Merit is a concept considered fundamental to Buddhist ethics. It is a beneficial and protective force which accumulates as a result of good deeds, acts, or thoughts. Merit-making is important to Buddhist practice: merit brings good and agreeable results, determines the quality of the next life and contributes to a person's growth towards enlightenment. In addition, merit is shared with a deceased loved one, in order to help the deceased in their new existence. Despite modernization, merit-making remains essential in traditional Buddhist countries and has had a significant impact on the rural economies in these countries. Merit is connected with the notions of goodness. Before Buddhism, merit was used with regard to ancestor worship, but in Buddhism it gained a more general ethical meaning. Merit is a force. Moreover, it affects the next lives, as well as the destination a person is reborn; the opposite of merit is demerit, it is believed that merit is able to weaken demerit. Indeed, merit has been connected to the path to Nirvana itself, but many scholars say that this refers only to some types of merit.
Merit can be gained in a number of ways, such as giving and mental development. In addition, there are many forms of merit-making described in ancient Buddhist texts. A similar concept of kusala is known, different from merit in some details; the most fruitful form of merit-making is those good deeds done with regard to the Triple Gem, that is, the Buddha, his teachings, the Dhamma, the Sangha. In Buddhist societies, a great variety of practices involving merit-making has grown throughout the centuries, sometimes involving great self-sacrifice. Merit has become part of rituals and weekly practice, festivals. In addition, there is a widespread custom of transferring merit to one's deceased relatives, of which the origin is still a matter of scholarly debate. Merit has been that important in Buddhist societies, that kingship was legitimated through it, still is. In modern society, merit-making has been criticized as materialist, but merit-making is still ubiquitous in many societies. Examples of the impact of beliefs about merit-making can be seen in the Phu Mi Bun rebellions which took place in the last centuries, as well as in the revival of certain forms of merit-making, such as the much discussed merit release.
Puñña translates as'merit, meritorious action, virtue'. It is glossed by the Theravāda Commentator Dhammapāla as "santanaṃ punāti visodheti", meaning'it cleans or purifies the life-continuity', its opposites are pāpa, of which the term pāpa has become most common. The term merit a Judeo-Christian term, has in the latter part of the twentieth century been used as a translation of the Buddhist term puṇya or puñña; the Buddhist term has, more of an impermanent character than the English translation implies, the Buddhist term does not imply a sense of deserving. Before the arising of Buddhism, merit was used in the context of Brahmanical sacrifice, it was believed that merit accrued through such sacrifice would bring the devotee to an eternal heaven of the'fathers'. In the period of the Upanishads, a concept of rebirth was established and it was believed that life in heaven was determined by the merit accumulated in previous lives, but the focus on the pitṛ did not change. In Buddhism, the idea of an eternal heaven was rejected, but it was believed that merit could help achieve a rebirth in a temporary heaven.
Merit was no longer a product of ritual, but was invested with an ethical meaning and role. In the Tipiṭaka, the importance of merit is stressed. Merit is considered fundamental to Buddhist ethics, in nearly all Buddhist traditions. Merit-making is important to Buddhist practice in Buddhist societies. Merit is a "beneficial and protective force which extends over a long period of time" —and is the effect of good deeds done through physical action, words, or thought; as its Pāli language definition indicates, this force is associated with goodness and purity of mind. In traditional Buddhist societies, it is believed that merit is more sustainable than that of magical rites, spirit worship or worldly power; the way merit works, is that acts of merit bring good and agreeable results, whereas demeritorious acts bring bad and disagreeable results. A mixture of the two generates mixed results in a person's life; this karmic correspondence or "automatic cosmic reaction" is a common idea found in Buddhist texts and Buddhist societies, explains why people are different and lead different lives in many ways.
Karma is self-regulatory and natural: it operates without divine intervention and human intention is fundamental to it. Internally, merit makes the mind virtuous. Externally, present good circumstances, such as a long life and wealth, as well as the character and abilities someone is born with, arise from merits done in the past and vice versa, with demerits; the merits and demerits a person has done may take a while to bear fruit. Merit or demerit may cause a good or bad future including in the next lives to come. A bad destination after rebirth may be caused by demerit, but a lack of merit may lead a person to be
Since the death of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, Buddhist monastic communities have periodically convened to settle doctrinal and disciplinary disputes and to revise and correct the contents of the sutras. These gatherings, referred to by historians as'Buddhist councils', are recorded in the Buddhist sutras as having begun following the death of the Buddha and have continued into the modern era; the number and ordering of the councils employed in Western academia is based on Theravada historical chronicles- regional or sectarian gatherings not involving the Mahavihara Theravada lineage may be regarded as equivalent in significance by other traditions. The earliest councils- for which there is little historical evidence outside of the sutras- are regarded as canonical events by every Buddhist tradition, while some councils have been concerned only with the Theravada tradition. According to the scriptures of all Buddhist schools, the first Buddhist Council was held soon after the death of the Buddha, dated by the majority of recent scholars around 400 BCE, under the patronage of the king Ajatashatru with the monk Mahakasyapa presiding, at Sattapanni caves Rajgriha.
Its objective was to preserve the the monastic discipline or rules. The Suttas were recited by Ananda, the Vinaya was recited by Upali. Western scholarship has suggested that the Abhidhamma Pitaka was composed starting after 300 BCE because of differences in language and content from other Sutta literature. However, oral tradition maintained by the Atthakathā-teachers describe the six canons of Abhidhamma Pitaka, one of its Matika, the ancient Atthakathā as included at the first Buddhist council in Sutta category, but its literature is different from Sutta because Abhidhamma Pitaka was authored by Sāriputta; some scholars of Indian Buddhism have questioned the event's historicity, although Sri Lankan and Theravadan sources display a level of internal coherence that suggest otherwise. The circumstances surrounding the First Buddhist Council are recorded in the Vinaya Pitaka of the early Buddhist schools; the text is called the Recitation of Five-Hundred because five hundred senior monks were chosen by the community to collect and clarify the Buddha's teachings.
The historical records for the so-called "Second Buddhist Council" derive from the canonical Vinayas of various schools. In most cases, these accounts are found at the end of the Skandhaka portion of the Vinaya. While disagreeing on points of details, they agree that the root dispute was points of vinaya or monastic discipline; the Second Council resulted in the first schism in the Sangha. Modern scholars see this event as caused by a group of reformists called Sthaviras who split from the conservative majority Mahāsāṃghikas; this view is supported by the vinaya texts themselves, as vinayas associated with the Sthaviras do contain more rules than those of the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya. All scholars agree that this second council was a historical event. There is no agreement however on the dating of the event or if it was post Ashoka, it was held at Vaishali under the presidency of Sabakami. In striking contrast to the uniform accounts of the Second Council, there are records of several possible "Third Councils".
These different versions function to authorize the founding of other. According to the Theravāda commentaries and chronicles, the Third Buddhist Council was convened by the Mauryan king Ashoka at Pātaliputra, under the leadership of the monk Moggaliputta Tissa, its objective was to purify the Buddhist movement from opportunistic factions, attracted by the royal patronage. The king asked the suspect monks what the Buddha taught, they claimed he taught views such as eternalism, etc. which are condemned in the canonical Brahmajala Sutta. He asked the virtuous monks, they replied that the Buddha was a "Teacher of Analysis", an answer, confirmed by Moggaliputta Tissa; the Council proceeded to recite the scriptures once more, adding to the canon Moggaliputta Tissa's own book, the Kathavatthu, a discussion of various dissenting Buddhist views now contained in the Theravāda Abhidhamma Pitaka. This council seems to have been the cause of the split between the Sarvastivada and the Vibhajjavāda schools.
Emissaries were sent to various countries in order to spread Buddhism, as far as the Greek kingdoms in the West. According to Frauwallner, several of these missionaries were responsible for founding schools in various parts of India: Majjhantika was the father of the Kasmiri Sarvastivādins. Relics of some of the Haimavata monks have been excavated at Vedisa in central India; the most famous of the missionaries, the main focus of interest for these Theravada histories, is Mahinda, who travelled to Sri Lanka where he founded the school we now know as Theravada. The Theravāda's own Dipavamsa records a quite different Council called the "Great Recital", which it claims was held by the reformed Vajjiputtakas following their defeat at the Second Council; the Dipavamsa criticizes the Mahasangitikas (who are the same as
Chinese Buddhist canon
The Chinese Buddhist Canon refers to the total body of Buddhist literature deemed canonical in Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese Buddhism. The traditional term for the canon." The Chinese Buddhist canon includes Āgama and Abhidharma texts from Early Buddhist schools, as well as the Mahāyāna sūtras and scriptures from Esoteric Buddhism. There are many versions of the canon in East Asia in different places and time. An early version is the Fangshan Stone Sutras from the 7th century; the earlier Lung Tripitaka, Jiaxing Tripitaka, Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka are still extant in printed form. The complete woodblocks are the Chenlong Tripitaka; the Tripiṭaka Koreana or Palman Daejanggyeong was carved between 1236 and 1251, during Korea's Goryeo Dynasty, onto 81,340 wooden printing blocks with no known errors in the 52,382,960 characters. It is stored at South Korea. One of the most used version is Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Named after the Taishō era, a modern standardized edition published in Tokyo between 1924 and 1934 in 100 volumes.
It is one of the most punctuated tripitaka. The Xuzangjing version, a supplement of another version of the canon, is used as a supplement for Buddhist texts not collected in the Taishō Tripiṭaka; the Jiaxing Tripitaka is a supplement for Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty Buddhist texts not collected, a Dazangjing Bu Bian published in 1986 are supplements of them. The Chinese Manuscripts in the Tripitaka Sinica, a new collection of canonical texts, was published by Zhonghua Book Company in Beijing in 1983-97, with 107 volumes of literature, are photocopies of early versions and include many newly unearthed scriptures from Dunhuang. There are newer. Written in Classical Chinese; the Mi Tripitaka is the Tangut canon. Eric Grinstead published a collection of Tangut Buddhist texts under the title The Tangut Tripitaka in 1971 in New Delhi; the Taishō edition contains classical Japanese works. The Dunhuang edition contains some works in old Western Regions languages; the Tripitaka Sinica mentioned above features a Tibetan section.
A number of apocryphal sutras composed in China are excluded in the earlier canons, such as composed stories the Journey to the West and Chinese folk religion texts, High King Avalokiteshvara Sutra. Modern religious and scholarly works are excluded but they are published in other book series. Pali Canon Sanskrit Buddhist literature Tibetan Buddhist canon
Pali or Magadhan is a Middle Indo-Aryan language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is studied because it is the language of the Pāli Canon or Tipiṭaka, is the sacred language of some religious texts of Hinduism and all texts of Theravāda Buddhism; the earliest archaeological evidence of the existence of canonical Pali comes from Pyu city-states inscriptions found in Burma dated to the mid 5th to mid 6th century CE. The word Pali is used as a name for the language of the Theravada canon. According to the Pali Text Society's Dictionary, the word seems to have its origins in commentarial traditions, wherein the Pāli was distinguished from the commentary or vernacular translation that followed it in the manuscript; as such, the name of the language has caused some debate among scholars of all ages. Both the long ā and retroflex ḷ are seen in Pāḷi. R. C. Childers translates the word as "series" and states that the language "bears the epithet in consequence of the perfection of its grammatical structure".
In the 19th century, the British Orientalist Robert Caesar Childers argued that the true or geographical name of the Pali language was Magadhi Prakrit, that because pāḷi means "line, series", the early Buddhists extended the meaning of the term to mean "a series of books", so pāḷibhāsā means "language of the texts". However, modern scholarship has regarded Pali as a mix of several Prakrit languages from around the 3rd century BCE, combined together and Sanskritized; the closest artifacts to Pali that have been found in India are Edicts of Ashoka found at Gujarat, in the west of India, leading some scholars to associate Pali with this region of western India. There is persistent confusion as to the relation of Pāḷi to the vernacular spoken in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, located around modern-day Bihār. Pali, as a Middle Indo-Aryan language, is different from Sanskrit more with regard to its dialectal base than the time of its origin. A number of its morphological and lexical features show that it is not a direct continuation of Ṛgvedic Vedic Sanskrit.
Instead it descends from one or more dialects that were, despite many similarities, different from Ṛgvedic. However, this view is not shared by all scholars. Some, like A. C. Woolner, believe that Pali is derived from Vedic Sanskrit, but not from Classical Sanskrit. Paiśācī is a unattested literary language of classical India, mentioned in Prakrit and Sanskrit grammars of antiquity, it is found grouped with the Prakrit languages, with which it shares some linguistic similarities, but was not considered a spoken language by the early grammarians because it was understood to have been purely a literary language. In works of Sanskrit poetics such as Daṇḍin's Kavyadarsha, it is known by the name of Bhūtabhāṣā, an epithet which can be interpreted as'dead language', or bhuta means past and bhasha means language i.e.'a language spoken in the past'. Evidence which lends support to this interpretation is that literature in Paiśācī is fragmentary and rare but may once have been common; the 13th-century Tibetan historian Buton Rinchen Drub wrote that the early Buddhist schools were separated by choice of sacred language: the Mahāsāṃghikas used Prākrit, the Sarvāstivādins used Sanskrit, the Sthaviravādins used Paiśācī, the Saṃmitīya used Apabhraṃśa.
This observation has lead some scholars to theorize connections between Pali and Paiśācī. Many Theravada sources refer to the Pali language as "Magadhan" or the "language of Magadha"; this identification first appears in the commentaries, may have been an attempt by Buddhists to associate themselves more with the Maurya Empire. But the four most important places in Buddha's life are all outside of it, it is that he taught in several related dialects of Middle Indo-Aryan, which had a high degree of mutual intelligibility. There is no attested dialect of Middle Indo-Aryan with all the features of Pali. Pali has some commonalities with both the western Ashokan Edicts at Girnar in Saurashtra, the Central-Western Prakrit found in the eastern Hathigumpha inscription; the similarities of the Saurashtran inscriptions to the Hathigumpha inscription may be misleading because the latter suggests the Ashokan scribe may not have translated the material he received from Magadha into the vernacular. Whatever the relationship of the Buddha's speech to Pali, the Canon was transcribed and preserved in it, while the commentarial tradition that accompanied it was translated into Sinhala and preserved in local languages for several generations.
In Sri Lanka, Pali is thought to have entered into a period of decline ending around the 4th or 5th century, but survived. The work of Buddhaghosa was responsible for its reemergence as an important scholarly language in Buddhist thought; the Visuddhimagga, the other commentaries that Buddhaghosa compiled and condensed the Sinhala commentarial tradition, preserved and expanded in Sri Lanka since the 3rd century BCE. T
The five precepts or five rules of training is the most important system of morality for Buddhist lay people. They constitute the basic code of ethics undertaken by lay followers of Buddhism; the precepts are commitments to abstain from killing living beings, sexual misconduct and intoxication. Within the Buddhist doctrine, they are meant to develop mind and character to make progress on the path to enlightenment, they are sometimes referred to as the śrāvakayāna precepts in the Mahāyāna tradition, contrasting them with the bodhisattva precepts. The five precepts form the basis of several parts of Buddhist doctrine, both monastic. With regard to their fundamental role in Buddhist ethics, they have been compared with the ten commandments in Christianity or the ethical codes of Confucianism; the precepts have been connected with utilitarianist and virtue approaches to ethics. They have been compared with human rights because of their universal nature, some scholars argue they can complement the concept of human rights.
The five precepts were common to the religious milieu of 6th-century BCE India, but the Buddha's focus on awareness through the fifth precept was unique. As shown in Early Buddhist Texts, the precepts grew to be more important, became a condition for membership of the Buddhist religion; when Buddhism spread to different places and people, the role of the precepts began to vary. In countries where Buddhism had to compete with other religions, such as China, the ritual of undertaking the five precepts developed into an initiation ceremony to become a Buddhist lay person. On the other hand, in countries with little competition from other religions, such as Thailand, the ceremony has had little relation to the rite of becoming Buddhist, as many people are presumed Buddhist from birth. Undertaking and upholding the five precepts is based on the principle of non-harming; the Pali Canon recommends one to compare oneself with others, on the basis of that, not to hurt others. Compassion and a belief in karmic retribution form the foundation of the precepts.
Undertaking the five precepts is part of regular lay devotional practice, both at home and at the local temple. However, the extent to which people keep them differs per time. People keep them with an intention to develop themselves, but out of fear of a bad rebirth; the first precept consists of a prohibition of both humans and all animals. Scholars have interpreted Buddhist texts about the precepts as an opposition to and prohibition of capital punishment, suicide and euthanasia. In practice, many Buddhist countries still use the death penalty. With regard to abortion, Buddhist countries take the middle ground, by condemning though not prohibiting it; the Buddhist attitude to violence is interpreted as opposing all warfare, but some scholars have raised exceptions. The second precept prohibits theft; the third precept refers to adultery in all its forms, has been defined by modern teachers with terms such as sexual responsibility and long-term commitment. The fourth precept involves falsehood spoken or committed to by action, as well as malicious speech, harsh speech and gossip.
The fifth precept prohibits intoxication through drugs or other means. Early Buddhist Texts nearly always condemn alcohol, so do Chinese Buddhist post-canonical texts. Buddhist attitudes toward smoking differ per time and region, but are permissive. In modern times, traditional Buddhist countries have seen revival movements to promote the five precepts; as for the West, the precepts play a major role in Buddhist organizations. They have been integrated in mindfulness training programs, though many mindfulness specialists do not support this because of the precepts' religious import. Lastly, many conflict prevention programs make use of the precepts. Buddhist scriptures explain the five precepts as the minimal standard of Buddhist morality, it is the most important system of morality in Buddhism, together with the monastic rules. Śīla is used to refer to Buddhist precepts, including the five. But the word refers to the virtue and morality which lies at the foundation of the spiritual path to enlightenment, the first of the three forms of training on the path.
Thus, the precepts are rules or guidelines to develop mind and character to make progress on the path to enlightenment. The five precepts are part of the right speech and livelihood aspects of the eight-fold path, the core teaching of Buddhism. Moreover, the practice of the five precepts and other parts of śīla are described as forms of merit-making, means to create good karma; the five precepts have been described as social values that bring harmony to society, breaches of the precepts described as antithetical to a harmonious society. On a similar note, in Buddhist texts, the ideal, righteous society is one in which people keep the five precepts. Comparing different parts of Buddhist doctrine, the five precepts form the basis of the eight precepts, which are lay precepts stricter than the five precepts, similar to monastic precepts. Secondly, the five precepts form the first half of the ten or eleven precepts for a person aiming to become a Buddha, as mentioned in the Brahmajala Sūtra of the Mahāyāna tradition.
Contrasting these precepts with the five precepts, the latter were referred to by Mahāyānists as the śrāvakayāna precepts, or the precepts of those aiming to become enlightened disciples of a Buddha, but not Buddhas themselves. The ten–eleven bodhisattva precepts presuppose the five precepts, are based on them; the five
Gautama Buddha known as Siddhārtha Gautama in Sanskrit or Siddhattha Gotama in Pali, Shakyamuni Buddha, or the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk, sage, philosopher and religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the śramaṇa movement common in his region, he taught throughout other regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kosala. Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism, he is believed by Buddhists to be an enlightened teacher who attained full Buddhahood and shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering. Accounts of his life and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarised after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most people accept that the Buddha lived and founded a monastic order during the Mahajanapada era during the reign of Bimbisara, the ruler of the Magadha empire, died during the early years of the reign of Ajatasatru, the successor of Bimbisara, thus making him a younger contemporary of Mahavira, the Jain tirthankara. While the general sequence of "birth, renunciation, search and liberation, death" is accepted, there is less consensus on the veracity of many details contained in traditional biographies; the times of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain. Most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE. More his death is dated between 411 and 400 BCE, while at a symposium on this question held in 1988, the majority of those who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death; these alternative chronologies, have not been accepted by all historians.
The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhārtha Gautama was born into the Shakya clan, a community, on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the eastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. One of his usual names was "Sakamuni" or "Sakyamunī", it was either a small republic, or an oligarchy, his father was an elected chieftain, or oligarch. According to the Buddhist tradition, Gautama was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal, raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, which may have been either in what is present day Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, India. According to Buddhist tradition, he obtained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, gave his first sermon in Sarnath, died in Kushinagar. Apart from the Vedic Brahmins, the Buddha's lifetime coincided with the flourishing of influential Śramaṇa schools of thought like Ājīvika, Cārvāka, Ajñana. Brahmajala Sutta records sixty-two such schools of thought. In this context, a śramaṇa refers to one who toils, or exerts themselves.
It was the age of influential thinkers like Mahavira, Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambalī, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, as recorded in Samaññaphala Sutta, whose viewpoints the Buddha most must have been acquainted with. Indeed and Moggallāna, two of the foremost disciples of the Buddha, were the foremost disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the sceptic. There is philological evidence to suggest that the two masters, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, were indeed historical figures and they most taught Buddha two different forms of meditative techniques. Thus, Buddha was just one of the many śramaṇa philosophers of that time. In an era where holiness of person was judged by their level of asceticism, Buddha was a reformist within the śramaṇa movement, rather than a reactionary against Vedic Brahminism; the life of the Buddha coincided with the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley during the rule of Darius I from about 517/516 BCE. This Achaemenid occupation of the areas of Gandhara and Sindh, to last for about two centuries, was accompanied by the introduction of Achaemenid religions, reformed Mazdaism or early Zoroastrianism, to which Buddhism might have in part reacted.
In particular, the ideas of the Buddha may have consisted of a rejection of the "absolutist" or "perfectionist" ideas contained in these Achaemenid religions. No written records about Gautama were found from his lifetime or from the one or two centuries thereafter. In the middle of the 3rd century BCE, several Edicts of Ashoka mention the Buddha, Ashoka's Rummindei Minor Pillar Edict commemorates the Emperor's pilgrimage to Lumbini as the Buddha's birthplace. Another one of his edicts mentions the titles of several Dhamma texts, establishing the existence of a written Buddhist tradition at least by the time of the Maurya era; these texts may be the precursor of the Pāli Canon. "Sakamuni" in mentioned in the reliefs of Bharhut, dated to circa 100 BCE, in relation with his illumination and the Bodhi tree, with the inscription Bhagavato Sakamunino Bodho. The oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts are the Gandhāran Buddhist texts, repor