speaking, as I wrote earlier, the Pali Abhidhamma Pitaka does not contain the recorded words of the Buddha. As explained by Ven Buddhaghosa in the first Chapter of the Atthasalini (Commentary on the Dhammasanghani), six of the 7 books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka are the recorded words of Ven Sariputta, while the 7th book (Kathavatthu) contains the recorded words of Ven Moggali Tissa some 200+ years after the Buddha's Parinibbana.

IMHO, there are 2 questions related to the "authenticity" issue:

1) Given the fact that the Abhidhamma Pitaka contain only the words spoken by Sariputta (6 books) & Moggali Tissa (1 book), do we believe that those words actually reflect the Buddha's teaching as claimed by Buddhaghosa?

2) Do we believe the claim by Buddhaghosa that the Abhidhamma Pitaka is the words of Sariputta & Moggali Tissa, or the Abhidhamma was actually produced by someone else?

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Re: The great Abhidhamma Pitaka authenticity debate

Post by cooran »

Hello all,

Theravada Traditional Buddhist Scriptures

One hundred years after the death of the Buddha, different opinions
about the interpretation of some of his teachings arose among the
Sangha,(the commuity of monks). Based on these opinions, different
schools later developed among the Buddhists. At one time, there were
more than eighteen different schools. Some died out over the centuries,
but others continued to exist till the present day.
Today, we have two major divisions of Buddhism in the world. The first
group belong to Theravada. Theravada is a Pali word which literally
means the "Teachings of the Elders". The other group is called
Mahayana; it means "Great Vehicle". Different Mahayana schools spread
from the first century A.D. on to Nepal, Central Asia, Mongolia, China,
Korea, Japan and Vietnam; in the seventh century it spread to Tibet.
Therefore this group is said to belong to "Northern Buddhism". The
Theravada school, however, remained for some time in India and later
spread to Southern countries such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos
and Cambodia where it flourishes. It was therefore popularly called
"Southern Buddhism".

It is believed that the original teachings of the Buddha were recorded
and preserved in the Pali Canon of the Theravada Buddhists. From the
beginning, all teachings were transmitted orally, and the Sangha guarded
their authenticity and attempted to keep the teachings intact.
Therefore, in Theravada Buddhism, one hardly finds any later additions
to the Pali Canon, except some commentaries, which were composed by
various teachers in the centuries that followed.

THE FIRST BUDDHIST COUNCIL
Because the teachings had not been written down at the time of Buddha,
whatever he taught was learned by heart and memorized by his disciples.
It is believed that the Buddha gave 84,000 units of teachings during his
lifetime. Just after the death of the Buddha in 544 B.C., his
disciples, headed by the Elder Mahakasapa, decided to hold a council to
collect his teachings and record them by word of mouth. This was done a
little more than three months after the death of the Buddha, at the
Sattapanni Cave near Rajgiri, the capital of Magadha (now the Indian
state of Bihar). Five hundred arahants ("fully enlightened beings") met
to hold this council
. The Elder Mahakassapa presided over this council
and acted as the "questioner" and the Elder Upali and the Elder Ananda
acted as the "answerers" for the Vinaya ( displinary rules for monks,
nuns and novices) and the Dhamma( suttas or sermons and Abhidhamma)
respectively.
The teachings of the Buddha were minutely scrutinized as
to where, when, on what occasion, to which person or persons they were
taught, and many other points as well.. When all present were satisfied
with the authenticiry of a discourse to be the exact teaching of the
Buddha, all recited it to show their acceptance. By reciting the
discourse in unison, they gave their approval
. It took seven months to
bring this Council to conclusion. These teachings, accepted and recited
in unison at the First Buddhist Council, were handed down from teacher
to pupil by word of mouth to future generations.

At this council, the assembled arahants not only collected and
scrutinized the teachings, but also classified them and grouped them
into different divisions
. The most well known division is that into
what we call Pitakas ('baskets" or "learnings"), namely, the Vinaya
Pitaka, the Sutta ( or Suttanta) Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The
Vinaya Pitaka ( which deals with the rules and disciplines for monks,
nuns and novices) is the Book of Law for monks, nuns and novices. The
second Pitaka consists of discourses given by the Buddha on different
occasions. This Pitaka is the most popular among monks and lay people
alike. The third Pitaka, the Abhidfhamma,deals with the ultimate
truths: consciousness, mental factors and so on.
Another classification is into Nikaya or "Collections." They are Digha
Nikaya, Collection of Long Discoursses; Mjjhima Nikaya, the Collection
of Medium Length Discourses; Samyutta Nikaya, The Collection of Kindred
Discourses; Anguttara Nikaya, the Collection of Discourses with the
number of units increasing gradually, and Khuddaka Nikaya, the
Collection of Minor Discourses. Among them the first four Nikayas
belong to the Sutta Pitaka, whereas the last Nikaya comprises Vinaya and
Abhidhamma Pitakas, and other discourses that are not included in the
first four Nikayas.

THE SECOND BUDDHIST COUNCIL C. 444 B.C.
About one hundred years after the death of the Buddha, a second council
was held at Vesali to refute the unorthodox views of some monks
regarding Buddha's teachings. At this Council, the teachings accepted
at the 'First Council were reconfirmed and the same method of
recitations was used to show acceptance by all those present. This
Council lasted for eight months. It was at this Council that another
group, known as Mahasanghika,split from the original Sangha on the
doctrine of Vinaya. ( The Mahasanghika were the forerunners of Mahayana
Buddhism.)

THE THIRD BUDDHIST COUNCIL
Two hundred and thirty-four years after the death of the Buddha, during
the reign of King Asoka (who had unified India for the first time), the
Third Council was convened by the Elder Moggalliputta Tissa at the
capital, Pataliputta ( the modern Patna in the State of Bihar). The
authenticity of the texts were reaffirmed and two hundred and nineteen
points of controversy were scrutinized, refuted and documented in the
Kathavatthu, which is the fifth book in the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
THE FOURTH BUDDHIST COUNCIL
Thus the teachings were handed down from generation to generation by
word of mouth until the first century B.C., when they were written down
on palm leaves. The authenticity of the oral tradition was proven by
the following incident. At that time, Sri Lanka suffered from a great
rebellion which lasted for twelve years. During these difficult times,
food was scarce and many monks went over to southern India and stayed
there until the rebellion was over. When the monks returned to Sri
Lanka and met other monks who stayed behind, the latter compared texts
which they had held with those held by monks who went to south India
and found , to their immense joy, no discrepancies. However, the monks
became concerned about the endurance and purity of the texts in the
future when, in their opinion, monks would not be capable of memorizing
all teachings. Therefore, these Sri Lanka monks decided to write down
the Buddha's teachings on palm leaves. This writing down of Buddha's
teachings on palm leaves in the first century B.C., has been called the
Fourth Buddhist Council, although the ancient records did not
expressedly call this event the Fourth. From that time, palm leaves
books appeared and were also taken to other countries such as Burma,
Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
Commentaries and Treatises on Tipitaka
Commentaries to the Tipitaka recorded at the First Council and
reaffirmed at the Second and the Third Councils, were composed by the
Elders of old and brought to Sri Lanka by the missionary monk Mahinda,
of the Third Council. They were there rendered into Sinhalese tongue
and were edited and retranslated into Pali by the Venerable Buddhaghosa
and others. Buddhaghosa Thera, who lived in the fifth century A.D. was
also the author of the monumental work called Visudhimagga, the Path of
Purification. The Venerable Ananda wrote the Sub-commentaries in the
seventh century A.D. These were commented on in Sub-sub-commentaries of
the Venerable Dhammapala who probaby lived in the later part of the
seventh century.
THE FIFTH BUDDHIST COUNCIL
In 1871 A.D., during the reign of King Mindon of Burma, the Fifth
Buddhist Council was held in the capital, Mandalay. He ordered the
entire Tipitaka to be written first on palm leaves in gold ink and by
stylus and finally on marble slabs. Each marble slab is 5 1/2 feet high
and 3 1/2 feet wide and about 5 inches thick. It took 729 marble slabs
to inscribe the entire Tipitaka. King Mindon thought that when Tipitaka
was inscribed on marble, which endured longer than palm leaves, it
would endure as long as the world exists. It was very lucky that these
slabs were not hit by bombs or shells during World War II, so they still
stand intact. Each is housed in a brick building, and these buildings
were grouped around a cetiya, or stupa (pagoda).
THE SIXTH BUDDHIST COUNCIL
After World War II, when Burma had become independent, the elders of
Sangha and the political leaders decided to call the Sixth Buddhist
Council It was inaugurated in Rangoon, Burma in 1954. The Tipitaka
was reaffirmed at this Council and the reaffirmation and recitation of
the Texts (Pali) ended in 1956 which was the 2500th year after the
passing away of the Buddha. A superb edition of the Tipitaka and the
Commentaries, etc. is the glorious outcome of this Council. The Sixth
Buddhist Council edition of the Texts consists of forty volumes, and
that of the Commentaries and Sub-commentaries, 79 volumes. The
Abhidhamma Pitaka comprises twelve volumes and runs about 4950 pages.
The Tipitaka canonical Texts were also translated into Burmese. The
other remarkable thing about this Council is that both Theravada and
Mahayana leaders participated.
Question and Answer regarding Pali Buddhist Scriptures
Student Question: Is it possible to trust the reliability of the Pali
Buddhist scriptures since they were handed down by word of mouth for
such a long time?
Venerable U Silananda: The teachings of the Buddha were handed down
from teacher to pupil, first by word of mouth for over four hundred
years and later published in books whenever Councils were held. Some
people have doubts about the reliability of oral traditions, because
they think that in such traditions, additions, omissions and distortions
can be made easily. In my opinion, however, these are not possible.
Those who learnt the teachings by heart and kept them in their memory
were not just a few, but thousands and thousands, and they tried to keep
them intact and in perfect purity. Even if they wanted to make changes
in the texts, they must have the approval of all the monks who held the
texts, which was impossible.
At the First Buddhist Council there were officially five hundred
arahants who held the teachings
in memory. In fact, there were many more such persons. If a person
added or omitted something it would be easily detected at the meetings
and would certainly be rejected. It would be possible only if there
were only a group of a few monks holding the teachings in memory, and
such fortunately, was not the case. It was to prevent additions,
omissions and distortions that the First Council was held and the
succeeding Councils followed suit.
Furthermore, those who hold the teachoings in memory had too great a
respect for the Buddha and his teachings to make addition and so on.
Therefore, in my opinion, the Buddhist oral tradition is reliable as
written records.
With loving kindness,
Maung Tin-Wa, Ph.D.
P.S. Venerable U Silananda held a prominent position in the Sixth
Buddhist Council as the chief commpiler of the comprehensive
Pali-Burmese Dictionary and as one of the final editors of the Pali
Texts, the Commentaries, Sub-commentaries and other works.
http://acl.arts.usyd.edu.au/~hudson/buddhism_2.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta

Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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