The Mahāsāṃghika was one of the early Buddhist schools. Interest in the origins of the Mahāsāṃghika school lies in the fact that their Vinaya recension appears in several ways to represent an older redaction overall. Many scholars look to the Mahāsāṃghika branch for the initial development of Mahayana Buddhism; the original center of the Mahāsāṃghika sect was in Magadha, but they maintained important centers such as in Mathura and Karli. The Kukkuṭikas were situated in eastern India around Vārāṇasī and Pāṭaliputra and the Bahuśrutīya in Kośala and Gandhara; the Lokottaravāda subschool itself claimed to be of the'Middle Country', i.e. Ganges Basin region in the north of India; the Mahāsāṃghikas and the Lokottaravāda subschool had centres in the Gandhara region. The Ekavyāvahārika are not known from times; the Caitika branch was based in the Coastal Andhra region and at Amarāvati and Nāgārjunakoṇḍā. This Caitika branch included the Pūrvaśailas, Aparaśailas, Rājagirikas, the Siddhārthikas. Madhyadesa was home to the Prajñaptivādins.
The ancient Buddhist sites in the lower Krishna Valley, including Amarāvati, Nāgārjunakoṇḍā and Jaggayyapeṭa, "can be traced to at least the third century BCE, if not earlier."The cave temples at the Ajaṇṭā Caves, the Ellora Caves, the Karla Caves are associated with the Mahāsāṃghikas. Most sources place the origin of the Mahāsāṃghikas to the Second Buddhist council. 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 Mahāsāṃghika nikāya, although it is not agreed upon by all what the cause of this split was. Andrew Skilton has suggested that the problems of contradictory accounts are solved by the Mahāsāṃghika Śāriputraparipṛcchā, the earliest surviving account of the schism. In this account, the council was convened at Pāṭaliputra over matters of vinaya, it is explained that the schism resulted from the majority refusing to accept the addition of rules to the Vinaya by the minority.
The Mahāsāṃghikas therefore saw the Sthaviras as being a breakaway group, attempting to modify the original Vinaya. Scholars have agreed that the matter of dispute was indeed a matter of vinaya, have noted that the account of the Mahāsāṃghikas is bolstered by the vinaya texts themselves, as vinayas associated with the Sthaviras do contain more rules than those of the Mahāsāṃghika vinaya. Modern scholarship therefore agrees that the Mahāsāṃghika vinaya is the oldest. According to Skilton, future historians may determine that a study of the Mahāsāṃghika school will contribute to a better understanding of the early Dhamma-Vinaya than the Theravāda school. Between 148 and 170 CE, the Parthian monk An Shigao came to China and translated a work which describes the color of monastic robes utitized in five major Indian Buddhist sects, called Da Biqiu Sanqian Weiyi. Another text translated at a date, the Śāriputraparipṛcchā, contains a similar passage corroborating this information. In both sources, the Mahāsāṃghikas are described as wearing yellow robes.
The relevant portion of the Śāriputraparipṛcchā reads: The Mahāsāṃghika school diligently study the collected sūtras and teach the true meaning, because they are the source and the center. They wear yellow robes; the lower part of the yellow robe was pulled to the left. According to Dudjom Rinpoche from the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the robes of ordained Mahāsāṃghika monastics were to be sewn out of more than seven sections, but no more than twenty-three sections; the symbols sewn on the robes were the endless knot and the conch shell, two of the Eight Auspicious Signs in Buddhism. The Tibetan historian Buton Rinchen Drub wrote that the Mahāsāṃghikas used Prākrit, the Sarvāstivādins Sanskrit, the Sthaviravādins used Paiśācī and the Saṃmitīya used Apabhraṃśa. Andre Bareau, in his Buddhist sects of the small vehicle, lists numerous doctrinal tenets as upheld by the Mahāsāṃghika; some of these include: The Buddhas are supramundane, devoid of asravas and the mundane natures. In all their words, Tathagatas turn the wheel of Dharma.
They can express all the Dharmadhatu in a single sound. The material body and longevity of the Buddha is unlimited; the Buddha does not dream. The Tathagata answers questions without thinking. Buddhas never say a word because they are always in samadhi, but beings, thinking that they utter words, jump for joy. In a single moment of thought, Buddhas comprehend all dharmas; the Buddhas remain in all directions. There are Buddhas everywhere in the four directions; when the Bodhisattvas enter into a womb, they possess nothing impure and are provided with organs and members, rather than developing gradually. When they enter a womb, Bodhisattvas take on the appearance of a white elephant. Bodhisattvas, because they want to help beings become perfect, make vows to be reborn in bad destinations; the different aspects of the four noble truths are known in a single moment. The five sensory faculties consist of balls of flesh, therefore only consciousness sees forms, hears sounds, etc. There are no indeterminate things, that is, there are no dharmas that are neither bad.
When one enters certainty one has abandoned all the fetters. "Stream enterers" can commit all misdeeds, except for the irremediable crimes. All sutras uttered by Buddha are nītārtha ("of plain o
Birch bark manuscript
Birch bark manuscripts are documents written on pieces of the inner layer of birch bark, used for writing before the advent of mass production of paper. Evidence of birch bark for writing in various cultures; the oldest dated birch bark manuscripts are numerous Gandhāran Buddhist texts from the 1st century CE, believed to have originated in Afghanistan by the Dharmaguptaka sect. Translations of the texts in Kharoṣṭhī, have produced the earliest known versions of significant Buddhist scriptures, including a Dhammapada, discourses of Buddha that include the Rhinoceros Sutra and Abhidharma texts. Sanskrit birch bark manuscripts written with Brahmi script have been dated to the first few centuries CE. Several early Sanskrit writers, such as Kālidāsa, Varāhamihira mention the use of birch bark for manuscripts; the bark of Betula utilis is still used today in Nepal for writing sacred mantras. Russian texts discovered in Veliky Novgorod have been dated to the 9th to 15th century CE. Most of those documents are letters written by various people in the Old Novgorod dialect.
The Irish language's native writing system Ogham, sometimes called the "tree alphabet", was legendarily invented by Ogma who wrote a proscription on birch to Lugh, warning him. The first letter of Ogham is beith. Buddhist manuscripts written in the Gāndhārī language are the oldest extant Indic texts, dating to the 1st century CE; the birch bark texts were stored in clay jars and acquired by the British Library in 1994. They were written in Kharoṣṭhī and believed to be from Afghanistan due to similar birch bark manuscripts that were discovered in eastern Afghanistan. Since 1994, a similar collection of Gāndhārī texts from the same era, called the Senior collection, has surfaced; the British Library birch bark manuscripts were in the form of scrolls, which were fragile and damaged. They were five to nine inches wide, consisted of twelve to eighteen inch long overlapping rolls, glued together to form longer scrolls. A thread sewn through the edges helped hold them together; the script was written in black ink.
The manuscripts were written on both sides of the scrolls, beginning at the top on one side, continuing with the scroll turned over and upside down, so that the text concluded at the top and back of the scroll. The longest intact scroll from the British Library collection is eighty-four inches long; the texts were compiled by the Dharmaguptaka sect and "represent a random but reasonably representative fraction of what was a much larger set of texts preserved in the library of a monastery of the Dharmaguptaka sect in Nagarāhāra", according to leading scholar Richard Salomon. The collection includes a variety of known commentaries and sutras, including a Dhammapada, discourses of Shakyamuni Buddha that include the Rhinoceros Sutra, avadānas, abhidharma texts; the condition of the scrolls indicates that they were in poor condition and fragments by the time they were stored in the clay jars. Scholars concluded that the fragmented scrolls were given a ritual interment, much like Jewish texts stored in a genizah.
The bark of Betula utilis has been used for centuries in India for writing scriptures and texts in various scripts. Its use was prevalent in historical Kashmir. Use of bark as paper has been mentioned by early Sanskrit writers such as Kalidasa and Varahamihira. In Kashmir, early scholars recounted that all of their books were written on Himalayan birch bark until the 16th century. A fragment of a birch bark scroll in Sanskrit, in the Brāhmī script, was part of the British Library Gandhara scroll collection, it is presumed to be from North India, dating to sometime during the first few centuries CE. Birch bark manuscripts in Brāhmī script were discovered in an ancient Buddhist monastery in Jaulian, near Taxila in the Punjab in Pakistan, dated to the 5th century CE; the Bakhshali manuscript consists of seventy birch bark fragments written in Sanskrit and Prakrit, in the Śāradā script. Based on the language and content, it is estimated to be from the 2nd to 3rd century CE; the text discusses various mathematical techniques.
A large collection of birch bark scrolls were discovered in Afghanistan during the civil war in the late 20th and early 21st centuries in the Bamiyan Caves. The 3,000 scroll fragments are in Sanskrit or Buddhist Sanskrit, in the Brāhmī script, date to a period from the 2nd to 8th century CE; the Bower Manuscript is one of the oldest Sanskrit texts on birch bark in the Brāhmī script. It includes several texts covering subjects including proverbs, it was discovered in Kucha, an ancient Buddhist kingdom on the northern Silk Road, is estimated to be from around 450 CE. The Gilgit Manuscripts were Buddhist texts discovered in the Gilgit area of Pakistan in 1931 and include various sutras, including the Lotus Sutra, along with folk tales and philosophy, they are dated to the 5th to 6th centuries AD, were written in Buddhist Sanskrit in the Śāradā script. Manuscripts containing the Devīkavaca text, a hymn praising the goddess Durga, were thought to protect the person who carries them from evil influences like an amulet or charm.
An example of one of these texts in Devanagari script from Nepal is held at Cambridge University Library. Birch bark is still used in some parts of India
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
The Kharosthi script spelled Kharoshthi or Kharoṣṭhī, was an ancient Indian script used in Gandhara to write Gandhari Prakrit and Sanskrit. It was popular in Central Asia as well. An abugida, it was introduced at least by the middle of the 3rd century BCE during the 4th century BCE, remained in use until it died out in its homeland around the 3rd century CE, it was in use in Bactria, the Kushan Empire and along the Silk Road, where there is some evidence it may have survived until the 7th century in the remote way stations of Khotan and Niya. Kharosthi is encoded in the Unicode range U+10A00–U+10A5F, from version 4.1. Kharosthi is written right to left, but some inscriptions show the left to right direction, to become universal for the South Asian scripts; each syllable includes the short /a/ sound by default, with other vowels being indicated by diacritic marks. Recent epigraphic evidence highlighted by Professor Richard Salomon of the University of Washington has shown that the order of letters in the Kharosthi script follows what has become known as the Arapacana alphabet.
As preserved in Sanskrit documents, the alphabet runs: a ra pa ca na la da ba ḍa ṣa va ta ya ṣṭa ka sa ma ga stha ja śva dha śa kha kṣa sta jñā rtha bha cha sma hva tsa gha ṭha ṇa pha ska ysa śca ṭa ḍhaSome variations in both the number and order of syllables occur in extant texts. Kharosthi includes only one standalone vowel, used for initial vowels in words. Other initial vowels use the a character modified by diacritics. Using epigraphic evidence, Salomon has established that the vowel order is /a e i o u/, rather than the usual vowel order for Indic scripts /a i u e o/; that is the same as the Semitic vowel order. There is no differentiation between long and short vowels in Kharosthi. Both are marked using the same vowel markers; the alphabet was used in Gandharan Buddhism as a mnemonic for remembering a series of verses on the nature of phenomena. In Tantric Buddhism, the list was incorporated into ritual practices and became enshrined in mantras. There are two special modified forms of these consonants: Various additional marks are used to modify vowels and consonants: Nine Kharosthi punctuation marks have been identified: Kharosthi included a set of numerals that are reminiscent of Roman numerals.
The system is based on an additive and a multiplicative principle, but does not have the subtractive feature used in the Roman number system. The numerals, like the letters, are written from right to left. There is no zero and no separate signs for the digits 5–9. Numbers in Kharosthi use an additive system. For example, the number 1996 would be written as 1000 4 4 1 100 20 20 20 20 10 4 2; the Kharosthi script was deciphered by James Prinsep using the bilingual coins of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. This in turn led to the reading of the Edicts of Ashoka, some of which, from the northwest of South Asia, were written in the Kharosthi script. Scholars are not in agreement as to whether the Kharosthi script evolved or was the deliberate work of a single inventor. An analysis of the script forms shows a clear dependency on the Aramaic alphabet but with extensive modifications to support the sounds found in Indic languages. One model is that the Aramaic script arrived with the Achaemenid Empire's conquest of the Indus River in 500 BCE and evolved over the next 200+ years, reaching its final form by the 3rd century BCE where it appears in some of the Edicts of Ashoka found in northwestern part of South Asia.
However, no intermediate forms have yet been found to confirm this evolutionary model, rock and coin inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE onward show a unified and standard form. An inscription in Aramaic dating back to the 4th century BCE was found in Sirkap, testifying to the presence of the Aramaic script in northwestern India at that period. According to Sir John Marshall, this seems to confirm that Kharoshthi was developed from Aramaic; the study of the Kharosthi script was invigorated by the discovery of the Gandhāran Buddhist texts, a set of birch bark manuscripts written in Kharosthi, discovered near the Afghan city of Hadda just west of the Khyber Pass in Pakistan. The manuscripts were donated to the British Library in 1994; the entire set of manuscripts are dated to the 1st century CE, making them the oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet discovered. Kharosthi was added to the Unicode Standard in March, 2005 with the release of version 4.1. The Unicode block for Kharosthi is U+10A00–U+10A5F: Brahmi History of Afghanistan History of Pakistan Pre-Islamic scripts in Afghanistan Kaschgar und die Kharoṣṭhī Dani, Ahmad Hassan.
Kharoshthi Primer, Lahore Museum Publication Series - 16, Lahore, 1979 Falk, Harry. Schrift im alten Indien: Ein Forschungsbericht mit Anmerkungen, Gunter Narr Verlag, 1993 Fussman's, Gérard. Les premiers systèmes d'écriture en Inde, in Annuaire du Collège de France 1988-1989 Hinüber, Oscar von. Der Beginn der Schrift und frühe Schriftlichkeit in Indien, Franz Steiner Verlag, 1990 Nasim Khan, M.. Ashokan Inscriptions: A Palaeographical Study. Atthariyyat, Vol. I, pp. 131–150. Peshawar Nasim Khan, M.. Two Dated Kharoshthi Inscriptions from Gandhara. Journal of Asian Civilizations, Vol. XXII, No.1, July 1999: 99-103. Nasim Khan, M.. An Inscribed Relic-Casket from Dir; the Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. V, No. 1, March 1997: 21-33. Peshawar Nasim Khan, M.. Kharoshthi Inscription from Swabi - Gandhara; the Journal of Humanities and Soc
First Buddhist council
The First Buddhist council was a gathering of senior monks of the Buddhist order convened just after Gautama Buddha's death in ca. 400 BCE. The story of the gathering is recorded in the Vinaya Pitaka of the Theravadins and Sanskrit Buddhist schools, it is regarded as canonical by all schools of Buddhism, but in the absence of evidence from outside the Buddhist sutras some scholars have expressed doubts as to the event's historicity. A council of 500 Arahants was held at Rajgir three months following the Buddha's death to agree on the contents of the Dhamma and Vinaya, it is said that following the Buddha's death, 499 of the Buddha's top arahats were chosen to attend the council, with one seat reserved for Ananda a sotapanna. As the meeting approached, Ananda trained himself until the dawn of day of the council; when the dawn arrived, he decided to lie down and before his head hit the pillow he became an arahant. The meeting was led by Mahakasyapa under the patronage of the king Ajatashatru, its objective was to preserve the the monastic discipline or rules.
Though the Buddha allowed the Sangha to abolish the minor rules, the Sangha made the unanimous decision to keep all the rules of the Vinaya. Ananda recited the Suttas, such that each begins: ‘Thus have I heard’; the monk Upali recited the Vinaya. Western scholarship has suggested that the Abhidhamma Pitaka was composed starting around 300 BCE because of its contents and differences in language and style. According to Theravada tradition maintained by the Atthakathā-teachers responsible for its memorization, the six canons of Abhidhamma Pitaka, one of its Matika, the ancient Atthakathā were included at the first Buddhist council in Sutta category, but its literature is different from Sutta because Abhidhamma Pitaka was authored by Sāriputta. Tradition states. Scholars doubt, whether the entire canon was recited during the First Council, because the early texts contain different accounts on important subjects such as meditation, it may be, that early versions were recited of what is now known as the Vinaya-piṭaka and Sutta-piṭaka.
Many scholars, from the late 19th century onward, have considered the historicity of the First Council improbable. Some scholars, such as orientalists Louis de La Vallée-Poussin and D. P. Minayeff, thought there must have been assemblies after the Buddha's death, but considered only the main characters and some events before or after the First Council historical. Other scholars, such as Buddhologist André Bareau and Indologist Hermann Oldenberg, considered it that the account of the First Council was written after the Second Council, based on that of the second, since there were not any major problems to solve after the Buddha's death, or any other need to organize the First Council. On the other hand, archaeologist Louis Finot, Indologist E. E. Obermiller and to some extent Indologist Nalinaksha Dutt thought the account of the First Council was authentic, because of the correspondences between the Pāli texts and the Sanskrit traditions. Buddhist councils Third Buddhist council Fourth Buddhist council Fifth Buddhist council Sixth Buddhist council Recitation of the Five Hundred - The traditional story of the First Council, as recorded in the Pali Canon
Theravāda is the most ancient branch of extant Buddhism today and the one that preserved their version of the teachings of Gautama Buddha in the Pāli Canon. The Pāli Canon is the only complete Buddhist canon which survives in a classical Indian language, Pāli, which serves as both sacred language and lingua franca of Theravāda Buddhism. For more than a millennium, Theravāda has focused on preserving the dhamma as preserved in its texts and it tends to be conservative with regard to matters of doctrine and monastic discipline. Since the 19th century, meditation practice has been re-introduced and has become popular with a lay audience, both in traditional Theravada countries and in the west; as a distinct school of early Buddhism, Theravāda Buddhism developed in Sri Lanka and subsequently spread to the rest of Southeast Asia. It is the dominant form of religion in Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand and is practiced by minority groups in India, China and Vietnam. In addition, the diaspora of all of these groups as well as converts around the world practice Theravāda Buddhism.
Contemporary expressions include Buddhist modernism, the Vipassana movement and the Thai Forest Tradition. The name Theravāda comes from the ancestral Sthāvirīya, one of the early Buddhist schools, from which the Theravadins claim descent; the Sthavira nikāya arose during the first schism in the Buddhist sangha, due to their desire to tighten monastic discipline by adding new Vinaya rules, against the wishes of the majority Mahāsāṃghika group who disagreed with this. According to its own accounts, the Theravāda school is fundamentally derived from the Vibhajjavāda "doctrine of analysis" grouping, a division of the Sthāvirīya. According to Damien Keown, there is no historical evidence that the Theravāda school arose until around two centuries after the Great Schism which occurred at the Third Council. Theravadin accounts of its own origins mention that it received the teachings that were agreed upon during the putative Third Buddhist council under the patronage of the Indian Emperor Ashoka around 250 BCE.
These teachings were known as the Vibhajjavāda. Emperor Ashoka is supposed to have assisted in purifying the sangha by expelling monks who failed to agree to the terms of Third Council; the elder monk Moggaliputta-Tissa was at the head of the Third council and compiled the Kathavatthu, a refutation of various opposing views, an important work in the Theravada Abhidhamma. The Vibhajjavādins in turn is said to have split into four groups: the Mahīśāsaka, Kāśyapīya, Dharmaguptaka in the north, the Tāmraparṇīya in South India; the Tambapaṇṇiya, were established in Sri Lanka but active in Andhra and other parts of South India and across South-East Asia. Inscriptional evidence of this school has been found in Nagarjunakonda. According to Buddhist scholar A. K. Warder, the Theravāda. Spread south from Avanti into Maharashtra and Andhra and down to the Chola country, as well as Sri Lanka. For some time they maintained themselves in Avanti as well as in their new territories, but they tended to regroup themselves in the south, the Great Vihara in Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, becoming the main centre of their tradition, Kanchi a secondary center and the northern regions relinquished to other schools.
The Theravāda is said to be descended from the Tāmraparṇīya sect, which means "the Sri Lankan lineage". Missionaries sent abroad from India are said to have included Ashoka's son Mahinda and his daughter Sanghamitta, they were the mythical founders of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, a story which scholars suggest helps to legitimize Theravāda's claims of being the oldest and most authentic school. According to the Mahavamsa chronicle their arrival in Sri Lanka is said to have been during the reign of Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura who converted to Buddhism and helped build the first Buddhist stupas. According to S. D. Bandaranayake: The rapid spread of Buddhism and the emergence of an extensive organization of the sangha are linked with the secular authority of the central state... There are no known artistic or architectural remains from this epoch except for the cave dwellings of the monks, reflecting the growth and spread of the new religion; the most distinctive features of this phase and the only contemporary historical material, are the numerous Brahmi inscriptions associated with these caves.
They record gifts to the sangha by householders and chiefs rather than by kings. The Buddhist religion itself does not seem to have established undisputed authority until the reigns of Dutthagamani and Vattagamani... The first records of Buddha images come from the reign of king Vasabha, after the 3rd century AD the historical record shows a growth of the worship of Buddha images as well as Bodhisattvas. In the 7th century, the Chinese pilgrim monks Xuanzang and Yijing refer to the Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka as Shàngzuòbù, corresponding to the Sanskrit Sthavira nikāya and Pali Thera Nikāya. Yijing writes, "In Sri Lanka the Sthavira school alone flourishes; the school has been using the name Theravāda for itself in a written form since at least the 4th century, about one thousand years after the Buddha's death, when the term appears in the Dīpavaṁsa. Between the reigns of Sena I and Mahinda IV, the city of Anuradhapura saw a "colossal building effort" by various kings during a long period of peace and prosperity, the great part o
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the most complete extant early Buddhist canon. During the First Buddhist Council, Ananda recited the Sutta Pitaka, Upali the Vinaya Pitaka thirty years after the parinibbana of Gautama Buddha in Rajgir; the Arhats present accepted the recitations and henceforth the teachings were preserved orally by the Sangha. The Tipitaka, transmitted to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Asoka were preserved orally and were written down during the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BCE 454 years after the death of Gautama Buddha. Textual fragment of similar teachings have been found in the agama of other major Buddhist schools in India, they were however written down in various Prakrits other than Pali as well as Sanskrit. Some of those were translated into Chinese; the surviving Sri Lankan version is the most complete, but one, extensively redacted about 1,000 years after Buddha's death, in the 5th or 6th century CE.
The earliest textual fragments of canonical Pali were found in the Pyu city-states in Burma dating only to the mid 5th to mid 6th century CE. The Pāli Canon falls into three general categories, called pitaka; because of this, the canon is traditionally known as the Tipiṭaka. The three pitakas are; the Vinaya Pitaka and the Sutta Pitaka are remarkably similar to the works of the early Buddhist schools termed Early Buddhist Texts. The Abhidhamma Pitaka, however, is a Theravada collection and has little in common with the Abhidhamma works recognized by other Buddhist schools; the Canon is traditionally described by the Theravada as the Word of the Buddha, though this is not intended in a literal sense, since it includes teachings by disciples. The traditional Theravādin interpretation of the Pali Canon is given in a series of commentaries covering nearly the whole Canon, compiled by Buddhaghosa and monks on the basis of earlier materials now lost. Subcommentaries have been written afterward, commenting further on its commentaries.
The traditional Theravādin interpretation is summarized in Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga. An official view is given by a spokesman for the Buddha Sasana Council of Burma: the Canon contains everything needed to show the path to nirvāna. In Sri Lanka and Thailand, "official" Buddhism has in large part adopted the interpretations of Western scholars. Although the Canon has existed in written form for two millennia, its earlier oral nature has not been forgotten in actual Buddhist practice within the tradition: memorization and recitation remain common. Among recited texts are the Paritta. Lay people know at least a few short texts by heart and recite them regularly. Monks are of course expected to know quite a bit more. A Burmese monk named Vicittasara learned the entire Canon by heart for the Sixth Council; the relation of the scriptures to Buddhism as it exists among ordinary monks and lay people is, as with other major religious traditions, problematic: the evidence suggests that only parts of the Canon enjoyed wide currency, that non-canonical works were sometimes much more used.
Rupert Gethin suggests that the whole of Buddhist history may be regarded as a working out of the implications of the early scriptures. According to a late part of the Pali Canon, the Buddha taught the three pitakas, it is traditionally believed by Theravadins that most of the Pali Canon originated from the Buddha and his immediate disciples. According to the scriptures, a council was held shortly after the Buddha's passing to collect and preserve his teachings; the Theravada tradition states that it was recited orally from the 5th century BCE to the first century BCE, when it was written down. The memorization was enforced by regular communal recitations; the tradition holds that only a few additions were made. The Theravādin pitakas were first written down in Sri Lanka in the Alu Viharaya Temple no earlier than 29-17 B. C. E; the geographic setting of identifiable texts within the Canon corresponds to locations in the Ganges region of northeastern India, including the kingdoms of Kosala, Kasi and Magadha.
While Theravada tradition has regarded Pali as being synonymous with the language of the kingdom of Magadhi as spoken by the Buddha, linguists have identified Pali as being more related to other prakrit languages of western India, found substantial incompatibilities with the few preserved examples of Magadhi and other north-eastern prakrit languages. Linguistic research suggests that the teachings of the Buddha may have been recorded in an eastern India language but were transposed into the west Indian precursor of Pali sometime before the Asokan era. Much of the material in the Canon is not Theravādin, but is