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
Tibetan Buddhist canon
The Tibetan Buddhist canon is a loosely defined list of sacred texts recognized by various sects of Tibetan Buddhism. In addition to sutrayana texts from Early Buddhist and Mahayana sources, the Tibetan canon includes tantric texts; the Tibetan Canon underwent a final compilation in the 14th century by Buton Rinchen Drub. The Tibetans did not have a formally arranged Mahayana canon and so devised their own scheme which divided texts into two broad categories: Kangyur or "Translated Words or Vacana", consists of works supposed to have been said by the Buddha himself. All texts have a Sanskrit original, although in many cases the Tibetan text was translated from Chinese or other languages. Tengyur or "Translated Treatises or Shastras", is the section to which were assigned commentaries and abhidharma works; the Tengyur contains 3626 texts in 224 Volumes. The Kangyur is divided into sections on Vinaya, Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, Avatamsaka and other sutras, tantras; when the term Kangyur was first used is not known.
Collections of canonical Buddhist texts existed in the time of Trisong Detsen, the sixth king of Tibet. The exact number of texts in the Kangyur is not fixed; each editor takes responsibility for removing texts he considers spurious or adding new translations. There are about 12 available Kangyurs; these include the Derge, Narthang, Peking, Urga and Stog Palace versions, each named after the physical location of its printing. In addition, some canonical texts have been found in Tabo and Dunhuang which provide earlier exemplars to texts found in the Kangyur; the majority of extant Kangyur editions appear to stem from the so-called Old Narthang Kangyur, though the Phukdrak and Tawang editions are thought to lie outside of that textual lineage. The stemma of the Kangyur have been well researched in particular by Paul Harrison. From the seventh century onward, existing literature were compiled and catalogued from time to time which extended, classified and put in different sets of different collections.
A separate set of translation works was re-grouped into two major collections popularly known as bka’-’gyur and bstan-’gyur, translation of Buddha’s discourses and translation of commentarial works respectively. The first Tibetan catalogue was introduced during the period of the 39th Tibetan King khri-lde srong-btsen known as sad-na legs-mjing-gyon, who issued decrees “requiring all translation works that were extant in Tibetan from their Indian original to be catalogued and subjected to be recurrently reviewed and to set guidelines of terminology in order to standardize all translation works”. A team of Indian and Tibetan scholars was assigned for the purpose; as a major step in this remarkable attempt at literary standardization, the bi-lingual glossary known as the Mahavyutpatti was accomplished in the Tibetan horse year. Another great achievement was the cataloguing of the collections available in royal libraries of the three famous Tibetan palaces under the supervision of the famous translator Bande sKa-ba dpal-brtsegs with help from his colleagues, Bande chos-kyi snying-po, Lo-tsa-wa Bande debendhara, Bande lhun-po and Bande klu’-dbang-po etc.
The earliest catalogue compilation was recorded from the manuscript of the royal collection housed in the palace- pho-brang ‘phang-thang ka-med kyi gtsug-lag-kang in the Tibetan dog year. This cataloguing work known as dkar-chag phang-thang-ma. Soon afterwards two further catalogues of collections available in two other royal libraries- pho-brang bsam-yas mchims-phu-ma and pho-brang stong-thang ldan-dkar were compiled and came to be known as dkar-chag mchims-phu-ma and dkar-chag ldan-dkar-ma respectively. Dkar-chag ldan-dkar-ma was compiled in the dragon year. Among these three catalogues, ldan-dkar-ma, included in the volume Jo of sna-tsogs in sde-ge bka’-bstan, is believed to be the only surviving so far, but a manuscript of dkar-chag phang-thang-ma is discovered and published from Tibet. It contains 961 titles listed under 34 subject headings with additional information of numbers of verses that contains in each text; the ldan-dkar-ma catalogue listed under a category of 27 subject headings.
An interesting unique feature of Tibetan catalogue is that, alongside information about the source material of translation and the bibliographical details, it gives in physical descriptions, such as the nos. of words, verses and folios-pages in each of textual contents. Thus today we have a record of 73 million words contained in the bka’-’gyur & bstan-’gyur collection. According to the latest edition of Dharma Publication, the bKa’-‘gyur contains 1,115 texts, spread over 65,420 Tibetan folios amounting to 450,000 lines or 25 million words; the bsTan-'gyur contains 3,387 texts using 127,000 folios amounting to 850,000 lines and 48 millions words. The sum total of both these collections is 4,502 texts in 73 millions words. By fixing bampo to verses and to words of each of the textual contents, the individual works are interpolation and alteration; this further strengthened the authenticity of Tibetan Buddhist literature. These are the first Tibetan catalogues in three versions that were compiled and published in the beginning of the ninth century by the great sgra-sgyur gyi lo-tsa-wa Bande sKa-ba dpal-brtsegs and his team.
Tibet, becomes the earliest to accomplish catalogue as inventory i
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
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 philosophy refers to the philosophical investigations and systems of inquiry that developed among various Buddhist schools in India following the death of the Buddha and spread throughout Asia. The Buddhist path combines meditation; the Buddhist traditions present a multitude of Buddhist paths to liberation, Buddhist thinkers in India and subsequently in East Asia have covered topics as varied as phenomenology, ontology, epistemology and philosophy of time in their analysis of these paths. Early Buddhism was based on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs and the Buddha seems to have retained a skeptical distance from certain metaphysical questions, refusing to answer them because they were not conducive to liberation but led instead to further speculation. A recurrent theme in Buddhist philosophy has been the reification of concepts, the subsequent return to the Buddhist Middle Way. Particular points of Buddhist philosophy have been the subject of disputes between different schools of Buddhism.
These elaborations and disputes gave rise to various schools in early Buddhism of Abhidharma, to the Mahayana traditions and schools of the prajnaparamita, Buddha-nature and Yogacara. Edward Conze splits the development of Indian Buddhist philosophy into three phases; the first phase concerns questions of the original doctrines derived from oral traditions that originated during the life of the Buddha, are common to all sects of Buddhism. The second phase concerns Hinayana "scholastic" Buddhism, as evident in the Abhidharma texts beginning in the third century BCE that feature scholastic reworking and schematic classification of material in the sutras; the third phase of development of Indian Buddhist philosophy concerns Mahayana "metaphysical" Buddhism, beginning in the late first century CE, which emphasizes monastic life and the path of a bodhisattva. Various elements of these three phases are incorporated and/or further developed in the philosophy and world view of the various sects of Buddhism that emerged.
Philosophy in India was aimed at spiritual liberation and had soteriological goals. In his study of Mādhyamaka Buddhist philosophy in India, Peter Deller Santina writes: Attention must first of all be drawn to the fact that philosophical systems in India were if purely speculative or descriptive. All the great philosophical systems of India: Sāṅkhya, Advaitavedānta, Mādhyamaka and so forth, were preeminently concerned with providing a means to liberation or salvation, it was a tacit assumption with these systems that if their philosophy were understood and assimilated, an unconditioned state free of suffering and limitation could be achieved. If this fact is overlooked, as happens as a result of the propensity engendered by formal Occidental philosophy to consider the philosophical enterprise as a purely descriptive one, the real significance of Indian and Buddhist philosophy will be missed. For the Indian Buddhist philosophers, the teachings of the Buddha were not meant to be taken on faith alone, but to be confirmed by logical analysis of the world.
The early Buddhist texts mention that a person becomes a follower of the Buddha's teachings after having pondered them over with wisdom and the gradual training requires that a disciple “investigate” and “scrutinize” the teachings. The Buddha expected his disciples to approach him as a teacher in a critical fashion and scrutinize his actions and words, as shown in the Vīmaṃsaka Sutta. Scholarly opinion varies; the Buddha was a north Indian sramana from Magadha. He cultivated various yogic techniques and ascetic practices and taught throughout north India, where his teachings took hold; these teachings are preserved in the Pali Nikayas and in the Agamas as well as in other surviving fragmentary textual collections. Dating these texts is difficult, there is disagreement on how much of this material goes back to a single religious founder. While the focus of the Buddha's teachings are about attaining the highest good of nirvana, they contain an analysis of the source of human suffering, the nature of personal identity, the process of acquiring knowledge about the world.
The Buddha defined his teaching as "the middle way". In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, this is used to refer to the fact that his teachings steer a middle course between the extremes of asceticism and bodily denial and sensual hedonism or indulgence. Many sramanas of the Buddha's time placed much emphasis on a denial of the body, using practices such as fasting, to liberate the mind from the body; the Buddha however, realized that the mind was embodied and causally dependent on the body, therefore that a malnourished body did not allow the mind to be trained and developed. Thus, Buddhism's main concern is not with luxury or poverty, but instead with the human response to circumstances. Certain basic teachings appear in many places throughout these early texts, so older studies by various scholars conclude that the Buddha must at least have taught some of these key teachings: The Middle Way The four noble truths The Noble Eightfold Path Three marks of existence Five aggregates Dependent arising Karma and rebirth NirvanaCritical studies by Schmithausen, Bronkhorst and others have adjusted this list of basic teachings, revealed a more nuanced genesis of the Buddhist teachings.
According to Vetter, the description of the Buddhist path may have been as simple as the term "the middle way". In time, this short description was elaborated, resulting
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
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the condition or rank of a buddha "awakened one". The goal of Mahayana's bodhisattva path is Samyaksambuddhahood, so that one may benefit all sentient beings by teaching them the path of cessation of dukkha. Mahayana theory contrasts this with the goal of the Theravada path, where the goal is individual arhatship. In Theravada Buddhism, Buddha refers to one who has become awake through their own efforts and insight, without a teacher to point out the dharma. A samyaksambuddha re-discovered the truths and the path to awakening and teaches its to others after his awakening. A pratyekabuddha reaches Nirvana through his own efforts, but does not teach the dharma to others. An arhat needs to follow the teaching of a Buddha to attain Nirvana, but can preach the dharma after attaining Nirvana. In one instance the term buddha is used in Theravada to refer to all who attain Nirvana, using the term Sāvakabuddha to designate an arhat, someone who depends on the teachings of a Buddha to attain Nirvana.
In this broader sense it is equivalent to the arhat. Buddhahood is the state of an awakened being, who having found the path of cessation of dukkha is in the state of "No-more-Learning". There is a broad spectrum of opinion on the universality and method of attainment of Buddhahood, depending on Gautama Buddha's teachings that a school of Buddhism emphasizes; the level to which this manifestation requires ascetic practices varies from none at all to an absolute requirement, dependent on doctrine. Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the bodhisattva ideal instead of the Arhat; the Tathagatagarba and Buddha-nature doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism consider Buddhahood to be a universal and innate property of absolute wisdom. This wisdom is revealed in a person's current lifetime through Buddhist practice, without any specific relinquishment of pleasures or "earthly desires". Buddhists do not consider Gautama to have been the only Buddha; the Pāli Canon refers to many previous ones, while the Mahayana tradition additionally has many Buddhas of celestial origin (see Amitābha or Vairocana as examples, for lists of many thousands of Buddha names.
The various Buddhist schools hold some varying interpretations on the nature of Buddha. All Buddhist traditions hold that a Buddha is awakened and has purified his mind of the three poisons of craving and ignorance. A Buddha is no longer bound by saṃsāra, has ended the suffering which unawakened people experience in life. Most schools of Buddhism have held that the Buddha was omniscient. However, the early texts contain explicit repudiations of making this claim of the Buddha; some Buddhists meditate on the Buddha as having ten characteristics. These characteristics are mentioned in the Pāli Canon as well as Mahayana teachings, are chanted daily in many Buddhist monasteries: Thus gone, thus come Worthy one Perfectly self-enlightened Perfected in knowledge and conduct Well gone Knower of the world Unsurpassed Leader of persons to be tamed Teacher of the gods and humans The Blessed One or fortunate one The tenth epithet is sometimes listed as "The World Honored Enlightened One" or "The Blessed Enlightened One".
In the Pāli Canon, Gautama Buddha is known as being a "teacher of the gods and humans", superior to both the gods and humans in the sense of having nirvana or the greatest bliss, whereas the devas, or gods, are still subject to anger and sorrow. In the Madhupindika Sutta, Buddha is described in powerful terms as the Lord of the Dhamma and the bestower of immortality. In the Anuradha Sutta Buddha is described as the Tathagata—the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment."And so, Anuradha—when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality in the present life—is it proper for you to declare,'Friends, the Tathagata—the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment—being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'? In the Vakkali Sutta Buddha identifies himself with the Dhamma: O Vakkali, whoever sees the Dhamma, sees me Another reference from the Aggañña Sutta of the Digha Nikaya, says to his disciple Vasettha: O Vasettha!
The Word of Dhammakaya is indeed the name of the Tathagata Shravasti Dhammika, a Theravada monk, writes: In the centuries after his final Nibbāna it sometimes got to the stage that the legends and myths obscured the real human being behind them and the Buddha came to be looked upon as a god. The Buddha was a human being, not a'mere human being' as is sometimes said but a special class of human called a'complete person'; such complete persons are born no different from others and indeed they physically remain quite ordinary. Sangharakshita states that "The first thing we have to understand - and this is important - is that the Buddha is a human being, but a special kind of human being, in fact the highest kind, so fa