Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “arharts who compiled the baskets (pitaka)” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Part 2 - The arharts who compiled the baskets (piṭaka)

Question – Since there were incalculable numbers of such arhats, why were only a thousand chosen and no more?

Answer – When king P’in p’o so lo (Bimbasāra) found the Path, eighty-four thousand dignitaries also found the Path. Then the king decreed this commad in the palace: “Let there always be enough rice to offer to a thousand people.”[1] King A chö-che (Ajātaśatru) did not break this rule. Thus Kāśyapa the Great said to himself: “If we continue to beg our food endlessly, the heretics (tīrthika) will object to us violently and will suppress our rules (vidhi). Presently in the city of Wang chö (Rājagṛha), rice is constantly supplied to a thousand men.[2] That is where we should dwell in order to recite the baskets of the texts.” It was for that reason that one thousand men were chosen and no more.[68a] Then Kāśyapa the Great, accompanied by a thousand men, went to the city of Rājagṛha on the mountain K’i chö kiue (Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata).[3] He said to king Ajātaśatru: “Give us food. Let someone bring us our food each day. We are about to compile the baskets of the texts here and we will be unable to occupy ourselves with anything else.”

In this place, at the time of the summer retreat (varṣā), the fifteenth day of the third month, at the time of the recitation of the precepts (śīla), having gathered together the saṃgha, Kāśyapa the Great entered into samādhi. With his divine eye (divyacakṣus), he contemplated to see if, in the present assembly, there was someone who had not yet completely subdued the afflictions (kleśa) whom it was necessary to expel. Ānanda was the only person who had not completely subdued them. The other 999 had already destroyed the impurities (kṣīṇāsrava); they were pure (viśuddha) and stainless (vimala). Kāśyapa the Great, coming out of samādhi, led Ānanda by the hand out of the assembly and said to him: “Here in this pure assembly, they are going to recite the baskets of the texts. Your bonds (bandhana) are not yet suppressed, you must not stay here.”

Then Ānanda wept with shame and thought: “For twenty-five years I accompanied the Bhagavat; I served him; I was at his disposal.[4] I have never yet suffered such great sorrow. The Buddha was truly venerable, compassionate and patient.” Having had this thought, he said to Kāśyapa the Great: “In the long run, I would have had the strength to find the Path, but in the Buddhadharma, arhats must not serve anyone, must not be at the disposal of anyone, must not carry out anyone’s orders. It is for that reason that I have kept a trace of bonds (bandhana) and have not completely broken them.”

Kāśyapa the Great said: “However, you have committed faults (āpatti).[5] The Buddha was unwilling that women should leave home. You insistently begged the Buddha to allow them to practice the Path. For this reason, the proper law of the Buddha will be exhausted at the end of five hundred years and will diminish. In this you have committed a duṣkṛta fault.”[6] Ānanda said: “I was sorry for Kiu t’an mi (Gautami). Moreover, in the doctrine of the Buddhas of the three times (tryadhvan), there are always four categories [of disciples]. Why would our Buddha Śākyamuni be the only one not to have them?”

Kāśyapa the Great again said: “When the Buddha was about to enter into nirvāṇa, he came to the city of Kiu yi na kie (Kuśinagara). He was suffering from a backache. Four upper robes (uttarāsaṅga) were laid down one on top of another; he lay down and said to you: ‘I need some water.’ You did not give him any. In that you committed a duṣkṛta fault.”[7] Ānanda replied: “At that time, five hundred chariots were crossing the stream, making the water turbid and impure. This is why I did not take any.” Kāśyapa the Great again said: “Exactly, if the water was impure, the Buddha had miraculous power (ṛddhibāla) strong enough to purify an ocean of impure water. Go and confess your duṣkṛta fault.”

Again Kāśyapa the Great said: “The Buddha summoned you: a man learned in the practice of the four bases of miraculous power (ṛddhibāla) could remain in this world for a kalpa or a fraction of a kalpa. You remained silent without answering. He questioned you three times and you remained silent. If you had answered him, the Buddha, learned in the practice of the four bases of miraculous power, would [68b] have remained in this world for a kalpa or a fraction of a kalpa. Because of you, the Buddha has prematurely entered into nirvāṇa. In that, you have committed a duṣkṛta fault.[8] Ānanda said: “Māra clouded my mind. That is why I did not speak. It was not out of maliciousness that I did not answer the Buddha.”

Again Kāśyapa the Great said: “You have stepped on the saṃghāṭi of the Buddha. In that you have committed a duṣkṛta fault.” Ānanda said: “At that time, a great wind arose and there was no-one to help me. While I was holding the robe, the wind blew and it fell beneath my foot. It is not out of disrespect that I stepped on the Buddha’s robe.”

Again Kāśyapa the Great said: “You showed the women the mark of cryptorchidy (kośagatavastiguhya) of the Buddha after he entered into parinirvāṇa. Is that not shameful? In that you have committed a duṣkṛta fault.” Ānanda said: “At that time I thought: if the women see the Buddha’s mark of cryptorchidy, they will feel ashamed of their own female body and want to obtain a male body so as to plant the roots of merit with the view of realizing Buddhahood. This is why I showed the women [his organs]. It is not out of impudence that I have broken the precepts (śīla).”

Kāśyapa the Great said: “You have committed six kinds of duṣkṛta faults. You must confess (pratideśana) these faults completely in the saṃgha.” Ānanda said that he agreed and that he would follow the instructions of the āyuṣmat Mahākāśyapa and the saṃgha. Then Ānanda fell to his knees, joined his palms together, uncovered his right shoulder (ekāṃsam uttarāsaṅgaṃ kuritvā), took off his leather sandals and confessed his six kinds of duṣkṛta faults. Kāśyapa the Great took Ānanda by the hand out of the saṃgha and said to him: “Completely destroy your impurities (āsrava) and then you can re-enter. Do not return until your last bonds (bandhana) are broken.” Having spoken thus, he himself shut the door.[9]

Then the arhats deliberated in these terms: “Who can recite the Vinaya- and the Dharmapiṭaka? The ayuṣmat A ni lou teou (Aniruddha) said: “Under Chö li fou (Śāriputra), the second Buddha, there was an excellent disciple called Kiao fan po t’i (Gavāmpati) [in the Tsin language, ‘ Ox breath’].[10] Gentle and kind, he dwells constantly in closed retreat. He abides in the calmness of the mind (cittaśamatha). He knows the Vinaya- and Dharmapiṭaka. Now he abides in the heavens of the Che li cha chou yuan (Śirīṣavana).[11] Let a messenger be sent to ask him to come.”

Kāśyapa the Great said to a recently ordained bhikṣu:[12] “Are you under the orders of the saṃgha?” The recently ordained bhikṣu answered: “What does the saṃgha command?” Kāśyapa the Great said: “The saṃgha requests you to go to the heavens of the Śirīṣavana, to the dwelling of the arhat Gavāmpati.” Carried away with joy, the bhikṣu received the orders of the saṃgha. He said to Kāśyapa the Great: “When I have reached the arhat Gavāmpati, what shall I say to him?” Kāśyapa the Great said: “When you arrive there, you will say to Gavāmpati: Kāśyapa the Great and the other arhats who have destroyed the impurities (kṣīṇāsrava) have all assembled in Yen feou t’i (Jambudvīpa). There is great business for the saṃgha related to the doctrine. Come quickly.”

[68c] The recently ordained bhikṣu prostrated himself before the saṃgha (saṃghaṃ śirasābhivandya), and circumambulated it three times to the right (triḥpradakṣiṇikṛtya). Like the bird with golden wings (garuḍa), he took his leave into space. He came to Gavāmpati, prostrated and said to him: “O venerable one, gentle and kind, you have few desires (alpeccha), you know how to be content with little (alpamātreṇa saṃtuṣṭaḥ), you are ever in contemplation (satatsamāhita). Kāśyapa the Great addresses himself to you in these words: ‘Now there is great business for the saṃgha related to the doctrine. Hasten to come down to see the assembly [like] gathered jewels.’ “Then Gavāmpati had some doubts; he said to this bhikṣu: “Does not the saṃgha have some quarrelsome subject (vivādavastu), that it calls upon me? Are there not some schisms in the saṃgha (saṃghabheda)? Has the Buddha, this sun, been extinguished?” The bhikṣu said: “It is truly as you have said. The great master (mahācārya), the Buddha, has gone into nirvāṇa.” Gavāmpati said: “How quickly has the Buddha entered into nirvāṇa! The eye of the world (lokacakṣus) is extinguished! My upādhyāya Chö li fou (Śāriputra), the chief [of the doctrine], who could turn the wheel of the Dharma (dharmacakra) like the Buddha, where is he now?” He replied: “He has already entered into nirvāṇa.” Gavāmpati said: “The great teachers are far away. What resources are left for us? Mo ho mou k’ie lien (Mahāmaudgalyāyana), where is he now?” The bhikṣu said: “He also has entered into nirvāṇa.” Gavāmpati said: “The Buddhadharma is going to dissolve. The great men are gone. Beings will mourn.” He asked: What is the āyuṣmat Ānanda doing now?” The bhikṣu answered: “Since the Buddha’s nirvāṇa, the āyuṣmat Ānanda weeps with sorrow and despair.” Gavāmpati said: “Ānanda’s remorse comes from the fact that he is still in the bondage of passion (anunayabandhana) and [for him] the separation gives rise to suffering. What has become of Lo heou lo (Rāhula)?” He replied: “Having obtained arhathood, Rāhula has neither grief nor sorrow. He contemplates only the nature of impermanence (anityalakṣaṇa) of the dharmas,” Gavāmpati said: “It is difficult to break the afflictions and having broken them, to be without sadness.” Gavāmpati said: “I have lost the great Teacher free of desires (vītarāga). What is the use of remaining in Śirīṣavana? My upādhyāya and the great teachers all have entered nirvāṇa. I can no longer go down to Jambudvīpa. May I remain here in order to enter into parinirvāṇa,”

[69a] Having spoken these words, he entered samādhi and leapt into space. His body emitted light rays (raśmi) and water and fire.[13] With his hands he touched the sun and moon and manifested all kinds of miracles (prātihārya). From his mind there emanated flames that consumed his body. From within his body came water which flowed in four streams as far as Kāśyapa the Great. From the water there came a voice that pronounced this stanza:

Gavāmpati salutes by bowing his head
To the saṃgha of venerable ones, the excellent supreme saṃgha.
Having learned of the Buddha’s nirvāṇa, [he said]: “I am leaving in my turn.”
Thus, when the great elephant departs, the little one follows him.

Then the recently ordained bhikṣu, carrying the robe and bowl, returned to the saṃgha.

At that moment, Ānanda reflected [on the nature] of dharmas and sought to exhaust his last impurities (āsrava). During the night, he sat in dhyāna, walked to and fro, and sought the Path (mārga) anxiously and zealously. Ānanda’s wisdom (prajñā) was great, but his power of samādhi was weak. That is why he did not obtain the Path immediately. If his power of concentration had been equal to his wisdom, he would have quickly obtained [the Path]. Finally, when the night was almost over and he was very tired, he lay down. Now, on lying down to reach his pillow (bimbohana), just as his head touched it, suddenly he attained enlightenment.[14] As a bolt of lightning drives away the shadows, he saw the Path. Then Ānanda entered the diamond-like (vajra) samādhi and crushed the mountain of all the afflictions (kleśa). He obtained the three knowledges (vidya), the six superknowledges (abhijñā), complete liberation (vimokṣa) and became an arhat of great power.

Then, during the night, he went to the door of the hall where the saṃgha was gathered, knocked at the door and called. Káśyapa the Great asked: “Who is knocking at the door?” He answered: “It is I, Ānanda!” Kāśyapa the Great said: “Why have you come?” Ānanda replied: “Tonight I have destroyed the impurities (āsravakṣaya).” Kāśyapa the Great said: “The door is not open to you. Enter through the key-hole.” Ānanda answered: “So be it!” Then, thanks to his miraculous power (ṛddhibala), he entered by way of the keyhole.[15] He prostrated at the feet of the monks and confessed [his faults], saying: “O Great Kāśyapa! Do not recriminate!” Kāśyapa the great touched his hand to Ānanda’s head and said: “I did it intentionally for your own good so that you would find the Path. Do not hold a grudge against me. In this manner, I have brought you to realize yourself. Thus, when one, with one’s hand, paints space, space is not filled. In the same way, the mind of an arhat who is at the center of all dharmas is not affected. Take you former place.”

At this time, the saṃgha deliberated in these terms: “Gavāmpati has entered nirvāṇa. Is there anybody else who is able to compile the basket of the Dharma (dharmapiṭaka)? The āyuṣmat Aniruddha said: “There is the āyuṣnmat Ānanda. Among the Buddha’s disciples, he has always served the Buddha and lived close to him. He has heard the texts, has been able to remember them, and the Buddha has constantly praised him and approved of him. This Ānanda could compile the texts.” Then the āyuṣmat Mahākāśyapa touched Ānanda’s head and said to him: “The Buddha entrusted you to keep (dhārayati) the basket of the Dharma. You should be grateful for the blessings of the Buddha. In what place did the Buddha first explain the Dharma? The great disciples of the Buddha who were able to [69b] to keep the basket of the Dharma have all entered nirvāṇa. There is only you. Now, in accord with the Buddha’s mind and out of compassion for beings, you must compile the basket of the Buddhadharma.” Then, prostrating before the saṃgha, Ānanda sat down on the lion-seat (siṃhāsana). Then Kāsyapa the Great recited these stanzas:

The Buddha is the holy king of the lions.
Ānanda is the son of the Buddha.
Seated on the lion’s seat
He contemplates the assembly lacking the Buddha.

Just as the assembly of the venerable ones
Lacking the Buddha, has lost its power (prabhāva),
So in the moonless night
The constellations are without charm.

O great sage, speak!
Son of the Buddha, you must explain
In what place the Buddha spoke for the first time.
You must reveal it now.

Then the āyuṣmat Ānanda, with one-pointed mind (ekacitta), joined his palms, turned towards the place of the Buddha’s nirvāṇa and spoke thus:

When the Buddha preached the Dharma for the first time,
I did not see it.
Thus have I heard by tradition (paraṃparayā):
The Buddha was living at Vārāṇasī.

For the five bhikṣus, the Buddha
Opened the gate of the immortal for the first time.
He preached the sermon of the four truths:
The truths of suffering, its origin its cessation and the path.

Ājñāta, Kauṇḍinya,
Were the first to attain the vision of the Path.
A multitude of eighty thousand devas
All penetrated into the course of the Path likewise.

Having heard these words, the thousand arhats rose up into space to the height of seven to lo (tāla) trees. They all said: “Alas! The power of impermanence (anityatābala) is great! In the same way as we saw with our own eyes the Buddha preaching the Dharma, here now he is speaking and we are listening!” Then they uttered these stanzas:

We have seen the marks of the Buddha’s body,
Like a mountain of fine gold.
These marvelous marks have lost their virtue,
There remains just a name.

That is why it is necessary, by every possible means,
To endeavor to leave the three worlds
By accumulating zealously the roots of good.
Nirvāṇa is the supreme happiness.

Then the āyuṣmat Aniruddha uttered this stanza:

Alas! The universe is impermanent
Like the moon (reflected in the water) and like the banana tree.
The one whose merits fill the three worlds
Has been destroyed by the wind of impermanence

Then Kaśyapa the Great also uttered these stanzas:

The power of impermanence is very great.
Stupid people and wise people, poor and rich,
[69c] Whether they have or have not found the path,
No-one can escape it.

Neither skillful words nor marvelous jewels
Nor lies nor strenuous protestations [allow one to escape from it].
Like a fire that consumes everything
Such is the law of impermanence.

Kāśyapa the Great said to Ānanda:[16] “From the Tchouan fa louen king (Dharmacakrapravartanasūtra) up to the Ta pan nie p’an (Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra), the collection forms the four A han (Āgama): 1. Tseng yi a han (Ekottarāgama), 2. Tchong a han (Madhyamāgama), 3. Tch’ang a han (Dīrghāgama), 4. Siang ying a han (Saṃyuktāgama). This is what is called the Basket of the Dharma of the Sūtras (sūtrapiṭaka).[17]

The great arhats asked further: “Who can clearly bring together the basket of the Vinaya (vinayapiṭaka)?” They all said: “The āyuśmat Yeou p’o li (Upāli). Of the five hundred arhats, he is foremost of those who maintain the discipline (vinayadhara). Let us invite him now.” Then they invited him with these words: “Get up and sit on the lion-seat (siṃhāsana) and tell us in what place the Buddha first enunciated the Vinaya and collected the precepts (śīla).” Upāli received the orders of the saṃgha. Seated on the lion-seat, he said: “Thus have I heard: once the Buddha was at P’i chö li (Vaiṣālī). At that time, Siu t’i na (Sudinna) son of the householder Kia lan t’o (Kalanda) conceived a lustful desire for the first time.”[18]

(1–3) The Explanations relative to the 250 Precepts (pañcaśaddviśataśīlasaṃprayuktakārtha) in three sections (varga), (4) the Seven Precepts (saptadharma), (5) the Eight Precepts (aṣṭadarma), (6) the Pi k’ieou ni pi ni (bhikṣuṇīvinaya), (7) the Tseng yi (Ekottara), (8) the Yeou p’o li wen (Upāliparupṛcchā), (9) the Tsa pou (Kṣudrakavarga), these 80 sections (varga) form the Basket of the Discipline (vinayapiṭaka).[19]

Again the arhats had this thought: “Who can clearly bring together the basket of the A p’i t’an (Abhidharmapiṭaka)?” They thought: “Among the five hundred arhats, the āyuṣmat Ānanda is the foremost of those who explain the sūtras. Let us invite him.” Then they invited him with these words: “Get up and go to sit on the lion-seat (siṃhāsana). In what place did the Buddha first preach the Abhidharma?” Ānanda received the orders of the saṃgha. Seated on the lion-seat, he said: “Thus have I heard: once the Buddha was dwelling in the city of Chö p’o li (Śrāvastī). At that time, the Buddha said to the bhikṣus: ‘Those in whom the five fears (bhaya), the five sins (āpatti) and the five hatreds (vaira) have not been suppressed and extinguished experience innumerable evils in this life in their bodies and their minds for this reason and, in subsequent lives, they fall into the bad destinies (durgatī). Those who do not have the five fears, the five sins and the five hatreds, for this reason are, in this life, happy in every way in body and mind and, in subsequent existences, they are reborn in the heavens (svarga) or in a pleasant abode (sukhavihāra). What are the five fears that must be discarded? 1. Murder (prāṇātipāta), 2. theft (adattādāna), 3. illicit sexual relationships (kāmamithyācāra), 4. falsehood (mṛṣāvāda), 5. alcoholic drinks (madhyapāna).’[20] All of this is called the Basket of the Abhidharma (abhidharmapiṭaka).

[70a] When the three baskets of the doctrine were brought together, the devas, asuras, nāgas and devis made offerings of all kinds. They rained down celestial flowers (puṣpa), perfumes (gandha), banners (patākā), parasols (chattra) and heavenly garments (vastra), to pay homage to the doctrine. Then they recited this stanza:

Out of compassion for the universe
The three baskets of the Dharma hve been collected.
The omniscient one who has the ten strengths (daśabala),
The wisdom of his words is the lamp that destroys ignorance.

Footnotes and references:


This command was given by Bimbasāra after his second meeting with the Buddha.


Some sources describe the welcome given by Ajātaśatru to the Council members. Cf. Legend of Aśoka (Concile, p. 38) and Ken pen chou… tsa che, T 1451, k. 39, p. 404a–b.


The Council was held at Rāhagṛha, but the sources do not agree on the exact place: the rock-cave Pippalāyana (Ken pen chou… tsa che, T 1451k. 39, p. 404b; Legend of Aśoka in Concile, p. 38); Saptaparṇa cave on the side of mount Vaihāra, Vebhāra in Pāli (Mahāvastu, I, p. 70; Mahāvaṃsa, III, v. 19); the cave of mount Tch’a a ti or Tch’o ti (Mahāsaṃghika Vinaya,T 1425, k. 32, p. 490c; Legge, Fa-hien, p. 85); a cave situated on the north side of mount Dakṣiṇa (Hiuan-tsang in Watters, Travels, II. p. 160); the cave of Nyagrodha (Dulwa in Rockhill, Life, p. 151).


When he was fifty years old, after twenty years of ministry, the Buddha attached Ānanda to himself as an upasthāyaka. Before accepting this duty, Ānanda had set conditions: never to share the food or clothing of the Buddha, not to accompany him on his visits among lay people, always to have access to him. See Che tchö king (Upasthāyakasūtra) in Tchong a han, T 26 (no. 33), k. 8, p. 471c–475a, the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya (Rockhill, Life, p. 88), and other later works, such as Wen kiu, comm. on Saddharmapuṇḍarīka, T 1718, k. 2, p. 18b. – The upasthāyakasūtra does not have its correspondent in the Pāli canon, but reappears in Buddhaghosa’s commentaries in a more elaborate form, where the conditions set by Ānanda increase to eight: Manorātha, I, p. 294–296; Comm. on the Theragāthā in Rh. D., Brethren, p. 350–352; Hardy, Manual, p. 234–235.


In all the accounts of the council, Kāśyapa reproached Ānanda with a number of faults: two in the case of the Fen pie kong tö louen (Concile, p. 120–122); four in the Tchouan tsi san tsang (ibid, p. 97–98); five in the Pāli Vinaya (ibid, p. 156–159); six in the Mahīśāsaka Vinaya (ibid, p. 148–153), the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya (ibid, p.232–234) and the legend of Aśoka (ibid, p. 47–51); seven in the Dharmagupta Vinaya (ibid, p. 182–186), the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya (ibid, p. 214–215), the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya and the Parinirvāṇasūtra (ibid, p. 83); nine in the Kia kie king (ibid, p. 13–15). – The Mppś counts six faults but enumerates only five.


The institution of the order of nuns at Ānanda’s request is related in the Vinaya, II, p. 253 (tr. Rh. D.- Oldenberg, III, p. 320); Aṅguttara, IV, p. 274; Tchong a han, T 26 (no. 116), k. 28, p. 605a: K’iu t’an mi ki kouo king, T 60; Ta feng pien fo pao ngen king, T 156, k. 5, p. 152; Ta ngai tao pi k’ieou ni king, T 1425, k. 30, p. 471a; Sseu feu liu, T 1428, k. 48, p. 922c; Che song liu, T 1435, k. 15; Ken pen chou… tsa che, T 1451, k. 29–30, p. 350b. – This instituting is also narrated in Sanskrit in the fragments of the Bhikṣuṇīkarmavacana published by C. M. Ridding and L. de La Vallée Poussin in BSOS, I, 1920, p. 124–125.


This episode is told in very different ways in the texts:

1) Tch’ang a han, T 1 (no. 2), k. 3, p. 19c: Being thirsty, the Buddha asked Ānanda three times in succession to go and fill his bowl at a river. Ānanda replied that the water had just been disturbed by the passing of five hundred chariots and suggested that he go to get water from the Kakutsthā river. Then an asura, converted to Buddhism, filled a bowl “with water purified eight times” and offered it to the Buddha who accepted it out of compassion for him. – It is this refusal of the water which is blamed on Ānanda in all the narratives of the first Council with the exception of the Pāli Cullavagga.

2) Fo pan ni yuan king, T 5, k. 2, p. 168a; Pan ni yuan king, T 6, k. 2, p. 183c; Ken pen chou… tsa che, T 1451, k. 37, p. 391a: At the request of the Buddha, Ānanda went directly to draw water from the river Kakutsthā, but noticing that the water had become disturbed by the passage of 500 chariots, he asked the Buddha to use it only for his ablutions and he went to quench his thirst in the Hiraṇyavatī river which flowed nearby. The Buddha followed this advice.

3) Dīgha, II, p. 128–129: Ta pan nie p’an king, T 7, k. 2, p. 197b. The Buddha asked Ānanda to go to find some drinkable water in the nearby brook three times. Ānanda twice objected that the water was disturbed and proposed going to find some in the Kakutsthā river. At the third request, he obeyed and noticed to his great astonishment that the water of the stream had become clear.

In accord with this tradition – probably revised – of the Pāli Dīgha, the Cullavagga, in its story of the first Council, does not blame Ānanda with having refused water to the Buddha.

It would be interesting to compare these different traditions with the Sanskrit text of the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra recovered in central Asia. Unfortunately, so far we have only short extracts published by E. Waldschmidt, Beiträge zur Textgeschichte des Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra, NGGW, Fachgr. III, Band II, Nr. 3, 1939, p. 55–94.


This reproach is not the same in all the narratives:

1) The legend of Aśoka (Concile, p. 50), the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya (p. 233) and the Mppś blame Ānanda with having shown the private parts of the Buddha to women. [For this cryptorchidy, see below, k. 4, p. 90b]. Ānanda excuses himself by saying that he wanted them to desire a male existence.

2) The Mahīśasāka Vinaya (p. 135), the Dharmagupta Vinaya (p. 186) and the Pāli Vinaya (p. 137) blame Ānanda for having allowed the women to be the first to venerate the body of the Buddha, which they soiled with their tears. To justify himself, Ānanda offered the late hour as an excuse.

3) In the Kia ye kie king (Concile, p. 15) and the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya (Rockhill, Life, p. 154). these two versions of the same reproach are combined. He is blamed for having shown the private parts of the Buddha and for having allowed the women to be the first to venerate his body.


Przyluski sees in this judgment on Ānanda “an ancient procedure destined to purify the community by expelling a scapegoat” (Concile, p. 268).


The episode of Gavāmpati is also narrated by the Kia ye kie king (Concile, p. 6–11), the legend of Aśoka (p. 29–32), the Tchouan tsi san tsang (p. 96–97), the Fen pie kong tö louen (p. 115–116) and the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya (Rockhill, Life, p. 149–150). At the request of Kāśyapa, Aniruddha contemplates the world to see if all the arhats have come to the assembly. He discovers Gavāmpati in the palace of the Śirīṣas. A young bhikṣu called Pūrṇa or Suprabuddha is entrusted with inviting him. Learning of the Buddha’s death, Gavāmpati at once entered into nirvāṇa. He cremated himself and four springs, gushing forth from space, watered his ashes and uttered a gāthā.

For this individual, see Vinaya, I, p. 19; Dīgha, II, p. 356; Theragāthā, v. 38; Sumaṅgala, III, p. 814. Przyluski (Concile, p. 255) identifies him as a god of dryness and of wind.


This is the serīsakavimāna of the Pāli sources, a palace in the world of the Cāturmahārājikas. Cf. Dīgha, II, p. 356.


Pūrṇa or Suprabuddha according to other sources.


These are twin miracles (yamakaprātihārya) which the Buddha accomplished on many occasions (Nidānakathā, p. 77, 88, 193; Mahāvastu, III, p. 115; Divyāvadāna, p. 161, 378) and which the saints often produced at the time of entering nirvāṇa (see below, k. 3, p. 79a, Mahākāśyapa’s nirvāṇa)


Cf. Vinaya, II, p. 286: apattañ ca sīsaṃ bimbohanaṃ bhūmito ca pādā muttā. This strange detail is noted by almost all the sources: Legend of Aśoka (Concile, p. 36); Mahīśāsaka Vinaya (p. 140), Dharmagupta Vinaya (p. 175), Mahāsaṃghika Vinaya (p. 208) and Mūlasarvāsyivādin Vinaya (Rockhill, Life, p. 156).


In the Mahāsaṃghika Vinaya (Concile, p. 209), Ānanda found the door shut, but did not enter through the keyhole.


The end of this chapter tells about the compilation of the Buddhist scriptures. The formation of the canon or canons has already been the object of many studies, the list of which is in Winternitz, Literature, II, p. 1, n. 1, and in LAV., Dogme et philosophie, p. 198. It is important to take the Pāli canon down from its pedestal where Rhys Davids and Oldenberg have placed it. On this subject, see S. Lévi, Observations sur une langue precanonique du Bouddhisme, JA, Nov.-Dec. 1912, p. 511; Przyluski, Concile, p. 333–365; F. Weller, Die Überlieferung des älteren buddhistischen Schrifttums, AM, V, 1928–39, p. 149–182; A.B. Keith, The Home of Pāli, BS, XXXI, p. 747.

On the literary activity displayed in the course of the Council, the sources are not in absolute agreement; the differences they manifest allow them to be classified perhaps chronologically:

a. The scriptures are divided into two sections: Dharma and Vinaya. – Upāli recites the Vinaya and Ānanda the sūtras (Pāli Vinaya and Mahīśaka Vinaya, in Przyluski, Concile, p. 143–147. – The Fathers receive the Āgamas from Ānanda and write the rules and precepts (ibid p. 211–216).

b. To the first two piṭakas is added a Mātṛka or catechesis. – Ānanda recites the Sūtrapiṭaka, Upāli the Vinayapiṭaka, Kāśyapa the Mātṛka (Legend of Aśoka, ibid p. 39–45).

c. The scripture is divided into three piṭakas, but their order or their reciters is uncertain.. – Upāli recites the Vinaya, Ānanda the sūtras and the Abhidharma (Sarvāstivādin Vinaya, p. 227–231; Dharmagupta Vinaya, p. 187–195; Mppś).


According to some authors (S. Lévi, Les seize Arhat, JA, 1916, p. 31–32; J. Przyluski, Concile, p. 352 sq), the order in which the Āgamas are cited was of importance. Here are some lists where the Āgamas are indicated by their initials (D = Dīgha; M = Madhyama; S = Saṃyukta; E = Ekottara; K = Kṣudraka):

M-D-E-S, in Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra, T 6, k. 2, p. 191a.

S-D-M-E, in Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya,T 1451, k. 39, p. 407b–c.

E-M-D-S, in Mppś and Tchouan tsi san tsang, T 2026, p. 3b. [It should be noted that the Mppś, which counts only four Āgamas, is however aware of the Kṣudraka to which it will refer below, k. 5, p. 99b].

S-M-D-E, in Asaṅga’s Yogacaryābhūmi,T 1579, k. 85, p. 772c.

D-M-S-E-K, in Pāli canon (cf, Atthasālini,p. 25–26; tr, Tin, Expositor, I, p. 31–32; Mahīśāsaka Vinaya, T1421, k. 30, p. 191a; Mahāsaṃghika Vinaya, T 1425, k. 32, p. 491c.

D-M-E-S-K, in Dharmagupta Vinaya, T 1428, k. 54, p. 968b; the P’i ni mou lourn of the Haimavata school, T 1463, k. 4, p. 818a; the relation of Nandamitra, in S. Lévi, Les seize arhat, p. 20.

E-M-D-S-K, in Fen pie kong tö king (Przyluski, Concile, p. 119).


See Sudinna’s wrong-doing in Vinaya, III, p. 10–21 (tr. Horner, I, p. 21–38); Wou fen liu, T 1421, k. 1, p. 2b; Sseu fen liu, T 1428, k. 1, p. 569c; Che song liu, T 1433, k. 1, p. 1a.


We have already commented several times that the Mppś, when it cites ‘the Vinaya in a vague way’, almost always refers to the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya, the Chinese translation of which, entitled Che song liu, was started in 404 by Puṇyatara, continued by Kumārajīva (translator of the Mppś) and completed by Vimalākṣa (cf. Bagchi, I, p. 177). The Mppś and the Che song liu both having been translated by Kumārajīva, it is not surprising that the Mppś, in analyzing the Vinayapiṭaka here, purely and simply reproduces the table of contents of the Che song liu. Nevertheless, instead of calling the chapters of this Vinaya song (parivarta), he calls them pou (varga). To verify the exactness of the information given here by the Mppś, it is sufficient to compare them with the main divisions of the Che song liu (T 1435, vol. 23):

Song 1–3:Untitled but dedicated to the explanation of the 250 precepts p. 1

Song 4: Ts’i fa (saptadharma) p. 148

Song 5: Pa fa (aṣṭadharma) p. 206

Song 6: Tsa song (kṣudrakaparivarta) p. 257

Song 7: Ni liu (bhikṣuṇīvinaya) p. 302

Song 8: Tseng yi fa (Ekottaradharma) p. 346

Song 9: Yeou po li wen fa (Upāliparipṛicchā) p. 379

Song 10: Chan song (kuśalaparivarta) p. 445

The pou of the Mppś correspond to these ten son, which ends by saying: “These 80 pou form the Basket of the Vinaya.” The number 80 is obviously an error and should be replaced by 10.

But this error is easily explained, for we know that if, in another passage of the Mppś (k. 100, p. 756c), the Vinaya of the land of Kasmir (ki pin), which rejected the Jātakas and the Avadānas, consists of only 10 chapters (pou = varga), there is a Vibhāṣā in 80 chapters, which comments on it; on the other hand, the Vinaya of the land of Mathurā, with its Avadāna and its Jātakas, consists of 80 chapters. Cf. Przyluski, Aśoka, p. 214–215; Fables in the Vinaya-Piṭaka of the Sarvāstivādin School, IHQ, vol. V, p. 1–5.

In other sources, the Vinayapiṭaka is analyzed in quite a different way. See references in Przyluski, Concile, p. 409.


This recitation of the Abhidharmapiṭaka by Ānanda is taken almost textually from the Sarvāstivādin Vinaya, Che song liu,T 1435, k. 60, p.449a (tr. in Przyluski, Concile, p. 231). According to this source, the Buddha preached the Abhidharma for the first time in Śrāvastī. Actually, according to Aṅguttara, III, p. 204–205, it was at Śrāvastī, at Jetavana in the garden of Anāthapiṇḍika, that the Buddha explained the five fears in question here: Pañca, gahapati, bhāyani verāni… vuccati sugatiñ ca upapajjati.

With the exception of errors, the same sūtra has no correspondent in the Chinese āgamas. The Pāli Aṅguttara was able to incorporate into the Nikāyas a sermon held by other schools to be part of the Basket of the Abhidharma