Can we try to index the differences between the Agamas and Nikayas?

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Sentient Light
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Can we try to index the differences between the Agamas and Nikayas?

Postby Sentient Light » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:16 pm

Or just to get a list together of the ones we're aware of that're notably different? Anyone well-read enough in both to notice the more subtle differences?

I've been reading through BDK's volume ii of the Dirgha-agama, and while reading DA14 (or DA15--I think it was 15), I saw the Buddha explicitly state a couple of times that monastics should avoid eating meat. And that's a pretty big departure from the Nikayas. Other general differences I know of:

* The Samyukta-agama always includes "sunyata" with "anatma" when it lists the three marks of existence
* The Madhyama-agama, when the Buddha tells past life stories of himself as a brahmin teaching the vedas, always includes a remark about him not teaching the path to the end of birth and death in that life and time, but cultivating great merit for the compassion beneath the teaching

There are a lot of detailed differences between the collections that don't really change much doctrinally, but inform us of when certain passages appeared and what we can rule out as inserts -- I'm not going to list those out because it gets pretty complex (like the differences in the telling of Mahaprajapati's ordination).

The Ekottarika-agama has the most significant of differences:

* EA includes past-life stories of the Buddha as a woman
* EA makes explicit mention to the sravakayana, pratyekabuddhayana and bodhisattvayana
* EA encourages the path of the bodhisattva and makes explicit references to the six paramitas on numerous occasions
* In one EA text that is passed around East Asia during the Ghost Festival, Mahamaudgalyana enters samadhi and then projects himself into another world system, with another Buddha, and brings 500 disciples of that Buddha back to Saha to learn from Sakyamuni Buddha

What have other people noticed?
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crazy-man
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Re: Can we try to index the differences between the Agamas and Nikayas?

Postby crazy-man » Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:01 pm

Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=21174

The Chinese Madhyama-ågama and the Påli Majjhima-Nikåya
https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg ... ali-mn.pdf

The Chinese "Madhyama Agama" and the Pali "Majjhima Nikaya": A Comparative Study
https://www.amazon.de/Chinese-Madhyama- ... 8120807944

A Digital Comparative Catalog of Āgama Literature
http://mbingenheimer.net/tools/comcat/indexComcat.html

Āgama research group
http://agamaresearch.ddbc.edu.tw/

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Can we try to index the differences between the Agamas and Nikayas?

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:07 pm

Sentient Light wrote:Or just to get a list together of the ones we're aware of that're notably different? Anyone well-read enough in both to notice the more subtle differences?

I've been reading through BDK's volume ii of the Dirgha-agama, and while reading DA14 (or DA15--I think it was 15), I saw the Buddha explicitly state a couple of times that monastics should avoid eating meat. And that's a pretty big departure from the Nikayas. Other general differences I know of:

* The Samyukta-agama always includes "sunyata" with "anatma" when it lists the three marks of existence
* The Madhyama-agama, when the Buddha tells past life stories of himself as a brahmin teaching the vedas, always includes a remark about him not teaching the path to the end of birth and death in that life and time, but cultivating great merit for the compassion beneath the teaching

There are a lot of detailed differences between the collections that don't really change much doctrinally, but inform us of when certain passages appeared and what we can rule out as inserts -- I'm not going to list those out because it gets pretty complex (like the differences in the telling of Mahaprajapati's ordination).

The Ekottarika-agama has the most significant of differences:

* EA includes past-life stories of the Buddha as a woman
* EA makes explicit mention to the sravakayana, pratyekabuddhayana and bodhisattvayana
* EA encourages the path of the bodhisattva and makes explicit references to the six paramitas on numerous occasions
* In one EA text that is passed around East Asia during the Ghost Festival, Mahamaudgalyana enters samadhi and then projects himself into another world system, with another Buddha, and brings 500 disciples of that Buddha back to Saha to learn from Sakyamuni Buddha

What have other people noticed?
My Chinese is poor, so my exposure to the āgama literature is limited by what seem to occasionally be highly suspect translations. Take for instance SA 296, a quote from which is my current signature:
Whether a Buddha arises in the world, or not, this is the unchangeable nature of dharma, the status of dharma, the element of dharma. The Tathāgata, who has by himself become enlightened of this, who has attained the highest enlightenment, declares it for humankind, teaches it, reveals it, namely: Conditioned by birth, there exist aging-sickness-death-sorrow-affliction-suffering. “All these dharmas are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.


The original Chinese reads thusly:
若佛出世,若未出世,此法常住,法住法界,彼如來自所覺知,成等正覺,為人演說,開示顯發,謂緣無明有行,乃至緣生有老死。若佛出世,若未出世,此法常住,法住法界,彼如來自覺知,成等正覺,為人演說,開示顯發,謂緣生故,有老、病、死、憂、悲、惱、苦。此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。如是隨順緣起,是名緣生法。謂無明、行、識、名色、六入處、觸、受、愛、取、有、生、老、病、死、憂、悲、惱、苦,是名緣生法。


Noticably missing in the Chinese is a straightforward equivalent for the English word "suchness", which, in any other context, should be a translation of the Chinese word zhēnrú (真如) from the Sanskrit tathātā. This would be a groundbreaking discovery, to see tathātā in early literature as a doctrine expounded by the Buddha even in the Śrāvakayāna. Unfortunately zhēnrú is absent from the text, making the choice of the word "suchness" possibly slightly deceptive.

The closest thing I can see to zhēnrú is chángzhù (常住), which means "permanence" according to the NTI Buddhist Text Reader. If there is a historical precedent for translating the word tathātā as chángzhù, in Chinese, this make this āgama stand out noticeably against its nikāya-parallel, in which there is no mention of "suchness of dharmas".

Here is the nikāya-parallel, SN 12.20:
Whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality.


The chief difference of import to me is if the āgama makes a nascent statement about tathātā.
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

Sentient Light
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Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:40 pm

Re: Can we try to index the differences between the Agamas and Nikayas?

Postby Sentient Light » Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:25 pm

crazy-man wrote:Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=21174

The Chinese Madhyama-ågama and the Påli Majjhima-Nikåya
https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg ... ali-mn.pdf

The Chinese "Madhyama Agama" and the Pali "Majjhima Nikaya": A Comparative Study
https://www.amazon.de/Chinese-Madhyama- ... 8120807944

A Digital Comparative Catalog of Āgama Literature
http://mbingenheimer.net/tools/comcat/indexComcat.html

Āgama research group
http://agamaresearch.ddbc.edu.tw/


Perhaps I should've been more specific. I want to see if we can find material discrepancies between the Agamas and the Nikayas that ultimately lend support to the differences we see doctrinally between Mahayana traditions and the Theravada traditions. I've read much of the scholastic work on this, but there are some differences that are typically not noticed by academics, or are of little interest to them, as the academics are trying to piece together timelines.

There's a lot of overlap, for sure, but I'm curious what we have found as it relates to Mahayana/Vajrayana.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
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:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
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tomamundsen
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Re: Can we try to index the differences between the Agamas and Nikayas?

Postby tomamundsen » Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:40 pm

Sentient Light wrote:while reading DA14 (or DA15--I think it was 15), I saw the Buddha explicitly state a couple of times that monastics should avoid eating meat


Sorry for derailing a little, but can you expand on this? Or provide some citations? That would be really interesting! Perhaps even worthy of its own topic.

Sentient Light
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Re: Can we try to index the differences between the Agamas and Nikayas?

Postby Sentient Light » Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:43 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Sorry for derailing a little, but can you expand on this? Or provide some citations? That would be really interesting! Perhaps even worthy of its own topic.


I'll find the passage(s) when I get home tonight or tomorrow night (might be busy tonight). It's pretty off-hand, but occurs a few times. It's not outlined as a rule, but is referenced by the Buddha as if it's a rule he's already laid out and that his audience is aware of.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

Sentient Light
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Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:40 pm

Re: Can we try to index the differences between the Agamas and Nikayas?

Postby Sentient Light » Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:40 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Sorry for derailing a little, but can you expand on this? Or provide some citations? That would be really interesting! Perhaps even worthy of its own topic.


It took a while to find the passage -- I read it quite late at night -- and it appears I read it wrong! Here's the passage in question, then I'll explain the context (you'll notice immediately something's weird about it):

DA15 The Episode at Anupiya wrote:You should be able to discern yourself if someone is an arhat and adheres to the seven kinds of ascetic practice for a long time: (1) not to wear garments until the end of one's life, (2) not to sustain oneself by ingesting intoxicating drinks or meat, nor to eat rice and rice gruel, (3) not to commit sexual misconduct, (4) not to go beyond the four shrines located in Vaisali


So the weird thing about this is that the Buddha is giving instructions on how to identify a Jain arihant, not a Buddhist arhat. And he's doing it to explain to a brahmin layfollower why he (the lay follower) was stupid enough to believe a certain Jain ascetic was an arhat. Obviously the pilgrimmage thing doesn't apply to Buddhists, we can eat rice and rice gruel (not even sure if Jains are prohibited from this), and we can wear clothes.. when I first read the clothes thing, I thought he meant garments other than the triple-robes.

There's no other mention of meat-eating in the text, so it doesn't make any commentary at all on whether bhiksus should or shouldn't eat meat. Thanks for making me double-check on that find.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:


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