The EARLY BUDDHIST SCHOOLS are those schools into which the Buddhist monastic saṅgha initially split, due originally to differences in vinaya and later also due to doctrinal differences and geographical separation of groups of monks.
The original saṅgha split into the first early schools (generally
believed to be the
Sthavira nikāya and the
* 1 Developments in history
* 1.1 The first council * 1.2 The second council * 1.3 Period between the second and third councils * 1.4 Third council under Aśoka * 1.5 Developments during and after the third council * 1.6 Mahāyāna members * 1.7 The Chinese pilgrims
* 2 The eighteen schools
* 2.1 According to the Dipavamsa * 2.2 According to Vasumitra * 2.3 According to Vinitadeva * 2.4 According to the Śāriputraparipṛcchā * 2.5 Twenty schools according to Mahayana scriptures in Chinese * 2.6 Hypothetical combined list
* 3 Legacy * 4 See also * 5 Notes * 6 References * 7 Sources * 8 Further reading * 9 External links
DEVELOPMENTS IN HISTORY
THE FIRST COUNCIL
Main article: First Buddhist council
According to the scriptures (Cullavagga XI.1 ff), three months after
the passing of
The accounts of the council in the scriptures of the schools differ
as to what was actually recited there. Purāṇa is recorded as having
said: "Your reverences, well chanted by the elders are the Dhamma and
Some scholars deny that the first council actually took place.
THE SECOND COUNCIL
Main article: Second Buddhist council
The SECOND BUDDHIST COUNCIL took place approximately one hundred years after Gautama Buddha's parinirvāṇa . Virtually all scholars agree that the second council was a historical event. Traditions regarding the Second Council are confusing and ambiguous, but it is agreed that the overall result was the first schism in the sangha , between the Sthavira nikāya and the Mahāsāṃghikas, although it is not agreed upon by all what the cause of this split was.
PERIOD BETWEEN THE SECOND AND THIRD COUNCILS
The textual sources agree that the first split was between the
Sthaviravāda and the Mahāsāṃghika. However, after this initial
division, more were to follow. Some modern scholars argue that the
first split occurred in the intervening period between the second and
third councils, and was probably about monastic discipline . However,
only two ancient sources (the Dīpavaṃsa and Bhavya's third list)
place the first schism before Aśoka, and none attribute the schism to
a dispute on
THIRD COUNCIL UNDER AśOKA
Main article: Third Buddhist council
Tradition largely holds that
Theravādin sources state that, in the 3rd century BCE, a third council was convened under the patronage of Aśoka, but no mention of this council is found in other sources. Some scholars argue that there are certain implausible features of the Theravādin account which imply that the third council was ahistorical. The remainder consider it a purely Theravāda-Vibhajjavāda council. It is generally accepted, however, that one or several disputes did occur during Aśoka's reign, involving both doctrinal and disciplinary (vinaya) matters, although these may have been too informal to be called a "council". The Sthavira school had, by the time of Aśoka, divided into three sub-schools, doctrinally speaking, but these did not become separate monastic orders until later.
According to the Theravādin account, this council was convened
primarily for the purpose of establishing an official orthodoxy. At
the council, small groups raised questions about the specifics of the
vinaya and the interpretation of doctrine. The chairman of the
council, Moggaliputta Tissa, compiled a book, the
Kathavatthu , which
was meant to refute these arguments. The council sided with
Moggaliputta and his version of
The distinction involved was as to the existence of phenomena
(dhammas) in the past, future and present. The version of the
scriptures that had been established at the third council, including
DEVELOPMENTS DURING AND AFTER THE THIRD COUNCIL
Whatever might be the truth behind the Theravādin account, it was
around the time of Aśoka that further divisions began to occur within
the Buddhist movement and a number of additional schools emerged,
Sarvāstivāda and the
Saṃmitīya . All of these early
During and after the third council, elements of the Sthavira group
called themselves Vibhajjavādins. One part of this group was
The Pudgalavādins were also known as Vatsiputrīyas after their putative founder. Later this group became known as the Sammitīya school after one of its subdivisions. It died out around the 9th or 10th century CE. Nevertheless, during most of the early medieval period, the Sammitīya school was numerically the largest Buddhist group in India, with more followers than all the other schools combined. The Sarvāstivādin school was most prominent in the north-west of India and provided some of the doctrines that would later be adopted by the Mahāyāna. Another group linked to Sarvāstivāda was the Sautrāntika school, which only recognized the authority of the sutras and rejected the abhidharma transmitted and taught by the Vaibhāṣika wing of Sarvāstivāda. Based on textual considerations, it has been suggested that the Sautrāntikas were actually adherents of Mūlasarvāstivāda. The relation between Sarvāstivāda and the Mūlasarvāstivāda , however, is unclear.
Etienne Lamotte divided the mainstream Buddhist schools into three main doctrinal types:
* The “personalists”, such as the
* The “realists ”, namely the
Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda
* The “nominalists ”, for instance, the Mahāsāṃghika
Prajñaptivādins, and possibly non-
Between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE, the terms
"Mahāyāna" and "Hīnayāna" were first used in writing, in, for
Although the various early schools of
Membership in these nikāyas, or monastic sects, continues today with the Dharmaguptaka nikāya in East Asia, and the Mūlasarvāstivāda nikāya in Tibetan Buddhism . Therefore, Mahāyāna was never a separate rival sect of the early schools. Paul Harrison clarifies that while Mahāyāna monastics belonged to a nikāya, not all members of a nikāya were Mahāyānists. From Chinese monks visiting India, we now know that both Mahāyāna and non-Mahāyāna monks in India often lived in the same monasteries side by side. Additionally, Isabella Onians notes that Mahāyāna works rarely used the term Hīnayāna, typically using the term Śrāvakayāna instead.
The Chinese Buddhist monk and pilgrim Yijing wrote about relationship
between the various "vehicles" and the early Buddhist schools in
India. He wrote, "There exist in the West numerous subdivisions of the
schools which have different origins, but there are only four
principal schools of continuous tradition." These schools are namely
THE CHINESE PILGRIMS
During the first millennium , monks from China such as
By the time the Chinese pilgrims
THE EIGHTEEN SCHOOLS
It is commonly said that there were eighteen schools of
What follows are the lists given by each of the different sources.
ACCORDING TO THE DIPAVAMSA
This list was taken from the Sri Lankan chronicles, Dipavamsa (3rd-4th century CE) and Mahavamsa (5th century CE).
* Sthaviravāda /Vibhajjavāda / Theravāda
* Mahīśāsaka - First schism
* Sarvāstivāda - Third schism
* Kāśyapīya - Fourth schism
* Sankrantika - Fifth schism
* Sautrāntika - Sixth schism
* Dharmaguptaka - Third schism
* Vatsīputrīya - First schism
* Dharmottarīya - Second schism * Bhadrayānīya - Second schism * Sannāgarika - Second schism * Saṃmitīya - Second schism
* Gokulika - First schism
In addition, the Dipavamsa lists the following six schools without identifying the schools from which they arose:
* Hemavatika (Sanskrit: Haimavata) * Rajagiriya * Siddhatthaka * Pubbaseliya * Aparaseliya (Sanskrit: Aparaśaila) * Apararajagirika
ACCORDING TO VASUMITRA
This list was taken from Samayabhedo Paracana Cakra, the author of which was Vasumitra (died 124 BCE), a Sarvāstivādin monk.
* Haimavata - First schism; referred to by Sarvāstivādins as "the original Sthavira School", but this school was only influential in the north of India.
* Sarvāstivāda - First schism
* Vatsīputrīya - Second schism
* Dharmottarīya - Third schism * Bhadrayānīya - Third schism * Saṃmitīya - Third schism * Sannāgarika - Third schism
* Mahīśāsaka - Fourth schism
* Dharmaguptaka - Fifth schism
* Ekavyahārikas - First schism * Lokottaravāda - First schism * Gokulika - First schism * Bahuśrutīya - Second schism * Prajñaptivāda - Third schism * Caitika - Fourth schism * Apara Śaila - Fourth schism * Uttara Śaila - Fourth schism
ACCORDING TO VINITADEVA
Vinitadeva (c. 645-715) was a Mūlasarvāstivādin monk.
* Jetavaniya * Abhayagirivasin * Mahaviharavasin
* Kaurukullaka * Avantaka * Vatsīputrīya
* Mūlasarvāstivādin * Kasyapiya * Mahisasaka * Dharmaguptaka * Bahuśrutīya * Tamrasatiya * Vibhajyavadin
* Purvasaila * Aparasaila * Haimavata * Lottaravadin * Prajñaptivāda
ACCORDING TO THE ŚāRIPUTRAPARIPṛCCHā
The Śāriputraparipṛcchā is a Mahāsāṃghikan history.
* Dharmottarika * Bhadrayaniya * Sammatiya * Sannagarika
* Kāśyapīya * Sutravadin * Samkrantika
TWENTY SCHOOLS ACCORDING TO MAHAYANA SCRIPTURES IN CHINESE
Sthaviravāda (上座部) was split into 11 sects. These were: Sarvāstivādin (説一切有部), Haimavata (雪山部), Vatsīputrīya (犢子部), Dharmottara (法上部), Bhadrayānīya (賢冑部), Sammitīya (正量部), Channagirika (密林山部), Mahisasaka (化地部), Dharmaguptaka (法蔵部), Kāśyapīya (飲光部), Sautrāntika (経量部).
* Sthaviravāda , later Haimavata
* Dharmottara * Bhadrayānīya * Sammitīya * Channagirika
HYPOTHETICAL COMBINED LIST
* Pudgalavāda ('Personalist') (c. 280 BCE)
* Vatsīputrīya (during Aśoka ) later name: Saṃmitīya * Dharmottarīya * Bhadrayānīya * Sannāgarika
* Vibhajjavāda (prior to 240 BCE; during Aśoka )
* ( Mahīśāsaka (after 232 BCE))
* ( Dharmaguptaka (after 232 BCE))
* Sarvāstivāda (c. 237 BCE)
* ( Kāśyapīya (after 232 BCE))
* ( Mahīśāsaka (after 232 BCE))
* ( Dharmaguptaka (after 232 BCE))
* Ekavyahārikas (during Aśoka )
* Gokulika (during Aśoka )
* Caitika (mid-first century BCE)
* Apara Śaila * Uttara Śaila
Noted Canadian Buddhist scholar
A.K. Warder (University of Toronto)
identifies the following eighteen early Buddhist schools (in
approximate chronological order):
Sthaviravada , Mahasamgha,
Kukkutika , etc.),
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Theravāda School of
The Theravāda school is the only remaining school which is exclusively aligned with the philosophic outlook of the early schools. However, significant variation is found between the various Theravādin communities, usually concerning the strictness of practice of vinaya and the attitude one has towards abhidhamma. Both of these, however, are aspects of the Vibhajjavādin recension of the Tipiṭaka, and the variation between current Theravāda groups is mainly a reflection of accent or emphasis, not content of the Tipiṭaka or the commentaries. The Tipiṭaka of the Theravāda and the main body of its commentaries are believed to come from (or be heavily influenced by) the Sthaviravādins and especially the subsequent Vibhajjavādins .
TIMELINE: DEVELOPMENT AND PROPAGATION OF BUDDHIST TRADITIONS (ca. 450 BCE – ca. 1300 CE)
450 BCE 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE
EARLY BUDDHIST SCHOOLS MAHāYāNA VAJRAYāNA
Early Buddhist schools and Mahāyāna (via the silk road to China , and ocean contact from India to Vietnam )
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TIANTAI / JìNGTǔ
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450 BCE 250 BCE 100 CE 500 CE 700 CE 800 CE 1200 CE
= Various / syncretic
The legacies of other early schools are preserved in various Mahāyāna traditions. All of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism use a Mūlasarvāstivāda vinaya and study the Sarvāstivādin abhidharma , supplemented with Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna texts. Chinese schools use the vinaya from the Dharmagupta school, and have versions of those of other schools also. Fragments of the canon of texts from these schools also survive such as the Mahāvastu of the Mahāsānghika School.
Discussion on the difference in their views includes Kathāvatthu and the Chinese or Tibetan translation of Samayabhedoparacanacakra (異部宗輪論), Abhidharmamahāvibhāsā-śāstra (大毘婆沙論), Abhidharmakośa-śāstra (俱舍論)Abhidharma-nyāyānusāra(順正理論), Abhidharma-kośa-samaya-pradīpikā (顯宗論) etc.
* ^ A B C D E F According to Buswell and Lopez, the Kāśyapīya and Mahīśāsaka were offshoots of the Sarvastivadins, but are grouped under the Vibhajjavāda as "non-sarvastivada" groups.
* ^ Disputed Dharmas: Early Buddhist Theories on Existence. by
Collett Cox. The Institute for Buddhist Studies. Tokyo: 1995. ISBN
4-906267-36-X pg 23
* ^ Hoiberg, Dale; Indu Ramchandani. "Early Buddhist schools" entry
in Students' Britannica India, p. 264. Popular Prakashan, 2000. ISBN
* ^ Williams,
Mahayana Buddhism, Routledge, 1989, page 6
* ^ "Buddhist council." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate
Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
* ^ Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. p. 47
* ^ Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
* ^ Shi huifeng: “Dependent Origination =
* ^ Nattier, Jan (2003), A few good men: the
* Coogan, Michael D. (ed.) (2003). The Illustrated Guide to World
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* Dhammananda, K. Sri (1964). What the Buddhist Believe (PDF).
Buddhist Mission Society of Malaysia. ISBN 983-40071-1-6 .
* Gethin, Rupert (1998). Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford University
Press. ISBN 0-19-289223-1 .
* Gunaratana, Bhante Henepola (2002).
Mindfulness in Plain English.
Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-321-4 .
* Lowenstein, Tom (1996). The vision of the Buddha. Duncan Baird
Publishers. ISBN 1-903296-91-9 .
Thich Nhat Hanh (1974), The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching,
Broadway Books ISBN 0-7679-0369-2 .
* Thurman, Robert A. F. (translator) (1976). Holy Teaching of
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* The Sects of the Buddhists. Rhys Davids. T. W. . The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1891. pp. 409–422 * Sects ">
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