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Buddhaghoṣa[1] (Thai: พระพุทธโฆษาจารย์, Chinese: 覺音/佛音) was a 5th-century Indian Theravada
Theravada
Buddhist commentator and scholar.[2][3] His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
"Path of Purification", a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation. The interpretations provided by Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
have generally constituted the orthodox understanding of Theravada
Theravada
scriptures since at least the 12th century CE.[4][5] He is generally recognized by both Western scholars and Theravadins as the most important commentator of the Theravada.[3][6]

Contents

1 Biography 2 Writings and translations 3 Influence and legacy 4 Critics 5 Notes 6 References

6.1 Bibliography

7 Further reading 8 External links

Biography[edit] Limited reliable information is available about the life of Buddhaghosa. Three primary sources of information exist: short prologues and epilogues attached to Buddhaghosa's works; details of his life recorded in the Mahavamsa, a Sri Lankan chronicle; and a later biographical work called the Buddhaghosuppatti.[7][8] A few other sources discuss the life of Buddhaghosa, but do not appear to add any reliable material.[6] His name means "Voice of the Buddha" (Buddha+ghosa) in Pali.[9] The biographical excerpts attached to works attributed to Buddhaghosa reveal relatively few details of his life, but were presumably added at the time of his actual composition.[6][10] Largely identical in form, these short excerpts describe Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
as having come to Sri Lanka from India and settled in Anuradhapura.[11] Besides this information, they provide only short lists of teachers, supporters, and associates of Buddhaghosa, whose names are not generally to be found elsewhere for comparison.[11] The Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
records that Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
was born into a Brahmin
Brahmin
family in the kingdom of Magadha.[3] He is said to have been born near Bodh Gaya, and to have been a master of the Vedas, traveling through India engaging in philosophical debates.[12] Only upon encountering a Buddhist monk named Revata was Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
bested in debate, first being defeated in a dispute over the meaning of a Vedic doctrine and then being confounded by the presentation of a teaching from the Abhidhamma.[12] Impressed, Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
became a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) and undertook the study of the Tipiṭaka and its commentaries. On finding a text for which the commentary had been lost in India, Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
determined to travel to Sri Lanka to study a Sinhalese commentary that was believed to have been preserved.[12] In Sri Lanka, Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
began to study what was apparently a very large volume of commentarial texts that had been assembled and preserved by the monks of the Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Maha Viharaya.[13] Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
sought permission to synthesize the assembled Sinhalese-language commentaries into a comprehensive single commentary composed in Pali.[14] The elder monks sought to first test Buddhaghosa's knowledge by assigning him the task of elaborating the doctrine regarding two verses of the suttas; Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
replied by composing the Visuddhimagga.[15] His abilities were further tested when deities intervened and hid the text of his book, twice forcing him to recreate it from scratch.[16] When the three texts were found to completely summarize all of the Tipiṭaka and match in every respect, the monks acceded to his request and provided Buddhaghosa with the full body of their commentaries.[14] Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
went on to write commentaries on most of the other major books of the Pali
Pali
Canon, with his works becoming the definitive Theravadin interpretation of the scriptures.[3] Having synthesized or translated the whole of the Sinhalese commentary preserved at the Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Maha Viharaya, Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
reportedly returned to India, making a pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya
to pay his respects to the Bodhi Tree.[14] The details of the Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
account cannot readily be verified; while it is generally regarded by Western scholars as having been embellished with legendary events (such as the hiding of Buddhaghosa's text by the gods), in the absence of contradictory evidence it is assumed to be generally accurate.[14] While the Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
claims that Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
was born in northern India near Bodh Gaya, the epilogues to his commentaries make reference to only one location in India as being a place of at least temporary residence: Kanci in southern India.[6] Some scholars thus conclude (among them Oskar von Hinüber and Polwatte Buddhadatta Thera) that Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
was actually born in South India
South India
and was relocated in later biographies to give him closer ties to the region of the Buddha.[6] The Buddhaghosuppatti, a later biographical text, is generally regarded by Western scholars as being legend rather than history.[17] It adds to the Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
tale certain details, such as the identity of Buddhaghosa's parents and his village, as well as several dramatic episodes, such as the conversion of Buddhaghosa's father and Buddhaghosa's role in deciding a legal case.[18] It also explains the eventual loss of the Sinhalese originals that Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
worked from in creating his Pali
Pali
commentaries by claiming that Buddhaghosa collected and burnt the original manuscripts once his work was completed.[19] Writings and translations[edit] Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
was reputedly responsible for an extensive project of synthesizing and translating a large body of Sinhala commentaries on the Pāli Canon. His Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
(Pāli: Path of Purification) is a comprehensive manual of Theravada
Theravada
Buddhism
Buddhism
that is still read and studied today.[20][21][22] The Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
ascribes a great many books to Buddhaghosa, some of which are believed not to have been his work, but composed later and attributed to him.[23] Below is a listing of the fourteen commentaries on the Pāli Canon traditionally ascribed to Buddhaghosa, the Aṭṭhakathā:[24]

Tipitaka Buddhaghosa's commentary

from the Vinaya
Vinaya
Pitaka Vinaya
Vinaya
(general) Samantapasadika

Patimokkha Kankhavitarani

from the Sutta Pitaka Digha Nikaya Sumangalavilasini

Majjhima Nikaya Papañcasudani

Samyutta Nikaya Saratthappakasini

Anguttara Nikaya Manorathapurani

from the Khuddaka Nikaya Khuddakapatha Paramatthajotika (I)

Dhammapada Dhammapada-atthakatha

Sutta Nipata Paramatthajotika (II), Suttanipata-atthakatha

Jataka Jatakatthavannana, Jataka-atthakatha

from the Abhidhamma
Abhidhamma
Pitaka Dhammasangani Atthasālinī

Vibhanga Sammohavinodani

Dhatukatha Pañcappakaranatthakatha

Puggalapaññatti

Kathavatthu

Yamaka

Patthana

While traditional accounts list Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
as the author of all of these works, the current consensus among scholars accepts only the Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
and the commentaries on the first four nikayas as Buddhaghosa's work.[25] Influence and legacy[edit]

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In the 12th century, the Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) monk Sariputta
Sariputta
became the leading scholar of the Theravada
Theravada
following the reunification of the Sri Lankan (Sinhale) monastic community by King Parakramabahu I.[4] Sariputta
Sariputta
incorporated many of the works of Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
into his own interpretations.[4] In subsequent years, many monks from Theravada
Theravada
traditions in Southeast Asia sought ordination or re-ordination in Sri Lanka because of the reputation of the Sri Lankan (Sinhale) Mahavihara
Mahavihara
lineage for doctrinal purity and scholarship.[4] The result was the spread of the teachings of the Mahavihara tradition — and thus Buddhaghosa — throughout the Theravada
Theravada
world.[4] Buddhaghosa's commentaries thereby became the standard method by which the Theravada
Theravada
scriptures were understood, establishing Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
as the definitive interpreter of Theravada doctrine.[15] In later years, Buddhaghosa's fame and influence inspired various accolades. His life story was recorded, in an expanded and likely exaggerated form, in a Pali
Pali
chronicle known as the Buddhaghosuppatti, or "The Development of the Career of Buddhaghosa".[15] Despite the general belief that he was Indian by birth, he later may have been claimed by the Mon people
Mon people
of Burma as an attempt to assert primacy over Sri Lanka in the development of Theravada
Theravada
tradition.[26] Other scholars believe that the Mon records refer to another figure, but whose name and personal history are much in the mold of the Indian Buddhaghosa.[17] Finally, Buddhaghosa's works likely played a significant role in the revival and preservation of the Pali
Pali
language as the scriptural language of the Theravada, and as a lingua franca in the exchange of ideas, texts, and scholars between Sri Lanka and the Theravada countries of mainland Southeast Asia. The development of new analyses of Theravada
Theravada
doctrine, both in Pali
Pali
and Sinhalese, seems to have dried up prior to Buddhaghosa's emergence in Sri Lanka.[27] In India, new schools of Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy
(such as the Mahayana) were emerging, many of them making use of classical Sanskrit
Sanskrit
both as a scriptural language and as a language of philosophical discourse.[27] The monks of the Mahavihara
Mahavihara
may have attempted to counter the growth of such schools by re-emphasizing the study and composition in Pali, along with the study of previously disused secondary sources that may have vanished in India, as evidenced by the Mahavamsa.[28] Early indications of this resurgence in the use of Pali
Pali
as a literary language may be visible in the composition of the Dipavamsa
Dipavamsa
and the Vimuttimagga, both dating to shortly before Buddhaghosa's arrival in Sri Lanka.[7] The addition of Buddhaghosa's works — which combined the pedigree of the oldest Sinhalese commentaries with the use of Pali, a language shared by all of the Theravada
Theravada
learning centers of the time — provided a significant boost to the revitalization of the Pali
Pali
language and the Theravada
Theravada
intellectual tradition, possibly aiding the Theravada
Theravada
school in surviving the challenge to its position posed by emerging Buddhist schools of mainland India.[29] Some scholars have argued that Buddhaghosa's writing evinces a strong but unacknowledged Yogācāra
Yogācāra
Buddhist influence, which subsequently came to characterize Theravada
Theravada
thought in the wake of his profound influence on the Theravada
Theravada
tradition.[30] Critics[edit] The Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
reflects changes in interpretation which appeared during the centuries since the Buddha's time. The Australian Buddhist monastic Shravasti Dhammika is critical of contemporary practice.[31] He concludes that Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
did not believe that following the practice set forth in the Visuddhimagga will really lead him to Nirvana, basing himself on the postscript to the Visuddhimagga:[31]

Even Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
did not really believe that Theravada
Theravada
practice could lead to Nirvana. His Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
is supposed to be a detailed, step by step guide to enlightenment. And yet in the postscript [...] he says he hopes that the merit he has earned by writing the Vishuddhimagga will allow him to be reborn in heaven, abide there until Metteyya (Maitreya) appears, hear his teaching and then attain enlightenment.[31][note 1]

Yet Ñāṇamoli notes that this postscript only appears in the Sinhalese texts.[34][note 2] According to Kalupahana, Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
was influenced by Mahayana-thought, which were subtly mixed with Theravada
Theravada
orthodoxy to introduce new ideas. Eventually this led to the flowering of metaphysical tendencies, in contrast to the original stress on anattā in early Buddhism.[36] At the present there are many debates going on in Sri Lanka questioning the accuracy of the Buddhagosha's work. This is because of the changes in Vissuddhimagga from the original scripts. As indicated by the monastic S.Dhammika, Buddhagosha had not attained any state of Nibbana (sowan, sakrudhagami, anagami or arhath) but wished to be reborn in heaven. Therefore, it is not advisable to follow these texts rather than the pure original scripts of Dhamma which has been written by Arhaths. Notes[edit]

^ Devotion to Metteya was common in South Asia from early in the Buddhist era, and is believed to have been particularly popular during Buddhaghosa's era.[32][33] ^ In the final words of the conclusion of the original Pali
Pali
text says: "This Path of Purification was made by the elder who is [...] an ornament in the lineage of the elders who dwell in the Great Monastery and who are shining lights in the lineage of elders with unblemished enlightenment.[35]

References[edit]

^ " Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Dictionary". Retrieved July 23, 2016.  ^ (v. Hinüber 1996, p. 103) is more specific, estimating dates for Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
of 370–450 CE based on the Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
and other sources. Following the Mahavamsa, ( Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxvi) places Buddhaghosa's arrival as coming during the reign of King Mahanama, between 412 and 434 CE. ^ a b c d Strong 2004, p. 75. ^ a b c d e (Crosby 2004, p. 837) ^ Gombrich 2012, p. 51. ^ a b c d e (v. Hinüber 1996, p. 102) ^ a b Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxviii. ^ Gray 1892. ^ Rhys Davids & Stede, 1921-25, Pali-English Dictionary, Pali
Pali
Text Society. ^ ( Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxix) ^ a b Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxix-xxx. ^ a b c Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxxiv. ^ Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxxii. ^ a b c d Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxxv. ^ a b c Strong 2004, p. 76. ^ Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxxc. ^ a b Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxxix. ^ Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxxvii-xxxviii. ^ Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxxviii. ^ Stede, W. (October 1951). "The Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
of Buddhaghosācariya by Henry Clarke Warren; Dharmananda Kosambi". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (3/4): 210–211. JSTOR 25222520.  ^ Stede, D. A. L. (1953). " Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
of Buddhaghosācariya by Henry Clarke Warren; Dharmananda Kosambi". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 15 (2): 415. doi:10.1017/s0041977x00111346. JSTOR 608574.  ^ Edgerton, Franklin (January 1952). " Visuddhimagga
Visuddhimagga
of Buddhaghosācariya by Henry Clarke Warren; Dharmananda Kosambi". Philosophy East and West. 1 (4): 84–85. doi:10.2307/1397003. JSTOR 1397003.  ^ (v. Hinüber 1996, p. 103) ^ Table based on (Bullitt 2002) For translations see Atthakatha ^ For instance, regarding the Khuddha Nikaya commentaries, (v. Hinüber 1996, pp. 130–1) writes:

Neither Pj [Paramattha-jotika] I nor Pj II can be dated, not even in relation to each other, except that both presuppose Buddhaghosa. In spite of the ' Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
colophon' added to both commentaries ... no immediate relation to Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
can be recognized.... Both Ja [Jataka-atthavannana] and Dhp-a [Dhammapada-atthakatha] are traditionally ascribed to Buddhaghosa, an assumption which has been rightly questioned by modern research....

^ (Pranke 2004, p. 574) ^ a b Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxvii. ^ Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxvii-xxviii. ^ Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. xxxix-x. ^ Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogācāra Buddhism
Buddhism
by Dan Lusthaus. RoutledgeCurzom: 2002 ISBN 0700711864 pg 106 n 30 ^ a b c The Broken Buddha by S. Dhammika, see p.13 of 80 ^ Sponberg 2004, p. 737–738. ^ " Maitreya
Maitreya
(Buddhism) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2009-01-28.  ^ Nanamoli, page 743 ^ Visuddhimagga. The Path of Purification by Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa. Translated by Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Nanamoli copyright 1975, 1991 Buddhist Publication Society Archived September 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Kalupahana 1994.

Bibliography[edit]

Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli (1999), "Introduction", in Buddhaghosa, Visuddhimagga: The Path of Purification, translated by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, Seattle: Buddhist Publication Society, ISBN 1-928706-01-0  Bullitt, John T. (2002), Beyond the Tipitaka: A Field Guide to Post-canonical Pali
Pali
Literature, retrieved 2009-04-07  Crosby, Kate (2004), "Theravada", in Buswell, Jr., Robert E., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, USA: Macmillan Reference USA, pp. 836–841, ISBN 0-02-865910-4  Gray, James, trans. (1892), Buddhaghosuppatti or the Historical Romance of the Rise and Career of Buddhaghosa, London: Luzac  Hinüber, Oskar von (1996), A Handbook of Pali
Pali
Literature, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., ISBN 81-215-0778-2  Kalupahana, David J. (1994), A history of Buddhist philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited  Pranke, Patrick A. (2004), "Myanmar", in Buswell, Jr., Robert E., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, USA: Macmillan Reference USA, pp. 574–577, ISBN 0-02-865910-4  Rogers, Henry Thomas, trans. (1870): Buddhaghosha's Parables / translated from Burmese. With an Introduction, containing Buddha's Dhammapada, or "Path of Virtue" / transl. from Pâli by F. Max Müller, London: Trübner. Sponberg, Alan (2004), "Maitreya", in Buswell, Jr., Robert E., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, USA: Macmillan Reference USA, ISBN 0-02-865910-4  Strong, John (2004), "Buddhaghosa", in Buswell, Jr., Robert E., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, USA: Macmillan Reference USA, p. 75, ISBN 0-02-865910-4 

Further reading[edit]

Law, Bimala Charan (1923). The life and work of Buddhaghosa, Calcutta, Thacker, Spink. Pe Maung Tin (1922). The path of purity; being a translation of Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagg. London, Published for the Pali
Pali
Text Society by Oxford University Press.

External links[edit]

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Buddhaghoṣa

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Buddhaghosa.

Entry on Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
in the Buddhist Dictionary of Pali
Pali
Proper Names

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 100898544 ISNI: 0000 0001 1884 6571 GND: 118667912 SUDOC: 032208243 BNF: cb123283720 (d

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