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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

According to Vasumitra as translated by Vassilief


Serious quarrels arose amongst

his disciples or rather amongst the successive generations of the disciples of his disciples about his doctrines and other monastic rules which he had enjoined upon his followers. Thus we find that when the council of Vesali decided against the V@rjin monks, called also the Vajjiputtakas, they in their turn held another great meeting (Mahasa@ngha) and came to their own decisions about certain monastic rules and thus came to be called as the Mahasa@nghikas [Footnote ref 1]. According to Vasumitra as translated by Vassilief, the Mahasa@nghikas seceded in 400 B.C. and during the next one hundred years they gave rise first to the three schools Ekavyavaharikas, Lokottaravadins, and Kukkulikas and after that the Bahus'rutiyas. In the course of the next one hundred years, other schools rose out of it namely the Prajnaptivadins, Caittikas, Aparas'ailas and Uttaras'ailas. The Theravada or the Sthaviravada school which had convened the council of Vesali developed during the second and first century B.C. into a number of schools, viz. the Haimavatas, Dharmaguptikas, Mahis'asakas, Kas'yapiyas, Sa@nkrantikas (more well known as Sautrantikas) and the Vatsiputtriyas which latter was again split up into the Dharmottariyas, Bhadrayaniyas, Sammitiyas and Channagarikas. The main branch of the Theravada school was from the second century downwards known as the Hetuvadins or Sarvastivadins [Footnote ref 2]. The _Mahabodhiva@msa_ identifies the Theravada school with the Vibhajjavadins. The commentator
of the _Kathavatthu_ who probably lived according to Mrs Rhys Davids sometime in the fifth century A.D. mentions a few other schools of Buddhists. But of all these Buddhist schools we know very little. Vasumitra (100 A.D.) gives us some very meagre accounts of

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[Footnote 1: The _Mahava@msa_ differs from _Dipava@msa_ in holding that the Vajjiputtakas did not develop into the Mahasa@nghikas, but it was the Mahasa@nghikas who first seceded while the Vajjiputtakas seceded independently of them. The _Mahabodhiva@msa_, which according to Professor Geiger was composed 975 A.D.--1000 A.D., follows the Mahava@msa in holding the Mahasa@nghikas to be the first seceders and Vajjiputtakas to have seceded independently.

Vasumitra confuses the council of Vesali with the third council of Pa@taliputra. See introduction to translation of _Kathavatthu_ by Mrs Rhys Davids.]

[Footnote 2: For other accounts of the schism see Mr Aung and Mrs Rhys Davids's translation of _Kathavatthu_, pp. xxxvi-xlv.]

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certain schools, of the Mahasa@nghikas, Lokottaravadins, Ekavyavaharikas, Kakkulikas, Prajnaptivadins and Sarvastivadins, but these accounts deal more with subsidiary matters of little philosophical importance. Some of the points of interest are (1) that the Mahasa@nghikas were said to believe that the body was filled with mind (_citta_) which was represented as sitting, (2) that the Prajnaptivadins held that there was no agent in man, that there was no untimely death, for it was caused by the previous deeds of man, (3) that the Sarvastivadins believed that everything existed. From the discussions found in the _Kathavatthu_ also we may know the views of some of the schools on some points which are not always devoid of philosophical interest. But there is nothing to be found by which we can properly know the philosophy of these schools. It is quite possible however that these so-called schools of Buddhism were not so many different systems but only differed from one another on some points of dogma or practice which were considered as being of sufficient interest to them, but which to us now appear to be quite trifling. But as we do not know any of their literatures, it is better not to make any unwarrantable surmises. These schools are however not very important for a history of later Indian Philosophy, for none of them are even referred to in any of the systems of Hindu thought. The only schools of Buddhism with which other schools of philosophical thought came in direct contact, are the Sarvastivadins including the Sautrantikas and the Vaibha@sikas, the Yogacara or the Vijnanavadins and the Madhyamikas or the S'unyavadins. We do not know which of the diverse smaller schools were taken up into these four great schools, the Sautrantika, Vaibha@sika, Yogacara and the Madhyamika schools. But as these schools were most important in relation to the development of the different systems in Hindu thought, it is best that we should set ourselves to gather what we can about these systems of Buddhistic thought.


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