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INDIAN BUDDHIST LITERATURE
PROF. EKNATH SAHAREY
After his enlightenment until his mahaparinibbana - the Buddha taught the Dhamma to diverse
people in the various places where he wandered. The collection of these teaching is called the Tipitaka. The Meaning of the word 'Tipitaka' is the 'three baskets' of Dhamma literature. The term pitaka was actually used in these days to denote the the literature of Dhamma. It is not only the ancient Spiritual and Philosophical land scape of the India of twenty five centuries ago brought to light in the Tipitaka, but also a colourful spectrum of the historical, geographical, political and cultural conditions of the times is also provided. The Tipitaka opens a window on to the administrative, educational, commercial and industrial customs of the Buddha's times. It sheds light on both social and individual conditions, in the Urban as well as rural life of ancient India. The India of 2500 years ago comes alive in the Tipitaka. It is also a vast ocean overflowing with the peerless, wholesome benedictions if the enlightened one. One meaning of the word pitaka is "basket," But the term pitaka was actually used in those days to denote literature of Dhamma. Even it we take the literal meaning of "basket," Tipitaka refers to the three baskets which contain the treasures of Indian civilization, culture, religion and philosophy. It can be seen from going through the Tipitaka that although, apparently it seems that the wisdom expounded by the Buddha disappeared from India, in reality, it has flowed through the subsequent India literature. The Sanskrit literature which followed, as well as writings in Hindi and other regional languages, are full of the benevolent teachings. The literature of medieval saints of India is suffused with the wisdom of the Buddha. When they are made available in their authentic form, an analytical and comparative study of the Buddha's words will show that India is so greatly in debited to the Buddha for his original thought as well as for their practice the influence of the Buddha's contribution is not confined to Indian thought; the deep impact if his teaching is also visible in the spiritual thought and literature of the vest of the world. There fore the Buddha's words have a special significance for the human race even to-day. The stately grandeur of the Buddha's teaching is verdant for ever. It is the perennial fore runner of the resurrection of fallen human values. What could be more relevant in this age of moral degradation, with its inevitable result of down-trodden people afflicted with terror. The Tipitaka is unparalleled lexicon of wisdom for the practitioners.
The teaching of the Buddha completely uproot the discriminations of caste and pollution if
communalism. Relief from these poisons the pressing need of India as well as the rest of the world to-day. Their removal will help to bring much longed for peace and happiness. The Buddha's discourse to the Kalamas of kesa putta is the first declaration of human rights and is a beacon to all mankind of the freedom of thought. All his teaching is free from blind gaith and corrupt clericalism. It is completely empirical, impartial and dedicated to intellectual rigour. There fore it is universally acceptable. The teaching of the Buddha made the country of India the World Teacher. The Three pitakas are the Vinaya -pitaka, the Sutta-pitaka and the Abhidhamma-pitaka. In order to collect and preserve the word of the Buddha historical Dhamma councils of Dhamma-Sangitis were convened. The purpose of the Dhamma councils was to preserve the words of the Buddha in their pure form so that the Dhamma might not become polluted thrugh interpolation by unscruplous elements for these purpose form mahaparinibbana of the Buddha six Dhamma sangitis have been convened.
I'st Ddhamma sangiti was convened three moths after the mahaparinibhana of the Buddha at
Rajasaha (Rajsir) under the patronage of King Ajata Sattu (544 p.c. ). All the Buddhas words were cikkected to the first time in this council. Ven mahaksassapa Thera presided over the council ven Upali recited the vinaya and ven Ananda recited the Dhamma five hundred fully enligntened Arhat monks participated and the work of the council continued for seven months. In this way the first collection of the vinaya and Dhamma took place. It is evedent from the Nidana -Katha of the Disha-Nikaya's commontar that the term " Dhamma" has been used to denote sutta and Abhidhamma.
The second sangiti was convened 100 yrs. after the first one above at velukarama in vesali under
the patronage of king kalusoka. A major disagreement related to the vinaya rules had arisen and the council was convened specially to settle it. Seven hundred monks participated and ven. Revata. Theory presided. The words of the Buddha were again recited and approved by all the participants.
The Third council was convened in 326 B. C. at Asokarama at pataliputta (Patna) under the
patronage of king Dhammasoka (better known Samrat Ashok). It was presided over by Thero moggaliputta Tissa and 1,000 monks well-versed in Buddha-vacana (The words of the Buddha) participated to nine months. Thero Moggaliputta Tissa condemned certain heretical views, established the pure Dhamma and compiled a text called 'kathavatlu; which came to be accepted as an integral part of the Abhidhamma pitaka.
After this council, king Asoka sent nine missions of Dhamma dutas ( Dhamma messengers ) to
far off countries to the proposition of Dhamma. These monks emphasized the practical aspect of the Dhamma in its pune Universal form. The fourth councial was convened in Srilanka in 29 B.C. during the reign of King Vattagamini. It was presided over by MahaThero Rakkhita and 500 monks participated. The entire Tipitaka was recited and committed to writing for the first time. The fifth Chamma council took place at mondalay, in Myanmar in 1891 A.D. under the patronage of the king Min Don Min. It was presided over respectively by MahaThero Jagarabhivamsa, MahaThero Narindabhidhaja and Maha Thero Sumangala Sami. Two thousand four hundred monks participated in it. The recitation and the inscription of the Tipitaka onto marble slabs continued for five nonths.
The sixth council was convened in may, 1954 at Yangon (Rangoon) in Myanmar on the initiation of Prime minister U N U. Two thousand five hundred learned monks from Myanmar, Srilanka, Thailand, Kaupuchea , India, etc. took part in it. The Tipitaka and its allied literature were again examined and their authentic version printed in the Burmese script. The work this council was completed on the full moon day of Vesakha, the auspicious occasion of the 2500 aniversary of the Buddha's Mahaparinibbana.
These six historical Dhamma Sangitis- the first three in India, the fourth in Srilanka, and fifth
and Sixth in Myanmar- server the invaluable purpose of helping to maintain the purity of the teaching, which continues to survive and flourish even today.
Printed pali Tipitaka and attha kathas are available in various Sripts-Suchas Sinhalese, Burmese,
Thai, Kampuchean, Roman etc. The completed edition completed in the VI'th Dhamma sangiti and its allied literature is published in Devanagri script by the Vipassana Research Institute.
The vast literature and the division of Tipitaka as per chhatta-Sangayana (Sixth Council ) in as
A) Vinaya Pitaka
B) Sutta Pitaka
1) Digha - Niraya- 34 suttas in three vagga.
2) Majjhima Nikaya- It consist of 15 vaggas & 152 Sittas
3) Samyutta Nikaya - 56 Sanyatta in 5 Vaggas.
4) Ansuttara Nikaya - It is divided in 11 Nipattas.
5) Khuddaka -Nikaya- It has independent 18 valumes.
C) Abhidhama Pitika - consists of
A) Vinaya Pitaka - Atthakatha ( Samanta Pasadika ).
6) Patiunakkha- Atthakatha. ( Kankhavilasini ).
1) Dishanikaya- Atthakatha (Sumangals vilasini ).
2) Majjhima Nikaya - Atthakatha ( Papanca sudavi).
3) samyutta Nikaya - Atthakatha (Sarathapakusini ).
4) Anguttas Nikaya - Atthakatha ( Manorathapusani ).
5) The commentaries on Khuddaja Nikay a are an follows-
a) Khuddakapatha Atthakatha (Paramatthajotika ).
c) Udana - Atthakatha - ( Paramatthadipani ).
d) Suttavipata- Atthakatha ( Paramatthajotika).
e) Vimanvatta Atthakatha (Paramatthadipani ).
f) Petavatta Atthakatha (Paramatthadipani ).
g) Theragatha Atthakatha (Paramatthadipani ).
h) Therigatha Atthakatha (Paramatthadipani ).
i) Apadana Atthakatha ( visuddhajanavilasini ).
j) Buddhavamsa- Atthakatha (Madhuratthavilasini).
k) Carigepitaka- Atthakatha (Paramatthadipani).
m) Mahaviddessa - Atthakatha ( Suddhammappajjotika).
n) Culahiddessa- Atthakatha ( Suddhammappajjotika).
o) Patisambidsmagga- Atthakatha ( Suddhammappakasini).
a) Dhamma Sangini - Atthakatha ( Atthasalini ).
b) Vibhange Atthakatha ( Sammoha vihodani).
i) Dishanikaya - Tika ( Linatthappakusana ).
ii) DishaNikaya - Silanhanda vagga - Abhanava
iii) Majjhima Nikaya - Tika (Linattha paka sana).
iv) Samyutta Nikaya - Tika (Linattha paka sana).
v) Anguttara-Nikaya - Tika (Suratthamanjusa ).
vi) Nittipakarana - Tika (Linattha vannana ).
Such is the vast Indian Pali Buddhist literature available to welfare of mankind, word peace
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