Buddhist Sects in India

Buddhist Sects in India

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Book Specification

Item Code: IDC146
Author: Nalinaksha Dutt
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 1998
ISBN: 8120804279
Pages: 300
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.7" X 5.8"
Weight 520 gm

Book Description

From the Jacket

This extraordinary book is the only authentic document of its kind. Beginning with a detailed and lucid exposition of the political background of India from Ajatasatru to Mahapadma Nanda, it goes on to trace the sources of the Second Buddhist Council, to locate with unerring exactitude the disruptive forces in the Sangha and, in the fourth chapter, to classify the Sects. In the chapters that follow, the learned author deals with the Mahasanghikas, doctrines of Group II-V Schools. In every chapter, if not on every page, current but ill-founded assumptions are rejected and their illogicalities exposed to the reader's view. The eager student is given a panoramic view of the doctrinal developments that took place during the period concerned by this book. With irrefutable arguments and considerable ratio-cinative skill does the writer conclude that the Mahasanghikas were evidently the earliest school of the Hinayanists to show a tendency towards conceiving Buddha docetically.

" .there are not many systematic and authentic accounts of the evolution of the Buddhist philosophy and the emergence of the different Schools. Dr. Nalinaksha Dutta's book fills an important gap in this field. The author traces the political background in which the different sects had developed .The special doctrines of the Bahusernityas Prajnapativadins and the Vetulayas are also discussed, along with the doctrines of the Schools of the other groups. The author has dwelt in detail on the doctrinal developments leading to the emergence of the Mahayana. One remarkable feature of the criticisms contained in the Mahayana's works against the Hinayanists according to Dr. Dutt, is that they do not attempt to distort the position of the Hinayanists in order to take advantage.

It is striking that as far back as 1859, i.e., over a century ago, the attention of European scholars was drawn to the appearance of Buddhist sects in India, mentioning their names without, however, any comments. The earliest articles was written by St. Julien, 'Listes diverses des noms des dix-huit sectes du bouddhisme' in the Journal Asiatique, 1959. This was followed by M.V. Vassilief in 1860, Drs. Rhys Davids and Oldenberg in 1881, H. Kern in 1884 and I.P. Minayeff in 1884 (vide for details, page 11-13) of this book.

It was after the publication of the translation of the Chinese version of Vasumitra's treatise on eighteen sects of Buddhism in India by Prof. J. Masuda, who happened to be a Lecturer in the Calcutta University and also a colleague of the present writer, in the Asia Major, vol. II (1925) supplemented by the Tibetan texts on the eighteen schools by Bhavya and Vinitadeva entitled Nikaya-bhedavibhanga and Samayabhedoparacanacakra respectively.

(i) 'Shi-pa' pu' –lun, ascribed either to Kumarajiva (401-13) or to Paramartha (546-69).

(ii) Pu'-chi-i-lun, ascribed to Paramartha. This translation, according to Masuda, appears to be more accurate.

(iii) I-pu'-tsung-lun, ascribed to Hiuen Tsang (662), is regarded by Masuda as the best of the translations.

(i) Vasumitra of Kaniska's Council and one of the authors of the Mahavibhasa.

(ii) Vasumitra of the Sautrantika school.

(iii) Vasumitra, who appeared a thousand years after Buddha's parinibbana, and

(iv) Vasumitra of the Sarvastivada school, from whom Hiuen Tsang learnt the Sarvastivada doctrines.
It is curious that none of the books and articles mentioned on pp. 11-13 refers to such an important Pali Abhidhamma text as the Kathavatthu published in 1897 and its commentary in 1889 and the former work's English translation by Mrs. C.A.F. Rhys Davids entitled Points of Controversy (1915).

The antiquity of the Kathavatthu traditionally goes back to the days of Emperor Asoka, under whose auspices the Third Buddhist Council was held with Moggaliputta Tissa as its president. The special features of this book are that

(i) it presents the doctrines of the opponents, i.e., an exposition of the doctrines of a particular non-Theravada school;

(ii) It allows him to state his arguments as well as

(iii) to quote in their support the statements of Buddha, occurring in the Nikayas or elsewhere in any Pitakan text. There views, Moggaliputta Tissa, the president, refuted them from the standpoint of Theravada by counter-arguments as well as with the help of quotations from the Buddhavacanas.

The contribution of the present author lies not only in making an analytical study of the treatises of Vasumitra, Bhavya and Vinitadeva but also the Kathavatthu and its commentary by Buddhaghosa as well as the Abhidharamakosa-vyakhya, an excellent edition of which has been published by Prof. Wogihara of Japan and the Sammitiya-nikaya sastra translated from Chinese by Prof. Venkataraman of the Visvabharati and The Gilgit Manuscripts, III, edited and published by the present writer, containing the original Mulasarvastivada Vinaya, and also the Jnanaprasthana Sutra partially restored from Chinese by Santi Bhiksu also of the Visvabharati.

This book ends with an Epilogue, in which an attempt has been made to show how Mahayanism developed as a natural consequence of the views of the Mahasanghikas and as a development of the nebulous conception of Bodhisattva and Buddhakayas in the Divyavadana and Avadana-sataka, ascribed to the Sarvastivadins and also as a reaction to the realism of the Sarvastivadins, and how gradually Mahayanism surpassed Hinayanism both in populartiv and propagation.

To this book has been added an Appendix containing a synopsis of the ancient geography of India as described by Hiuen Tsang; it also throws light on the dispersal of Buddhist seats in India along with a brief account of the Buddhist sects as given by I-tsing and the localities where these were existing at his time, i.e., half a century after Hiuen Tsang's visit to India.

In fine, I should like to thank my learned friend, Sri K. L. Mukhopadhyay, M.A. for suggesting the appropriate title of the book, which helped me to confine my attention exclusively to the Buddhist Sects in India. I should mention that I have derived much benefit from the Histoire du Bouddhisme Indien (Louvain, 1956) of Prof. E. Lamotte, who has also published many other valuable works on Mahayana Buddhism, utilizing exhaustively the Chinese versions of the lost Sanskrit texts. I also thank my student Dr. Miss Ksanika Saha, Ph. D. for preparing the Indexes.


Introduction v
Abbreviations xi
I Political Background from Ajatasatru to Mahapadma Nanda 1
II Sources and Account of the Second Buddhist Council 11
III Disruptive Forces in the Sangha 34
IV Sources and Classification Sects 48
V The Mahasanghikas 57
VI Doctrines of Group II Schools 98
VII Doctrines of Group III Schools 121
VIII Doctrines of Group IV Schools 181
IX Doctrines of Group V Schools 211
Epilogue 218
Appendix : Hiuen Tsang and I-tsing on the dispersion of Buddhist Sects in India 261
Index 291

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