Talk:Early Buddhist schools

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Use of Vinayas[edit]

According to what I've read, Tibetan monastics all use the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya. The Mūlasarvāstivādins and the Sarvāstivādins had similar doctrines, but very different vinayas.

Yup, that's about right. Though nothing is ever simple :-) (20040302)


Nikaya/Early Buddist Schools[edit]

I think Nikaya Buddhism can be used in Wikipedia, but I the term Early Buddhist Schools is much better, because it is actually precisely that - they were different early schools of buddhism. Giving it a name like Nikaya Buddhism in stead of early buddhist schools just confuses things instead of making it clear. The commonality between them only makes sense when comparing them to Mahayana.

Nikaya Buddhism can probably be best stay alone, to indicate that it was a term first used by this Japanese professor, and further to mention that it is only used in the academic environment; not out in the real world. Most of the information in his article can then be moved to the article on Early Buddhist Schools.Sacca 12:55, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

But, Theravada is not an early Buddhist school; it is a currently existing one, contemporaneous with all the other current schools. "Nikaya Buddhism" is one thing and "early Buddhist schools" is another.
Isn't there as much or more variety within the Mahayana—particularly if one includes Vajrayana—as there was among the Nikaya schools? That being the case, couldn't one just as well say that the commonality among the Mahayana only makes sense when comparing them to the Nikaya?—Nat Krause(Talk!) 14:54, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
Lol yes - I agree with Nat here. Theravada is NOT an early buddhist school, though it is a Nikaya tradition. (20040302)
First one comment: Interesting that you mention Theravada, as I did not. Further, if you define it like this ("Nikaya Buddhism" is one thing and "early Buddhist schools" is another), it is already not necessary to integrate the two articles on different subjects. I therefore suggest to remove the labels suggesting integration, and moving the content in 'Nikaya Buddhism' which concerns the early buddhist schools to that article as much as possible.
On your comment concerning variety within Mahayana/Vajrayana: the difference is that Mahayana didn't just make a name for itself, if also made up a (derogative) name for all other schools which existed at that time. You're argument doe have some validity though, there is a lot more variety between Mahayana sects (mainly caused by all the new sutras which were added to their canons). But the pun misses its mark - at least with me. Also Vajrayana is not a part of Mahayana but seperate, as Mahayanists and Vajrayanists themselves agree. (just look at the religious arguments over the past centuries, between Mahayana and Vajrayana in Tibet)
I also don't understand why you're still talking about comparing Mahayana and Vajrayana to the Nikayas? Just use 'early buddhist schools' so everybody knows what you're talking about, or else use just Theravada ;-) If you look up Nikaya in any pali dictionary, you'll only find references to scripture only, definately not to early buddhist schools.
Finally (hopefully), I'd be interested to hear you defend your claim that Theravada is not an early buddhist school. Please note that the current existence of a school doesn't mean it didn't exist at a previous time. Sthavira greetings, Sacca 00:05, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
The statement that "Also Vajrayana is not a part of Mahayana but seperate, as Mahayanists and Vajrayanists themselves agree" is dubious. The standard explnation that is repeated from the c8th (Buddhaguhya) to the present-day (Dalai Lama etc) is that Mahayana and Vajrayana share the same doctrinal basis but differ in means of practice. Long before the term Vajrayana was invented, the original terminology was paramita-naya (the Perfection Method) and mantra-naya (the Mantra Method), understood two aspects of Mahayana.
"(just look at the religious arguments over the past centuries, between Mahayana and Vajrayana in Tibet)" Such as ? Also, in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, Vajrayana is classed within Mahayana.--Stephen Hodge 01:17, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
For this I refer you to [1]. There's been this internal conflict within Tibetan Buddhism, which was there from the time this king (before the dalai lamas) had two queens, one vajrayana (tibetan I believe) and one mahayana (chinese). This resulted in a kind of competition in discussion between two great teachers, and the Vajrayana teacher won. But Mahayana still had adherents which perceived themselves as seperate from the Vajrayana, and kept up some kind of struggle. It's discribed in the chapter on Tibet in the above book, which I have read with great interest. But since I do not have the book here I cannot quote from it now. That Vajrayana is classed within Mahayana can be seen as the result of some kind of struggle also. Maybe in China the Mahayanists gained the upper hand (there have been many religious struggles in China), and in Tibet the Vajrayanists. That's probably it, isn't it?
Als the position of Theravada in Sri Lanka has not been without struggles, defenses and expulsions of some Mahayana, Vajrayana and some of the other early buddhist schools. greetings Sacca 04:13, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
You're referring, I believe, to the Mo-ho-yen v. Kamaśila debate at Samyê. Even if there is some historicity to this story, that was a long, long time ago. Moreover, while there were clearly two schools of Buddhism at odds in the Samyê debate—Chinese and late Indian—I'm not aware that Kamaśila framed his argument as specifically "Vajrayana-exclusive-of-Mahayana". It's true that the Chinese participant was named Mahayana, but this has no particular significance that I'm aware of.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 05:25, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
First one comment: Interesting that you mention Theravada, as I did not.
It was mentioned solely to indicate a distinction between 'Nikaya' and 'early Buddhist schools'- nothing more or less. The problem about using Theravada as a component in tripartite Buddhism is that the Vajrayana/Mahayana rendition of a tripartite system uses the term Hinayana (taken from early Mahayana scriptures) and therefore this intuitively leads individuals to consider Hinayana (a loaded Mahayana term) to be cognate with Theravada, which it is not. I agree with Sacca that EBS and Nikaya Buddhism should remain distinct, the former can deal with the history of EBS - the latter with the meaning, purpose and definition of Nikaya Buddhism as used today 20040302 12:04, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
I have argued long and hard about whether the name 'Hinayana' was derogatory or merely classificatory. There are many archives of discussion on this at the relevant page, and this is not the place. Regarding the Mahayana/Vajrayana distinction - this is a subtle point which is addressed in great detail in Tibetan literature (I am thinking of Tsongkhapa and Khedrupje, among others). The literature addresses many different views (both within and outside of the Vajrayana) - but essentially the Indo-Tibetan tradition sees Mahayana as being a superset of Hinayana (after all, the 18,000 verses states "Bodhisattvas should practice all paths - whatever is a path of a sravaka, a pratyeka or a Buddha - and should know all paths"), and likewise the Vajrayana is a superset of the Mahayana. So yes, the Vajrayana and Mahayana are distinct and separate (due to methodology), but the Vajrayana is a Mahayana movement. Tibetan scholars point out that the distinction between the Sravaka/Pratyeka and Mahayana is motive (specifically the motive to achieve Samyaksambuddhahood rather than Sravakabuddhahood or Pratyekabuddhahood) but the distinction between Mahayana and Vajrayana is NOT motive (all Vajrayana has Samyaksambuddhahood as motive) but methodology (eg, the vase initiation).
Regarding the use of the term Nikaya, I refer you to Theravada#Buddhist_orders_within_Theravada, which may be innacurate, but it seems to accept the term as referring to orders or communities.
Regarding the Theravada not being an early Buddhist school, there is plenty of literature elsewhere on the subject - e.g. see Sthaviravada. A lot of work concerning the early schools refers to schools that existed after the Theravāda teaching spread to Sri Lanka. Of course, if there were one school that existed from the Early days, then there would still be one school today - and there are not, which would beg the question - which of the current Theravada schools is 'the original' Sthaviravada?! I have never heard it suggested that the Theravada did NOT pick up local customs or traditions when it moved to Srilanka and elsewhere - therefore, all we can state is that the Theravada is a descendent of the early Sthaviravāda. Finally, all of the above is a reflection of one of the basic tenets of Buddha's teachings - that everything is subject to change. A direct entailment of this Dharma is that (other than merely by name) none of the current schools of Buddhism can be considered to be the same as any of the early schools of Buddhism. (20040302 13:00, 15 July 2006 (UTC))
When I said, "Theravada is not an early Buddhist school; it is a currently existing one, contemporaneous with all the other current schools", what I meant was that Theravada was not something which existed in the "early" period and then ceased to exist; it still exists now, and so it is not defined by "early Buddhism". As March 2 points out, it is in the nature of things to change. Even if Theravada kept exactly the same literature from 462 BC to the present, their interpretations of it would naturally change. As an analogy, one wouldn't say that the United States is a "1776 country"; it's a modern country.
Moreover—and this is an inherent problem with the title of this article—it's unclear what period of Buddhist history we mean when we say "early". At one point, Wikipedia had two separate articles, one about "early Buddhism" and one about "earliest Buddhism". How early is early, and how early is earliest (by the way, User:Attasarana could give you an earful on the distinction between Theravada and earliest Buddhism—and some of the stuff he says might even be true). I have the impression that "early Buddhism" typically means whatever schools of Buddhism were popular before the Mahayana became popular. However, this defintion, one will note, is no less dependent on Mahayana then the definition of "Nikaya Buddhism" is.
On the face of it, your point that this discussion comes down to how one defines things is correct. However, I don't think that a definition that makes "early Buddhist schools" precisely the same thing as "Nikaya Buddhism" is a valid definition. Even if they refer to the same thing, they are describing that thing in different terms: one, in chronological terms; the other in terms of philosophical content (or, to be precise, in terms of literary type, which implicitly includes content). A closely related, but, I think, more relevant question is whether both of these concepts merits its own article. Actually, I'm not totally sure that they both do, either, but, then, as I commented on Talk:Nikaya Buddhism, I've never been entirely clear on what the subject of Early Buddhist schools is supposed to be. Lately, it seems to have become largely a historical narrative, which is reasonable, based on its title; I'd say it's best to see this article as a sub-article of History of Buddhism.
If we really want a name for the non-Mahayana-non-Vajrayana schools that will be most widely understood, the obvious choice is not "early Buddhist schools", but Hīnayāna. That's what Western scholarship has been calling it for many years, and a many sources still use it. On the other hand, I completely agree with you that we should use Theravada instead as much as possible, i.e. whenever that is what we mean. There might be some situations where it is worthwhile to reword so we can refer to Theravada instead of Nikaya Buddhism/Hinayana/whatever.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 01:47, 20 July 2006 (UTC)


Hello Nat, I was able to single out four 'criteria' which need to be fulfilled for a school to be a early Buddhist school according to the commonly used meaning of it.

Early Buddhist Schools: the (1) historically ancient schools which (2) shared a common set of (very similar) Vinayas and Suttas, but which (3) differed in commentarial traditions (and opinions) about their colosely defined meanings. What drove them in their commentarial traditions was the (4) quest to define the 'true' meaning of the discourses of Buddha in the Sutta-pitaka.

In practice, this agrees with the meaning of what is usually meant with 'early buddhist schools', It does also not imply a negative value judgement about the content of their beliefs or practices, which the term 'Hinayana' does do (Hinayana is also never used in the 'Theravada' world). Remains the term Nikaya, which is more commonly used for the majjhima nikaya etcetera, and whihc is highly scholastic and not really used or known amongst normal buddhists. I think the term early buddhist school is thus the most understandable and impartial term.

At the time of the arising of Mahayana the dust was already largely settled among the early schools; they solidified their positions, and not much significant new things were happening there. Some schools did arise after the Mahayana (If I remember correctly some back-to-basics-schools). The 'historically ancient' criteria does however not limit the early buddhist schools to having to have to have arisen before Mahayana. Notice that Mahayana is a development which doesn't need to be mentioned in this discription since their attitude to the scriptures/'true meaning' is different, and so they do not qualify.

In understand what you meant with your comment on 'Theravada is not an early buddhist school' now, but I also recognize that it is not correct to say that the USA was not a country in the 'Americas' in the 18th century.

I agree with your comments on this (early buddhist schools) article. The piece on the history doesn't really fit here, in particular it is not necessary to mention the buddhist councils in such great detail. The article can be pruned quite a lot in this respect. Some contect can be moved to Buddhist councils, if it is not yet present there. greetings, Sacca 03:55, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

Looking at the criteria you described, it seems to me that Mahayana meets all of them, except for (2) because Mahayana does not share the same set of very similar sutras (note that Mahayana does use the same vinaya as some of the other schools). So, this comes down to the essential difference, which is what sutras a given school accepts as authentic; hence "Nikaya Buddhism" for schools that accept only the nikayas.
Mahayana also might fail criterion (1) depending on how one defines "ancient". If we are going to define ancient as whatever happens before the Mahayana became prominent, then this once again seems like a rather Mahayana-centric definition.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 19:21, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Only focusing on criteria 2 doesn't consider the other 3 aspects which are also involved in it. It fails 3 and 4 also, really, because these refer back to number 2. The term 'Early Buddhist schools' also allows for differences, because there were significant differences in heir commentarial traditions. These come to expression in point 3 and 4. The term 'Nikaya Buddhism' treats the early buddhist schools as one, which is not historically correct. Of course, the use of Nikaya Buddhism is very close to how the Mahayana viewed the early buddhist schools. Greetings, Sacca 05:42, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Nikaya v Agama[edit]

I've been told that "Nikaya Buddhism" and "Early Buddhist Schools" would not be synonymous because not all early schools followed the Pali Nikayas--some, like the Sarvastivada, followed the similar Sanskrit Agamas instead. Is this fair to say? Sylvain1972 17:21, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

No. The word "nikaya" has a number of meanings. In this context, it means a "group" or "fraternity" -- it has nothing to do with the usage of "nikaya" for a set of Pali scriptures, although one can understand the derivation.--Stephen Hodge 17:38, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Origin of Theravada name[edit]

Although many popular sources call the Sthavira/Thera faction which emerged at the time of the first schism "Sthaviravada/Theravada", this is Buddhist Myth Number 997 (there are so many of them !). The term "Theravada" as the name of a Buddhist group -- that is, THE Theravada -- is surprisingly late. It does not appear in epigraphical or textual sources until about 12 or 13 centuries after the Buddha. On the contrary, epigraphical and literary sources indicate that the present-day Theravadins were first Vibhajjavadins, then Tambapanniyas, then Theriyas, and then finally Theravadins. Calling the early Sthavira/Thera faction Sthaviravada/Theravada is probably a clever bit of modern Theravada legitimizing propaganda.--Stephen Hodge 20:38, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Maybe they (the Theravadins) themselves believed that at the time (12th century). The Sthaviras at the second council were just the elders or Theras at the time, and I think that's all it meant at the time. And they took action against some 'bad' monks who didn't undertake the proper (monks)behaviour any more. It makes sense to me to regard the second buddhist council not as a council at all, just a conflict which was resolved using the Adhikaranadhammas of the Patimokkha. And basically it was only and just that, the scriptures were not revised. The conclusions reached were included in the Suttas-Vinaya as guidelines already so no new breakthroughs or guidlines were made. I regard the Sthaviras as just having Vinaya and Suttapitaka; when a schools started having its own commentarial and abhidhamma tradition, that's when you can say that a new school came into existence.
But off course the current Theravadins (and the extinct Sarvastivadins, Mahasanghikas, etc) do decend from those early Theras, with some Buddhist Councils and some other developments in between. I believe those groups were all pretty decent and honest, and didn't mess a lot with the original scriptures, didn't add new teachings to their Suttas and Vinayas. Also their commentarial traditions and Abhidhammas are kept seperate from the main scriptures, so we are still able to make out, understand and follow the practice of those earliest Theras, and Gautama Buddha himself.
In a way, since the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Theravadins were the only (or main) representatives left over from those early groups (the other ones were close to dying out already through the muslim invasions). So in that way it's ok that they refered to themselves as the representative of those early Theras. Greetings, Sacca 07:34, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually, what do you believe is the first schism? The first schism was Devadatta's, so you must be referring to the second one? But the second schism might have been between the Vinaya-master and the Dhamma-master in the Buddha's time, when the Dhamma master didn't do his toilet-duties properly and didn't want appreciate the vinaya-master's comments about this. They and heir followers didn't want Buddha to interfere in their struggles, after which Buddha went to live in the forest for a while. Subsequently they asked him to come back and help solve the issue. But then again this occasion might not have constituted a schism. The second Buddhuts council was not a schism if you read the theravadin account, and apply the Buddha's definition of a schism to it.
Stephen, do you have any clear and simple document which shows the names and origins of the various early groups? What you added now to the article was good info; it would be even better with a nice image connected to it. Greetings, Sacca 07:47, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Sacca, thanks for your posting. I would not accuse the medieval monks who chose to call their school "Theravada" of bad faith, rather it is some of the modern adherents who should know better and perpetrate a myth.

The whole question of the Councils and the emergence of the divergent schools is extremely complex: the materials are often contradictory and partisan. But my overview of this phase of Buddhist history,based on the findings of a number of major scholars is as follows:

1. The First Rajagrha Council is authentic, but the range of sutra and vinaya material codified was smaller than the traditional account. There are clear signs of development in the sutras and vinaya which would only have arisen after the Parinirvana. For example, there are many passages in the Skandhaka (Maha & Culla-vargas) which persuppose large monastic groups settled in constructed viharas. We know from the archeology that there just were not any large-scale monastic buildings for the first couple of hundred years after the Parinirvana. But there is one very important decision made at this council which is relevent to the later splits. The Pratimoksha rules were fixed and it was agreed never to delete or add rules to this list.

2. The Second Vaishali Council was, as you suggest, probably not a true council. It involved a group of monks who were handling money and proposing changes to nine other very minor rules. This dispute was resolved with the deviant monks accepting the existing rules. This council is now thought to have taken place around 80 - 90 years after Parinirvana, not the traditional 100 years (which is just a nice round number) during the reign of King Kālāshoka. This dispute did not in any way involve the ancestors of the Mahasanghikas, because their Vinaya is just as strict on all those matters.

3. The "Second" Second Council (held at Pataliputra) has been proposed by many scholars to account for the first post-parinirvana split in the Sangha. This split did not occur at Vaishali and it did not occur at the Third Council. From several sources it would seem to have taken place 116 years after Parinirvana, at the end of King Kālāshoka's reign. The cause of the conflict involved Vinaya matters. An interesting hypothesis for this is that some members of the Sangha were very worried by the recent events of the Vaishali incident. In order to prevent the Sangha from breaking up, they wanted to supplement the Pratimoksha with extra rules to tighten up the discipline. A majority of monks did not agree to this and rejected this proposal. Those who proposed the changes were the Sthaviras and the majority who rejected these changes, because of the decision taken at the First Council, were the Mahasanghikas. The Mahasanghika Pratimoksha is the form of the original pratimoksha -- it has the fewest rules. This has been established by six scholars independently, using different criteria. So, the Sthaviras had good intentions to keep the Sangha together, but it was they who caused the first split. The Sthavira lineage Vinayas, including Theravada, all have extra rules: we go from 218 with the Mahasanghikas, 227 with the Theravadins, up to 263 with the Sarvastivadins.

If these groups were not adverse to tampering with the Vinaya, I see no reason to suppose they would not have done the same with the sutras. The only comparative clue we have about this is the Chinese version of the Mahasanghika Ekottara-agama which has far fewer sutras than the Pali version. All the other Chinese Agama translations come from the same Vibhajjavadin lineage.

4. The Third Council is unknown outside the later Theravadin tradition. It seems to have been a local discussion group for the Vibhajjavadins.

As for a chart showing the relationship between all the early groups, there is one in another Wiki article although it needs improving.--Stephen Hodge 21:14, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Hello stephen, yes but as you say the issue of incrementing the Patimokkha is just an hypothesis. It would be very interesting to analyse the Mahasamghika Vinaya with the Theravadin and Sarvastivadin Vinayas to see the nature of the rules that were, hypothetically, added. If these rules are about control this hypothesis receives some support. You could also look at it from the other way and say what kind of rules did the Mahasanghikas and the Theravadins not want to keep and thus kick out of their patimokkhas. For now the Theravadin number is a bit in the middle, which seems to be not a bad sign.
Lastly in the suttas a frequent mention is made of the 150 rules of the patimokkha. Since the adhikaranadhammas and the sekhiyas (trainings) are not really rules as such, one could cut them out (they number about 7? + 72? = 79), and be left with 227 - 79? = 148, very close to 150. This could be seen as supporting the Theravadin number of 227 patimokkha rules. But it's just playing with numbers.
As long as the Vinaya has not been properly researched, you can't really use it to make any proclamations about the suttas using the vinaya. We could use it any way we want now, since there's no basis for our 'hypothetical' conclusions.
At the time of Asoka's Council there were already quite a number of groups, it's not necessary for these splits to come about through a recorded or suspected Buddhist Council. Sometimes people just go their own way without making a big fuss about it. Living in another region might account for some of the differences also. I still believe the Abhidhamma is the biggest difference between the Mahasanghikas and Theravadins, Sarvastivadins etc. It's interesting to note that they could perform Vinaya-functions together, even though their Vinayas were a bit different. They must not have seen this as very essential, or even recognized themselves already that it was not possible any more to say which version is the true one. The lesson we could learn is to focus on the similarities, not on the differences. But still it would be nice to know what these differences were! Greetings, Sacca 22:56, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
The Vinayas have been analyzed in detail by Frauwallner, The Earliest Vinaya (ISMEO 1956), comparisons have been done by a number of scholars on the Pratimoksas, such as by Charles Prebish, Buddhist monastic discipline : the Sanskrit Pratimokṣa Sutras of the Mahasaṃghikas and Mūlasarvāstivādins. The conclusions are fairly conclusive and widely accepted. As you hint, the Pratimoksha expansions are all found in the sekhiya portion -- which shows how trivial these arguments were. There is almost complete agreement amongst scholars that the difference between the Mahasanghika Pratimoksha and the other ones is a process of expansion rather than reduction. The only hypothesis mentioned in my posting is the motivation for the expansion and it's not mine anyway.
True, there were probably a number of groupings at the time Ashoka, but apart from the Mahasanghikas, they were unlikely to have been formal "sects". All the historical sources point to this happening later. Note that in the Katthavatthu, no schools are mentioned by name -- these are supplied much later by commentators.
You may be right about the significance of the Abhidharma -- you should bear in mind that several schools did not have an Abhidharma, the Mahasanghikas for one. And geographical distances were also significant. But I think you are wrong to think that they performed Vinaya functions together -- where do you get that idea ? I think that each school did think that its Vinaya was the true version. I have a passage in the Shariputra-pariprccha-sutra which says that the Mahasanghika school preserves the true meaning, that it is the ambrosia (amrita) and all the other schools are mere dregs and dilutions. The Chinese pilgrim and translator Faxian, not a Mahasanghika himself, says that the Mahasanghika Vinaya is the original version which is why he brought a copy back from India. --Stephen Hodge 00:59, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Hello, as far as I am concerned this (performing Vinaya funtions together) is common knowledge. I searched to internet for a source and found the following:

so it is best that we take to heart the writings of the Chinese pilgrims who visited India centuries ago. They reported that even after the early Buddhists had split into 18 schools, each with its own Tripitaka and Patimokkha, and the Mahayanists had added their texts to the tradition, bhikkhus belonging to different schools could be found living together in the same monastery, practicing and conducting communal business in peace and harmony. Buddhist Monastic Code I, Thanissaro bhikkhu.

So I guess it can be found in one of the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims. I think it is mentioned in Lamotte's book also.

Did you know there is actually a precedent set in the Buddha's time about adding new rules by the Sangha? One local Sangha (monastery) added a new pacittiya offence, after which the Buddha admonished them and said that this can only be done by himself. So at the First Buddhist Council it was not necessary to close the Patimokkha since it was never open to the Sangha anyway. They did decide not to relinquish the lesser and minor rules, though, since Buddha explicitly allowed them to relinquish all lesser and minor rules if the whole Sangha agreed. This story of the Buddha's time might explain why they added only sekhiyas to the various patimokkhas afterwards. Greetings, Sacca 02:18, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Sacca, "performing Vinaya functions together is common knowledge" is Buddhist Myth Number 387 in the "Section on Wishful Thinking". The Chinese pilgrims Faxian and Xuanzang say no such thing. Rather, here is Xuanzang on the matter: "The different schools are constantly at variance and their contending utterances rise like angry waves of the sea. The different sects have their separate masters ... the partisans of the Mahayana and the Hinayana prefer to dwell apart". The last statement about Mahayana needs to be qualified, because Xuanzang notes a few viharas where the two groups did dwell together harmoniously -- it is this report in a distorted form that is reproduced by Thanissaro and others. There would have been no problem for Mahayanists to participate in Vinaya rituals at their vihara since there is no Mahayana Vinaya -- they would have been Mahayanists following one of the Hinayana Vinayas, as Tibetan and Chinese monks still do. Also, by the time Xuanzang is writing, Buddhism is already in decline in India -- he came across many abandoned and ruined viharas. The intersectarian relations during the height of Buddhism in India a few centuries earlier would have been no better, but perhaps even worse.
And yes, I do know about the circumstances of the Pratimoksha you discuss.--Stephen Hodge 15:10, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your reference again, it seems Thanissaro did not give a very true account of the situation. But anyway, the important thing is to see that it's possible (but not easy). I think that was also the spirit of Thanissaro's writing, he just sacrificed the information of his source in order to make a point, something which happens not just to him, and maybe he got it from another place also...Greetings, Sacca 07:37, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Risshu and Lu-tsung[edit]

I want to know if there are existing Japanese and Chinese Buddhist sects that do not regard Mahayana sutras as authentic, and that trace their tradition to one of the early schools. Specifically, did Ritsu (see also Toshodaiji) exist as a distinct sect having a distinct canon? Does it still exist as a sect, and does it still have a distinct canon? With regard to Lu-tsung, is there a still a distinct sect in China, or does this now refer exclusively to a field of discipline within mainline Mahayana and Vajrayana denominations? --munge 06:55, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm chiming in here without much expertise, but I did a bit of research about this a year or so ago for Schools of Buddhism (which mostly was never incorporated into the article), and, from what I recall, all the quasi-"Hinayanist" schools of Buddhism in China (past the very early formative period) incorporated Mahayanic materials rather early and freely. Lü-tsung was probably the most conservative of these, but it nevertheless failed to clearly differentiate itself on canonical grounds. There appears to have been a general cultural consensus in China that the Mahayana literature could simply be ignored. The status of Ritsu today in Japan today is an interesting question, of which I know nothing other than what I read in the Wikipedia article, Ritsu. It's interesting that most of Ritsu was forced to merge with Shingon of all things; this implies that there had been considerable accretion of non-Nikayan practices. As for Lü-tsung is modern China, I don't think there are any distinct sects in China anymore (and haven't been since well before the tumult of the 20th century), so I suspect that "a field of discipline within mainline Mahayana and Vajrayana" would be a good description of its current situation.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 08:29, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Ritsu does still exist as an independent school in Japan, though it's very small, with only a few dozen monks & nuns. However, these are the only ones in the Japanese tradition, all other schools having replaced monastic ordination with bodhisattva ordination. It is still a Mahayana shool. However, in recent times an Agon school has arisen, with about 2 million adherents, concentrating on the agamas, though I don't know whether it actually rejects Mahayana. Peter jackson 10:47, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

lineage trees[edit]

These trees are great! But they really need to be graphics. brain 16:43, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

I haven't checked, but I don't think the article gives all the different versions found in sources. Lamotte, History of Indian Buddhism, gives a fair few. Peter jackson 11:11, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Try also: Bareau, André. Les Sectes bouddhique du Petit Véhicule. Saigon École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1955. Huifeng (talk) 05:08, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Inaccuracy of article name[edit]

The name of this article is "early Buddhist schools," but actually this name is inaccurate for a few reasons. The most important of these is that these "schools" were not really schools, but more like monastic fraternities, with the most important common element being the vinaya. Nikayas with different vinaya traditions had their own rules which were mutually incompatible, but which established a common basis for discipline within the monastic community. The term "school," however, implies that the most important common element was Dharma or doctrine, and that this was what distinguished each of these groups. This is certainly not the case, as we know from the Chinese pilgrims such as Faxian, Xuanzang, and Yijing. Each of these pilgrims mentions that "Hinayana" sravakas and Mahayana bodhisattvas often occupied the same monasteries and lived in relative peace with one another. There is even mention of both types of students attending the same lectures. The difference was in the books they read, their individual aspirations, and their individual practices. Furthermore, three nikayas still exist: Theravada, Dharmaguptaka, and Mulasarvastivada. Their vinayas still serve the basic function of providing a set of rules for their respective monastic communities, and thus serve their original basic purpose. However, this article seems to frame the nikayas as doctrinal schools first and foremost, and as being historical Indian relics rather than a basic tradition of Buddhism that is still present in most Buddhist countries. For these various reasons, I would recommend that the name of this article be changed to "Buddhist Nikayas," which accurately represents these groups with the original word, which is not so misleading. Tengu800 (talk) 23:56, 22 March 2011 (UTC)