Buddhist Councils and Buddhist Texts: Buddhist Councils and Buddhist Texts are important topics in Indian history, especially for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examination. Here are some key points and information on both topics. Understanding the Buddhist Councils and the important texts associated with Buddhism is essential for those preparing for the UPSC examination, as it helps in comprehending the historical and doctrinal development of Buddhism in India and beyond.
Buddhist Councils and Buddhist Texts
- First Buddhist Council (483 BCE):
- Held shortly after the passing of Buddha in Rajgir.
- Mainly focused on preserving and reciting the Buddha’s teachings (suttas) and the monastic rules (Vinaya).
- The council was convened by King Ajatashatru and presided over by monk Mahakassapa.
- The Theravada tradition recognizes the decisions made during this council.
- Second Buddhist Council (383 BCE):
- Held at Vaisali.
- A schism occurred over certain monastic practices, particularly regarding the strict adherence to the Vinaya rules.
- The outcome was the division of the Sangha into two schools: the Theravada (conservative) and the Mahasanghika (liberal).
- Third Buddhist Council (250 BCE):
- Convened during the reign of Emperor Ashoka at Pataliputra.
- Purpose was to settle disputes within the monastic community, particularly regarding the interpretation of the Vinaya rules.
- It led to the expulsion of certain monks who held unorthodox views.
- The council also played a role in the dissemination of Buddhism beyond India, as Ashoka’s missionaries were dispatched afterward.
- Fourth Buddhist Council (1st century CE):
- The exact date and location of the fourth council are disputed among different Buddhist traditions.
- One of the key accomplishments was the preservation of the Theravada Pali Canon, which is the oldest Buddhist scripture.
- Some scholars suggest that this council may have been held in Sri Lanka.
- Tripitaka (Three Baskets):
- The Tripitaka, also known as the Pali Canon, is the primary collection of Buddhist scriptures.
- It consists of three sections:
- Vinaya Pitaka: Rules and regulations for the monastic community (sangha).
- Sutta Pitaka: Discourses and teachings of Buddha.
- Abhidhamma Pitaka: Philosophical and doctrinal analysis of Buddha’s teachings.
- Mahayana Sutras:
- Mahayana Buddhism has its own set of scriptures, including the Mahayana Sutras.
- These texts include the Lotus Sutra, the Heart Sutra, and many others.
- They emphasize the concept of the Bodhisattva, one who seeks enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.
- Jataka Tales:
- Jataka tales are stories about the previous lives of Buddha (when he was a bodhisattva).
- These stories illustrate moral lessons and virtues.
Buddhist Commentaries and Treatises:
- Various Buddhist scholars and philosophers have written commentaries and treatises elaborating on Buddhist teachings.
- Notable works include the Abhidharma-kosa by Vasubandhu and Nagarjuna’s writings on Madhyamaka philosophy.
By Team Learning Mantras