The "Indian" Mahayana Tradition

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The "Indian" Mahayana Tradition

Postby Tim » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:34 pm

First of all, may I say that I'm only now exploring Mahayana and in search of some information with regard to this tradition. More specifically, I am enquiring whether there is any sutras or other literature depicting the way the Mahayana tradition was practiced in India, that is to say, a Mahayana tradition that is not influenced by practices in countries such as Tibet, China, and Japan. It [Is] it at all possible, for example, to list the Mahayana sutras that would possibly have been central to the practice in the "Indian" subcontinent before it spread to other countries and acquired the unique way of practice (Tibetan, Zen, etc...)? Any on-line links will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Last edited by Tim on Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The "Indian" Mahayana Tradition

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:53 pm

There are studies you can look into (although it may not be what you were looking for):

Buddhist thought: a complete introduction to the Indian tradition by Paul Williams
Figments and fragments of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India: more collected papers by Gregory Schopen
Nāgārjuna in context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and early Indian culture by Joseph Walser
Power, wealth and women in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism: the Gaṇḍavyūha-sūtra by Douglas Osto
A history of Indian Buddhism: from Śākyamuni to early Mahāyāna by Akira Hirakawa
Indian Buddhism by A. K. Warder
The continuity of madhyamaka and yogācāra in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism by Ian Charles Harris
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: The "Indian" Mahayana Tradition

Postby Will » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:10 pm

This Wiki article on Nalanda, a prime center of Indian Buddhism, will give you some insights and sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalanda#Curriculum
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: The "Indian" Mahayana Tradition

Postby Tim » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:33 pm

Thanks, Astus & Will, for the information.
Tim
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Re: The "Indian" Mahayana Tradition

Postby Jnana » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:51 pm

Tim wrote:First of all, may I say that I'm only now exploring Mahayana and in search of some information with regard to this tradition. More specifically, I am enquiring whether there is any sutras or other literature depicting the way the Mahayana tradition was practiced in India, that is to say, a Mahayana tradition that is not influenced by practices in countries such as Tibet, China, and Japan. It [Is] it at all possible, for example, to list the Mahayana sutras that would possibly have been central to the practice in the "Indian" subcontinent before it spread to other countries and acquired the unique way of practice (Tibetan, Zen, etc...)? Any on-line links will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

It's very difficult to know in detail the actual day-to-day experience of Indian Buddhists 1500+ years ago. But we do have numerous texts written by Indian Mahāyāna Buddhists which prescribe how one should live and practice. The difficult part is separating the prescriptive ideal from the actual situation. We do have some useful records -- including the travel records written by Chinese monastic pilgrims who traveled throughout India during the second half of the first millennium CE. From their records we know that monastic Buddhism was thriving in this period, and that there were both Mahāyāna monasteries as well as Śrāvakayāna monasteries and many monasteries that were mixed.

Prescriptive texts written by Indian mahāyānikas during this period would include Śāntideva's Śikṣāsamuccaya and Bodhicaryāvatāra and the Sūtrasamuccaya which is traditionally attributed to Nāgārjuna. There were also other sūtra texts written which outline prescribed conduct and practice. Some Nikāya sects even had canonical Bodhisattva Piṭakas.

Here are some good studies which investigate some of the early sūtra literature which prescribe early Mahāyāna ascetic orthopraxy in detail:

    Boucher, Daniel. Bodhisattvas of the Forest and the Formation of the Mahāyāna: A Study and Translation of the Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā-sūtra. University of Hawaii Press, 2008.

    Nattier, Jan. A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path According to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugraparipṛcchā). University of Hawaii Press, 2005.

    Ray, Reginald A. Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations. Oxford University Press, 1999.

    Silk, Jonathan. The Origin and Early History of the Mahāratnakūṭa Tradition of Mahāyāna Buddhism With A Study of the Ratnarāśisūtra and Related Materials. Doctoral Dissertation, 1994.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: The "Indian" Mahayana Tradition

Postby Tim » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:02 pm

Thanks, Geoff, for the substantial information.
Kind regards, Tim
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