Monday, February 7, 2011

The Third Council, Assembly [Sanggiti]

It is believed that there were 1,000 bhik᷂khus[monks] considerably erudite in dhamma [teachings of Buddha]. Those were assumed to have attained an arahatship [the worthy one], completed doctrinal validity like abhiňňa 6 [six kinds of supernormal power], and pat᷂isam᷂bhidā 4 [the four discrimination, analytical insight]. We are not so certain what format it was conducted in the third assembly or council. Presumably, it, perhaps, was done in the similar approach akin to the first and the second ones – that was set out by an inquirer [puccha], and reciter [visajjanā]. In this occasion it is believed that Moggallīputratissa Thera was the inquirer whereas Majj᷂᷂h᷂antika Thera, and Mahādeva Thera were the reciter.

In the Sutta it describes vividly the beginning of the event from collating Vinaya [monastic rules] first started from pathamapārājika [major offence – the first of the two divisions of the Suttavibhanga of the Vinaya], assembling matters vatthu [objects], nidāna [accounts, tales], puggalapaňňatti [legislation in accordance to persons], and anupaňňatti [sub-lagislation]. Then, in the second stage there was the beginning of dutiya-pārājika [a grave offence involving expulsion from monkhood; defeat], rendered and collated until the completion of pārājika assembly. In the next stage the collation and clarity of 13 disciplinary rules of sangghādisesa [an offence entailing initial and subsequent meetings of the Sanggha; A formal meeting], 2 disciplinary rules of aniyota [undetermined offence], 30 disciplinary rules of nissag᷂᷂gīya-pācit᷂tīya [an offence entailing expiation with forfeiture], and 92 disciplinary rules of pācit᷂tīya [an offense entailing expiation, considered as a ‘minor offence’].

Once the vinaya collation and clarity was completed, the sutta [discourses] was introduced into play in the same approach; began with dighanikāya [the long discourse] which consisted of 34 long discourses, majjhimanikaya [the middle length discourses] which consisted of 152 discourses, sangyut᷂tanikāya [the connected discourses] which consisted of 7,762 discourses, anguttaranikāya [the discourse arranged in accordance with numbers] which consisted of 9,557 discourses, and lastly khut᷂dhakanikāya [the miscellaneous discourses] which consisted of 15 short discourses for instance the ‘mukkhapat᷂ha’.

In the last process of the third assembly, it is believed (especially by Theravādin traditions) that there was the new kind of collection introduced – Abhidham᷂ma [higher doctrine or metaphysic doctrine]; The completion of the ‘tipit᷂aka’. The Abhidham᷂ma, for the first time is believed to comprise of 7 doctrinal books, and it is also believed that it is an additional literature composed by senior monks in this assembly in order to clarify doctrinal principles which mostly appear in the sutta. It is noteworthy to put, at least, names of those books in this space, for people who may want to seek more details in the future.

•   Abhiddhamma Sangghaha [A compendium of Abhiddhamma] consisted of 14 potions
•   Vibhanggha [Division] consisted of 18 portions or chapters. The book is believed to have three potions in each chapter: Suttantabhājaniya, Abhidhammabhājaniya, and Paňhāpucchaka, the last title literally meaning ‘list of questions’. Note that there is a commentary to the Vibhangga, by the title of Sammohavinodanī , attributed to Buddhaghosa.
•     Dhatugāthā [the analysis of elemental phenomenon] consisted of 14 portions. This book is believed to be composed to provide a systematic analysis of the element of physical phenomenon and discusses mainly the mental characteristics found in converted and earnest persons.
•    Pugglapaňňatti [legislation based upon person’s accounts, designation of person] consisted of 6 legislation. As its name suggests; the work is concerned with the classification of human individuals whom it groups into types accordance to how many of between one and ten qualities they possess.
•     Kathāvatthu [Book of disputed points] consisted of 7,100 portions. This book is believed to hold an assumption it was compiled by Moggaliputra Tissa himself after the assembly. The works also was compiled in 23 chapters and is a digest of disputed points of doctrine.
•     Yamaka [Book of pairs] consisted of 12 chapters. It is described the pair miracle power believed to be conducted by the Buddha.
•     Mahāpat᷂t᷂hana [The great book of causal relations] consisted of 7,400 portions of doctrinal principles and explanations of 24 modes of relations between things, mental and material. It is a highly technical text, giving detailed analysis of doctrine of conditionality or Dependent origination [Paticcasamuppapada].

The process of this council was royally supported by the most prominent Buddhist figure in Buddhist history, Emperor Asoka, the Great. However, it is believed that in this compile of big scripture, the ‘kathāvatthu’ book primarily is not accepted as Buddha’ authentic words by later scholars. It is believed to be composed by Moggaliputra Tissa as previously mentioned to clarify obscured principles and concepts. It is also asserted that dhamma was inscribed into proper books [perhaps palm leaves] for the first time. Over all of the process, the council was conducted after the demise of the master around 234 years and it is believed to take 9 months to complete. Evidence from Emperor Asoka the Great’s inscription states that “after he ascended the throne for 17 years the ‘sanggīti’ [council, assembly] was royally supported. By that time, Moggalīputta Tissa was 72 years of age and he was the leader of operation.” The third ‘sanggīti’ entailed an immense positive consequence for Buddhism as it is believed to constitute firmly in India. On the one hand, the doctrine was also sent and spread to other part of Asia for the first time.

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