Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

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Malcolm
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Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Malcolm » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:05 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:26 am
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:59 pm
Aemilius wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:49 pm


Vasubandhu writes in Abhidharmakosa-bhasyam page 58 about the origin of Abhidharma (and the views of different schools on it):
"However, the Vaibhashikas explain, the Blessed One spoke Abhidharma in fragments. And in the same as Sthavira Dharmatrata made a collection of Udanas scattered throughout the scriptures, -the Udanavarga (the larger original Dharmapada)-, in this same way the Aryan Katyayaniputra and the other Saints established the Abhidharma (by collecting it into seven Abhidharmas)."
However, Vasubandhu is merely reporting an opinion that he does not accept, which is clarified by Valle-Poussin in footnote 16, pg. 133: "The word kila shows that Vasubandhu presents here an opinion...that he does not accept. The Abhidharma treatises are not the word of the Master for the Sautrāntikas and for Vasubandhu."
I don't buy that. Before the quoted passage from Bhashyam, Vasubandhu explains even more strongly why Abhidharma was taught by the Bhagavan, his reasoning goes: "To attain enlightenment it is necessary to know the Abhidharma, the Bhagavan Shakyamuni gave his disciples the Doctrine that leads to perfect enlightenment. Therefore he taught the Abhidharma."
If this is merely the view of the Sarvastivadins, he explains it very clearly, and he also omits mentioning the opposing views.

Poussin writes on page 17 that Sarvastivadins accept the seven Abhidharma treatises as word of the Buddha. On pages 18...20 Poussin explains in detail the argument in Vibhasha how Abhidharma is the word of the Buddha.
I think that Abhidharma carries the spiritual authority of the Buddha, as the Vaibhashikas say.

Why should we discard the very nice miracle of Shakyamuni, when he descended on three kinds of stairs from the Trayastrimsa heaven accompanied by Brahma and Indra, after having taught Abhidharma for his mother (who was reborn there as a deity).
1) It is very clear the Sautrāntikas do not accept the Abhidharma treatises of the Sarvāstivādins to be word of the Buddha. If they did, there would be no basis for dispute. This does not however prevent them from accepting that the Buddha taught a subject called "abhidharma," scattered throughout the Agamas.

2) The Sarvāstivādins are forced, in the Mahāvibhāṣā, to reconcile the composition of the treatises of Abhidharma by arhats, with the claim that they are also the word of the Buddha. On pg. 19, the Vibhāṣā is quoted, "If this is the case, why does the tradition attribute the writing down of this treatise [the Jñānaprasthāna] to the Āryan Kātyāniputra?" After claiming that the this treatises was indeed the word of the Buddha, the respondent also admits that according to another opinion, the Jñānaprasthāna is just the work of the Āryan Kātyāniputra. Thus, our Vaibhāṣika author attempts to conclude that while the Abhidharma is the word of the Buddha, it is also the work of Āryan Kātyāniputra.

But if we accept this to be case, this is very problematical, because of the number of places in the treatise where Vasubandhu refutes theories which, according to your view, would be theories originally enunciated by the Buddha, thus leaving open the claim that Vasubandhu was rejecting the Dharma.

Further, on pg. 36, Poussin lays out the position of the Sautrāntikas in eleven points of difference, the first of which is the rejection of the authority of the Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma.

The notion that the Buddha taught Abdhidharma to the devas in the desire realm is a Pali tradition connected with the Abhidhamma Pitika, and has no corresponding analogue in Indian Buddhism.

Now, generally speaking, the Sautrāntikas are held to be the higher tenet system, and therefor, in Mahāyāna we also do not accept the authority of the Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma. Further, Mahāyāna has its own Abhidharma, in the form of the now lost Abhidharma Sūtra.

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Aemilius
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Aemilius » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:46 am

One of the four great Buddhist festivals in area of Tibetan culture is the Lhabab-duchen, which is a celebration of Shakyamuni's descent from the Trayastrimsa heaven after he had taught the Abhidharma there.
One of the eight great pilgrimage sites in India is Sankashya, which is the place where this descent took place.
There are numerous archeological findings of carvings on stone that depict the descent of Shakyamuni from the Trayastrimsa heaven. This theme is depicted for example in the Dunghuan caves.
It should be evident that large movements or schools in Buddhism accepted that Shakyamuni had taught the Abhidharma.
Actually it is not an original Pali tradition, because the incident is not mentioned in the Pali Tipitaka. But because the tradition of Buddha's visit to Trayastrimsa was well established (in the Mahasamghika branch most likely), and it was later adopted also in the Theravada countries.

Northern Buddhism relied mostly on the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, the seven Abhidharmas and their commentaries, like the massive Vibhasha, were translated into Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Japanese, and Korean. Etienne Lamotte has made some estimates about the size of the Buddhist schools in India, Sarvastivada was one of larger ones. Some large schools have disappeared without leaving much traces at all. Sarvastivada canon was in sanskrit, which may have influenced its spreading.

When I read Poussin's text (the pages mentioned earlier), it seems very clear that at the writers of Vibhasha felt that the Buddha was not "dead and gone", which is what they actually say. His influence remained strongly, he was still very much present. Parinirvana does not mean "death" in the nihilist sense. This why it is the word of Buddha, because Katyayaniputra's consciousness is beyond time and space. He is called a Saint or Arhat by Vasubandhu also.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

Malcolm
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Malcolm » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:45 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:46 am
One of the four great Buddhist festivals in area of Tibetan culture is the Lhabab-duchen, which is a celebration of Shakyamuni's descent from the Trayastrimsa heaven after he had taught the Abhidharma there.
There is no connection between Lha bab dus chen and Abhidharma.

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Aemilius
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Aemilius » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:42 am

They have removed it from the explanations of LhababDuchen. In most places in the Internet it says "in Trayastrimsa Shakyamuni gave teachings to liberate his mother". Neither does this deny that He taught her Abhidharma there.

In the explanations about Sankashya, the place where this event took place, it is still said that Buddha taught Abhidharma to his mother, for example in Buddhism Today http://www.buddhismtoday.com/english/ho ... kashya.htm

"Some say that during his forty-first year Shakyamuni went up from Shravasti to the Tushita Heaven and passed the rainy season retreat teaching Abhidharma to his mother, Queen Mayadevi, who had died seven days after Buddha's birth and been reborn as a male god in Tushita. The same happens to the mothers of all the buddhas, and they too later go to teach them, afterwards descending to Sankashya."

"Seven days before his descent the Buddha set aside his invisibility. Anuruddha perceived him by his divine sight and urged Maudgalyayana to go and greet him. The great disciple did so, telling the Buddha that the Order longed to see him. This was the time Prasenajit's statue was made. Shakyamuni replied that in seven days he would return to the world. A great assembly of the kings and people of the eight kingdoms gathered. As the Buddha descended, a flight of gold stairs appeared, down which he came. He was accompanied on the right by Brahma, who, holding a white chowny, descended on a crystal staircase, while to the left Indra came down a flight of silver stairs, holding a jewelled umbrella. A great host of gods followed."

It is still there in the teachings of Lama Yeshe http://teachingsfromtibet.com/2018/08/0 ... ta-heaven/
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

Malcolm
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Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Malcolm » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:02 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:42 am
They have removed it from the explanations of LhababDuchen. In most places in the Internet it says "in Trayastrimsa Shakyamuni gave teachings to liberate his mother". Neither does this deny that He taught her Abhidharma there.

In the explanations about Sankashya, the place where this event took place, it is still said that Buddha taught Abhidharma to his mother, for example in Buddhism Today http://www.buddhismtoday.com/english/ho ... kashya.htm

"Some say that during his forty-first year Shakyamuni went up from Shravasti to the Tushita Heaven and passed the rainy season retreat teaching Abhidharma to his mother, Queen Mayadevi, who had died seven days after Buddha's birth and been reborn as a male god in Tushita. The same happens to the mothers of all the buddhas, and they too later go to teach them, afterwards descending to Sankashya."

"Seven days before his descent the Buddha set aside his invisibility. Anuruddha perceived him by his divine sight and urged Maudgalyayana to go and greet him. The great disciple did so, telling the Buddha that the Order longed to see him. This was the time Prasenajit's statue was made. Shakyamuni replied that in seven days he would return to the world. A great assembly of the kings and people of the eight kingdoms gathered. As the Buddha descended, a flight of gold stairs appeared, down which he came. He was accompanied on the right by Brahma, who, holding a white chowny, descended on a crystal staircase, while to the left Indra came down a flight of silver stairs, holding a jewelled umbrella. A great host of gods followed."a

It is still there in the teachings of Lama Yeshe http://teachingsfromtibet.com/2018/08/0 ... ta-heaven/
“Some say” refers to Thervadins. This is not a Savastivada Tradition.

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Aemilius
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Aemilius » Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:58 am

The Chinese pigrims Fa Xian and Hsuanzang have described the place of Sankashya, and it most certainly was outside of the theravada-land at that time:

"The Chinese pilgrims describe further stupas and a chankramana where Shakyamuni and the previous buddhas had walked and sat in meditation.
The three flights of stairs disappeared into the ground, but for seven steps of each, which remained above. When Ashoka came here later he had men dig into the earth around the protrusions in order to discover their depth. Although they reached the level of water, they could not find the stairs' end. With increased faith, Ashoka then built a temple over them with a standing image of the Buddha above the middle flight. Behind this temple he erected a great pillar surmounted by an elephant capital. Because the tail and trunk had been destroyed, both Chinese pilgrims mistook this for a lion.

"Hsuan Zang tells that the original stairs had existed until a few centuries before his visit, when they disappeared. Various kings built replicas of ornamented brick and stone, with a temple containing images of Shakyamuni, Brahma and Indra above them. These were within the walls of a monastery, which he describes as excellently ornamented and having many fine images. He further says that some hundreds of monks dwelt there and that the community had lay followers. Two centuries earlier Fa Hsien found roughly 1,000 monks and nuns living here pursuing their studies, some hinayana and some mahayana. Both pilgrims tell stories of a white-eared dragon who lived close to the monastery, caring for it and the surrounding area. Fa Hsien especially remarks on the abundant produce of the land and the prosperity and happiness of the people."
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

Malcolm
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Malcolm » Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:32 pm

I am not talking about Sankashya; I am talking about the fact that this tradition you describe of the Buddha teaching Abhidhamma in a heaven is not a sarvastivada tradition.
Aemilius wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:58 am
The Chinese pigrims Fa Xian and Hsuanzang have described the place of Sankashya, and it most certainly was outside of the theravada-land at that time:

"The Chinese pilgrims describe further stupas and a chankramana where Shakyamuni and the previous buddhas had walked and sat in meditation.
The three flights of stairs disappeared into the ground, but for seven steps of each, which remained above. When Ashoka came here later he had men dig into the earth around the protrusions in order to discover their depth. Although they reached the level of water, they could not find the stairs' end. With increased faith, Ashoka then built a temple over them with a standing image of the Buddha above the middle flight. Behind this temple he erected a great pillar surmounted by an elephant capital. Because the tail and trunk had been destroyed, both Chinese pilgrims mistook this for a lion.

"Hsuan Zang tells that the original stairs had existed until a few centuries before his visit, when they disappeared. Various kings built replicas of ornamented brick and stone, with a temple containing images of Shakyamuni, Brahma and Indra above them. These were within the walls of a monastery, which he describes as excellently ornamented and having many fine images. He further says that some hundreds of monks dwelt there and that the community had lay followers. Two centuries earlier Fa Hsien found roughly 1,000 monks and nuns living here pursuing their studies, some hinayana and some mahayana. Both pilgrims tell stories of a white-eared dragon who lived close to the monastery, caring for it and the surrounding area. Fa Hsien especially remarks on the abundant produce of the land and the prosperity and happiness of the people."

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Aemilius
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Aemilius » Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:36 am

Yes, but somehow the tradition of the Four Great Buddhist Festivals did arise. We agree that Northern and Central Indian Buddhism were governed by other schools than the Tamraparniyas, or srilankan elders, (for ex. Vasubandhu never uses the apellation "theravadin", they are known as "srilankan monks" for him). The festival of Buddha's descent from the Trayastrimsa heaven was known in China and Tibet. They certainly got it from the schools they were in contact with in India.

According to Etienne Lamotte the Vibhasa (a Sarvastivadin buddhist encyclopedia) laments that many sutras have been lost and little remains, the Ekottara Agama originally went from 1 to 100, now we have only the sutras from 1 to 10. One of the disappeared sutras must be the one about the Buddha's visit to the Trayastrimsa heaven.

The tradition also tells that when the disciple of Ananda died, 9000 works of Abhidharma disappeared from the world with him. They were still held in memory at the time, and not yet written down. This is also from Lamotte's History of Indian Buddhism.

All of this means that Buddha's visit to Trayastrimsa remained as a story held in memory by some people, when it was no longer found in the sutras. It must have been an impressive tradition as the actual jewel ladders were still found at the time of King Ashoka, or a lower portion of the jewel ladders!
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

Malcolm
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Malcolm » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:37 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:36 am
Yes, but somehow the tradition of the Four Great Buddhist Festivals did arise.
Good, glad we got that out of the way.


We agree that Northern and Central Indian Buddhism were governed by other schools than the Tamraparniyas, or srilankan elders, (for ex. Vasubandhu never uses the apellation "theravadin", they are known as "srilankan monks" for him).
Or Vibhajyavādin.
The festival of Buddha's descent from the Trayastrimsa heaven was known in China and Tibet. They certainly got it from the schools they were in contact with in India.

According to Etienne Lamotte the Vibhasa (a Sarvastivadin buddhist encyclopedia) laments that many sutras have been lost and little remains, the Ekottara Agama originally went from 1 to 100, now we have only the sutras from 1 to 10. One of the disappeared sutras must be the one about the Buddha's visit to the Trayastrimsa heaven.

The tradition also tells that when the disciple of Ananda died, 9000 works of Abhidharma disappeared from the world with him. They were still held in memory at the time, and not yet written down. This is also from Lamotte's History of Indian Buddhism.

All of this means that Buddha's visit to Trayastrimsa remained as a story held in memory by some people, when it was no longer found in the sutras. It must have been an impressive tradition as the actual jewel ladders were still found at the time of King Ashoka, or a lower portion of the jewel ladders!
One can only imagine.

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Dhammanando
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:17 am

Aemilius wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:36 am
The festival of Buddha's descent from the Trayastrimsa heaven was known in China and Tibet. They certainly got it from the schools they were in contact with in India.
Would you happen to know if they too claim that the purpose of the Buddha's visit was to teach the deva Santussita (formerly his mother)? And do they have any traditions specifying what he taught while there?

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Aemilius
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Re: Abhidharmakośabhaṣyaṃ and origin controversies

Post by Aemilius » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:25 pm

Lamotte writes in History of Indian Buddhism on page 339:

"The wonder of the "Descent of the Gods" (devavatara), as it is called, was widely exploited by art and literature : it appears on monuments at Bharhut, Sanci, Sarnath, Loriyan-Tangai in Gandhara, Mathura, Nagarjunikonda and Ajanta. Sanskrit literature, whether canonical or post-canonical, Hinayanist or Mahayanist, makes numerous allusions to it;
List of sources : Bharhut. pl. 17; Monuments of Sanchi, 11, pl. 34 ; MAJUMDAR, Guide to Sarnath, pl. 13e; Art greko-bouddhique. I, p. 539, fig. 265; VOGEL, Sculpture de Mathura, pl. 510; LONGHURST, Nagarjunikonda, pl. 1 ; Griffits, Ajanta. pl. 54. Divya, p. 401 ; Avadanasataka, 11, pp. 94-5; Karmavibhanga, pp. 159-60; Tsa a han, T 99, ch. 23, p. 169c; Tseng i a han, T 125, ch. 28, p. 707c I5 sq.; Po yuan ching, T 200, ch. 9, p. 2470; I tsu ching, T 198, ch. 2, p. 185c; Tsao hsiang kung te ching, T 694, ch. I, p. 792c; Fen pieh kung te lun, T 1507, ch. 3, p. 37c; Upadesa, T 1509, ch. I I, p. 137a
Although the event is not mentioned in the Pali Canon, the Sinhalese tradition mentions it in its commentaries, (Dhammapada commentary III p. 226, Suttanipata Comm. p. 570)."

I really don't know much more, if you can read these scriptures maybe you can tell us? Lamotte writes further that Buddha spend there three or four months, (-not just seven days as some sources nowadays say). Avatamsaka sutra describes Buddha's visits to devarealms, it may give us some clue what was taught there during those four months, in the Mahayana view and opinion.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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