Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
Bankei
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:32 pm

Bill

Just because I am not convinced by your arguments does not mean I am ignoring them. You seem to have a thing about 'attacking' me too!

Have you heard of the theory of impermanence? Why do you think a scripture would remain word for word for over 2400 years?

In China classical texts were memorised and written down and passed on. This would have included the DDJ.

Why assume the language of Buddhism in the first century of Sri lanka was in Pali? Richard Salomon has mentioned there are, surprisingly, very few Pali inscriptions found in Sr Lanka from the early period.

I don't think Irish was used in ancient Sri Lanka, but there are a few reasons to think that the scriptures may not have been in Pali, including:
- Scarcity of Pali inscriptions from this era (see Salomon)
- evidence that at least some of the sutta were in a language other than Pali (see norman)
- Buddhagosha had to translate the commentaries into Pali

They may have been in Pali, or another closely related Prakrit.

You ask how I would know what the exact words of the Buddha were.
Well, I don't. But:
- it is likely that the Buddha did not speak Pali.
- It is also likely that, at least part of, the Pali texts were 'translated' into Pali from another dialect.
- The monk Purana, from the time of the Buddha, did not agree with the teachings as per the first council.
- There are discrepancies between the Suttas/agamas as preserved in Gandhari, sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese etc. (would your counterargument would be that these others were all modified and not the Pali?).



In 1977 Charles Prebish and Jan Nattier showed that the Theravada vinaya was probably added to, and the Mahasamghika vinaya is likely to be older. Prebish has just written a new article in Pacific World standing by his 1977 discovery too.
This is what I mean by editing.

re editing
I am not sure there was any large scale conscious editing, except maybe at the various councils where texts were standardised.

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:43 pm

Hi Bankei,

The Tipitaka was written around 100 BCE on palm leaves. It has been re-written word-for-word since then as the leaves deteriorate up to this day (as a tradition, they still do it in Sri Lanka, as far as I know). And modern printing has been used since the time they were available. The Tipitaka we have today is the same as the one written at 100 BCE.

If there were any revisions or changes, they would have had to happen while the tradition was still oral. Is that what you are suggesting, that there were changes and revisions from the time of the First to Fourth Councils?
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Chula » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:50 pm


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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:58 pm


Bankei
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:35 am

Sorry to call you Bill, I meant Tiltbillings

So now you are agreeing with me that the Theravada Pali Tipitaka is not the exact word of the Buddha. Maybe you are saying it is closer to the exact word than I am? Is that your position?

Can you read Japanese? I can, and have read a few works or modern day vinaya scholars such as Yamagiwa and Sasaki. Nakamura's scholarship is dated now. The Pali vinaya is certainly ancient, but that doesn't mean it is the exact word of the Buddha.

The Pali tradition is remarkably well preserved. But errors have crept in and additions have been made.

I suggest you read some of the works or Richard Gombrich, especially his book How Buddhism began: the conditioned genesis of the early teachings.

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Bankei

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:41 am

Incidently

Alexander Wynne has a new article out which argues the teachings can be traced back to the Buddha himself. (I haven't found access to read it yet)
"The Buddha's ‘skill in means’ and the genesis of the five aggregate teaching."
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (2010), Third Series, 20:191-216 Cambridge University Press

Abstract

The problem tackled in this article is ambitious. Through examination of how certain fundamental teachings of the Buddha originated – the author argues that those teachings must indeed go back to the Buddha himself. Thus the author builds a chain of argument which creates hypothetical links rather than declaring ‘a priori’ that links and connection cannot be established.

This article argues that the Alagaddūpama Sutta, an important early Buddhist text, portrays the Buddha in the process of formulating his thoughts. If so it contradicts the myth that the Buddha awakened to the entire Buddhist Dharma on one occasion, and should be dated to the fourth century bce. Such an antiquity, and peculiar didactic structure suggests that the text contains authentic teachings of the Buddha.
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:48 am


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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:52 am


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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Sylvester » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:09 am


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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:16 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:24 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:28 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:32 am

Greetings venerable Paññāsikhara,

Your theory may be correct.

Do you have any references or thoughts on how homogenous the Buddhasasana was at the time of the First Council? The homogenity (or lack thereof) at that point in time would seem to be a key factor in determining whether these variations were attributable to movements during the Buddha's lifetime, or later deviations.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:37 am


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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:42 am


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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby BlackBird » Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:26 am

I think this essay may be of interest here, specifically the chapter I have linked to, but indeed the whole thing:



(again, would love to know your thoughts on Ven. Bodhisako's essays)

metta
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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:33 pm

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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Chula » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:19 am


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Re: Are the Sutta's really ancient?

Postby Bankei » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:05 am

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