Saṃmitīya

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The Saṃmitīya (Sanskrit; Chinese: 正量部; pinyin: Zhèngliàng Bù) were one of the eighteen or twenty early Buddhist schools in India, and were an offshoot of the Vātsīputrīya sect. Like its predecessor, it claims the person (Sanskrit: pudgala) as a carrier of skandhas endures, and as such was a representative (perhaps the most prominent one) of the Pudgalavāda schools.

Language[edit]

The Tibetan historian Buton Rinchen Drub wrote that the Mahāsāṃghikas used Prākrit, the Sarvāstivādins used Sanskrit, the Sthaviravāda used Paiśācī, and the Saṃmitīya used Apabhraṃśa.[1]

History[edit]

The distinguished Buddhologist Étienne Lamotte, using the writings of the Chinese traveler Xuanzang, asserted that the Saṃmitīya were in all likelihood the most populous non-Mahāyāna sect in India, comprising double the number of the next largest sect,[2] although scholar L. S. Cousins revised his estimate down to a quarter of all non-Mahāyāna monks, still the largest overall.[3] The Saṃmitīya sect seems to have been particularly strong in the Sindh, where one scholar estimates 350 Buddhist monasteries were Saṃmitīya of a total of 450.[4] This area was rapidly Islamized in the wake of the Arab conquest.[5]

The end of the Saṃmitīya sect appears to coincide with the overall decline of Buddhism in India.

Conflicts with other Buddhists[edit]

The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang reported that the Saṃmitīya of Sindh "have narrow views and attack the Mahāyāna,"[6] while the Tibetan historian Tāranātha reported that the Saṃmitīya were staunchly anti-Mahāyāna and anti-Vajrayāna, with Saṃmitīya monks from the Sindh burning tantric scriptures and destroying a silver image of Hevajra at Vajrāsana monastery in Bodh Gaya.[7]

In the biography of Xuanzang, it is recounted that an elderly brahmin and follower of the Saṃmitīya sect named Prajñāgupta had composed a treatise in 700 verses which opposed the Mahāyāna teachings.[8] In response, while living at Nālandā, Xuanzang wrote a Sanskrit work in 1600 verses to refute this text, called The Destruction of Heresy.[9] In this context, the Saṃmitīya sect was regarded as heretical.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Yao, Zhihua. The Buddhist Theory of Self-Cognition. 2012. p. 9
  2. ^ Lamotte, Etienne. History of Indian Buddhism. 1988. pg 539-544
  3. ^ "Person and the Self." Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Vol. 2, pgs 84-101
  4. ^ Religion and Society in Arab Sind by Maclean, Derryl. Brill: Leiden 1989. pg 154
  5. ^ Religion and Society in Arab Sind by Maclean, Derryl. Brill: Leiden 1989
  6. ^ Xuanzang. She-Kia-Feng-Che 1959: 120; Cf. Xuanzang 1884 vol 2:273
  7. ^ Tharanatha; Chattopadhyaya, Chimpa, Alaka, trans. (2000). History of Buddhism in India, Motilal Books UK, p. 279. ISBN 8120806964
  8. ^ Joshi, Lalmai. Studies in the Buddhistic Culture of India. 1987. p. 171
  9. ^ Joshi, Lalmai. Studies in the Buddhistic Culture of India. 1987. p. 171
  10. ^ Joshi, Lalmai. Studies in the Buddhistic Culture of India. 1987. p. 171