Sunteți pe pagina 1din 169



Gregory Schopen
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Peter N. Gregory
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
Alexander W. Macdonald
Universite de Paris X
Nanterre, France
Roger Jackson
Fairfield University
Fairfield, Connecticut, USA
Ernst Steinkellner
University of Vienna
Wien, Austria
Jikido Takasaki
University of Tokyo
Robert Thurman
Amherst College
Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
Volume 10
Bruce Cameron Hall
College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
1987 Number 1
e the watermark
This Journal is the organ of the International Association of Buddhist Studies,
Inc. It is governed by the objectives of the Association and accepts scholarly
contributions pertaining to Buddhist Studies in all the various disciplines such
as philosophy, history, religion, sociology, anthropology, art; archaeology,
psychology, textual studies, etc. The ]lABS is published twice yearly in the
summer and winter.
Manuscripts for publication (we must have two copies) and correspondence
concerning articles should be submitted to the JIABS editorial office at the
address given below. Please refer to the guidelines for contributors to the
]lABS printed on the inside back cover of every issue. Books for review should
also be sent to the address below. The Editors cannot guarantee to publish
reviews of unsolicited books nor to return those books to the senders.
The Association and the Editors assume no responsibility for the views
expressed by the authors in the Association's Journal and other related
Andre Bareau (France)
M.N. Deshpande (India)
R. Card (USA)
B.C. Cokhale (USA)
Gregory Schopen
clo Dept. of Religious Studies
230 Sycamore Hall
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405
Joseph M. Kitagawa (USA)
Jacques May (Switzerland)
Hajime Nakamura (japan)
John Rosenfield (USA)
John C. Huntington (USA) David Snellgrove (U.K.)
P.S. Jaini (USA) E. Zurcher (Netherlands) .
Both the Editors and Association would like to thank Indiana Univer-
sity and Fairfield University for their financial support in the produc-
tion of the Journal.
The Editors wish to thank Mr. Kevin Latkins for his invaluable help
in the preparation of this issue.
Copyright The International Association of Buddhist Studies 1987
ISSN: 0193-600X
Indexed in Religion Index One: Periodicals, American Theological Li-
brary Association, Chicago, available online through BRS (Biblio-
graphic Retrieval Services), Latham, New York, and DIALOG Infor-
mation Services, Palo Alto, California.
Composition by Publications Division, Grote Deutsch & Co., Madison, WI 53704.
Printing by Thomson-Shore, Inc., Dexter, MI 48130.
The Female Renunciants of Sri Lanka:
the Dasasilamattawa, by Lowell W. Bloss 7
2. Les R e p ~ m s e s des Pudgalavadin aux Critiques
des Ecoles Bouddhiques, by Thich Thien Chau 33
3. Tsong kha pa's Understanding of Prasangika Thought,
by Lobsang Dargyay 55
4. Who Gets to Ride in the Great Vehicle? Self-Image
and Identity Among the Followers of
the Early Mahayana, by Paul Harrison 67
5. Shingon Mikky6's Twofold MatJ,(iala: Paradoxes
and Integration, by Minoru Kiyota 91
6. Yung-ming's Syncretism of Pure Land and Ch'an,
by Heng-ching Shih 117
7. Pre-Buddhist Elements in Himalayan Buddhism: The
Institution of Oracles, by Ramesh Chandra Tewari 135
1. Essays in Gupta Culture, ed. Bardwell Smith
(Holly Baker Reynolds) 157
2. Niigiirjunas"Filosofiske Vaerker and Miscellanea Buddhica,
by Chr. Lindtner
(Fernando Tola and Carmen Dragonetti) 161
3. Tantric Concept of Bodhicitta: A Buddhist Experiential
Philosophy, by Minoru Kiyota
(Dale Todaro) 164
4. Zen and Western Thought, by Masao Abe
(Paul]. Griffiths) 168
The Female Renunciants of Sri Lanka:
The Dasasilmattawa
by Lowell W. Bloss
Scholars of contemporary Theravada Buddhism in South and
South EastAsia have noted the significant changes in lay beliefs
and practices as well as monastic reforms that have taken place
since the late 19th century. J Yet, within their studies of this
modern Theravada reformation very little attention has been
paid to the growth in prestige and numbers of Theravada Bud-
dhist renunciant women. The growth of orders of these robe
dad, shaven headed women known as dasasilmattawa, mae chi
and thela shin respectively in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma
reflect the changes in Theravada Buddhism and provide an
important piece of the puzzle for understanding this reforma-
tion. This is particularly true of the dasasilmattawa movement
of Sri Lanka, the youngest and most rapidly growing and chang-
ing of these movements of Buddhist female renunciants.
Initially, this study will document the history of the dasasil-
mattawa movement from its beginnings in the late 19th and early
20th centuries to its impressive growth in the 1950's. Focusing
on three key dasasilmattawas (= dsms) , Sisters Sudharmachari,
Mawichari and Sudharma, this history shows how this movement
has affinities and differences with "Protestant Buddhism" and
relates to both the vipassanii meditation movement and the
growth of the forest dwelling monastaries. After providing a
history of this movement the study turns to an assessment of
the contemporary status of the dsms as seen from the points of
view of the members of this movement as well as from monk
and lay perspectives. It will be suggested that the laity'S respect
for a more renunciant style of life than that of the village or
8 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
city monks and the increasing popularity of vipassana meditation
accounts for the growing prestige of the dsms.
1. History of the dasasilmattawa movement
In his book published in 1892 R. S. Copleston describes
men and women in white who have taken the ten precepts or
dasasil. He reports:
... there are few men of this profession, but a considerable
number of women, generally old, are to be seen about the tem-
ples, especially in Kandy, or on the way to Adam's peak. They
carry bowls as if for begging, and their shaven heads and dirty.
dresses give them a pathetic appearance, and one who had read
the books would naturally suppose them to be nuns. Female
mendicants they are, but they have not been admitted to the
Community, and therefore are not called 'bhikkhm;l1s,' but only
'upadikas.' (lay women)2
It is difficult to know the exact ongms of such elderly
women. Reports and stories suggest that a number of these
women upiisikiis wandered in Sri Lanka in the early 1800s and
it is probable that women mendicants were a part of the Sri
Lankan scene before that time, perhaps dating back to the col-
lapse of the bhikkhuTJz order in the 12th or 13th centuries.
numbers may have increased due to the revival of Buddhism
in the late 1800s, especially because of the poya campaigns which
encouraged laity to take the eight precepts (a(asil) and wear
white on full moon days, and because of the example of such
figures as Anagarika Dhammapala who took the ten precepts
(dasasil) permanently.4
A small number of aged and seemingly destitute women
like those Copleston described can still be seen today congregat-
ing at the Sri Mahabodhi in Anuradhapura or at other important
Buddhist pilgrimage centers. However, some of these women
now wear yellow robes, having taken dasasil, and are accom-
panied by one or two women in white who have taken a(asil.
The a(asils in white can handle money and care for the dasasils
in yellow. Often lacking shelter, these women beg for food a n ~
money or subsist on the food prepared by Buddhist charity
organizations. Only the yellow robes of a few differentiate these
women from those that Copleston described.
However, today there are many dsms, approximately 2500
wearing the yellow robe, who make every effort to disassociate
themselves from the few poor older women such as those who
beg near'the Sri Mahabodhi.
Most of these modern dsms live
in aramayas (monastic institutions) with more than three com-
panion dsms, were initiated under the tutelage of a teacher in a
line of succession of other dsms, and about half were given the
ten precepts before their twenty-fifth birthday.6 These yellow
clad dsms are coming to see a close connection between them-
selves and the bhikkhurJis of ancient Sri Lanka. The link between
the women in white of whom Copleston speaks and the modern
day dsms in part is provided by Sister Sudharmachari, once
Catherine deAlvis.
Catherine deAlvis was the daughter of David deAlvis
Coonatillika, Mudaliyar of Raigama Korale, and Leisa deAlvis
who was the sister of the famous scholar James deAlvis.
Catherine was thus related to some of the most important coastal
families of Sri Lanka including that of Sir Don Solomon Dias
Bandaranaika, the chief Sri Lankan advisor of the British.
appears that Catherine's mother died early in her daughter's
life and that her father then remarried. He too died before his
daughter was 25 and subsequently she converted from Anglican
Christianity to Buddhism and journeyed to Burma where she
took on the robes of a dasasil before returning to Sri Lanka.
There are a number of stories about Catherine's conversion
to Buddhism. A version repeated in several articles on Sister
Sudharmachari credits Koswathie Nilame, an Ayurvedic physi-
cian of her father, with acquainting her with Buddhist texts.
One story, perhaps apocryphal, relates that seven days after her
father's death, Catherine invited Buddhist monks to a dana
(almsgiving). The chief monk would not accept the dana until
someone in the family took the five precepts. Catherine took
the precepts despite the objections of her Christian relatives.
Soon after her father's death Catherine settled in Kandy to
continue her study of Buddhism. In Kandy she met a large
delegation of Burmese renunciant women (thela shin), led by
the ex-Burmese Queen Sein don, who were on pilgrimage to
the Temple of the Tooth. It appears that Catherine and her
servant accompanied the thela shin when they returned to
Burma. Here she was initiated by Queen Sein don and studied
Burmese and Pali. Catherine remained in Burma until 1905
when she returned to Sri Lanka as Sister Sudharmachari.
Without a first-hand account of Catherine deAlvis' conver-
sion to Buddhism any statement concerning her reasons for this
change remains speculative. However, it can be recalled that
her uncle, James deAlvis, while an Anglican, felt the prejudice
of the British and called upon Sinhalese to rediscover their
heritage. II Moreover, the 1880s and 1890s was a time of Bud-
dhist resurgence as wen as contact with Burmese monks, espe-
cially by the low country nikiiyas (schools of the sangha). A
number of Christian families especially in the Panadura area
were returning to Buddhism while many of the Sinhalese Bud-
dhist elite were beginning to assert and reform their tradition
under the catalytic leadership of Colonel Olcott. 12 These condi-
tions no doubt proved a favorable environment for her conver-
Upon her return to Sri Lanka, Sister Sudharmachari used
her connections to develop support among the most prestigious
low country families such as that of Don Solomon Dias Ban-
daranaika who seems to have introduced her to Lady Edith
Blake, wife of the British Governor Henry Blake. Moreover,
her conversion to Buddhism endeared her to many prominent
up country families. At a tea party in the Peradeniya gardens
in 1906 reported in the Ceylon Observer, Sister Sudharmachari,
Lady Blake, D. S. Dias Bandaranaika, William Dunawilla Disawa,
Mrs. L. B. Nugawela and Mrs. A. Coomaraswamy attended.
With the financial aid of these families Sister Sudharmachari
formed the Sudharmadhara Society and built an upiisikii iiriimaya
in Katukale on the Kandy-Peradeniya road. This nunnery was
officially opened in 1907 by Lady Blake and bore her name.
With the building of Lady Blake's .A.riimaya, Sister Sudhar-
machari took homeless girls under her care and began to educate
them. The Sister also took into her iiriimaya a number of aged,
destitute, and blind women who became dsms.
In fact, the
iiriimaya fast became a home for elderly dsms. It appears that
Sister Sudharmachari had been warned by her teacher in Burma
not to ordain women under 40 years of age since the dsm tradi-
tion was not well established in Sri Lanka and ordaining younger
women might prove a disciplinary problem. The name board
in front of Lady Blake's Nunnery thus read "Home for elderly
uPiisikiis". In the 1920s this advice was nullified when Sister
Sudharmachari needed younger sisters to take care of the older
dsms that she had initiated. 15
In her lifetime, Sister Sudharmachati, who also built an
iiriimaya near the Thuparamaya in Anuradhapura, came to be
called Hamumaniyo or Hamupasika due to her aristocratic con-
nections and bearing. Wearing a white blouse and a yellowrobe
to differentiate herself on the one hand from bhikkhuTf,zS and,
on the other hand, from the uninitiated, undisciplined women
in white of which Copleston spoke, she was regularly visited by
dignitaries from Burma and members of the lay Buddhist elite
of Sri Lanka.
She died in 1939.
Sister Sudharmachari's example and that of her initiates,
coupled with growing Buddhist education and sil campaigns
directed to the youth stimulated a modest growth of the dsm
movement from the 1905 through 1935. At least three iiriimayas
in Panadura were opened between 19lO and 1924 by students
of Sister Sudharmachari.
However, despite this growth and a
tendency to take younger members, upiisikii continued to be a
term associated with older lay women and was used as a term
of derision toward younger girls who took sil. One informant
related that parents of girls from nearby High School would
not allow their daughters to walk past Lady Blake's Aramaya
for fear that they might be influenced to join the order and not
fulfill their proper female role as housewife and mother. 18 Such
prejudices began to change in the 1930s through 1950s due in
part to the influence of Sister Mawichari.
Born in North Burma in 1897, Mawichari became distressed
when she witnessed her sister's miscarriage. She cut her own
hair in 1912 and her parents put her in the charge of an iiriimaya
near Sagain Rock where she was initiated as a thela shin, learned
meditation and became. an expert in abhidhamma. In 1928 she
came with 90 other nuns from Burma to worship at the Temple
of the Tooth. In 1929 she returned to Sri Lanka and under the
prompting of Vinayalanka Thero, a Burmese monk at
Makutaramaya, decided to stay and initiate dsms in Sri Lanka. 19
Sister Mawichari created a sensation among the Buddhist
women in Colombo and many came to see her and take her
blessing. One laywoman, Piyaseeli Jayewardene, a qualified
teacher educated at Museaus College was initiated as Sister
Seelawati and by 1958 they had initiated over 50 women, most
of them in their teens or early 20S.20 A home often frequented
by this pair of dsms was "Yamuna" owned by H. Sri Nissanka,
who was to playa most important part in the growth of the dsm
movement. 21
H. Sri Nissanka, a noted criminal lawyer and Buddhist
nationalist, was a key figure in Buddhist affairs in Sri Lanka in
the 1930s and 1940s.22 He was not only instrumental in making
the dsm movement respectable among the urban elite but in
bringing vipassana meditation practice to Sri Lanka and
popularizing this among the laity.23 Born in 1899, he was edu-
catedfirst in Ananda College and then transferred to Royal
College where he was involved in the YMBA. At 19 he travelled
to Burma and was ordained a Buddhist monk. He thereby hoped
to set an example for all Sri Lankan Buddhist laymen to become
monks for a brief period in their early years. Soon afterward
he returned to Sri Lanka to take care of his ailing father and
subsequently went to England to train for a law degree. When
he returned to Sri Lanka he continued to work for Buddhist
causes and became the President of the All Ceylon Buddhist
Congress in 1931.24
In the early 1930s, influenced by the discipline and learning
of the Burmese Sister Mawichari, coupled with a personal ex-
perience in which he visited a Buddhist monk in a hospital and
was distressed that the monk was nursed by Catholic nuns, H.
Sri Nissanka began to galvanize support for an aramaya for dsms.
Quoting the verse, yo gilanan upatthati, so upaUhati man iti, "who-
ever nurses the sick, nurses me," he hoped to set up an aramaya
which would educate and discipline the dsms, many of whom
had taken on the yellow robes of Sister Sudharmachari but were
self-initiated and homeless.
In addition, H. Sri Nissanka hoped
to train these dsms to be useful members of society. Theirs was
to be a life of both renunciation and service.
This plan for the dsms as well as a number of H. Sri Nis-
sanka's activities can be interpreted as strategies of the urban
elite, who being divorced from the traditional rural framework
tried to bridge the gap between this-worldly pursuits and the
other-worldly concerns of Buddhism. Confronted with urban
secular activity, influenced by the Western understandings and
misunderstandings of Buddhism and sometimes better educated
in textual Buddhism than the monks, this group searched for
ways to link daily life to the goal of renunciation or at least bring
a Buddhist ethic into everyday life. Here the quest of deliverance
could be linked to deliverance from social ills and emerging
other Buddhist males suggests one such strategy; while his sup-
port of vipassanii for the laity is another. In this latter plan the
laity take unto themselves a religious virtuosity once the property
of the monks. By pushing the dsms toward service, and in fact
suggesting that they follow the path of a female anagiirika
("homeless one"), he proposes a third strategy. As Bardwell
Smith suggests, these activities show an increase in the relation-
ship between renunciation and present existence, a stress on
equanimity that is non-attachment but not non-involvement,
and reveal a conviction that Buddhism can speak to the modern
The list of lay supporters that H. Sri Nissanka involved in
this effort to build an iiriimaya for educated and disciplined dsms
reads like a catalogue of the Colombo Buddhist elite. They
agreed with his effort to reform the dsms, "who were seen to be
wandering from place to place without guidance and bring them
under control and educate them to lead usefullives."27 When
the nunnery, named Vihara MahaDevi Upasika Aramaya, was
finally built at Biyagama and opened in 1936, under headlines
reading "Life of Work and Service" and "Others Before Self,"
the newspapers reported that, "The society wishes to discourage
the idea that this aramaya is meant to be an asylum for the aged
and the decrepit."28 Rather the dsms will conduct classes for 75
neighborhood girls. Service was emphasized for:
Strange as it may seem even pious Buddhists seem to forget that
the Buddha himself after attaining perfection served mankind
for 40 long years. Nowadays, while everybody strives to attain
self-perfection, the spirit of service is non-existent.
The report continues that:
The Upasikas will in addition to spiritual instruction, be trained
in first aid, hygiene and social work. They will be equipped to
go out into the neighboring villages on missions of mercy.3D
D .. S. Senanayaka, the Minister of Agriculture, helped to open
the iiriimaya with these words:
Buddhists who speak so much of Ahimsa had not taken steps to
educate women in the art of succoring the -sick. Such work is
done by Christian Sisters and it is high time women of the country
work for the welfare of fellow human beings in a selfless way. 31
The laity were clear in their goals for the inhabitants of this
new iiriimaya-renunciation and service. Only in the former were
they to achieve success. The !aity brought Sisters Mawichari and
Seelavathi to the Biyagama Aramaya in 1938 and 1939 to teach
the dsms meditation, abhidhamma, and discipline.
While such
Buddhist education proved to be successful, in the three yearly
reports published in July, 1938, 1939 and 1940, the diiyakas, or
"donors", express concern with the lack of public service dis-
played by the dsms. In 1938, the laity report that while their
duty of meditation is being done, no work of value to the resi-
dents of the vicinity is completed. In the 1939 report the hopes
of the laity begin to rest on a younger dsm, Sister Sudharma,
whom they were educating at Musaeus College and who becomes
the most important figure in tp.e history of the dsm movement. 33
This important episode reveals a conflict between two
strategies for redemption within Buddhism. On the one hand,
there is an urban educated elite iIJ.fluenced by the examples of
Christian service organizations including Catholic nuns who
taught in schools and nursed in hospitals. Attempting to assert
their pride in Buddhism these members of the elite, whose
predecessors had built Buddhist higher education, started Bud-
dhist Sunday schools, began the YMBA, and supported similar
organizations parallel to those of the Christians, continued to
assert what has come to be called "Protestant Buddhism": a
Buddhism that stressed an ethic of involvement, a rational and
pragmatic interpretation of Buddhist ideals and a this-worldly
asceticism. On the other hand t h e n ~ is the dsms drawn mostly
from rural backgrounds and steeped in the practice of monks
who gave spiritual and ritual gifts tq the laity and not social
service. Added to the monks' example was the female atasil who
gained. purity and merit by worship and contemplation on poya
days and whose calm behavior was felt to be particularly befitting
a woman. Following this example the dsms were willing to prac-
tice meditation-and as will be seen below, wholeheartedly ac-
cepted the vipassanii techniques brought to Sri Lanka with the
help of H. Sri Nissanka-but were unwilling to use the tranquil-
ity taught in meditation in social service. Another factor that
led to a rejection of the service ethic of the urban laity might
have been the class background of the dsms. Many seem to have
been drawn from the rural small landholding class whose female
members realistically only could aspire to becoming teachers in
the lower grades in village schools. They had rejected this goal
and taken the unpopular step of renouncing the role of house-
wife when they became dsms. Instead of service, they saw their
life as one of renunciation.
At first glance Sister Sudharma seems to have realized the
service oriented dream of H. Sri Nissanka, as this Sister became
a teacher at Museaus College. She also gave numerous talks on
the Buddhist Dhamma throughout Sri Lanka as well as radio
and newspaper interviews. It is to Sister Sudharma that much
of the credit can be given to elevating the status of dsms in the
eyes of the laity as well as the rapid growth of the movement
from the 1950s which marked an upsurge of Buddhist
nationalistic feeling, in part due to the 2500th anniversary of
the Buddha's birth. However, Sister Sudharma has given up
her teaching position at Museaus College which she held from
1955 to 1977 and now speaks strongly of the need for a strict
renunciation on the part of dsms. A brief biography of Sister
Sudharma might point to the fact that the life of renunciation
and retreat that she now observes was a major factor in her
ambition to become a dsm. This same motivation characterizes
most dsms today.34
Born in 1919 into a farming family with small plantation
ownings, Sister Sudharma became a nun when she was 13 years
and 4 months of age in 1933. The motivations for such a step
can never be fathomed adequately but a number of reasons are
readily recalled by Sister Sudharma. As a very young girl she
was upset by the graphic portrayals of the numerous Buddhist
hells at the temple at Botale and vowed to follow a path that
would preclude such an end. Thinking of the numerous Bud-
dhist hells, she was told the story of a man who heard the words
of the Buddha and decided to observe the ten precepts despite
the fact that he was starving. Due to his weakened condition
when he began to observe the precepts, he died and became a
tree deity. Thinking that such a divine state was obtained by
only half a day of observing ten precepts Sister Sudharma vowed
to take the precepts as often as she could. She took the five
precepts every night and when she did not she dreamed of
punishments. The taking of the precepts also came to be linked
with good health. When she began to suffer from malaria with
frequent chills, her mother advised her to take the eight precepts
daily at the temple. She followed this advice from July through
November of 1932 and she subsequently lost the symptoms.
After this experience she asked her uncles to build her a very
small shrine and meditation room where she spent more and
more of her time. Here she worshipped the Buddha and, while
not formally taught meditation, she reflected on the 32 im-
purities of the body. Once while contemplating the impurities
her austerities brought her a sense of tranquility that lasted for
. a number of days.
This youthful piety led Sister Sudharma to a decision to
become a bhikkhurJ/i. While she had never seen a nun she had
studied about the arrival of the bhikkhu'f}z order in Sri Lanka
and appeared to believe it still existed.
When she was 10 or
11 she did see a dsm and in the next several years she cut her
hair a number of times and took on yellow robes, much to the
dismay of her family. Finally, a dsm came to her village to learn
P ~ i l i from a local pundit and she slipped away to her, donned
the robes and returned to her family for their blessing. After
difficult negotiations, her family gave into her request with the
promise that she would stay in the village. Even though her
preceptor moved from the village in several months, Sister
Sudharma stayed with her family for three years and then heard
of the opening of the Biyagama Aramaya by H. Sri Nissarika.
Taking a servant she went to the house of H. Sri Nissanka and
he promised to negotiate with her family and gain their approval
for her entrance into the new iiriimaya. After entering the
iiriimaya at Biyagama she was chosen by Mrs. J. R. J ayewardene
to be educated at Museaus. Subsequently, she went on to Col-
ombo University, from which she graduated in 1951. Under
the urging of Professor C. P. Malalasekera she then travelled
to Penang to teach the dhamma, but returned when her mother
fell ill. She then taught at a girls school in Ambalangoda until
she was asked to come to Museaus in 1955. At the same time
she began to run the iiriimaya at Biyagama and to establish other
nunneries. Mter quitting M useaus in 1977 Sister Sudharma
retired to the forest where she remained for some five years at
Kutumbigala under Ven. JinavaJpsa Anandasiri. She is now the
head of a group of 13 iiriimayas and is supervising the building
of a nursing home for aged nuns.
In reflecting on her life, Sister Sudharma tends to depreciate
the service period suggesting that very few can have such a
worldly position and remain dedicated to renunciation. She sees
her teaching as a debt owed to her sponsors, but now dedicates
her life to renunciation. She soon hopes to return to the forest
where she expects to remain until death or sickness ends this
career. The disciplined and meditative life is certainly what she
expects of her students. All novices that she accepts at her nun-
neries must spend at least three months at the vipassanii medi-
tation center at Kunduboda. The blending of veneration and
emulation of the forest monks, the training in vipassanii medita-
tion and the renunciation of the worldly affairs that marks Sister
Sudharma's present practice is characteristic of the hopes of the
majority of the dsms today and accounts for the growing prestige
of this movement, as will be shown below.
The dsm movement which Sisters Sudharmachari, Mawi-
chari and Sudharma have helped to stimulate now numbers .
approximately 2500 and is growing rapidly. The dsms in yellow
who live in iiriimayas and are initiated only after a period of
novicehood, far outnumber the women of which Copleston
spoke or those wandering upiisikiis whom H. Sri Nissanka wished
to reform and put into social service. These dsms are beginning
to gain the respect of the laity and the attention of the monks.
We turn now to an analysis of where the new dsms place them-
selves in the Buddhist siisana (religion) and how the laity and
monks characterize the life-style of the dsms.
II. Views of the Dsm Movement
A. The Dsms' View of Themselves: Between Lay and BhikkhUl)l
18 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
The majority of dsms today are attempting to make a place
for themselves between lay and bhikkhurJ/i status. Sister
Sudhanna, for instance, suggests that the dsm movement is not
a part of the sangha. Yet, it is not a lay order.,She explains that
according to Ven. Kadavadduve Jinavaqlsa, who heads a
number of forest hermitages in Sri Lanka, there are three ways
of taking the ten precepts. The lay person can take. dasasil for
a day, when sil is administered by a monk, who uses the word
gahapati ("householder"). The dsm begs for the dasasil without
the use of this term, thus rejecting the lay or upasika status,
while the novice monk takes pabbaJja dasasil, which collapses the
ten precepts into one rule and prepares the way for full ordina-
tion into the sangha (upasampada). The fact that the word for
householder is not used during the initiation places the dsm at
a mid-point between the laity and sangha.
Other dsms who are
leaders of important dsm organizations were unable to explain
their place so fully but noted that the dsms are in a special
category, and one said that definitely the dsms were samanerz:
female novices but not officially a part of the sangha. 38 As further
evidence that the dsms do not consider themselves a lay order,
the dsms call Sanghamitra who brought the Sri Mahabodhi to
Sri Lanka and established the bhikkhu'fJ,z order, their mother.
They also read the Therzgatha which contains life histories of
early bhikkhu'fJ,zS as an important reference for the reasons a
woman might wish to become a dsm. Also of interest in pointing
to the position of the dsms in their own eyes is the answer to the
question as to whether they would soon pass away if they were
to attain arahantship. According to the Buddhist canon if they
were lay Buddhists who did not join the sangha immediately
after attaining arahantship, they would die in a short time. U nan-
imously, the dsms asserted that as they were not a lay order and
had renounced the household they would continue to live after
attaining arahantship. Another clue to the fact that they do not
see themselves as upasikas is, of course, the "yellow robe," in
various shades from almost red to brown, the dsms have adopted.
This is in contrast to the white of the atasil and the white and
yellow of the first dsm, Sister Sudharmachari. It should be noted
that their dress is not technically a robe which must be made
according to strict Vinaya rules and which only the monks can
wear, but this difference is not often cited by the dsms and
certainly is not understood by most laity as will be shown below.
This view of their own status between the laity and monk
is also affirmed by the response of the majority of dsms to the
possibility of or full into the This
question of full ordmatlon of women mto the sangha IS often
debated in the contemporary Sri Lankan press. The possibility
of such an ordination is suggested by the fact that Sri Lankan
bhikkhur{is travelled to China in the fifth century A.D. to ordain
Chinese women.
It is argued that if the line of nuns still exists
in China, these nuns could reintroduce the bhikkhu"!z order into
Sri Lanka. However, while there are some outspoken dsms on
both sides of this issue, most dsms say that if upasampada were
possible-which they doubted due to the Mahayana character
of the Chinese bhikkhu"!z order-they would not accept this or-
dination. A number suggested that ordination would limit their
freedom from the monks and that the close relationship between
bhikkhus and bhikkhu"!zs might bring the downfall of a sangha
which they view as in decline.
Whichever way is chosen to explain their mid-position, the
dsms often imply that their position is based on their silo They
explain that if their sil or the moral purity of their conduct and
thought is good, the laity will see their status as close to the
sangha. They quietly assert that with exceptions, their sil, based
on careful observation of the rules, is purer than that of the
village or city monks, leading to the conclusion that they are
indeed worthy of the respect often given the monks. The dsms
decry the monks' involvement in politics, their luxuries and their
education in coed institutions as not living up to the monastic
rules. As a number of dsms remark, it is better to follow 10 rules
well, than 227 rules poorly. In contrast the dsms note that their
education is exclusively in the dhamma and within the confines
of an aramaya. In criticizing the behavior of village and city
monks the dsms are echoing the opinion of most laity and they
. are placing themselves in close relationship with the forest dwell-
ing monks who like the dsms stress renunciation of daily life and
Contemporary dsms see their chief task as that of attaining
arahantship. Unlike the monks interviewed by Richard Gom-
brich who doubted arahantship was a possibility in this degraded
age, the dsms believe that they might attain such a state.
In this
20 lIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
effort they continue worship and recitations of the dhamma in
addition to various types of meditation. The meditation
technique that is gaining attention is vipassanii. Many of the
younger dsms have taken some training in ,vipassanii in one of
the vipassanii meditation centers, a number are skilled teachers
of this technique and some have set up their own vipassanii
training centers.
Perhaps this technique and the teaching sur-
rounding it, taught by Burmese monks who are used to the help
of their thela shin, has helped to lead to the belief in the possibility
of arahantship.42 In addition to the iiriimayas being places of
meditation, worship and renunciation for the dsms, they have
become places of retreat and help to lay women. Many of the
dsms with whom I spoke mentioned that they allow lay women
with family problems to stay at the iiriimayas and try to counsel
the wife and husband or daughter in actions that might heal
the difficulties. 43
The relationship which the dsms wish to have with monks
is best summarized by one Sister who suggested that the monks
are, like chancellors of universities, only to be caned in for formal
events such as an initiation.
When Sister Sudharma was asked
when monks were needed other than at times of initiation, she
recalled only one instance, in which the parents of a novice who
believed their daughter should be initiated after a normal two-
year novicehood protested when Sister Sudharma told them
that their daughter was not yet ready. Sister Sudharma then
called for the help of a monk from Kelaniya who is on the
iiriimaya committee to speak with the family. A leader of one of
the largest organizations of dsms, Sister Khemachari, suggested
that the ten precepts should be given by monks once or twice
a month, but was very unwilling to appeal to monks concerning
the running of her nunneries other than in rare cases. This was
particularly interesting as Sister Khemachari belongs to an or-
ganization of dsms begun by a monk who carried out the desire
of his preceptor to start an order of dsms. In this endeavor the
monk--considered by the laity to be a forest dweller-advertised
in a newspaper for a dsm to initiate a number of pious women.
Mawichari responded, taught Khemachari and others and then
withdrew. Subsequently, this organization has grown with the
help of one particularly generous diiyaka, who echoes H. Sri
Nissanka's belief that Buddhist dsms should be as well cared for
as the Catholic nuns, but believes their task should be meditation
and not social service. This perspective reveals a shift of the lay
view of the dsm which will be shown below. Despite this growth
of her order and the decisions involved, Sister Khemachari, now
the head of 14 aramayas, rarely seeks the advice of the head
monk of the dsm organization.
The rule seems to be to honor
the monks and supply dana and robes for them on occasion but
not to allow them to become too involved in the running of the
Dsms of the more financially secure institutions tend to dis-
trust the government interference. Many of those interviewed,
in fact, have not returned a government questionnaire that'
would have led to the issuing of dsm identity cards. This action
seems to be due to a general distrust of urban lay involvement
in aramaya affairs and the fear of being pressed into social service.
However, there are many aramayas which are suffering from
insufficient funds. Here, supported by their own family or a
few dayakas, the dsms' attempt to live disciplined lives is less than
successful. In responses to questionnaires sent out by the Com-
missioner of Buddhist affairs, many of these dsms hoped that
the government could intervene and supply funds for recon-
struction. Moreover, the dsms do not often benefit from tradi-
tional ownership of property which the monks possess and in
some circumstances this leads to their eviction from their
aramayas. They hoped the government could help to solve this
The better run organizations of the dsms remain quite paro-
chial in their attitude toward the dsms in trouble and toward
other groups of dsms in general. This attitude seems to arise
from the character of the chief dsms, who joined the order when
it was very unpopular and had to fight long battles with their
families. The strength of character that allowed them to perse-
vere, has led them to a rather uncompromising view of how
their aramayas should be administered and their novices taught.
This lack of cooperation between dsms and their organizations
might soon disappear. The women who are now entering the
order are having a somewhat less difficult time convincing their
families to allow them to be initiated. At the established aramayas
the family can be assured of the protection of their daughters
and the purity of the dsms' silo Moreover, the reasons for joining
the order now seem to echo those given by young monks. The
young dsms often state that they took a liking to the robe: to the
calm demeanor of the Sisters. Perhaps, with the growing accep-
tability of this way of life, the Sisters will have to struggle less
to preserve their identity and more easily will join together.
Sister Khemachari, age 44, who joined the order in 1958, for
instance, seems willing to associate with dsms from other organi-
zations and contemplate an all Sri Lankan association of dsms if
it is led by the dsms themselves and not the laity.48
B. The Monastic View of the Dsms: A Need for Discipline
Many monks began their assessment of the dsm movement
by pointing out that the bhikkhus have no responsibility for the
dsms since these women do not belong to the bhikkhurti order.
A number went on to say that there is no bhikkhurti order in
Theravada Buddhism, that there cannot be such an order and
that the laity are wrong in their acceptance of the dsms as bhik-
khurtis. Some suggested that in actuality these women were mas-
querading as part of the sangha. In several conversations the
initial refusal of the Buddha to ordain women was mentioned,
as well as the canonical statement that due to their ordination
the sangha would not endure as long as it would have if women
were not ordained. Lessons that were to be learned from this
are that women are physically and mentally w e ~ k e r than men
and cannot endure crisis, and that problems of discipline arise
when the sexes are mixed too closely.49
These initial responses of the majority were most often
followed by assertions that the dsms should be trained by the
government and put to some useful social service. Health care
for village women, staffing hospitals and teaching the dhamma
to women and children were mentioned as possibilities.
A minority of monks believed that the bhikkhurti order could
be reestablished and were prepared to work for this possibility.
They stated that if an unbroken line of ordination in China
from Sri Lanka could be proved they would propose that selected
dsms be given upasampada. However, they acknowledge that the
majority of monks would not support this move. They believed
that upasampada would assure disciplined and educated women
to carryon the Buddha's word. The aim of upasampada seems,
therefore, little different from the aim of the majority of monks:
to assure that these women undergo training and discipline.
C. The Lay View of the Dsms: A Search for Purity in Motivation,
Discipline and Renunciation
In a survey of laity taken in various areas of Sri Lanka, it
was found that an overwhelming number knew about the dsm
movement and almost all could name a dsm or an aramaya in
their area. More than half of those interviewed had helped the
dsms at one time and ten percent regularly supplied food or
money to the dsm movement. While there was mention of the
dsms who wander and beg, the respondents still said they must
respect these women because of the robe. Many made a differen-
tiation between the wandering dsms and those associated with
aramayas. When asked how they would characterize the life of
the dsms, most responded that the dsms' life was full of sil or very
pious, sZlavanta. They were also felt by many to be good
meditators. While these views were held by men and women
alike, a number of women added that the dsms understood their
problems and they went to them for advice. 50
In comparing the life of a dsm with that of a monk, a few
laity mentioned that the dsms were not bhikkhurJ,zs, but agreed
with the vast majority of respondents that the life of the dsms is
more disciplined and less pompous than that of the monks. In
fact, there was some sense that women are more disciplined in
religious matters than men and that when they take the robe
this difference continues. Again and again the laity readily
criticized the monks' life as too luxurious or having too many
material comforts. This was contrasted to the austere life of the
dsms who do not have the traditional supports that the monks
have come to expect. A number of laity went on to explain that
the motives for becoming a dsm are more pure than those for
becoming a monk. The monks, it w'as explained, might join the
order due to family pressure or the promise of prestige, the
possibility of education or a comfortable life. The dsms could
not expect such supports nor would their families give approval
to such a move. A number of laity remarked that a woman only
has a home and when she has given this up she has given up
everything, implying that a man has opportunities outside the
home. Some remarked that the dsms had more discipline and
that they never heard of a dsm giving up t h ~ robes but this was
a frequent occurrence among monks. Some laity, when pressed
added that, of course, there were very good monks in the forest.
While more research needs to be completed on lay attitudes,
the questionnaires suggest some interesting factors in the lay
views of the dsms and the monks. The laity seem ready to accept
the dsms as part of the sangha. Even those who recognized that
the dsms were not strictly bhikkhu1J,is said that they still needed
to respect the robe. Moreover, the laity showed an impressive
tolerance of even the most undisciplined dsms in this regard.
The almost desperate situation of some dsms and the lack of
traditional and governmental supports for these women, helps
the laity to see the dsms on a higher level than the ordinary
monks. The majority of monks who receive far more lay support
and have a much more secure position than the dsms are dispar-
aged. The purity of their life-style and motivations are ques-
tioned. Often willing to downgrade those they support finan-
cially and praise those they don't, some laity seem ready to place
the dsms on a level of sil, meditation and discipline above the
village monks and below the forest monks. In this hierarchy the
laity is searching for a group that meets its very high standard
of purity of motives and renunciation.
In addition to the laity's acknowledgement of the purity of
dsms' discipline and renunciation another important element
that is leading to a growing prestige of the dsms is the support
they have received from the middle and upper class hity who
are interested in meditation. Many of the dsms have studied
vipassana meditation techniques, some taking a leading role in
centers of such meditation and others teaching t h i ~ type of medi-
tation at their aramayas. This meditation, apparently brought to
Sri Lanka by H. Sri Nissanka, while wide-spread in appeal has
sparked particular interest among the women of the upper and
middle class of Colombo. Here it provides the elite with a method
of religious virtuosity: a way of taking to themselves the renun-
ciation at one time seen as the prerequisite of the monks. It also
enables the meditators to accept their daily life in the light of
the Buddhist doctrine of transitoriness.
Into this situation has
stepped a German-born American dsm, Sister Khema, who is
having a significant impact on the status of the dsms at least
among the educated elite.
Sister Khema, who has been interested in meditation since
1963 and studied vipassanii at a training center in Rangoon, has
travelled extensively in South and Southeast Asia, established a
Buddhist monastery and lay community in Australia and re-
quested Khantipalo Thera to be an abbot there in 1978. She
was ordained as a dsm in 1979 by N arada Thera at Vajirarama
temple in Colombo and started travelling world wide to teach
the dhamma and meditation. In 1981 she returned to Sri Lanka
to attempt to build an International Buddhist Women's Center
where women from all over the world might come to meditate
and learn the dhamma.
This hope was mentioned in a news
report and she was subsequently contacted by Mrs. Irene
Nanayakkara who was then president of a group which had
established the Sri Lanka Buddhist Nuns Association in hopes
of training and educating dsms and forming all the dsms in the
country into a coherent organization. Mrs. Nanayakkara's soci-
ety had acquired a small plot of land in Madiwala-Kotte and
had begun to build an iiriimaya in hopes that dsms could receive
education there and subsequently return to their respective
iiriimayas to teach their fellow dsms.
Mrs. N anayakkara con-
vinced Sister Khema that this land could also house the Interna-
tional Women's Buddhist Center and Sister Khema has been
. raising funds for this center ever since.
Sister Khema has created quite a stir among the English
speaking elite of Colombo and she has made the growth and
education of the dsms a cause for many of the women of this
class. Preaching in halls and on television and holding vipassanii
meditation retreats, she lends prestige to the dsm movement in
the eyes of the elite. Her importance is evidenced by the fact
that an Island on Rajgama Lake near Dodunduwa has been
readied for her and other female meditators by the laity in that
area. This site has long been used by learned forest dwelling
monks and as the center for the European monks.
Sister Khema, however, remains an outsider to the dsm
movement of Sri Lanka. She is willing to consider upasampadii
for the dsms. This is partially to guarantee reform of the wander-
ing dsms, but more importantly she hopes that this would give
the dsms status equal to that of the monks. This thinking is not
supported by most dsms, who seem to enjoy the freedom from
monks and monastic rules that their present in-between status
guarantees. The dsms also seem to realize that such a move
would not be supported by the monks and they might lose the
support they receive from some monks they now have as ad-
visors. Moreover, Sister Khema seems eager to sponsor an all
Sri Lanka organization of dsms led by laity. Such an organization
is feared by most dsms who believe that they might be forced
into social service by some of the urban elite. In fact, Sister
Khema speaks of dsms as taking part in development of the
country: as holding dhamma classes for women and children and
providing classes in hygiene. She says "Do not eat the rice of
the country in vain."55 Certainly, recalling the hopes of H. Sri
N issanka, the push among some laity for dsms dedicated to social
service continues but this is now tempered by the growing accep-
tance of the dsms' role in vipassana meditation.
III. Conclusion
We have seen a gradual growth of the dsm movement. The
growth can be said to be symbolized by the change of colors of
the robe from white, to white and yellow, to all yellow. It is
doubtful that the wandering women in white of whom Copleston
spoke in the 1890s were held in high respect. They were mainly
older women stimulated by piety to spend their last years in
worship. Certainly such action on the part of a young woman
would not have gained wide acceptance. Into this situation came
the first modern dsm, Sister Sudharmachari with her white blouse
and yellow robe. This signified that she was not a member of
the sangha but neither was she a wandering, undisciplined and
uneducated dsm. Nevertheless, her rule of initiating only women
over 40 continued the characterization of dsms as elderly lay
women. In the 1930s and 1940s with the influence of Sister
Mawichari and Sister Sudharma, who initiated young women,
the yellow robe began to be seen by the dsms as a sign of a new
status. They began to break away from the upasikii label and to
see themselves and to be seen by others as occupying a level
between the laity and bhikkhu1Jzs.
. The dsms have gradually gained the respect of the Buddhist
laity of Sri Lanka. This elevation of status is due to a number
of factors. The dsms benefit from the ambivalent attitude of the
laity toward the village and city monks. Unlike monks who are
often faulted for participating in secular affairs and being sur-
rounded by worldly goods, the dsms are seen as truly renouncing
society. The traditional piety of women coupled with the fairly
poor circumstances of most of the dsms have reinforced the
laity's view of their piety. Moreover, the dsms who have rejected
the avenue of social service and stressed renunciation, have
increasingly related themselves to the forest dwelling monks
and thus tapped into the prestige which the laity attribute to
this group. Furthermore, the dsms have embraced vipassana
meditation as practitioners and teachers more than have the Sri
Lankan monks.
This has further elevated this meditation as a
method which allows the laity to perceive the transitoriness of
their day to day existence with calm Buddhist understanding.
Finally, the dsms have offered to women in difficult situations a
place of retreat and advice, as well as providing many other
women with a hope of recapturing in contemporary Buddhism
the elevated place of the female renunciate in ancient Sri Lanka.
While tapping these sources of prestige, the dsms have remained
conservative. They have not challenged the existing sangha nor
do they see themselves as a reform movement. Rather, they
have quietly begun to fit into the Sri Lanka Buddhist scene.
There are, however, some important stumbling blocks to
the continued slow growth of prestige of the dsm movement
among the laity. Upasampada is becoming an emotional issue for
a few dsm and for many urban lay women. This issue could
cause a confrontation between the dsm movement and the
sangha. Most recently, as the result of the efforts of Sister Khema
and some Colombo Buddhist women, a number of moves that
might raise this issue have been made. Responding to a letter
written by Mrs. Devendra, a close associate to Sister Khema and
a leading Buddhist lay woman, Mrs. J. R. Jayewardene has
created a separate dsm division under the Commission of Bud-
dhist Affairs. This unit continues to try to issue identity cards
to the dsms as well as providing minimum food and shelter to
destitute dsms. The Colombo Buddhist elite have also asked the
Education Department to establish a training center for dsms
similar to the pariver}as for monks. Finally, it has been suggested
that the dsms be given the pabbaJia dasasil administered to novice
monks and that the Vinaya rules for siimaneris be formally ac-
This could be viewed as bringing,the dsms closer to full
ordination in the sangha and might bring about a confrontation
between the monks-the majority of whose views are conserva-
tive on the subject of upasampadii for dsms-and the supporters
of the dsms. However good intentioned the hopes of the urban
elite supporters of full ordination for the dsms) this will certainly
test the gradual rise of prestige of the dsm movement. The dsm
movement successfully fought the attempt of the urban Bud-
dhist elite to place them into social service positions; the drive
for upasampadii forecasts another struggle between the majority
of dsms and the laity.
The late 19th and the 20th centuries have brought many
changes to Sri Lankan Buddhism. The history and contempo-
rary status of the dsms supplies one more piece to the puzzle of
this complex reformation. Since it relates to the growth of the
numbers of monks who have retreated to the forest, the ques-
tions concerning the purity of the village and city monks among
the laity, the laity'S appropriation of the traditional roles of these
monks, the popularity of vipassanii meditation, the g r o ~ i n g role
of women, and the response to their needs within a. Buddhist
context, the study of the dsm movement provides dues to major
changes in Sri Lankan Buddhism, and it should be an interesting
tool for analysis of the continuities and changes of Sri Lankan
Buddhism in the future.
1. This study is based on field research in Sri Lanka completed in
1982-83 and the summer of 1984 under a Fulbright-Hays grant and a Mellon
Foundation grant administered by Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Special
thanks go to Mrs. Kusuma Devendra who is completing her PhD. dissertation
on the dsms. We travelled many miles together seeking dsms to interview and
she proved a wonderful translator and research companion. Walter Perera of
Peradeniya University also translated many documents pertaining to the dsm
movement and Ms. Lakmali Gunawardena conducted interviews on lay at-
titudes at the Temple of the Tooth.
2. R. S. Copleston, Buddhism: Primitive and Present in Magadha and in
Ceylon. (London: Longmans, Green & Co, 1892), p. 279.
3. Notes on Some Sinhalese Families, Part VI. (From the Diaries of E. R.
Gooneratne). ed. P. E. Pieris (Colombo, 1911).
4. A person taking the Three Refuges in the Buddha, the Dhamma
and the Sangha and the Five Precepts is considered a Buddhist. The Five
Precepts <pansil) include not taking life, not stealing, abstaining from wrong
sexual practices, not telling lies and abstaining from intoxicants. An a(asil
takes three more precepts: not to take solid foods after noon, not dancing
and adorning oneself, and not using comfortable beds and chairs. For dasasil
the seventh precept is broken into two and the tenth precept involves not
touching gold or silver. This precept is often interpreted as not holding money.
5. Interviews conducted June, 1983.
6. Analysis of question'uaires of dsms from the Commissioner of Bud-
dhist Affairs, Colombo.
7. Personal communication of the geneology of the Duwewatta
Walawwa family. I would like to thank Mr. K. Dharmawickrama of Kandy
for pointing out Catherine deAlvis' relationship to James deAlvis.
8. Short Biography of Sister Sudharmachari published on the occasion of her
death. No date or author given. See T. S. Dharmabandu, Sinhala Virayo,
(Ceylon: S. B. Pranandu, 1949).
9. Interview with Sister Ampitiye Anula, a student of Sister Sudhar-
10. Ibid. Chaung 00 Manug Sandar, "The Monastery of Queen Sein-
don," Ngwe-dar-yi (1980). This article was translated by Dr; U Kyaw Than
who with Director Htun Hmat Win of the Ministry of Religious Affairs of
Burma and his Deputy Director, Daw Khin Khin Su was of immense help in
developing material on the theta shin.
11. M. Ames, "Westernization or Modernization: The Case of Sinhalese
Buddhism," Social Compass, XX, (1973/2), p. 155. '
12. K. Malalgoda, Buddhism in Sinhalese Society 1750-1900, (Berkeley:
Univ. of California Press, 1976), pp. 205-255.
13. Ceylon Obseroer, Tuesday, September 25, 1906.
14. B. S. Woolf (Mrs. W. T. Southorn), How to See Ceylon. (Colombo:
Times of Ceylon), 1914), pp. 91-92.
15. Interviews with Sisters A. K. Somawathi and W. M. Seelawathi, two
of the first of the younger dsms to be ordained by Sister Sudharmachari.
16. Interviews with Sisters Ampitiye Anula and Kotmale Sudharma.
17. Sri Nanada Upasikaramaya, Tanthirinullaramasya, and Seelawathi
18. Interview with Sister Nawala Dhammika of Anuradhapura.
19. Interview with Sister Kotmale Sudharma to whom Sister Mawichari
had given her biography. "Ma" and "Daw" are terms of respect designating
age in Burma. These terms were grafted to the names of the Sisters by the
Sri Lankans.
20. Interview with Sister Khemachari of Badalgama.
21. Interview with Ranjit Sri Nissanka, son of H. Sri Nissanka.
22. J. Jiggins, Caste and Family in the Politics of the Sinhalese: 1947-1976,
30 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1979), p. 90.
23. Personal communication from Professor George Bond.
24. P. G. Gunatillika, Sri Nissanka. (Wellawatta, Sri Lanka: Helaviva
Press, 1947).
25. Ibid.
26. B. Smith, "Sinhalese Buddhism and the dilemmas of Reinterpreta-
tion," in B. Smith (ed.) Two Wheels of the Dharma, (Chambersburg, PA: American
Academy of Religion, 1972) p. 86.
27. I would like to thank President J. R. J ayewardene for allowing the
use of the Presidential Archives where I found much of the following infor-
mation on the founding of the Biyagama Aramaya. Report on the Whara
MahaDevi Samitiya. (1936).
28. Ceylon Times. February 6, 1936.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Daily News October 26, 1936.
32. Report of the Whara MahiiDevi Samitiya. (1939). Also an interview with
Sister Sudharma who was taught by Sister Mawichari.
33. Report of the VZhiira MahiiDevi Samitiya. (1938, 1939, 1940).
34. Interview with Sister Sudharma.
35. Interview with Sister Sudharma and a letter from her grade school
teacher, Mrs. M. Kulasekere.
36. Interview with Sister Sudharma.
37. Interview with Sister Sudharma. The material in this section comes
from interviews with rums throughout the Sinhalese areas of Sri Lanka. As a
rule interviews were held with the head of the nunneries and as these women
tended to be the most educated and most orthodox in their beliefs, the study
is slanted toward their understandings of the present situation. A fine study
of the rums primarily in the Anuradhapura region but having implications for
the dsm movement as a whole has just been completed by E. Nissan. "Recov-
ering Practice: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka," South Asian Research, Vol. 4, No.
1 (May, 1984), pp. 32-49.
38. Interview with Sister N. Dhammika.
39. K. A. Chissell, "Legacy of the Sinhalese Nuns in China," World Bud-
dhism Vesak Annual, (1972), pp. 20-23.
40. R. Gombrich, Precept and Practice, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972),
pp. 285-286. The monks to whom I spoke also expressed the belief that
arahantship was not obtainable in this degraded time.
41. Interview with Sister Shantilata who was the head rum at Kundupoda
and letters from Sisters Mahgoda Sumedha and Maitree of Nugegoda.
42. See W. L. King, Theravada Meditation: The Buddhist Transformation of
Yoga, (University Park, Penna.: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1980).
43. The rums reported that they are often called upon by women who
are experiencing family problems. They did not hesitate to confront the hus-
band when'they felt this was necessary.
44. Interview with Sister N. Dhammika.
45. Interview and correspondence with Sister Khemachari.
46. This is similar to the view bf monks mentioned below.
47. Questionnaires returned to the Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs.
48. Interviews with Sisters Khemachari, Sudharma and Dhammika.
49. The material in this section is based on interviews with leading monks
and 15 responses to a questionnaire sent to 49 Mahanayakas in various parts
of Sri Lanka.
50. In addition to speaking to many early lay supporters of the dsm
movement, I surveyed lay attitudes at three sacred compkxes: the Sri
Mahabodhi at Anuradhapura, the Temple of the Tooth at Kandy, and the
shrine at Bellanewila.
51. M. Ames, "Ideological and Social Change in Ceylon," Human Organi-
zation, Vol. 33. No. l. (Spring, 1963) pp. 49-53 mentions that vipassana was
believed to bring health and happiness to the meditator.
52. Interview with Sister Khema and biographical note supplied by Sister
53. Interviews with Mrs. Irene Nanayakkara.
54. Sister Khema was invited to speak at the Island Hermitage but was
prevented by the chief monk of the nikiiya. She. spoke to the laity on the
mainland instead and they donated an island to her cause.
55. See Daily News, Saturday, Oct. 2, 1982, p. 9. In another acticle in
the Daily News, Sister Khema calls for a women's peace corps in Sri Lanka
while speaking to the dsms at Madiwala. She goes on to say that the dsms must
be trained in teaching, social service and hospital work.
56. Letter from Mrs. Kusuma Devendra, January, 1984.
Les Reponses ?-es Pudgalavadin aux
Critiques des Ecoles Bouddhiques*
by Thich T h i ~ n Chdu
Apres Ie parinirvii1J,a du Bouddha, ses enseignements, notam-
ment la doctrine de l'insubstantialite (aniitmaviida), lies aux doc-
trines de la renaissance et de la liberation, etaient difficiles a
comprendre meme pour les bouddhistes, et devinrent l'objet de
plusieurs critiques de la part des non-bouddhistes. Dans Ie but
de satisfaire les bouddhistes et de repondre aux critiques de ces
derniers, les Vatslputriya devaient etablir la theorie du pudgala
comme principe de base pour l'existence d'un individu dans la
vie presente ainsi que dans la transmigration et dans l'extinction.
Cette theorie etait critiquee vivement par les autres ecoles boud-
dhiques. La refutation de la theorie du pudgala occupe une
grande partie du Kathiivatthu, I tout au long du chapitre IX de
l'Abhidharmadkosa,2 etc.
Les critiques sont tres variees et abondantes, cependant on
peut les resumer aux points importants suivants: (1) Si Ie pudgala
existe comme une entite reelle, avec ses fonctions dans la trans-
migration ainsi que dans l'extinction, et sa position ambigue,
incomprehensible n'appartenant ni aux conditionnes, ni a l'in-
conditionne, alors il n'est pas different de l'iitman et l'adhesion
au pudgala constitue un obstacle pour une vie ideale
(brahmacarya). (2) Par I'adhesion a la theorie du pudgala, on
devient heretique (tfrthika); c'est pourquoi on ne peut: a)
pratiquer bien la voie, b) obtenir les savoirs par la meditation,
et c) realiser les fruits de sravaka. Nous voudrions chercher les
reponses des Pudgalavadin (se composant des Vatslputrlya,
SarpmitIya, Dharmottariya, Bhadrayanlya et Sa.r;u;lagarika) dans
leurs propres litteratures que nous avons en mains afin que Ie
Pudgalavada soit bien compris camme tel.
34 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
Bien que les Pudgalavadin aient compris l'essentiel etJ'im-
portance de la doctrine de l'insubstantialite (anatmavada). iis ont
etabli la these dupudgala (Cf. TDS, 19a 13-20; SNS, 464b 12-
15). Cette creation doctrinale vise deux Quts a atteindre: (1)
reintroduire l'existence de la personne pour modifier l'interpre-
tation dogmatique de la doctrine de l'insubstantialite en niant
categoriquementl'existence du principe vital de l'individu; (2)
repondre aux attaques des non-bouddhistes qui affirment l'exis-
tence du Soi (atman).
1. Le Pudgala: Le Nom
En effet, pudgala n'est pas Ie terme invente par les Pud-
galavadin eux-memes, mais celui inscrit dans les Iivres
canoniques ayant comme sens individu, personne, etre, etc.,
simple designation <prafiiapti) et simple moyen conventionnel
d'expression (voharavacana). 11 n'a pas Ie sens de verite absolue
<paramatthasatya); par exemple:
-"si l'on mettait ensemble tous les os qu'une personne <pud-
gala) possedait au cours de son existence durant un eon, eel a
ferait une montagne" (Itivuttaka, 24).
-"l'ordre des disciples du Bienheureux comprenant les
quatre couples d'hommes, leshuit personnes <pudgala) ... " (An,
III, 212).
-"une personne <pudgala), moines, qui nait dans Ie monde,
nair pour Ie profit de beaucoup de gens, pour Ie bonheur des
dieux et des hommes dans Ie monde. Qui est done cette per-
sonne? C'est Ie Tathagata, Arahan, SammasaT(lbuddha" (An, 1,22).
C'est ainsi que les termes pudgala ou sattva dans Ies ouvrages
des Pudgalavadin, d'origine indienne, et gardent dans leurs
traductions chinoises suivantes:
1) Le San - fa - tou - louen
(Tridharmakasastra, en abrege TDS),
TaishO (en abrege T) XXIV, numero 1506.
2) Le Sseu - a - han - mou - tch'ao kiai (en abrege SATK):b T.
XXIV, numero 1505.
3) Le San - mi - ti - pou - louen
(SaT(lmitfyanikiiyasastra, en abrege
SNS) T. XXX II, numero 1649.
etaient concus comme une designation (kia-hao
prajiiapti) de la
personne humaine, l'etre, plus ou moins synonyme des termes
designant un principe individuel comme nara (homme) manava
Geune homme) etc., et meme yakkha ou y a ~ a , un terme interes-
sant utilise par Ie Bouddha et son interlocuteur dans Ie Sut-
tanipata, 875-876.
II. 1s Fonctions du Pudgala
Laissons de cote toutes les informations indirectes, les
mauvaises interpretations ainsi que ses accusations concernant
Ie pudgala. Pourmieux comprendre celui-ci tel qu'il est dans les
propres exposes des Pudgalavadin, il est utile d'examiner en
detail leur theorie du pudgala.
En elaborant la theorie du pudgala, les Pudgalavadin avaient
certainement pour but d'expliquer aussi les fonctions chargees
par une personne ou par un etre dans l'existence presente, la
transmigration et l'extinction. C'est pourquoi Ie pudgala se pre-
sentait sous les trois designations suivantes:
(1) Le pudgala-designe-par-Ies-fondements (iiSrayaprajiia-
ptapudgala). Sur ce sujet, Ie SNS decrit ainsi:
Qu'est-ce que Ie pudgala-designe-par-Ies-fondements? - Comme
Ie Bouddha l'a dit a Papaka: "En se fondant sur telles et telles
choses composees (saT(lSkara), on nomme [pudgala] ce-qui-est de-
signe-par-fondements." Ce qui est nomme [pudgala]-designe-par-
les-fondements, est comrrie Ie feu [par rapport au combustible].
Le Bouddha a dit a Sariputra: "Quelqu'un est appele Naga (a
cause de sa forme) brillante pure et aimable. [De meme], ce qui
est forme par les quatre grands elements s'appelle Ie personne.
II en est ainsi pour tout. Prenez aussi l'exemple du lait." Telle
est l'explication fondee sur les sutra. C' est pourquoi cela est appele
Ie [pudgala]-designe-par-Ies-fondements. (SNS, 466b 3-9)
Le TDS exprime:
La designation de l'appropriation (upiidiinaprajfiapti) designe
l'etre (sattva) qui, en rapport avec son appropriation (upiidiina)
des agregats (skandha) , des elements (dhiitu) et des domaines
(iiyatana) , est considere comme (a la fois) identique et different.
(TDS, 24b 2-3)
36 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
A travers les deux passages precedents, on se rend compte
que Ie pudgala-designe-par les-fondements (iiSrayaprajiiaptapud-
gala) ou Ie pudgala-designe-par-l'appropriation (upadanaprajiiap-
tapudgala) sont equivalents, car ces deux d,esignations concer-
nent Ie rapport entre Ie pudgala et les agregats qui en sont
l'appui. C'est ainsi que Ie pudgala n'est pas une realite absolue,
separee totalement des choses composees. Pudgala est donc une
designation conventionnelle pour une personne qui vit dans Ie
present avec son nom et ses activites. Par consequent, selon les
Pudgalavadin, nier l'existence du pudgala serait priver la vie
humaine de tous sens.
(2) Le pudgala-designe-par-la-transmigration (sankramaprai
iiaptapudgala) .
Sous cette denomination, il y a des explications differentes
dans les ouvrages des Pudgalavadin. Le SNS ecrit:
Qu' est-ce-que Ie [pudgala ]-designe-par-Ia-transmigration?
Quand, a tel moment, un etre passe a une autre existence, alors
Ie Bouddha l'appelle ''pudgala-en-transmigration.'' Pourquoi Ie
denomme t-on Ie pudgala-designe-par-Ia-transmigration? A cause
de Ia designation du passe, du futur et du present. II faut com-
prendre que Ie Bouddha, en se fondant sur les choses composees
(sa'T(lSkara) de tous temps, etablit ces trois designations. C'est pour-
quoi Ia designation de la transmigration des choses composees
est nommee Ie [pudgala]-designe-par-la-transmigration. (SNS,
466b-27) .
Le SATK expose sur Ie meme sujet:
La designation du moyen (upiiyaprajnapti) signifie la designation
sur Ie passe (at'ita), Ie futur (aniigata), et Ie present (pratyutpanna).
Ene est associee aux trois temps. Comme [Ie Bouddha l'a dit]:
"Dans Ie passe, j'etais Ie roi Sunetra. Dans Ie futur, il y aura (un
homme) qui s'appelle Ajita. Dans Ie present, il y a Gautama
Siddhartha, etc." [ ... ] "Par convention, [on etablit] cette designa-
tion pour [remedier aux opinions] de l'aneantissement (uccheda)
et de l'eternite (siisvata). Si Ie roi avait ete aneanti, comment
existerais-je [maintenant]? S'il ne l'avait pas ete, comment pour-
rais-je exister? En se fondant sur la verite conventionnelle
(san:tv'rtisatya), on parle de cette designation du moyen (upiiyapraj-
napti)." (SATK, lOa 13-19)
Expose du meme sujet dans Ie TDS:
La designation du passe (atitaprajnapti) est l'information concer-
nant les agregats (skandha), les elements (dhatu) et les domaines
(ayatana) du passe (atita) , comme lorsgue [Ie Bouddha] l'a dit:
"J'existais a une epogue donnee, sous Ie nom de Kiu-Siu-t'a
Kudala ou Kuddalaka?" (TDS, 24b 3-4)
La comparaison des trois passages precedents nous conduit
a penser que Ie pudgala-designe-par-la-transmigration du SNS
a un sens plus large que la designation du moyen (upayaprajfiapti)
du SA TK qui explique seulement la continuite de la vie, et que
Ia designation du passe (atftaprajfiapti) du TDS qui designe seule-
ment une partie du temps. Cela veutdire que Ie pudgala-designe-
par-la-transmigration (sankramaprajfiaptapudgala) dans Ie SNS
indique Ie pudgala suivant les trois temps pour expliquer:
a) la cantinuiti: d'une personne qui est camme un flux ininter-
rompu des phenomenes psycho-physiques, coulant non seule-
ment dans Ie present mais ayant sa source dans Ie passe et
continuant toujours a couler dans l'avenir.
b) la responsabilite des actes (karman), car Ie pudgala est ce qui,
a travers Ie flux des existences, deIivre et recalte ses retributions;
c'est la raison d'etre des bonnes actions et de Ia justice.
(3) Le pudgala-designe-par-l'extinction (nirodhaprajfiap-
tapudgala) .
a) Sur ce sujet, les SNS explique:
Que signifie Ie pudgala-designe-par-l'extinction (nirodhaprajnap-
tapudgala)? Apres Ie pudgala-designe-par-Ies-fondements et Ie
pudgala-designe-par-Ia-transmigration, Ie Bouddha parle du pud-
gala-designe-par-l'extinction. Lorsgue Ie corps du passe est de-
truit, c' est ce gu' on nomme la designation de l' extinction. Comme
Ie Bouddha l'a dit: "l'extinction des cing agregats impermanents
des moines dont les impuretes (iiSrava) sont epuisees s'appelle Ia
designation de l'extinction." [De plus], comme Ie Bouddha l'a dit
dans cette stance:
Le sage ne peut etre me sure
Car il a obtenu la joie inebranlable.
C'est ce gu'on nomme Ie pudgala-designe-par-l'extinction.
(SNS, 466c 19-24)
b) Le SATK expose les memes idees avec c1arte:
38 ]IABSVOL.10NO.l
Que signifiela designation de l'extinction? best la designation
de l'extinction dans laquelle l'appropriation est epuisee, et OU
ron ne s'approuve plus rien" (Sidra). L'appropriation est comme
il a ete explique ci-dessus. Cette est epuisee: on
ne s'approprie plus rien; on ne s'empare plus d'une autre [vie].
Ayant cesse l'inidividualite et n'ayant plus de reste! on atteint
l'autre rive. (SATK, lOa 19-22)
c) Sur le meme sujet, Ie TDS expose brevement:
La designation de l'extinction (nirodhaprajiiapti), c'est I'informa-
tion concernant l'appropriation (upiidiina) etant cesse comme
lorsqu'on dit que Ie Bienheureux [atteint] Ie parinirviiTla. (TDS,
24b 45)
Le pudgala-designe-par-l'extinction dans Ie SNS n'est pas
different de la designation de l'extinction dans Ie SATK et dans
Ie TDS, car tous les trois designent l'extinction des cinq agregats,
ou Ie parinirvii1!a de l'arhant ou du Tathagata.
II est certain que lesPudgalavadin, en formulant cette de-
signation voulaient denoncer la mauvaise interpretation de la
doctrine du Bouddha sur Ie probleme d'apres la mort d'un
arhant ou du Tathagata.
C'est par la designation de I'extinction qu'on remedie aux vues
de l'aneantissement et de l'eternite: Ainsi, elle n'est certainement
que Ie synonyme de la designation du parinirviiTla (?) qui est
egalement ineffable (avaktavya). Si [l'ineffable] est different [du
corps] il n'y a pas de parinirviiTla. S'il n'est pas different, il n'y a
[egalement] pas de parinirviiTla. Si l'on comprend ainsi l'ineffable,
on comprend inevitablement que Ie parinirviiTla est comme une
lampe qui s'eteint .... La designation de l'extinction signifie, en
premier lieu, l'extinction de l'appropriation (upiidiina) [comme
quand on dit]: "Le Bienheureux [a atteint] Ie parinirviiTla."
(SATK, lOa 19-28)
C'est ainsi que, seion les Pudgalavadin, Ie libere qui atteint
le parinirvii1!a est la personne par excellence (uttamapuriso,
paramapuriso) ayant realise l'extinction totale des agregats im-
purs, atteint a l'autre rive ou il jouit de Ia beatitude.
II est probable que les Pudgalavadin, en etablissant Ie pud-
gala-designe-par-l'extinction, souhaiteraient demontrer que la
pe:rsonne par excellence, arrivee au terme de sa derniere exis-
tence, atteint Ie nirva'fJ,a sans reste au Ie parinirva'fJ,a et y demeure
dans la beatitude. Evidemment, ce qu'admmetaient les Pud-
galavadin quant au probleme de "l'existence" apres la mort d'un
arhant ou du Tathagata, malgre la designation (prafiiapti), con-
stitue une notion doctrinale nouvelle et remarquable eu egard
au domaine inexplique dans l'enseignement du Bouddha.
En ce qui concerne la mise sur pied des trois designations,
Ie TDS, 24a29-24b8, explique qU'elles ont pour but de retablir
la verite sur Ie pudgala:
La premiere designation est double: la designation de l'appro-
priation (upiidiinaprajnapti) et la designation de l'absence de l'ap-
propriation (anupiidiinaprajnapti). Elle remedie au nihilisme (niis-
tidn,(i) qui soutient que "rien n'existe"; car si l'on comprend l'exis-
tence de la personne en rapport avec les fondements, on n'admet
pas Ie nihillsme. La deuxieme designation remedie au realisme
(astidr4(i) pretendant que "toute chose existe"; car si l'on com-
prend qu'il n'existe rien, qu'il n'y a pas d'appropriation, on
n'admet donc pas Ie realisme. Ainsi, la premiere designation
remedie aux deux fausses vues relatives au present. La deuxieme
designation du passe (at'itaprafiiapti). Elle remedie a l'annihilation
[apres la mort] (ucchedadr4#) qui nie la renaissance et la matura-
tion des actes; car si l'on comprend qu'il existe des vies an-
terieures, il est tout a fait naturel qu'il existe egalement des vies
posterieures. On admet donc la doctrine de la renaissance. La
troisieme designation concerne l'extinction (nirodhaprajnapti).
Elle remedie a l'eternalisme (siiSvatadr4(i) qui considere que rien
n'est change apres la mort d'un libere, car si l'on comprend qu'il
existe une personne par excellence apres Ie parinirviirJ,a, on ne
s'attache plus a l'eternalisme.
N ous pourrions resumer les trois designations du pudgala
en reponse aux fausses idees en un tableau condense ci-dessous:
____ } ---1'liistidr4(i
iiSrayaprajnaptapudgala -astidn,(i
sankramaprajnaptapudgala ---_I ---ucchedadr4#
nirodhaprajnaptapudgala ----.... -siiSvatadrs(i
40 JIABS VOL. 10 NO. I
Essayons d'examiner les motifs justifiant la formulation du
pudgala au sujet des agregats. Certainement, cette position
specifique et difficile a se definir fUt etablie apres que les Pud-
galavadin eurent bien etudie l'attitude et la critique du Bouddha
relatives aux fausses vues sur l'identification et Ia differenciation
du principe vital, Ie corps etant des obstacles pour une vie ideale
(Cf. Sn, II, 61).
Les Pudgalavadin, ne negligeant rien des dites critiques,
avaient pris la position du juste-milieu pour Ie pudgala qui n'est
ni identique aux agregats ni differents d'eux-memes: "II est
impossible de dire que l'etre (sattva: pudgala) est different des
caracteristiques, il serait [en consequence] eternel (sasvata); et,
s'il etait identique aux caracteristiques, il serait non-eternel
(asasvata). Ces deux erreurs ne peuvent etre commises" (TDS,
19c 35). En soutenantcette position, iIs voulaient que Ie pudgala
ne tombe pas dans Ie dilemme: si lepudgala est different des
agregats, it doit etre une sllbstance permanente et n'a aucun
rapport avec la vie; si le pudgala est identique aux agregats, il
do it etre impermanent camme les agregats:
[En ce qui concerne] la designation de l'appropriation relative a
la vie; la vie (jiva:sattva:pudgala) n'est-elle pas identique [au
corps]; cela ne peut etre confirme (?). Si la vie et Ie corps sont
identiques, (la vie est) impermanente (anitya) et souffrante
(duMha). Si elle est differente, eUe est eternelle (sasvata) et [non]
souffrante. Si [la vie est] eternelle, on ne pratique pas la vie ,pure
(brahmacarya). Dans l'eternite, il n'est pas necessaire d'avoir une
vie pure; la recolte du fruit et la reception, Ie don, n'ont pas de
sens. [Si la vie est] impermanente, cela n'a pas de sens. Car dans
les deux cas, soit l' eternite (sasvata) soit l'aneantissement (uccheda) ,
il n'existe ni de souffrance, ni de bonheur. (SATK, lOa 8-11)
La position du pudgala est non seulement effective a la
personne dans la vie presente mais aussi a la personne dans la
transmigration ainsi que la personne par excellence. Autrement
dit, la proposjtion sur Ie rapport du pudgala et les fondements
. est egalement significative dans l'interpretation du pudgala-de-
signe-par la transmigration. Certainement, si Ie pudgala etait
identique aux fondements, et lorsque les fondements disparais-
sent a la mort, il devrait disparaitre; comme Ie SNS l'explique:
"Si Ie pudgala etait identique aux agregats, lorsque ceux-ci dis-
paraissent ou lepudgala ou
rait egalement (SNS, 456b lO-ll). 51 Ie pudgala est dIfferent
des fondements, alors Ie pudgala n'a aucune relation avec la vie;
donc il est absolument libere. S'il en etait ainsi, Ie probleme de
la renaissance n'aurait aucun sens comme Ie SNS explique:
... si Ie pudgala etait different des agregats, Ie pudgala ne devrait
pas renaitre dans les differentes destinees. Si l'on considere que
la reconnaissance s'effectue dans les differentes destinees, Ie pud-
gala devrait renaitre dans toutes au meme instant. Ainsi done,
eIIe ne devrait pas resider toujours dans Ie corps, et la liberation
serait alors difficile a obtenir. Si Ia pudgala passait de destinee en
destinee, elle ne devrait pas creer l'acte (karman). S'il n'y avait
pas d'acte et de resultat, eIIe n'aurait pas egalement de travail,
d'attachement, de derachement, et de pratique de la meditation.
Cela devrait etre Ia liberation. (SNS, 465c 13-16)
Quant a la position de la personne par excellence,
(Tathagata), les Pudgalavadin avaient la meme idee: "Ie
Tathagata ou une personne par excellence n'est pas identifie
avec les agregats ni different d'eux." n est certain que, aux yeux
des Pudgalavadin, il n'y a pas de differenciation totale ou plutot
de discontinuite entre les existences successives d'un etre vivant
(sattva:pudgala) et la personne par excellence (uttamapuriso,
paramapuriso: buddha: Tathiigata); me me dans Ie parinirvii'lJa.
Cette adhesion aurait ete bien confirmee par les paroles du
Bouddha selon Iesquelles meme durant Ia vie, Ie Tathagata ne
peut etre decouvert, encore bien moins apres la mort et qu'aucun
des cinq agregats ne do it etre considere comme la Tathagata,
ni qu'on peut trouver Ie Tathagata en dehors de ce phenomene
ph ysico-psychique.
A ce propos, il est interessant de noter l'identification du
mot tathiigata avec Ie mot sattva (etre vivant) par Buddhaghosa
dans ses commentaires.
S'il etait certain que Ie mot tathiigata a
Ie me me sens que Ie motsattva comme Buddhaghosa l'a explique
precisement sans confusion du sens du terme,' cela donnerait
une relation significative entre la notion et Ia proposition selon
lesquelles Ie Tathagata n'est ni identique aux agregats ni differ-
ent d'eux.
Les docteurs Pudgalavadin allaient encore plus loin dans
leur adhesion sur la position du pudgala. Par la logique concer-
nant la continuite ou la perpetuite illimitee des trois definitions,
iis confirment que Ie pudgala est un dharma ineffable (avaktavya),
rune des cinq categories des choses susceptibles d'etre connues
(paiicaridamjiieyam) (1-3. les choses compo,sees en trois temps:
passe, present etfutur, 4.1e non-compose, 5.1epudgala) n'appar-
tient ni aux composes (sarIJSkr:ta) ni au non-compose (asarIJSkr:ta).
Ce dassement particulier du pudgala est denote precisement
dans Ie TDS: "Le pudgala est-il separe des trois temps ou non,
il est impossible de Ie dire" (TDS, 19a 26).
Le tableau ci-dessous peut resumer les prises de position
pour Ie pudgala:
iiirayaprajMptapuagala I
ni identiques
sa1ikramaprajiiaptapudgala 5skandha
ni differents
~ 1-3 chases de 3 temps
: 5. pudgala :
Les Pudgalavadin, et notamment les SarpmitJ:ya, con-
solidaient la theorie du pudgala avec les arguments vigoureux
se rapportant a toutes les notions doctrinales importantes du
Bouddhisme, avec des refutations fortes et meme des con dam-
nations sans reserve a l'egard des gens qui niaient Ie pudgala:
Le Bauddha a dit: "Le pudgala existe en tant que designation
(prajiiapti). C'est pourquoi cela s'oppose a [l'opinion de] l'inexis-
tence de la personne. S'il est vrai que la personne n'existe pas,
alors il n'y aura pas ce qui tue ainsi que ce qui est tue. II en est
de meme pour Ie vol, l'amour illicite, Ie mensonge, et l'absorption
de l'alcaol. C'est [la lacune de l'opinion de] l'inexistence de la
personne. Si la personne n'existait pas, il n'y aurait pas non plus
les cinq crimes majeurs; [si] les organes des sens ne produisaient
" pas les bannes et mauvaises actions, il n'y aurait pas de lien; s'il
n'y avait pas ce qui de tache les liens, il n'y aurait pas ce qui est
attache egalement, et il n'y aurait ni acteur ni acte, ni resultat
[de l'acte]. S'il n'y avait pas d'acte, il n'y aurait pas de resultat.
[S']il n'y avait pas d'acte, de resultat, il n'y aurait ni naissance, ni
mort. Mais les etres vivants, a cause des actes et de leurs resultats,
transmigrent dans Ie cycle de la naissance et de lamart (sarl}Sara).
S'il n'y avait ni naissance, ni mort, il n'y aurait pas de cause (hetu)
de la naissance et de la mort. S'il n'y avait pas de cause, il n'y
aurait pas de cessation de cause. S'il n'y avait pas de cessation de
cause, il n'y aurait pas d'orientation vers la voie (miirga); ainsi, il
n'y aurait pas les quatre noble verites(iiryasatya). S'il n'y avait pas
les quatre nobles verites, il n'y aurait pas de Bouddha enseignant
les quatre noble verites. S'il n'y avait pas de Bouddha, il n'y aurait
pas de communaute des moines (sangha). Ainsi la refutation du
pudgaZa entraine la refutation du Triple Joyau (triratna) et des
quatre noble verites. Telle est la refutation de toutes ces opinions.
C'est pourquoi la refutation du pudgaZa fait naitre les erreurs
mentionneesci-dessus, etd'autres erreurs se produisent egaIe-
ment. Si l'on admet que la personne (pudgaZa), Ie soi existe, les
erreurs mentionnees ci-dessus ne se produisent pas. Comme Ie
Bouddha l'a dit dans Ie siltra, il faut Ie savoir exactement. C'est
pourquoi la personne existe vraiment. (SNS, 465a 17-465b 1)
En conclusion, Ie pudgala, selon les Pudgalavadin, est une
designation (prajiiapti), mais non une realite absolue. Sa carac-
teristique avec ses trois fonctions realistes et pragmatiques, sa
position specifique et au juste-milieu, est totalement differente
des conceptions du soi meta physique (iitman) de la philosophie
Par consequent, l'adhesion a la theorie du pud-
gala n'est pas un obstacle pour la vie ideale (brahmacarya).
IV. La Reponse des Pudgalaviidin it Leurs Critiques
La theorie du pudgala etait refutee et critiquee vigoureuse-
ment. Et les Pudgalavadin etaient condamnes comme heretiques
(tirthika) par plusieurs ecoles bouddhiques.
Pour repondre posi-
tivement a cette condamnation, les Pudgalavadin avaient de-
montre qu'ils etaient de bons bouddhistes par (a) l'observation
correcte du code disciplinaire (Vinaya), (b) du savoir par la medi-
tation et (c) de la realisation des fruits des sriivaka comme les
autres bouddhistes.
a) La vie monastique (sUa). Malgre qu'il manque des textes
originels du Vinaya des Pudgalavadin, et grace au Liu-eul-che-eul-
ming-Ieao-Iouen (en abrege LECEMLL/ (Vinayadviivi'f!l-
satividyiiSiistra) , T. XXIV, numero 1461, riche en renseigne-
ments, nollS savons que les Pudgalavadin possedaient une im-
44 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
portante collection de code disciplinaire (Vinayapitaka), Par cet
ouvrage, on connait en detail un certain nombre de textes du
Vinaya des Sarp.mitlya con tenant 420 pnceptes enonces par Ie
Bouddha ainsi gU'un traite de ,
1) - P'o-chou-teou-liu
(Vastuvinaya) (LECEMLL, 666a-:7): 200
2) - Yeou-pa-t'i-che-liu
(Upadesavinaya) (LECEMLL, 666a8):
121 preceptes,
3) - Pi-k'ieou-ni-liu
(Bhilv;untvinaya) (LECEMLL, 666a8-9) 99
4) - Po-lo-t'i-mou-tch'a-louerJ (Pratimolv;asastra) (LECEMLL,
666A 13)
De plus, on trouve dans cet ouvrage les notions pncises sur
la structure du Vinaya des Pudgalavadin comme les 9 categories
du Vinaya (Cf. LECEMLL, 666a 27-666b 11); et le
des Pudgalavadin se composant de 5 categories de
preceptes (666b 12-18) et 7 groupes de fautes (666c 4-12). En
outre, la communaute des moines existant durablement pendant
10 siecles, prouve bien que les Pudgalavadin avaient une vie
monastigue bien disciplinee et organisee selon Ie Vinaya.
b) L'e:xperience de la meditation (samadhi). Selon les Pudgalava-
din, avant de penetrer dans Ie stade de la vision (darsanabhumi)
Ie pratiguant doit passer un exercice preparatoire-la concentra-
tion d'approche (upacarasamadhi) qui se divise en trois stades:
(1) la patience stade ou le pratiguant penetre profonde-
ment dans la realite des choses composees, (2) Ie nom (nama):
stade ou l'esprit du pratiguant devient imperturbable dans la
reflexion correcte(yoniSomanaskara), (3) la notion (sanljna): stade
ou la comprehension devient claire, englobant Ie stade de la
chose-supreme du monde (laukikagradharma) car il en est ainsi
de la notion du Bouddha (Cf. TDS, 18b 14-18). Seion Ie TDS,
18b 15, les niveaux des trois stades ne sont pas les memes, sauf
Ie premier les deux derniers, nama et san:z,jna + laukikag-
radharma, sont inebraniables (10):
1 lv;anti
2 nama
3 sarttjna + 4 laukikagradharma
} Inebranlables
Qu:ant aux savoirs per la meditation (selon Ie TDS 19b 14-27)
dans Ie stade de la vision (darsanabhumi)le pratiquant obtient les
12 savoirs relatifs aux quatre verites en rapport avec les trois
Seion Ie texte, lorsque Ie pratiquant penetre dans la verite
de la souffrance (dulJ,kha) relative au monde sensuel (kiimadhiitu),
il obtient Ie premier savoir des choses (dharmaJiuina). La perfec-
tion de la comprehension claire de chaque verite exige un exa-
men (vicarafiuina?). Apres avoir atteint ces deux savoirs, Ie
pratiquant obtient Ie troisieme savoir de la verite de la souffr-
ance, relatif aux deux autres mondes, a savoie Ie monde
materiel-subtil (rupadhatu) et Ie monde immateriel (arupadhiitu).
Ce savoir s'appelle Ie savoir de ce-qui-n'est-pas-encore-connu
. (afiiatafiiana?). Le meme processus est <l.pplique aux trois autres
. verites. Ainsi, il y a au total 12 savoirs. La meditation doit etre
exercee deux fois en se referant au monde sensuel. La premiere
fois, la reflexion correcte (yoniSomanaskiira) examine la souffr-
ance. La deuxieme fois a lieu a l'elimination des passion-a-de-
truire par la vision de la souffrance (dulJ, La
troisieme fois, on se refere aux deux mondes superieurs
(rilpadhiitu et arilpadhiitu) pour abondonner les passions relatives
a ces deux mondes. Ce sont les trois savoirs concernant la pre-
miere verite (dulJ,khasatya). n en est de meme pour les 9 autres
savoirs concernant les trois verites, a savoir: la cause de la souf-
france (duMhasamudaya) , la cessation de la souffrance
(duMhanirodha) et la voie (marga):

1 - } kiimadhiitu
2 - vzcaraJnana
3 - iijiiiitajiiiina } rilpadhiitu +iirilpadhiitu
1 - } kiimadhiitu
2 - vzcaraJnana
3 - ajiiiitajiiiina } rilpadhiitu+ iirilpadhiitu
1 - dharmajiiiina } kii dh -t
"- ma au
- VlciiraJniina
3 - ajiiiitajiiiina} rilpadhiitu + iirilpadhiitu
IV-marge I
1 - dharmajiiiina } kii dh -t
. - "- - ma au
- vzcaraJnana
3 - ajiiiitajiiiina} rilpadhiitu + iirilpadhiitu
En comparant Ie processus du stade de la VISIOn (dar-
sanabhumi) avec celui des 16 pensees des Sarvastivadin,1I on
s'apen;;oit que celui preconise par les Pudgalavadin est different
de celui des Sarvastivadin en ce qui concerne non seulement Ie
nombre (12 =1= 16) mais aussi l'appellation'des pensees ou des
savoirs. Certains condurent que Ie cours de la vision des Pud-
galavadin est plus faible que celui des Sarvastivadin.
A ce propos, on se demande si Ie processus des 12 savoirs
des Pudgalavadin ne soit pas Ie premier decouvert? n est possible
de repondre positivement parce que c'est Ie Pudgalavada qui
fut l'ecole separative des Ie premier schisme de Sthavira cause
par la dispute doctrinale; de plus, il est plus simple que Ie proc-
essus des 16 pensees des Sarvastivadin. Si cela s'averait exact,
les experiences des Pudgalavadin sur les 12 savoirs de la medi-
tation est une decouverte plus valable.
c) La realisation des fruits de Sriivaka. II existe deux listes de
sriivaka dans la litterature des Pudgalavadin: l'une de 27
categories dans Ie TDS, l'autre de 10 ou 12 categories dans Ie
SNS. La premiere, des Vatsiputriya, est plus riche tant pour les
facultes que pour les categories que la deuxieme, des Sarnmitiya.
Cependant les categories principales des deux !istes sont sembl-
abies en ce qui concerne les 4 fruits de sriivaka: srotiipanna,
sakr:diigamin, iiniigiimin et arhant. L'existence des deux listes de
sravaka precedentes, confirme, au fUT et a mesure, l'opinion
seion laquelle la separation entre les Vatsiputrlya et les
Salllmitiya fut causee par les interpretations differentes de la
stance commune des Pudgalavadin.
II suffit de prendre la tiste
des 27 categories correspondantes a trois stades du TDS pour
demontrer que les Pudgalavadin sont capables d'atteindre les
fruits comme les autres.
A) Le stade des desirs-non-encore-abandonnes (avitariigabhumi)
comprend trois fruits ou neuf categories:
a) Le premier fruit est Ie Seme ( ~ t a m a k a ) qui obtient les
12 savoirs et qui se compose de 3 categories:
1) celui-qui-a-poursuivi-la-verite-par-la confiance
(Sraddhiinusiirin) ,
2) celui-qui-a-poursuivi-la-verite-par la sagesse (praj-
iianusiirin) ,
3) celui-qui-a-poursuivi-la-verite-par-Ia-confiance et
la sagesse (sraddhiiprajiiiinusiirin).
b) Le deuxieme fruit est celui-qui-a-gagne-le-courant
(srotapanna) qui est Ie fruit obtenu apres s'hre eleve
dans la voie (marga). Selon la facuIte do min ante quand
Ie pratiquant est au stade de la vision, ce fruit se divise
. en trois categories:
. 1) celui-qui-n'a-plus-que-sept-renaissances-au-
maximum (saPtakt:dbhavaparama) ,
2) celui-qui-renait-dans-plusieurs famines (kulan;-
3) celui-qui-est-moyen (madhyama?).
c) Le troisieme fruit est Ie stade de l'amoindrissement
(tanubhumi). C'est Ie stade de celui qui, ayant possede
toutes les qualites de celui-qui-a-gagne-le-courant
(Srotapanna) , a reduit les passions du monde sensuel
(kiimadhiitu). 11 comprend trois categories:
1) celui-qui-ne-reviendra-qu'une-fois (sak'(dagamin),
2) celui-qui-ne-renaitra-qu'une fois (ekabijzn),
3) moyen (madhyama?)14
B) Le stade-de-l'abandon-du-desir (vitaragabhumi) comprend
trois fruits ou neuf categories:
a) Ie premier est-celui-qui-est-libere-par-Ia-confiance (srad-
dhiidhimukta). 11 est nomme ainsi parce que la confiance
(sraddha) est Ie facteur dominant de sa liberation. Ce
fruit comprend 3 categories:
1) celui-qui-remonte-le-courant (urdhvasrota),
2) celui-qui-atteint-Ie-parinirvan-a par les composes
(siibhisa11JSkiiraparinirviiyin) ,
3) celui-qui-atteint-le-parinirviin-a-par-le-non-com-,
pose (anabhisan;skiiraparinirvayin)
b) Ie deuxieme fruit est-celui-qui-est-doue-de-vision
(dn#priipta); c'est celui qui-a-poursuivi-Ia verite-par-la-
sagesse <.prajnanusiirin) qui s'eleve
don-du-desir (vztariigabhumi) et qui est appele celui-qui-
est-doue-de-vision La sagesse est l'element
dominant dans la liberation. 11 comprend trois
1) celui-qui-atteint-Ie-parinirviin-a-dans l'existence-in-
termediaire (antariiParinirviiyin) ,
2) cel ui-qui -atteint -le-parinirviin-a-dans-la -renaissance
(upapadyaparinirviiyin) ,
3) celui-qui-remonte-le-courant (urdhvasrota).
c) Le troisieme fruit est la temoin du corps
C'est Ie fruit par excellence parmi les fruits du stade-de-
l'abandon-du-desir (vitaragabhumi) et, grace a lui, on ob-
tient sa liberation au cours de sa vie.
Ce fruit
1) celui-qui-atteint-Ie-parinirvan-a-par les composes
(sabhisa1(tSkaraparinirvayin) ,
2) celui-qui-atteint-le-parinirva1Ja-par-le-non-com-
pose (anabhisar(lskaraparinirvayin) ,
3) celui-qui-atteint -le-parinirva1Ja-dans-la renaissance
(upapadhyaparinirvayin) .
Selon le TDS, il n'y a pas de tautologie a les trois
categories des fruits precedents car ces trois premieres categories
du troisieme fruit appartiennent au monde im-
materiel (arupadhatu). 16
C) L'Arhant. Les Pudgalavadin soutenaient que l'arhant est sus-
ceptible de dechoir et traitaient a son propos de 3 facultes ou
9 categories:
a) la faculte aigue
1) celui-qui-est-stable (sthitakampya),
2) celui-qui-progresse (prativedhannadharman),
3) celui-qui-est-inebranlable (akopyadharman).
b) la faculte molle (mrdhvindriya):
4) celui-qui-dechoit (pariha1Jt;Ldharman) ,
5) celui-qui-pense (cetanadharman),
6) celui-qui-preserve
c) la faculte moyenne (madhyendriya):
7) celui-qui-est-libere-par-la-sagesse (prajnavimukta) ,
8) celui-qui-atteint-la-liberation complete,
9) celui-qui-atteint-Ia-liberation incomplete.
Ces deux dernieres categories s'appellent ensemble egalement
Ie doublement libere (ubhayatobhagavimukta).17
Avec les preuves seion lesquelles les Pudgalavadin etaient
des gens bien suivaient la voie de Bouddha en observant la
moralite (fila) pratiquant la meditation (samadhi) et obtenant les
fruits ils pourraient effectivement repondre qu'ils n'etaient
jamais des heretiques.
Malgre que les documents litteraires laisses par les Pud-
galavadin soient peu nombreux, nous avons essaye de restituer
les arguments propres du Pudgalavada relatives au pudgala pour
eclairer la raison d'etre de cettetheorie refutable par les autres
ecoles; nous avons egalement demontre les propres experiences
spirituelles des Pudgalavadin afin de prouver que leur vie ide ale
est correcte.
Cependant, nous estimons que Ie jour ou, dans l'avenir,
d'autres documents y relatifs seraient decouverts, la valeur in-
trinseque et exacte du Pudgalavada se justifierait plus ample-
* Cet article etait presente a Ia septieme conference de I'IABS, Bologna,
Italie, 1985.
1. Kathavatthu, (PTS) pp. 8-63.
2. L'Abhidharmakosa de Vasubandhu, traduit par Louis de LA VALLEE
POUSSIN, GEUTHNER, (en abrege Kosa) Paris 1923-1931, pp. 227-279.
3. Sur ce point, cf. G. P. MALALASEKARA, The Truth of Anatta (BPS)
Kandy-Srilanka, 1966, p. 24; et T.R.V. MURTI, The Central Philosophy of Bud-
dhism: A Study of the Madhyamika System, London 1955, p. 81.
4. Sur ce point, cf. TH. STCHERBTSKY, The Concept of Buddhist
Nirva1Ja, Office of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Leningrad, 1927,
p. 31 note 1; A. BAREAU, Richesse de la pensee bouddhique ancienne, France-Asie,
numero 153-157, Saigon 1959; p. 453.
5. Cf. Sn, III, 118-119: Ie dialogue entre Ie Bouddha et Anuradha sur
Ia conception du Tathagata; Cf. aussi Sn, III, 109-115: Ie dialogue entre
Sariputta et Yamaka sur Ie meme sujet.
6. UdiinaHhakattha (PTS), 340: Le Tathagata, c'est Ie soi (Tathagato ti
atta). D'ighanikiiyaHhakattha (PTS) I, 118: dans l'expose hoti Tathagato etc ... , par
Tathagato est defini etre (hoti tathagato ti adisu, satto tathagato ti adhipetto). Nous
traduisons atta par Ie soi dans un sens plus conventionnel, com me (atta hi
attano natho-Dhp, 160; attana va katam papam-Dhp, 161). Cf. aussi Maj-
jhimanikiiyaHhakatha, II, 117; K. BHATTACHARYA, L'atman-Brahman dans
le Bouddhisme ancien, Publication de I'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient, Vol.
XXX, Paris 1973, p. 123 et note 5; K.N.JAYATILLEKE, Early Buddhist Theory
of Knowledge, George Allen & Unwin, London 1963, pp. 244,291-292.
7. Nous pensons que Buddhaghosa, ayant explique Ie mot Tathagata
par Ie mot sattva, n'a fait aucune confusion de doctrine ou de langage. Evidem-
ment, cette identification est Ie fruit de sa reflexion doctrinale approfondie,
tandis que K.N. JAYATILLEKE, dans Ie Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge,
pp. 291-292, pense que Buddhaghosa s'est trompe en identifiant Tathagata
avec sattva.
8. Sur Ie sujet de l'atman, cf. S. DASGUPTA, A History of Indian
Philosophy, University Press-Cambridge 1963, Vol. I, p. 75; S. RADHA-
KRISHNAN, Indian Philosophy, London 1929, p. 284; K. BHATTACHARYA,
I'Atrnan-Brahman . dans le Bouddhisme ancien, pp. 7-9 et note; G. P.
MALALASEKERA, The Truth of Anattii, p. 4.
9. Kosa, IX, p. 230 et note 1 (p. 227 etc.).
10. Selon Ie Kosa, IV, 17-20, et parmi les 4 stades, seules les deux derniers
sont des stades fixes, c'est-a-dire d'ou l'on ne retombe plus. Ainsi, les differ-
ences de niveau des stades entre TDS et Kosa ne sont pas les memes:
nirvedhabhiigtya upaciirasamiidhi
(Sarvastivadin) (Pudgalavadin)
l-usmagata l-ksanti
2-niima !
3-sarr;jiia inebranlable
4-laukikiigra- inebranlable 4-laukikiigradharma
11. Kosa, VI, p. 185, note 1: evan sodasacitto'yam satyiibhisamaya. Cf. A.
BAREAU, SBPV, p. 117; Cf.]. MASUDA, Origin and Doctrine of Early Buddhist
Schools, p. 41, note 1. Le stade de la vision et l'ordre graduel de la comprehen-
sion composee des 16 pensees dont I'essentiel peut etre resume dans la tableau
suivant: (Cf. Kosa, VI, 27)
2) dharmajiiiina
rupadhiitu +
4) anvayajiiiina iirupadhiitu
5) }
rupadhiitu +
8) anvayajiiiina iirupadhiitu
9) }
10) dharmajiiiina
rupadhiitu +
12) anvayajiiiina iirupadhiitu
13) }
14) dharmajiiiina
rupadhiitu +
16) anvayajiiiina iirupadhiitu
Les Sarvastivadin admettaient que la comprehension de la verite est
compo see de 16 pensees car la meditation est pratiquee quatre fois sur chacune
des quatre verites: deux fois en se referant au monde sensuel et deux fois en
se referant aux deux mondes superieurs.
12. En composant les deux processus du stade de las vision, on trouve
que celui des Pudgalavadin est different de celui des Sarvastivadin en ce qui
concerne non seulement Ie nombre, mais aussi l'appellation des pensees ou
des savoirs:
16 pensees des Sarviistiviidin
12 savoirs des Pudgalaviidin
1 Duhkhe
1 DuMhe vicarajiiana
2 Duhkhe dharmajiiana
2 Duhkhe vicarajnana
3 Duhkhe
3 Ajiiatajiiana
4 Duhkhe anvayajiiana
4-6: 3 savoirs relatifs ala 2eme
verite (Samudaya)
9-12: 4 pensees relatives ala
3eme verite (Nirodha)
7 -9: 3 savoirs relatifs ala 3eme
verite (Nirodha)
13-16: 4 pensees relatives ala
4eme verite (Marga)
10-2: 3 savoirs relatifs ala 4eme
verite (Marga)
Les Theravadin ne parlaient pas des savoirs ou des pensees dans Ie chemin
de celui-qui-a-gagne-le-courant (sotapanamagga).
13. Selon Vasumitra, la raison principale du schisme des SaIpmitlya
parmi les Vatslputrlya aurait ete les explications divergentes concernant les
fruits de sravaka basees sur une stance. Cf. THICH THI,N CHAu, Les sectes
personnalistes (Pudgavadin) du Bouddhisme ancien, These cf. A. BAREAU
Les sectes bouddhiques du petit vehicule, Publications de l'Ecole Francaise d'Ex-
treme-Orient, Vol. XXXVIII, Saigon 1955, pp. 122-123.
14. Le tableau ci-dessous permet de resumer la comparaison entre la
liste du stade-des-desirs-non-encore-abandonnes (avftaragabhumi) des Pud-
galavadin avec les deux autres listes des Sarvastivadin (Kosa) et des Theravadin
(textes Pali):
Pudgalavadin Sarvastivadin Theravadin
1) sraddhanusarin sraddhanusarin saddhanusari
2) prajiianusarin dharmanusarin dhammanusari
3) sraddhaprajnanusarin:
II. srotapanna
4) saptak1;dbhavaparama saptak1;dbhavaparama sattakkhuparama
5) kulaT(!kula kulaT(!kula kulankola
6)madhyama ekabiji
III. tanubhumi
7) sak1;dagamin sak1;dagamin sakadagamin
8)ekabijin ekav'icika
9) madhyama?
15. Kosa, VI, 43: L'anagamin, qui a acquis Ie nirodha est considere com me

16. Les trois listes concernant les fruits du stade-de-l'abandon-du-desir
(vUaragabhumi) ci-dessous nous donnent quelques idees sur les differences des
fruits entre les trois ecoles: Pudgalavada, Sarvastivada et Theravada. La liste
des neuf categories des Pudgalavadin est une liste bien complete qui englobe
les diverses categories d'anagamin, tandis que celle des Sarvastivadin comprend
sept categories y compris Ie La liste des Theravadin se compose de
cinq categories, Ie kiiyasakkhZ est une categorie independante:
Pudgalavadin Sarvastivadin Theravadin
Kosa, VI, 215, 223, 226
1. sraddhadhimukta I. rilpyapaga anagami
1 urdhvaSrota 1 antaraparinirvayin 1 antaraparinibbayf
2 sabhisarrskiirapari- 2 upapadhyapari- 2 upahaccaparinibbiiyf
nirvayin nirvayin
3 anabhisarrskiirapari- 3 sabhisarrskaraparinir- 3 sasarikharaparinibbiiyf
nirvayin vayin
4 anabhisarrskarapari-
nirvayin 4 asarikharapari-
5 urdhvaSrota nibbiiyz
5 urdhvasrota 5 uddhamsota-akaniH-
II. dntiprapta II. 0. arupyapaga
4 antaraparinirvayin a) upapadhyaparinirvayin
5 upapadhyaparinirvayin b) sabhisa7(lSkara-parinir- (kayasakkhz)
6 ilrdhvaSrota c) anabhisa7(lSkiiraparinir-
d) ildhvaSrota
III. III. 7.
7 sabhisa7(lSkiira-pari-
(Celui qui atteintle
8 anabhisa7(lSkiira-pari- Nirva'fJ{L dans cete
nirvayin vie)
9 upapadhyaparinirvayin
. 17. Les listes des categories de l'arhant des trois ecoles nous donnent
egalement les differences, notamment la decouverte unique des Pudgalavadin:
Categories de l'Arhant
Pudgalavadin Sarvastivadin Theravadin
1) sthitakampyadharman 1) pariha7ladharman 1) ubhayatobhiigavi-
2) prativedhanadharman 2) cetaniidharman 2) paiiiiiivimukta
3) akopyadharman 3) anurak4aniidharman 3) thitakappi
II. m:rdvindriya

4)parihii7ladharman 4) sthitiikampya 4) pativedhaniibhiiva
5) cetaniidharman 5) prativedhanadharman 5) cetaniibhabba
6) 6) akopyadharman
T rakkhar]iibhaba
III. madhyendriya
7) prajiiiivimukta 7) sace anurakkhatina
7) ubhayatobhagavimukta parinibbiiyi
8) Complete 8) noce anurakkhati-
9) Incomplete 9) parihiinadhamma au
Tsong-Kha-pa's Understanding of
prasangika Thought
by Lobsang Dargyay
1. Introduction
Tsong-kha-pa (1357-1419) is to the formation of Tibetan
philosophy what Thomas to European theology.
Tsong-kha-pa incorporated into Tibetan Buddhism hitherto
neglected Indian strands of Buddhist thought, one of which I
shall deal with in this paper, and he revived some which he felt
had lost their impact. Perhaps the most outstanding contribution
he made to the growth of Buddhist thought was his insistence
on the importance of rational analysis of the mental process
during and after meditation. Like Aquinas, Tsong-kha-pa was
a learned man, a scholar-monk and saint, a model for future
generations of Buddhists in Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, China,
Ladakh, and Russia. Despite his enormous impact on the forma-
tion of religious thought in those acountries, Western scholars
have only recently begun to study some of his numerous works.
Together with his teacher, Red-mda'-ba (1349-1412),
Tsong-kha-pa promoted a particular way of understanding
NagaIjuna's Madhyamaka philosophy: the Prasangika. In brief,
the Prasangika way of understanding Madhyamaka entails re-
jecting the use of formal logic in interpreting Nagarjuna's
thought. It also involves showing the innate absurdity of any
philosophical system. In other words, the Prasangika silences
the human mind's restless urge to rationalize reality. Prasangika
is a philosophical school which developed a method leading the
religious seeker to the unmediated experience of the unspeak-
able. The study of Prasangika is therefore essential for a broader
understanding of Buddhist mysticism.
Tsong-kha-pa composed a small work in which he explained
his understanding of Prasangika thought. It consists in his lec-
Hire notes on Prasangika, which were later edited by his disciple
rGyal-tshab-rje with the title "Notes on the Eight Difficult
Points" (dKa' gnas brgyad kyi zin bris). I have chosen to study this
text in some detail because of its thematic importance, but also
because it supplements a text whose translation I have just com-
pleted, Go-rams-pa's ITa b'ai shan 'byed. The latter text presup-
poses the "Notes on the Eight Difficult Points." The Notes are
a prime source for Tsong-kha-pa's understanding of Prasangika
thought and for the Prasangika stream of Tibetan philosophy
in general. I
In this paper I shall survey the formation of Madhyamaka
in Tibet to provide a background for the following discussion
of the "Notes on the Eight Difficult Points." The later part of
my presentation will deal with "store consciousness" (iilayavij-
iiiina) as one of the eight points.
II. Survey of the Growth of Madhyamaka in Tibet
The Beginning
Madhyamaka philosophy had become known in Tibet by
the 8th century, when such gifted Tibetan translators as Ye-shes-
sde and dPal-brtsegs translated the most important Sanskrit
works written on this topic. Later, they composed works of their
own in which they demonstrated a good understanding of the
problems involved in this philosophical system. These works
constitute the very foundation of Tibetan Madhyamaka. In their
endeavor to study Madhyamaka, the Tibetan thinkers were sup-
ported by a number of Indian Buddhist masters. They followed
a line which was later identified as Svatantrika Madhyamaka, a
kind of Madhyamaka which used some of the discoveries re-
cently made in Indian logic.
The inauguration of in-depth studies of Madhyamaka in
Tibet is closely tied to the activity of rNgog Lo-tsa-ba Blo-ldan
shes-rab (1059-1109), nephew of the no less famous rNgog Legs-
p'ai shes-rab, who founded the monastery of gSang-phu.
rNgon Lo-tsa-ba's entire teaching may be divided into three
i) The five works of Maitreya: rN gog Lo-tsa-ba considered
the first four of them to be of an interpretive meaning
(drang don, neyartha) i.e., the Abhisamayalarikara, Madhyanta-
vibhaga, Sutralarikara, and Dharma-dharmata-vibhaga. Only
the last of this set of five works, the Mahayana-uttaratantra,
is, according to him, of definitive meaning (nges don,
nitartha). rNgog Lo-tsa-ba favoured the ideas of Asanga
and Vasubandhu, but partially rejected those of Sthiramati.
ii) Dharmakirti's works on logic (pramarJa): in rNgog Lo-tsa-
ba's opinion, Dharmaklrti advocated ideas similar to those
of Nagarjuna, and for this reason he accepted Dhar-
maklrti's works without restriction. Among Dharmakirti's
followers, however, rNgog rejected Dharmottara's and
Prajiiakaragupta's (Tib. rGyan mkhan-po) understanding
of the ultimate.
iii) Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka works: rNgog Lo-tsa-ba taught
Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka works in the light of a
philosophical tradition which has materialized in three
works collectively called Rang rgyud shar gsum, i.e., the
"three Madhyamaka tractates of the East (Indian Masters)
of the Svatantrika (tradition)." (These works are extant
in the and constitute the textbooks of Svatantrika
studies in Tibet.)2
As Candraklrti's works were not yet translated into Tibetan,
rNgog Lo-tsa-ba learned about them by hearsay only, and re-
jected Candrakirti's position. rNgog Lo-tsa-ba insisted that a
correct understanding of the Madhyamaka works had to rely
on Dharmakirti's discoveries in the field of logic, and he felt
that Candrakirti's interpretation violated this basic rule.
rNgog Lo-tsa-ba had numerous, and not less famous disci-
ples. They continued to promote their master's view of Svatan-
trika Madhyamaka, which remained the mainstream of
Madhyamaka thought in Tibet up to the 15th century, when
Candrakirti's thought became more influential.
Prasarigika Thought in Tibet
In later times, Tibetan scholars suggested that the basic
ideas of the Prasangika system penetrated into Tibet at the time
of AtIsa who had entered the country in 1042. This
58 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
was not yet a formal introduction of Prasangika, but a seminal
phase, paving the way for the later introduction. To support
this, one may point to some of Ansa's shorter treatises, wherein
he strictly follows Candrak'irti's thought: S(1tyadvaya-avatara
the Bodh.ipatha-pradipa.
The latter text became the model for
Tsong-kha-pa's famous Larn rirn chen rno, wherein he extensively
deals with Prasangika thought.
Pa-tshab Nyi-rna-grags
Prasangika thought became widely disseminated in Tibet
when Candrakirti's works were translated into Tibetan by Pa-
tshab Nyi-ma-grags. He, together with his disciples, paved the
way for a growing interest in the Prasangika system, which led
eventually to its dominance of the Tibetan philosophical tradi-
Pa-tshab was born in 'Phan-po in 1055. Still a young man,
he left for India, where he studied the Buddhist doctrine for
23 years in Kashmir, still a centre of Buddhist learning. Later,
he invited three Indian pandits to Tibet to spread the bud-
dhadharma there, among them gSer-gyi go-cha
(Kanakavarma).5 After Kanakavarma arrived in Tibet, he re-
sided at the Ra-sa 'phrul-snang temple and other places in Lhasa,
where he translated most of Candraklrti's works (particularly
those with a Madhyamaka content). He was assisted in his trans-
lation by Pa-tshab Nyi-ma-grags.
At the same time, Pa-tshab also instructed disciples in the
newly introduced Prasangika system. He found further support
in Sha-ra-ba, an expert in the Prajiiapararnita, who sent his dis-
ciples to Pa-tshab so that they would obtain a proper training
in Candraklrti's thought, i.e., the Prasangika system. But it seems
that Pa-tshab was not a prolific writer, as only a single work is
mentioned: Sha-ra-ba'i dBu rna'i dri lan, "Answer to Sharaba's
Questions about Madhyamaka."6
Soon Pa-tshab became a renowned Madhyamaka scholar,
who attracted many gifted disciples. The best of them are known
as "the four sons of Pa-tshab":
1. rMa-bya Byang-chub ye-shes, also known as rMa-bya Byang-yes;
2. gTsang-pa Sar-sbos;
3. Dar Yon-tan-grags;
4. Zhang Thang-sag-pa Ye-shes 'byung-gnas.
Eventually the school flourished and branched into various
traditions, each generating its own set of influential thinkers.
Among them, Rong-ston (1367-1449) assumed a crucial role in
the formation of Buddhist philosophy in Tibet. With the forma-
tion of his lineage, the Prasangika tradition became firmly en-
trenched in the Tibetan philosophical system. The issue was no
longer whether or not the Prasangika exegesis was a legitimate
way to understand Madhyamaka, but how to achieve the most
accurate interpretation of Candraklrti's original intention. The
great Sa-skya scholars laid the foundation upon which Tsong-
kha-pa constructed his version of the Prasangika system, a tra-
dition which still has a firm grip on the entire philosophical
tradition of Tibet.
III. "The Notes on the Eight Difficult Points"
Tsong-kha-pa composed this text as notes for his lectures
on the most difficult topics within Prasangika Madhyamaka
philosophy. His gifted disciple, rGyal-tshab-rje, took notes while
attending h i ~ teacher's lectures. For this reason, the work was
later incorporated into Tsong-kha-pa's Collected Works as well
as into those of rGyal-tshab-rje.
The text consists of 32 pages and is extant in three editions:
The Collected Works ofTsong-kha-pa bLo-bzang grags-pa, vol. 15 (Ba),8
The Collected Works of rGyal-tshab-rje, vol. 1 (Ka),
vol. 7 Qa) of the same collection.
The three editions differ slightly in their titles; otherwise
the first and second editions are identical and seem to preserve
the original form of the text. The third edition was subjected
to some editing by rGyal-tshab-rje. He clarified ambiguous terms
or phrases, but did not alter the over-all meaning.
In "The Notes on the Eight Difficult Points," Tsong-kha-pa
discusses the eight difficult points in understanding the Miila-
madhyamaka-kiirika, the fundamental Madhyamaka treatise writ-
ten by the Indian philosopher Nagarjuna (2nd cent. A.D.). In
his exegesis, Tsong-kha-pa strictly follows Candrakirti.
. For the present purpose, I shall summarize the eight points
and then discuss the first one in some
(1) Negation of iilayavijiiiina: Tsong-kha-pa claims that the
Prasangika system denies the existence of iilayavijiiiina even on
the conventional (san;tvr:ti) level, not to mention on the ultimate
(paramiirtha) level.
(2) Negation of the axiom that things exist owing to their
own nature: states that, according to the Prasa-
ngika, entities or things do not exist owing to their defining
characteristics or to their own nature (rang gi mtshan nyid kyis
grub pa, svalak:;a11a-siddha). This applies not only on the ultimate,
but also on the conventional, level. These two axioms lead to a
discussion of karma, i.e., actions and their results, because the
iilayavijiiiina was designed to function largely as a reservoir for
"storing" the karmic traces, and the opponents of the Prasangika
argued that if things do not exist due to their own nature, karma
will become unreal. In this context Tsong-kha-pa develops his
unique view of karma, wherein the term zhig pa (cessation) plays
a major role.
(3) Existence of external objects: i:his is accepted by
Prasangika on the conventional level only, in contrast to the
Cittamatra claim.
(4) Negation of "independent proof' (rangrgyud, sViitantra):
the Prasangika does not allow for applying the "independent
proof," but uses instead a "presupposition or reason which is
well known by opponents" (gzhan grags, paraprasiddha) in order
to illustrate the opponents' errors.
(5) Negation of "introspective awareness" (rang rig,
svasa1(tvitti), as there is no valid proof to verify its existence.
(6) "Hearers" (sriivaka) andpratyekabuddhas realize the lack
of inherent reality, i.e., the voidness of all things existing.
(7) The Prasangika definition of the two kinds of obscura-
tion: (a)the obscuration of defilement (nyon sgrib, klesiivara11a) ,
and (b) the obscuration of omniscience (shes sgrib,jiieyiivara11a).
(8) The Buddha's perception of the impure world: Tsong-
kha-pa discusses how the Buddha is able to perceive impure
phenomena, although he has removed all obscurations.
IV. Discussion of Alayavijiiana
The term alayavijnana occurs in siUms and tantms as well,
but the term becomes systematized only in the later development
of Buddhist philosophy. Commonly, it is translated as
"storehouse-consciousness," which translates the Indian term in
a literal manner. Tibetan philosophers replaced the Sanskrit
term with kun gzhi, which literally translated means "basis of
all." In this paper I shall use the Sanskrit word, alayavijiiana,
because it is widely known in the West. I do so despite the fact
that Tsong-kha-pa, whose treatise I am about to discuss here,
wrote in Tibetan and for a Tibetan audience.
In general, the concept of an alayavijiiana was developed
by those Buddhist thinkers who followed the Yogacara tradition.
For this reason, we find an elaboration of the alayavijiiana con-
cept mainly in the works of this particular school of Buddhist
thought. There was a need to develop such a theory, mainly
because of the conflict between two claims made simultaneously
by Buddhist thinkers: (a) universal impermanence and (b) the
residue of karmic traces. If everything in this world is subject
to immediate decay, where-we have to ask-are the traces of
the acts stored so that they can produce their appropriate effects?
The Y ogacaralCittamatra thinkers responded to this query with
their alayavijiiana theory: a neutral mental continuum carries
the karmic traces and bridges the gap between death and rebirth,
between the endless series of fleeting moments of existence.
In his interpretation of alayavijiiana, Tsong-kha-pa strictly
follows the works traditionally ascribed to Asanga.Tsong-kha-pa
discusses this concept also in a separate treatise with the title
"Detailed Explanation of Alayavijiiana and KI4tamanas". 10 There,
he states that the alayavijiiana is different from the six other
kinds of consciousness, i.e., visual consciousness, auditory con-
sciousness, and so on.
According to Tsong-kha-pa, a consciousness must have four
aspects in order to qualify as alayavijiiana:
(1) Its objects (alambana, dmigs pa):
(a) the five sensory objects, e.g., form, sound, etc.
(b) the five sense organs, e.g., eye, ear, etc.
62 ]IABS VOL. 10 NO.1
(c) the karmic traces
(2) Its character (iikiira, rnam pa): Although the iilayavijiiiina
somehow mirrors the inanimate and animate world, it cannot
discriminate. It is a dream-like consciousness.
(3) Its nature (ngo bo): It is of a neutral nature; it is neither of
a virtuous or unvirtuous nature.
(4) Its associations: The iilayavijiiiina is associated with the five
mental events:
(a) emotions,
(b) conception,
(c) mentation,
(d) contact,
(e) mental engagement.
According to Tsong-kha-pa, these are the premises put forward
by and which must be met by the concept of iitayavi-
jfiiina. He also assumes that only Yogacara/Cittamatra, but not
Prasangika, recognizes this concept. At this point, we have to
remember that the concept of was developed mainly
to support the existence of karmic traces. Although the
Prasangika thinkers did not embrace the concept of iilayavijfiiina,
they affirmed that acts generate effects or "fruits."
In the dKa' gnas brgyad we read:
Although [the Prasangika] rejects the iilayavijiiiina, the completed
karma is not wasted, because even without acceptance of the
[iilayavijiiiina] there is no contradiction in the ceased karma's (las
zhig pa) giving rise to its resultY .
Tsong-kha-pa substantiates his claim through Candraklrti's
Madhyamakiivatiira, particularly VI, 39.
V. Go-rams-pa's Contestation of Tsong-kha-pa's Position
In the Differentiation of {Madhyamaka] Views (lTa ba'i shan
'byed) Go-rams-pa bSod-nams seng-ge (1429-1489) rejected the
position taken by Tsong-kha-pa regarding iilayavijfiiina. He as-
sumes that the Prasangikas reject the concept of iilayavijfiiina,
as its existence cannot be verified through philosophical inves-
tigation, but that they accept it on a conventional level. To
support his theory, Go-rams-pa refers to the Bodhicitta-vivararJa,
a commentary on a verse of the 2nd chapter of the Guhyasamiija
Tantra which is ascribed to Nagarjuna.
Go-rams-pa clarifies his own position as follows:
Although the Prasangika do not accept an iilayavijftana which
supports action and its fruit and which can withstand logical
investigation, in general they should accept the alayavijftana, be-
cause the Bodhicitta-vivararJa, [by Nagarjuna] actually says that
the alayavijftana does exist [in the Prasangika system].13
Go-rams-pa does not identify the verse he has in mind. A later
dGe-Iugs-pa thinker, Gung-thang dKon-mchog bstan-pa'i
sgron-me (1762-1823), points to verse 35 as the one in question,
but finds himself unable to agree with Go-rams-pa because of
contextual considerations. 14
The verse in question reads:
Just as the ocean and trees are moved though they have
no mind (citta) , likewise the store-consciousness (iilayavi-
jniina) is [only] active dependent upon a body (kayaSaritya).15
Thus, the Prasangika strategy was to take references by
Nagarjuna to the iilayavijnana in a "broad" sense, as roughly
synonymous with manovijniina, rather than in the "narrow" sense
employed by the Yogacara thinkers.
VI. Conclusions
Tsong-kha-pa claims that the concept of iilayavijniina as de-
fined by the Yogacara/Cittamatra is not compatible with the
Prasangika system. This statement was contested by Go-rams-pa
by pointing at the occurrence of the word iilayavijniina in Naga-
rjuna's writings. This led Go-rams-pa to the conclusion that the
Prasangikas do accept iilayavijniina, but only on the conventional
level. Later dGe-Iugs-pa scholars rejected his position on the
basis of numerous testimonies found not only in Candraklrti's
writings but also in tantric texts. Here, neither time nor space
permits dealing with this later development in the detail re-
1. This is part of a research project aiming at analysing this important
text. It is financed through a grant of the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada and co-sponsored by The Calgary Institute for
the Humanities.
2. These three tracts are: Satya-dvaya-vibhaga-karika by Jflanagarbha,
together with his own commentary; Madhyamaka-alamkara-karika and its com-
mentary by Madhyamaka-aloka by KamalasIla:
3. CTBC 3902, 4467; Satyadvaya-avatara, tr. by Lindtner, "Atisa's intro-
duction to the two truths" (JIPh 9, 1981, p. 161-213).
4. CTBC 3947, 4465; tr. by H. Eimer. Bodhipatha-pradzpa. Ein
Lehrgedicht des Atisa (Dipamkara srijiiana) in der tibetischen Uberlieferung. Wiesba-
den 1978 (Asiatische Forschungen 59).
5. BBY p. 233.
6. PTh p. 43l.
7. DNg p. 305, Blue Annals p. 343; Padma dkar-po, CTP. fo1. 118a.5.
8. Ed. by D. Gelek, New Delhi (n.d.).
9. IASWR microfiche edition.
10. Yid dang kun gzh'i dkaiba'i gnas rgya cher 'grel pa (The Collected Works
of Tsong-kha-pa) vol. Tsha, p. 356-474.
11. p. 569f. In a contribution to Karma and Rebirth: Post Classical Develop-
ments ed. by Ron Neufeldt, State University of New York Press (1986) I discuss
the concept of "ceased karma" in detail.
12. MMA VI, 39 rpt. Tokyo 1977; tr. by La Vallee Poussin. Le Museon
vol. 11, p. 518.
13. ITa ba'i shan 'byed fo1. 29a.
14. The Collected Works of Gung-thang dKon-mchog bstan-pa'i sgron-me vol.
2, p. 284, ed. by Gelek. New Delhi, 1972.
15. Chr. Lindtner. Nagarjuniana (Indiske Studier 4). Copenhagen, 1982,
p. 196f, v. 35. Tsong-kha-pa discussed v. 34 and 25 in his Gongs pa rab gsal
p. 298f (gSung 'bum vol. Ma, n.d.).
dBu m'ai byung tshul rnam par bshad pa'i gtam yid bzhin lhun po by
Sakya-mchog-ldan, ed. by Kunzang Tobgey. Bhutan 1975 .
. A Complete Catalogue of the Tibetan Buddhist Canons, ed by Hakuju
Vi. Sendai, Japan 1934.
Chos 'byung bstan pa'i pad ma rgyas pa'i nyin byed by Padma-dkar-po,
blockprint n.d.
Deb gter sngon po by 'Gos Lo-tsa-ba gZhon-nu-dpal. New Delhi
The Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions, State Uni-
versity of New York, Stoney Brook, New York.
Journal of Indian Philosophy
dPe rgyun dkun pa 'ga' zhig gi tho yig don gnyer yid kyi kun da by
'A-khu Shes-rab rgya-mtsho, ed. by Ngawang Sopa. New Delhi
Who Gets to Ride in the Great V ehide?
Self-Image and Identity Among
the Followers of the Early Mahayana
by Paul Harrison
As far as most Buddhist scholars nowadays are concerned,
the Mahayana was a movement which originated in India some
300 or 400 years after the death of Gautama. Building on various
doctrinal developments among certain schools of the so-called
Hlnayana, notably the Mahasanghikas, it promoted a new ideal,
that of the bodhisattva, or buddha-to-be, as opposed to the older
arhat-ideal. In criticizing the arhat the early Mahayanists are
commonly thought to have been striking a blow against the
monastic elitism of the Hinayana; and their new ideal is sup-
posed to have been developed, in part at least, as a response to
the. spiritual needs and concerns of the laity.l This supposition
also finds expression in the claim that, since the Buddha himself
had been idealised beyond human reach, the bodhisattvas were
invented as fitting recipients of the devotion (bhakti) of the
masses, objects of a cult analogous to the cult of the saints in
Christianity.2 It has also been suggested that the new movement
looked more favourably on the religious aspirations and
capabilities of women. All these factors are cited as reasons for
the success the Mahayana enjoyed in establishing itself as a truly
popular religion, first in India and subsequently in other coun-
This paper sets out to examine all these assumptions, and
to ask the question 'What did it mean to be a follower of the
Mahayana?' In other words, who or what is a bodhisattva? Are
bodhisattvas really exalted beings, 'divine saviors' or 'saints', or
are they ordinary mortals? Can laypeople be bodhisattvas? Can
68 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
women be bodhisattvas? And whatever the answers to these ques-
tions, what were the consequences of affiliation with the
Mahayana for people's sense of their own religious identity vis-a-
vis other Buddhists, and in relation to followers of other religious
These are, of course, wide-ranging questions, and none of
them is amenable to a simple answer. To reduce the scope of
the problem, I propose to confine my remarks to the early
Mahayana, using as sources the first Chinese translations of
Mahayana sutras. This comparatively small body of texts-ll in
all-was produced in the second half of the 2nd century C.E.,
or shortly thereafter, by a small group of foreign translators
working in the Han capital of Luoyang; most of them are the
work of the Indo-Scythian active c. 168-189 C.E.
Their value lies in the fact that they are the oldest literary evi-
dence for the Mahayana, and preserve the earliest phase of that
movement frozen, as it were, in an archaic semi-vernacular
Chinese; later translations and the Sanskrit texts themselves can
and often do contain later accretions, which reduce their value
as historical evidence, at least as far as the early period is con-
cerned. The 11 translations themselves have been described at
length elsewhere
; here they need only be listed with a few
essential details:
l. AsPP T.224\ Daoxing banruojing

Translated by and Zhu Foshuo, 179 C.E.
There are six other Chinese translations, and one Tibetan trans-
lation, the 'Phags-pa shes-rab-kyi pha-rol-tu phyin-pa brgyad-stong-pa.
The Sanskrit text is extant, and has been rendered into English
by E. Conze: The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines and
its Verse Summary (lst ed., Asiatic Society of Calcutta, Calcutta,
1958; reprinted, with corrections, Four Seasons Foundation,
Bolinas, Cal., 1975). For full bibliographical details of this key
text in its many versions, see E. Conze, The Prafiiiipiiramitii Lit-
erature (2nd ed., The Reiyukai, Tokyo, 1978), pp. 46-50.
2. PraS : T.418,Banzhousanmeijinl
= Pratyutpanna-buddha-san;mukhiivasthita-samiidhi-sutra
Translated by Zhu Foshuo et al., 179 c.E., sub-
sequently revised, probably by members of school,
in 208. Parts of the original version survive.
There" are three other Chinese translations (T.416, T.4l7,
T.419) and one Tibetan version, the 'Phags-pa da-ltar-gyi sangs-
rgyas mngon-sum-du bzhugs-pa'i ting-nge-'dzin ces-bya-ba theg-pa
chen-po'i mdo, for a critical edition of which see P. Harrison, The
Tibetan Text of the Pratyutpanna-Buddha-SaT(lmukhiivasthita-
Samadhi-Sutra (Studia Philologica Buddhica, Monograph Series, 1)
(The Reiyukai Library, Tokyo, 1978). The Sanskrit text is lost,
except for one small fragment, published as the "Bhadrapala
Sutra" in A.F. Rudolf Hoernle, ed., Manuscript Remains of Bud-
dhist Literature (Oxford, 1916), pp. 88-93,410-411. An English
translation and study of this text is currently being prepared by
the author, and a translation of T.418 itself is in press.
3.3DKP : T.624,Dunzhentuoluosuowenrulaisanmeijing
Translated by c. 168-189 C.E.
There is one other Chinese translation (T.625), and one Tibetan
version, entitled 'Phags-pa mi-'am-ci'i rgyal-po sdong-pos zhus-pa
zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po'i mdo. The Sanskrit text has been lost.
4. AjKV T.626,Azheshiwangjing
= Ajatasatru-kaukr:tya-vinodana-sutra
Translated by c. 168-189 C.E.
There are three other Chinese translations (T.627, T.628,
T.629), and one Tibetan version, the 'Phags-pa ma-skyes-dgra'i
'gyod-pa bsal-ba zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po'i mdo. The Sanskrit text
is not extant.
5. TSC T.280,Doushajing
part of the AvataT(lsaka-sutra
Translated by c. 168-189 C.E.
There are two other Chinese versions (T.278, T.279), and one
Tibetan version, the Sangs-rgyas phal-po-che zhes-bya-ba shin-tu
rgyas-pa chen-po'i mdo. The material corresponding to the TSC
occurs in Chap. XII (Sangs-rgyas-kyi mtshan shin-tu bstan-pa) and
Chap. XIV (De-bzhin gshegs-pa'i 'od-zer-las rnam-par sangs-rgyas-
pa). For a partial English translation of this text see Thomas
Cleary, trans!., The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the
70 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
AvatarlJsaka Sfltra, VoL I (Shambhala, Boulder, 1984).
6. LAN T.807,Neizangbaibaojinl
= Lokiinuvartana-sutra
Translated by c. 168-189 C.E.
No other Chinese versions survive, but there is one Tibetan
version, the 'Phags-pa 'jig-rten-gyi rjes-su 'thun-par )ug-pa zhes-bya-
ba theg-pa chen-po'i mdo. The complete Sanskrit text is lost, but
a substantial number of verses from it appear in the Mahavastu
and the Prasannapada, for which see P. Harrison, "Sanskrit Frag-
ments of a Lokottaravadin Tradition" in L.A. HercllS et al., eds.,
Indological and Buddhist Studies: Volume in Honour of Professor]. W.
de Jong on his Sixtieth Birthday (Faculty of Asian Studies, Canberra,
1982), pp. 211-234.
7. WWP :. T.458, Wenshushiliwenpusashujing
Sanskrit title unknown
Translated by c. 168-189 C.E.
There are no other versions; the Sanskrit text is lost.
8. KP T.350, Yirimonibaojingh
= KiiSyapa-parivarta
Translated by c. 168-189 C.E.
For a German rendering version, see F. Weller,
"Kasyapaparivarta nach der Han-Fassung verdeutscht", Buddhist
Yearly 1968/69 (Halle, 1970), pp. 57-221.
There are four other Chinese versions: T.351 (F. Weller,
"Kasyapaparivarta nach der Djin-Fassung verdeutscht", Mit-
teilungen deslnstituts fur Orientforschung, XII (1966), pp. 379-
462), T.310, No. 43 (F. Weller, "Kasyapaparivarta nach der
Tjin-Ubersetzung verdeutscht", Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der
Karl-Marx-Universitiit Leipzig, XIII (1964), Heft 4, pp. 771-804),
T.659 (Chap. VII), and T.352 (F. Weller, "Die Sung-Fassung
des Kasyapaparivarta",Monumenta Serica, XXV (1966), pp. 207-
The Tibetan version, the 'Od-srung-gi le'u, appears with four
Chinese versions in the well-known edition of the Sanskrit text
. by A. von Stael-Holstein, The Kar;yapaparivarta
A Mahiiyanasutra
of the Ratnakuta Class (Shanghai, 1926; reprinted, Meicho-Fukyii-
Kai, Tokyo, 1977); see also ].W. dejong, "Sanskrit Fragments
of the Kasyapaparivarta" in Beitrage zur Indienforschung Ernst
Waldschmidt zum 80. Geburtstag gewidmet (Museum fUr Indische
Kunst, Berlin, 1977), pp. 247-255.
There are a number of modern-language translations of this
important text: F. Weller, Zum Kasyapaparivarta, Heft 2, Ver-
deutschung des sanskrit-tibetischen Textes (Abhandlungen der
siichsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Philologisch-his-
torische Klasse, Band 57, Heft 3) (Berlin, 1965); Bhikkhu
Pasadika, "The Dharma-Discourse of the Creat Collection of
Jewels, The Kasyapa Section", published serially in Linh Son
publication d'etudes bouddhologiques, I-IX (1977-79); Carma C.c.
Chang, ed., A Treasury of Mahayana Siltras: Selections from the
Maharatnakilta Siltra (Pennsylvania State University Press, Uni-
versity Park, Penn., 1983), pp. 387-414; Nagao Gadjin and
Sakurabe Hajime, "Kasho-hon", in Daijo butten, Vol. IX
(Chuokoronsha, Tokyo, 1974), pp. 5-124.
9. AkTV : T.313,Achufoguojing

Attributed to but probably the work of
one of his contemporaries or oflater members of his
Although the Sanskrit text has been lost, we still possess one
other Chinese version (T.310, No.6) and one Tibetan version,
the 'Phags-pa de-bzhin-gshegs-pa mi-'khrugs-pa'i bkod-pa zhes-bya-ba
theg-pa chen-po'i mdo. For full bibliographical details, see Buddhist
Text Information, 40-41 Gune & Sept. 1984). A partial French
translation has been published by J. Dantinne: La Splendeur de
l'Inebranlable Tome I (Universite Catholique de
Louvain, Institut Orientaliste, Louvain-Ia-Neuve, 1983), while
an English translation (with omissions) based on the Chinese
text (T.310,6) may be found in Carma C.C. Chang, ed., op. cit.,
pp. 315-338.
10. CCD : T.630, Chengjuguangmingdingyijingi
Sanskrit title unknown.
Attributed to Zhi Yao, active late 2nd century.
There are no other versions; the Sanskrit text is lost.
11. UP : T.322,Fajingjinl
72 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
U gra. (datta )-paripr:cchii-sutra
Translated by An Xuan and Van Fotiao, active c. 180
There are two other Chinese versions (T.3l0, No. 19, and T.323)
and one Tibetan version, the 'Phags-pa drag-shul-can-gyis zhus-pa
zhes-bya.-ba. theg-pa chen-po'i mdo, which has been translated into
Japanese by Sakurabe Hajime in DaH6 butten, Vol. IX
(Chu6k6ronsha, Tokyo, 1974), pp. 231-335.
It should be noted here that the use of these texts for his-
torical research into Indian Buddhism presents certain prob-
lems, although, due to considerations of space, a full
methodological discussion will have to be reserved for a later
date. As translations they are reasonably reliable, but by no
means as reliable as their Tibetan counterparts, against which
they need to be checked. Although they were all produced at
roughly the same time and roughly the same place, the original
sutras may well have been written at different times, in different
places, and by different hands. Furthermore, those hands were
almost certainly those of literate males, probably monks, which
means that the sutras must represent a limited point of view,
albeit an influential one. These problems are all serious, to be
sure, but it can nevertheless be argued that if these texts are
used with the appropriate caution, their evidential value is sub-
stantial, especially in view of the fact that, apart from a small
numberof inscriptions,
we have little else to assist our enquiries.
They certainly contain sufficient data to enable us to arrive at
unequivocal answers to at least some of our questions.
To begin with, how is the Mahayana referred to in these
translations? The term Mahayana itself is found, either translit-
erated (moheyanl) or translated (dadao
, "the Great Way"), but
it is surprisingly rare (about 20 occurrences in all). Not much
more frequent is the use of the term "Bodhisattva Way" (oysa-
), which mayor may not render bodhisattvayana or
bodhisattvamarga in the original Sanskrit (or Indic) text. If we
examine those translations for which the Sanskrit is still extant,
we find, e.g., that in version of the KP pusadao
occurs several times, twice translating mahayana (KP 3, 118),
once bodhisattva-marga (KP 12), and once in a periphrastic ren-
dering of udaradhimukta as "those who delight in the Bodhisattva
Way" (KP 11). In the AsPP we find it used for
(428bI8) and bodhisattva-carika (428b20), but most often, in the
expression xing pusadao zheo, it renders bodhisattvayanika/p pud-
gala/P, "people who are adherents of the Bodhisattvayana" (e.g.
447b3,24-25,465c9-10). When the term is found in other trans-
lations it usually occurs in the phrase xing (or qiu) pusadao zhe
"those who practise (or seek) the Bodhisattva Way", pointing
once again to an original bodhisattvayanika. The rarity of the
terms mahayana and bodhisattvayana already invites the conclu-
sion that at this stage there was no rigid division of the Buddhist
Sangha into two hostile camps to the extent that the modern
understanding of the terms 'Mahayana' and 'Hlnayana' implies.
There was indeed a new spirit abroad: the authors of our texts
are devoted to its promulgation, but there is little evidence of
any urge on their part to enshrine their different point of view
in hard and fast sectarian categories, something to which we
shall return later. Rather than speak of the Mahayana, they
chose to address themselves to those substantive issues which
we have come to associate with that movement, i.e. the doctrines
of emptiness (sunyata), the perfection of wisdom (prajftaparamita)
and the five other perfections, skill-in-means (upayakausalya)
and, above all, the career of the bodhisattva, the aspirant to awa-
kening or buddhahood. It is especially in their treatment of the
bodhisattva that we can see how these early Mahayana writers
conceived of their identity and their place within the Buddhist
In these archaic Chinese texts the word bodhisattva is almost
always transliterated as pusa
, although the UP uses the transla-
tion kaishi
("the revealer") while the CCD has settled on the
rendering mingshi
("the enlightened one"). In most of our sutras
the word occurs prolifically, and is generally neutral with regard
to lay/monastic status and gender. (As far as the latter is con-
cerned, this is not surprising, since Classical Chinese lacks any
kind of inflectional system for conveying distirtctions of gender,
number and case; but in the original Sanskrit sutras the word
bodhisattva would always have been masculine.) Frequently, how-
ever, different types of bodhisattvas are distinguished, the most
common distinction being a twofold one between 'renunciant'
or 'monastic' bodhisattvas, those who have left the household life
to devote themselves full-time to spiritual matters, and 'house-
71 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
holder' or 'lay' bodhisattvas, who practise their religion as full
members of society. These two categories are sometimes
further subdivided according to gender to arrive at the "four
classes of disciples", i.e. bodhisattvas who are monks, nuns, laymen
and laywomen. I propose to look at the basic twofold lay/monas-
tic division first, and then examine the male/female one to see
what distinction, if any, is made on the basis of gender. As simple
as this approach sounds, it does present difficulties, since the
male is taken as paradigmatic, and is often clearly intended even
when the texts are speaking generally in terms which could
apply equally well to men and women. Before we look at these
divisions, however, let us first see what terms are used to.refer
to the "four classes of disciples" collectively and individually.
The expression "four classes of disciples" itself (Chinese:
sibei dizi
or sibu dizi
) occurs occasionally (e.g. AsPP
467b29,469a18-19; AkTV 757b15-16; CCD 456a2; PraS
915alO), as does the full enumeration of these classes, i.e. biqiu
biqiuni youposai youpoyi
(= upasakas and up-
asikas, or monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen; e.g. PraS 918a8-
9; DKP 364a18).6 These terms are, of course, of general appli-
cation, and are frequently used in our texts without any specific
reference to followers of the Mahayana. Often, however, the
connection is explicit, especially in those few passages in which
the four classes are discussed in sequence. The best example of
this is Chapter 6 of Lokak$ema's version of the PraS, which
deals in turn with "Bodhisattvas who forsake desire and become
<pusa qi aiyu zuo biqiu
) , who are mahayana-
saT(tprasthita" i.e. nuns who have set out in the Mahayana (biqiuni
qiu moheyan-sanbazhi
),7 "white-Tobed bodhisattvas who cultivate
the Way while living at home" (baiyi pusa jujia xiudao
) and "up-
asikas who are mahayana-sarJ.tprasthita" (youpoyi qiu moheyan-san"
) (PraS 909b12-910c29). We also find the expressions
or i.e. biqiu pusa
(e.g. PraS
909b24,26-27; AkTV 752c22; AsPP 461b23), or, in the more
idiosyncratic renderings of the CCD and the UP, kaishi qujia wei
(or xiu) dao
("the revealer who has left home to pursue the
Way": UP 15c3,lO-1l; 19c1-2) or mingshi chu-e
("the en-
lightened one who eliminates evil"; CCD 451b7, 458blO), in
which qujiaad and its equivalents are probably doing service for
an original Sanskrit pravrajita, "one who has gone forth". Often,
however, it is simply clear from the context that the text is
dealing with renunciant bodhisattvas, and the same holds true for
lay bodhisattvas, who, when specified, are referred to as zaijia
or jujiaaf pusa ("bodhisattvas who remain in the home") or baiyi
pusa ("white-robed Our texts devote considerable
attention to these lay bodhzsattvas, those who pursue the goal of
buddhahood through observance of the Five Precepts, study of
Mahayana siltras and meditation. One passage in the PraS on
the layman bodhisattva sums up much of this material particularly
"White-robed bodhisattvas who, on hearing this samiidhi, wish to
study and cultivate it, should adhere firmly to the Five Precepts
and keep themselves pure. They should not drink wine, nor
should they give it to others to drink. They should not have
intercourse with women-they should not have it themselves,
nor should they teach others to have it. They should not have
any affection for their wives, they should not hanker after their
sons and daughters, and they should not hanker after possessions.
They should always think longingly of leaving their wives and
taking up life as srama'f}as. They should always keep the Eightfold
Fast, and at the time of the Fast they should always fast in a
Buddhist monastery. They should always think of giving without
thinking that they themselves will get merit from it.o-they should
give for the sake of all people. They should love their good
teachers, and when they see who keep the precepts they
ought not to.despise them or speak ill of them." (PraS 910b12-21)
A number of common themes stand out here. These bodhisattvas
may well be in the world, but they are not of it. Like lotuses,
they grow out of the mud of the passions (KP 72-75), but because
of their endowment with wisdom and skill-in-means they are
undefiled by them (KP 48; DKP 351a2-4). To ensure that they
remain undefiled, they must be strict in their adherence to the
Five Precepts, especially those relating to intoxicants arid sex,
hence a negative attitude to all possible objects of attachment,
particularly wives and children, is often recommended (e.g. UP
16c2-17a14, 18b7-d 1; AsPP 455b20-26). This incidentally re-
veals the extent to which these siltras were written from a male
point of view, since bodhisattvas are never urged to regard their
husbands as demons, sources of misery and so on. The house-
76 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
hold life is in fact a curse, since it destroys all one's 'roots of
goodness' and only heaps more fuel on the fire of the passions
(UP 17b20-c26), consequently bodhisattvas are best advised to
quit it as soon as possible (JJKP 353b26-27, 356c28-29). But as
long as they choose to retain their lay status, they should not
forget to treat their monastic counterparts with due reverence
and generosity (UP 16a5-12, 19a1-b24). It is dear, therefore,
that there is a definite ambivalence in these texts about the
position of lay bodhisattvas. On the one hand lay bodhisattvas
frequently occupy the centre stage, both in terms of the narrative.
framework of the sutras and in terms of the teachings expounded
in them (this is especially so in the PraS, CCD and UP); on the
other hand they are constantly exhorted to leave lay life behind,
to become renunciants, and, what is more, to embrace the "asce-
tic qualities" (dhuta-gurpa) , the discipline of the solitary forest-
dwelling monk or nun (KP 17, PraS 903b24-25; cf. AsPP
461alO-b18). The UP even goes so far as to say that "no
bodhisattva has ever attained the Way [i.e. awakening] as a house-
holder: they all leave home and go into the wild, and it is by
living in the wild that they attain the Way" (UP 19a21-22). As
for the renunciant bodhisattvas themselves, in those passages
which are explicitly or implicitly devoted to them, observance
of the Vinaya looms large, together with respect for teachers,
especially those from whom they hear Mahayana sutras, be they
male or female, lay or renunciant (e.g. PraS 909el-9). Renun-
ciants are urged to teach in their turn, to give the 'gift of the
Dharma', but without any expectation of reward. For them too
the virtues of the solitary life are extolled, as well as the conquest
of desires and attachments, and they are warned of the perils
of doubt and sloth. Most of this material, with its strong ethical
emphasis, is of course fairly standard to all forms of Buddhism.
Despite some ambivalence about the value of the household
life, we can see already that there is no doubt about the existence
of both lay and renunciant bodhisattvas. Even bodhisattvas who
have attained the advanced stage of 'non-regression', who are
avaivartika, assured of attaining awakening, can still be laypeople
(see e.g. AsPP 455b20-c5). However, when we turn to the ques-
tion of whether women can be full bodhisattvas, the answer is
not so clear. We have already observed that in listing the four
classes of disciples, the PraS describes nuns and laywomen not
as bodhisattvas, as it does the monks and laymen, but as mahiiyiina-
samprasthita, "set out in the Mahayana". In other words it
sc;upulously avoids calling women bodhisattvas. Theoretically
speaking, women should be capable of the title
bodhisattva. In nearly all our texts the teachmgs are addressed
to "sons and daughters of good family" (Sanskrit: kulaputra-
kuladuhitr:; Chinese usually: shan nanzi shan nuren
),8 and it is
made clear in most cases that both groups are expected to em-
brace the particular doctrine or practice being expounded. Fur-
thermore, in some texts the terms "sons and daughters of good
family" and "bodhisattvas" are used interchangeably (e.g. AsPP
446b 1 Off.; AkTV 759a16ff., 762a16; WWP 435bl4-15; UP
15b24ff.), though it is not always the case that sons and
daughters of good family are followers of the Mahayana (e.g.
AkTV 763b17-21). In addition, women can conceive the aspira-
tion to awakening (bodhicitta). This happens in at least two texts,
the DKP, in which the 84,000 wives of King Druma take this
step (359bllff., 360c2.6ff.), and the AsPP, in which an upiisikii
by the name of Dajie
equivalent unknown) has her
eventual awakening predicted by Sakyamuni, who recalls her
initial aspiration to it under the Buddha Dipa!p.kara.
Now those
who have conceived the aspiration to awakening-who have, in
other words, "set out in the Mahayana" (mahiiyiina-sarlJpras-
thita)lO-are technically bodhisattvas, yet our sutras display a con-
sistent (or perhaps inconsistent?) reluctance to accord this title
to women. This can only be because of a negative attitude to-
wards the female sex, an attitude which is clearly demonstrable
throughout these early texts. The DKP provides the best exam-
ple of it. Even though the 84,000 wives of Drum a conceive the
. aspiration to awakening, they are concerned about the fact that
"it is diffic;ult for a woman to attain anuttara-samyak-sarlJbodhi",
whereupon the Buddha proceeds to tell them at length about
the things they have to do to leave off being women and quickly
attain rebirth as males (DKP 361b9-362a2). Later he predicts
their rebirth as males in the heaven in the presence of
Maitreya (362a20-28). This theme of the undesirability of birth
as a woman and the necessity of a change of sex is a common
one: the upiisikii Dajie has to be reborn as a male before she
makes any real progress (AsPP 458a18-19), while the same is
true of Sadaprarudita's 500 female companions (AsPP 477bl4-
17). In other texts as well women are told that they should
always aspire to rebirth as males (e.g. CCD 457b19-20). Accord-
ing to the AsPP (454b27-28) non-regressing bodhisattvas are
never reborn as women, although the DKP claims that a
bodhisattva endowed with skill-in-means may manifest in female
form in order to teach women (358cll).11
When we look at the descriptions of buddhafields, which
represent ideal worlds from a Buddhist point of view, we find
that either women are not present at all, as in Druma's bud-
Candravimala (DKP 362a17), or they are infinitely
more beautiful and virtuous than the women of this world, as
in Abhirati (AkTV 755c28-756a2). The
portrayal of the female inhabitants of Abhirati is especially re-
vealing (756b3-15), since they are supposed to lack the vices of
the women of this world, who are said to be "ill-favoured and
ugly, with harsh tongues, jealous of the Dharma and addicted
to heretical practices". For the paragons of femininity in
Abhirati, by contrast, fine clothes and jewelry literally grow on
trees, they feel no pain or weariness in pregnancy or childbirth,
and they are free of "offensive discharge from the stinking place"
(undoubtedly the 'polluting' flow of menstrual blood), all thanks
to the former vow of (see AkTV 753all-16 for this;
d. AsPP 455bI9-25). The supposed foibles and defects of
women are also highlighted in these siltras by those passages
which deal with the special regulations and requirements for
nuns and laywomen who follow the Bodhisattva Path (see esp.
PraS 91OaI5-b9, c6-29; CGD457bI4-c29; see also DKP 361bll-
362a2). Although there is considerable overlap in these passages
with those pertaining to monks and laymen, certain qualities
appear to be more readily ascribed to women, such as an exces-
sive concern for personal adornment, spiteful and malicious
gossip, jealousy, deceitfulness, superstition and fondness for
non-Buddhist religious practices.
If we attempt to sum up our findings on the status of women
as far as these early Mahayana siltras are concerned, we must
conclude that although women, both lay and renunciant, are
included as recipients of the new teaching on a theoretically
equal footing with men, they are generally represented in such
an unfavourable light as to vitiate any notion of the Mahayana
as a movement for sexual equality. Compared with the situation
in the Pali Canon, in which women are at least as capable as
men of attaining the highest goal, arhatship, the position of
women in the Mahayana has hardly changed for the better,
since women cannot attain buddhahood, and even the title of
bodhisattva is withheld from them. Of course all this reflects the
attitudes of the men (probably monks) who produced these
texts, but this does not make the conclusion any less inescapable:
although both men and women can ride in the Great Vehicle,
only men are allowed to drive it.
Before we turn to the drivers and passengers of the "Small
Vehicle", there is one other question we must deal with, that
relating to the so-called "Celestial Bodhisattvas", A valokitesvara
and the others, those compassionate agents of salvation who,
according to some authorities, were provided by the Mahayana
in response to the devotional needs of the masses. It has been
suggested that these figures were called mahiisattvas ("Great Be-
ings") to distinguish them from other bodhisattvas. 12 There is no
. evidence for such a distinction in our texts: mahiisattva (probably
signifying "one whose aspiration or courage is great") is widely
used together with bodhisattva, and is virtually a synonym for it
(see AsP P 427b 13-27 for a discussion of its meaning). The double
expression bodhisattva-mahiisattva is employed with reference to
householders, occurs interchangeably with "sons and daughters
of good family", and is even used when the talk turns to
bodhisattvas who fall into error (e.g., AsPP 444c2, 446c22ff.). Be
that as it may, a few well-known bodhisattvas do make an appear-
ance. The name Avalokitesvara occurs only twice, in lists of
bodhisattvas in the CCD and the UP, suggesting that for the
writers of our texts he was a non-entity, but Maiijusrl, on the
other hand, appears in six texts, one of which, the AjKV, glorifies
him in the most lavish terms. Given the heavy Perfection of
Wisdom slant of most of these sutras, this is not altogether sur-
prising. The name of Maitreya also comes up fairly frequently.
For all this, there is no evidence to suggest a widespread cult
of the great bodhisattvas, and no passages recommend devotion to
them. They function as symbols rather than as saviours. There
is, however, evidence for the development of the cults of the
Buddhas Amitabha and by the late 2nd century C.E.
Although the Sukhiivatzvyuha was not translated into Chinese
until the middle of the 3rd century, the concept of rebirth in
80 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
the of Amitabha as a religious goal is found in the
PraS, while the AkTV is entirely devoted to and
Abhirati. But as far as bodhisattvas are concerned the initial mes-
sage of the Mahayana is clear: people should not worship
bodhisattvas, they should become bodhisattvas themselves. 13
We have seen something of how the identity of the different
classes of Mahayanists in relation to each other was defined.
What we must now look at is how these people saw themselves
as a group vis-ii-vis other Buddhists. The first thing that strikes
one when reading these early Mahayana sutras is their extreme
defensiveness. The texts fairly groan under the weight of their
own self-glorification, and kalpas can tick by while one wades
through chapter after chapter proclaiming the merits of this
doctrine or that practice. This is not simply due to literary hyper-
bole, to that Indian device, in common use since the Vedas, of
praising one thing-a god, a place, a spiritual discipline-by
claiming that it is superior to all other things of that class put
together. This is clearly present, and should be taken with the
appropriate grain of salt. But there is more to it than that, and
this is indicated by the numerous passages excoriating the de-
tractors of the new teachings, usually portrayed as idle and
perverse monks who, when they are not busy spreading base
calumnies and lies about the Mahayana, are out breaking the
precepts. That the Mahayana remained for a long time a minor-
ity movement in the land of its birth is confirmed by the well-
known reports of Chinese pilgrims in India. In its infancy it was
probably even more insignificant numerically, despite the as-
tonishingly prolific literary creativity it gave rise to, and was
therefore quite naturally on the defensive. But on the defensive
against what, one might ask? Nowadays it is common practice
to think of Buddhism as dividing into two schools or sects,
Mahayana on one side and Hinayana, more properly a group
of sects, on the other. The early sutras provide no strong support
for this view. True, the term hznayanais found, translated as
('Small Way'), but it occurs only four times (KP 25; DKP
357a19; AsPP 426b6; CCD 455cl5), and is thus even rarer than
the term mahayana, which is itself of infrequent occurrence, as
we have seen. Much more frequent are translations of the terms
sravakayana ("Vehicle of the Disciples") and
("Vehicle of the Solitary Buddhas"), or simply "Sravakas and
Pratyekabuddhas", which is even more common.
Pratyekabuddha is generally transcribed as pizhijoak, but in
several of our texts translations appear, e.g. yinyuanjuefoal in
CGD 454b20 (implying pratyayabuddha) and yuanyijue
ip. AkTV
752all, the latter meaning "by one (self) awakened". Sravaka,
on the other hand, has the literal sense of "hearer", but the
standard Chinese equivalent shengwen
, or "voice-hearer", sel-
domoccurs in these early texts (e.g., DKP 351c20; AjKV392b19).
We find instead diziao ("disciple") or (a)luohan
, a transcription
of arhat. In fact, in the overwhelming majority of cases sravaka
is rendered as aluohan, and sravakayana, which occurs less fre-
quently, as aluohandao
, the "Way of the Arhats", a term which
also does service for arhattva or arhatphala, the attainment of
arhatship. I find this choice of words very significant. In his
book Buddhist Images of Human Peifection (Delhi, 1982), Nathan
Katz attempts to establish the essential identity of the arhat of
the Pali Canon and the bodhisattva of the Mahayana siltras. In
his concluding chapter he claims to have demonstrated that "the
Mahayana texts speak in two distinct ways about the arhat. The
.. first way of speaking is to show that the arhat is spiritually
inferior to the bodhisattva; however, we have demonstrated that
there is a conceptual distinction between the sravaka as one who
thinks he has attained more than he actually has, and the true
arhat. When speaking about the sravaka pejoratively, the stand-
ard context is in talk about meditation, and the sravaka is one
who has mistakenly identified proficiency at meditation with
arahatta itself .... The second way of speaking about the arhat
in these early Mahayana texts is to identify the arhat with the
bodhisattva" (Katz, 1982:275). Although I am in substantial ag-
reement with Katz's overall thesis, and in general sympathy with
any attempt to abolish imaginary discontinuities between the
Mahayana and the Hlnayana, I find that his conclusions in this
particular respect rest on shaky ground, especially as regards
the distinction he claims Mahayana siltras make between sravakas
and arhats. If our texts are anything to go by, there is no such
distinction: by consistently rendering sravaka by arhat,
L o k a k ~ e m a and his colleagues showed they were in no doubt
that sravakas are both people who aspire to arhatship or nirva'f}a
and people who actually attain that goal. Additional confirma-
tion of this is furnished by the frequent appearance of well-
82 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
known historical arhats, the greatSriivakas Sariputra, Mahamaud-
galyayana and others, as representatives of the supposedly in-
ferior or partial dispensation.
Nor is there any doubt that the level these venerable figures
represent, that of the arhats and the pratyekabuddhas(note that
the pratyekabuddhas are frequently subsumed under thearhats),
is one that is to be transcended by the bodhisattvas (see e.g. AjKV
398b4-14). A hierarchy of attainments is in fact envisaged, lead-
ing from the state of an ordinary person (Skt. prthagjana, Chinese
) at the bottom, through those of a 'stream-winner'
(srotiipanna, xutuohuan
) , a 'once-returner' (sakrdiigiimin,
) , a 'non-returner' (aniigiimin, anahan
) , an arhat and
a pratyekabuddha to the state of a buddha or a tathiigata at the top
(e.g. DKP 366b15-16;AsPP 429b4-cl2).14 In aiming for the top,
bodhisattvas, aspirants to the full awakening of a buddha, are
warned repeatedly not to fall back to the level of the arhatsl
sriivakas and the pratyekabuddhas or to join their ranks, and such
a regression is represented as a fearful misfortune (DKP 349c25-
26, 350c7-11;AkTV759a19-20, 760all-12, 15-16;AjKV391a19-
20; AsPP 445b3-4, 447a14, 451b29-c22, 452alff). This actually
happens at one point in the AsPP, where 60 novice bodhisattvas
attain arhatship despite themselves because they lack perfect
wisdom and skill-in-means, in the same way that a giant bird
without wings cannot help plummeting to earth from the top
of Mt. Meru (AsPP 453c2-25). To avoid such a disaster,
bodhisattvas must ensure that they are not contaminated by the
attitudes of arhats and pratyekabuddhas (DKP 356b1-2, c9, 365a4-
12; AkTV 761c25-26; AjKV 389c3; AsPP 460a2-4, 463cl3-14;
PraS 903c6), and they must resist the temptation to aspire to
their goals, i.e., to opt for a premature nirviirpa, to "achieve
realisation midway" (AkTV 752all; AsPP 448b25-28, 458c8-22,
459b5-10, 467a13ff; DKP 350cl1-14; AjKV 392c18ff). The
sriivakayiina is characterised by attachment and limitation (AjKV
392b19-23), and those who opt for it do so primarily out of fear
of sarlJ,siira, which renders them incapable of aspiring to buddha-
hood (AjKV 394c3ff.). Not only is their courage thus inferior to
that of the bodhisattvas, but their wisdom is too (KP 78-79; LAN
751b20-21; AsPP 426b2, cl9-20, 427b24, 462b17). Unlike the
advanced bodhisattvas, they have not really overcome fear and
attachment; for that reason the Great Sravakas and arhats
Mahakasyapa, Sariputra, Mahamaudgalyana and company are
unable to resist the temptation to dance to the celestial music
of King Druma; however, the novice bodhisattvas are equally
helpless (DKP 351c8ff.). In another context, these great Arhats
lament their own inferior attainments (AJKV 394c3-395b22).
Therefore bodhisattv{],s are infinitely superior to fravakaslarhats
and pratyekabuddhas (KP 80-85, 90; AsPP 468a27:-28; DKP
365c22-28). Those who teach "the Bodhisattva Path" are one's
"good friends" (kalyar}a-ryitra) , while those who direct one to-
wards "the Paths of the Sravaka and the Pratyekabuddha" are
"bad friends" (papa-mitra) (KP 13; AsPP 427bl-l0; DKP 360a13-
Despite all this rather uncomplimentary material, however,
the attitude displayed by these texts towards arhats is not entirely
negative. Since bodhisattvas aspire to bring nirvar}a to all sentient
beings, it is not surprising that they should try to make a place
for arhats in their picture of the world, even if it is not in the
foreground. In most of our siltras the great fravakas, the
who were arhats, are present, and presumably they are not just
there to act as figures of fun or to lend the proceedings an air
of historical authenticity, even if these are important functions
they sometimes perform. One has only to think, for example,
of the role Subhuti plays in the AsPP. The followers of the
bodhisattva way clearly had to face the factthat, despite alltheir
,polemics and hyperbole, they shared their membership of the
sangha with people who continued to believe that arhatship was
the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice, who sought their own
liberation above all else, and who, as members of the sangha,
were still worthy of respect (e.g. UP 16a5-12). Therefore, even
in their idealised descriptions of the and in the
predictions (vyakarar}a) which are scattered throughout these
texts, they usually envisage the peaceful co-existence of
bodhisattvas with fravakas. Although in the buddhafield
(?) in the AJKV (397a8) there is only a bodhisattva-
sangha, and in Druma's world Candravimala in the DKP (362b 19-
21) "there are no other paths ... only the host of bodhisattvas,
all of the Mahayana" (see also DKP 363b9-10 for a similar case),
in other instances fravakas are also present. For example, the
fravakas of world Abhirati are described at length
(AkTV 756c24-758a15), and they share that world happily with
84 lIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
bodhisattvas. In fact, Abhirati teems with so manyarhats that it
is described as an (AkTV 762c5-13), while both those
who follow the Sravakayana and those who follow the
Bodhisattvayana there are assured of freedom from molestation
by Mara (AkTV 755al-3, 758b15-21, 759b24-26; see also AjKV
393c24-27; AsPP 458a26-27, 469a20-21; and CCD 455a4 for
further examples of co-existence). In a similar vein, most of our
texts carry, at particular points in the narrative, descriptions of
realisations attained by various members of the audience in
response to the new teachings. In these the attainment of
"stream-wInning" and arhatship figures prominently (e.g., DKP
367a27-b1; AjKV 406a27-b1;KP 138, 145, 149;AsPP 451a12-15,
453b29-c3; PraS 919b18-22; CCD 454b2-7; UP 19b24-27).
Because of the general philosophical standpoint of the Per-
fection of Wisdom literature, one would expect to find in these
early texts at least some acknowledgement of the purely conven-
tional nature of the distinctions we have been talking about.
The AsPP, for one, makes such an acknowledgement, conceding
that all the grades of attainment from srotiipatti to buddhahood
partake of the same fundamental "suchness" (tathatii), in which
there are no distinctions (450a4-8), that all these grades spring
from the Perfection of Wisdom (451a17-24), and that in terms
of "suchness" neither the three vehicles (of sriivakas, pratyekabud-
dhas and buddhas) nor the one vehicle can be apprehended
29). Consequently bodhisattvas should not think of them-
selves as far from the attainments of arhats and pratyekabuddhas
and close to buddhahood (466b13-c14).
For all that, distinctions are set up in these texts. The issues
are extremely complex, and the evidence is equivocal, but not
so equivocal as to support Katz's contention that the much-
maligned sriivakas of these early Mahayana siltras were merely
conceited monks who mistook their own meditational attain-
ments for final liberation, not full arhats--or his claim that
bodhisattvas and arhats are essentially the same. This may in fact
be so, but that is not what the texts say. What they do tell us is
that the early adherents of the Bodhisattvayana-who were
probably very much in the minority-were prepared to go to
great lengths to uphold their ideal against what they conceived
to be the traditional goal of Buddhist practice, namely arhatship
or nirvii1}a for oneself alone, but they were not prepared to write
off the rest of the Buddhist sangha or sever their own connection
with it by the wholesale use of such terms as "Hlnayana" and
"Mahayana" as sectarian categories. It is interesting to compare
this situation with that which currently obtains in Burma, a
supposedly In his Buddhism and Society (2nd
ed., UniversIty of CalIforma Press, Berkeley, 1982), pp. 61-63,
Melford Spiro notes the long tradition in Burma of aspiration
to buddhahood, and the presence of a small number of people
who, without bringing in any notions of Hinayana and
Mahayana, refer to themselves as hpaya laung ("Embryo Bud-
dhas"), i.e. bodhisattvas, 15 Can this be a distant echo of the state
of affairs that once existed in India, before followers of "the
Bodhisattva Path" started to cut themselves off from their fellow
Buddhists, and before the distinction between the two 'vehicles'
was anything more than a different perception of the goal of
the religious life?
Turning now to other religious paths, we find that there is
nothing unequivocal about the attitude displayed in these texts
towards them. The usual designation for these paths is waidao
"outside ways", althoughyudao
ent ways") and xiedao
("heretical ways") are also found (as well
as combinations of these, with or without ren
added), rendering
a number of Sanskrit terms such as lokayata (KP 5, Ill), dntikr:ta
(KP 18), dntigata (KP 65, 109),parapravadin (KP 95), anyatzrthya-
parivrajaka (AsPP 433c2lff.) and so on. These non-Buddhist
ways are not to be followed by the bodhisattva (DKP 356c7, 357a7- -
8; AjKV 398a22, 406a6; PraS 910dl, 912b29, 9l5a26, 916c7-8;
UP 16aI5-16), but rejected and overcome (DKP 357c4; PraS
911c5), their followers ideally being brought within the Buddhist
fold (DKP 358c20-21, 359a25-28). Their defeat is often closely
.linked with the defeat of Mara (DKP 348d5, 362aI7). Several
siltras go beyond these vague generalities, and urge followers
of the Bodhisattvayana not to sacrifice to or worship the gods,
but go only to the Triple Gem for refuge (DKP 361 b 15-16; PraS
91Oc10-12; UP 17a20-21; AsPP 454b25-27, 455c9). However,
only one text, the WWP, goes into anydetail on any non-Budd-
hist religious practices-in this case brahmanical ritual
(438alOff.). The evidence is slim, but what there is suggests that
the Bodhisattvayana demanded that its adherents devote them-
selves exclusively to Buddhism, and regarded other faiths as
beyond the pale.
Bringing all our findings together, we can make the fonow_
ing observations. The point of view presented in the earliest
Chinese translations of Mahayana siltras is most probably that
of Mahayanist For this group bo.dhisattvas were certainly
not just semi-mythical beings raised on high to receive the adora-
tion of the masses, but real flesh-and-blood people, among
whom they counted themselves, who had conceived the
bodhicitta, the aspiration for awakening, and were pursuing the
appropriate course of training either in the monastic context
or in the household life. There is no sign at all of any cult of
the "Celestial Bodhisattvas"; this was probably a later develop-
ment. As far as these were concerned, women
were part of the movement, and the new teachings were addres-
sed to them as well as to men. At the same time the texts reveal
that women were not regarded as in all respects the spiritual
equals of men. If this kind of attitude was enshrined in the
siltras, which, after all, embody the theories and ideals of the
movement, it is hardly likely that in practice the women who
followed the Mahayana fared any better than their Sravakayana
sisters. The Mahayana takes a hard line against other faiths, in
theory at any rate, but its attitude to the rest of the Buddhist
fold is characterised by ambivalence and defensiveness, and it
gives every appearance of being a minority movement struggling
to maintain the authenticity and validity of its teachings with a
truly prodigious degree of polemical 'overkill'. It may well be
the case that in its attack on the arhat-ideal the Mahayana was
setting up a straw man, but this is not the place to decide whether
the attainments of the bodhisattvayanika and the sravakayanika
were essentially identical. Buddhahood mayor may not be the
same as arhatship, but it is certain that the followers of the
Mahayana placed a higher premium on aspiration to it, which
implies that they perceived a difference. What is equally certain
is that Buddhism was (and still is) plagued by a problem. We
could call it the problem of the "ever-receding ideal". In
Gautama's own time, many hundreds of people attained arhat-
ship like him. Four or five hundred years later, when the Buddha
had grown idealised and remote, and arhats were few and far
between, many people vowed to attain awakening, and thereby
became bodhisattvas. One wonders how many centuries passed
before even bodhisattvahood became as remote an ideal as bud-
dhahood, and the goal had to be reformulated anew. Perhaps,
however, it is in the nature of religious systems not only to
undergo continual transformation and renewal, but also to pres-
ent us with ideals which are always just out of reach, with
paradises t ~ a t shimmer on the margins. of possibility, an.d with
vehicles whICh we know we could all nde to salvatIOn, If only
we could catch up with them and climb aboard.
1. See e.g., H. Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Liter-
ature (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1932), pp. 45, 222-225; R. Robinson
& W. Johnson, The Buddhist Religion (3rd ed., Wadsworth, Belmont, 1982),
pp. 74-75; E. Conze, Buddhism: Its Essence and Development (Bruno Cassirer,
Oxford, 1951), pp. 87-88, 120; D. Kalupahana, Buddhist Philosophy (University
Press of Hawaii, Honolulu, 1976), pp. 121-126; N. Katz, Buddhist Images of
Human Perfection (Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1982), p. 280.
2. This is the view of Dayal (see Bodhisattva Doctrine, pp. 31, 35), whose
work has had a seminal effect on this area of study. Dayal's understanding of
the bodhisattva-ideal is reflected in the writings of many other scholars. A
particularly good example is T. Ling, The Buddha (Penguin Books, Har-
mondsworth, 1976), pp. 19-20:
Later on in India a form of Buddhism emerged, alongside the Theravada,
which was characterised by beliefs in, and practices associated with,
heavenly beings who possessed superhuman spiritual power, and who
were known as Bodhisattvas .... In both senses of the word religion (belief
in spiritual beings and belief in the sacred), the Bodhisattva school of
Buddhism ... was a religious system .... For Mahayana Buddhism the
sacred has its special focus in the heavenly realm where dwell the
Bodhisattvas, the superhuman spiritual beings who are said to exert their
influence to help poor struggling mortals. In directing their attention to
this supramundane heavenly community the Mahayanists showed them-
selves correspondingly less concerned with the need to order the earthly
society of men in such a way that would facilitate the pursuit of the
Buddhist life, and would enhance and encourage human effort. More
reliance on heavenly power meant that less attention needed to be given
to earthly factors. The Mahayanists became more concerned with devotions
to the heavenly beings, with ritual and speculation, and less with the nature
of the civilization in which they lived.
See also pp. 202-203, 242-247.
3. See E. Zurcher, "A New Look at the Earliest Chinese Buddhist
Texts", an unpublished paper delivered at the Leiden Symposium on State,
Ideology and Justice in Early Imperial China, 1-5 Sept., 1975, also his "Late
Han Vernacular Elements in the Earliest Buddhist Translations", Journal of
the Chinese Language Teachers Association, XII, 3 (Oct. 1977), pp. 177-203, to
88 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
both of which articles I am considerably indebted. See also my own unpublished
paper "The Earliest Chinese Translations of Mahayana Buddhist Siitras: Some
Notes on the Works of
4. T. = Takakusu J unjiro and Watanabe Kaikyoku, eds., TaishO shinshu
daizokyo, 100 vols. (Tokyo, 1924-35). Throughout this paper references to the
texts will be to page, lateral column and line of the TaishO edition, except in
the case of No.8, the KiiSyapa-parivarta, where citations will be according to
the sections of von Stiel-Holstein's edition.
5. On the epigraphical evidence, which tends to corroborate one of .
the findings of the present paper, see G. Schopen, "Mahayana in Indian
Inscriptions", Indo-lranianJournal, 21 (1979) pp. 1-19.
6. These phonetic transcriptions (biqiu biqiuni, etc.), which later became
standard in Chinese translations of Buddhist sutras, are used throughout our
group of texts, except that in Redaction B of the PraS upasaka is also rendered
as qingxinshi
("man of pure faith") and upasika as qingxinnu
("woman of
pure faith"), while non-standard translations of all four terms are found in
CCD and UP.
7. Lokaksema's use of qiu ("seek") before his transcription of mahayana-
sar(lprasthita is redundant but revealing (since it puts women one step further
back from full participation), otherwise the accuracy of his translation is con-
firmed by the Tibetan text of the PraS, lOA and 12A: theg-pa chen-po-la yang-
dag-par zhugs-pa'i dge-slong-ma (or dge-bsnyen-ma).
8. On the use of these terms see D. Paul, Women in Buddhism (Asian
Humanities Press, Berkeley, 1979), pp. 106-110.
9. In Chap. XIX of the Sanskrit text of the AsPP this figure appears
as Gangadeva or Gangadevl BhaginI, i.e. "the woman GangadevI". Although
E. Conze in his English translation of the siitra (op. cit., pp. 219-221) calls her
a 'Goddess' or 'Goddess of the Ganges', a lead which D. Paul follows in her
version of the passage (op. cit., pp. 180-184), this woman is no more a goddess
than Aryadeva is a god. Gangadevl's story, however, later produced some
interesting echoes, when the AsPP's prediction that she would attain awakening
as a male was frustrated, as it were, by the Tibetan tradition. The rnam-thar
ofYe-shes mtsho-rgyal (757 -817), one of the chief consorts ofPadmasambhava,
lists GangadevI as one of the previous incarnations of that famous Tibetan
yogini: see K. Dowman, Sky Dancer (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1984),
p. 6 and Tarthang Tulku, Mother of Knowledge (Dharma Publishing, Berkeley,
1983), p. 11 (both translators appear to perpetuate the erroneous divinisation,
but I have not been able to check the Tibetan text myself). Since Ye-shes
mtsho-rgyal is similarly identified with the unnamed merchant's daughter
who befriends the bodhisattva Sadaprarudita in Chaps. XXX-XXXI of the
AsPP, the author of the rnam-thar is dearly attempting to link her with Praj-
iiaparamita herself.
10. Se'e AsPP 427b29-c2, c27, 429b6-7 for occurrences of this term with
bodhisattva and mahasar(lnaha-sar(lnaddha.
11. On this general theme see N. Schuster, "Changing the Female Body:
Wise Women and the Bodhisattva Career in Some Siitras",
]lABS, 4, 1 (1981), pp. 24-69.
12. See e.g., Robinson and Johnson, op.cit., p. 78.
13. This point is, in my view, not invalidated by the existence of such
as KP 88, which claims that just as new moon is more worthy of
homage (namaskiira) than the full, so too bodhzsattvas are more worthy of hom-
ge than the Buddhas. When taken in context, this hyperbolic glorification
a f the bodhisattva-path can hardly be construed as a 'call to worship'.
o 14. For .different renderings of some of these grades, see UP 16a6-8.
15. Spiro's understanding of the bodhisattva-ideal as one which "permits
salvation to be achieved by a mechanical process-the transfer of merit from
Bodhisattva to devotee" and "demands no personality transformation" (op.cit.,
p. 62) is, as we have seen, wide of the mark, at least as far as the early Mahayana
is concerned. The supposed "misreadings" of the bodhisattva doctrine which
he imputes to the Burmese (see esp. p. 63, n. 33) are perfectly compatible
with our early sutras.
abo F#I-f- 1::, tl-i0(1"f-)L
ac. BJj f- r;f.
ad. -t;:.JX
ae. f '5<-
af. Ji;,t
ago 8.t'<...
ah. ! 1J --3 J#--.kA-
aj. 'J'iL
al. 161 t.W-.
an. jJ- F.Jl
aq. ';1-.1!.
ar. Jlf-..
as. r't;!i
at. :!tIT rt ':i
avo 9/-- it.
ay. JfriL
az. }....
ba. -fu -"
bb :.4: f}-. lL
'/0 '9
Shingon Mikky6's Twofold MaI)Qala:
Paradoxes and Integration*
by Minora Kiyota
The Garbhakosadhatu (Taizakai) and Vajradhatu (Kon-
gakai) constitute the twofold marpiala
employed by Kiikai (773-
835), the systematizer of Shingon Mikkya. Ideas for the compo-
sition of the Garbhakosadhatu MaI).Qala are derived from the
. Mahiivairocana-siltra,2 whose central theme is emptiness (silnyatii),
the ontological ground of reality conceived as the ultimate truth.
Ideas for the composition of the Vajradhatu MaI).Qala are de-
rived from the Tattvasan:tgraha-siltra,3 the central theme of which
is the cultivation of wisdom to cognize the world through insight
into emptiness. The first chapter of the Mahiivairocana-siltra
articulates a Madhyamika theme.
The remaining chapters deal
primarily with Tantric rituals. The Tattvasan:tgraha-siltra is a
Yogacara-oriented text, but it does not articulate a simple mental
transformation theory. Following the Tantric tradition, it articu-
lates instead a physical and mental transformation. These two
. siltras are Tantric texts, but the term siltra, rather than tantra,
is employed in this paper to designate these texts, following the
Chinese tradition.
The Garbhakosadhatu MaI).Qala and Vajradhatu MaI).Qala
are iconographic devices used to represent the major theme of
Shingon Mikkya (man-Buddha integration), a theory technically
referred to as sokushin-jobutsu. Literally the term means "the
realization of buddhahood in the present body." The sokushin-
jobutsu theory is described in full in Kiikai's Sokushin-jobutsu-gi.5
The term is first found, however, in the Bodhicitta-siistra (P'u-t'i-
hsin lun)6 and the idea germane to this kind of thought-inherent
buddhahood or inherent buddhanature, terms which ultimately
mean the same-is found in the Tattvasan:tgraha-siltra. Doctri-
92 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
nally, the Bodhicitta-siistra
belongs to the Tattvasarl}graha lineage.
In this sastra, the most important term to note is, of course,
sokushinj'obutsu (chi-shen chengjo). The term does not simply refer
to a mental realization, but a mental and physical one. It does
not refer to a future realization but to a present one. Neverthe-
less, the two terms-sokushin-jobutsu, used in a technical context,
and "man-Buddha integration," used in a general context-are
used interchangeably in this paper, depending on the context
in which they occur.
This paper consists of three parts: 1) tacit assumptions
necessary to understand the nature of the twofold mar],q,ala; 2)
the description of the twofold mar],q,ala; and 3) a critical exami-
nation of the textual sources employed in the formulation of
the sokushin-jobutsu theory. First, Tantric Buddhist terms need
to be understood in the context in which they are discussed-in
the Tantric context, not in the context in which they were orig-
inally used, for example in the Mahayana context-because Tan-
tric concepts taken out of their context would produce misrep-
resentation. Second, the description of the twofold mar],q,ala will
be brief because I have already dealt with that subject in my
previous works
and I do not intend to reiterate what I have
previously said. And third, inasmuch as the twofold mar],q,ala is
an iconographic device to indicate "man-Buddha integration"
(integration being the key concept here), the term is suggestive
of tensions. The central purpose of this paper is to identify
these tensions by examining Indian and Chinese textual sources.
As such, in the description of the twofold mar],q,ala, attention
will be focused on the Vajradhatu MaI).Qala, rather than on the
Garbhakosadhatu MaI).Qala, the former depicting the realm of
the pursuer of truth and the latter truth per se. This paper is
primarily a textual and doctrinal study.
1. Tacit Assumptions
Shingon literally means the "true word." It is derived from
the Sanskrit mantra. Mantra in the context of the Vedic tradition
means "words in praise of gods." But here, in the context of
Shingon Mikkyo, a school of Tantric Buddhism systematized by
Kukai in Japan, it refers to a formula in which the teachings of
the Buddha are distilled, a definition which follows the Tantric
Buddhist tradition. Mikkyo is a term employed in contradistinc-
tion to Kengyo, the teaching." The latter refers to the
teaching as taught by Sakyamuni, the historically revealed
Buddha; the former refers to the teaching of Mahavairocana.
Who thel1 is Mahavairocana?
We have said that the Garbhakosadhatu MaI).(;lala is derived
from the Mahiivairocana-sutra. The central deity of this sutra is
Mahavairocana, symbolizing truth per se. Mahavairocana is not
a historical Buddha but a transcendental one. But the two, the
historical and transcendental, are not unrelated. Shingon Mik-
kyo claims that Sakyamuni became a Buddha through his insight
into emptiness, which it conceives as the Dharma. Hence, when
we say that Mahavairocana symbolizes truth per se, we are actually
saying that he is the personified Dharma. Shingon Mikkyo,
therefore, following the three Buddha-body theory9 of
Mahayana, claims that is dharmakiiya, the
iment of the Dharma, and Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha,
is nirmiirtakiiya, the Dharma transformed into a human person-
ality. Between the two is sar(tbhogakiiya, literally the rewarded
body, that is, one rewarded with the fruits of enlightenment as
the result of bodhisattva practices. To put it in simple words,
sar(tbhogakiiya is the means through which one realizes dhar-
makiiya, just like numerals are the means through which
mathematical truth is expressed. Sar(tbhogakiiya bridges dhar-
makiiya and nirmiirtakiiya. Let us now elaborate on Dharmakaya
In the context of Shingon Mikkyo, Dharmakaya Maha vai-
. rocana is most important. Etymologically, Mahavairocana is de-
rived from "Mahii/' meaning "great, all-encompassing, and all
pervasive," and "virocana," meaning "light," symbolizing truth.
Mahavairocana is a light deity. He is conceived as the personified
Dharma because Shingon Mikkyo does not conceive of him
simply as an objectified truth concept, but as one who has the
power to create, like light, who encompasses all things, like
space, and pervades all things, like the vital forces (energy) of
the universe.
In the context of the "man-Buddha integration"
theory, the Buddha here refers to Mahavairocana. It is this kind
of Buddha with whom the practitioner attempts to realize inte-
gration. Bodhicitta is the agent of integration.
94 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
Bodhicitta is a compound derived from bodhi, meaning en-
, lightenment, and citta, referring to the human consciousness.
Bodhicitta literally means the "thought of enlightenment," al-
though, in the Mahayana context, it is frequently translated as
the "aspiration to enlightenment." Aspiration to enlightenment
actually refers to bodhicitta-utpada and literally means the awa-
kening to the thought of enlightenment. I make this distinction
between "aspiration" and "awakening" because in the context
of Shingon Mikkyo, the latter makes more sense: Shingon Mik-
kyo claims that "awakening" (to the thought of enlightenment)
is "enlightenment" itself, and that there is no difference what-
soever between "awakening" and "enlightenment." This is be-
cause Shingon Mikkyo does not differentiate between the causal
and resultant aspects of enlightenment, 11 an issue we shall dis-
cuss in more detail later. Regardless of whether it refers to the
causal or resultant aspect, what does bodhicitta actually mean
within the context of the central theme of Shingon Mikkyo, that
is, man-Buddha integration? It refers to wisdom, that is, insight
into emptiness, insight into the fact that all phenomena are
devoid of a self-nature (svabhava), that the absence of self-nature
enables phenomenal change. Kukai, however, was not only con-
cerned with ontological issues. He was concerned with existential
issues. Hence, in his Hizo-hOyaku, he describes emptiness
metaphorically as follows:
The Great Space (emptiness), boundless and silent, encom-
passes ten thousand images (phenomena) in its vital forces;
The Great Sea (emptiness), deep and still, embraces a
thousand elements in a single drop;
The all-embracing one (Mahavairocana who personifies
emptiness) is the mother of all things.
The name "Kukai" literally means the "sea of emptiness." To
Kukai, emptiness was the universe itself with the power to ac-
tively communicate by creating, nurturing and regulating all
things. Wisdom refers to insight into emptiness of this kind.
Technically, it is referred to as bodhicitta, the agent of man-
Buddha integration, a matter which the twofold marpj,ala is de-
signed to depict.
Edgerton defines mar;,c/ala as a "circle, piece of ground spec-
'fically prepared in honor of a Buddha or saint (for him to sit
Toganoo analyzes the term into mar;,t/a, meaning "cream,
best part, highest point, the essence of things, etc.," and "la",
the suffix, meaning "possessed, support and complete."14 Tucci
defines it as a "means of integration."15 The first and second
are etymological descriptions, and the third is a functional one
describing how a mar;,c/ala is employed by a practitioner. All
three definitions, however, are interrelated soteriologically. But
in the context of this paper, the third is most relevant.
Further, I have used the term "iconography" to indicate a
mar;,c/ala. I have done so because, although a Shingon Mikkyo
ma1Jq,ala is a graphic illustration of a doctrine (the sokushin-jobutsu
theory), it is also a graphic portrayal of deities. There are a total
of418 deities in the Garbhakosadhatu Mar;H;lala and 1,461 deities
in the Vajradhatu MaI:lc;l.ala. I have no intention of describing
, all of them. I will simply describe the major ones, those who
have direct or close relevance to the doctrinal content described
in this paper. Further, having studied in China, Kiikai intro-
duced the twofold ma1Jq,ala to Japan, but neither its original
composer nor the manner in which it was introduced to China
from India is clear. A legend has it that the Garbhakosadhatu
'. Mat;lc;l.ala is a painting by Subhakarasi:q1ha (637-735) of a world
in space, and that the Vajradhatu MaI:lc;l.ala is a painting
by Vajrabodhi (671-74) made under the instructions of the
Buddha. Subhakarasi:q1ha, together with I-hsing (683-727), his
Chinese disciple, translated the Mahiivairocana-sutra into
Chinese, and Vajrabodhi translated the Tattvasar(tgraha-sutra into
Chinese. As we have previously said, ideas for the composition
of the Garbhakosadhatu MaI:lc;l.ala are derived from the
Mahaviiirocana-sutra and ideas for the composition of the Vaj-
radhatu mat;lc;l.ala are derived from the Tattvasar(tgraha-sutra.
What is important to note here is not so much the original
composer of the twofold mar;,q,ala-for that is an issue which
remains uncertain-but the introduction of the Mahiivairocana
tradition by Subhakarasi:q1ha and the Tattvasar(tgraha tradition
by Vajrabodhi from India to China. These two Indian Tantric
traditions were synthesized in Ch'ang-an. Hui-kuo (746-805),
the Chinese master, transmitted this synthesized Buddhist Tan-
tric tradition to Kukai, who systematized the sokushin-jobutsu
96 lIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
theory based on this tradition in Japan. The Buddhist Tantric
. tradition which has synthesized the doctrinal content of the
Mahiivairocana-sutra and Tattvasan:tgraha-sutra survives only in
We are now ready to examine the twofold ma'YJdala. We shall
first briefly touch upon the Garbhakosadhatu Mar,l(;iala and then
focus our attention on the Vajradhatu MaI).<;lala because this
paper is concerned more with the issue of tension than with .
truth per se, as we previously said.
II. The Twofold MafJ,qala
Garbhakosadhiitu MafJ,qala. We have said that the Gar-
bhakosadhatu MaI).<;lala is an iconographic representation of
truth per se, that the ideas for its composition are derived from
the Mahiivairocana-sutra, and that Mahavairocana is the per-
sonified Dharma representing emptiness. The central theme of
. the Mahiivairocana-sutra is found in the passage below:
... bodhicitta is the cause, compassion its roots and skill-in-
means the ultimate.
The term "ultimate" in Sanskrit is parayavasiina, meaning "the
peak, end result, final, etc." In the text, the above passage is
quoted as a response to the question of what enlightenment
means. This passage means that bodhicitta is the cause of en-
lightenment, compassion nurtures that cause, and improvising
skill-in-menas to implement the compassion-rooted-wisdom is
enlightenment. Enlightenment is empirically directed. The Gar-
bhakosadhatu MaI).<;lala consists of twelve halls, as indicated in
Fig. 1.
Fig. 1. The twelve Halls of the Garbhakosadhatu MaI.H;lala
7 3 1 4 9
The concepts underlying the composition of this ma1J.qala are
bodhicitta (cause), compassion (roots), and skill-in-means (ulti-
mate), which are identified as dharmakiiya, sarfJ,bhogakiiya and
nirmii1J.akiiya, respectively, as outlined below:
The Halls of:
1. Eight Petals
2. All-knowledge
3. AvalokiteSvara
4. Vajrapal).i
5. Vidyadharas

Akasagarbha Sarp.bhogakaya
Exterior Vajra
Halls numbered one to five represent bodhicitta. Among the
five halls, number one represents the bodhicitta bud. The halls
surrounding it indicate the blooming of bodhicitta. Halls num-
98 ]IABS VOL. 10 NO.1
bered six to eleven represent compassion, indicating the nurtur-
ing of bodhicitta. The hall numbered twelve represents skill-in-
means for helping others which is the ultimate purpose of the
compassion-rooted-bodhicitta. That bodhicitta is equated with
dharmakiiya, compassion with sa11Jbhogakaya, and skill-in-means
with nirmanakiiya means that bodhicitta is wisdom per se, compas-
. sion the wisdom-nurturing-element, and skill-in-means the em-
pirical verification of wisdom. In short, this ma1J,qala shows that
truth, cognized by wisdom and hence ultimately identical with
wisdom, is not simply a fixed and frozen conceptual category,
but a dynamic one capable of infiltrating the empirical world ~
and that improvising skill-in-means is the norm to verify
bodhicitta within the person.
Vajradhiitu Ma1J,qala. We have said that the Vajradhatu
MaI).c;lala is an iconographic device representing the path of
mental cultivation and that the ideas for its composition are
derived from the Tattvasa11Jgraha-sutra, a Yogacara-oriented text.
It is a Yogacara-oriented Tantric text. The central theme of this
ma1J,qala is inherent buddhahood (or buddhanautre). This
ma1J,t/ala shows the way by which buddhahood is realized. The
ma1J,qala consists of "nine halls," as indicated in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2 The Nine Halls of the Vajradhatu MaI).<;lala
5 6 7
4 1 8
3 2 9
1) Karma, 2) Samaya, 3) S u k ~ m a , 4) Puja, 5) Four Mudra,
6) One Mudra, 7) Naya, 8) Trailokyavijayakarma
9) Trailokyavijayasamaya.
This ma1J,qala again shows that enlightenment is not an abso-
lute-fixed and frozen--concept, that it is the dynamic practice
of enlightening self and others. It also shows explicitly that
Shingon Mikkyo practice constitutes a process philosophy. That
is the "nine halls" represent the path a practitioner moves
through: "one-to-nine" showing the path of enlightening others
and "nine-to-one" the path of enlightening oneself. What needs
to be noted here is that whereas Madhyamika deals with an
ontological issue, that is, the notion of ultimate reality, which it
claims is emptiness, Yogacara deals with an epistemological
issue; that is, the manner through which phenomena are cog-
nized- through mental constructions. This ma'wjala is a rep-
resentation of the epistemological issue. We shall now discuss
each of the "nine halls." The description of the first hall will be
somehwat elaborate, since it is the most significant hall. The
rest will be brief.
1) Karma Hall. The central hall, technically referred to as
the Karma Hall, in the sense that it is the hall which depicts
mental functions, is an iconographic representation of the
Yogacara theory of mental transformation (asraya pariiV1:tti). It
is central and the most significant among the "nine halls." Details
of the Karma Hall are outlined in Fig. 3.
Figure 3. The Karma Hall
2 4
2 1:1 4
2 : 4
2 4

2 III 4
- Circle
l--- Vajra Circle
First Square
Second Square
Third Square
This haH consists of five small circles (I, II, III, IV and V)
encompassed within a larger circle, which in turn is encased
within three squares. The larger circle is referred to as the V;:ura
Circle and the five smaller ones are referred to as the
Circles. Vajra, literally meaning a "diamond," refers to "wisdom
as indestructible as a diamond." means liberation. The
Vajra Circles are iconographic representations of an acquired,
not innate, wisdom which is endowed with the properties of
liberation-liberation from greed, hate and delusion. This re-
quires an explanation.
It will be recalled that we have already referred to "wisdom"
with reference to the Garbhakosadhatu Ma1)Q.ala. In the case of
the Garbhakosadhatu Ma1J.<;lala, wisdom referred to innate wis-
dom, the wisdom of Mahavairocana. In the case of the
radhatu Ma1J.Q.ala, it refers to acquired wisdom. This is so because
in the former we were talking about a universal wisdom, the
objectified wisdom personified as Mahavairocana. In the latter,
we are talking about a wisdom cultivated by the practitioner, a
sentient being. Of course, we are not talking about two different
and independent types of wisdom. Innate wisdom, being univer-
sal, is realized by cultivating the wisdom of the practitioner.
Acquired wisdom refers to cultivated wisdom. The ultimate cul-
tivation of acquired wisdom is innate wisdom, which Shingon
Mikkyo conceives as universal. Cultivation brings about mental
transformation. This kind of theory presupposes that the "wis-
dom" of Mahavairocana (innate, universal) is inherent in the
mind of the practitioner but requires cultivation to unveil it.
This is the reason why I have identified bodhicitta as the agent
of integration: it represents the wisdom of Mahavairocana (in-
nate) as well as that of the practitioner (acquired).
Shingon Mikkyo incorporates the Y ogacara theory of men-
tal transformation to describe the transformation from the ac-
quired to the innate. Hence a brief description of the Yogacara
theory of mental transformation is called for in order to under-
stand the nature of this hall which, in the context of the Vaj-
radhatu MaIJ.Q.ala,is expressed iconographically.
Yogacara established eight levels of consciousness as follows:
1) eye-vijiiiina
2) ear-vijiiana
3) nose-vijiiana
4) tongue-vijnana
5) body-vijnana
6) manovijnana
7) manas
8) or simply alaya
Vijiiiina is the instrument of discrimination. (We cognize things
through discrimination.) The first six vijnana refer to the con-
scious level of perception, the last two to the unconscious level.
Thus, the first five are the agents of perception.
conceptualizes the perceived. Manas evaluates the conceived.
Alaya is the consciousness foundation. Saying it the other way
around, iilaya is the repository of the "seeds" of past experience.
Manas, "perfumed" by the "seeds" deposited in the alaya,
evaluates the perceived. Manovijiiana, shaped by the manas, con-
ceptualizes the sensory information transmitted by the first five
vijnana. Thus manas maintains two functions: a) it establishes
its identity by relying on the alaya; and b) it shapes the manner
in which conceptualizes the sensory information
transmitted by the first five vijiiiina. Its function is cyclic. Manas
is what is commonly referred to as the ego.
. We have employed the terms "seeds" (bija) and "perfume"
. (viisanii). These are metaphorical terms, the former referring
to a potential and the latter the influencing character of that
potential. Alaya is the repository of the perfuming potential,
that is, a karmic repository, or simply put, a habit-forming re-
pository. Yogacara epistemology essentially refers to the alaya
theory of causation. In the context where the alaya is a karmic
repository and the manas maintains a cyclic function, we can
summarize the iilaya theory of causation as follows: a karmic
potential reveals itself as the result of a set of conditions in the
form of manas (ego), which in turn shapes the quality of manovij-
iiiina (value concept); and conversely, when the manas shapes
the quality of it simultaneously deposits its poten-
tial in the iilaya. But-and this is important-neither the manas
nor the iilaya represents an absolute, unchanging entity. The
two are co-dependent and co-arise, meaning that one shapes
the quality of the other. Thus, though the alaya is a karmic
repository, that is, it is the repository of "unwholesome seeds,"
102 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
these "seeds" are not absolute. "Unwholesome seeds" can be
transformed into "wholesome seeds" by cultivating wisdom; that
is, cultivating insight into reality, the nature of which is empti-
ness, which brings about a change in perceiving the worH
Yogacara, literally meaning the practice of yoga, claims that this
kind of wisdom is cultivated through meditative practices, mean-
ing more specifically that the human ego-that which cognizes
the world by making the self the measuring stick- is tamed
through meditative practices. This is not the proper place to
discuss the details of Y ogacara meditative practices, for the issue
we are concerned with here is mental transformation.
Mental transformation in the context of Yogacara refers to
the vijiiana (discrimination)":Jiiana (nondiscrimination) transfor-
mation outlined as follows: .
1) alaya
2) manas
3) mano
4) 1stfive
jiiiina definition
iidarfa "mirror-mind," i.e., pure cog-
nition, or wisdom.
samatii "equality-mind," i.e., a mind
which cognizes all things in a
proper perspective, a mind
which cognizes all things as
complimentary entities.
pratyavek<;arj,ii insight to deal with the parti-
cular problems of the world
without bias but with com-
knowledge to implement in-
sight into practice through
Yogacara meditation is designed to internalize one's experi-
ences, to evaluate them without making the self the measuring
stick (that is, without bias), and to cognize phenomena as com-
plementary entities of the world. Whether one sees the world
in that context or not depends on whether one has cultivated
wisdom or not. But regardless of whether one has done so or
not, Y ogacara claims that the world is a mental construction
because the karmic seeds deposited in the aZaya shape the man-
ner in which one sees and evaluates the world. The purpose of
Y ogacara meditation is to cultivate the ability to see the world
from the perspective of jnana-wisdom, the wisdom realized
through mental transformation, not from the perspective of
The Y ogacara mental transformation theory forms the
model for the composition of the Karma Hall. Thus the four
---i1darsa-, samata-, and
jiiana-are personified as the four Buddhas (see Fig. 3), namely
(II), Ratnasambhava (III), Amitayus (IV) and
Amogasiddhi (V), respectively. Mahavairaocana (I) is sur-
rounded by these four Buddhas, the latter representing the
attributes of the former. Thus Mahavairocana is dharmakaya and
the four Buddhas sar!Jbhogakiiya. Each attributive Buddha is en-
dowed with the properties of samadhi and prajna, the former
conceived as a preparatory discipline to realize the latter. In the
Karma Hall (see Fig. 3), these properties are personified and
depicted as the 16 samadhi-bodhisattvas (1-1,2,3,4; A,B,C,D; and
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 in the second square) and 16 prajna-bodhisattvas
(II-l,2,3,4; 111-1,2,3,4; IV-l,2,3,4; and V-l,2,3,4). The 16
samadhi- and 16 prajna-bodhisattvas are nirma'fJ,akiiya. Thus the
.Karma Hall is depicted by 37 deities: Mahavairocana and his
four attributive Buddha, plus the 16 prajna- and 16 samadhi-
bodhisattvas as outlined below:
I Mahavairoca;na I
I Aklobhya (II)
Ratnasambhava (III) Amitayus (IV) Amoghasiddhi (V)J
16 prajiiii-bodhisattvas 16 samadhi-bodhisauvas
4 bodhisattvas of the East 4 paramita bodhisattvas
(II-I,-2,-3,-4) (1-1,-2,-3,-4)
4bodhisattvas of the South 4 frilja bodhisattvas of the interior
(III-I,-2, -3,-4) (A,B,G,D)
4 bodhisattvas ofthe West 4 pilja bodhisattvas of the exterior
(IV -1,-2,-3,-4) (1,2,3,4)
4 bodhisattvas of the North 4 samgraha bodhisattvas'
(v-l,-2,-3,-4) (5,6,7,8)
The Karma Hall thus is arepresentation of enlightenment
per se. To realize what has been depicted iconographically is the
goal of the practitioner. But, inasmuch as Shingon Mikkyo
claims that enlightenment is the practice of enlightening others,
enlightenment precludes the notion of dwelling exclusively in
the realm of enlightenment. The enlightened one must move
. to the realm of sarl}sara, improvise skill-in-means, and help
others. Hence the path (see Fig. 2), "nine-to-one," represents
the practitioner moving from sa1!lSara to enlightenment and
the path, "one-to-nine," from enlightenment to sa1[lsara. The
Shingon Mikkyo concept of enlightenment then is cyclically con-
ceived. Its path to enlightenment represents a process
philosophy with no terminal point established. Let us now briefly
examine the remaining eight halls.
2) Samaya Hall. Samaya here means vow, the vow to impro-
vise skill-in-means to enlighten all sentient beings.
3) S i l ~ m a Hall. S i l ~ m a literally means "particles." Here it
refers to the wisdom of the Buddha transmitted by words
(Dharma) to effectively respond to all particular problems of
sentient beings.
4) Pilja Hall. Pilja means worship. Each Buddha of this hall
represents a specific method to enlighten sentient beings.
5) Four Mudra Hall. Mudra is a sign or a seal. Here it refers
to a finger-gesture made by the four Buddhas, each mudra rep-
resenting a specific type of Buddha-wisdom.
6) One Mudra Hall. This represents the realm of Dhar-
makaya Mahavairocana, who is depicted with a wisdomlist-mudra
(jnanamu!iti-mudra), indicating that Mahavairocana's wisdom em-
braces the wisdoms of the four Buddhas. The wisdomlist-mudra
is formed by both hands making fists, the left placed beneath
the right, the left index finger placed upright and covered by
the right fist. The five fingers of the right fist represent the five
wisdoms, the left index finger represents the elements of life.
This is the sign of non-duality (between man and the Buddha),
the right fist covering the left index finger symbolizing the life-
force emerging from Mahavairocana.
7) Naya Hall. Naya means "path, method, or means." This
hall is a representation of bodhicitta (the emanation of
Mahavairocana) reflected on the minds of sentient beings.
Iconographically, Vajrasattva, the seeker of the Dharma and
occupying the central seat, is surrounded by four bodhisattvas-
I::;tavajra, Kelikilavajra, Ragavajra and Manavajra-respectively
representing lust, touch, craving, and conceit. Here, odd though
it may seem, the bodhisattvas represent delusibn. The theme here
is that delusions are the enlightenment materials, for without
the problems of saTIJSara there is nothing to negate, nothing to
cultivate, nothing to achieve. There is no enlightenment without
nonenlightenment, for whether we are speaking of enlighten-
ment or nonenlightenment, we are referring to the same mind,
a mind in which enlightenment and nonenlightenment co-exist.
Thus, the awareness of nonenlightenment triggers a desire to
seek enlightenment, just like thirst triggers a desire to seek water.
The bodhisattvas depicted in this hall represent states of mind
in which nonenlightenment has been transformed into en-
. 8) TrailokyavHayakarma Hall. Trailokyavijaya, the central
deity of this hall, is an angry deity. He is three-faced and three-
eyed to detect greed, hate and delusion, is equipped with tusks
to cut off defilements, has in his hands the vajra scepter, bow
and arrows, rope and sword to conquer evil, and tramples on
Mahdvara, the male demon, with his left foot, and U rna, the
female demon, with his right foot. He is an incarnation of Vaj-
rasattva, whose attribute is compassion. Trailokyavijaya's anger
is directed against evil.
9) TrailokyavHayasamaya Hall. Whereas the Trailok-
yavijayakarma Hall describes the physical activities of Trailok-
yavijaya, this hall describes his vows to enlighten all sentient
Now the method I employed to describe the "nine halls"
illustrates the "effect-to-cause" process, remembering here that,
according to the Buddhist theory of causation, a "cause" can
become an "effect" and an "effect" can become a "cause," as in
the case of the "seed and sprout" metaphor. The "seed" causes
the "sprout," but the "sprout" eventually causes the "seed."
Hence, by reversing the order of the description above, that is,
by beginning from Trailokyavijayasamaya and terminating at
Karma, we can describe the "cause-to-effect" process. In this
case, Trailokyavijayasamaya (9), the point of departure, is the
. station where the practitioner awakens to realize the compassion
of the Buddha and thereby becomes aware of his inherent
bodhicitta; at Trailokyavijayakarma (8), he eliminates defile-
ments; at Naya (7), he realizes that because defilements are the
materials to awaken bodhicitta, he is potentially a Buddha; at
Four Mudra (5), he realizes the four attributes of Mahavairocana
collectively; at Puja (4), Suk1}ma (3), and Samaya (2), he realizes
106 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
them singularly; and at Karma (1), he realizes buddhahood.
Let us now contextualize the "nine halls" rationally. I will
present three methods, though I am sure that there are other
methods as well. The first, a traditional Shingon Mikkyo method,
is somewhat cumbersome. It claims that the first four halls rep_
resent the four attributes of Mahavairocana: 1) wisdom (jiiana),
2) vow (samaya), 3) truth (the Dharma expressed verbally), and
4) skill-in-means (upaya). The fifth collects these attributes in
one hall. (In other words, the first four represent an analytical
description of Mahavairocana's attributes, while the fifth collects
these attributes in one hall.) The sixth synthesizes these attri-
butes in the context of a mudra. The notion of the "four-halls-in_
one" (5) and the "four-wisdoms-in-one" (6) is the Shingon Mik-
kyo's way of expressing that all things are of Mahavairocana
and from Mahavairocana emerge all things. The seventh repre-
sents the awakening of bodhicitta; the eighth, enlightenment of
others; and the ninth, enlightenment of self.
The second traditional Shingon Mikkyo method is to contex-
tualize the "nine halls" into the bodhicitta, compassion and skill-
in-means" formula. We can then say that the first six halls rep-
resent bodhicitta (wisdom); the seventh, compassion (in the sense
that nonenlightenment is transformed into enlightenment); and
the eighth and ninth, skill-in-means. I have some reservations
about this kind of a contextualizing scheme. The "bodhicitta,
compassion and skill-in-means" formula is derived from the
Mahavairocana-sutra, the basic text employed in the composition
of the Garbhakosadhatu MaI;t<;lala. We are presently dealing
with the Vajradhatu MaI).<;lala, though it can perhaps be said
that inasmuch as the two are to be integrated, the principles
embodied in the Garbhakosadhatu MaI;t<;lala are reflected on
the Vajradhatu MaQ.<;lala. But somehow I have the feeling that
this kind of a contextualizing scheme is overtaxing the bounds
of reason.
Another method to contextualize the "nine halls" is to make
reference to a theme developed by Nagao, the eminent Japanese
Buddhologist, in his recent essay, "Ascent and Descent: Two-Di-
rectional Activity in Buddhist Thought." This method has my
unqualified endorsement. In this essay, Nagao says,
Ascent can be understood as an activity of movement from
this world to the world yonder, or from this human personal
. existence to the impersonal dharmadhatu, . the world of dhar-
mata. Descent is the reverse; it is revival and affirmation of
humanity .. ,17
With reference to the '''nine halls," the path "nine-to-one," rep-
resents the "ascent," and the path "one-to-one," the "descent."
Neither path represents the is made possible be-
cause of the other. The "ascent" and "descent" paths are based
on co-arising, the principle which presupposes that all things
are interdependent, interrelated, and interwoven. AU
phenomena (such as "ascent" and "descent"), though conceived
contrastively, are in fact mutually complementing one another,
just like the two-thrusting movements of a piston. Thus, modern
physics claims, "a phenomenon can be measured only with re-
ference to another phenomenon." Co-arising, simply put, is the
Buddhist theory of relativity, in the sense that one complements
the other. In the context of Buddhist philosophy, emptiness-
nothing is absolute-underlies co-arising. But emptiness is not
the causal nexus of co-arising. The Awakening of Mahayana Faith
therefore says, "Water (emptiness) and waves (co-arising) are
inseparable. "18
And so we can say that emptiness is the central theme that
characterizes the Garbhakosadhatu Ma1J.c;lala and co-arising is
the central theme that characterizes the Vajradhatu MaIJ.c;lala .
. Granting that the two are interdependent, interrelated and in-
terwoven, nevertheless, the former deals with the world of
Mahavair9cana, the realm of truth, and the latter with the world
of humankind, the realm of phenomena. Sokushin-jobutsu signals
the integration of the two.
III. Textual Sources: Paradoxes and Integration
Kukai is said to be the systematizer of Shingon Mikkyo.
What this means is that he formulated the sokushin-jobutsu theory
by making reference to selected Tantric Buddhist texts com-
posed in India and China. The twofold ma7fr!ala is designed to
describe this theory iconographically. I now wish to critically
examine these sources by pointing out the doctrinal paradoxes
in these texts and describing how Kukai resolved them.
A ma'fJ.r!ala, as defined within the context of this work, is "a
108 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
means of integration." Integration means unifying parts, in the
case of Shingon Mikkyo, unifying man, a historical being, and
Mahavairocana, the personification of truth. Kukai
the key to resolving the tension, between man and
Mahavairocana by syncretizing the central themes developed in
the Mahavairocana-sutra and Tattvasar(tgraha-sutra.
The first chapter of the Mahiivairocana-sutra articulates the
Madhyamika theme of non-duality and establishes the doctrinal
basis of this sUtra. This is important. The Mahayana concept of
compassion is derived from the ontological view of non-duality-
all forms of existence are interdependent, interrelated and inter-
woven, one's existence is contingent on the existence of others,
and hence there can be no self-enlightenment without the en-
lightenment of others. Implicit in the Mahayana version of com-
passion is collective enlightenment. Thus, the Mahiivairocana-
sutra speaks of "skin-in-means as the ultimate." Its concern is
with humanity at large. If this is so, the practice directed toward
realizing integration is not the fundamental issue. The funda-
mental issue is the practice of compassion. Thus, though this
sutra has incorporated the lofty idealism of compassion and the
enlightenment of others, it does not specifically describe the
path to self-enlightenment other than making reference to the
three kalpa theories
(kalpa here refers to the substance of delu-
sion rather than the duration of time) and the six nirbhaya
(nirbhaya here means to revive). The former is simply
a categorization of Buddhist systems of thought into Hinayana,
Mahayana and Ekayana, the latter a description of the process
for awakening bodhicitta. Granting that all these practices require
meditation, nevertheless, the text does not provide specific infor-
mation as to what psychological phenomenon is expected at
each stage of meditation.
On the other hand, though the Tattvasar(tgraha-sutra has
incorporated the epistemological approach of Yogacara, pro-
vides the details of mental cultivation, and describes the rational
underlying perception, it does not articulate the lofty idealism
of the kind articulated in the Mahiivairocana-sutra. Thus, in spite
of the fact that tradition claims that the twofold ma1f4ala is de-
signed to indicate integration between the Garbhakosadhatu
MaI).<;lala (the world of truth per se) and Vajradhatu MaI).Q.ala
(the world of the pursuer of truth), underlying this integration
is the awareness of tensions, not only between man and
Mahavairocana, but more so between compassion and medita-
tional practice. Kukai, following the Chinese tradition, appar-
ently accepted these two sutrasin order to supplement lofty
idealism (compassion) with practice (meditation), the former
concerned with the enlightenment of others and the latter with
the enlightenment of self. He employed them to formulate the
sokushin-jobutsu theory, the theory that the twofold marJe/ala is
designed to depict. This is clearly indicated in his Sokushin-
jobutsu-gi... .._. . "
.. As Said previOusly, the Sokushzn-Jobutsu-gZlS Kukal's mterpre-
tation ofthesokushin-jobutsu theory. Ip. the section "On the Mean-
ingof sokushin-jobutsu," this text elaborates on the nature of
Mahavairocana, explains that sentient beings are the attributes
of Mahavairocana, and provides the details of practice to unveil
the inherent buddhanature.
It neatly synthesizes compassion
and practice by making reference to both the Mahiivairocana-
sutra and Tattvasav;graha-sutra, which by themselves, taken sepa-
rately, do not allow for this synthesis. But the sokushin-jobutsu
theory not only synthesizes compassion and practice, it repre-
sents a "sudden" enlightenment doctrine. What then were
Kiikai's textual sources in the formulation of this aspect of the
sokushin-jobutsu theory?
The question of "sudden" versus "gradual" enlightenment
is a doctrinal issue developed in the context of Chinese, not
Indian, Buddhism. The Mahiivairocana-sutra and Tatt-
vasan:tgraha-sutra are Indian compositions. Hence, in spite of the
fact that Kiikai did make extensive reference to both the
Mahavairocana-sutra and Tattvasav;graha-sutra in the composition
of his Sokushin-jobutsu-gi, the "sudden" enlightenment doctrine
that characterizes the sokushin-jobutsu theory is not derived from
these texts. The Mahiivairocana-sutra deals with the ontological
. concept of non-duality and takes a gradual approach to en-
lightenment; the Tattvasav;graha-sutra deals with the practice of
unveiling one's inherent buddhanature and it too takes a gradual
approach. Kiikai's "sudden" enlightenment doctrine was derived
from the Bodhicitta-sastra. What is important to note here is that
in spite of the fact that this text belongs to. the Tattvasav;graha
doctrinal lineage, it is, most likely, a Chinese composition.
Kiikai's "sudden" enlightenment doctrine was derived from
110 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
Chinese, not, texts to accommodate .the practicality of
realizing enlightenment in the present, not in an unlcl10wn fu-
ture requiring eons of time. Thus, I-hsing's Ta-jih ching-su (com-
mentary on the Mahavairocana-sutra), a Chinese composition to
be sure, also speaks of "sudden" enlightenment. It says:
If one transcends the three graspings (mithyii-griiha) in one's
lifetime, one would realize buddhahood in the present life.
Why should the duration of time (kalpa) be discussed?22
But sokushin-jobutsu is not only a "sudden" enlightenment doc-
trine; it is also a doctrine which presupposes that buddanature
is inherent in the makeup of an sentient beings. We now en-
counter a slightly complex issue.
Kukai interchangeably employed the terms "bodhicitta" and
"buddhahoodlbuddhanature." For example, he conceived
bodhicitta as the agent to realize sokushin-jobutsu (we have already
established that the term literally means "buddhahood realized in
the present body"). But because he also thought that the awaken-
ing of bodhicitta is in itself enlightenment, within the context of
the sokushin-jobutsu theory, bodhicitta itself is buddhahood. (It
should be noted therefore that in the Garbhakosadhatu
MalJ.Qala, bodhicitta is identified as dharmakaya), notwithstanding
the fact that Mahayana Buddhism in general conceives bodhicitta
as the causal,. not the resultant, aspect of enlightenment, as
previously said. To illustrate this concept-the identity of the
causal and resultant aspects of enlightenment-let me make
reference to the Shingon Mikkyo concept of shoji soku goku. This
term is employed with reference to the ten bodhisattva stages
(dasabhumi),23 and within that context it means that the first
(pramudita) is the final, that is, the first stage contains the essential
elements to be cultivated in all other stages. The term does not
refer to a graded process of practice.
What this means is that Kiikai considered enlightenment
(resultant aspect) as inherent in the makeup of all sentient beings
(causal aspect). And since the first stage is conceived of as "un-
derstanding" in the three stage path categorization to enlighten-
ment-"understanding,""practice," and "realization"-shoji soku
goku essentially means that "practice" and "realization" are in-
herent in "understanding." Thus, in the context of the sokushin-
'-butsu theory, bodhicitta is conceived of as a synonym of buddha-
JOture. We have a problem here: buddhanature is technically
.. to as tathagatagarbha, an issue which Takasaki has con-
. .. lusively settled some twenty-five years ago.
Let me briefly
C mmarizewhat Takasaki had then said. The term "buddhana-
iKre" in sanskrh is buddhagotra, though sometimes it is also re-
ferred to as buddhadhatu. Here gotra means "lineage," and dhatu
means "world, realm or element." The term "element" is most
relevant. Tathagatagarbha is a compound made up of tathagata,
another word for the Buddha, and garbha, literally, a "womb."
The terms "lineage," "element," and "womb" project the notion
that something basic is inherent. Hence, the terms buddhagotra,
buddhadhatu, and tathagatagarbha are all synonyms for buddhana-
ture. The question then is, why did Kukai employ the term
bodhiCitta rather than tathagatagarbha?
Kukai was familiar with the term tathiigatagarbha. This can
be substantiated textually. He made frequent reference to the
Shih Mo-ho-yen lun, a commentary on the Awakening of Mahayana
Faith. As is well known, the Awakening of Mahayana Faith makes
reference to tathagatagarbha. So does the Shih Mo-ho-yen lun. But
though Kukai was familiar with tathiigatagarbha thought, he was
probably unaware that there was an independent system of
thought called Tathagatagarbhavada developed in India. I
would not penalize Kukai on this score. Historical information
on Buddhist India was scanty in Kukai's time, as it is even at
the present. It is only in recent times that Takasaki has shown
that there was a "Tathagatagarbhavada, an independent system
of thought just like 'Sunyavada' and 'Vijfianavada,' in the Lari-
kiivatara-sutra. At any rate, Kukai probably equated bodhicitta
with tathiigatagarbha because both terms presuppose that the
human mind is inherently pure; that is, an enlightenment-po-
tential is inherent in all humankind. What characterizes Kukai's
concept of bodhicitta then is that it refers to an enlightenment-po-
. tential, that this potential is inherent in the minds of all sentient
. beings, and that there is no distinction between the awakening
of the thought of enlightenment and enlightenment per se. This
is the context in which I am speculating that Kukai conceived
bodhicitta and tathiigatagarbha as synonyms.
Of course, the thesis I have developed here must be consi-
dered a tentative one. But what is most important to note is
that among the major sastra sources Kiikai employed-the
Bodhicitta-sastra to describe bodhicitta and the Shih Mo-ho-yen lun
to describe tathiigatagarbha (which Kiikai possibly equated with
bodhicitta) as the central concept underlying the sokushin-jobutsu
theory-both are traditionally considered apocryphal texts.
Here we encounter an interesting issue. In spite of the fact that
the two major sidra sources of Shingon Mikky6--the
Mahiivairocana-sutra and Tattvasan;,graha-sutra-are obviously
lndic compostions, Kiikai employed Chinese apocryphal texts
to interpret Indian thought. Hence, notwithstanding the lndic
origin of Tantric Buddhism, the manner in which Indian Bud-
dhist Tantric thought was interpreted by Kiikai illustrates a
domesticating process. That is, Shigon Mikkyo has its roots in
Indian Tantric Buddhism which was domesticated in China and
systematized in the context of sokushin-jobutsu theory by Kiikai
in Japan. To reiterate, Kiikai made reference to Indic sources,
became aware of doctrinal paradoxes inherent in these sources,
interpreted these sources through Chinese apocryphal texts,
and systematized his sokushin-jobutsu theory. The sokushin-jobutsu
theory has synthesized compassion and practice, incorporated
the Chinese doctrine of "sudden" enlightenment, and conceived
bodhicitta and tathiigatagarbha synonymously. Thus, in spite of
the negative connotation that the term "apocryphal texts" pro-
jects, this group of texts most clearly illustrates the process of
domestication, indicating that the Chinese and Japanese were
capable of engaging in philosophical speculation, developing
religious insights, and recording them, just like the Indian
IV. Conclusion
The Garbhakosadhatu MaI).<;lala is a representation of the
world of Mahavairocana, the world of truth; the Vajradhatu
MaI).<;lala is a representation of the world of sentient beings, the
pursuer of truth. In this paper, we have focused attention on
the Vajradhatu MaI).<;lala. This marJqala portrays the path to be
observed by the practitioner to realize integration with the world
of Mahavairocana. Bodhicitta is the agent of integration. Integra-
tion is sokushin-jobutsu. Sokushin-jobutsu is possible because Shin-
gon. Mikkyo that .the "seed" of
Mahavairocana and IS mherent m an sentIent bemgs. But here
we must add that sokushin-jobutsu does not simply refer to a
mental integration. It refers to the of body, speech
and mind because Shingon Mikkyo claims that the body, speech
and mind of humankind are the body, speech and mind of
Dharmakaya Mahavairocana. Most relevant here. is speech.
Speech refers to a mantra (shingon). Mantra is not simply a chant-
ing exercise. It is the other way around. It is the voice of the
Tathagata; it is the means to dwell in the world of the Tathagata;
it is to verify that one is the Tathagata. Shingon is Mikkyo, the
secret teaching. The term "secret" is an existential term. It rep-
resents a type of teaching which penetrates the deeper layers
of the human consciousness, bringing about the awareness of
the contingency of all forms of existence, and leading to the
realization of man-Buddha integration within the present body
as portrayed in the twofold maTJ4ala. Insight into Shingon Mik-
kyo requires insight into the twofold maTJq,ala. Kukai therefore
said, "The maTJq,ala is the essence of the secret teaching."27 The
twofold maTJq,ala represents the ultimate ideal of Shingon Mik-
kyo, "I-in-Buddha and Buddha-in-me," a realm to be realized
in the present life. Hence in a formal Shingon Mikkyo ritual
the practitioner sits facing a statue of Mahavairocana symboliz-
ing emptiness, flanked by the twofold maTJq,ala, the Gar-
bhakosadhatu on the right and Vajradhatu on the left, to realize .
man-Buddha integration. But the purpose of this paper was not
simply to present a descriptive account of the twofold maTJ4ala-an
iconographic representation of the sokushin-jobutsu theory-but to
discuss the problematics involved in the selection of textual sources
in the formulation of this theory. Kukai ingeniously systematized
this theory by synthesizing ideas related in his sources, ideas which
at times contradicted on another. It is in this context that we see
Kiikai as the systematizer of Shingon Mikkyo as a distinct and
independent school of Japanese Buddhism.
Sutra authors are unknown. Names therefore are not identified. Some
of the siistra authors can be verified, some cannot. Those who can be are
114 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
identified, others are not. Names of contemporary Japanese authors are ren-
dered in the Japanese manner, last name first and first name last. Names of
Japanese-Americans are rendered in the Western manner.
SB. Minoru Kiyota. Shingon Buddhism: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles-Tokyo:
Buddhist Books International, 1978.
T. TaishO shinshil daizokyo (ed. and comp., Takakusu Jinjiro, et al.). Tokyo:
Taisho issaikyo kankokai, 1923-34.
TCB. Minoru Kiyota. Tantric Concept of Bodhicitta: A Buddhist Experiential
Philosophy. Madison: South Asian Area Center Publication, University
of Wisconsin-Madison, 1982.
* After the completion of this paper, I received the 47th volume of the
Acta Asiatica from my good friend, Takasaki Jikido, of Tokyo University. In
it are two papers-"The Hermeneutics of Kukai" by Tsuda Shin'ichi and
"Kobo Daishi (Kukai) and Tathagatagarbha Thought" by Takasaki Jikid6--
which are directedly related to this paper. The former is a critical study of
Shingon in which Tsuda claims that the doctrinal contents of the two major
canonical sources of Shingon (Mahiivairocana-sutra and Tattvasan:tgraha-sutra) are
directly opposed to each other. The latter consists of a critical comment on the
former and describes the Tathagatagarbha basis of Kukai's thought. The reader
of my paper will gain much by making reference to these two papers. For details,
see Acta Asiatica 47 (1985): "The Hermeneutics of Kukai," pp. 82-108; "Kobo
Daishi (Kukai) and Tathagatagarbha Thought," pp. 109-129.
1. The most comprehensive treatment of the Shingon Mikkyo ma7!qala
is Toganoo Shoun, Mandara no kenkyu. Kyoto: Naigai Press, 1927 (first print).
For details on the twofold ma7!dala, see ibid., pp. 63-345. See also Sawa Takaaki.
Mikkyo no bijitsu (Nihon no bijitsu Series, No.8). Tokyo: Heibonshi, 1964, pp.
99-106. In French, see Tajima Ryujun. Les Deux Grand Ma7!qala et la Doctrine
de l'Esoterisme Shingon. Tokyo: Maison Franco-Japonaise, 1959. I have also
treated the subject in TCB, pp. 2-54, and in SB, pp. 81-104.
2. Mahiivairocana-sutra. T.18.848. A French and an English translation
of the first chapter of this sutra are available. See Tajima Ryujun, Etude sur' Ie
Mahiivairocana-sutra (Dainichikyo): avec la traduction commentee du premier chapitre,
Paris: Andrien Maisonneuve, 1936; and Kiyota, TCB, pp. 56-79.
3. Tattvasan:tgraha-sutra. T.18.865 (for different Chinese translations,
see T.18.866 and 862.
4. See n. 2.
5. Kiikai, Sokushin-jobutsu-gi. T.77.2428. For an English translation, see
Hisao, Asia.Mino: (New Series) 1: (1972) 190-215 .. A I ~ o see Yoshito
H keda, Kukai: Major Works, Translated wzth an Account of hzs Life and Study of
h: Thought. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972, pp. 225-35. I have
. Iso translated this text in TCB, pp. 94-109.
a 6. Bodhicitta-siistra, T.19.957, p. 320c.
7. For an English translation of this siistra, see TCB, pp. 80-93.
8. See SB, pp. 81-104, and TCB, pp. 20-39.
9. Nagao Gadjin has written an excellent article on this subject in En-
glish. See his "On the Theory of Buddha-Body," The Eastern Buddhist 11 (1973)
30ff. See also TCB, pp. 3-5.
10. It might be interesting to point out here that because Shingon Mikkyo
conceives Mahavairocana as the "vital forces" of the universe, the Gedatsukai,
a new religion in contemporary Japan with Shingon Mikkyo roots, conceives
of Mahavairocana as the "Sun Spirit" and associates him with the Shinto kami,
Tenjinchigi, the creator of heaven and earth. See Kiyota, Gedatsukai: Its Theory
and Practice (A Study of a Shinto-Buddhist Syncretic School in Contemporary Japan).
Los Angeles-Tokyo: Buddhist Books International, 1982, see pp. 46, 47, 76
and 81. I have elaborated on this subject in "Gedatsukai: A Case Study of
Shinto-Buddhist Syncretism in Contemporary Japan," a paper delivered at
the U.S.-Japan Conference on Japanese Buddhism held at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison in August 1985.
11. For details, see TCB, pp. 6-7.
12. Kiikai. Hizo-hOyaku, T.77.2426, p. 370b.
13. Franklin Edgerton. Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, (Vol. II, Dictionary).
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953 (first print), p. 416.
14. Toganoo. Mandara no kenkyu, pp. 1-2.
15. Giuseppe Tucci. The Theory and Practice of the Mandala (trans., Alan
Houghton Brodrick). London: Rider and Co., 1961, pp. 21-48.
16. Mahavairocana-sutra, T.18.848, p. 1 b-c. A Sanskrit version of this
passage reads: tad etat sarvajftajftanan;t karuTJiimular(t bodhicitta-hetukam up-
iiyaparyavasanam. Extracted from G. Tucci, Minor Buddhist Texts (Serie Orientale
Roma, IX, 2), Roma. Is. M.E.O., 1958, p. 196.
17. Nagao Gadjin, "Ascent and Descent: Two-Directional Activity in
Buddhist Thought." The Journal of International Association of Buddhist Studies
7(1984) 177.
18. Awakening of Mahayana Faith. T.32.1666, p. 567c.
19. For details, see TCB, pp. 15-17.
20. Ibid., pp. 17-18.
21. Kiikai, Sokushi;'-jobutsu-gi, T.77.2428, p. 382b.
22. I-hsing, Ta-jih ching-suo T.39.1796, p. 600 .
. 23. I have treated the subject of daSabhumi within the Shingon Mikkyo
context in SB, pp. 113-121, see in particular, p. 117, where I have associated
the term "shoji soku goku" with bodhicitta.
24. See Takasaki Jikido, "Kegon kyogaku to nyoraizoshiso," Kegon shiso
(ed., Kawata Kumataro and Nakamura Hajime). Kyoto: Hozokan, 1960, pp.
116 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
25. See Takasaki, Nyoraizii shisii no keisei. Tokyo: Shunjusha, 1974, p. II.
26. Japanese Buddhologists have made extensive studies on apocryphal
texts. Let me cite a recent one by Makita Tairyo, Gikyo kenkyu. Kyoto: Kyoto
daigaku jimbun kagaku kenkyujo, 1976. Also se,e Okabe Kazuo's "Review:
Makita Tairyo's Cikyii Kenkyu," "Komazawa daigaku bukkyogakubu ronshii."
Tokyo: Komazawa University, No.8, 1977, pp. 247-54.
27. Kiikai. Hizoki, T. (Zuzobu), p. 44.
Western Sources
Y oshito S. Hakeda. Kukai: Major Works. New York:. Columbia University Press,
Minoru Kiyota. Shingon Buddhism: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles-Tokyo:
Buddhist Books International, 1978.
____ . Tantric Concept of Bodhicitta: A Buddhist Experiential Philosophy. Madi.
son: South Asian Area Center, University of Wisconsin, 1982.
Tajima Ryujun. Etude sur le Mahavairocana-sutra (Dainichikyo): avec le traduction
commentee du premier chapitre. Paris: Andrien Maisonneuve, 1936.
__ -:-;:--;' Les Deux Grand MaTJq,ala et la Doctrine de l'Esoterume Shingon. Tokyo:
Maison Franco-Japonaise, 1959.
Japanese Sources
Katsumata Shunkyo. Mikkyii no nihon-teki tenaki. Tokyo: Shunjusha, 1970.
Kusuda Ryoko. Shingon Mikkyii seiritsu katei no kenkyu. Tokyo: Sankibo, 1964.
Matsunaga Yukei. Mikkyo no rekishi. Kyoto: Heirakuji shoten, 1969.
Sawa Takaaki. Mikkyo no bijitsu. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1964.
Toganoo Shoun. Himitsu bukkyo-shi. Kyoto: Naigai Press, 1933 (first print) .
. Mandarano kenkyu. Kyoto: Naigai Press, 1927.
English Translations of Major Shingon Mikkyo Texts Employed in this Work
"Bodhicitta-siistr;," (trans., Minoru Kiyota). TCB, pp. 80-93.
"Mahavairocana-sutra," (trans., Minoru Kiyota). TCB, pp. 56-79.
"Sokushin-jiibutsu-gi," (trans., Yoshito S. Hakeda), Kukai: Major Works, New
York: Columbia University Press, 1972, pp. 225-234.
"Sokushin-jiibutsu-gi," (trans., Inagaki Hisao). Asia Minor (New Series) 17 (1972)
"Sokushin-jobutsu-gi," (trans., Minoru Kiyota). TCB, pp. 94-109.
yung-ming's Syncretism of
pure Land and Ch'an
by Heng-ching Shih
The interaction of Ch'an and Pure Land Buddhism has
been of interest to some scholars, but their attention has mainly
centered on their antithetical rather than harmonious relation-
ship.1 This paper will be concerned with Ch'an-Pure Land syn-
cretism. This is a unique feature of Chinese Buddhism, espe-
cially in the post-T'ang era, but one that has been neglected by
modern scholarship.
Although the practice Ch'an meditation and nienjoa
(Buddha-recitation; Japanese: nembutsu) together started early
in the history of Chinese Buddhism,2 it was not until the early
Sung Dynasty that Ch'an-Pure Land syncretism became a do-
minant movement. The instrumental figure in the promotion
and popularization of this movement was Yung -ming Yen -shou b
(904-975), an enlightened Ch'an monk and a Pure Land prac-
He was one of the greatest syncretists China ever pro-
duced. Before him, of course, there already existed syncretic
thought, especially that attempting the reconciliation of Ch'an
and doctrinal Buddhism (chiao).4 However, it was Yung-ming
who synthesized all systems of Buddhist thought in theory, and
more importantly, united all approaches of Buddhist disciplines
in practice. This paper will investigate his Pure Land ideology
and the doctrinal rationale for his syncretism.
1. Ideology
Yung-ming's soteriology and Pure Land ideology were
mainly set forth in his Wan-shan tung-kuei chic (Myriad Virtues
Return to the Same Source), which demonstrated his syncretic
spirit, especially with regard to diverse religious practices. In
this work, Yung-mingmaintained that notonlynienjo and Ch'an
meditation, but also all other forms of practice (wan-shan, myriad
of virtues) were conducive to achieving the final goal of en-
lightenment (t'ung-kuei, literally meaning "same destination").
Nevertheless, Ch'an and nienjo were the main practices among
myriad virtues.
The famous "fourfold summary" (ssu-liao chien)d of Ch'an
and Pure Land, which was attributed to Yung-ming, illustrates
his attitude toward the joint practice of Ch'an and nienjo:5
With Ch'an but no Pure Land, nine out of ten people
will go astray.
When death comes suddenly, they must accept it in an
With Pure Land but no Ch'an, ten thousand out of ten
thousand people will achieve birth [in the Pure Land].
If one can see Amitabha face to face, why worry about
not attaining enlightenment?
With both Ch'an and Pure Land, it is like a tiger who
has grown horns.
One will be a teacher for mankind in this life, and a
Buddhist patriarch in the next.
With neither Ch'an nor Pure Land, it is like falling on
an iron bed with bronze posters [i.e., one of the hells].
For endless kalpas one will find nothing to rely on.
Coming from a Ch'an background and adhering strongly
to Hua-yen philosophy, Yung-ming based his Pure Land
thought more on these two schools than on the orthodox Pure
Land teachings. The concept of "one Mind" was essential to
Yung-ming's philosophy of Pure Land and his view of the Pure
Land was termed "Mind-only Pure Land" (wei-tsin ching-t'u),e in
contrast to the "chihjang li-tsiang".7,f The "chihjang li-tsiang"
which means pointing to the West-the location of the Pure
Land-and setting up in the mind the presence of Buddha
Amitabha, recognizes the objective and physical reality of the
pure Land. The "Mind-only Pure Land," on the other hand,
notes that the Pure Land is a projection of the Mind, that is,
the pure Land is Mind alone. Like most Ch'an masters who
strongly believed that Mind is Buddha, Yung-ming naturally
did not hold a. realistic conception of the Pure Land conceived
of as an external object. According to Yung-ming, the under-
standing of the Mahayana doctrine of Mind-only is fundamental
for the proper attitude toward Pure Land Buddhism. Thus he
said, "If one knows the Mind, one is born into the Pure Land
of Mind-only; but if attached to external circumstances, one will
fall into the circumstances with which one happens to be as-
sociated."8 Yung-ming supported his idealistic perception ofthe
pure Land by scriptural citations. One often-quoted passage
was from the Vimalakirti-sutra, which says, "If one desires to
purify the Buddha-land, one should first purify one's Mind; if
the Mind is purified, the Buddha-land is also purified."9 The
implication is that the Pure Land is created from one's true pure
According to the doctrine of Mind-only, just as the Pure
Land is the manifestation of Mind, so the manifestation of the
Buddha is nothing but an emanation from the Mind. If the
Buddha is created from one's Mind, are there any other buddhas
besides the Mind-Buddha? If not, the view is nihilistic. To answer
this question, Yung-ming says, .
Because the self-nature pervades everywhere, one perceives
other buddhas to be none other than the self-Buddha. The
forms of self and other buddhas are not non-existing, for
both are [manifestations of] one's Mind. Sentient beings are
like the molds which shape forms. When the mold is re-
moved, one sees the self-Buddha and other buddhas. Why
is it that otherbuddhas are none other than self-Buddha?
It is because [other buddhas are] molded from one's Mind.
Nevertheless, other buddhas should not be denied.
Here Yung-ming employs an analogy from the Pao-tsuang lun.
A man makes molds of different shapes, and casts the smelted
gold into different objects. Although the smelted gold comes
out in various forms, actually it is neither form nor non-form.
Yet it is manifested in forms. The practice of nienjo is also like
this. The smelted gold is likened to the dharmakaya of the
Tathagata, and the molds to the minds of sentient beings. When
the dharmakaya is "cast" into the molds of the minds of sentient
beings, it manifests various forms according to the minds of
beings. However; the dharmakaya is neither form nor non-form.
Why is it non-form? It has no fixed form, because it is manifested
from the Mind and thus has no substance of its own. Why is it
not non-form? It appears in forms, for it is brought forth from
the combinations of conditions; thus it is not devoid of an illusory
form. In other words, from the deluded mind, sentient beings
see the existence of other buddhas; from the enlightened mind,
they realize the identity of themselves with the Buddha.
An imaginary interlocuter raises a question, "If there is no
Buddha outside the Mind and the Buddha seen is nothing but
the Mind, why does Pure Land School teach that the transfor-
mation body of the Buddha appears to welcome beings into the
Pure Land?"ll To this Yung-ming answers,
The dharmakaya of the Tathagata is originally without pro-
duction and extinction. It is the transformation body
(nirmiiTjakaya) of the Buddha, which comes from the true
Body (dharmakaya) of the Buddha, and appears to greet the
deluded beings. Because the transformation body is just
the true. body which corresponds to Suchness, it is neither
coming nor going, and yet it responds according to the
minds of sentient beings. Again, because the transformation
body is the true body, we say it has no going. On the other
hand, the transformation body is transformed from the true
body; [we see] it appear as coming and going. In other
words, it is not coming yet coming, and invisible yet visible.
That it is not coming yet coming is similar to the reflection
of moon on the water, and that it is invisible yet visible is
similar to the sudden appearance of the moving clouds. 12
What Yung-ming is explaining is that the true body (dharmakaya)
is immutable, yet it manifests its mutability in transformed form.
Would this not then prove that there are actually buddhas outside
the Mind? Yung-ming answers this question,
The virtue of the original vow of the compassionate
Tathagata, which serves as a powerful helping seed, causes
sentient beings who hold affinity with the Buddha to recite
the Buddha's name, practice contemplation, and accumu-
Jate blessings, wisdom and myriad virtues. Because of the
power of these virtues which serves as a condition, one's
Mind draws the response of the Buddha's greeting. The
body of the Buddha is eternally tranquil without coming
or going. It is the cognitive minds of sentient beings, de-
pending on the su preme power of the virtue of the Buddha's
original vow, that manifest the coming and going. This is
similar to the images reflected in the mirror and activities
in a dream. The images in the mirror are neither inside
nor outside; the activities in the dream are neither existing
nor non-existing. 13
Interpreting neinjo in the light of idealism, Yung-ming gives
it a new meaning. To Yung-ming, nienjo means to leave behind
all thoughts. When no thoughts arise, the Mind gives rise to
neither discrimination, names, obstruction, desire, nor attain-
ment. Thus, when one reaches the state of no-thought and
no-word, the true practice of nienjo samadhi is realized. To ex-
plain it, Yung-ming quotes the Chih-kuan,
When practicing nien10 samiidhi, the practitioner should ask
himself if it is the Mind or the body that attains the [vision
of the] Buddha. The Buddha cannot be attained from the
Mind, nor from the body. The physical form of the Buddha
is not attained through the Mind and the Mind of Buddha
is not attained through form. Why is that? [When talking
about] the Mind, there is no Buddha-mind [to be attained],
and [when talking about] form, there is no Buddha-form
[to be attained].14
Then when and how does one see the Buddha? When one sees
the true form of all dharmas, one sees the Buddha. What is the
true form of all dharmas? It is nothing other than absolute sunyata.
An analogy is drawn between the seeing of the Buddha and the
story of three men who, after having heard the fame of three
beautiful prostitutes in Vaisali:, thought of them day and night,
and had sexual intercourse with them in a dream. After awaken-
jng from the dream, they knew that they had not gone anywhere,
yet the thing they wished for was realized. Hence they came to
realize that all dharmas arose from one's thoughts and thus were
empty of substance. The practice of nienjo is also like this. The
Buddha is neither coming nor going, yet there are manifesta-
tions of his coming and going due to one's intensive thinking
of the Buddha.
If "outside the Buddha there is no Mind; outside the Mind
there is no Buddha," why then is the practice of nienjo taught
in Pure Land Buddhism? Yung-ming answers,
The practice of nien10 is taught for those who do not believe
one's Mind is the Buddha and thus seek for the Buddha
outside [of the Mind]. Those of medium and inferior facul-
ties are expediently taught to concentrate their scattered
thoughts on the physical features of the Buddha. Relying
on the external in order to manifest the internal, one will
be able gradually to awaken to One-mind. But those of
superior faculties are taught to contemplate the true form
of the body of the Buddha.
This passage indicates that in spite of the spiritualized and
internalized conception of Pure Land, Yung-ming also advo-
cated the easily accessible and tangible approach of Buddha
recitation, and the longing for birth in the Pure Land, which
relies on the external form. Thus in the Wan-shan t'ung-kuei chi,
Yung-ming mentions two approaches to the practice of nienjo.
One approach is called ting-hsinh (mind of concentration), which
is to practice nienjo with concentrated mind and will result in
birth in a superior category in the Pure Land. The other is to
practice nienjo with chuan-hsin
(single mindfulness), which com-
bines the recitation of the Buddha's name with the cultivation
of myriad good deeds, and will lead to birth in an inferior cat-
egory.16 The first approach refers to the meditative nienjo which
is meant for those with high spiritual endowment, while the
second one refers to the invocative nienjo which is prescribed
for those oHess spiritual capability. Although Yung-ming under-
stood that theoretically the Buddha as well as the Pure Land
were nothing but the Mind, he also realized that there was a
wide diversity of people's capabilities, and that there was also a
gap between theory and practice. That is, even if some people
might be able to reach the spiritual maturity of understanding
that the Mind is the Buddha and the Pure Land, the fact is that
they are not really buddhas yet. Thus, the gap between intellectual
understanding and actualizing makes the practice necessary.
Furthermore, according to Yung-ming, there are those who
might believe ir:- .teaching.of bu.t if power is
insufficient, theIr mSlght shallow and theIr mmds dlstracted, or
if they still have strong habitual attachments to phenomena,
they should in the supported
by that superIor enVIr?nment, the.y can easIly achieve the power
of patience and practICe the bodhlSattva way.
In Yung-ming's conception of Land faith, the Pure
Land itself is not the goal but the means, for it provides a
favorable environment for cultivation. And the purpose of cul-
tivation in the Pure Land is closely related to the idea of return-
ing to the for bodhisattva practices. Yung-ming quotes the
Wang-shen lunl (Treatise on Birth in the Pure Land) to make this
Those who are able to roam in hell with ease are those who have
obtained "patience of no-birth" after birth in the Pure Land and
have then returned to the realm of birth and death (san;sara) in
order to teach those in hell. For the sake of saving suffering
sentient beings, one must seek birth in the Pure Land.
In summary, Yung-ming's Pure Land thought is made up
of three insights. First of all, in theory, he bases his Pure Land
practice on the light of Ch'an understanding and the Mind
theory of Hua-yen, Fa-hsiang, and Ch'an. To Yung-ming, the
nienlo practice is a training for internal realization. In other
words, the Pure Land should be understood as the pure basis
of one's own mind and Amitabha as no different from the self-
body.k This view of the Pure Land and Amitabha is taken from
the persepctive of the "ultimate truth," and is consistent with
the Mahayana doctrine of Buddha-nature. Secondly, in practice,
Yung-ming understands the abilities of ordinary men too well
to exclude the external focus-that is, the easy practice of the
Buddha recitation and the physical existence of another land
where one could enjoy the extraordinary environment and prac-
tice the Dharma. This view is based on the "conventional truth."
It is Yung-ming's compassion for less spiritually capable people
that leads him to advocate this egalitarian approach to human
liberation. Thirdly, to Yung-ming, the internal and external
approaches, i.e., the theory and practice, are not contradictory,
because of the doctrine of non-duality of the two truths (i.e.,
the Middle Way). Thus he says,
124 JIARS VOL. 10 NO.1
Whatever the Buddha teaches is not separate from the two truths.
When the ultimate truth governs the conventional truth, there
is nothing that is not true, and when the conventional truth is
mingled with the ultimate truth, all dharmas become apparent as
they really are. A sidra says, "One must perfect all dharmas, and
yet leave behind the notion of the reality of all dharmas." "To
perfect all dharmas" means to perfect all dharmas from the perspec-
tive of conventional truth, while "to leave behind all dharmas"
means that ultimate truth is without form. 18
This is to say that knowing the identity of the Buddha and one's
self does not prevent one from performing the nienjo exercise,
and that realizing the Pure Land as none other than one's mind
does not prevent one from seeking birth in the Pure Land.
II. Yung-ming's Ch'an-Pure Land Syncretism
Mter discussing Yung-ming's ideology of Pure Land Bud-
dhism, we now turn to his Ch'an-Pure Land syncretism. There
are three factors which led to Yung-ming's advocacy of the joint
practice of Ch'an and Pure Land. The first was his non-sectarian
attitude toward all systems of Buddhist thought in general, and
Ch'an and Pure Land Buddhism in particular. This syncretic
ideology was consistent with the traditional Chinese philosophy
of harmony.
The second factor was the strong antagonism, prevailing at
the time of Yung-ming, between Ch'an and Pure Land. Ch'an
practitioners denigrated Pure Land believers as simple-minded
seekers of the external instead of the true self, whereas the Pure
Land followers criticized Ch'an monks as arrogant and undiscip-
lined. Yung-ming saw the harm caused by the extremely uncon-
ventional (anti-scriptural and anti-ritual) attitude cherished by
some Ch'an followers, which often led them to indulge in "wild
Ch'an" in which they utilized various fanatic and eccentric gim-
micks to demonstrate their understanding of Ch'an. Some even
went so far as to ignore all disciplines and disregard totally the
accepted codes of morality on the pretext of practicing non-at-
tachment. To Yung-ming, the application of the "wild Ch'an"
was dangerous if the person applying it had no genuine insight
but only superficial understanding. Thus Yung-ming incorpo-
atednienjo practice, as well as other disciplines,19 into Ch'an
r 0 as to counteract the one-sided practice of Ch'an. .
s The third factor that led to Yung-ming's Ch'an-Pure Land
syncretism was the socio-political situation during his time. It
was a very turbulent era, in which the suffering populace cried
out for salvation. Ch'an meditation was too difficult and de-
manding for the masses, but when Ch'an was accompanied by
nienjo, it became an accessible, effective and egalitarian ap-
proach, for it suited people of high and low spiritual endowment.
Although in the syncretic mind of Yung-ming, there is no
theoretical and practical contradiction in the joint exercise of
Ch'an and nienjo, traditionally Ch'an and nienjo are radically
different. Therefore, let us first examine how these two distinc-
tive types of Buddhist experience differ from each other, and
how Yung-ming syncretized them.
A. "Other-power" Versus "Self-power"
One of the most obvious differences between Ch'an and
Pure Land lies in the "self-power" -oriented salvation of Ch'an
versus "other-power" -oriented salvation of the Pure Land. The
following quotations from Shan-tao and Hui-neng, which are
representative of the devotional Pure Land and the intuitionally
experiential Ch'an respectively, demonstrate well their percep-
tions on the approach to salvation. Shan-tao, the systematizer
of the Pure Land teaching, says,
Buddha Amitabha through his forty-eight vows takes in sentient
beings who by harboring no doubt and worry and relying on the
saving power of the Buddha's vows, are certain to attain birth
[in the Pure Land].20
On the other hand, in response to a question regarding the
attainment of birth in the Pure Land, Hui-neng says,
The deluded person concentrates on Buddha and wishes to be
born in the other land; the awakened person makes pure his
own mind ... If only the mind has no impurity, the Western Land
is not far. If the. mind gives rise to impurity, even though you
invoke the Buddha and seek to be reborn [in the West], it will
be difficult to reach .... If you a ~ a k e n to the sudden Dharma of
birthlessness, you will see the Western Land in an instant. If you
do not awaken to the Sudden Teaching of Mahayan2, even if
you concentrate on the Buddha and seek to be reborn, the road
will be long. How can you hope to readl it?21
From the above quotations, we see a sharp distinction be-
tween these two kinds of Buddhist soteriology: the "path of
Pure L a ~ d " based on the other-power from the grace of the
Buddha, and the "path of the sages" based on good works and
religious exercises such as meditation, scholarship, ascetic discip-
lines-generally any attempt to realize enlightenment by one's
own efforts.
Traditionally, the notion of "other-power" denotes the ab-
solute surrendering of oneself to the saving power of the
Buddha. But what does "other-power" really mean and to what
extent can one rely on it? Is there absolute "other-power"? In
other words, is the working of "other-power" possible without
some sort of response from "self-power"? Let us first examine
how "other-power" has been interpreted in the context of
Chinese Buddhism. In the Ten Questions Concerning the Pure Land
(Ching-t'u-shih-yi Zuni), Chih-I is quoted as defining "other-
power" as follows:
"Other-power" means that if one believes that the power of the
compassionate vow of Buddha Amitabha takes to himself all
sentient beings who are mindful of him, then one is enabled to
generate the mind of bodhi, practice nienlo samiidhi, detest the
body which is within the three worlds, and practice giving, mor-
ality, and merit. And if within each of these various practices,
[the merit is] transferred [to others], and if one vows to be born
in the Pure Land of Amitabha by relying on the power of the
Buddha's vows, one's nature and the Buddha's response will be
in mutual accord, and one will be born [in the Pure Land].22
In this definition of "other-power," obviously it is the faith in
the saving power of the Buddha which generates the bodhi-mind
as well as other practices. But it is through "other-power" accom-
panied by "self-power" that "one's nature and the Buddha's
response are in mutual accord," and this harmony actualizes
birth in the Pure Land. Hence, the "other-power" is not the
exclusive factor leading to the Pure Land. If this interpretation
sounds unorthodox, let us examine some interpretations from
the orthodox Pure Land masters. T'an-Iuan defines the two
powers-self and other-this way:
I regard "other-power" as the helping condition.
could it be otherwise? Now, I shall set forth again a metaphor
of self-power and other-power.
[Self-power] is like a person who, because he is ~ f r a i d of the
three evil gatis, keeps the precepts; because he keeps them, he
is able to practice samiidhi; because of samiidhi, he is able to exercise
supernatural power; because of the supernatural power, he is
able to traverse the four corners of the world.
Then, again [other-power is] like an inferior person,n who
cannot even mount on a donkey [with his own strength]; yet if
he accompanies the flight of a cakravartin (Universal King), he
can then traverse the four corners of the world without hind-
Tan-Iuan illustrates the "other-power" method of salvation
through the analogy of a weak man going everywhere in the
world by relying on the power of the cakravartin, yet still he calls
. the "other-power" a "helping condition" in the sense that "other-
power" is not the exclusive condition. Just as the power of the
cakravartin is of no avail if the person has no desire for travel,
so the saving power of the Buddha cannot function if men do
not send out the "corresponding power," which can be in the
forms of austere discipline, desire for birth in the Pure Land,
nienjo practice or even simply "faith and faith alone." Otherwise,
motivated by infinite compassion, the Buddha would have liber-
ated all beings long ago through his saving power alone. Hence,
. in the context of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism, three factors
or conditions usually are necessary for assurance of birth: faith,
vow and practcie-although the practice here does not necessar-
.ily refer to the traditional Buddhist disciplines of fila, samiidhi
and prajiiii. Nevertheless, "other-power" in Chinese Pure Land
Buddhism never means total abandoning of one's own spiritual
effort. As long as some sort of self-effort, whether in the form
()f vocative nienjo or simply faith alone, is required to correspond
with the "other-power," it seems that the gap between these two
seemingly contradictory approaches can be bridged.
It is in this notion of self-powered nienjo that Yung-ming
128 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
and other syncretists find the simultaneous practices of self-
power-oriented Pure Land and other-power-oriented Ch'an
. meditation possible.
B. Nien-foVersus Meditation
The other main difference between the Pure Land and
Ch'an, which is closely related to the notion of "self-power" /
"other-power" polarity, is the devotional nienjo practice of the
Pure Land and the rigorous meditation of Ch'an. Psychologi_
cally, there are four approaches to nienjo.24 The first is to think
of the Buddha as fully enlightened and thus to take him as a
model to follow for one's moral training. The second is to call
upon the name, since the name itself contains innumerable
merits. This form of nienjo is based on the belief in the mystery
of the name and the sound of pronouncing it. The third form
of nienjo is to call upon the Buddha's name as the saving power
and last resort for liberating beings from the worldly sufferings.
The psychological impact of this type of nienjo is so powerful.
that the Pure Land devotees believe that only one calling of the
Buddha with much intensity at the time of death will warrant
a response from the saving power of the Buddha and thus assure
one's birth in the Pure Land.
It is in the fourth type of nienjo that Yung-ming found
some common ground between the devotional nienjo and the
intuitive Ch'an meditation. This form may be termed Wei-hsin
nienjoO (Mind-only nienjo) or I-hsin nienjoP (One-mind nienjo).
Yung-ming defines it as follows:
The Mind-only nienjo means contemplating that the Mind per-
vades all dharmas. After realizing that the phenomenal is created
by the Mind and that Mind itself is the Buddha, then whatever
one thinks of is nothing but the Buddha. The Pratyutpanna Sutra
says, "For example, a man is delighted to see seven kinds of jewel
and his relatives in his dream, but after waking up, he is unable
to find their whereabouts." The Mind-only nienjo is also like this,
because it is made from the Mind. It is existing and at the same
time empty; therefore, [the Buddha] neither comes nor goes
away. Because [the form of nienjo is] unreal like an illusion, one
should get rid of the notion of the Mind and the Buddha. But
on the other hand, because the illusory form of nienjo exists,
.one should not get rid of the thought of the Mind and the
Buddha. When emptiness and existen(:e are mutually unobstruc-
tive, there is neither coming nor going [of the Buddha], yet this
does not prevent one from universally seeing [the Buddha]. See-
ing is no-seeing. This complies with the principle of the Middle
Based on the doctrine of Mind-only, the Mind-only nienjo
then turns nienjo from being dualistic and devotional to being
monistic and speculative. It is a kind of nienjo carried out with
"one-mind undisturbed" (i hsin pu luan)Q. When one dwells on
the name of Amitabha in continuous and uninterrupted succes-
sion, one creates a state of consciousness similar to that derived
from deep meditation. This is why the Fo-tsang-ching defines
nienlo the following way, "Nienjo means leaving behind all
thoughts. When no thought arises, the mind gives rise to no
discrimination, names, hindrance, desire, grasping or discern-
ment."26 However, this samadhic state of consciousness is differ-
ent from merely hypnotic trance, for in the nienjo consciousness,
a true self shines out, and the cognizing subject is united with
the cognized object. This "One-mind" is thus the link between
Ch'an meditation and nienjo, for this "One-mind nienjo" is no-
thing but the "seeing into one's own nature" of the Ch'an school.
Although devotional Pure Land followers might disagree with
this Ch'anistic interpretation of nienjo, this does not mean that
nienlo and Ch'an meditation cannot be reconciled.
C. The Non-Duality of the Two Truths
Another key philosophical principle used by Yung-ming to
rationalize the unification of nienjo with Ch'an meditation and,
in fact, all Buddhist practices, is the doctrine of the non-duality
of any dichotomy, based on the doctrine of One Mind.
Yung-ming sees the One-Mind in its two aspects: the true
Mind, representing Ii, and the rational cogitating mind, repre-
senting shih. The former is the Mind's essence (t'i), while the
latter is its function (yuan). Although there are two minds in
terms of essence and function, there is only one Mind. Applying
the same principle of the non-duality of essence and function,
Yung-ming expounds the non-duality of the two truths, or
broadly speaking, the non-duality of all polarities.
Ultimate truth (paramartha-satya) refers to the uncon_
ditioned, ineffable wisdom, prajiiii, which is the realization of
the emptiness of all realities. Conventional truth (sa1[tvrti-satya) ,
the domain of compassion and pertains to the phe-
nomenal world of everyday life. Our deluded and dualistic mind
makes a distinction between the non-differentiable absolute
from the differentiable empirical world. However, Mahayana
Buddhism does not stop at the differentiation of these two
truths. The gist of the two truths theory lies in the Middle Way:
the nondifferentiation of the twofold truth through the realiza-
tion of emptiness. That is to say, when one realizes that all
. existing things are empty of self-nature, because of dependent
co-arising, then a Mahayana conception of religious life can be
positively applied.
The reason that Yung-ming emphatically advocated the
teaching of non-duality was to refute those who dung to ultimate
truth and were not able to move back into the sphere of conven-
tional truth. They rejected the validity of conventional truth
under the pretext that "all forms were empty," and according
to their thinking, since all religious practices are characterized
by form, they should be rejected. Yung-ming argued that only
when an individual could move from "form" to "emptiness" and
back from "emptiness" to "form" did he have true understanding
of the two truths and complete fulfillment of religious experi-
ence. This was so because a religious practice without a base in
the ultimate truth of silnyatii only accrues worldly virtures,
whereas a religious realization lacking constructive application
of that realization in the empirical world is nothing but a dry,
cold and irrelevant experience.
To demonstrate further the non-duality and complementar-
ity of Ch'an and Pure Land, Yung-ming lists ten pairs of non-
dual and complementary polarities as doctrinal proofs. They
1. Li-shih wu-ai
: the non-obstruction between the absolute and the
2 .. Chuan-shih shuang-hsing
; The simultaneous exercise of the provi-
sional and the true,
3. Erh-t'i ping-ch'enl: the compatability of the two truths,
4. Tsing-hsiang jeng-chi
; the interpenetration of nature and charac-
5. T'i-yung tsu-tsai
; the free interaction of essence and function,
6. Kung-yu hsiimg-ch'eng
: the mutual complementarity of emptiness
and existence,
7. Cheng-chu chien-hsui
: the simulataneous cultivation ofthe primary
and auxiliary practices,
8. Tung-yi yi-chi
: the one-realm of the same and the different,
9. Hsiu-hsingpu-erh
; the non-duality of the acquired and natural, and
10. Yin-kuo wu-ch'aaa: the non-differentiation of cause and effect.26
The first of these ten pairs is regarded as the "general"
) and the others are "particular" <pei
). Because of his
Hua-yen orientation, Yung-ming adopted the familiar theme
of the harmonious identity of the absolute (Ii) and the phenom-
enal (shih) from the Hua-yen philosophy as the foundation of
his syncretism. He says,
Ifone wishes simultaneously to cultivate various practices, one
must completely follow li and shih. When li and shih, within which
the Way is contained, are non-obstructive, one can benefit both
oneself and others, perfecting compassion for beings who are of
the same nature as oneself. 27
Li, synonymous with ultimate truth, refers to the all-inclusive
principle, which is interpreted as the universal one-mind, or as
.emptiness. The realm of Ii (dharmadhiltu), a realm beyond con-
ceptualization, denotes the immanent reality (tathatii) that up-
holds all dharmas. Shih, belonging to the conventional truth,
means distinct and different things, objects or events in the
. phenomenal world. Superficially, the realms of Ii and shih seem
to be two opposite domains. Ultimately, they are inseparable
and interdependent. In the Mahayana theory of non-duality,
and particularly, in the Hua-yen philosophy of totality, the world
of events (shih) is taken as the manifestation of the realm of the
principle (Ii), and the realm of principle as the testimony of the
manifested realm of events. One depends on the other for its
existence. and function.
We have thus seen how Yung-ming syncretized the
heterogeneous movements of Ch'an meditation and Pure Land
nien1o. One point should be noted here. In Indian and even in
early Chinese Buddhism, dhyiina and buddhilnusm'(ti were not
antithetical at all.
As indicated in many sutras, such as the
Pratyutpanna-buddha-san;tmukhavasthita-samiidhi-sutra, 29 buddhanu_
smarana or nienjo samadhi was achieved through meditation. It
is in later times in China that they diverged so much that they
seemed irreconcilable. In a way, we may say that Yung-ming's
syncretism was a revival of this old tradition.
In summary, Yung-ming's Ch'an-Pure Land syncretism in-
volves four aspects: (1) In the light of idealism, Yung-ming
interprets Pure Land as "Mind-only Pure Land", (2) Yung-ming
explains away the contradiction between self-power and other-
power by refuting the possibility of salvation through the re-
liance on other-power solely, (3) Yung-ming finds the common
ground between nienjo and Ch'an meditation in the theory of .
One-Mind nienjo, and (4) Yung-ming builds his syncretism of
Ch'an and Pure Land Buddhism on the Mahayana doctrine of
non-duality of any polarity. The purpose of Yung-ming's syn-
cretism of these two practices was to show that, basically and
ultimately, not only do they not contradict each other, but also
that the dual practice of both ensures salvation. Whether Yung-
ming's argument is sound or not is another question, but the
fact is that Ch'an-Pure Land syncretism has dominated Chinese
Buddhism ever since Sung Dynasty.
1. See Paul Ingram, "The Zen Critique of Pure Land Buddhism."Jour-
nal of American Religion, vol. 41, June, 1973, pp. 184-200, and Winston King,
"A Zen Critique-Interpretation of Pure Land Practice and Experience." Asian
Religions: 1971 (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania: The American Academy of
Religion), pp. 45-65.
2. Huei-yuan (334-416), the first Patriarch of the Pure Land School,
advocated meditative nienjo, a practice of Buddha-invocation based on medi-
tation. The nienjo Ch'an had become popular in early Ch'an School.
3. Yung-ming was recognized as the third Patriarch of the Fa-yen sect
of Ch'an School and also the sixth Patriarch of the Pure Land School.
4. Tsung-mi was the most distinguished representative of Ch'an-chiao
syncretism. Yung-ming was much influenced by his thought.
5. This "fourfold summary" shows a strong sentiment toward the joint
practice of Ch'an and Pure Land, which was basically Yung-ming's attitude,
but was first cited in the Ching-t'u chih-kuei chi (The collection of the instruction
on the Pure Land Buddhism) by Ta-yo, several centuries after Yung-ming.
Judging from the fact that most of Yung-ming's works are rather repetitive,
.. ' quite unlikely that this passage was left out of all his works, if he ever
It IS 1 h h . h Y' .
C 'd't Secondly, a t oug It was true t at ung-mmg was a vIgorous prac-
sal I .
. ' er of both Ch'an and Pure Land, he wasn't so narrow-minded and sec-
tlU?:U as to condemn anyone to hell who did not practice Ch'an and Pure
d The reason that the "fourfold summary" was attributed to him was
an . .
.. ply because he was the most prominent advocate of Ch'an-Pure Land
Slm cretism. Nevertheless, even if this "fourfold summary" was not Yung-ming's
synl'ng the attribution to him would indicate his strong advocacy of this move-
say " .
. ment. 6. The English translation with minor change is cited from Chung-fang
Yu, The Revival of Buddhism in China. (New York: Columbia University Press,
1981), p. S2.
7. This term was employed by Shan-tao in his Kuan-ching Shu to explain
the necessity of the conception ofthe Pure Land as an actual physical existence.
He said, "The method of contemplation is to concentrate on the direction
and form [of the Pure Land]. The concept of no-form and no-thought is not
articulated. The Tathagata is aware that people at the age of "Final Dharma"
tannot even attain concentration on the external form, how much less no-
form." (T.37, p. 267b).
8. T.48, p. 966e.
9. T.14, p. S38e.
10. T.48, p. SOSa.
11. T.48, p. SOSe.
12. Ibid.
13. T.48, pp. SOSc-S06a.
14. T.48, p. S06b.
IS. T.48, p. S06a.
16. T.48, p. 966c.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid.
19. According to the Chih-chueh ch'an-shih tsu-hsing-lu, Yung-ming en-
gaged himself daily in one hundred and eight practices, including recitation
of scriptures and dhara'IJfs, performance of repentance, releasing lives ifang-
sheng), etc.
20. T.47, p. 271b.
21. T.48, p. 341b. The English translation is cited from Philip B. Yam-
polsky, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. New York: Columbia University
Press, 1967, pp. IS7-158.
22. T.47, p. 79a. For a discussion and an English translation of the
Ching-t'u shih-yi lun, see Leo Pruden, "A Short Essay on the Pure Land," Eastern
Buddhist, new series, vol. 8, no. 1, 1975, pp. 74-9S.
23. T.40, p. 844a.
24. See D.T. Suzuki. "Zen and Jodo: Two Types of Buddhist Experi-
ence," Eastern Buddhist 3 (1924-25), pp. 102-10S.
2S. T.48, p. 967a-b.
26. T.48, p. S06a.
27. T.48, p. 992a.
134 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
28. There are three branches of the Pure Land School in Chinese Bud_
dhism. The earliest is called the "Hui-yuan Branch," originated by Hui-yuan
. (337-427), the first patriarch of Pure Land School. His nienjo was a combina_
tion of dhyiina and buddhiinusmr:ti. .
29. For a study of the sutra, see Paul M. Harrison, "Buddhiinusmr:ti in the
Pratyutpanna-buddha-san:tmukhiivasthitas-samiidhi-sutra, " Journal oj Indian
Philosophy, 6 (1978), pp. 35-57.
b. iJ<. 131'1 1r
;> 1 ;)
Co It'J 1 I ii1 1.!"f "if.
d. rID *'1-
e. "ih::;;1 :J:.
i. !f; ILS'
j. ti 'oJ:-
k. 11i1,co' 2: ..
1. ;: 1 :t-"\
m. 1l./?
n. % -::J:
o. ,2 .... {;jf,
q. - 10' :;?,
r. lr:i J #.c
t. = .fu y*,
u. c l-'!.;\{J M. -a17
v. '1::t ItI
W. :m I*.,
x. LE:. 'lIt
y. m $: -
Z. H: ::/. =-
aa. if) f #.-. 't
Pre:-Buddhist Elements in Himalayan
Buddhism: The Institution of Oracles
by Ramesh Chandra Tewari
During a span of time extending over thirteen centuries
Buddhism has come to acquire a distinct form in the vast region
comprised by the Tibetan plateau and the highlands around
the Himalayas. Since these regions are dominated by Tibetan
culture and civilization this distinct variety of Buddhism is most
often known as Tibetan Buddhism. Here it has to be kept in
mind that when the term "Tibetan" is used in the context of
religion or culture it signifies something far wider and deeper
than the limited and changing connotations of the term when
it is used as the designation of a specific country. 1 Perhaps to
avoid any possible misunderstanding it is better to call this dis-
tinct variety of Buddhism "Himalayan Buddhism". In fact, some
leading scholars of Buddhism, whose main interest lies in the
Buddhism practiced in both the cis-Himalayan and trans-
Himalayan regions, have already started using the term
Himalayan Buddhism.
One of the distinguishing features of Himalayan Buddhism
is that it has accommodated within itself a good number of
elements and traits of the pre-Buddhist indigenous religions
and folk traditions. This is such an important feature that hardly
any modern scholar studying one or the other aspects of Bud-
dhism in Tibet and the related areas has failed to take note of
it. In view of the ever growing interest in Himalayan Buddhism,
and with the increasing volume of knowledge about the culture
and religion of that area, a stage has now been reached which
demands deeper and more detailed investigations of the symbio-
tic interlinkages between the non-Buddhist and pre-Buddhist
136 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
religions and culture on the one hand, and Mahayana Buddhism
on the other. Such investigations can go a long way towards
finding answers to various pertinent questions. Some such ques-
tions are: What prompted the propagators of Buddhism in the
Tibetan or Himalayan regions to integrate the elements of the
indigenous and folk traditions into the Buddhist tradition?
Could they not avoid it? Did such integration or adaptation
violate the basic principles of Buddhism? What methods and
strategies were evolved for the selection and adaptation of the
pre-Buddhist and non-Buddhist elements? Did the Buddhist
tradition contain any doctrinal sanction for making such addi-
tions and changes? Satisfactory answers to such questions can
be arrived at if detailed and in-depth studies of those traits and
elements of Himalayan Buddhism which are of pre-Buddhist
or non-Buddhist origins are carried out. There are many such
traits, and the tradition of oracles is one among them. With its
ubiquity and popularity, it has lent uniqueness to Buddhism in
the Himalayan regions. The present paper seeks to throw some
light on the institution of oracles associated with Himalayan
Buddhism. While trying to understand the phenomenon of ora-
cles within the broader framework of the Buddhist tradition,
this analysis also employs the concepts of the Little and the
Great traditions. These twin concepts have been used by contem-
porary anthropologists and sociologists to interpret social and
cultural changes. In our opinion certain concepts of modern
social science, like. the concepts of the Little and the Great tra-
ditions which are being used here, can prove to be of some
value, howsoever limited that may be, in unravelling the patterns
of inter-relation and interaction between Buddhism and differ-
ent national cultures.
Various approaches have been developed by contemporary so-
cial scientists to analyse the changes resulting from encounters
and contacts between different cultures and traditions.
such approach is based on the concepts of the Little and the
Great traditions referred to above. This approach was formu-
lated by Robert Redfield in the course of his studies of Mexican
society. Later it was applied to the study of social changes in
I dian society.4 No doubt this approach has its limitations, yet
. n ffers a framework which may prove useful in the analysis
It ~ comparison of various processes and sub-processes of cul-
change. Hence, in the present context, if used with caution,
~ ~ a t approach can be of some help in understanding the nature
nd the consequences of the cultural encounter between Bud-
~ h i s m and the folk and indigenous religious traditions in Tibet
. nd other Himalayan areas.
a According to Redfield, the cultural structure of a civilization
is constituted by two traditions, viz. the Little tradition and the
Great tradition. Though these two traditions are distinct from
each other, they are nevertheless interdependent and interre-
lated. These two traditions correspond to two levels of the social
structure of a civilization. One of these levels is constituted by
the general masses of the common people, whereas the other
is comprised of the elite, particularly the cultural elite of a soci-
ety. Accordingly, what is known as the Little tradition is the
ensemble of the notions, ideas, beliefs and practices prevalent
among the general mass of people, most of whom are unlettered
and unsophisticated. It is primarily an oral and local tradition.
It is sustained and carried by such specialists as the bards and
folk poets, folk singers, folk artists, healers and medicine men,
shamanistic practitioners, reciters of fables, stories, tales and
riddles. As distinct from this, the Great tradition or the culture
of the elite of a society, is primarily a literate tradition and,
unlike the Little tradition, has the potentiality to extend its fron-
tiers beyond local limits and to acquire wider dimensions.
Prophets and seers, men of literature and art, religious leaders,
philosophers, scholars, priests and the like are the creators and
carriers of the Great tradition.
The Little-Great tradition approach takes an evolutionary
view of the changes in a civilization. It assumes that any civiliza-
tion, comprising both the social structure and the cultural struc-
ture, develops in two ways. First, it may grow through orthogene-
tic changes or, in other words, it may grow by itself without the
intervening influence of any outside culture or society. Secondly,
the growth may be due to heterogenetic factors, i.e., through
contacts and encounters with other cultures and societies. In
most cases, civilizations grow through the simultaneous opera-
tion of both the orthogenetic and heterogenetic factors. How-
ever, in a particular period one can discern the dominance of
certain of these factors over others. In this context it may also
be noted that, generally with the passage of time heterogenetic
changes tend to become dominant. Recorded history shows that
most of the major changes have resulted from encounters be-
tween different cultures and civilizations.
Looking at Tibetan civilization from the above angle, it is
amply clear that its contacts and encounters with the civilizations
of China and India from time to time have induced major
changes in it. The most distinguishing feature of Tibetan civili-
zation is the highly developed and deeply rooted religious and
cultural tradition of Mahayana, which had earlier originated
and flowered in India as a Great tradition. The Great tradition
reached and struck roots in Tibet through the herculean joint
efforts of the Indian and Tibetan religious, cultural and political
elites. Before the introduction of Mahayana Buddhism, religious
life in Tibet was, by and large, made up of primitive or folk
religions comprising supernatural beliefs and myths, magic,
shamanistic practices, songs, music, riddles, proverbs, legends,
stories, etc. Of course, there was the Bon religion, the pre-Bud-
dhist lha-chos or "religion of the gods". It was an organised
religion with its integrated system of beliefs and rituals. Its tra-
dition of priesthood was well developed.
Nevertheless the pre-
Buddhist Bon religion was so full oHolk and shamanistic beliefs
and practices that many early students of Tibetan culture and
religion failed to make a dear distinction betweeJ;1 mi-chos, the
religion of men, or folk religion, and lha-chos, the religion of
the gods or organised and developed religion. Thus to a large
extent the pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion was shamanistic and
folkish. It did not develop a literate tradition of its own and it
was more or less localised. It possessed all the characteristics of
a Little tradition. As the facts stand, it can be well surmised that
when the Mahayana Great tradition reached the trans-
Himalayan plateau and highlands it encountered a powerful
religious Little tradition. That encounter resulted in the de-
velopment and flowering of an entirely new form of culture
and civilization.
It is true that with the support of a talented, resourceful
and powerful elite the Mahayana tradition succeeded in en-
trenching itself, but it could never completely replace the indi-
genous Little tradition which was embedded deep in the Tibetan
;>che. The ways of thinking of a people are shaped by the
which is made up of various layers of culture. Some of
deepest layers of this milieu are rooted in the Little tradition
t .. d are of unknown origin. Hence, when a Great tradition
on to new regions dominated by a Little tradition, the
is constrained to come to terms with the latter. Time
'. 'nd again this has happened in the cultural history of different
':aces and peoples. The Vedic or the Brahmanic Great tradition
c()uld not have gained ascendency in the Indian sub-continent
ifit had not adopted various traits and elements of the existing
primitive .and folk. traditions. Similarly, in ?f
proselytizIllg task III Europe, the early Chnstian miSSIonanes
had to adopt various elements of paganism. They adopted, in
one form or the other, pagan festivals and accorded recognition
to several figures from the pagan pantheon.
The process of interaction between the Little and Great
tradition is an extremely complex affair. During the course of
their encounter they clash and complete, merge and mingle and
adopt and adapt each other's traits. Generally the interaction
between the two traditions moves in either of the two direc-
tions-universalisation or parochialisation. U niversalisation is
,the process by which elements of a Little tradition, e.g., deities,
rituals, festivals, beliefs and customs ani adopted and legitimised
by the interacting Great tradition. Parochialisation is just the
reverse process, by which the elements of a Great tradition are
adapted by the Little tradition concerned.
When one closely
examines the features of Himalayan Buddhism, it becomes evi-
dent that during the course of its development the process of
i.miversalisation came to the fore. Most of the gods and demons,
rites and customs, fairs and festivals, dance and music, etc.,
'Which give distinctness to Tibetan or Himalayan Buddhism orig-
inally belonged to the indigenous Little tradition. There is no
doubt that in the course of the encounter between the two
traditions the Mahayana Great tradition must have evolved its
own strategies and methods for the adoption and appropriation
of the elements of the Little tradition. It is not easy to find out
in what manner the elements of the indigenous tradition or
traditions were adopted and which methods were evolved for
it by the Mahayana tradition. It is hoped that detailed studies
of the pre-Buddhist indigenous elements which are present, in
one form or other, in Himalayan Buddhism will help in arriving
at a better understanding of the phenomenon under question .
. It is in this context that the institution of orades, as found in
Himalayan Buddhism, has been chosenJor analysis. Of Course,
all aspects of this institution cannot be analysed here. However,
it is hoped that the analysis presented here will not only throw
some light on the nature of the Tibetan institution of oracles
but will also give some idea as to how the Mahayana, a Great
tradition, followed the process of universalisation and what
strategies were adopted by it to achieve the consolidation of its
The institution of oracles is one of the oldest cultural institu-
tions in the world. Ethnographic and historical accounts relating
to primitive and ancient cultures reveal that this institution has
existed, in one form or the other, in all parts of the globe. The
ancient Greek oracle, the Delphic Pythia, is perhaps the best
known oracle in human history. As in all other societies, the
institution of oracles is also of great antiquity in Tibetan society.
Commonly known as chos-skyong or cho-rgyal, or sometimes also
as chos-rje, the orades definitely antedate Buddhism, which was
introduced in Tibet in the seventh century during the reign of
the great .king Tsongsten Gampo. Scholars generally believe
that the Tibetan institution of oracles has dose affinities with
the shamanism of Central and A r c t i ~ Asia. Without gOing into
the question of its connection with shamanism, it can be said
that this institution has always been very much a part of the
Bon religion, the organised pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. At
the same time it was also part and parcel of the folk religious
traditions which were very powerful and had their independent
existence. Thus, the institution of oracles was already very popu-
lar in Tibet and the adjoining areas long before the introduction
of Buddhism. It is generally held that the institution was carried
over to Buddhism from the Bon religion.
The institution of oracles was so pervasive in Tibetan society
and it had such a strong hold on the minds of the people that
the early propagators of Buddhism in Tibet prudently followed
b.. policy of giving due recognition to it. In this context, it must
k enoted that the historic role of the legendary Padmasambhava,
better known as Guru Rimpoche in the Himalayan regions, has
e parallels. With his charismatic power and consummate skill
universalised an extremely large number of
, customs and other elements of existing
little tradition and thus enlarged and ennched the great traditlon
fMahayana Buddhism. He is said to have subdued and won
innumerable local deities and demons. These also included
the oraculardeities. For instance, it is believed that Guru Rim-
. poche himself had installed the oracles at the Samye monastery,
the first Buddhist monastery of Tibet.
The hold of the institu-
tion of oracles was so powerful that even Tsong Khapa, the
great reformer of Tibetan Buddhism, recognition,
howsoever tacit it may be, to it. The great Fifth Dalai Lama not
only gave formal recognition of the Samye oracle but went a
step further by establishing Nechung as the official oracle.
then, the Oracle of Nechung has occupied the foremost place
among Tibetan oracles.
Of course, apart from the Nechuf\g
and Samye oracles there are other major oracles in Tibet, like
the oracles of Karmasar, Gahdong and Tsang Karpo.
An oracle is considered to be the divine revelation of some
deity who invariably manifests itself through a human medium.
These deities are known as protectors of the faith.
The popular Tibetan name for them is chos-rje. On particular
occasions the chosen mediums enter into a state of trance after
performing various rituals in the prescribed manner. After un-
dergoing the tedium of rituals, at the appointed hour they lose
consciousness. and go into trance. In the state of trance the ego
of the medium is blotted out and they are so transformed that
their voices become the voices of the deity. The body of the
medium becomes the "body support," sku-rten, of the deity. In
a state of trance they answer questions asked by those who
consult them. They also make general pronouncements and
A close examination of the oracles associated with various
Himalayan or Tibetan monasteries reveals a systematic pattern
of methods and techniques through'which the Mahayana Great
tradition adopted and legitimised the institution of oracles. The
legitimisation of the institution of oracles implied that it should
142 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
be integrated into the general structure of beliefs and practices
of the Mahayana. This integration was achieved by adoptinO'
the following three methods or techniques: (A) the o r a c u l a ~
deities were given due recognition through their inclusion in
the Tibetan pantheon; (B) the monastic communities were as-
sociated directly with the oracles (this was done by assuring that
the oracular mediums would be chosen from among the regular
monks); (C) the monasteries gave oracles a prominent place in
their respective annual calendars of religious events, particularly
those events in which the participation of the laity is significant.
Almost all the rituals and festivals connected with the recognised
oracles are regularly held in the monasteries. To illustrate how
these methods and techniques were adopted in pursuance of
the process of universalisation of the institution of oracles a
concrete example is taken up here. It concerns the oracle of
Rongsten Karmar, the annual oracle of the Mangto monastery of
Ladakh. II
The Mangto monastery of Ladakh is known far and wide for
two reasons. First it is the only monastery of the Sakya sect in
Ladakh. Secondly, the oracle of Rongsten Karmar, the most fa-
mous oracle in Ladakh, is associated with it. The annual oracle
has its elaborate schedule of rites and ceremonies which are
performed together over a span of several weeks sometime in
the spring of every year. The mediums through whom the oracle
is manifested in the course of the performance of the rites and
ceremonies occasionally perform most extraordinary feats-like
piercing their bodies with sharp swords and yet remaining un-
hurt, or running furiously along the high cornices and the top
of the very high walls of the monastery, which stands on a
dangerous precipice-feats which are witnessed by thousands
of awe-struck people. The oracle attracts people in very large
numbers from all over Ladakh. 12
The history of the oracle of Rongsten Karmar in Ladakh
is as old as that of the Mangto monastery itself. The monastery
was established in the early fifteenth century, during the reign
of the Ladkhi king Dragpa Bumde, by Dorji Palsang, the famous
.skya lama from the Kham region of Tibet. This lama was a
aat vajriiciirya or Tantra master, and when he undertook his
to Ladakh, he was accompanied by two Dharmapala
-brothers known as Kar and Tibetan word. means
whereas dmar means red. These two deIties are also
as rgyal-po'i and bla-ma'i, respectively. It is believed that
oi-iginally the dharmapiila, protector deities, were brothers who
belonged to a place called Rongsten Khawa Karpo in Kham.
These protectors are said to have been brought into the Buddhist
fold by no less a figure than Padmasambhava himself. In due
course they got attached to the Tantra master Dorji Palsang
and it was natural that when he decided to go to Ladakh both
theprotector deities followed him. Later, when Dorji Palsang
established the monastery at Mangto, he directed the dharmapiila
brothers to become its special protectors. It is these two protector
deities who annually manifest themselves through two mediums
chosen from among the senior monks of the Mangto monastery.
The annual festival involving the oracle has been continued
undisrupted since the time of Lama Dorji Palsang.
. The two human mediums of the oracular deities are selected
five years by a random method from among the senior
'members of the monk community of Mangto monastery. The
selection takes place once in five years on the fifteenth day of
the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar. While the selection
process is in progress the Sangha performs the well known
Mahiikiila Pujii. After their selection the two monks prepare
theinselves thoroughly for their assigned roles according to the
elaborate schedule laid down by tradition. To begin with, they
have to remain more or less in seclusion for one year. After the
completion of the prolonged seclusion they enter into a period
of strict retreat beginning from the ParinirviirJa Day of Sakya
Pandita. This period extends from the fourteenth day of the
eleventh month to the sixth day of the first month of the Tibetan
calendar. Apart from performing various rituals they have to
propitiate a host of deities during this period. Among these
deities the most important is Hevajra, the chief Tantric deity of
theSakya sect. As sacrificial offering, tormas, are offered to the
dharmapiilas in general and to Rongsten Karmar in particular.
. As the period of strict retreat ends, the monk-mediums
assume the actual roles of the Rongsten Karmar oracles by enter-
ing into a state of trance. Beginning with the tenth day of the
Tibetan first month they go into trance every day till the fifteenth
day. Throughout the long period of the annual Mangto festival
the oracles enter into a state of trance for seven days in all-for
six days in the first month and one day in the second month of
the Tibetan calendar. On the first day of trance, after paying
visits to the Chisa shrine of Mahakala, the oracles give audience
to people and make predictions about the coming events iIi
Ladakh for the ensuing year. Later, when they are still in trance
they select four persons from among the people collected t h e t ~
to fetch stacks of a shrub called shukpa from Himi Sukpachen
a place far away in the valley. The stacks of shukpa shrub
brought by the chosen men are later used to rebuild the shrine
of the Rongsten Karmar deities. With the selection of the four
men the trance state comes to an end for the day. The following
day, i.e., on the eleventh day of the Tibetan calendar, both the.
monk-mediums go into trance and after performing their
routine rituals visit the main dukhang or shrine of the monastery.
Then they send invitations through special messengers to all
the leading Kushoks and Rinpoches of Ladakh requesting them
to witness the ceremonies to be held on the fourteenth day. On
the following two days, i.e., on the twelfth and the thirteenth,
they again enter into trance and m-ake predictions about the
personal problems and questions of the people who come to
them in large numbers. The fourteenth day is more significant.
On that day after entering into trance the oracles perform Cham
or the ritual dance in the presence of a large gathering which
includes the important Kushoks of Ladakh and the royal guests
from Stok. As the Rongsten Karmar deities assume their fierce
role on this day, other deities and demons participating in the
Cham observe maximum care while performing their respective
roles. Even a minor lapse on their part may invite the wrath of
the oracular deities.
The most significant day of the annual festival is _the fif-
teenth of the first month of the Tibetan calendar. After the
ritual bath the oracular deities take their seats and get ready to
be decorated as Panjarnath Mahakala. The wrathful face of Pan-
jarnath Mahakala is drawn and painted on their backs and chests.
On that day they do not wear anything on their bodies except
tiger skins loosely wrapped round their waists and loins. They.
. t themselves adorned with bone ornaments and bracelet-like
boxes which are said to have been offered long ago
by a queen of Ladakh. Each of the oracles holds a small damaru
hand-drum in one hand and a tiny bell in the other. To cap
?{all they cover their faces with fierce masks that do not have
1 for eyes. As these masks cover their heads and faces
become completely blind-folded. It is believed that the
ustom of wearing the blind-folding mask was started in the
past by a queen who tried to test the powers of the twin
The elaborate ritualistic adornment, which is completed
with meticulous care, signifies that on that day the oracular
deities personify the prajiia of Panjarnath Mahakala. After being
fully adorned, led by the vajracharya or Vajra-master of the
monastery, the two oracles perform special rituals. Later, while
visiting the main shrine they hold above their heads the robe-
relic of Dorji Palsang, the founder of the monastery. After receiv-
ing blessings from the vajracharya in the shrine they pay visits
to several major and minor shrines located within the precincts
of the sprawling monastery. These included the two shrines of
Mahakala-one of them being the Gonkhang and the other
known as Jurkhang or Kalon-Gonkhang. On their way to these
shrines they meet people who gather there by the hundreds
waiting to get blessings as well as answers to their individual
questions from the oracular deities. However, the mostspectacu-
lar event of the fifteenth day is the awe-inspiring and highly
risky race undertaken by the masked and blindfolded oracles
along the top of the high walls of the courtyard and the steep
edges of the roofs of the monastery. It is believed that on that
day the blindfolded oracles see through the eyes of the wrathful
Panjarnath Mahakala drawn on their backs and chests. This event
is witnessed by several thousand men and women drawn from
all over Ladakh. During the course of the display of their super-
natural powers the deities sometimes inflict cuts and wounds
on their faces and other parts of their bodies with sharp weapons.
However, to their wonder, later on, people do not find any trace
of the wounds or scars on the faces or bodies of the oracles.
Such unbelievable actions and related events make the people
marvel at the super-human powers of the oracular deities.
Undoubtedly, the traditional faith of the Ladakhi people
146 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
in the Rongsten Karmar deities is strengthened anew through
the rare actions which are performed not only with great devo_
tion but also with extreme precision and expertise year after
year. After visiting all the places and shrines the oracles reach
the monastery courtyard and scatter samchhod-a mixture of
barley flour arid chhang, the local beer-in all four directions.
It is believed that the amount of samchhod falling in a particular
direction signifies the success or failure of the next crop in
Ladakh. The ceremonies of the fifteenth day come to a close
with special prayers offered by the deities for the flowering and
consolidation of the Saddharma in the region. With this the day-
long trance also comes to an end.
The last day of the annual festival of Mangto falls on the
eighth day of the second Tibetan month. It is also the seventh
and final day of trance. On that day horses and their attendants
from the Hemis Gonpa, the biggest monastery in Ladakh, as
well as those sent by the ex-ruler of the Tokpa kingdom, arrive
in Mangto early in the morning. After their arrivai the oracle
deities take their daily ritual bath and offer prayers at various
shrines. Accompanied by the horses and their attendants and
some other people, they later leave the monastery for their
permanent abode in the upper part of the Mangto Valley where
a freshly rebuilt shrine of shukpa shrubs is ready for them. It
is to be recalled that the shrubs used in reconstructing the shrine
are brought from a far off place known as Himi Sukpachen by
four persons selected by the oracles on the very first day of their
trance. On their way to the shrub-shrine they again enter into
a state of trance. Then they mount the horses in that state. On
reaching the shrine they perform certain prescribed rituals and
offer prayers. In the end they once again make predictions
about the success or failure of future crops and about the general
welfare of the Ladakhi people. They make predictions by examin-
ing the grains taken from a pot placed inside the shrub-shrine.
This marks the end of the trance. The final curtain is drawn over
the long annual ceremonies. The oracular deities leave the bodies
of the monk-mediums and retire to the empty stillness of the
shrub-shrine located in the upper part of the Mangto Valley under
the shadow of snow-capped peaks. From then on the deeply religi-
ous people of Ladakh once again wait patiently till next spring
for the reappearance of Rongsten Karmar.
In order to find out the in which the of Rongsten
, which und.oubtedly IS. of and
dhist origins, was mtegrated mto the Mahayana tradItIOn, It
ould be fruitful to analyse some of its salient features. This
:ayhelp us to understand and appreciate symbiotic inter-
linkages between the Mayayana Great tradItIOn and the pre-
Buddhist Little tradition. Let us examine these features in brief.
(1 )The oracular deities known as Rongsten Karmar of Mangto
did not belong to the original Indian Mahayana pantheon. They
were indigenous Tibetan deities, most probably of Bon origin.
After their induction into the Buddhist fold by Guru Rimpoche
they were accommodated in the Tibetan Mahayana pantheon.
If not for other monasteries in Ladakh and elsewhere, their
institutionalisation as recognised deities had become necessary
for the distinctiveness and the stability of the monastic and re-
ligious system of the Mangto monastery. Thus, in the pantheon
they were accorded the status of mGon-po or dharmapalas, the
protective deities of the shrines and In the Tibetan
Mahayana pantheon the protector deltles are placed below the
Tantric deities like Amitabha, Avalokitesvara, Vairocana and
Tara, mostof whom are of Indian origin. In this pantheon there
are two types of protective deities, viz. the deities of Indian
origin and those having their origins in the indigenous Tibetan
religious tradition. It is noteworthy that, generally, the protective
deities of Tibetan origin are not given the same significance
which is accorded to similar deities of Indian origin. This is
reflected in the fact that Rongsten Karmar deities of Mangto are
placed below Mahakala, the ubiquitous dharmapala of Tibetan
monasteries, who is of Indian origin. During the ritual cere-
monies associated with the Mangto Oracle the human medium
through whom the Rongsten Karmar manifest themselves have
not only to worship Hevajra, the chief Tantric deity of the Sakya
sect, but have also to pay obeisance to Mahakala.
Through their inclusion in the pantheon these indigenous
oracular deities were given due recognition by the Great tradi-
tion of Mahayana. However, this inclusion did not affect either
the basic tenets of Mahayana nor the spiritual or Tantric prac-
.tices associated with it. In this way, the Buddhist strategy of
148 JIARS VOL. 10 NO.1
universalisation appears to have had two aims before it: (i) to
. give due recognition to the powerful local deities, and, (ii) to
take care that their inclusion in the pantheon did not affect the
basic structure of Mahayana tradition. As far as the case of the
oracle of Rongsten Karmar is concerned, there is no doubt that
the Buddhist strategy was immensely successful.
(2)As the Rongsten Karmar were institutionalized as the pro-
tective deities of the Mangto monastery by its founder Dotji
Palsang, it was natural that the monastic community had to be
closely associated with the oracle. The closeness of this associa_
tion can be appreciated when we take note of two facts: (a) two
senior monks of the monastery are chosen to become the
mediums for the Rongsten Karmar; (b) all the rituals, ceremonies
and performances connected with the annual oracle are Ot-
ganised and controlled by the dge-'dun or the Sangha of the
monastery. It is also noteworthy that most of the activities and
ceremonies are held within the monastery precincts.
Before assuming the role of the oracle, both of the monks
chosen for the job strictly observe specifically prescribed ritualis-
tic rules and enter into meditation retreat. This prepares them
for the role of the oracle. During the course of this preparation
. the monks give central importance to the rituals relating to the
propitiation of Hevajra, the chief tantric deity ofthe Sakya sect.
In this way we find that, on the one hand, the monks act as the
medium of the oracular deities, and, on the other hand, perform
their role as Sakya Gelongs or monks. If one examines the role
of these monks it becomes clear that they simultaneously become
bearers of two traditions, viz. the indigenous Little tradition and
the Mahayana Great tradition. However, to avoid any misun-
derstanding, it must be added that although as oracles they may
act as the bearers of the Little tradition, their basic roles and
primary identity belong to the Great tradition. Inasmuch as the
Mahayana tradition has incorporated the institution of oracles
within itself, and not the other way round, it can be observed
that the preeminence of the Great tradition is never in jeopardy.
All the rituals performed by the monk-mediums are Mahayanist
or Tantric in nature. In this connection it is noteworthy that
during the preparatory period every day they have to seek and
receive the blessings of the vajracarya, the Tantra master of the
monastery. Thus, it can be noted that although the oracle of
th Rongsten Karmar has become an inseparable part of the in-
and ritualistic structure of the Mangto monastery, it
in no way adversely either the prac-
. es of the Mahayana tradItIOn or the monastlC dlsClplme of the
tlC ,
inonastery. , . . .
, (3) The SOCIal slgmficance of the annual oracle of the
Karmar can hardly be understated. It acts as a direct
link between the masses and the monastery. It provides an oc-
casion to bring the people closer to the monastery. Time and
'again the .hold and prestige of the monastery and. its
monastic order IS remforced and reaffirmed through the maSSIve
participation of the people in the ceremonies and festivities
relating to the oracle. Here it has to be kept in mind that the
monastery and the people are organically linked to each other.
On the one hand, the very survival of the monastic community
rests on the support of the laymen and, on the other hand, the
monastery provides great solace and assurance to the people.
Though the lamas belonging to the monastery lead a cloistered
life and are free from the troubles and responsibilities of the
worldly life of a householder, still they are obliged to maintain
viable links with the larger community which provides them all
the moral and material support they need. Perhaps for a
Mahayanist monk the maintenance of such links has an addi-
tional significance. If he upholds the bodhisattva ideal he will
have to come closer to the people. Without getting close to the
people he can hardly do anything for the alleviation of their
suffering. With a complete sense of detachment he, in his own
way, helps the people to face the vicissitudes of life. In, so far
as the oracle draws masses to the monastery a'nd its monks and
provides solace to the people in distress it is in accordance with
the ideals of the Mahayana. Every year people in thousands
from all over Ladakh visit the Mangto Monastery and get an-
swers to their questions from the oracle of the Rongsten Karmar.
The questions are concerned with all sorts of anxieties and prob-
lems relating to physical and mental health, family, economic
well being, social prestige and the like. The oracle makes fore-
casts relating not only to personal or domestic problems but
also to problems that concern the entire community. They pre-
dict what favourable or unfavourable events will occur in Ladakh
in the coming year, which area will have better or worse crops
and what lies in store for the people of Ladakh in general.
Undoubtedly the orade plays an important role both for the
individual and the community. People not only get answers to
their questions but they also get solace and assurance by the
very presence of the oracular deities.
In this context it has to be noted that in its institutional
form a religion fulfills various expectations of the people. Spiro
holds that three types of desires-cognitive, expressive and sub-
stantive-are met by religion.
Of these three the substantive
desires are most common and overt and have a greater positive
connotation. The desire for prosperity and well being, the desire
for sound health and protection from illness, and the desire for
social prestige or power are examples of substantive desires.
Such desires are very real for most people. If we examine the
role of the Mangto orade from the point of view of the substan-
tive desires of the people there is no doubt that the orade plays
a role for which there can be no substitute whatsoever.
The foregoing analysis of the Mangto oracle illustrates how the
Mahayana Great tradition absorbed the elements of the indigen-
ous Tibetan Little tradition into itself. The inclusion of the
oracular deities known as Rongsten Karmar can be seen as a
concrete example of the process of universalisation adopted by
the early Buddhist sages, siddhas and monk-scholars in Tibet.
The importance of Padmasambhava and his place in the religi-
ous and cultural history of Tibet and adjoining areas can be
appreciated in this context. He was the grand initiator and the
greatest charismatic practitioner of the art needed for the uni-
versalisation of the elements of the Little tradition.
At this juncture some questions, already referred to in the
first part of this paper, invariably come up. How far was it
necessary to follow the policy of universalisation? Did Buddhism
not compromise its principles by incorporating almost indis-
criminately a large number of the elements of the indigenous
Little tradition? Did Buddhism not lose much of its purity by
acquiring various traits of Bon, shamanism and folk religions
in Tibet? Is there anything in Buddhist doctrine and tradition
hich approves of the process of universalisation? It is not easy
to provide final answers to these questions. N everthe-
: it is in the fitness of things that an attempt is made here
such q.uestions only the socio-cult.ural
fiaroework in whICh BuddhIsm was placed III and around TIbet,
but also within the broader framework of the Mahayana tradi-
Many scholars believe that Tibetan Buddhism has incorpo-
rated such a large number of non-buddhistic elements that the
basic tenets and original purity of Buddhism has been sacrificed
and magical and shamanistic traits have gained an upper hand.
If such an understanding of Tibetan Buddhism is to be accepted
one is faced with one basic question. Which form of Buddhism
is to be called the true one? In this context it should not be
forgotten that the picture of Buddhism which can be gained
froro the reading of Buddhist texts will always be different from
the Buddhism in actual practice. Perhaps one cannot name a
single Buddhist country where all the rules of the Vinaya were
faithfully observed by the monks in the past or are being ob-
served at present. Similarly, can one actually find anywhere such
ideal upiisakas or upiisikiis as are often described in the Pali liter-
ature? As a matter of fact, when the issue under consideration
is viewed in the right perspective two major points emerge.
Firstly, one observes that the proverbial lag between precept
and practice exists under all circumstances. Secondly, it becomes
evident that the limitations imposed by space and time. on the
one hand and society and culture on the other, very much affect
the content and form of the institutionalised aspect of religion.
It can well be surmised that there can be as many forms of
Buddhism as there are national cultures in the world. The vari-
ations in the institutional and cultural forms of Buddhism are
easily noticeable even among the countries professing the same
school of Buddhism. Complete uniformity in matters of religion
is to be found neither among countries professing Theravada
nor among those where Mahayana is professed. It is well known
that Buddhism is preeminently a religion of monks, but it is
also a fact that the traditional Buddhism among the Newars of
Nepal is known as "Buddhism without monks". Keeping the
socio-cultural diversities and the spatio-temporal factors in view
one can say that each and every form of Buddhism is 'real' or
152 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
'true' in so far as it upholds the basic tenets of Buddhism and
unequivocally adheres to its ultimate ideals. Any society or cOIll.
munity, irrespective of its historical and cultural background, is
to be treated as Buddhist if its members have faith in the basic
principles of Buddhism and believe that the attainment of bud.
dhahood-whether it aims at attaining arhathood or sarvajnatvii
i.e., omniscience-is the highest pur14artha or the ultimate goai
of man. If due to geographical, social, cultural and historical
variations people give a particular shape to the institutional and
ritualistic structure of Buddhism it does not mean that they are
not real Buddhists. The foregoing analysis has shown that the
inclusion of the Rongsten Karmar deities in the Tibetan pantheon
has in no way compromised the principles of Mahayana. As a
matter of fact, in the form of the Rongsten Karmar the Mangto
monastery only added two popular and powerful deities to the
array of the protective deities. This addition has not in any way
proved detrimental to the ideals and principles of the Mahayana.
Finally, let us see whether the policy of universalisation is
in accordance with the Buddhist tradition. Is there anything in
Buddhist doctrine which gives sanction to such a policy or strat.
egy? From the Mahayanist viewpoint teachings, philosophical
concepts, logic, rituals, meditation and the like are meaningful
in so far as they are helpful in the attainment of buddhahood.
All these belong to the domain of san:tvr:ti-satya or the "conven
tional truth." Paramartha-satya ot "ultimate truth" is not only
unutterable and unthinkable, but it is also unteachable. One
cannot speak about it, it can only be experienced. As the attain- .
ment of buddhahood is the highest ideal of the bodhisattvaciirya
in Mahayana, all beings are considered to be identical with
Buddha. The bodhisattva considers the salvation of all sentient
beings as his own good and this explains why he chooses to toil
for the salvation of even the lowliest of beings. To attain this
end, any method is correct and proper provided it does not go
against the basic tenets of the Saddharma. Nagarjuna says, "Bud-
dhas have taught with a purpose the reality of the 'I' and the
'mine', as indeed have they the doctrine of the groups, elements
and the bases."15 For the salvation of all sentient beings the
votary of the ideal of bodhisattva can use his own discretion in
the choice of proper means. Let us again quote the great Nagar-
juna, who says, "As the occasion required, the Buddha has af-
fi rned the self or denied it, both affirmed and denied, or done
According to the Madhyamika. doctrine there is no
I"rnit to the number and nature of the deVICes that may be used
a person for leading others to the ultimate truth.
t Y search out and utilise any means appropriate for the attain-
;ent of the goal is not easy. It requires excellence, excellence
'n the choice of appropriate methods. This is nothing but up-
\yakaufalya, i.e., choosing the right methods and means suited
the needs, temperament and disposition of the beings in
question. It is like prescribing and administering the right
medicine at the right moment to a sick person. The Buddha
was the greatest practitioner of this excellence. That is why he
is called the greatest healer or the most skilled physician. Up-
o:cupies such a major place in the .tradi-
tion that It IS accorded the status of a paramztii, the hIghest
perfection. is one of the. ten param.itiis.18
If upayakausalya or the excellence III the choIce of approp-
riate means and methods is very much part of the Mahayana
tradition then it is evident that the strategy of universalisation
adopted and perfected by the pioneer Buddhist sages, monks
and scholars-both Indian and Tibetan-in the vast Himalayan
in no way violated the tenets of Buddhism. The founding
fathers and consolidators of Buddhism in these regions evolved
such unique strategies of universalisation that they could easily
accommodate those elements of the indigenous religious tradi-
tions which were well embedded in the social and cultural struc-
tures and were rooted deep in the Tibetan psyche. Here one is
reminded of Candrakirti who says that no beneficiary of the
Saddharma should be offended in any way. His likes and dislikes
must be respected. Lord Buddha himself attached great signifi-
cance to the accepted ways of the common folk. In one of his
sayings he declares, "Whatever is lokasammata is acceptable to
me. How can I accept anything which is not lokasammata". It is
also in this context that the relevance of the classification of the
Buddhist texts into neyartha and nitiirtha becomes evident. The
former are the texts which speak of 'means' and the latter are
those which speak of the ultimate end.
Thus, if one views the Mangto oracle of Ladakh in this light
it is evident the elimination of the Rongsten Karmar deities was
neither feasible nor necessary. For ages, the masses in Tibet
and the adjoining areas had deep faith in such deities. As such
they were part and parcel of the indigenous cultural'itructure.
They were the deities of the people. If Buddhism was to strike
deep roots in the Tibetan highlands or the Himalayan regions
it was incumbent upon its propagators to give due recognition
to the social and cultural realities. There is no doubt that the
upiiyakausalya of Mahayana Tantric Siddhas and iiciiryas, Indian
and Tibetan both, has no parallels in the history of Buddhislll.
The form of Buddhism prevalent in the Himalayan regions is
as much a tribute to their ingenuity as to their unshaken and
deep faith in the lofty ideal of the bodhisattva.
1. The term "Tibetan" employed in this paper does not denote the
political and administrative territory known as Tibet. It refers to Tibetan
civilization and culture which in the past surely had Tibet proper as its centre.
This cultural region has fairly wide dimensions and cuts across various national
and political boundaries. The term "Tibetan Civilization" has a broader con-
notation. It should be treated on par with other similar terms such as "Chinese
Civilization", "Indian Civilization", "Hellenic Civilization," etc.
2. D.L. Snellgrove is one of such leading scholars: He has used the
term 'Buddhist Himalaya' for the Buddhist regions around the Himalayas.
The very title of one of his books is Buddhist Himalaya.
3. In our opinion none of these approaches provides a completely
satisfactory framework to interpret and understand the complex processes of
cultural and social change. At best, each one of them can be of some help in
the understanding of some aspects of those processes.
4. See R. Redfield, "The Social Organisation of Tradition," Far Eastern
Quarterly 15 (1955-56). See also M. Singer, "The Cultural Pattern of Indian
Civilization," Far Eastern Quarterly, 15 (l955-56).
5. See D.L. Snellgrove, Nine Ways of Bon, London, 1967.
6. See M. Marriot, "Little Communities in an Indigenous Civilization,"
in Village India: Studies in Little Communities, Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1955.
7. H.R.H. Prince of Greece and Denmark, "Tibetan Oracles," in
Himalayan Anthropology, J.F. Fisher, (ed.), The Hague: Monton Publishers,
1978, p. 288.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. The Nechung Oracle is also known as the State Oracle of Tibet. The
Dalai Lama himself consults it whenever certain important decisions have to
be. taken. The oracle of N echung came to India along with the present Dalai
:11. The basic information about the Oracle of Rongsten Karmar was
athered by the author in 1979 when he visited Ladakh as a member of the
Cultural Survey Team led by Prof. Jagannath Upadhyaya. The
r. \hor is extremely grateful to Venerable Ludin Khen Rimpoche, the head
Mangto monastery, for kindly providing details about the oracle. The
,0 thor is also thank,ful to Sri J amyang Gyaltshan, an assistant professor at the
Institute of Buddhist Studies, Choglamsar (Leh), Ladakh, for his kind
c::ooperation in giving relevant information about the ora.cle. Some
information was also gathered later when the author pard two short VISIts to
Ladakh in 19S3 and 19S4. The author also records his gratefulness to Yen.
S.Rimpoche, Principal, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath
(Varanasi), who was kind enough to give the benefit of his knowledge about
.'Tibetan oracles.
12. A detailed account of the Mangto Oracle is contained in the paper
presented by the author at the All India Seminar organised by the Central
Institute of Buddhist Studies, Choglamsar (Leh), Ladakh in August, 19S4.
The title of the paper is "Himalaya Main Bauddha Dharma Thatha Puratan
Dharmik-Sanskritic Paramparayen".
13. M.E. Spiro, "Religion: Problems of Definition and Explanation," in
Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion (ed.) M. Banton, (A.S.A.
Monographs 3), London, Tavistock, 1966, pp. 109-117.
14. Scholars like L.A. Waddel, H. Hoffman and F.W. Rankehold such
a view. They often use the term 'Lamaism' for Tibetan Buddhism. The usual
connotation of this term more often than not gives a distorted picture of
Buddhism in Tibet and the adjoining Himalayan regions. For instance, Waddel
says that, "Lamaism has descended to the level of gross devil-dancing and
Shamanistic charlatanism and plays upon the easy credulity of the people by
the profitable pursuits of necromancy and sorcery." See L. Waddell, Buddhism
and Lamaism of Tibet, reprinted New Delhi: Heritage Publishers, 1974.
15. See T.R.V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, Second Edition,
London: George Allen and Unwin, 1960, p. 247.
16. Nagarjuna, Madhyamakashastram, XVIII, 6, Mithila Vidyapeeth, Dar-
bhanga, 1960, p. 152.
17. Murti, ibid, p. 246.
IS. It is noteworthy that 'Upayakausalya Parivarta' is the title of one of
the chapters of Saddharmapu1!rJarrka or the Lotus Sutra, the most important
of all the Vaipulyasutras.
Peter N. Gregory, editor
Explores the matrix of Chinese
Buddhist practices and the con-
cepts from which Zen Buddhism
emerged. $16.00, paper
Notto R. Thelle
With its broad cultural and
socio-political scope, this
volume will interest students of
Japanese history, culture, and
religion. $30.00, cloth
Nishida Kitaro
translated by
David A. Dilworth
This essay is a uniquely readable
summation of Nishida's
philosophy of religion that has
come to be regarded as the foun-
dational text of the Kyoto
school. $18.00, paper
William F. Powell
Classics in East Asian Buddhism 1
Pub. in asociation with the Kuroda
This volume represents a unique
form of religious literature-
virtually the only tangible traces .
that remain of seminal figures in
Ch'an history. $8.50, paper
David W Chappell, editor
The authors reconnect theory
and practice and reveal how
Buddhism evolved in response
to the social and cultural context
of China. $18.00, paper
TO ORDER: Send check or
money order, plus $1.00 per
book for shipping. VISA and
MasterCard also accepted
(include acct. no., expo date,
and signature).
II. REVIEWS Gupta Culture, edited by Bardwell L. Smith. Columbia,
MO: South Asia Books, 1983. xvii + 360 pp.; 72 black and white
plates. N.p.
India's Golden Age is the Gupta period, lasting about 200
years from the fourth to the sixth centuries C.E., a time when
political peace secured by the Gupta dynasty, centered in the
Gangetic basin, produced an unparalleled urbanity in which art,
literature, religion, learning, and science flourished and reached
"classical" perfection. The ten essays comprising this interdiscip-
linary volume address certain aspects of Gupta culture, and were
first presented at a 1977 symposium sponsored by Carleton Col-
lege, Northfield, MN. The essays are grouped into three overlap-
ping thematiccategories: political power and its legitimation (Na-
rain, Asher, Stein); religious pluralism (Basham, O'Flaherty,
Gokhale); and literary and artistic expressions (Miller, Ramanu-
jan and Cutler, Williams, Spink). Framing the essays are a general
introduction written by A.L. Basham and two bibliographic essays
by B. Smith and E. Zelliot. A brief summary of each essay will
serve to introduce the volume's reach and range.
The Gupta period has often been heralded as an age of
religious toleration and the Gupta kings extolled as generous
patrons of a variety of religious sects. Using numismatic and
other hard data, A.K. Narain surveys religious pluralism under
each of the Gupta kings and argues that phenomena of religious
liberty and tolerance, rather than being "bound up with the
religious system and political theories of ancient India," were
"the results of a consciously followed policy by the king or the
state" to legitimate their authority and to maintain social order.
Concluding that tolerati.on was not an essential part of the king's
religious practice or of his riijadharma, Narain urges scholars to
give credit to individual kings who were in fact tolerant when
they need not have been.
F.M. Asher proposes that one factor motivating royal patron-
age of certain lithic images was an awareness that religious art
could serve as political and historical allegory and hence could
enhance, by means of analogy, particular people or events. He
gives as examples of possible correlation: 1) V i ~ I ) . u as the Boar
rescuing the earth, at Udayagiri, and Candra Gupta II's consoli-
dation of the empire; 2) V i ~ l ) u as the Dwarf traversing the world
in three strides and subduing the demon Bali, at Lajampat in
Kathmandu, and Manadeva's temporal conquests; and 3) the
Descent of the Ganges relief at Mamallapuram and the Pallava
king's control over water and irrigation. Asher admits that the
evidence is circumstantial, and yet, his interpretations appear
both apt and tenable. .
B; Stein's essay, "Mahanavaml: Medieval and Modern Kingly
Ritual in South India," moves beyond the Gupta period to note
some of the continuities and discontinuities of Gupta conceptions
of kingship in post-classical times among the Vijayanagar kings
and their successors. In the Gupta period, Stein says, dharmasiistra
writers desacralized the king and prohibited the great Vedic sac-
rifices where kings acquired and displayed their kingly attributes.
But whatever divine qualities were lost to the individual king
accrued, eventually, to the institution of kingship: sacred kingship
replaced the sacred king. In medieval South India, public kingly
rituals, such as the "Great Nine Day" festival, were reinstated.
However, in the medieval period, the differences between gods
and kings did not dissolve in ritual as in the pre-Gupta period,
but rather gods and kings complemented each other and together
ritually established and maintained "the sacred condition." This
essay, whose thesis Stein has established in greater detail in some
of his other writings, appears somewhat out of place in this col-
Eschewing the Sarnath Buddhas, the Boar incarnation at
Udayagiri, the Ajanta murals, and Kalidasa's poems and plays,
A.L. Basham declares that the "finest" and "most typical" relic
of the Gupta period is the Mandasor inscription of the silk-weav-
ers, composed by a "hack-poet," telling how a no longer extant
Surya temple came to be built. Basham concludes that this
Sanskrit courtly poem "reflects not only religious faith, but also
love of the good things of this world," and that in it, "we can see
the best qualities of the period-loyalty, fellowship, local pat-
riotism, and honest pride in what one has achieved." Written
with wit, grace, and unobtrusive erudition, Basham's essay shows
how a small artifact encapsulates the ethos of an era; it is the
central gem of this collection, and one of the best examples of
exciting cultural-historical writing I have encountered.
In her article, "The Image of the Heretic in the Gupta
Pura'flas," W. O'Flaherty, like A.K. Narain, sounds a note of
realism, albeit a different one, about the Guptas' alleged toler-
ance. She argues that,in the Gupta period, Hindu attitudes to-
. wards heretics and atheists became embittered. The Guptas, with
their "need to maintain superficial political unity," were driven,
she says, "to play an uneasy game of impartial patronage." Thus,
even though the Gupta kings did patronize Buddhists, the Gupta
purii'lJas, at the same time, "excoriated" Buddhists, especially in
the myth incarnation as the Buddha. In this "anti-Bud-
dhist" myth, becomes the Buddha in order to delude the
wicked into forsaking the Vedas and hence to insure their even-
tual extermination. Similar to Asher, O'Flaherty also sees in the
Gupta-era purii'lJas a political allegorical thrust: the writers' hope
that the Gupta kings would destroy historical heretics of various
stripes just as does in myth.
B.G. Gokhale presents an overview of the condition and
state of Buddhism in the Gupta period. From his examination
of votive inscriptions, reports from Chinese travellers, art works,
and Buddhist texts, Gokhale indicates that while older Buddhist
centers were in decay, newer centers, such as Nalanda, flourished
and enjoyed royal patronage, though monastic centers increas-
ingly came to have no organic relationship to the surrounding
lay population as they became part of the emerging "feudal"
economy of the Gupta state. Although Buddhism maintained its
philosophical vigor, producing Prajiiiipiiramitii literature and the
Larikiivatiira Sutra among others, Gokhale says that as a "religion,"
it was on the "defensive, increasingly overshadowed by emerging
Tantric cults." During the Gupta age, Buddhist religion, in
Gokhale's opinion, "seems to have been well past its original
social purpose."
Focusing on dramaturgy, B.S. Miller notes that in an age
usually described in terms of social harmony, the five major
Sanskrit dramas of the Gupta period explore and display, to a
remarkable degree, conflicting social values: stylized love dramas
pit the demands of social duty against passionate love, while
dramas of politics focus on the conflicting demands of statecraft
and social duty. Conflicts are not left to stand, however, for one
of the basic characteristics of Sanskrit drama, in contrast to Greek
drama, is the attempt to reconcile "life's multiple possibilities."
A.K. Ramanujan and N. Cutler in "From Classicism to
Bhakti" show how the saints of the Tamil devotional tradition
were heirs to two classicisms: Vedic bardic poetry and Tamil
Sangam erotic and heroic poetry, which interweave to form a
distinctly Tamil devotional poetry. Focusing more on the heroic
than the erotic and on VaiEjI)ava saints, they trace the evolution
of the piitii'lJ-the elegy or praise poem of heroes and kings-in

160 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
Sangam poetry into the devotional hymns of praise in Nammal:.
. var's poetry. Progressively the king "slot" in the Tamil classical
poems becomes filled by the deity, the hero's deeds become the
deity's mythic exploits,. and the hero's ancestors appear as the
deity's avatiiras. The elements that formerly signified heroism
(or eroticism) are transposed into the new key of devotional love.
Is Ajanta part of Gupta art? This question animates J. Will-
iams' study, "Vakataka Art and the Gupta Mainstream," a recon-
sideration and ultimate rejection of the label "Vakltaka-Gupta"
for the fifth century style of North and Central Indian art. From
certain peculiarities in Ajanta style as contrasted with the Gupta
mainstream and as compared to works in the Vidarbha region
of northern Maharashtra under the Vakatakas, Williams boldly
hypothesizes that the Vidarbha Vakataka "idiom" is a "principal
counterforce to the Gupta 'mainstream' if at times related"; it
explains "much of what is peculiar to Ajanta" and some of the
non-Gupta elements in the Western Deccan and in the early
medieval period of Central India.
Turning his attention to the cave art at Elephanta, W.M.
Spink contends that the Great Cave is earlier than generally
recognized and is connected with the artistic tradition of the
Gupta period. Specifically, he argues that it is not a seventh or
eighth century work, but rather a circa 535-550 C.E. monument,
a royal benefaction of King Kri1:lI,laraja of the early Kalacuri
dynasty. He sees links between the Mahayana caves at Ajanta
and the Saivite caves at Elephanta; both are products of one
genealogical line: the patron of the Ajanta caves, is
the great-great-grandfather of the patron of
Elephanta. Spink uses detailed art historical, epigraphic, and
numismatic evidence, supplemented by the seventh century tale
of princes, Da.sakumiiracarita by DaI,l<;iin, in support of his complex
historical reconstruction, dating, and interpretation.
Following the ten essays are two lengthy bibliographic essays,
one on religion and art by B.L. Smith and the other on history
and literature by E. Zelliot. Both are especially helpful, providing
a reasonably comprehensive selection of English language books
and articles of varying levels of difficulty and from a variety of
scholarly perspectives. Particularly important, the number of entries
neither overwhelms the newcomer nor shortchanges the more ad-
vanced student. The bibliographic essays are one of the major
strengths of this volume, making it a book that teaches and guides
at the same time as it challenges more standard works and conven-
tional wisdom, knowledge of which the volume assumes.
Written by leading scholars in South Asian Studies, this is
a strong collection of essays which increases in many different
ways understanding of the Gupta age and its influence. One
would be hard pressed to find anywhere else a better advanced
introduction not only to Gupta culture, but also to the interdis-
ciplinary study of Indian civilization.
Holly Baker Reynolds
Nagarjunas FilosoJzske. Vaerker, oversat og indledet af Chr.
Lindtner, Indiske Studier II, K0venhavn: Akademisk Forlag,
1982. 263.pages; Miscellanea Buddhica, edited by Chr. Lindtner,
Indiske Studier V, Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1985. 221
These two books belong to the same series (Indiske Studier)
in which Professor Chr. Lindtner published his valuable Nagar-
juniana, Studies in the Writings and Philosophy of Nagarjuna, as the
fourth volume. This last book has been reviewed by us in this
same Journal (Vol. 8, No.1, 1985, pp. 115-117).
Nagarjunas FilosoJzske Vaerker contains an Introduction in
Danish in which Lindtnergives a succinct exposition of Buddhism
and Nagarjuna's system, and also special information about the
BodhicittavivararJa, Catuhstava, (Lokat'itastava and Acintyastava),
Mulamadhyamakakarika, Sunyatasaptati and Vigrahavyavartan'i. The
principal part of the book is the Danish translation of the men-
tioned treatises. The Tibetan text, with Sanskrit fragments of
BodhicittavivararJa and Sunyatasaptati, the Sanskrit text of
Catultstava (both hymns) and the Sanskrit text and Tibetan text
of Vigrahavyavartan'i has been edited by Lindtner in Nagarjuniana.
The Sanskrit text of Mulamadhyamakakarika constitutes the first
Appendix of this book. The second Appendix is the Tibetan text
of the SunyatasaptatiV1:tti and the third Appendix is the Danish
translation of the Chinese version of the PU ti zi liang lun Bodh-
Miscellanea Buddhica is a collection of four articles edited by
Lindtner, who is also the author of one of them. These articles
a. ].W. de Jong: Le GaI;lQavy iiha et La loi de la naissance
et de la mort.
162 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
b. M. David Eckel: Bhavaviveka's Critique of Yogacara
Philosophy in Chapter XXV of the Prajnapradlpa.
c. V.V. Gokhale and S.S. Bahulkar: Madhyamakah:rdaya-
karika Tarkajvala, Chapter 1.
d. Chr. Lindtner: A Treatise on Buddhist Idealism: Kam-
bala's Alokamala.
a. De Jong's article (pp. 7-24) is a valuable review of Y.
Imaeda's book, Histoire du cycle de la naissance et de la mort. Etude
d'un te,x:te tibetain de Touen-Houang (Geneve-Paris, Librairie Droz,
1981). De Jong considers that Imaeda should have given a critical
edition of the Tibetan text, since a mere translation of a text of
Touen-houang without such an edition is of a limited value for
the reader. De J ong observes also that in several places Imaeda
does not translate the text as it is presented in the manuscripts
and that it is necessary to guess the corrections he has introduced.
De Jong thinks also that Imaeda should have given the passages
of the Garj,qavyuhasutra that correspond to the text he edits, since,
as Imaeda himself observes, the translation of that text is difficult,
and even impossible, without referring to the Garj,qavyij,hasutra.
Then de J ong examines several passages of Imaeda's translation;
giving its Tibetan text and the corresponding Sanskrit text of
the Garj,qavyuhasutra, and corrects Imaeda's translation.
Per Kvaerne, Wiener Zeitschriftfur die Kunde Sudasiens, 1985,
pp. 229-231, also has written a review of Imaeda's book.
Along with Professor de Jong's severe but as always well
founded and accurate judgment, let us mention, in order to
rescue the positive elements of Imaeda's book the opinion of
Kvaerne: "Imaeda has provided students of Tibet's religious his-
tory with access to an important document from a crucial period
of religious confrontation and change. His work will also be of
interest to a wider audience, including Buddhologists interested
in the adaptation of Buddhism to indigenous religious traditions
and historians of religion in general."
b. Eckel offers (pp. 25-75) an English translation of
Bhavaviveka's Prajiiiipradipa, Chapter XXV, utilizing the Tibetan
text edited by Lindtner in Bibliotheca Orientalis Hungarica, Vol.
XXIx/2, pp. 77--'97. Bhavaviveka's text is very clearly analyzed
and presented in Eckel's translation. It is also richly annotated.
This text deals with the Imagined, Dependent and Absolute Na-
tures, contrasting the Yogacara's and the Madhyamaka's points
of view regarding them. It is preceded by an Introduction in
which Eckel studies the contents and importance of Bhavaviveka's
c. Gokhale's article (pp. 76-108) contains (a) an English
translation of the Tibetan text of Bhavya's Tarkajvala, first chap-
ter, (b) the Sanskrit text of the Madhyamakaht4ayakarika (MHK)
(of which the Tarkajvala (TJ) is a commentary) and (c) an English
translation of these karikiis. The Sanskrit text of the karikiis was
taken by Gokhale from a manuscript of which photographs were
provided to him by the late Professor G. Tucci and the IsMEO:
this manuscript cannot be later than the tenth century. Its
Sanskrit text corresponds almost exactly to its Tibetan transla-
tions (in MHK and TJ). The theme of this first chapter is "how
a bodhisattva continues to strive even after his attainment of
bodhicitta for the good of humanity (lokasan:tgraha)."
d. Finally Lindtner's article, "A Treatise on Buddhist
Idealism" (pp. 109-220) is a critical edition of the Sanskrit treatise
of Kambala, Alokamala (AM), together with its Tibetan translation
(Snang ba'i phreng ba zhes bya ba'i rab tu byed pa). The edition of
the text is accompanied by an English translation, a critical ap-
paratus and many notes which indicate parallel passages in other
texts. This edition is preceded by a careful introduction,
In this introduction Lindtner tells us that for the study of
this treatise he had at his disposal (a) a unique manuscript pre-
served in the Tokyo University Library, (b) its Tibetan translation
contained in the Narthang, Peking, Derge and Cone editions of
the Bstan 'gyur, and (c) a Tibetan translation of an old Sanskrit
commentary ascribed to Asvabhava and contained also in the
four mentioned editions of the Tibetan Canon, Lindtner consid-
ers that Asvabhava's commentary is the main authority for the
establishment of the text of AM. AM is a didactic poem and
constitutes a simple introduction to the Yogacara system mixed
with Madhyamika elements. The AM is so a syncretic work. Rem-
iniscences of several authors of both schools and allusions to
various sutras are found in it. According to the Colophon of AM
its author was Kambala, probably (Lindtner thinks) the same
author of NavaSloka, edited by Tucci in his Minor Buddhist Texts
I. Lindtner assigns Kambala's floruit to a period placed between
450 and 525 A.D.
Both volumes, especially the second one, provide useful and
excellent material for the study of Buddhist philosophy, and are
another valuable contribution by Christian Lindtner.
Fernando Tola and Carmen Dragonetti
164 JIABS VOL. 10 NO.1
Tantric Concept of Bodhicitta: A Buddhist Experiential Philosophy (An
Exposition based upon the Mahiivairocana-sutra, Bodhicitta-fiistra and
Sokushin-jobutsu-gi), by Minoru Kiyota. Madison WI: South Asian
Area Center, University of Wisconsin-Mac;lison, 1982, ix + 163
In his preface M. Kiyota states that this work is a supplement
to his previous work, Shingon Buddhism: Theory and Practice. The
three texts in his title are interpreted and translated because they
provide the "doctrinal basis of Shingon's man-Buddha integra-
tion theory." All three present a theory of bodhicitta, the "agent
of this integration."
This work should more suitably be titled the "Shingon Con-
cept of Bodhicitta: ... " as it is a doctrinal study of this concept
and its ramifications in the above three texts from the perspective
of the Shingon tradition in Japan. The theory of attaining bud-
dhahood with the present body (sokushin-jobutsu) is generally
acknowledged to be the single most important teaching of Kukai.
M. Kiyota wishes in this work to explain what the Shingon concept
of bodhicitta is and how it relates to practices leading to sokushin-
The work is divided into two sections: (I) Tantric Concept
of Bodhicitta and (II) Translations. Part I begins by explaining
to the reader how bodhicitta can be defined from a variety of
perspectives. In the Buddhist Tantric tradition it is the agent of
enlightenment as well as enlightenment per se. This section con-
tinues by outlining the contents of chiian one of the Mahiivairocana
sutra and the other two works.
The explanation of the Mahiivairocana-sutra generally re-
peats what Kiyota has already written in Shingon Buddhism (six
nirbhaya theory, bodhisattva practices, etc.). The often repeated
statement (p. 14) that the first 31 chapters of the Mahiivairocana-
sutra deal with doctrine 1 hope will no longer be made, for, as
anyone reading the sutra soon discovers, practices are discussed
throughout the work. My article on the "Earliest Carbha Vidhi of
the Shingon Sect" (lIABS 9:2 (1986) 109-146) points out that
chiian four and seven especially deal with practices incorporated
in the Shingon Carbha Vidhi. Kiyota's description of the
Mahiivairocana-sutra and the Bodhicitta Siistra also include again
partial descriptions of the meanings of the deities and the courts
ofthe Garbhakofadhiitu and Vajradhiitu ma'flqalas respectively.
This work is recommended as presenting an accurate view
of the Shingon concept of bodhicitta. However, it suffers from
the same kind of shortcomings as earlier works on Shingon in
English. While Kiyota gives an important bibliography the reader
is never referred to any of the commentaries he lists. Kiyota does
tell us that he referred to I-hsing's commentary to decipher am-
biguous tantric doctrinal material in Part 1. However, the reader
never knows if Kiyota's statements are a synthesis of Shingon
doctrine based on all the authoritative commentaries he lists, or
if they represent just I -hsing's views. Kiyota makes it difficult for
the serious reader to trace and verify his statements. This is
especially true with his discussion of the marpq,alas. Aren't the
commentaries worth reading?
For example, on pp. 50 (bottom) and 51 (top) Kiyota refers
to an interpretation of the Vajradhiitu marpq,ala termed in the
Shingon tradition joden and geden. Joden means a meditation pro-
cess leading from a cause to an effect, while geden is a meditation
process leading from an effect to a cause, This interpretation
apparently goes back to Shuei (809-884) and is incorporated
into a commentary by Gengo (914-95; T. 78, No. 2471; see
Kankai Takai, Mikkya Jisa no Taikei, p. 276ff.). By informing the
reader that this is an early tradition of the Shingon school a
judgment can be made about the historical importance and au-
thority of this theory.
Another drawback I found in Part I was Kiyota's discussion
of bodhicitta as both the thought of enlightenment (the causal
aspect) and enlightenment (the resultant aspect). After reacling
Part I, I was left with the impression that Kiyota thought the
theory was flawed but he never tells the reader why. This is due
to seemingly contradictory statements. On p. 7 he states "Bud-
dhist Tantrism in general precludes the notion of becoming, in
. so far as enligh.tenment is concerned, because it presupposes that
enlightenment is a universal quality inherent in all beings." Why
then does he state on p. 10 and elsewhere that "practice cultivates
bodhicitta." One might well ask, as Kiyota does (p. 44), why, if
there is no becoming, do Mahayana and Shingon Buddhism
place emphasis on meditation, on maintaining one's vows and
not backsliding? Kiyota brings this issue to a head when he says
(pp. 51-2), "However, despite the forceful rationale with which
Kukai presented his sokushin-jabutsu theory, an annoying problem
persists: Is the nature of man inherently pure ... This is an issue
to which I am not prepared to respond with any degree of con-
fidence at this time." Kiyota may well question the Shingon theory
of bodhicitta now that he has explained it, but he should have at
least explained why he thinks there is a problem.
Kiyota's translations of these difficult texts are generally
satisfactory. Instead of adhering to literal translations, he has
often given explanatory translations. Again, I would have pre-
ferred to see clear references to incisive Sino-Japanese commen-
taries. (Are there any? If not, he should say so.) This would help
convince the reader that his translations are acceptable. Kiyota's
translations a r ~ also sometimes too wordy. I don't want to quibble
with his translations but, in the following, I would like to point
out omissions and questionable translations.
Mahiivairocana-sutra T. #848, p. Iff.
P. Ic, lines 5 and 22 were deleted. P. 3a, 1. 22 Kiyota trans-
lates as "What is field? That which cultivates things to realize
benefit." This might better read "To always order your affairs
and discipline yourself." P. 3b, 1. 2 is translated as "What is called
'emptiness' [is a state of mind which has] parted from [grasping
the false notion of the reality of] sense organs and sense fields."
A simpler translation is "That called emptiness is apart from the
sense fields, lacks features and is without limits." P. 3c, 1.18 is
translated "Because the original nature (of a phantom) is without
essence." However, the Chinese says only "Because their original
nature is pure." P. 4c, 1.1 is translated "Furthermore, Secret
Master, just as rain produces bubbles, so, likewise, should it be
known [that] the transformed bodies of the mantra practitioner
[are produced by the Dharmakaya.]" Again, the Chinese says
only "You should know that just as rain falling from the heavens
produces bubbles, so the perfction of those mantras (produces)
various transformations." (I am suggesting that it is better to
stick to the original wording, and that an explanation of the
meaning based on a commentary be given in a note.)
Bodhicitta Sastra, T. #1665, p. 572cff.
Lines 13-17 on p. 81 in Kiyota's translation are written in
poor English. The sentence ends with a dangling -';llodifier. The
original reads "All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who in the past
had developed this mind in the causal stage, never forgot the
(three components of this practice)-supreme truth, vow, and
samiidhi as precept-until attaining Buddhahood." (p. 572c. 1.
P. 573a, 1. 13 is deleted. On p. 88 Kiyota translates mudra
as vow, which I believe is wrong (see my article on "The Meanings
ofthe Term Mudra and a Historical Outline of 'Hand Gestures',"
Mikkyo Bunka, #51, 1985, pp. 6-9). Mudra in the present context
clearly refers to one form of meditation. Also, on p. 90 in Kiyota's
translation long ah under item D should be short ah. The original
reads "To enter means to 'enter' Buddha's wisdom, as in the case
of the fourth syllable ah which signifies pariniTViirja. In general
it means this-to be complete and perfected. e) The fifth syllable
iih signifies the perfection of the wisdom of skill-in-means."
Further, on p. 90 (bottom paragraph), Kiyota's translation " ... If
one see's it just for a moment, he is the one who has realized
supreme truth" is misleading. In the Shingon tradition, only after
the full moon is visualized steadily for long periods,' expanded
and contracted, is the realization of enlightenment strengthened.
The original says "glanced (Chinese: chien; p. 574b, 1.9) en-
lightenment. "
Sokushin-jobutsugi, T. #2428, p. 361 ff.
As Kiyota states in his Preface, there is another excellent
translation of this work by Inagaki. This generally superseded
the partial translation ofY. Hakeda which is still helpful. Because
this text is often so succint it invites various interpretations which
can vary considerably. As with past translations, Kiyota's lacks
any reference to commentaries (Again, Kiyota should tell the
reader ifthese are useful or not). Although the three translations
by Inagaki, Hakeda, and now Kiyota, all have their strengths
and weaknesses, of these three I think Inagaki's work is still
superior overall.
T. 361c, 1.7 Kiyota translates as "Perfection, according to
the siitra, means clarity of understanding of the mantra [through
meditation] and the means for realizing the Dharma-Buddha
[Dharmakaya Mahavairocana]." This could simply be translated
as "According to the siitra siddhi is understood as perfection of
the dhiirarjzs and perfection of the Dharma (kaya)buddha."
Verses #1, 6, 7 & 8 as translated by Kiyota on p. 96 are
difficult to accept. Hakeda's translations, I think, are accurate
(T.361c, 1.17ff). Hakeda's translation of yuga is later borne out
by Kiyota himself on p. 102 where the six elements are described
as in a state of unison. T. p. 382b, 1. 13 is translated (p. 100,
1.13) "the Secret Master established the positions of the deities
and the signs ofthe bijas." I think the original is better translated
"The Master of Secrets established the positions of the deities in
the maI:u;iala, their bijas, and their signs (cihna)." "Signs" are
clearly designated in the following sentences of the original. P.
104, 1.9 reads "If he practices these forms of dedication to the
secret words and realizes union, he would be one with dhar-
madhatu, the Dharmakaya Mahavairocana-which is like space."
The original (p. 383a, 1.20 is more like "By these mudriis and
secret words you empower yourself and realize the inherent wis-
dom of the Dharmadhitu, Vairocana Buddha, the Dharmadhatu
body of space." P. 106, 1. 13 reads "These siitras explain the
. _ samadhi which makes possible the instant realization of the incon-
ceivable superpowers." However, I preft;r the translation (p.
383b, 1.22). "These siitras explain the samiidhi of swift power
and inconceivable superpowers." The last line of page 383 (com-
pare Kiyota, p. 108, 1.18) reads "Also, (when) the KongochOgyo
says [the KongochOgyo does not necessarily mean the Tatt-
vasa'f(lgraha-sutra as Kiyota translates but any number of texts in
the Tattvasa'f(lgraha lineage] 'the retinue of sixteen Maha-
bodhisattvas, like Vajrasattva, products of the svabhiiva' down to
'each produces countless Dharmakaya thunderbolts, etc.,' it also
means, this."
There were numerous misspellings throughout this work,
some of which I will give: v, 1.30, Prudent->Pruden; vi. L 2,
stura; vi. 1.22 descrbing; vi. 1. 24 becuase; vii.1.9, implictly; p.
7 1.24 becuase; p. 24, 1.16 whomb; p. 40 1.1 Rayu->Raiyu; p.
51 1.10 buddahood.
Most of the problems I have mentioned above could have
been avoided by better editing. Overall, I recommend this work,
with its helpful glossary, to students of Shingon Buddhism. Al-
though it repeats material in the author's earlier work, Shingon
Buddhism, it is a good introduction to the "Shingon" theory of-
bodhicitta as given in the three works translated.
Dale Todaro
Zen and Western Thought, by Masao Abe, Edited by William R.
LaFleur. Foreword by John Hick. Honolulu: University of Hawaii
Press, 1985. xxiii + 308 pages, notes, index and glossary of
Sino-Japanese Characters.
This volume makes available sixteen of Professor Abe's more
important occasional papers. All were written during the last two
decades, some composed originally in Japanese and some in Eng-
lish, and all except one have already appeared in English (the
sole exception is the fifteenth essay in the collection entitled
"Sovereignty Rests with Mankind"). Both the author and the
editor, William LaFleur, deserve our gratitude for making this
collection, since it brings together significant pieces by one of
the most influential and sophisticated interpreters of Zen to the
Western academic community, pieces which until now have been
hard to find outside specialist libraries.
The volume is divided into four sections: "Zen and its Eluci-
dation" (pp. 1-80); "Zen, Buddhism, and Western Thought" (pp.
81-202); "Three Problems in Buddhism" (pp. 203-228); "Reli-
gion in the Present and in the Future" (pp. 229-275). Abe's.
style-and indeed his subject-matter-make summarising his
thought difficult; for Abe, style and substance are inextricable,
and his writing is rich, complex and allusive .. Whether one finds
this frustrating or delightful depends on one's literary and
philosophical tastes. Abe alludes continually to Hegel, Heidegger
and Spinoza, and often uses such allusions as the framework for
his exposition of key Buddhist thinkers (this is especially true in
his treatment of Dagen). Within such a framework he often un-
dertakes complex and precise textual analysis and exegesis,
leavening the whole with the usual iconoclastic Zen stories. The
flavour of all this cannot be captured in a short review, so in
what follows this reviewer will simply offer brief comments on
the major themes discussed, without attempting a systematic sum-
The three essays in the first section circle around the prob-
lem of making conceptual and verbal sense out of a tradition
which claims, in some sense, to be about (non-referentially about,
so, presumably, instrumental in the production of?) a realization
"wherein ... all possible conceptualization and objectification,
positive and negative, are completely overcome" (p. 14--author's
emphases). In the first essay (pp. 3-24) Abe deals with this ques-
tion by interpreting Wei-hsin's famous 'three understandings',
in the second (pp. 25-68) by analyzing Dogen's views on Buddha-
nature, and in the third (pp. 69-80) by considering D.T. Suzuki's
understanding of Zen. From these essays it emerges that: each
of us really is (rather than has) a "true Self' (14ffand passim);
that this is true not only of each human person, but also of the
entire universe (pp. 34-36; 40-42); that this true Self is the same
thing as Buddha-nature (pp. 36-41); that this Buddha-nature
may be allowed to emerge as it really is through a process of
double negation: initially of uncritically objectified dualistic ex-
perience and then of the emptied non-dualistic experience which
results from the first negation (pp. 11-14; 42-46); and that the
term Buddha-nature (and its synonyms, "emptiness" and so
forth) refers to a dynamic non-substantial impermanent reality
(pp. 48-55). None of these theses will be unfamiliar to af-
ficionados of either Zen or the Kyoto school, and this is not the
place for a full discussion of them. Suffice it to say that Abe
nowhere offers systematic arguments for them: in this he is fully
representative of both Zen and the Kyoto school.
The pivotal essay in the second par( is that entitled "Zen
and Western Thought" (pp. 83-120). In this piece the whole of
Western and Eastern thought is interpreted through the tension
and opposition between the matched pair of categories ji and ri,
which Abe identifies provisionally as the "immarient" and the
"transcendent" (p. 84). It should come as no surprise that Abe
judges Zen to be the only genuine provider of the solution to
this tension. In outliningthis position he offers some stimulating
if almost complet.ely unsubstantiated and unsubstantiatable obiter
dicta: for example, that "Aristotle, Kant, and Nagarjuna, while
differing in time and place, have each in their own way arrived
at some kind of absolute realization" (pp. 86-87); that the concept
of nothingness never became a "basic metaphysical principle" in
the West as it did for Buddhists (p. 99); that Nagarjuna "formu-
lated. .. a profoundly metaphysical position" (p. 101); and that
"Mahayana Buddhism's position of 'Emptiness' ... has ... essen-
tially transcended Aristotelian 'Being' ... " (p. 108). Aristotle, and
with him the whole of Western metaphysics, is dismissed summar-
ily and almost contemptuously in several places, especially when
compared with Buddhism (pp. 110; 119-120; 131), and in his
explicit discussions of Christianity (pp. 170-185; 186-202) Abe
often sounds more concerned to score debating points than to
engage in philosophical analysis.
This reviewer is left with the impression that Abe finds the
whole of Western (and especially Christian) metaphysical thought
faintly amusing, rather like the admirable but necessarily inferior
efforts of a student in a beginning logic class. The questions Abe
raises are important, but they cannot be resolved or even any
longer fruitfully discussed simply by trotting outfunyatii as the
answer to Christian substantivism and essentialism. Did Nagar-
juna, and after him the practitioners and theorists of the Zen
tradition, really show that all concepts of enduring substance issue
in incoherence? For that is what needs to be established, and
established by argument, if Abe's passionate defences of mu and
sunyatii are to stand. It cannot be assumed.
Professor Abe represents a style of Buddhist cross-cultural
philosophizing which now seems oddly dated. Its representatives
tend to see Western thought as a series of metaphysical errors
mitigated only by Kant (who was critical but didn't go quite far
enough), Nietzsche (who was at least anti-essentialist and icono-
clastic), Whitehead (who rightly rejected substance and perma-
nence) and Heidegger (who was gnomic and probably would
have liked koans). They nowhere engage in the kind of complex
and demanding argument necessary to establish their positions,
and when pressed retreat to a kind of esoteric experientialism.
It is p o s s i b l ~ to see all of this in Abe's work, and yet to admire
his literary style and his desire to communicate across cultural
boundaries: if the future of cross-cultural philosophy lies with
those concerned to argue rather than to assert, this collection of
Professor Abe's work is one of the best available representations,
. of its past.
Paul J. Griffiths
Mr. Lowell W. Bloss
Dept. of Religious Studies
Hobart and William Smith
Geneva, NY 14456
Yen. Thich Thien Chau
9 rue de Neuchatel
91120 VillebonlYvette
Prof. Lobsang Dargyay
Calgary Institute for
the Humanities
University of Calgary
2500 University Dr., N.W.
Calgary T2N IN4
Prof. Paul J. Griffiths
Dept. of Thology
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46446
Prof. Paul Harrison
Dept. of Philosophy and
Religious Studies
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, 1
Prof. Minoru Kiyota
Dept. of South Asian Studies
1244 Van Hise Hall
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706
Prof. Holly Baker Reynolds
pept. of Religion
Wellesley College
Wellesley, MA 02181
Prof. Heng-ching Shih
23, Lane 4, Pu-cheng Street
Prof. Ramesh Chandra Tewari
Dept. of Sociology
Gautam Veethi
Kashi Vidyapeeth
Varanasi 221002
Dr. Dale A. Todaro
30-86 49th St.
Long Island City, NY 11103
Prof. Fernando Tola
Prof. Carmen Dragonetti
Centro de Investigaciones
Seminario de Indologia
Mifiones 2073
1428 Buenos Aires
Frits Slaal
The new bilingual journal of the
Ecole Fran-;aise d'Extreme-Orient
Kyoto Section
Responsables de redaction: Anna Seidel et Huben Dun
Building (rom a rich scholarly tradition and long association with Japan. the Kyoto Section of the
'tcoJe Francaise d'Extreme-Orient" has laWlChed the Cahiers d' Extri!me-Asie --
a contribution to ,the urgent task of furthering QUI'" Wlderstanding of the East Asian WOf"ld.
Our bilingual policy
eXpresses the wish to intensify collaboration among French and English speaking colleagues.
La Itgende de la ville immergb: en Chine
Cliches canoniques bouddhiqurs dans Ies
Itgendcs sur Ics debuts du bouddhisme au
SuhslilUlions de paradigmes el rc:ligions
d'Asie .
Allan G. Grapard
Voltaire and East Asia - A Few Refieaiom;
on the Nature of Humanism
:,":, Rapports de rKherche
CEA 1/1985: 3.000 Of $ 12
Etienne Lamoue
Roll A. SId"
Jean Uvi
Summary of 2/1986
Les sources .scriplUraires de I' et
leun: va]e=:urs re=:spe=:ctivc=s
un e=:xemp]e=: de=:
rransfonnalion d'un dieu en dee=:sse
Les fonctionnaires el Ie' divin - IUlIe de=:
pouvoirs enlre=: diviniles el fonctionnairn
locaux dans Ic=s conies dC's Six DynastiC's
edward Schafer TranscendeD( Elde=:r Mao
Bc=mard Faure Le=: maitre=: de=: dhyana Chih-Ia e=:t Ie=:
subilisme. de I'ecole=: du nord e'n Chine
Faneen Baldrian On Lo Tung-pin in Nonhero Sung
Christian Deschamps Deux_ltt!:s de villagl:' en Coree
Rapports de rKherche
CEA 2/1986: 3.500 Of $ 15 $ 3 postage
(Checks made out to "Ama Seidel EFEO")
lk m,- c.gnOrl our oJOest .source for the of the
BuddhQ. We. .Q chQritJJ publishing f1lli 1extt5 ,
dictionQrie5 ana primers 10 incre.ase. publiC 6ltJ.9reness of fudOhist
you oifficu1i!1 in flnoifl$? our books, IrJri1e for
our list of publications or oraer !:dour book oirect from us.
Better still, {i,u-ti1er our work by becctl'UY1.g j member. elll membetS
. receive. 10 % disCOW'lt 011.. pW"Ch.ases, but Sponsorif'J9 members c,gft
choose. .g .free. bock e.vel}l ,!:iegr-.
TtXT SoCll,T'1
BRoaooay HOlAse,
Rqq 1iSH
1 ....... isOO
5 '1edrS . . . . . .125'00
Sponsoring Membership:
1 ....... .1500
5 Years ...... 65'00
UDai Kan a Jiten"p3volumes)
By Dr. Tetsuji Morohashi
-.A Chinese character dictionary cf
the highest standard of scholarship-
outstanding features:
1. Thoroughly Revised and Updated
The revision has been made to incorporate recent and updated
ideographic information as well as constantly evolving language usage
2. Accurate Sources
Accurate sources and examples have been included through an ex-
haustive study of original texts and references.
3. supplemental and Etymological Analysis
Etymological explanations of interest were added where appropriate to
incorporate new studies made of ancient inscriptions on tortoise shells
and stone tablets.
4. Revision of Pronunciation
Following recent studies in phonology, a revised pronunciation of certain
Chinese characters has been suggested.
5. Comprehensille Bibliography
New techniques of reproduction have made ancient ideograms visually
distinguishable. These and new materials from recently published
Chinese dictionaries have been combined to form a comprehensive
6. Dictionary to Grace Your Bookshelf
Having been made using the most modern techniques of paper preserva-
tion and bookmaking, the 13-volume dictionary can be used-and will
grace your bookshelf-for generations to come.
'210mm x 297mm, Deluxe cloth-bound edition. Price 17,000 per volume
Great Zen Buddhism Dictionary
. Compiled under the general supervision of the editing staff of
the "Great Zen Buddhism Dictionary", Komazawa University
The Zen Buddhism Dictionary in Japanese contains
.a total of 32,000 vocabulary entries as well as phrases and
terminologies encompassing theoretical concepts and the
vast sweep of history of Zen as it evolved in India, China,
Korea and Japan. The entries and nomenclature range
from special technical phrases and catechetical terms to
place names and titles of famous works.
The dictionary is a thoroughly revised edition with con-
cise commentary and explanations based on recent
scholastic research into aU aspects of Zen Buddhism.
182mm x 257mm, Deluxe edition, 1,938 pages. Prices: 25,000
Taishukan Publishing Co., ltd.
3-24, Kanda Nishiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku 101. Tel. (03) 294-2221