The SARVāSTIVāDA (
The Sarvāstivādins were one of the most influential Buddhist
monastic groups, flourishing throughout Northwest India, Northern
* 1 Name
* 2 Origination and history
* 2.1 Origins * 2.2 Early history
* 3 Appearance and language
* 3.1 Appearance * 3.2 Language
* 4 Doctrinal systems
* 5 Canon
* 9 References
* 9.1 Bibliography
Sarvāstivāda is a
ORIGINATION AND HISTORY
According to some accounts, the Sarvāstivādins emerged from the Sthavira nikāya .
Regarding the origins of the Sarvāstivāda, Charles Prebish writes:
There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the rise and early
development of the Sarvāstivādin school. On the one hand, we have
the tradition of Asoka’s council, stating that the schismatic group
In Central Asia, several Buddhist monastic groups were historically
prevalent. A number of scholars have identified three distinct major
phases of missionary activity seen in the history of
APPEARANCE AND LANGUAGE
Between 148 and 170 CE, the Parthian monk
VAIBHāṣIKA AND SAUTRāNTIKA
The Sarvāstivāda comprised two subschools, the Vaibhāṣika and the Sautrāntika . Pioneering work on the subject was undertaken by Ch. Willemen in 1975, and more recently in 2006 (Abhidharmahṛdaya) and in 2008 in the Journal of the International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies (Tokyo). The Vaibhāṣika was formed by adherents of the Mahāvibhāṣa Śāstra , comprising the orthodox Kasmiri branch of the Sarvāstivāda school. The Vaibhāśika-Sarvāstivāda, which had by far the most "comprehensive edifice of doctrinal systematics" of the early Buddhist schools , was widely influential in India and beyond.
In contrast to the Vaibhāṣikas, the Sautrāntika Sarvāstivādins did not uphold the Mahāvibhāṣa Śāstra , but rather emphasized the Buddhist sūtras. The name Sautrāntika means "those who uphold the sūtras." According to the Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣya, the Sautrāntikas held the doctrine that there may be many contemporaneous buddhas.
THE THREE VEHICLES
Regarding divisions of practice, the Vaibhāṣika Sarvāstivādins are known to have employed the outlook of Buddhist practice as consisting of the Three Vehicles:
VIEWS ON THE BUDDHA
Sarvāstivādins viewed the Buddha's physical body (Skt. rūpakāya) as being impure and improper for taking refuge in, and they instead regarded taking refuge in the Buddha as taking refuge in the Dharmakāya of the Buddha.
Some people say that to take refuge in the Buddha is to take refuge in the body of the Tathāgata, which comprises head, neck, stomach, back, hands and feet. It is explained that the body, born of father and mother, is composed of defiled dharmas, and therefore is not a source of refuge. The refuge is the Buddha's fully accomplished qualities (aśaikṣadharmāḥ) which comprise bodhi and the dharmakāya.
VIEWS ON ARHATS
According to A.K. Warder , the Sarvāstivādins held the same position as the Mahāsāṃghika branch regarding arhats , considering them to be imperfect and fallible. In the Sarvāstivādin Nāgadatta Sūtra, the Mahīśāsaka view of women is criticized in a narrative about a bhikṣuṇī named Nāgadatta. Here, the demon Māra takes the form of her father, and tries to convince her to work toward the lower stage of an arhat, rather than that of a fully enlightened buddha (Skt. samyaksambuddha ).
Māra therefore took the disguise of Nāgadatta's father and said
thus to Nāgadatta: "Your thought is too serious.
In her reply, Nāgadatta rejects arhatship as a lower path, saying, "A Buddha's wisdom is like empty space of the ten-quarters, which can enlighten innumerable people. But an Arhat's wisdom is inferior."
VIEWS ON BODHISATTVAS
Regarding divisions of practice, the Mahāvibhāṣā is known to employ the outlook of Buddhist practice as consisting of the Three Vehicles. The Sarvāstivādins also did not hold that it was impossible, or even impractical to strive to become a fully enlightened buddha (Skt. samyaksaṃbuddha), and therefore they admitted the path of a bodhisattva as a valid one. References to Bodhisattvayāna and the practice of the Six Pāramitās are commonly found in Sarvāstivāda works as well.
The Mahāvibhāṣā of the Vaibhāṣika Sarvāstivādins includes a schema of four pāramitās: generosity (dāna), discipline (śīla ), energy (vīrya), and wisdom (prajñā ), and it says that the four pāramitās and six pāramitās are essentially equivalent.
Foreign teachers hold that there are six pāramitās, adding patience (kṣānti) and meditation (dhyāna ). But the teachers of Kaśmīra say that the last two are included in the first four. Patience is included in discipline and meditation in intuitive knowledge; they are accomplished upon completion of discipline and wisdom.
The complete Sarvāstivāda
Vinaya is extant in the Chinese Buddhist
canon . In its early history, the Sarvāstivāda
Vinaya was the most
common vinaya tradition in China. However, Chinese
Scholars at present have "a nearly complete collection of sūtras
from the Sarvāstivāda school" thanks to a recent discovery in
Afghanistan of roughly two-thirds of the Dīrgha Āgama in Sanskrit.
The Madhyama Āgama (T26, Chinese trans. Gotama Saṅghadeva) and
Saṃyukta Āgama (T99, Chinese trans. Guṇabhadra) have long been
available in Chinese translation. The Sarvāstivāda is therefore the
only early school besides the
* Jñānaprasthāna ("Foundation of Knowledge") (T. 1543-1544) * Prakaraṇapāda ("Exposition") (T. 1541-1542) * Vijñānakāya ("Body of Consciousness") (T. 1539) * Dharmaskandha ("Aggregation of Dharmas") (T. 1537) * Prajñaptiśāstra ("Treatise on Designations") (T. 1538) * Dhātukāya ("Body of Elements") (T. 1540) * Saṅgītiparyāya ("Discourses on Gathering Together") (T. 1536)
Following these, are the texts that became the authority of the Vaibhāṣika:
* Mahāvibhāṣā ("Great Commentary" on the Jñānaprasthāna) (T. 1545)
Sarvāstivādin meditation teachers also worked on the Dhyāna sutras (Chinese : 禪經), a group of early Buddhist meditation texts which were translated into Chinese and became influential in the development of Chinese Buddhist meditation methods.
All of these works have been translated into Chinese, and are now
part of the
Chinese Buddhist canon
RELATIONSHIP TO MAHāYāNA
The Sarvāstivādins of Kāśmīra held the Mahāvibhāṣā Śāstra
as authoritative, and thus were given the moniker of being
Vaibhāṣikas. The Mahāvibhāṣā is thought to have been authored
around 150 CE, around the time of Kaniṣka (127–151 CE) of the
Kuṣāṇa Empire . This massive treatise of
What is the Vaipulya? It is said to be all the sūtras corresponding to elaborations on the meanings of the exceedingly profound dharmas.
According to a number of scholars,
RELATIONSHIP TO MūLASARVāSTIVāDA
A number of theories have been posited by academics as to how the two are related, which Bhikkhu Sujato summaries as follows:
The uncertainty around this school has led to a number of hypotheses.
Frauwallner’s theory holds that the
the disciplinary code of an early Buddhist community based in Mathura
, which was quite independent in its establishment as a monastic
community from the Sarvāstivādins of Kaśmir (although of course
this does not mean that they were different in terms of doctrine).
Lamotte, opposing Frauwallner, asserts that the Mūlasarvāstivāda
Vinaya was a late Kaśmīr compilation made to complete the
Sarvāstivādin Vinaya. Warder suggests that the Mūlasarvāstivādins
were a later development of the Sarvāstivāda, whose main innovations
were literary, the compilation of the large
Vinaya and the
Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna Sūtra, which kept the early doctrines but
brought the style up to date with contemporary literary developments.
Enomoto pulls the rug out from all these theories by asserting that
Sarvāstivādin and Mūlasarvāstivādin are really the same.
Meanwhile, Willemen, Dessein, and Cox have developed the theory that
the Sautrantikas, a branch or tendency within the Sarvāstivādin
group of schools, emerged in Gandhāra and
DETAILS OF PHILOSOPHY
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Though the Sarvāstivādins would themselves claim that their
teaching of 'all exists' (sarvasti) is a direct teaching of the Buddha
himself, as shown by their attributing the earliest abhidharma texts
to direct disciples of the Buddha, notably to
Sariputra and constant
reference to the sutras throughout, the school in its entirety is more
rightly to be considered as part of the age of scholastic Buddhism. It
was the most influential school in the northwestern part of India. In
a Chinese context, the word abhidharma refers to the Sarvāstivāda
abhidharma, although at a minimum the Dharmaguptaka,
During the first century BC, in the Gandharan cultural area
Although the sarvastitva was the central thesis, there were different theories on how 'sarvam' and even 'asti' were actually to be explained and understood among the Gandharan diverse Sarvāstivādins. Vasubandhu’s Koshabhasya, an elaborate yoga manual based on the Hrdaya, describes four main theses on sarvasti:
There are four types of Sarvāstivādins accordingly as they teach a difference in existence (bhavanyathatva), a difference in characteristic (laksananyathatva), a difference in condition (avasthanyathatva), and mutual difference (anyonyathatva).
Later Sarvāstivāda takes a combination of the first and third theses as its model. It was on this basis that the school’s doctrines were defended in the face of growing external, and sometimes even internal, criticism.
The doctrines of Sarvāstivāda were not confined to 'all exists', but also include the theory of momentariness (ksanika), conjoining (samprayukta) and simultaneity (sahabhu), conditionality (hetu and pratyaya), the culmination of the spiritual path (marga), and others. These doctrines are all inter-connected and it is the principle of 'all exists' that is the axial doctrine holding the larger movement together when the precise details of other doctrines are at stake.
The Sarvāstivāda was also known by other names, particularly hetuvada and yuktivada. Hetuvada comes from hetu – 'cause', which indicates their emphasis on causation and conditionality. Yuktivada comes from yukti – 'reason' or even 'logic', which shows their use of rational argument and syllogism.
When the Sarvāstivāda school held a synod in
Interestingly, the Kasmira orthodoxy, the Vaibhāṣikas disappeared in the later part of the 7th century. Subsequently, the old Gandharan Sarvāstivādins, the non- Vaibhāṣika Sautrantikas, were named Mūlasarvāstivādins, who then at a later date went to Tibet. It has been suggested that the minority Vaibhāṣikas were absorbed into the majority Sautrantika Sarvāstivādins as a possible result of the latter’s adaptations.
Moreover, Mishrakabhidharmahrdaya, a title which means that
'sautrantika views were mixed with
Vaibhāṣika views' was composed
by Dharmatrata in the 4th century in Gandharan area. Vasubandhu
(ca.350-430), a native from Purusapura in Gandhara, composed his Kosa
based on this text and the Astagrantha. While in Kasmira, he wrote his
karikas which were well received there but he faced intense
opposition, notably from Samghabhadra, a leading Sarvāstivāda
pundit, when he composed his bhasya. By his bhasya,
In reply to Vasubhandhu’s bhasya, Samghabhadra wrote a text, the Nyayanusara 'according to reason'. This work is presently only extant in Chinese (from Xuanzang’s translation and little is known of it in English).
For a critical examination of the Sarvāstivādin interpretation of
the Samyuktagama , see
David Kalupahana , Causality: The Central
Philosophy of Buddhism. For a Sautrantika refutation of the
Sarvāstivādin use of the Samyuktagama, see Theodore Stcherbatsky,
The Central Conception of
* ^ de La Vallée-Poussin 1990 , p. 807.
* ^ Taisho 27, n1545
* ^ A B Buddhism: A Modern Perspective. Charles S. Prebish. Penn
State Press: 1975. ISBN 0-271-01195-5 pg 42-43
* ^ Willemen, Charles. Dessein, Bart. Cox, Collett. Sarvāstivāda
Buddhist Scholasticism. 1997. p. 126
* ^ A B Hino, Shoun. Three Mountains and Seven Rivers. 2004. p. 55
* ^ A B Hino, Shoun. Three Mountains and Seven Rivers. 2004. pp.
* ^ Mohr, Thea. Tsedroen, Jampa. Dignity and Discipline: Reviving
Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns. 2010. p. 266
* ^ Yao 2012 , p. 9.
* ^ "one does not find anywhere else a body of doctrine as
organized or as complete as theirs" . . ."Indeed, no other competing
schools have ever come close to building up such a comprehensive
edifice of doctrinal systematics as the Vaibhāśika." The Sautrantika
theory of seeds (bija ) revisited: With special reference to the
ideological continuity between Vasubandhu's theory of seeds and its
Srilata/Darstantika precedents by Park, Changhwan, PhD thesis,
University of California, Berkeley, 2007 pg 2
* ^ A Study of the Abhidharmahṛdaya: The Historical Development
of the Concept of Karma in the Sarvāstivāda Thought. PhD thesis by
Wataru S. Ryose. University of Wisconsin-Madison: 1987 pg 3
* ^ Xing 2005 , p. 66.
* ^ A B Nakamura 1980 , p. 189.
* ^ Xing 2005 , p. 49.
* ^ Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 277
* ^ A B Kalupahana 2001 , p. 109.
* ^ Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 457
* ^ Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 456
* ^ Xing 2005 , p. 48.
* ^ Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 52
* ^ Mohr, Thea. Tsedroen, Jampa. Dignity and Discipline: Reviving
Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns. 2010. p. 187
* ^ Heirman, Ann. Bumbacher, Stephan Peter. The Spread of Buddhism.
2007. pp. 194-195
* ^ bad cite
* ^ Potter, Karl.
* Kalupahana, David (2001). Buddhist Thought and Ritual. Motilal
Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-1773-9 .
* Kalupahana, David (1975). Causality: The Central Philosophy of
Buddhism. University Press of Hawaii. ISBN 978-0-8248-0298-1 .
* Nakamura, Hajime (1980). Indian Buddhism: A Survey with
Bibliographical Notes. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN
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