Buddhist texts were passed on orally by monks, but were written down and composed as manuscripts in various Indo-Aryan languages which were translated into other local languages as Buddhism spread. They can be categorized in a number of ways; the Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized into canonical and pseudo-canonical. Buddhist traditions have divided these texts with their own categories and divisions, such as that between buddhavacana "word of the Buddha," many of which are known as "sutras," and other texts, such as shastras or Abhidharma; these religious texts were written in many different languages and scripts but memorizing and copying the texts were of high value. After the development of printing, Buddhists preferred to keep to their original practices with these texts. According to Donald Lopez, criteria for determining what should be considered buddhavacana were developed at an early stage, that the early formulations do not suggest that Dharma is limited to what was spoken by the historical Buddha.
The Mahāsāṃghika and the Mūlasarvāstivāda considered both the Buddha's discourses, of his disciples, to be buddhavacana. A number of different beings such as buddhas, disciples of the buddha, ṛṣis, devas were considered capable to transmitting buddhavacana; the content of such a discourse was to be collated with the sūtras, compared with the Vinaya, evaluated against the nature of the Dharma. These texts may be certified as true buddhavacana by a buddha, a saṃgha, a small group of elders, or one knowledgeable elder. In Theravada Buddhism, the standard collection of buddhavacana is the Pāli Canon; some scholars believe that some portions of the Pali Canon and Agamas could contain the actual substance of the historical teachings of the Buddha. In East Asian Buddhism, what is considered buddhavacana is collected in the Chinese Buddhist canon; the most common edition of this is the Taishō Tripiṭaka. According to Venerable Hsuan Hua from the tradition of Chinese Buddhism, there are five types of beings who may speak the sutras of Buddhism: a buddha, a disciple of a buddha, a deva, a ṛṣi, or an emanation of one of these beings.
These sutras may be properly regarded as buddhavacana. Sometimes texts that are considered commentaries by some are regarded by others as Buddhavacana. Shingon Buddhism developed a system that assigned authorship of the early sutras to Gautama Buddha in his physical manifestation, of the Ekayana sutras to the Buddhas as Sambhoghakaya, the Vajrayana texts to the Buddha as Dharmakaya. In Tibetan Buddhism, what is considered buddhavacana is collected in the Kangyur; the East Asian and Tibetan Buddhist canons always combined Buddhavacana with other literature in their standard collected editions. However, the general view of what is and is not buddhavacana is broadly similar between East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism; the Tibetan Kangyur, which belongs to the various schools of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, in addition to containing sutras and vinaya contains tantras. The earliest Buddhist texts were passed down orally in Middle Indo-Aryan languages called Prakrits, including Gāndhārī language, the early Magadhan language and Pali through the use of repetition, communal recitation and mnemonic devices.
Doctrinal elaborations were preserved in Abhidharma works and Karikas. As Buddhism spread geographically, these texts were translated into the local language, such as Chinese and Tibetan; the Pali canon was preserved in Sri Lanka where it was first written down in the first century BCE and the Theravadan Pali textual tradition developed there. The Sri Lankan Pali tradition developed extensive commentaries as well as sub-commentaries for the Pali Canon as well as treatises on Abhidhamma. Sutra commentaries and Abhidharma works exist in Tibetan, Chinese and other East Asian languages. Important examples of non-canonical Pali texts are the Visuddhimagga, by Buddhaghosa, a compendium of Theravada teachings and the Mahavamsa, a historical Sri Lankan chronicle; the earliest known Buddhist manuscripts, recovered from the ancient civilization of Gandhara in north central Pakistan are dated to the 1st century and constitute the Buddhist textual tradition of Gandharan Buddhism, an important link between Indian and East Asian Buddhism.
After the rise of the Kushans in India, Sanskrit was widely used to record Buddhist texts. Sanskrit Buddhist literature became the dominant tradition in India until the decline of Buddhism in India. Around the beginning of the Christian era, a new genre of sutra literature began to be written with a focus on the Bodhisattva idea known as Mahayana sutras. Many of the Mahayana sutras were written in Sanskrit and translated into the Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist canons which developed their own textual histories; the Mahayana sutras are traditionally considered by Mahayanists to be the word of the Buddha, but transmitted either in secret, via lineages of supernatural beings, or revealed directly from other Buddhas or bodhisattvas. Some 600 Mahayana Sutras have survived in Chinese and/or Tibetan translation. In the Mahayana tradition there are important works termed Shastras, or treatises which attempt to outline the sutra teachings and defend or exp
Buddhist ethics are traditionally based on what Buddhists view as the enlightened perspective of the Buddha, or other enlightened beings such as Bodhisattvas. The Indian term for ethics or morality used in Buddhism is sīla. Śīla in Buddhism is one of three sections of the Noble Eightfold Path, is a code of conduct that embraces a commitment to harmony and self-restraint with the principal motivation being nonviolence, or freedom from causing harm. It has been variously described as virtue, right conduct, moral discipline and precept. Sīla is an internal and intentional ethical behavior, according to one's commitment to the path of liberation, it is an ethical compass within self and relationships, rather than what is associated with the English word "morality". Sīla is one of the three practices foundational to Buddhism and the non-sectarian Vipassana movement — sīla, samādhi, paññā as well as the Theravadin foundations of sīla, Dāna, Bhavana, it is the second pāramitā. Sīla is wholehearted commitment to what is wholesome.
Two aspects of sīla are essential to the training: right "performance", right "avoidance". Honoring the precepts of sīla is considered a "great gift" to others, because it creates an atmosphere of trust and security, it means the practitioner poses no threat to another person's life, family, rights, or well-being. Moral instructions are handed down through tradition. Most scholars of Buddhist ethics thus rely on the examination of Buddhist scriptures, the use of anthropological evidence from traditional Buddhist societies, to justify claims about the nature of Buddhist ethics; the source for the ethics of Buddhists around the world are the Three Jewels of the Buddha and Sangha. The Buddha is seen as the discoverer of hence the foremost teacher; the Dharma is the truths of these teachings. The Sangha is the community of noble ones, who practice the Dhamma and have attained some knowledge and can thus provide guidance and preserve the teachings. Having proper understanding of the teachings is vital for proper ethical conduct.
The Buddha taught that right view was a necessary prerequisite for right conduct, sometimes referred to as right intention. A central foundation for Buddhist morality is the law of rebirth; the Buddha is recorded to have stated that right view consisted in believing that: "'there is fruit and ripening of deeds well done or ill done': what one does matters and has an effect on one’s future. Karma is a word which means "action" and is seen as a natural law of the universe which manifests as cause and effect. In the Buddhist conception, Karma is a certain type of moral action which has moral consequences on the actor; the core of karma is the mental intention, hence the Buddha stated ‘It is intention, O monks, that I call karma. Therefore, accidentally hurting someone is not bad Karma. Buddhist ethics sees these patterns of motives and actions as conditioning future actions and circumstances – the fruit of one's present actions, including the condition and place of the actor's future life circumstances.
One's past actions are said to mold one's consciousness and to leave seeds which ripen in the next life. The goal of Buddhist practice is to break the cycle, though one can work for rebirth in a better condition through good deeds; the root of one's intention is what conditions an action to be bad. There are three negative roots. Actions which produce good outcomes are termed "merit" and obtaining merit is an important goal of lay Buddhist practice; the early Buddhist texts mention three'bases for effecting karmic fruitfulness’: giving, moral virtue and meditation. One's state of mind; the Buddhist Sangha is seen as the most meritorious "field of merit". Negative actions accumulate bad karmic results, though one's regret and attempts to make up for it can ameliorate these results; the Four Noble Truths express one of the central Buddhist worldview which sees worldly existence as fundamentally unsatisfactory and stressful. Dukkha is seen to arise from craving, putting an end to craving can lead to liberation.
The way to put an end to craving is by following the Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha, which includes the ethical elements of right speech, right action and right livelihood. From the point of view of the Four Noble Truths, an action is seen as ethical if it is conductive to the elimination of Dukkha. Understanding the truth of Dukkha in life allows one to analyze the factors for its arising, craving, allows us to feel compassion and sympathy for others. Comparing oneself with others and applying the Golden Rule is said to follow from this appreciation of Dukkha. From the Buddhist perspective, an act is moral if it promotes spiritual development by conforming to the Eightfold Path and leading to Nirvana. In Mahayana Buddhism, an emphasis is made on the liberation of all beings. Therefore, special beings called
Buddhist meditation is the practice of meditation in Buddhism. The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā and jhāna/dhyāna. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward liberation and Nirvana, includes a variety of meditation techniques, most notably asubha bhavana; these techniques aim to develop equanimity and sati. These meditation techniques are preceded by and combined with practices which aid this development, such as moral restraint and right effort to develop wholesome states of mind. While these techniques are used across Buddhist schools, there is significant diversity. In the Theravada tradition, reflecting developments in early Buddhism, meditation techniques are classified as either samatha and vipassana. Chinese and Japanese Buddhism preserved a wide range of meditation techniques, which go back to early Buddhism, most notably Sarvastivada. In Tibetan Buddhism, deity yoga includes visualisations; the closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā and jhāna/dhyāna.
Modern Buddhist studies has attempted to reconstruct the meditation practices of pre-sectarian Early Buddhism through philological and text critical methods using the early canonical texts. According to Indologist Johannes Bronkhorst, "the teaching of the Buddha as presented in the early canon contains a number of contradictions," presenting "a variety of methods that do not always agree with each other," containing "views and practices that are sometimes accepted and sometimes rejected." These contradictions are due to the influence of non-Buddhist traditions on early Buddhism. One example of these non-Buddhist meditative methods found in the early sources is outlined by Bronkhorst: The Vitakkasanthāna Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya and its parallels in Chinese translation recommend the practicing monk to ‘restrain his thought with his mind, to coerce and torment it’; the same words are used elsewhere in the Pāli canon in order to describe the futile attempts of the Buddha before his enlightenment to reach liberation after the manner of the Jainas.
According to Bronkhorst, such practices which are based on a "suppression of activity" are not authentically Buddhist, but were adopted from the Jains by the Buddhist community. The two major traditions of meditative practice in pre-Buddhist India were the Jain ascetic practices and the various Vedic Brahmanical practices. There is still much debate in Buddhist studies regarding how much influence these two traditions had on the development of early Buddhist meditation; the early Buddhist texts mention that Gautama trained under two teachers known as Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, both of them taught formless jhanas or mental absorptions, a key practice of proper Buddhist meditation. Alexander Wynne considers these figures historical persons associated with the doctrines of the early Upanishads. Other practices which the Buddha undertook have been associated with the Jain ascetic tradition by the Indologist Johannes Bronkhorst including extreme fasting and a forceful "meditation without breathing".
According to the early texts, the Buddha rejected the more extreme Jain ascetic practices in favor of the middle way. Early Buddhism, as it existed before the development of various schools, is called pre-sectarian Buddhism, its meditation-techniques are described in the Chinese Agamas. Meditation and contemplation are preceded by preparatory practices; as described in the Noble Eightfold Path, right view leads to leaving the household life and becoming a wandering monk. Sila, comprises the rules for right conduct. Sense restraint and right effort, c.q. the four right efforts, are important preparatory practices. Sense restraint means controlling the response to sensual perceptions, not giving in to lust and aversion but noticing the objects of perception as they appear. Right effort aims to prevent the arising of unwholesome states, to generate wholesome states. By following these preparatory steps and practices, the mind becomes set naturally, for the practice of dhyana. Asubha bhavana is reflection on "the foul"/unattractiveness.
It includes two practices, namely cemetery contemplations, Paṭikkūlamanasikāra, "reflections on repulsiveness". Patikulamanasikara is a Buddhist meditation whereby thirty-one parts of the body are contemplated in a variety of ways. In addition to developing sati and samādhi, this form of meditation is considered to be conducive to overcoming desire and lust. Anussati means "recollection," "contemplation," "remembrance," "meditation" and "mindfulness." It refers to specific meditative or devotional practices, such as recollecting the sublime qualities of the Buddha or anapanasati, which lead to mental tranquillity and abiding joy. In various contexts, the Pali literature and Sanskrit Mahayana sutras emphasize and identify different enumerations of recollections. An important quality to be cultivated by a Buddhist meditator is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a polyvalent term w
Pre-sectarian Buddhism called early Buddhism, the earliest Buddhism, original Buddhism, is Buddhism as theorized to have existed before the various subsects of Buddhism came into being. The contents and teachings of this pre-sectarian Buddhism must be deduced or re-constructed from the earliest Buddhist texts, which by themselves are sectarian. Various terms are being used to refer to the earliest period of Buddhism: "Pre-sectarian Buddhism" "Early Buddhism", "The earliest Buddhism", "Original Buddhism", "The Buddhism of the Buddha himself." Precanonical Buddhism Primitive BuddhismSome Japanese scholars refer to the subsequent period of the early Buddhist schools as sectarian Buddhism. Pre-sectarian Buddhism may refer to the earliest Buddhism, the ideas and practices of Gautama Buddha himself, it may refer to early Buddhism as existing until about one hundred years after the parinirvana of the Buddha until the first documented split in the sangha. Contrary to the claim of doctrinal stability, early Buddhism was a dynamic movement.
Pre-sectarian Buddhism may have included or incorporated other Śramaṇic schools of thought, as well as Vedic and Jain ideas and practices. The first documented split occurred, according to most scholars, between the second Buddhist council and the third Buddhist council; the first post-schismatic groups are stated to be the Sthavira nikāya and the Mahāsāṃghika. Eighteen different schools came into existence; the Mahayana schools may have preserved ideas which were abandoned by the "orthodox" Theravada, such as the Three Bodies doctrine, the idea of consciousness as a continuum, devotional elements such as the worship of saints. Pre-sectarian Buddhism was one of the śramaṇic movements; the time of the Buddha was a time of urbanisation in India, saw the growth of the śramaṇas, wandering philosophers that had rejected the authority of Vedas and Brahmanic priesthood, intent on escaping saṃsāra through various means, which involved the study of natural laws, ascetic practices, ethical behavior. The śramaṇas gave rise to different religious and philosophical schools, among which pre-sectarian Buddhism itself, Jainism, Ājīvika, Ajñana and Cārvāka were the most important, to popular concepts in all major Indian religions such as saṃsāra and moksha.
Despite the success that these wandering philosophers and ascetics had obtained by spreading ideas and concepts that would soon be accepted by all religions of India, the orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy opposed to śramaṇic schools of thought and refuted their doctrines as "heterodox", because they refused to accept the epistemic authority of Vedas, denied the existence of the soul and/or the existence of Ishvara. The ideas of saṃsāra, karma and rebirth show a development of thought in Indian religions: from the idea of single existence, at the end of which one was judged and punished and rewarded for one's deeds, or karma; this release was the central aim of the Śramaṇa movement. Vedic rituals, which aimed at entrance into heaven, may have played a role in this development: the realisation that those rituals did not lead to an everlasting liberation led to the search for other means. Earliest Buddhism can only be deduced from the various Buddhist canons now extant, which are all sectarian collections.
As such any reconstruction is tentative. One method to obtain information on the oldest core of Buddhism is to compare the oldest extant versions of the Theravadin Pāli Canon, the surviving portions of the scriptures of Sarvastivada, Mahīśāsaka and other schools, the Chinese āgamas and other surviving portions of other early canons. Early proto-Mahayana texts which contain nearly identical material to that of the Pali Canon such as the Salistamba Sutra are further evidence; the beginning of this comparative study began in the 19th century, Samuel Beal published comparative translations of the Pali patimokkha and the Chinese Dharmaguptaka pratimoksa, showing they were identical. He following this up with comparisons between the Chinese sutras and the Pali suttas in 1882 predicting that "when the Vinaya and Āgama collections are examined, I can have little doubt we shall find most if not all the Pali Suttas in Chinese form." In the following decades various scholars continued to produce a series of comparative studies, such as Anesaki, Yin Shun and Thich Minh Chau.
These studies, as well as recent work by Analayo, Marcus Bingenheimer and Mun-keat Choong, have shown that the essential doctrinal content of the Pali Majjhima and Samyutta Nikayas and the Chinese Madhyama and Samyukta Agamas is the same. According to scholars such as Rupert Gethin and Peter Harvey, the oldest recorded teachings are contained in the first four Nikayas of the Sutta Pitaka and their various parallels in other languages, together with the main body of monastic rules, which survive in the various versions of the patimokkha. Scholars have claimed that there is a core within this core, referring to some poems and phrases which seem to be the oldest parts of the Sutta Pitaka; the reliability of these sources, the possibility to draw out a core of oldest teachings, is a matter of dispute. According to Tillman Vetter, the comparison of the oldest extant texts "does not just lead to the oldest nucleus of the doctrine." At best, it leads to... a Sthavira can
Merzbow is a Japanese noise project started in 1979 by Masami Akita. Merzbow is best known for a style of harsh, confrontational noise as exemplified on the 1996 release Pulse Demon. Since 1980, Akita has collaborated with various artists; the name Merzbow comes from the German dada artist Kurt Schwitters' artwork Merzbau, in which Schwitters transformed the interior of his house using found objects. The name was chosen to reflect junk art aesthetic. In addition to this, Akita has cited a wide range of musical influences from progressive rock, heavy metal, free jazz, early electronic music to non-musical influences like dadaism and fetish culture. Since the early 2000s, he has been inspired by animal rights and environmentalism, began to follow a vegan, straight edge lifestyle; as well as being a prolific musician, he has been a writer and editor for several books and magazines in Japan, has written several books of his own. He has written about a variety of subjects about music, modern art, underground culture.
His more renowned works were on the topics of Japanese bondage. Other art forms Akita has been interested in include painting, photography and Butoh dance. In 2000, Extreme Records released. Akita's work has been at least one tribute album. This, among other achievements, has helped Merzbow to be regarded by some as the "most important artist in noise". Masami Akita was born in Tokyo, Japan on December 19, 1956, he listened to psychedelic music, progressive rock, free jazz in his youth, all of which have influenced his noise. In high school he became the drummer of various high school bands, which he left due to the other members being "grass-smoking Zappa freaks". By this time, he and high school friend Kiyoshi Mizutani had started playing improvised rock at studio sessions which Akita describes as "long jam sessions along the lines of Ash Ra Tempel or Can but we didn't have any psychedelic taste", he attended Tamagawa University to study fine art, at which he majored in painting and art theory.
While at university, he became interested in the ideas of dada and surrealism and studied Butoh dance. At Tamagawa, he learned of Kurt Schwitters' Merz, or art made from rubbish, including Schwitters' Merzbau, the source of the name Merzbow. Merzbow began as the duo of Kiyoshi Mizutani, who met Akita in high school. Akita started releasing noise recordings on cassettes through his own record label, Lowest Music & Arts, founded in order to trade cassette tapes with other underground artists; the earliest recording he made was Metal Acoustic Music. Various other early releases included Remblandt Assemblage and Solonoise 1; the Collection series consisted of ten cassettes, the first five were recorded in a studio for an independent label called Ylem, which went defunct before they could be released. So, Akita released them himself, recorded five more at home. Akita's earliest music creatively recorded percussion and metal. I threw all my past music career in the garbage. There was no longer any need for concepts like'career' and'skill'.
I went in search of an alternative. Early methods included what he referred to as "material action", in which he would amplify small sounds so as to distort them through the microphone; this method was used on Material Action for 2 Microphones and Material Action 2 N. A. M.. Among early releases like the box set Pornoise/1kg, Merzbow created artwork using photocopies of collages made out of manga and porn magazines he found in trash cans in the Tokyo subway. Akita explained this as trying to "create the same feeling as the secret porn customer for the people buying my cassettes in the early 80s". ZSF Produkt was founded in 1984 to release music by similar artists within the industrial movement but became the successor to Lowest Music & Arts. Numerous Merzbow releases were recorded at Masami Akita's home studio. During this era, Merzbow found much wider recognition and began making recordings for various international labels. Batztoutai with Memorial Gadgets was his first LP released outside of Japan.
He started touring abroad with the help of various collaborators. First, Merzbow performed in the USSR in 1988 toured the USA in 1990, Korea in 1991, Europe in 1989 and 1992. Kiyoshi Mizutani continues to pursue a solo career. During the European tour in September–October 1989, Merzbow could only bring simple and portable gear. Cloud Cock OO Grand was the first example of this new style, Merzbow's first digital recording, the first recording made for the CD format, it includes live material recorded during the tour. But when I started live in late 1980s I didn't like to use tape on stage. I like only live electronics. So, my studio works changed to more live composition style. I'm still using many tapes in studio works. Before, I used tapes as overdubbing concept, but now tapes are crashing together, no static overdub. I found that style on Cloud Cock OO Grand. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Merzbow began to be influenced by death grindcore. Recordings from this time are recorded at extreme volume, some mastered at levels far beyond standard.
In 1994, Akita acquired a vintage EMS synthesizer. From 199
History of Buddhism
The history of Buddism spans from the 5th century BCE to the present. Buddhism arose in the eastern part of Ancient India, in and around the ancient Kingdom of Magadha, is based on the teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama; this makes it one of the oldest religions practiced today. The religion evolved as it spread from the northeastern region of the Indian subcontinent through Central and Southeast Asia. At one time or another, it influenced most of the Asian continent; the history of Buddhism is characterized by the development of numerous movements and schools, among them the Theravāda, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna traditions, with contrasting periods of expansion and retreat. Siddhārtha Gautama was the historical founder of Buddhism; the early sources state he was born in the small Shakya Republic, part of the Kosala realm of ancient India, now in modern-day Nepal. He is thus known as the Shakyamuni; the republic was ruled by a council of household heads, Gautama was born to one of these elites, so that he described himself as a Kshatriya when talking to Brahmins.
The Early Buddhist Texts contain no continuous life of the Buddha, only after 200 BCE were various "biographies" with much mythological embellishment written. All texts agree however that Gautama renounced the householder life and lived as a sramana ascetic for some time studying under various teachers, before attaining nirvana and bodhi through meditation. For the remaining 45 years of his life, he traveled the Gangetic Plain of central India, teaching his doctrine to a diverse range of people from different castes and initiating monks into his order; the Buddha sent his disciples to spread the teaching across India. He initiated an order of nuns, he urged his disciples to teach in dialects. He spent a lot of his time near the cities of Sāvatthī, Rājagaha and Vesālī. By the time of his death at 80, he had thousands of followers; the years following the death of the Buddha saw the emergence of many movements during the next 400 years: first the schools of Nikaya Buddhism, of which only Theravada remains today, the formation of Mahayana and Vajrayana, pan-Buddhist sects based on the acceptance of new scriptures and the revision of older techniques.
Followers of Buddhism, called Buddhists in English, referred to themselves as Sakyan-s or Sakyabhiksu in ancient India. Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez asserts they used the term Bauddha, although scholar Richard Cohen asserts that that term was used only by outsiders to describe Buddhists. After the death of the Buddha, the Buddhist sangha remained centered on the Ganges valley, spreading from its ancient heartland; the canonical sources record various councils, where the monastic Sangha recited and organized the orally transmitted collections of the Buddha's teachings and settled certain disciplinary problems within the community. Modern scholarship has questioned the historicity of these traditional accounts; the first Buddhist council is traditionally said to have been held just after Buddha's Parinirvana, presided over by Mahākāśyapa, one of His most senior disciples, at Rājagṛha with the support of king Ajāthaśatru. According to Charles Prebish all scholars have questioned the historicity of this first council.
Over time, these two monastic fraternities would further divide into various Early Buddhist Schools. The Sthaviras gave birth to a large number of influential schools including the Sarvāstivāda, the Pudgalavāda, the Dharmaguptakas and the Vibhajyavāda; the Mahasamghikas meanwhile developed their own schools and doctrines early on, which can be seen in texts like the Mahavastu, associated with the Lokottaravāda, or ‘Transcendentalist’ school, who might be the same as the Ekavyāvahārikas or "One-utterancers". This school has been seen as foreshadowing certain Mahayana ideas due to their view that all of Gautama Buddha's acts were "transcendental" or "supramundane" those performed before his Buddhahood. In the third century BCE, some Buddhists began introducing new systematized teachings called Abhidharma, based on previous lists or tables of main doctrinal topics. Unlike the Nikayas, which were prose sutras or discourses, the Abhidharma literature consisted of systematic doctrinal exposition and differed across the Buddhist schools who disagreed on points of doctrine.
Abhidharma sought to analyze all experience into its ultimate constituents, phenomenal events or processes called dharmas. During the reign of the Mauryan Emperor Aśoka, Buddhism gained royal support and began to spread more reaching most of the Indian subcontinent. After his invasion of Kalinga, Aśoka seems to have experienced remorse and began working to improve the lives of his subjects. Aśoka built wells, rest-houses and hospitals for humans and animals, he abolished torture, royal hunting trips and even the death penalty. Aśoka supported non-Buddhist faiths like Jainism and Brahmanism. Aśoka propagated religion by building stupas and pillars urging, among other things, respect of all animal life and enjoining people to follow the Dharma, he has been hailed by Buddhist sources as the model for the compassionate chakravartin. Another feature of Mauryan Buddhism was the worship and veneration of stupas, large mounds which contained relics of the Buddha or other saints within, it was believed that the practice of devotion to these relics and stupas could bring blessings
The Mahayana sutras are a broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that various traditions of Mahayana Buddhism accept as canonical. They are preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon, the Tibetan Buddhist canon, in extant Sanskrit manuscripts. Around one hundred Mahayana sutras survive in Chinese and Tibetan translations. Mahayana sutras are passed down as the legacy of Gautama Buddha: early versions were not written documents but orally preserved teachings said to be verses that were committed to memory and recited by his disciples, in particular Ananda, which were viewed as a substitute for the actual speech of the Buddha following his parinirvana; the origins of the Mahayana are not understood. The earliest views of Mahayana Buddhism in the West assumed that it existed as a separate school in competition with the Theravada schools. Due to the veneration of buddhas and bodhisattvas, Mahayana was interpreted as a more devotional, lay-inspired form of Buddhism, with supposed origins in stūpa veneration or by making parallels with the Reformation.
These views have been dismissed in modern times in light of a much broader range of early texts that are now available. These earliest Mahayana texts depict strict adherence to the path of a bodhisattva, engagement in the ascetic ideal of a monastic life in the wilderness, akin to the ideas expressed in the Rhinoceros Sutra; the old views of Mahayana as a separate lay-inspired and devotional sect are now dismissed as misguided and wrong on all counts. The early versions of Mahayana sutras orally preserved teachings; the verses which were committed to memory and recited by monks were viewed as the substitute for the actual speaking presence of the Buddha. The earliest textual evidence of the Mahayana comes from sutras originating around the beginning of the common era. Jan Nattier has noted that in some of the earliest Mahayana texts such as the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra use the term "Mahayana", yet there is no doctrinal difference between Mahayana in this context and the early schools, that "Mahayana" referred rather to the rigorous emulation of Gautama Buddha in the path of a bodhisattva seeking to become a enlightened buddha.
There is no evidence that Mahayana referred to a separate formal school or sect of Buddhism, but rather that it existed as a certain set of ideals, doctrines, for bodhisattvas. Paul Williams has noted that the Mahayana never had nor attempted to have a separate Vinaya or ordination lineage from the early Buddhist schools and therefore each bhikṣu or bhikṣuṇī adhering to the Mahayana formally belonged to an early school; this continues today with the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage in East Asia and the Mūlasarvāstivāda ordination lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, Mahayana was never a separate rival sect of the early schools; the Chinese monk Yijing who visited India in the seventh century, distinguishes Mahayana from Hinayana as follows: Both adopt one and the same Vinaya, they have in common the prohibitions of the five offences, the practice of the Four Noble Truths. Those who venerate the bodhisattvas and read the Mahayana sutras are called the Mahayanists, while those who do not perform these are called the Hīnayānists.
Much of the early extant evidence for the origins of Mahayana comes from early Chinese translations of Mahayana texts. These Mahayana teachings were first propagated into China by Lokakṣema, the first translator of Mahayana sutras into Chinese during the second century; some scholars take an agnostic view and consider the Mahayana sutras as an anonymous literature, since it can not be determined by whom they were written, only can be dated to the date when they were translated into another language. Others such as A. K. Warder have argued. Andrew Skilton summarizes a common prevailing view of the Mahayana sutras: These texts are considered by Mahayana tradition to be buddhavacana, therefore the legitimate word of the historical Buddha; the śrāvaka tradition, according to some Mahayana sutras themselves, rejected these texts as authentic buddhavacana, saying that they were inventions, the product of the religious imagination of the Mahayanist monks who were their fellows. Western scholarship does not go so far as to impugn the religious authority of Mahayana sutras, but it tends to assume that they are not the literal word of the historical Śākyamuni Buddha.
Unlike the śrāvaka critics just cited, we have no possibility of knowing just who composed and compiled these texts, for us, removed from the time of their authors by up to two millenia, they are an anonymous literature. It is accepted that Mahayana sutras constitute a body of literature that began to appear from as early as the 1st century BCE, although the evidence for this date is circumstantial; the concrete evidence for dating any part of this literature is to be found in dated Chinese translations, amongst which we find a body of ten Mahayana sutras translated by Lokaksema before 186 C. E. – and these constitute our earliest objectively dated Mahayana texts. This picture may be qualified by the analysis of early manuscripts coming out of Afghanistan, but for the meantime this is speculation. In effect we have a vast body of anonymous but coherent literature, of which individual items can only be dated when they were translated into another language at a known date. John W. Pettit, while stating, "Mahayana has not got a strong historical claim for representing the explicit teachings of the historical Buddha" argues that the basic concepts of Mahayana do occur in the Pāli Canon and that this suggests that Mahayana is "not an accretion of fabricated doctrines" but "