What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
Padmist
Posts: 163
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:12 am

What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Padmist »

And why aren't they there?

And are there books in the Nikayas that are not in the Agamas?

What do other Buddhists today (Tibetans/Theravadins) think of the books that are in the Agamas but aren't in their Canon?
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 8255
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Astus »

Padmist wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 12:40 amAnd are there books in the Nikayas that are not in the Agamas?
You can look into the literature dealing with comparative studies, like Ven. Analayo's work on the Middle Length Discourses, or just browse https://suttacentral.net/.
What do other Buddhists today (Tibetans/Theravadins) think of the books that are in the Agamas but aren't in their Canon?
Tibetans never had anything more than a dozen or so agama sutras available in their canon, and I guess they don't really miss the rest because of believing that the Abhidharmakosabhasya is representative of everything there is to know of Hinayana. Theravadins would generally say they have the complete and authentic canon, and those few people working with other sources, i.e. mainly Chinese, can have varying opinions. It is rather in East Asia (as the agamas are found in Chinese) that you can find people studying the agamas, like Ven. Yinshun.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 3279
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Aemilius »

I have read that there are references to the bodhisattvas or monks named Maitreaya and Manjushri in the Agamas. Only Metteya is mentioned in Nikayas.

Discussion about the the differences between Agamas and Nikayas https://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=24107
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 3279
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Aemilius »

Sentient Light wrote Nov 14, 2016 :

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

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

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

The Ekottarika-agama has the most significant of differences:

* EA includes past-life stories of the Buddha as a woman
* EA makes explicit mention to the sravakayana, pratyekabuddhayana and bodhisattvayana
* EA encourages the path of the bodhisattva and makes explicit references to the six paramitas on numerous occasions
* In one EA text that is passed around East Asia during the Ghost Festival, Mahamaudgalyana enters samadhi and then projects himself into another world system, with another Buddha, and brings 500 disciples of that Buddha back to Saha to learn from Sakyamuni Buddha."
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
User avatar
Leo Rivers
Posts: 351
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:52 am
Contact:

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Leo Rivers »

Ekottarika-agama Research Group

http://agamaresearch.dila.edu.tw/

Agama Pdf downloads
http://agamaresearch.dila.edu.tw/ekottarika-agama-2

English translations

Yamamoto, Kosho, trans. (1973-1975). The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, 3 Volumes, Karinbunko, Ube City, Japan.[note 7]

Blum, Mark, trans. (2013). The Nirvana Sutra: Volume 1 (of a projected 4), Berkeley, Calif. : BDK America (distr.: Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press). ISBN 978-1-886439-46-7.

Kato, Yasunari, trans. (2014). Daihatsunehankyou Vol.2: Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra Vol.2, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781499284355

Yamamoto & Page, Dr. Tony, trans. (2015). Nirvana Sutra: A Translation of Dharmakshema's Northern version, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1517631727
User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1821
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Kamakura
Contact:

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Zhen Li »

Aemilius wrote: Thu Sep 09, 2021 9:20 am Sentient Light wrote Nov 14, 2016 :

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

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

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

The Ekottarika-agama has the most significant of differences:

* EA includes past-life stories of the Buddha as a woman
* EA makes explicit mention to the sravakayana, pratyekabuddhayana and bodhisattvayana
* EA encourages the path of the bodhisattva and makes explicit references to the six paramitas on numerous occasions
* In one EA text that is passed around East Asia during the Ghost Festival, Mahamaudgalyana enters samadhi and then projects himself into another world system, with another Buddha, and brings 500 disciples of that Buddha back to Saha to learn from Sakyamuni Buddha."
I haven't got a chance to go through it but it looks like Alastair Gornall's book Rewiring Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157-1270 talks a bit about Mahāyāna in Sri Lanka and Pre-Buddhaghosa Theravāda. I think some of these may be examples of the attempts to gradually purify the Theravāda Pali canon in the assertion of Mahāvihāra dominance.
Shaku Shingan (釈心願)
Shingan's Portal
Learning the Navagrantha
User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1821
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Kamakura
Contact:

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Zhen Li »

Aemilius wrote: Thu Sep 09, 2021 9:20 am Sentient Light wrote Nov 14, 2016 :

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

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

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

The Ekottarika-agama has the most significant of differences:

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

The discussion of thusness would be a bit interesting to revive.
Caoimhghín wrote: Noticably missing in the Chinese is a straightforward equivalent for the English word "suchness", which, in any other context, should be a translation of the Chinese word zhēnrú (真如) from the Sanskrit tathātā. This would be a groundbreaking discovery, to see tathātā in early literature as a doctrine expounded by the Buddha even in the Śrāvakayāna. Unfortunately zhēnrú is absent from the text, making the choice of the word "suchness" possibly slightly deceptive.
He was referring to the sentence translated as "All these dharmas are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion."
The translation is not accurate, but it is not so straight-forward. If I were to translate the sentence he quotes, I might come up with:

"All these are dharmas; dharmas that abide, dharmas that are empty, dharmas that are thus, dharmas as they are, dharmas which are not separate from thus, dharmas which are not different from thus; this is are true and real and not different."

Using -ness on "such" or "thus" is not so counterintuitive for 法如. Using the original translation's syntax, the alternative would be to say "the such of dharma" which doesn't work in English. Anyway, what does 如 or tathā even signify in Āgamas? How is it specifically different from tathātā? Buddhaghosa's glosses of tathā come pretty close to how Mahāyānists would understand it. So, this is not so clear cut.

The original translator also cut out 法空. This is pretty interesting. If we apply his original translations principles we end up with "the emptiness of dharma."

Anyway, I think Analayo is correct that the original BDK Dīrghāgama translation is not reliable. This is just a small example. But having Theravādans who also have an "early Buddhist" revival agenda to translate Āgamas can end up distorting things too. Like I pointed out with regard to Buddhaghosa, the traditional Theravāda perspective on things is closer to Mahāyāna thinking than many of these modernists like to imagine.
Shaku Shingan (釈心願)
Shingan's Portal
Learning the Navagrantha
Malcolm
Posts: 37209
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Malcolm »

Zhen Li wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 4:23 am
Anyway, I think Analayo is correct that the original BDK Dīrghāgama translation is not reliable. This is just a small example. But having Theravādans who also have an "early Buddhist" revival agenda to translate Āgamas can end up distorting things too. Like I pointed out with regard to Buddhaghosa, the traditional Theravāda perspective on things is closer to Mahāyāna thinking than many of these modernists like to imagine.
It’s a great pity Ralpacan ordered translation of the Agamas to cease.
"Death stands before all who are born."
— Ācārya Aśvaghoṣa
User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 3279
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Aemilius »

As told before, there is also the tradition of the Mahasanghika, according to which there was a simultaneous assembly which consisted of lay persons and monastics and which was much larger than the assembly of arhats. It was headed arhat Baspa, who is one of Buddha's first five disciples. They also gathered collections of sutras, according to tradition their collection consisted of five Pitakas! This has been told by Etienne Lamotte, Red Pine has also referred to it, as a posssible source and lineage for the Diamond sutra and other Perfection of Wisdom sutras that are held to be Buddha-vacana by the Mahayana.

Also, if you consider that Buddha had taught in 16 different countries, -whose names are given in Sravakayana and Mahayana sources-, it seems absolutely certain that there were several traditions and collections of sutras from the very beginning. Human nature is like that, if Buddha had taught in sixteen countries and states of the modern world, there certainly would be sixteen or more independent buddhist traditions.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1821
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Kamakura
Contact:

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Zhen Li »

Aemilius wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 8:36 am As told before, there is also the tradition of the Mahasanghika, according to which there was a simultaneous assembly which consisted of lay persons and monastics and which was much larger than the assembly of arhats. It was headed arhat Baspa, who is one of Buddha's first five disciples. They also gathered collections of sutras, according to tradition their collection consisted of five Pitakas! This has been told by Etienne Lamotte, Red Pine has also referred to it, as a posssible source and lineage for the Diamond sutra and other Perfection of Wisdom sutras that are held to be Buddha-vacana by the Mahayana.

Also, if you consider that Buddha had taught in 16 different countries, -whose names are given in Sravakayana and Mahayana sources-, it seems absolutely certain that there were several traditions and collections of sutras from the very beginning. Human nature is like that, if Buddha had taught in sixteen countries and states of the modern world, there certainly would be sixteen or more independent buddhist traditions.
That's interesting. It seems that in contrast to the Mahāsaṅghikas, the Mahāyānists in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Nālanda tradition came to the opinion that Mahāyāna sūtras were recorded by Vajrapāṇi. This would connect with the possibility for later Dharmabhāṇakas to find them in the Himālayas or the ocean, or in meditation. Drewes makes the argument that Dharmabhāṇakas would have undoubtedly been sincere in their belief that they were transmitting a revelation.

But I was thinking about this topic of the origins of the Mahāyāna in the shower this morning. The Mahāyāna literature overall is incredibly early. There is so much even in the first century, that to suppose it only arose in the first century of the common era, or before the common era, seems a bit too fast. Also, the Avadānas seem to have so much in common with the Mahāyāna literature and their conception of Buddhist practice, and it they spread throughout all sects and around Asia. The idea that the Mahāyāna/Vaipulya sūtras are developments upon utterances that the Buddha made, in much the same way as the Āgamas, without necessarily being word for word copies (going off dominant theories of litearcy and orality, e.g. as proposed by Walter Ong), is certainly just as plausible as the idea that this came from nowhere.

Scholars have so much trouble with the idea of Mahāyāna origins, but I don't know if scholars have ever asked from a historical perspective the hypothetical question of supposing that there is a pith of both the Mahāyāna and Āgamas that the Buddha taught—then, what is the "origin" from the Buddha's perspective? Why did the Buddha teach the Prajñāpāramitā (in whatever form, be it Vajracchedikā or Aṣṭa, etc.)? How does it fit into his model of the Dharma as he also taught in the Āgamas. Anyway, on the academic level these are thought experiments but I think they may be worth considering.

Also, going back to the character of Vajrapāṇi, he is often characterised as being a product of a Buddhification of Herakles, but I don't see this anywhere in the textual references to him. I think that was probably just a artistic skilful means to attract Bactrians. Vajrapāṇi is supposed to be a Bodhisattva attendant who accompanied the Buddha in all his past lives. He protects him using his vajra. He also represents his inconceivable nature of body, speech, and mind. These are all explained thoroughly in the Tathāgayaguhya, which I am almost finish translating. Anyway, Bāṣpa = Vāṣpa, in some places in India people pronounce ṣ as ś which could get close to the j territory, this is a crazy theory but what if the term Vajrapāṇi started as a corruption of the name Vāṣpa?
:rolleye:
Shaku Shingan (釈心願)
Shingan's Portal
Learning the Navagrantha
Malcolm
Posts: 37209
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Malcolm »

Zhen Li wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 10:25 am
Also, going back to the character of Vajrapāṇi, he is often characterised as being a product of a Buddhification of Herakles, but I don't see this anywhere in the textual references to him.
In the Pali canon, a figure named Vajrapāṇi is described as a yakṣa:

Now at that time the yakkha Thunderbolt-bearer, taking his iron thunderbolt which was aglow, ablaze, on fire, came to stand above the ground over Saccaka, the son of Jains, and said: “If this Saccaka, the son of Jains, does not answer when he is asked a legitimate question up to the third time by the Lord, verily I will make his skull split into seven pieces.”

https://legacy.suttacentral.net/en/mn35

Here we see Vajrapāṇi in his early role as dharmapāla. He is not, as some people erroneously claim, a form of Indra. Indra is never a yakṣa.

There is a continuity with this identification of Vajrapāṇi in lower tantras as Guhypati, lord of secrets, meaning lord of the Guhyakas, a class of Yakṣas who live in the north. In Kriya tantra, for example, one notes that only Vajra family deities require secrecy in their practice.

Also in the tantras, Vajrapāṇi, in his form known as Bhūtaḍāmara, is also considered the general of the dharmapālas, as he was able to successfully subdue Yakṣa Mahākāla where Hayagriva was unable to do so (which may be throwing shade on Hayagriva as an important Vedic deity, a preserver of the Vedas), in the Buddhist version of the destruction of Tripura, which resulted from an epic class struggle between the asuras and devas.
"Death stands before all who are born."
— Ācārya Aśvaghoṣa
User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 3208
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Caoimhghín »

What a retrospectively embarrassing thread to have referenced! Youth is always cringy when viewed from an older perspective.

The translator who changes 法空, Choong Mun-Keat, is actually following Venerable Yin Shun. I can post more in a bit, but there's a fascinating transmission error in this Chinese translation to do with 法空.
Then, the monks uttered this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and ruined.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1821
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Kamakura
Contact:

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Zhen Li »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:31 pm Here we see Vajrapāṇi in his early role as dharmapāla. He is not, as some people erroneously claim, a form of Indra. Indra is never a yakṣa.

There is a continuity with this identification of Vajrapāṇi in lower tantras as Guhypati, lord of secrets, meaning lord of the Guhyakas, a class of Yakṣas who live in the north. In Kriya tantra, for example, one notes that only Vajra family deities require secrecy in their practice.

Also in the tantras, Vajrapāṇi, in his form known as Bhūtaḍāmara, is also considered the general of the dharmapālas, as he was able to successfully subdue Yakṣa Mahākāla where Hayagriva was unable to do so (which may be throwing shade on Hayagriva as an important Vedic deity, a preserver of the Vedas), in the Buddhist version of the destruction of Tripura, which resulted from an epic class struggle between the asuras and devas.
In the exoteric Tathāgataguhya, while I am not sure if the Sanskrit calls him a Bhūtaḍāmara, he certainly takes on that identiy. His palace is full of all kinds of yakṣa, rākṣasa, etc.

Is there a non-tantric source for the association between Guhyapati and lord of yakṣas?
Shaku Shingan (釈心願)
Shingan's Portal
Learning the Navagrantha
User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1821
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Kamakura
Contact:

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Zhen Li »

Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 11:31 pm The translator who changes 法空, Choong Mun-Keat, is actually following Venerable Yin Shun. I can post more in a bit, but there's a fascinating transmission error in this Chinese translation to do with 法空.
That's interesting. I don't have time right now to have a look at the source text, but I wonder if he provides a footnote for this at least? Transmission errors aside, I think one needs to translate representing what's in the source language rather than one's expectation of what should be there.
Shaku Shingan (釈心願)
Shingan's Portal
Learning the Navagrantha
User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 3208
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Caoimhghín »

Zhen Li wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:38 am
Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 11:31 pmThe translator who changes 法空, Choong Mun-Keat, is actually following Venerable Yin Shun. I can post more in a bit, but there's a fascinating transmission error in this Chinese translation to do with 法空.
That's interesting. I don't have time right now to have a look at the source text, but I wonder if he provides a footnote for this at least? Transmission errors aside, I think one needs to translate representing what's in the source language rather than one's expectation of what should be there.
Unless my citation is off, Ven Yin Shun's CSA (雜阿含經論會編), footnote 2, volume 2, page 36, has:
註【13-002】「定」,原本誤作「空」,今依『論』改。
So the basic gist is, 定 which matches the Pāli and Sanskrit was conflated mistakenly with 空. Choong Mun-Keat cites the CSA but makes no indication in his "The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism" that his translations have been altered as such.

However, IMO, there is another possibility other than that one Chinese character was confused with another at one point during copying. Ven Yin Shun's 法定 suggestion is "dharmaniyāmatā" here, matching the Sanskrit:
yātra dharmatā dharmasthititā dharmaniyāmatā dharmayathātathā avitathatā ananyathā bhūtaṁ satyatā tattvatā [etc.]
The Chinese version is something like the Sanskrit, and something like the Pāli, and something like neither. Here is the Pāli:
uppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ anuppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā.
Interestingly enough, the Sanskrit that I know of and can access on SuttaCentral, when it gets to that Pāli pericope, doesn't have "dharmaniyāmatā" and only has a version of "dharmasthititā:"
utpādād vā tathāgatānām anutpādād vā sthitā eveyaṁ dharmatā dharmasthitaye dhātuḥ
It's interesting to see it missing there yet present in the other statement in the Sanskrit recension. My unscholarly speculation is that "dharmaniyāmatā," at one point in the transmission of this material, was misheard by someone writing down from a reciter, a tripiṭakadhara. Maybe he had a Prakritic accent of some sort. Maybe he was reciting in Gāndhārī. These speculations live off of dearths of evidence. Point is, my wild speculation is that dharmaniyāmatā was heard as "dharmanairātmyatā" and recorded as such. The text that the Chinese was translated from could well have said something like:
yātra dharmatā dharmasthititā dharmanairātmyatā dharmayathātathā avitathatā ananyathā bhūtaṁ satyatā tattvatā [etc.]
"Dharmanairātmyatā" would be rendered in Chinese as "法空," which is what we see in the source text. If the "i" in dharmanair- were to palatize the R even slightly, it could sound Y-ish, conceivably. It's not a strong hunch.

In Indian scripts, dharmaniyāmatā and dharmanairātmyatā do not look particularly similar necessarily, so IMO (and I'm unqualified to say this), it would not have been a transmission error that is textual in nature, from the copying of texts. It would have to be something spoken and something (mis)heard.

One of the reasons why 法空 could have stayed there is because it actually fits in context. It's perfectly sensible where this is in the textual material to also specify the selflessness of the dharmas, if we forgive the horrible translation "selfless." It's also obviously possible that there was no transmission error and that this particular recension of the buddhavacana always said some equivalent of 法空 there.
Then, the monks uttered this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and ruined.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1821
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Kamakura
Contact:

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Zhen Li »

Caoimhghín wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 5:01 am
Zhen Li wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:38 am
Caoimhghín wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 11:31 pmThe translator who changes 法空, Choong Mun-Keat, is actually following Venerable Yin Shun. I can post more in a bit, but there's a fascinating transmission error in this Chinese translation to do with 法空.
That's interesting. I don't have time right now to have a look at the source text, but I wonder if he provides a footnote for this at least? Transmission errors aside, I think one needs to translate representing what's in the source language rather than one's expectation of what should be there.
Unless my citation is off, Ven Yin Shun's CSA (雜阿含經論會編), footnote 2, volume 2, page 36, has:
註【13-002】「定」,原本誤作「空」,今依『論』改。
So the basic gist is, 定 which matches the Pāli and Sanskrit was conflated mistakenly with 空. Choong Mun-Keat cites the CSA but makes no indication in his "The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism" that his translations have been altered as such.

However, IMO, there is another possibility other than that one Chinese character was confused with another at one point during copying. Ven Yin Shun's 法定 suggestion is "dharmaniyāmatā" here, matching the Sanskrit:
yātra dharmatā dharmasthititā dharmaniyāmatā dharmayathātathā avitathatā ananyathā bhūtaṁ satyatā tattvatā [etc.]
The Chinese version is something like the Sanskrit, and something like the Pāli, and something like neither. Here is the Pāli:
uppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ anuppādā vā tathāgatānaṁ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā.
Interestingly enough, the Sanskrit that I know of and can access on SuttaCentral, when it gets to that Pāli pericope, doesn't have "dharmaniyāmatā" and only has a version of "dharmasthititā:"
utpādād vā tathāgatānām anutpādād vā sthitā eveyaṁ dharmatā dharmasthitaye dhātuḥ
It's interesting to see it missing there yet present in the other statement in the Sanskrit recension. My unscholarly speculation is that "dharmaniyāmatā," at one point in the transmission of this material, was misheard by someone writing down from a reciter, a tripiṭakadhara. Maybe he had a Prakritic accent of some sort. Maybe he was reciting in Gāndhārī. These speculations live off of dearths of evidence. Point is, my wild speculation is that dharmaniyāmatā was heard as "dharmanairātmyatā" and recorded as such. The text that the Chinese was translated from could well have said something like:
yātra dharmatā dharmasthititā dharmanairātmyatā dharmayathātathā avitathatā ananyathā bhūtaṁ satyatā tattvatā [etc.]
"Dharmanairātmyatā" would be rendered in Chinese as "法空," which is what we see in the source text. If the "i" in dharmanair- were to palatize the R even slightly, it could sound Y-ish, conceivably. It's not a strong hunch.

In Indian scripts, dharmaniyāmatā and dharmanairātmyatā do not look particularly similar necessarily, so IMO (and I'm unqualified to say this), it would not have been a transmission error that is textual in nature, from the copying of texts. It would have to be something spoken and something (mis)heard.

One of the reasons why 法空 could have stayed there is because it actually fits in context. It's perfectly sensible where this is in the textual material to also specify the selflessness of the dharmas, if we forgive the horrible translation "selfless." It's also obviously possible that there was no transmission error and that this particular recension of the buddhavacana always said some equivalent of 法空 there.
That's an interesting suggestion, but I don't know of nairātmyaº or nairātmaº ever being attested with 空. They would just render it 無我法 or 法無我 I would think. Also, the difficulty with this is we can never rule out that what is nairātmº in an existing Sanskrit manuscript is not śunyatā in whatever Guṇabhadra was looking at. Niyāma is often conflated with nyāma in BHS, but again, there's an even further way to go before nyāma is represented with 空. So, I think we can only just leave this as is for now and accept it as a variant. We could speculate however.

Choong Mun-keat in the translation seems to have chose to simply ignore the word altogether. This is another issue.
Shaku Shingan (釈心願)
Shingan's Portal
Learning the Navagrantha
User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 3208
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Caoimhghín »

It's not a strong idea with anything significant backing it up. The only reason I would think that is because the Fo Guang Shan dictionary gives "dharmanairātmya" as a reading. I don't know if it's actually from a real correspondence or it's just a theorized one from the sources the dictionary was compiled from.
Zhen Li wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 6:13 amChoong Mun-keat in the translation seems to have chose to simply ignore the word altogether. This is another issue.
I think he might have just really banked on Ven Yin Shun's hypothesis and neglected to cite that he was editing the source text to match that. Looking at his translation, he's made the substitution from Ven Yin Shun's footnote to bring the text in-line and get rid of the variation. Not a good practice, IMO. He should have put an explanatory note.

此等諸法
All these dharmas
yātra dharmatā

法住
are the status of dharma
dharmasthititā

法空 (read 定 for 空 as in the CSA)
the standing of dharma
dharmaniyāmatā

法如
the suchness of dharma
dharmayathātathā

"Status" and "standing" seem reversed too, if we believe that 定 is correct here and constitutes "-niyāmatā." I would expect "-sthititā" to be the "standing."
Then, the monks uttered this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and ruined.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 3279
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Aemilius »

Zhen Li wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 10:25 am
Aemilius wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 8:36 am As told before, there is also the tradition of the Mahasanghika, according to which there was a simultaneous assembly which consisted of lay persons and monastics and which was much larger than the assembly of arhats. It was headed arhat Baspa, who is one of Buddha's first five disciples. They also gathered collections of sutras, according to tradition their collection consisted of five Pitakas! This has been told by Etienne Lamotte, Red Pine has also referred to it, as a posssible source and lineage for the Diamond sutra and other Perfection of Wisdom sutras that are held to be Buddha-vacana by the Mahayana.

Also, if you consider that Buddha had taught in 16 different countries, -whose names are given in Sravakayana and Mahayana sources-, it seems absolutely certain that there were several traditions and collections of sutras from the very beginning. Human nature is like that, if Buddha had taught in sixteen countries and states of the modern world, there certainly would be sixteen or more independent buddhist traditions.
That's interesting. It seems that in contrast to the Mahāsaṅghikas, the Mahāyānists in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Nālanda tradition came to the opinion that Mahāyāna sūtras were recorded by Vajrapāṇi. This would connect with the possibility for later Dharmabhāṇakas to find them in the Himālayas or the ocean, or in meditation. Drewes makes the argument that Dharmabhāṇakas would have undoubtedly been sincere in their belief that they were transmitting a revelation.

But I was thinking about this topic of the origins of the Mahāyāna in the shower this morning. The Mahāyāna literature overall is incredibly early. There is so much even in the first century, that to suppose it only arose in the first century of the common era, or before the common era, seems a bit too fast. Also, the Avadānas seem to have so much in common with the Mahāyāna literature and their conception of Buddhist practice, and it they spread throughout all sects and around Asia. The idea that the Mahāyāna/Vaipulya sūtras are developments upon utterances that the Buddha made, in much the same way as the Āgamas, without necessarily being word for word copies (going off dominant theories of litearcy and orality, e.g. as proposed by Walter Ong), is certainly just as plausible as the idea that this came from nowhere.

Scholars have so much trouble with the idea of Mahāyāna origins, but I don't know if scholars have ever asked from a historical perspective the hypothetical question of supposing that there is a pith of both the Mahāyāna and Āgamas that the Buddha taught—then, what is the "origin" from the Buddha's perspective? Why did the Buddha teach the Prajñāpāramitā (in whatever form, be it Vajracchedikā or Aṣṭa, etc.)? How does it fit into his model of the Dharma as he also taught in the Āgamas. Anyway, on the academic level these are thought experiments but I think they may be worth considering.

Also, going back to the character of Vajrapāṇi, he is often characterised as being a product of a Buddhification of Herakles, but I don't see this anywhere in the textual references to him. I think that was probably just a artistic skilful means to attract Bactrians. Vajrapāṇi is supposed to be a Bodhisattva attendant who accompanied the Buddha in all his past lives. He protects him using his vajra. He also represents his inconceivable nature of body, speech, and mind. These are all explained thoroughly in the Tathāgayaguhya, which I am almost finish translating. Anyway, Bāṣpa = Vāṣpa, in some places in India people pronounce ṣ as ś which could get close to the j territory, this is a crazy theory but what if the term Vajrapāṇi started as a corruption of the name Vāṣpa?
:rolleye:
Why did Buddha teach the Prajñaparamita? The traditional answer is that it was to correct the earlier views of the first Dharmachakra, to perfect the views of his disciples, and to make them progress further. There was a necessity for it. He taught the Perfection of Wisdom to purify the mistakes and misdeeds of his disciples.
The purpose and cause of the Three turnings of the Wheel of Dharma has been taught by Zhi-Yi in China and by tibetan and indian scholars.
There are celestial and earthly audiences of the sutras present that are described in the sutras.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1821
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Kamakura
Contact:

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by Zhen Li »

Caoimhghín wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 6:22 am 此等諸法
All these dharmas
yātra dharmatā

法住
are the status of dharma
dharmasthititā

法空 (read 定 for 空 as in the CSA)
the standing of dharma
dharmaniyāmatā

法如
the suchness of dharma
dharmayathātathā

"Status" and "standing" seem reversed too, if we believe that 定 is correct here and constitutes "-niyāmatā." I would expect "-sthititā" to be the "standing."
Because he was missing "empty," I was understanding his translation as "All these dharmas (此等諸法) are the status of dharma (法住), the standing of dharma (法如), the suchness of dharma (法爾); the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are (法不離如), nor differs from things-as-they-are (法不異如); it is the truth, reality, without distortion (審諦真實、不顛倒).

So I thought it was a strange translation of 法如 and 法爾, but what you wrote would make more sense. However, in that case he is missing 法爾 or taking it together with 法不離如,法不異如.
Aemilius wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 8:22 amWhy did Buddha teach the Prajñaparamita? The traditional answer is that it was to correct the earlier views of the first Dharmachakra, to perfect the views of his disciples, and to make them progress further. There was a necessity for it. He taught the Perfection of Wisdom to purify the mistakes and misdeeds of his disciples.
The purpose and cause of the Three turnings of the Wheel of Dharma has been taught by Zhi-Yi in China and by tibetan and indian scholars.
There are celestial and earthly audiences of the sutras present that are described in the sutras.
I was thinking what a scholar might say. But if they were to admit that the Buddha taught the bodhisattva path then of course he would need to refine the śrāvaka understanding of prajñā.
Shaku Shingan (釈心願)
Shingan's Portal
Learning the Navagrantha
ronnymarsh
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:52 am

Re: What are texts in the Agamas that are not in the Nikayas?

Post by ronnymarsh »

Zhen Li wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 10:25 am Scholars have so much trouble with the idea of Mahāyāna origins, but I don't know if scholars have ever asked from a historical perspective the hypothetical question of supposing that there is a pith of both the Mahāyāna and Āgamas that the Buddha taught—then, what is the "origin" from the Buddha's perspective? Why did the Buddha teach the Prajñāpāramitā (in whatever form, be it Vajracchedikā or Aṣṭa, etc.)? How does it fit into his model of the Dharma as he also taught in the Āgamas. Anyway, on the academic level these are thought experiments but I think they may be worth considering.
The association that scholars make between the Mahayana and the Mahasanghikas is usually due to two reasons:
1st the similar religious aspects: belief in the bodhisattva ideal, belief in a Cosmic Buddha, belief in the co-existence of several Buddhas, etc.
2nd the importance of Atisha, a mahasanghika, in the formation of the Gelug/Kadam

However, in the first case this is something that is not only attributed to the mahasanghikas, the same beliefs as the Mahayana can be traced back to the beliefs present in the Sarvastivada lineage, which would make it part of the broader Sthaviravada movement.

You see, the first precise manifestation of Mahayana was the formation of the Madhyamaka school by Nagarjuna, and the second great manifestation was the formation of the Yogacara school by Vasubandhu and Asanga.

On Nagarjuna's part, when you read his major works, you realize that his entire foundation is only the Agamas, particularly those of the Sarvastivada school.

And when we look at the history of Asangha and Vasubhandu, we see that their ideas are taken directly from the Sautrantika school, which was a movement away from the Abhidharma in favor of the Sutras within the Sarvastivada lineage.

The Mahayana is ultimately the result of an inner movement of reaction to the Abhidharma within the Northern Sthavira lineage, and this we can see from the Mahayana's own ordination lineage using the Mulasarvastivada vinayas in Tibet and the Dharmaguptaka in the China and Korea (and some Japanese reminiscences).

But mainly because the main treatises that demonstrate Mahayana philosophy are precisely refutations of abhidharmic positions (specifically the position of Abhidharma Sarvastivada).

In addition, the First Mahayana Sutras generally have two common structures:
1 - These are explanations placed in the mouth of a Bodhisatta about some speech of the Buddha that can be traced back to the Agamas. For example, the Shalistamba Sutra is the Bodhisatta's explanation to Shariputra of the meaning of the verse "Whoever sees the Buddha, sees the Dharma! Whoever sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha."

2. They are large compendiums and collections that summarize the teachings of the Agamas + Treatises, in order to facilitate the learning of the subjects. Some themes and practices that are typical of Mahayana Buddhism, such as Nembutsu, for example, already appear in the Agamas: https://legacy.suttacentral.net/lzh/ea2.2
Thus, we can understand Amithaba's vast literature as an unfolding and expansion of this element that appears in older literature.
Post Reply

Return to “Sūtra Studies”