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Syntax of the Cases in the Pali Nikayas
Case-Forms in the Nikāyas
§1. Nominal Themes.
Although historically Pāli inherits its inflexion from the older
language the original themes on the whole are continually being replaced
by later ones mostly derived from oblique cases, a process seen clearly
in the consonantal declension. Original vowel stems however are
inflected as they are except in the dipthongal and ṛ-declensions. In the
former beside a few historical forms (PLS §88) cases formed from a new
stem derived from original oblique cases are frequently found: e.g. nāvā
M I.134 “ship”, nom. sg. from a stem nāvā- (< Skr. acc. sg. nāvaṃ,
inst. Nāvā); gavassa M I.429 “of the cow” dat.-gen. sg., abl. sg. gavā D
I.201, loc. gave Sn 310 from a stem gava- (< Skr. inst. sg. gavā
etc.); a stem gāva- is also found in gāvī f. nom. sg. A IV.418, Ud 8,49,
the long ā being due to the pl. forms (< Skr. nom. pl. gāvaḥ etc.).
In the latter (ṛ-declension) a few cases occur from derived stems: e.g.
satthārā inst. sg. D I.163 from a stem satthārā- (< Skr. acc. sg.
satthāraṃ). In the gāthā literature there is evidence for a stem in -u
(from the base exhibited in the Skr. abl., gen., sg.) e.g. satthuno
dat.-gen. sg. Sn 547,573; Th 1.131 (PLS §90). 01 But the consonant
stems, especially those identical with roots, are comparatively rare in
the Nikāyas due to the phonetic law of the falling off of the final
consonant in Pāli as in Prk. (cp. PLS §75). Only a few historical forms
survive which point to consonant stems. Of these the new themes are
mainly formed in two ways:
1. The final consonant of the Skr.
nom. sg. which is either the stem terminal or its phonetic variant is
elided and the stem thus vocalized is inflected according to the
corresponding  vowel declension of that gender, thus: (a) Radical
stems: parisā- from Skr. pariṣad f. “assembly” e.g. parisāyaṃ loc. sg. D
II.218; parisāsu pl. S II.27; It 64; vijju- from Skr. vidyut f.
“lightning” e.g. vijju nom. sg. S I.100; A I.124; (b) an-stems: brahma-
from Skr. brahman m. e.g. brahmaṃ acc. sg. M I.2, 328; muddha- from Skr.
mūrdhan m. “head” e.g. muddhaṃ acc.sg. Dh 72; Sn 987; D I.95; also
neuter stems kamma-, pabba-, etc., from Skr. karman, parvan (PLS §94 for
instances); (c) in-stems: seṭṭhi- from Skr. śreṣṭhin m. “treasurer”
e.g. seṭṭhissa gen. sg. S I.90; hatthi- from Skr. hastin m. “elephant”
e.g. hatthī nom.pl. S I.211; sāmi- from Skr. svāmin m. “lord” e.g. sāmiṃ
acc. sg. Sn 83; cakkavattissa M III.176 gen. sg.; (d) s-stems (Skr.
-as, -is, -us,): mana- from Skr. manas nt. “mind” e.g. manaṃ acc. sg. S
IV.7; manassa dat.-gen. sg. S IV.17; mane loc. sg. A II.158; S I.40,
also manasmiṃ S V.171; raja- from Skr. rajas nt. “dust” e.g., rajena
inst. sg. M I.25; rajassa dat.-gen. sg. Sn 406; sira-, ura-, teja- from
Skr. siras, uras, tejas, e.g. sirasmiṃ M II.75; urasmiṃ A I.141;
tejasmiṃ A V.319 loc. sg. cp. tamā tamaṃ Sn.278; tapena Sn 655.
In this declension a nom. sg. in -o is frequently found, with the
masculine ending -o of the adjective or participle in agreement,
pointing thereby to a change of gender. e.g., tamo vihato M I.22 “the
darkness is destroyed”; mano anicco S IV.1 “the mind is impermanent”;
mano dukkho 02 S IV.2 “the mind is ill”; tejo pātukato M II.184 “the
fire is kindled”; cp. mano supaṇihito Sn 155 “the mind is well
directed”. But that this change of gender is a later phenomenon due to
the influence of the preceding -o on the adjectival ending as seen from
the above examples is shown by the fact that when the adjective precedes
the noun the original gender is preserved. e.g., santaṃ tassa manaṃ
hoti Dh 96. is-stems: sappi- from sarpis and others (vide PLS §75);
us-stems: cakkhu- from Skr. cakṣus nt. “eye” e.g. cakkhuṃ nom. sg. S
I.115; M III.136.
2. Themes are derived from the bases exhibited
in original oblique cases, particularly the acc. sg. by virtue of its
frequent use, thus: (a) From original root stems: vācā- from Skr. vāc
 (< acc. sg. vācaṃ) f. “speech” e.g., vācāya inst. sg. D I.114;
vācā nom. pl. M III.76; D III.18; vācānaṃ gen. pl. Sn 454; pāda- from
Skr. pād (< acc. sg. pādaṃ) m. “foot” e.g., pāde loc. sg. A II.144;
pāde acc. pl. Sn 573; (b) From an- stems as in: rañña- a sporadic stem
from the weakest Skr. base rājñ- m. “king” (cp. Skr. inst. rājñā, loc.
sg. rājñi etc.) e.g., raññe loc. sg. D III.83; nāma- from Skr. nāman nt.
“name” (cp. acc. sg. nāma) e.g., nāmena inst. sg. D II.154; similarly
attena inst. sg. M I.297; II.263; S IV.54; dāmena A III.383 also damena S
IV.163, 282; (c) From in- stems: vāsina- from Skr. vāsin m. “dweller”
(< acc. sg. vāsinaṃ) e.g., vāsine acc. pl. D II.272; similarly,
palokine acc. pl. Th 2.101 from Skr. pralokin; pāṇine acc. pl. Sn 220;
verinesu loc. pl. Dh 197; (d) From nt- stems: āyasmanta- from Skr.
āyuṣmant m. “venerable one” (< āyuṣmantaṃ acc. sg.) e.g., āyasmante
loc. sg. S I.56; III.133; āyasmantānaṃ gen. pl. M I.64; similarly,
arahante loc. sg. M I.254; mahantasmiṃ loc. sg. A I.148; bhavantānaṃ
gen. pl. M II.148; here there is also a new stem ending in -ata formed
from the Skr. weak stem (-at) found in sg. oblique cases; e.g. arahataṃ
acc. sg. A II.182 (yatra hi nāma taṃ Bhagavantaṃ arahataṃ
§2. Archaic Adverbs.
remarked above there are a few historical forms in Pāli which without
exception can be traced back to Vedic (cp. R.O. Franke, Pāli und
Sanskrit, p.150 et seq.). Some of these have lost their inflexional
value in Pāli and come to be regarded as adverbs or prepositions, and,
according to commentators, even as particles or indeclinables (nipāta).
This is chiefly characteristic of genuine adverbial cases like the acc.
and inst., and to a lesser extent of the abl., gen. and the loc. as
well. In the Nikāyas 18 such forms occur mostly as adverbs of time and
place and rarely of manner, viz. a.) from original acc.: uddhaṃ “above” D
I.23, 153, 251; II.293, 294; III.104; A III.323; V.109; Sn 894; acc.
sg. of Vedic ūrdhvá-; ciraṃ “for a long time” Sn 678, 730, from Vedic
cira-; alaṃ “rightly” M I.130; S II.18, from Vedic áraṃ acc. sg. of an
obsolete stem ára- “sufficient”  (VGS §178); nattaṃ “by night” Sn
1070, from Vedic acc. sg. náktaṃ (VGS §178.2); nāma “by name” or
“namely” S I.33, 235; Sn 157, 177, from Vedic acc. sg. nma of nāman nt.
“name”; raho “secretly” M II.251; III.157, from Vedic ráhas acc. sg. of
ráhas; khippaṃ “soon” or “quickly” A II.118; III.164; Sn 413, 682, 998;
Dh 65, 137, 236, 289, from Vedic adj. kṣípra (VGS §197.5.b.); sayaṃ “by
-self” D I.12; Sn 57, 320, from Vedic svayáṃ originally nom. sg. of
svá- (VGS §115.a.). b.) from original inst.: dva “by day” S I.183; M
I.125; Dh 387, from Vedic inst. sg. dva; micchā “wrongly” Sn 438, 815
(vide P.T.S. Dict. s.v.), from Vedic inst. sg. mithuy found as mithy
in the Brāhmaṇas (VGS §199.6.a.); sahasā “forcibly” Sn 123; A II.209,
from Vedic inst. sg. sáhasā (VGS §178.3); musā “falsely” D 1.52 from
Vedic inst. sg. mṣā “by or with neglect”.c.) from original abl.: pacchā
“after, afterwards” D I.205; Sn 645, 773, 949; Dh 172, 314, 421, from
Vedic abl. sg. paśct; ārā “far, far from” Sn 156, 736; Dh 253, from
Vedic ārt (VGS §178.5.). d.) from original gen.: cirassa “since long”,
“after a long while” e.g., na cirass’ eva D III.11; sucirass’ eva S
I.193 also cirassaṃ in same sense D I.179; S I.142, where the final
nasal is due to the analogy of the frequent use of acc. ending -aṃ as
adverb; divassa used adverbially in compound with divā (see b.) e.g.,
divā-divassa “at noonday” 03 S I.89; A.V.185; e.) from original loc.;
ratto “by night” Sn 223; Th 2.312; Dh 296, from Ved. loc. sg. rtrau.
Pāli has two archaic dat. forms cirāya “for long” Dh 342 and svātanāya
“for tomorrow” D I.125 which however do not occur as such, that is to
say adverbially, in the older dialect. Compare, however, Epic Sanskrit
cirāya and the acc. adv. śvastanam (Monier-Williams, Skr.-Eng. Dict.,
§3. Dual Forms.
The main inflectional peculiarity
of Pāli and Prk. as compared with Vedic and Classical Skr. is the loss
of the dual. Its place is taken by the plural in all declensions (vide
PLS §77.1.). So we find it with all names of things by nature considered
in pairs such as eyes, ears, hands, legs etc. e.g., hatthe dhovati  M
II.138 in place of hastau dhovati in the earlier language; similarly in
dvandva-compounds usually expressed by the dual in Skr.: e.g., ime pi
candimasuriye evaṃ mahiddhike etc. (acc. pl.) M I.69 and
candimasuriyānaṃ (gen. pl.) D I.10. According to Geiger (PLS §77) dve
and ubho are the only regular dual forms existing in Pāli. The latter is
the normal masculine form (nom. and acc.) corresponding to Skr. ubhau
but the former is only the feminine or neuter form, which is due to the
fact that the nom. and acc. forms of numerals were used without
discrimination for all genders in Middle Indian (cp. Pischel, Prk. Gr.
§438). So it is found with masculine nouns. e.g., dve dhammā D II.60;
dve pabbajitā D I.57. The form duve occurs only in gāthā literature e.g.
Th 1.245 (vide PLS §114). These forms however exist only sporadically
for the dual and as a number no more influences Pāli declensions. This
is attested by the oblique case-forms of these in use as the loc. ubhosu
(tīresu) S III.137; Sn 778; inst. ubhohi (hatthehi); gen. ubhinnaṃ S
I.62, which are formed simply by adding the normal plural endings to a
stem *ubha- in the first two examples and the gen. appears to be formed
on the analogy of other numerical forms (dvinnaṃ, tiṇṇaṃ, catuṇṇaṃ
etc.), beside the proper nom. ubho S I.87; A III.48; It 16, 43; Sn 661.
There are however three or four other instances where we meet with
probably the dual forms of dvandva-compounds. The first of these occurs
in kasirena ghāsacchādo labhati A I.107, where the Burmese MS. (Ph) has
the v.l. ghāsaccaṃ which is evidently a later ‘correction’. At A III.85
the above reading of the P.T.S. text is repeated, but once at A III.385
the phrase occurs as kasirena ghāsacchādo labbhati, the passive form of
the verb showing that ghāsacchādo is here regarded as the masculine nom.
sg. of ghāsacchāda-. But the compound consists of two masculine words
ghāso “food” = Skr. ghāsaḥ and acchādo “clothing” = Skr. ācchādaḥ, and
as such, must be treated either as a dual or collectively as a neuter
sg. The proper construction then would be either ghāsacchādaṃ labbhati
or ghāsacchādā labbhanti, the pl. being employed for the dual. So the
above (A III.385) reading with the passive (sg.) is ruled out,
establishing the first reading (A I.107) ghāsacchādo  labhati as
correct. Consequently the ending -o would represent the older masculine
dual in -au, as in ubho (< ubhau). There is however another
alternative, that is, we may possibly have here an earlier ghāsacchāde
acc. pl., the -e having been later regarded as an eastern form and
changed to -o. The other occurs in the phrase natthi hāyanavaḍḍhane
natthi ukkaṃsâvakaṃse “there is no high and low, there is no increase
and decrease”. These occur at least twice in the Nikāyas viz., at S
III.212 and M I.518 and so cannot be misprints. If these coordinative
compounds are taken as neuter sg. the form may be the eastern -e, but
if, as is quite possible, they are used as plurals then the ending -e
represents the dual nt. nom., subject of atthi which can agree with any
number. Another instance of a similar doubtful character is āyasmante,
voc. M I.474, which probably is an eastern form standing for āyasmanto
corresponding to the Skr. dual āyaṣmantau (vide §10). There is greater
probability in accepting the pronominal form etc. (not cited by Geiger,
PLS §107.1) occurring at Sn. 869, 870, as a neut. dual. acc. since it
clearly refers to sātaṃ asātaṃ ca “what is pleasant and what is
§4. Stems in -a (m.&nt.).
In the singular all the historical endings are retained, with the
phonetic changes peculiar to Pāli, except the dat. which has been
superseded by the gen. form -ssa. The older ending -āya, however,
appears in the Nikāyas quite a number of times but it has there almost
completely lost its original significance and in the few instances
attested, denotes only aim, direction or purpose (vide §§96,113,106
& 107; cp. PLS §74). The reason for this replacement is to be found
in the fact that already in the earlier dialect the dat. by virtue of
its syntactical character had come into logical contact with the gen. in
many of its proper functions. So, even as early as in the period of the
Brāhmaṇas (VGS §202.B.2.a.), the latter had encroached upon many uses
of the former and in later Skr. almost ousted it from its legitimate 
sphere of employment (SS §80). This process is seen also in the Prākṛts
where the -āya form as represented by its phonetic developments -āa,
āya, -āe etc. (Pischel Prk.Gr. §363) occurs mostly in the artificial
dialect of dramatic poetry (SS p.100 f. n.).
§5. Pronominal Endings.
The influence of the pronominal declension is found in the endings -smā
and -mhā which exist beside the normal -ā (Skr. -āt) of the abl. sg.
and -smiṃ, -mhi beside the historical -e of the loc. sg..
analysis of the Dīgha- and Majjhima Nikāyas has shown that the form -smā
occurs only 4 times (leaving aside the repetitions) against some 95 of
the -ā form. Of the latter 21 denote cause, -smā being never used in
that sense in spite of the causal implication of the pronominal adverbs
kasmā “why”, tasmā “therefore” and yasmā “wherefore”. It is also
significant that it is always the -ā form that is used in syntactical
agreement with the 6 prepositional adverbs ‘governing’ the abl., viz.,
yāva, aññatra, tiro, uddhaṃ, adho and paraṃ. e.g.,
yāva c’aggā yāva ca mūlā D I.75; M II.170; III.12
“from top to bottom”;
aññatra avusitattā D I.90
“except from imperfection”;
tiro raṭṭhā tiro janapadā M II.167
“across country and province”;
uddhaṃ pādatalā adhokesamatthakā D III.104; M III.90
“above from the soles of the feet and down from the top of the head”;
paraṃ maraṇā M III.101
The forms in -smā and -mhā are confined to one particular syntactical
category, viz., the abl. of separation (in the wider sense). So the
former (-smā) mainly occurs in connection with the verb pabbajati “sets
out”, especially in the stock phrase
agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajati
“he sets out from home to homelessness”
e.g., D I.18, 60, 115, 202; II.16, 230; III.31, 147; M I.200, 267, 345,
459; II.66, 181; III.261. It also occurs in gāthā literature e.g., Sn
1002, 1003, and with another verb of motion at S I.185, i.e. agārasmā
anagāriyaṃ nikkhantā; also with the causative pabbājeti “expels” at D
I.92, i.e. raṭṭhasmā pabbājesi. The historical form -ā however is the
 more popular even here, occurring in the Dīgha- and Majjhima Nikāyas
over 25 times with about 15 different verbs of motion. The verb
pabbajati itself occurs twice with the -ā form, viz., Sakyakulā
pabbajito M II.167, and once with its causative: raṭṭhā vā nagarā vā
pabbājeyyuṃ D I.90, 91. In all the Nikāyas the -smā form appears only
with 4 other verbs all of which signify detachment, release, or
anissaṭā bhavasmā Ud 33
“not free from becoming”;
gaṇasmā vūpakaṭṭho M III.110; Ud 41; A IV.435
“detached or aloof from the crowd”;
virato methunasmā D II.241 (verse)
“abstaining from copulation”;
na parimuccanti dukkhasmā M I.8, 65
“are not released from sorrow”.
The form -mhā which is its phonetic development is even rarer in the
Nikāyas, occurring only 3 times in the Dīgha and Majjhima, viz.
Naṅgaramhā pāyāsi M II.119; Rājagahamhā niyyāsi D I.49 and
muñjamhā isīkaṃ pabbāheyya M II.17
“would draw out the reed from the muñja grass.”
These examples show that -mhā too is used only for the notion of
separation, particularly with verbs of motion denoting that from which
there is a movement. It is evident therefore that the pronominal endings
were confined, in the case of the abl., to its function of signifying
separation, while the historical ending -ā was still in the Nikāyas the
popular form for all its varied uses in general.
pronominal form of the loc. sg. in -smiṃ and its phonetic variant -mhi
are not so rare in the Nikāyas as the corresponding abl. forms. The
former is by far the more frequent of the two and occurs in almost every
syntactical function of that case. e.g.,
lokasmiṃ viharati D I.23
“he lives in the world”;
veyyākaraṇasmiṃ bhaññamāne D I.46
“while the explanation was being declared”;
sīlasmiṃ hoti D I.65, 66, 67
“is part of (his) virtue”.
The latter -mhi however is less frequent and is mostly used in verse,
decidedly metri causa. e.g., vanamhi jhāyato Sn 221; setamhi chatte
anuhīramāne D II.15 (verse) and the intermediate phonetical stage is
also found in verse. e.g.,
antalikkhasmi S I.67
“in the intermediate space or sky”.
The v.1. -asmiṃ which appears in one text is not in keeping with the metre. 
§6. Inst. sg. in -ā.
With regard to the inst. sg. it has to be remarked that beside the
usual form in -ena a form in -ā corresponding to Vedic -ā (inst. sg. of
a-nouns, m. & f.) occurs many times in the Nikāyas (cp.PLS §78).
Franke has conclusively shown that such forms represent the inst. and
not the original abl. sg. in -āt (Z.D.M.G. 1892, pp.313-315). It occurs
with both masculine and neuter nouns, especially in the frequent phrase
“served or fed with his own hand”.
e.g., M I.393; II.50; A I.274; D I.109; Sn p.107 etc. which the Comy.
glosses in most places by sahatthena (e.g., ‘sahatthâti sahatthena’
Manorathapūraṇī II.372; Sumaṅgalavilāsinī I.277). It occurs but once in
the Nikāyas outside this context i.e. in
na sahatthā paṭhaviṃ khaṇati M II.51
“he does not dig the ground with his hand”.
Here too the Comy. has asahatthena (Sum. III.814). This ending however is not restricted to the above word. In
mā sokā pahato bhava Th 1.82
“do not be overcome by grief”,
sokā is definitely the inst. sg. denoting means (cp. PLS §78). Since
the abl. in -ā (< Skr. -āt) does not occur in this function, that is,
to signify means in general or instrument, in the Nikāyas, we may
regard the following as representing original inst. in -ā of neuter
verbal nouns: dassanā pahātabbā M I.7 et. seq.; bhāvanā pahātabbā M
“should be got rid of by …”
M I.12. In all these examples the verb pahātabbā would require an inst.
of means (by which) rather than an abl. of cause (through which), since
effort on the part of the agent is implied. Similarly in viriyā
nimmathitaṃ padhānâbhinibbattaṃ M II.130 the sense prompts us to regard
the -ā as inst. sg., Chalmers translating it correctly as “kindled by
effort and fired by striving”, the preposition by implying means and not
cause. In sahatthā referred to above also the inst. denotes means and
is not due to a preposition saha which Franke (loc. cit.) thought is
here contracted to sa-. On the other hand the compound stands for
*svahastā, sa- being the reflexive pronominal adjective Vedic or Skr.
sva. When this inst. occurs with saha, the preposition meaning with or
together with, the sense implied is simultaneity or association (vide
 Sociative Inst. §64). e.g.,
saha parinibbānā D II.156; S I.159
“simultaneously with the passing away”;
saha vacanā Ud 16
“simultaneously with the word”
i.e. “as he spoke” (cp. Geiger, PLS §78.1. “zugleich mit dem Wort, im Augenblick, wo er es sagte”).
§7. The Ending of the Acc. Pl.
In the plural of the a- declension Pāli differs from Skr. in the acc.
and dat. The historical ending -ān of the acc. is lost due to the fact
that, since phonetically it becomes -ā by the falling off of the
terminal consonant, it is liable to be confused with the nom. pl. in -ā.
The form in -e which is the regular acc. ending in Pāli and Prākṛt is
borrowed, as Geiger suggests (PLS §78.3.), from the pronominal
declension, where the original masculine acc. pl. -tān took the form of
the nom. -te because it had lost its accusative character through the
dropping of -n and in order to distinguish it from the feminine -tāḥ
which too would give in Pāli -tā. But Geiger has drawn attention to one
solitary survival of the -ān form appearing in gāthā literature, viz.,
in the phrase vehāsān-upasaṅkamiṃ Th 1.564.
§8. The Inst. Pl. in -e.
In the inst. pl. the regular form is -ehi, the phonetic development of
Skr. -ebhis. It has been shown that the aspirate bh in Pāli is retained
when it is in the body of the word but is generally reduced to -h- in
inflexional endings (cp. R.L.Turner, The Phonetic Weakness of Terminal
Elements in Indo-Āryan, J.R.A.S. 1927, p.277). Nevertheless the
intermediate form -ebhi also occurs, though not frequently, mostly in
archaic instances (cp. Geiger PLS §79). e.g., ariyebhi Dh 162; Ud 6. The
same is found in other declensions. e.g., jhāyibhi jhānasīlibhi M
III.13. The inst. pl. in -ais which is in fact the older of the two in
Old Indian has come to be gradually lost even in Vedic (vide Macdonell,
VGS §78.f.n.). It has left no trace either in Pāli or in Prk. owing to
the confusion with acc. pl. in -e, except for one  solitary
instance. The form dhīro occurring at Dh 207, it has been suggested by
V. Lesný (A new reading of the Dhammapada 207, J. p.T.S. 1928), stands
for dhīre, the older inst. pl. In all the MSS. of the Pāli version of
the Dhammapada the reading is:
bālasaṅgatacārī hi dīgham addhāna socati,
dukkho bālehi saṃvaso amitten’ eva sabbadā,
dhīro ca sukhasaṃvāso ñātīnaṃ va samāgamo.
“Verily he who walks in the company of fools suffers for a long time;
living with fools is always painful as with an enemy; living with the
pleasant is wise, like meeting with kinsfolk”. The italicized words give
the literal rendering of the phrase dhīro ca sukhasaṃvāso and the Comy.
(Dhammapadaṭṭhakathā P.T.S.Vol.III. p.272) too follows the same reading
but does not comment on the form dhīro. However, as has been pointed
out so cleverly by Lesný such a translation does not indeed make good
sense, though grammatically there can be no objection to it. It is
evident from the parallelism with the first part of the second line,
viz. dukkho bālehi saṃvāso, that the reading should be either sukho ca
dhīrasaṃvāso, as Max Müller suggested, or more likely dhīre ca
sukhasaṃvāso, as Lesný takes it. The latter is supported by the
Kharoṣṭhī version which attests to the fact that the second part is
-sukhasaṃvāso ( … suhavasa ñātihi va samakamo, 39, Les fragments
Dutreuil de Rhins, par Emile Senart. Journal Asiatique 1898, p.297), and
not dhīrasaṃvāso, and also by the Skr. text which fills in the lacuna
in the Kharoṣṭhī version by the inst. pl. dhīrais (dhīrais tu
sukhasaṃvāso, XXX.26, L. de la Vallée Poussin Documents sanscrits de la
seconde collection M.A. Stein J.R.A.S. 1912, p.369). Geiger (PLS §79)
has instanced another place where the inst. pl. -e is authentic
(Buddhavaṃsa 2.32, guṇe dasah’ upāgataṃ) but the -e forms given by E.
Müller in his Simplified Grammar of the Pāli Language as inst. pl. used
with the sense of the dat. (such as yācake etc.) are not however
instrumentals but only the loc. sg. (-e) denoting the person to whom
something is given or offered. 
§9. The Dat. Pl. Ending.
The dat. pl. in Skr. is the same as the abl. pl. ending in -(e)bhyas
which is retained in Pāli for the latter (abl. pl.) of a- stems as -ehi,
which has been shown to be a phonetic development of *ebhio (<
*ebhiyo), the aspirate being reduced to - h - as described above (§8).
Pandit S. Majumdar Sastri in a monograph entitled ‘The Dative Plural in
Pāli’, on the evidence of some survivals of the old dat. pl. in -ehi in
the Asokan dialect, suggested the possibility of a few of these forms
remaining in Pāli where the form normally used is the ending -ānaṃ of
the gen. which as pointed out above (§4) is due to the syntactical
displacement of the dat., in the pl. as in the sg., by the gen. But a
close investigation of the Nikāyas shows that no certain vestiges of an
historical dat. pl. exists in Pāli. There are however some instances of
the -ehi form the sense of which seem to be bordering on that of the
dat. (or the abl.). In the frequent phrase yāvadeva manussehi
suppakāsitaṃ D II.113,114,219; III.122 etc., which Rhys Davids
(Dialogues 11.113) translated as “until in a word it shall have been
well proclaimed among men”, manussehi can be syntactically the dat.
denoting the persons to whom something is proclaimed (vide §93 b.c.d.).
There is also the reading Yāva devamanussehi Ud 64 which is supported by
the Comy, on D III.122 ‘deva-lokato yāva manussa-lokā suppakāsitaṃ’ and
also by the Buddhist Skr. parallel at Divyâvadāna 201 ‘yāvad-deva
manuṣyebhyaḥ’. Whatever the reading may be it is an open question
whether the ending -ehi here represents an older dat. (pl. -ebhyas)
agreeing with the verb ‘suppakāsitaṃ’ or an abl. construed with yāva
taken as a preposition. But if the latter be the case the rendering
would be “proclaimed up to or as far as (gods and) men” which however
does not make good sense. On the other hand if yāva is taken merely as
the adverb meaning “completely” (cp. Rhys Davids, “in a word”) or “just”
as found in alaṃ vo taṃ yāvadeva sītassa paṭighātāya D III.130 “just
enough to stand the cold”, the phrase makes satisfactory sense.
Accordingly it is quite probable that what we have here is an old dat.
pl. We are confronted with a similar difficulty in the  case of -ehi
ayaṃ bhikkhave uppatti asādhāraṇā puthujjanehi A II.128
“this birth, monks, is not common to worldings”.
The adj. sādhāraṇa in Pāli as well as in Skr. is capable of being
construed with either the gen., dat. or inst. (vide Monier-Williams’,
Dict, s.v.) but with the inst. its sense is usually “equal” because here
a comparison is implied. When, however, the sense is “common to” as in
the above example the dat. appears syntactically the more suitable
construction. The -ehi ending therefore may here possibly stand for the
older dat. pl. rather than the inst., preserved because of the option in
§10. Eastern Forms.
Among the sporadic
forms of the above (a-) declension we may group the so-called Māgadhisms
under which Geiger (PLS §80) includes the nom. and voc. sg. in -e both
masculine and neuter. In the Dīgha- and Majjhima Nikāyas there are 6
such nom. forms of masculine nouns and 8 of neuters. The existence of
these eastern forms can be justified on the ground that all these are
put into the mouth of one or the other of the six leaders of heretical
schools whose dialect was naturally some kind of eastern Prākṛt.
Moreover it is significant that they are clustered together in passages
of philosophic importance reported to have been said by them. These
statements occur in the Sandaka Sutta of the Majjhima- and in the
Sāmaññaphala Sutta of the Dīgha Nikāya. They are: bāle ca paṇḍite ca
kāyassa bhedā ucchijjanti D I.55; M I.515,518; doṇamite sukhadukkhe,
pariyantakaṭe saṃsāre natthi hāyanavaḍḍhane natthi ukkaṃsâvakaṃse M
I.518; D I.54; ājīvasate, paribbājasate, nāgâvāsasate, vīse indriyasate,
tiṃse nirayasate M I.517-518; D I.53; sattaguḷe khitte nibbeṭhiyamānaṃ
eva paleti M I.518; kamme ca aḍḍhakamme ca M I.517; sukhe dukkhe jīve
satt’ ime M I.517 with the less accurate reading sukhe dukkhe
jīvasattame D I.56. These statements are repeated in a discourse by the
Buddha at S III.211 (§§5,6&7). Also in the Sunakkhatta Sutta of the
Majjhima Nikāya the -e form is 5 times used by the Buddha in a talk with
Sunakkhatta, the Licchavi. Here too they occur in a passage of 
philosophic importance, viz., ye lokāmisasaṃyojane se pavutte M II.254;
ye anañjasaṃyojane se bhinne M II.255; ye ākiñcaññâyatanasaṃyojane se
vante M II.255; ye nevasaññānâsaññāyatanasaṃyojane se ucchinne
ucchinnamūle tālavatthukate anabhāvakate āyatiṃ anuppādadhamme M II.255.
There are three other instances of the -e form outside the above
context, viz., ke ca chave sigāle, ke pana sīhanāde ti? D III.24, where
probably it is due to the fact that the phrase is borrowed from popular
speech as an exclamatory metaphor conveying a sense of disparagement; ye
āyatane veditabbe S IV.98, which the Comy. takes as nom. sg. (‘tasmā ye
āyatane veditabbe ti taṃ kāraṇaṃ jānitabbaṃ ti attho’ Sāratthapakāsinī
391, v.l. veditabbo); idha pana bhikkhave bhikkhu … tasmiṃ ca sukhe
anadhimuchite (for -to) hoti M II.223 “here, monks, a bhikkhu is not
infatuated in the matter of that happiness”.
Geiger has instanced
the voc. sg. (in -e) in ehi tvaṃ samma Bhesike D I.225 which he regards
with Pischel (Prk. Gr. §366.b) as a nom. used in address as voc. In
fact Pāli like Prk. has sometimes the actual nom. sg. instead of the
voc. (-a) in addressing. e.g., kin nu kho āvuso bho Gotamo taṃ jīvaṃ taṃ
sarīraṃ udāhu aññaṃ jīvaṃ aññaṃ sarīraṃ D I.157 (cp. Ardha-Māgadhī voc.
sg. putto, Prk. Gr. §363). We have also the reverse case where the form
in short -a is used for the nom. sg. in -o. e.g., Kahan nu kho bho
Nāgita etarahi so bhavaṃ Gotama viharati … ? D I.150, which may be
either due to eastern influence (cp. Ardha-Māgadhī nom. sg. Buddha-putta
for Buddha-putto, Prk. Gr. §364) or the sandhi form of the original
Gotamaḥ with the dropping of the visarga. In the voc. pl. of āyasmā
beside the regular āyasmantā and āyasmanto we find a form -ante used in
addressing two persons. e.g., āyasmante (voc. pl. or dual) M I.474. If
this be a dual form corresponding to Skr. -antau, standing for
āyasmanto, the -e can be regarded as being due to eastern influence.
Such influence is positively seen in the archaic nom. pl. ending -āse
(Geiger PLS §79.4, for examples) which is the eastern form for Pāli -āso
from Vedic -āsas. There are a few eastern forms in the pronominal
declension also (vide §16). 
§11. Sporadic Forms of the a- Declension.
In the above paragraph we have referred to the archaic ending -āse of
the nom. pl. masculine which represents the eastern derivative of the
Vedic double ending -āsas, both feminine and masculine. In Pāli however
this ending is never found with feminine nouns (PLS §79).
neuter of the a- declension there are a few remnants of the older Vedic
plural of the nom. in -ā, beside the regular -āni. e.g., rūpā Th 1.455; D
I.245; sotā Sn 345; nettā Th 2.257 etc. On the analogy of the masculine
inflexion a neuter acc. pl. -e is formed, (m. nom. pl. -ā: m. acc. pl.
-e = nt. nom. pl. -ā: nt acc. pl. e). e.g., rūpe passituṃ Ud 30; rūpe ca
pajānāti M I.61; rūpe paṭicca S IV.18. This is also found with the
verbal nouns in -naṃ, all being used in the plural thus removing the
possibility of their being Māgadhī nt. sg. acc. in -e. e.g. nīvaraṇe
pahāya D I.73; Sn 17, beside nīvaraṇāni (vide P.T.S. Dict. s.v.). But
sometimes masculine adjectives are found used with them. e.g., cattāro
satipaṭṭhāne bhāventi M II.11; showing that the identity of forms had
later on given rise to change of gender.
§12. Feminine in -ā.
In the feminine ā- declension the older historical endings of the
inst., dat., abl., and gen. have been replaced by -āya which is also
used for the loc. beside the normal -āyaṃ. The ending -āya seems to be a
later phonetic development of the Skr. abl. -gen. -āyas, the -ḥ- being
dropped owing to the phonetic law already mentioned (vide §1.) and the
shortening of the final vowel being due to the general phonetic weakness
of terminal elements in Middle Indian as referred to (§8.). The
replacement of the dat. both in the sg. and in the pl. by the gen. form
is due to the same syntactical phenomenon as discussed in the case of
the masculine declension (§4.). The older inst. -ayā is also lost being
replaced by the abl. sg. -āya due to similar syntactical reasons (vide
§§62,116 & 118). But a considerable number of inst. fem, in -ā, as
in the masculine and neuter declensions, is  found in the Nikāyas.
e.g., saddhā pabbajitvā M I.16,123 “leaving (home) through or by faith”,
beside saddhāya gharā nikkhamma Sn 337; tassā issā na supati Sn 110 “he
does not sleep through jealousy for her”; assavanatā dhammassa D II.38;
M I.168 (Comy. ‘assavanatā ti assavanatāya dhammassa’ Sum.II.467);
vyārosanā paṭighasaññā Sn 148 “through anger and hatred”; ekapuggalassa
bhikkhave kālakiriyā bahuno janassa anutappā hoti A I.22 “owing to the
death of one person there is worry for many people”. It is however
difficult to say whether this ending -ā corresponds to the older Vedic
inst. in -ā of feminine nouns as in doṣ barháṇā etc., or is a phonetic
contraction of -āya (cp. Prk. -āa). Geiger (PLS §§27.2, 81) is inclined
to favour the latter possibility though Franke thought it was definitely
the Vedic ending -ā of feminine inst. sg. (vide: Inst, auf -ā von
a-stämmen im Pāli, Z.D.M.G. 1892 pp.313 et seq.). Even the form -ā in
abhiññā sacchikatvā D II.92,153, beside abhiññāya desitā D II.119 can be
inst. sg. of means, though Geiger (§27.2) regards it as a contraction
of the gerund in -āya after the Comys. (e.g., ‘tad abhiññā ti tad
abhijānitvā’ Sum. I. p.59).
§13. The Vowel Declension (-hetu).
Of the sporadic forms belonging to this declension the form hetu (abl.
sg. m.) is interesting owing to its peculiar syntactical function. It is
evidently a phonetic development from Skr. hetos, abl.-gen. sg. of
hetus m. “reason or cause”, the dropping of the final - h -, and the
reducing of the vowel -o to -u being due to the phonetic peculiarities
of such terminal elements as described in the foregoing paragraph. As to
the weakening of the vowel we may compare sajju (<*sajjo)
corresponding to Skr. sadyas (vide Geiger, PLS §§22&23). It is
mostly used as a postposition denoting cause in which case it appears as
a periphrase for the inst. or the abl. of cause. e.g.,
attahetu parahetu dhanahetu Sn 122
“because of oneself, others or wealth”;
na kho, Udāyi, etassa sacchikiriyāhetu bhikkhū mayi brahmacariyaṃ caranti M II.37
“it is not, Udāyi, due to  (the intention i.e. for the purpose of)
realizing this … that monks live the Holy Life under me”;
kāyassa pīṇanahetu M II.191
“for (lit. because of) the pleasing of the body”.
As seen from the rendering of the latter examples -hetu implies not
only cause but purpose as well. It may not appear, however, always as
postposition in a compound. There are many instances where it is used as
a separate word agreeing with a gen. of the noun or pronoun which
denotes the material cause implied. e.g.,
puttadārassa hetu M II.187
“lit. from the cause of son and wife”
i.e. “due to or for the purpose of son and wife”; yesaṃ hetu labhāmase
Kh 6 “owing to whom, lit., because of whom, we acquire … (cp. Comy.
‘ye nissāya yesaṃ kāraṇā’ Paramatthajotikā II. p.210). From these it is
evident that what we have in the stock phrases taṃ kissa hetu D I.14; M
I.1; A II.31, “why is it?”, lit., “because of what is it? and kissa hetu
A III.303, IV.393; Sn 1131, is an abl. sg. hetu and a gen. of the
pronoun (kissa, cp. kissa nirodhā taṇhā nirodhôti D II.33, where too
kissa is gen. sg. “of what” and nirodhā is abl. similar to hetu). The
suggestion that -hetu may be an elliptical form of the acc. sg. hetuṃ
(vide P.T.S. Dict. s.v.) is therefore unwarranted, cp. SS. 193. f.n. l.
where he argues that inspite of Pāṇinī’s rule śaṣṭīhetuprayoge (2.3.26) a
comparison with I.E. idiom shows that hetoḥ in the phrase ‘kasya hetoḥ’
is abl. & not gen. and that kasya is gen.
§14. The Consonantal Declension (parisatiṃ).
In the feminine parisā-, originally belonging to the consonantal
declension (< Skr. pariṣad), the historical form parisati
corresponding to Skr. pariṣadi occurs quite a number of times. e.g., D
III.18; A II.180. Here the replacement of - d - by - t - is probably due
to the influence of other original consonantal stems like sarit- (e.g.,
acc. sg. saritaṃ Sn 3) where in Pāli beside a nom. ending in a vowel
(cp. sarī parallel to parisā oblique cases are found with a - t - . This
is however not a sporadic phonetic change peculiar to Pāli as Geiger
suggests (PLS §39.4). In the examples adduced by him viz. kusīta,
mutiṅga and pātu- (Skr. kusīda, mṛdaṅga and prādur) it is not quite
certain which  form is the earlier. The first two are most probably
loan-words in Indo-Aryan and the etymology of the last is uncertain.
This form which is the loc. sg. is sometimes found with a final anusvāra
as parisatiṃ. e.g.,
parisatiṃ dhammaṃ deseti M II.140
“he preaches the doctrine in (or to) the assembly”;
so Rājagahe parisatiṃ evaṃ vācaṃ bhāsati A I.185
“At Rājagaha he tells these words to the (or in the) crowd.”
At another place it occurs with the masculine pronoun. e.g.,
sādhu te pañca dhamme imasmiṃ parisatiṃ bhāsassūti M II.199
“well, declare to (or in) this assembly the five dhammas”.
Here we have a v.l. imissaṃ parisati. The appearance of the anusvāra is
probably due to the syntactical fact that verbs of speaking sometimes
agree with an acc. of the person to whom the words are addressed (vide
§§36.b,58.c.). The proper loc. significance of the historical form
parisati being lost due to its archaic nature the construction was
replaced by the more popular idiom, viz., the acc. with verbs of
speaking. So the acc. ending -ṃ is added to a theoretical stem parisati-
(f.). The fact that the loc. form, whether historical or later, is
preserved when there is no actual verb but only the participle also
strengthens the validity of our surmise. e.g.,
bhāsitā kho pana te es’ avuso Pāṭika-putta Vesāliyaṃ parisati vācā D III.18;
“Were these words spoken by you, friend Pāṭika-putta, at Vesāli among the rabble?”;
parisāyaṃ bhāsato D II.218,
“speaking in the assembly”.
For it is to be generally observed in Pāli concinnity that the loc.
appears in such adnominal instances in place of an acc. which is the
more usual in the adverbal construction.
The Pronominal Declension 04
§15. The Enclitic Forms.
Whereas in Vedic and Classical Sanskrit the enclitic forms me, te sg.
are found only for the dat. and gen., no, vo pl. are found only in the
acc., dat. and gen., Pāli like Prākṛt has extended their use to other
cases as well. (vide Pischel, Prk. Gr. §420; acc. sg. me; inst. sg. me;
acc. pl. ṇo, ṇe; inst. pl. ṇe). Though  not infrequently, the forms
me and te occur as accusatives in Pāli. e.g.,
te ekena khaṇena ekena muhuttena ekamaṃsakhalaṃ ekamaṃsapuñjaṃ karissāmi M I.377
“In a flash, in a moment, I shall reduce you to one mash, one mass of flesh”.
(cp. Ardha-Māgadhī and Śaurasenī acc. sg. te, Prk. Gr. §421). Franke
has also given as acc. sg. in Pāli the forms me and te, (vide, Pāli und
Sanskrit, p.152). This employ seems to have originated in the contact
between the uses of the acc. and the inst. as in the following causative
construction where the causative verb pāpetu can take either the acc.
or the inst. of its primitive subject that which would have been its
subject in the original non-causative state (vide §59). e.g.,
sādhu me bhante Bhagavā tapojigucchāya aggaṃ yeva pāpetu sāraṃ yeva pāpetûti D III.48
“may the Blessed One make me attain to the summit, to the essence of disgust-for-asceticism”
where me can be either the acc. or the inst. In the pl. no and vo are similarly found for the acc. e.g.,
upāsakā no bhavaṃ Gotamo dhāretu M I.413
“may the venerable Gotama take us as disciples”;
pahāya vo gamissāmi D II.120
“I shall go leaving you”;
āmantayāmi vo D II.156
“I address you”
(cp. Māgadhī and Śaurasenī acc. pl. vo, Prk. Gr. §422). In the inst.
there are definite examples where the form me is used for the agent.
maggaṃ kho me gacchantena A IV.334
“by me going the way”;
kammaṃ pana me karontena A IV.334
“by me doing an action”;
akatena me ettha kataṃ M I.515 lit.
“by me not doing it is done, i.e., without my doing any task is done”;
mūḷhena me evaṃ kataṃ M II.248
“thus done by my deluded self”.
It is also found agreeing with feminine nouns. e.g.,
suto yeva me … upanaccantiyā D II.268
“was heard by me … (while) … dancing”.
Buddhaghosa regards me in the stock phrase evaṃ me sutaṃ D I.1 as
standing either for the inst. or the gen. of agency (vide §154). He
says: “me saddo tīsu atthesu dissati: Tathā hi ’ssa gāthâbhigītaṃ me
abhojaneyyaṃ ti ādisu mayā ti attho (i.e. inst.). Sādhu me bhante
Bhagavā saṇkhittena dhammaṃ desetûti ādisu mayhaṃ attho (i.e. dat.).
Dhammadāyādā me bhikkhave bhavathāti ādisu mama ti attho (i.e. gen.).
Idha pana mayā sutanti mama sutanti ca atthadvaye yujjati”. (Sum. I .
p.28, Papañcasūdanī I. p.4.). There is no doubt therefore that the form
 me was from very early times used as an inst. sg.. This extension
of its use seems to have originated in the agent-use of the gen. forms
me and te, which is a frequent construction in Pāli. e.g., api ca
m’ettha puggalavemattatā viditā D II.152; Sn p.102 (Comy. ‘api ca mayā
…’ Pj.II.2.436); taṃ kiṃ maññasi gahapati, sutaṃ te … evaṃ bhante
sutaṃ me M I.378; Samaṇo me Gotamo nimantito Sn p.104; te ca me evaṃ
puttha D I.192;III.28; etaṃ me abhipatthitaṃ D II.266 (Comy. ‘etaṃ mayā
abhipatthitaṃ’ Sum.III. p.702); bhāsitā me esā vācā D III.54; kicchena
me adhigataṃ D II.36; yan te karaṇīyaṃ Sn p.39; punar āyu ca me laddho D
II.285(V.); sahitaṃ me asahitaṃ te … āropito te vādo M II.3; taṃ me
idaṃ bhante Bhagavā sakkhi diṭṭho M I.370. In all these examples the
gen. is as permissible to denote the agent as the inst.. It is probable
that the me here originally stood for the gen. but later on came to be
regarded as the inst. of agency. Finally, in two instances no and vo
appear in the role of nom. plurals. e.g.,
yaṃ no Bhagavā dhammaṃ bhāsissati taṃ no sossāmati M II.5
“what doctrine the Blessed One will preach to us, that we shall hear”;
mā vo muñcittha koci naṃ D II.262
“Ye let not one escape, whoever it be”.
In both these examples there is the alternate possibility of the
enclitic being used merely as emphatic particle, but in taṃ no sossāmâti
the emphasis, if no implies such, is not needed according to the
context, though vo in the other instance may have an emphatic sense.
§16. Sporadic Forms.
Among the sporadic forms of the pronominal declension we may place the
nom. pl. amhā formed on the analogy of the a- declension (nominal acc.
pl. -e: pronominal acc. pl. -e: nominal nom. pl. -ā: pronominal nom. pl.
tena ca amhā attamanā M II.132,177
“thereby we were pleased”.
Similarly on the analogy of the a- declension the relative pronoun yo
has a dat. sg. masculine yāya. e.g., yāya eva kho pana atthāya D I.90,
beside the usual yassa, which is the gen. form used as dat. e.g., yassa
atthāya M I.392. In the inflexion of the demonstrative pronoun a gen.
pl. sānaṃ f. “of those (women)” occurs  beside the regular tāsaṃ or
tāsānaṃ. e.g., bāḷhā me dukkhā vedanā abhikkamanti no paṭikkamanti
abhikkamo sānaṃ paññāyati S V.80,345. A few archaic forms of the
reflexive pronoun sa, (Skr. sva) “one’s own”, occur mostly in the gāthā
saṃ ñātiṃ atimaññati Sn 104
“he disparages his own relatives”;
nihīno sena mānena Sn 132
“devoid of his own pride”;
samhi āsane D II.225
“in his own seat”;
sehi dārehi Sn 108; sehi dhammehi Sn 298.
Finally, it may be mentioned that a few eastern forms have crept into
the pronominal declension as into the nominal. e.g., ye for yad or yaṃ,
and se for tad or tam. These are also found in the passages already
referred to (§10). e.g., Tattha yañce savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ, ye avitakke
avicāre se paṇītatare D II.278; evam eva kho, Sunakkhatta,
sammā-nibbānâdhimuttassa purisa puggalassa ye
nevasaññānâsaññâyatana-saṃyojane se ucchinnamūle … M II.256 (cp. Prk.
Gr. §423). The same form se occurs also in the frequent adverbs seyyathā
D I.145 for tad + yathā “just as, such as” and seyyathîdaṃ D
I.89;II.91; S V.421; It 99 “as follows” for tad + yatha + idaṃ. The
eastern form ye for yaṃ is found also in compound yebhuyyena D
I.17;II.139, which is made up of Skr. yad and bhūyas. The interrogative
ke for ko m. sg. also occurs in one of the above-mentioned passages
Buddhist Councils -
The authentic teachings of the Buddha Gotama have been preserved and
handed down to us and are to be found in the Tipitaka. The Pali word,
‘Tipitaka’, literally means ‘the three baskets’ (ti- three + pitaka-
basket). All of the Buddha’s teachings were divided into three parts.
The first part is known as the Suttanta Pitaka and it contains the
Discourses. The second part is called the Vinaya Pitaka and it contains
all the rules the Buddha laid down for monks and nuns. The third part is
known as the Abhidhamma Pitaka and comprises the Buddha’s teachings on
his psycho-ethical philosophy. It is known, that whenever the Buddha
gave a discourse to his ordained disciples or lay-followers or
prescribed a monastic rule in the course of his forty-five year
ministry, those of his devoted and learned monks, then present would
immediately commit his teachings word for word to memory. Thus the
Buddha’s words were preserved accurately and were in due course passed
down orally from teacher to pupil. Some of the monks who had heard the
Buddha preach, in person were Arahants, and so by definition, ‘pure
ones’ free from passion, ill-will and delusion and therefore, without
doubt capable of retaining, perfectly the Buddha’s words. Thus they
ensured that the Buddha’s teachings would be preserved faithfully for
posterity. Even those devoted monks who had not yet attained Arahantship
but had reached the first three stages of sainthood and had powerful,
retentive memories could also call to mind and word for word what the
Buddha had preached and so could be worthy custodians of the Buddha’s
teachings. One such monk was Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin and chosen
attendant and constant companion during the last twenty-five years of
the Buddh’s life. Ananda was highly intelligent and gifted with the
ability to remember whatever he had heard spoken. Indeed, it was his
express wish that the Buddha always relate all of his discourses to him
and although he was not yet an Arahant, he deliberately committed to
memory and word for word all the Buddha’s sermons with which he exhorted
monks, nuns and his lay followers. The combined efforts of these gifted
and devoted monks made it possible for the Dhamma and Vinaya, as taught
by the Buddha to be preserved in its original state.
Tipitaka and its allied literature exists as a result of the Buddha’s
discovery of the noble and liberating path of the pure Dhamma. This path
enables all those who follow it to lead a peaceful and happy life.
Indeed, in this day and age we are fortunate to have the authentic
teachings of the Buddha preserved for future generations through the
conscientious and concerted efforts of his ordained disciples down
through the ages. The Buddha had said to his disciples that when he was
no longer amongst them, that it was essential that the Sangha should
come together for the purpose of collectively reciting the Dhamma,
precisely as he had taught it. In compliance with this instruction the
first Elders duly called a council and systematically ordered all the
Buddha’s discourses and monastic rules and then faithfully recited them
word for word in concert.
The teachings contained in the Tipitaka
are also known as the Doctrine of the Elders (Theravada). These
discourses number several hundred and have always been recited word for
word ever since the First Council was convened. Subsequently, more
Councils have been called for a number of reasons but at every one of
them the entire body of the Buddha’s teaching has always been recited by
the Sangha participants, in concert and word for word. The first
council took place three months after the Buddha’s death and attainment
of Parinibbana and was followed by five more, two of which were convened
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These collective recitations
which were performed by the monks at all these Buddhist Councils are
known as the ‘Dhamma Sangitis’, the Dhamma Recitations. They are so
designated because of the precedent set at the First Buddhist Council,
when all the Teachings were recited first by an Elder of the Sangha and
then chanted once again in chorus by all of the monks attending the
assembly. The recitation was then judged to have been authentic, when
and only when, it had been approved unanimously by the members of the
Council. What follows is a brief history of the Six Councils.
THE FIRST COUNCIL
King Ajatasattu sponsored the First Council. It was convened in 544
B.C. in the Satiapanni Cave situated outside Rajagaha three months after
the Buddha had passed away. A detailed account of this historic meeting
can be found in the Cullavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka. According to this
record the incident which prompted the Elder Mahakassapa to call this
meeting was his hearing a disparaging remark about the strict rule of
life for monks. This is what happened. The monk Subhadda, a former
barber, who had ordained late in life, upon hearing that the Buddha had
died, voiced his resentment at having to abide by all the rules for
monks laid down by the Buddha. Many monks lamented the passing of the
Buddha and were deeply grieved, however, the Elder Mahakassapa heard
Subhadda say: “Enough your Reverences, do not grieve, do not lament. We
are well rid of this great recluse (the Buddha). We were tormented when
he said, ‘this is allowable to you, this is not allowable to you’ but
now we will be able to do as we like and we will not have to do what we
do not like.’ Mahakassapa was alarmed by his remark and feared that the
Dhamma and the Vinaya might be corrupted and not survive intact if other
monks were to behave like Subbhada and interpret the Dhamma and the
Vinaya rules as they pleased. To avoid this he decided that the Dhamma
must be preserved and protected. To this end after gaining the Sangha’s
approval he called to council four hundred and ninety-nine Arahants and
Ananda. With the Elder Mahakassapa presiding, the five-hundred monks met
in council during the rainy season. The first thing Mahakassapa did was
to question the foremost expert on the Vinaya of the day, the Venerable
Upali on particulars of the monastic rule. This monk was well qualified
for the task as the Buddha had taught him the whole of the Vinaya,
himself. First of all the Elder Mahakassapa asked him specifically about
the ruling on the first offence (parajika), with regard to the subject,
the occasion, the individual introduced, the proclamation, the
repetition of the proclamation, the offence and the case of non-offence.
Upali gave knowledgeable and adequate answers and his remarks met with
the unanimous approval of the presiding Sangha. Thus the Vinaya was
The Elder Mahakassapa then turned his
attention to Ananda in virtue of his reputable expertise in all matters
connected with the Dhamma. Happily, the night before the Council was to
meet, Ananda attained Arahantship. The Elder Mahakassapa, therefore, was
able to question him at length with complete confidence about the
Dhamma with specific reference to the Buddha’s sermons. This
interrogation on the Dhamma sought to verify the place where all the
discourses were first preached and the person to whom they had been
addressed. Ananda, aided by his word-perfect memory was able to answer
accurately and so the Discourses met with the unanimous approval of the
Sangha. The First Council also gave its official seal of approval for
the closure of the chapter on the minor and lesser rules, and approval
for their observance. It took the monks seven months to recite the whole
of the Vinaya and the Dhamma and those monks sufficiently endowed with
good memories retained all that had been recited. This historic first
council came to be known as the Pancasatika because five-hundred fully
enlightened Arahants had taken part in it.
THE SECOND COUNCIL
The Second Council was called one hundred years after the Buddha’s
Parinibbana in order to settle a serious dispute over the ‘ten points’.
This is a reference to some monks breaking of ten minor rules. They were
1. Storing salt in a horn.
2. Eating after mid-day.
3. To eating once and then going again to a village for alms.
4. Holding the Uposatha Ceremony with monks dwelling in the same locality.
5. Carrying out official acts when the assembly was incomplete.
6. Following a certain practice because it was done by one’s tutor or teacher.
7. Eating sour milk after one had had his mid-day meal.
8. Drinking strong drink before it had been fermented.
9. Using a rug which was not the proper size.
10. Using gold and silver.
Their misdeeds became an issue and caused a major controversy as
breaking these rules was thought to contradict the Buddha’s original
teachings. King Kalasoka was the Second Council’s patron and the meeting
took place at Vesali due to the following circumstances. One day,
whilst visiting the Mahavana Grove at Vesali, the Elder Yasa came to
know that a large group of monks known as the Vajjians were infringing
the rule which prohibited monk’s accepting gold and silver by openly
asking for it from their lay devotees. He immediately criticized their
behaviour and their response was to offer him a share of their illegal
gains in the hope that he would be won over. The Elder Yasa, however
declined and scorned their behaviour. The monks immediately sued him
with a formal action of reconciliation, accusing him of having blamed
their lay devotees, the Elder Yasa accordingly reconciled himself with
the lay devotees, but at the same time, convinced them that the Vajjian
monks had done wrong by quoting the Buddha’s pronouncement on the
prohibition against accepting or soliciting for gold and silver. The
laymen immediately expressed their support for the Elder Yasa and
declared the Vajjian monks to be wrong-doers and heretics saying, “the
Elder Yasa alone is the real monk and Sakyan son. All the others are not
monks, not Sakyan sons.”
The stubborn and unrepentant Vajjian
monks then moved to suspend the Venerable Yasa Thera without the
approval of the rest of the Sangha. When they came to know of the
outcome of his meeting with their lay devotees. The Elder Yasa, however
escaped their censure and went in search of support from monks
elsewhere, who upheld his orthodox views on the Vinaya. Sixty forest
dwelling monks from Pava and eighty monks from the southern regions of
Avanti who were of the same mind, offered to help him to check the
corruption of the Vinaya. Together they decided to go to Soreyya to
consult the Venerable Revata as he was a highly revered monk and an
expert in the Dhamma and the Vinaya. As soon as the Vajjian monks came
to know this they also sought the Venerable Revata’s support by offering
him the four requisites which he promptly refused. These monks then
sought to use the same means to win over the Venerable Revata’s
attendant, the Venerable Uttara. At first he too, rightly declined their
offer but they craftily persuaded him to accept their offer saying,
that when the requisites meant for the Buddha were not accepted by him,
Ananda would be asked to accept them and would often agree to do so.
Uttara changed his mind and accepted the requisites. Urged on by them he
then agreed to go and persuade the Venerable Revata to declare that the
Vajjian monks were indeed speakers of the Truth and upholders of the
Dhamma. The Venerable Revata saw through their ruse and refused to
support them. He then dismissed Uttara. In order to settle the matter
once and for all, the Venerable Revata advised that a council should be
called at Valikarama with himself asking questions on the ten offences
of the most senior of the Elders of the day, the Thera Sabbakami. Once
his opinion was given it was to be heard by a committee of eight monks,
and its validity decided by their vote. The eight monks called to judge
the matter were the Venerables, Sabbakami, Salha, Khujjasobhita and
Vasabhagamika, from the East and four monks from the West, the
Venerables, Revata, Sambhuta-Sanavasi, Yasa and Sumana. They thoroughly
debated the matter with Revata as the questioner and Sabbakami answering
his questions. After the debate was heard the eight monks decided
against the Vajjian monks and their verdict was announced to the
assembly. Afterwards seven-hundred monks recited the Dhamma and Vinaya
and this recital came to be known as the Sattasati because seven-hundred
monks had taken part in it. This historic council is also called, the
Yasatthera Sangiti because of the major role the Elder Yasa played in it
and his zeal for safeguarding the Vinaya. The Vajjian monks
categorically refused to accept the Council’s decision and in defiance
called a council of there own which was called the Mahasangiti.
THE THIRD COUNCIL
The Third Council was held primarily in order to rid the Sangha of
corruption and bogus monks who held heretical views. The Council was
convened in 326 B.C. at Asokarama in Pataliputta. It was presided over
by the Elder Moggaliputta Tissa and one thousand monks under the
patronage of the Emperor Asoka. Tradition has it that he won his throne
through shedding the blood of all his father’s sons save his own
brother, Tissa Kumara who eventually ordained and achieved Arahantship.
Asoka was crowned in the two hundred and eighteenth year after the
Buddha’s Parinibbana. At first he paid only token homage to the Dhamma
and the Sangha and supported members of other religious sects as well as
his father had done before him. However, all this changed when he met
the pious novice-monk Nigrodha who preached to him the, Appamada-vagga.
Thereafter, he ceased supporting other religious groups and his interest
in and devotion to the Dhamma deepened. He used his enormous wealth to
build, it is said, eighty-four thousand pagodas, temples and viharas and
to support the Bhikkhus with the four requisites daily and lavishly.
His son Mahinda and his daughter Sanghamitta were ordained and admitted
to the Sangha. Eventually, his generosity was to cause serious problems
within the Sangha. In time the order was infiltrated by many unworthy
men, holding heretical views and who were attracted to the order because
of the Emperor’s generous support and costly offerings of food,
clothing, shelter and medicine. Large numbers of faithless, greedy men
espousing wrong views tried to join the order but were deemed unfit for
ordination. Despite this they seized the chance to exploit the Emperor’s
generosity for their own ends and donned robes and joined the order
without having been ordained properly. Consequently, respect for the
Sangha diminished. When this came to light some of the genuine monks
refused to hold the prescribed purification or Uposatha ceremony in the
company of the corrupt, heretical monks.
When the Emperor heard
about this he sought to rectify the situation and dispatched one of his
ministers to the monks with the command that they perform the ceremony.
However, the Emperor had given the minister no specific orders as to
what means were to be used to carry out his command. The monks refused
to obey and hold the ceremony in the company of their false and
‘thieving’, companions (theyyasinivasaka). In desperation the angry
minister advanced down the line of seated monks and drawing his sword,
beheaded all of them one after the other until he came to the King’s
brother, Tissa who had ordained. The horrified minister stopped the
slaughter and fled the hall and reported back to the Emperor Asoka who
was deeply grieved and upset by what had happened and blamed himself for
the killings. He sought Thera Moggaliputta Tissa’s counsel. He proposed
that the heretical monks be expelled from the order and a third Council
be convened immediately. So it was that in the seventeenth year of the
Emperor’s reign the Third Council was called. Thera Moggaliputta Tissa
headed the proceedings and chose one thousand monks from the the sixty
thousand participants for the traditional recitation of the Dhamma and
the Vinaya, which went on for nine months. The Emperor, himself
questioned monks from a number of monasteries about the teachings of the
Buddha. Those who held wrong views were exposed and expelled from the
Sangha, immediately. In this way the Bhikkhu Sangha was purged of
heretics and bogus bhikkhus.
This council achieved a number of
other important things as well. The Elder Moggaliputta Tissa in order to
refute a number of heresies and ensure the Dhamma was kept pure,
complied a book during the council called, the Kathavatthu. This book
consists of twenty-three chapters, and is a collection of discussions
(katha) and refutations of the heretical views held by various sects on
matters philosophical. It is the fifth of the seven books of the
Abhidhamma Pitaka. The members of this Council also gave a royal seal of
approval to the doctrine of the Buddha, naming it the Vibhajjavada, the
Doctrine of Analysis. It is identical with the approved Theravada
One of the most significant achievements of this
Buddhist assembly and one which was to bear fruit for centuries to come,
was the Emperor’s sending forth of monks, well versed in the Buddha’s
Dhamma and Vinaya who could recite all of it by heart, to teach it in
nine different countries. These Dhammaduta monks included the Venerable
Majjhantika Thera who went to Kashmir and Gandhara. He was asked to
preach the Dhamma and establish an order of monks there. The Venerable
Mahadeva was sent to Mahinsakamandala (modern Mysore) and the Venerable
Rakkhita Thera was dispatched to Vanavasi (northern Kanara in the south
of India.) The Venerable Yonaka Dhammarakkhita Thera was sent to Upper
Aparantaka (northern Gujarat, Kathiwara, Kutch and Sindh). The Venerable
Maharakkhita Thera went to Yonaka-loka (the land of the lonians,
Bactrians and the Greeks.) The Venerable Majjhima Thera went to Himavant
(the place adjoining the Himalayas.) The Venerable Sona and the
Venerable Uttara were sent to Suvannabhumi (now Myamar). The Venerable
Mahinda Thera, The Venerable Ittiya Thera, the Venerable Uttiya Thera,
the Venerable Sambala Thera and the Venerable Bhaddasala Thera were sent
to Tambapanni ( now Sri Lanka). The Dhamma missions of these monks
succeeded and bore great fruits in the course of time and went a long
way in ennobling the peoples of these lands with the gift of the Dhamma
and influencing their civilizations and cultures.
THE FOURTH COUNCIL
The Fourth Council was held in Tambapanni (Sri Lanka) in 29 B.C. under
the patronage of King Vattagamani. The main reason for its convening was
the realization that it was now not possible for the majority of monks
to retain the entire Tipitaka in their memories as had been the case
formerly for the Venerable Mahinda and those who followed him soon
after. Therefore, as the art of writing had, by this time developed
substantially it was thought expedient and necessary to have the entire
body of the Buddha’s teaching written down. King Vattagamani supported
the monk’s idea and a council was held specifically to reduce the
Tipitaka in its entirety to writing. Therefore, so that the genuine
Dhamma might be lastingly preserved, the Venerable Maharakkhita and five
hundred monks recited the words of the Buddha and then wrote them down
on palm leaves. This remarkable project took place in a cave called, the
Aloka lena, situated in the cleft of an ancient landslip near what is
now Matale. Thus the aim of the Council was achieved and the
preservation in writing of the authentic Dhamma was ensured. In the
Eighteenth Century, King Vijayarajasiha had images of the Buddha created
in this cave.
THE FIFTH COUNCIL
The Fifth Council took
place in Mandalay Burma now known as Myanmar in 1871 A.D. in the reign
of King Mindon. The chief objective of this meeting was to recite all
the teachings of the Buddha and examine them in minute detail to see if
any of them had been altered, distorted or dropped. It was presided over
by three Elders, the Venerable Mahathera Jagarabhivamsa, the Venerable
Narindabhidhaja, and the Venerable Mahathera Sumangalasami in the
company of some two thousand four hundred monks (2,400). Their joint
Dhamma recitation lasted for five months. It was also the work of this
council to cause the entire Tipitaka to be inscribed for posterity on
seven hundred and twenty-nine marble slabs in the Myanmar script after
its recitation had been completed and unanimously approved. This
monumental task was done by some two thousand four hundred (2,400)
erudite monks and many skilled craftsmen who upon completion of each
slab had them housed in beautiful miniature ‘pitaka’ pagodas on a
special site in the grounds of King Mindon’s Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot
of Mandalay Hill where it and the so called ‘largest book in the
world’, stands to this day.
THE SIXTH COUNCIL
Council was called at Kaba Aye in Yangon, formerly Rangoon in 1954,
eighty-three years after the fifth one was held in Mandalay. It was
sponsored by the Burmese Government led by the then Prime Minister, the
Honourable U Nu. He authorized the construction of the Maha Passana
Guha, ‘the great cave’, an artificial cave very like India’s Sattapanni
Cave where the first Buddhist Council had been held. Upon its completion
The Council met on the 17th of May, 1954. As in the case of the
preceding councils, its aim first objective was to affirm and preserve
the genuine Dhamma and Vinaya. However it was unique in so far as the
monks who took part in it came from eight countries. These two thousand
five hundred learned Theravada monks came from Myanmar, Cambodia, India,
Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The late Venerable Mahasi
Sayadaw was appointed the noble task of asking the required questions
about the Dhamma of the Venerable Bhadanta Vicittasarabhivamsa who
answered all of them learnedly and satisfactorily. By the time this
council met all the participating countries had had the Pali Tipitaka
rendered into their native scripts, with the exception of India.
The traditional recitation of the Buddhist Scriptures took two years and
the Tipitaka and its allied literature in all the scripts were
painstakingly examined and their differences noted down and the
necessary corrections made and all the versions were then collated.
Happily, it was found that there was not much difference in the content
of any of the texts. Finally, after the Council had officially approved
them, all of the books of the Tipitaka and their Commentaries were
prepared for printing on modern presses and published in the Myanmar
(Burmese) script. This notable achievement was made possible through the
dedicated efforts of the two thousand five hundred monks and numerous
lay people. Their work came to an end in May, 1956, two and a half
millennia after the Lord Buddha’s Parinibbana. This council’s work was
the unique achievement of representatives from the entire Buddhist
world. The version of the Tipitaka which it undertook to produce has
been recognized as being true to the pristine teachings of the Buddha
Gotama and the most authoritative rendering of them to date.
May All beings be happy!
Unit 4: Becoming a Buddhist
When a person wishes to become a Buddhist, the first step he or she
takes is to go to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for refuge. Since the
time of the Buddha, taking this Threefold Refuge has identified a person
as a Buddhist.
Reasons for Taking Refuge
observe the world around them carefully, they are bound to notice the
pain, suffering and frustrations experienced by sentient beings. A
Buddhist will look for a way to end such distressing conditions in life
just as a traveller caught in a storm will seek shelter. If the
traveller is able to find shelter inside a building that is strong and
safe, he will call out to others who are still struggling in the storm
outdoors to join him in this safe refuge. Similarly, a person chooses to
become a Buddhist when he understands who the Buddha is, and how the
Buddha, Dharma and Sangha can provide him the way to end suffering. Out
of compassion, he will also encourage others to take the same refuge.
The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are called the Triple Gem because they
represent qualities which are excellent and precious like a gem. Once a
person recognises these unique qualities after careful consideration and
is confident that the Triple Gem can help lead him towards happiness
and Enlightenment, he takes refuge. It is, therefore, not out of mere
faith, but with an open-minded attitude and enquiring spirit that he
begins to practise the Buddha’s Teaching. In a way, he resembles the
scientist who decides to carry out a research project once he is
confident that it will bring positive results.
Select and Discuss a story from:
The Jataka Tales
> The Buddha & his Disciples
The word Buddha means the “Fully Enlightened One” or “Awakened One”. It
is the title given to those who have attained supreme and perfect
Enlightenment. Buddhists acknowledge the Buddha as the embodiment of the
highest morality, deepest concentration and perfect wisdom. His
followers also know the Buddha as the “Perfected One” because He has
wiped out desire, ill will and ignorance, and has overcome all
unwholesome actions. He has put an end to suffering and is no longer
bound to the cycle of birth and death.
The Buddha is the Fully
Enlightened One because He has realised the Truth and sees things as
they really are. He knows through his perfect wisdom, what is good and
what is not good for all beings. Out of great compassion, He shows
people the path leading to the end of suffering.
exemplary conduct, perfect wisdom and great compassion make Him an
excellent teacher. By His use of skilful means, He is able to reach out
to all His followers so that they can understand His Teaching.
The Buddha taught the Dharma solely out of compassion for sentient
beings who suffer in the cycle of birth and death. The Dharma is
therefore taught without any selfish motives. It is well-taught and
completely good. It is by nature pure and bright like a light that
destroys the darkness of ignorance. When the Dharma is studied and
practised, it brings many benefits now and in the future.
Dharma is the Teaching about the nature of life. This Teaching of the
Buddha is contained in the three collections of scriptures called the
Tripitaka or the “Three Baskets”. These consist of the discourses (Sutra
Pitaka) said to have been taught by the Buddha, the rules governing the
discipline of the monastic community (Vinaya Pitaka) and the philosophy
and psychology of Buddhism (Abhidharma Pitaka).
A Buddhist gets
to know about the Dharma by reading the scriptures. He also learns from
the writings and explanations of qualified teachers of Buddhism. Once he
has familiarised himself with the Dharma through reading and listening,
he has to realise its truth for himself by putting it into practice.
This means purifying his conduct and cultivating Mental Development
until the Teaching becomes part of his own experience.
The Sangha that a Buddhist takes refuge in is the community of Noble
Ones who have led exemplary lives and attained extraordinary insight
into the true nature of things. Their lives and achievements show others
that it is possible to progress on the path to Enlightenment.
However, the Sangha also generally refers to the fourfold community of
monks, nuns, men and women lay followers. Monks and nuns are respected
for their good conduct and for their experience in meditation. They are
also respected for their diligence, mindfulness and calmness. Wise and
learned, they are able teachers of the Dharma. They can also be like
trusted friends inspiring the lay followers along the path of Good
The lay followers accept the Four Noble Truths and the
other teachings of the Buddha and seek happiness and Enlightenment as
their common goal in life. They also uphold common moral values such as
avoiding injury to others in any way. Thus a Buddhist can look to other
members of the lay community for help and advice in times of need.
Analogy of a Journey
To understand better the idea of taking refuge, one might take the
example of a traveller who wants to visit a distant city where he has
never been to before. He will surely need a guide to lead him towards
his destination. He will need a path to follow. He may also wish to have
travelling companions on the journey. A Buddhist working towards
attaining happiness and Enlightenment is like the traveller trying to
reach that distant city. The Buddha is his “guide”, the Dharma his
“path” and the Sangha are his travelling companions”.
takes refuge in the Buddha as his guide because he believes that the
Buddha, having attained Enlightenment Himself, is able to guide him
towards that goal. The Dharma that he takes as his refuge is like a path
that has been well laid out. Such a path may include signposts to show
directions, bridges for crossing rivers and steps for climbing
mountains. Similarly, the Dharma includes the rules of Good Conduct to
help him avoid unwholesome actions and the techniques of Mental
Development to help him overcome distractions. It also teaches him how
to overcome ignorance and gain Enlightenment.
Taking refuge in
the Sangha is like having good travelling companions who keep a
traveller company, care for him when he is sick and encourage him along
when he is tired. The members of the Sangha, like ideal travelling
companions, help the lay follower to purify his unwholesome ideas and
correct his behaviour through sound advice and instruction, and
encourage him to continue his journey to Enlightenment.
The Act of Taking Refuge
A Buddhist expresses his intention of taking the Buddha, Dharma and
Sangha as his refuge by repeating the following lines thrice:
“I go to the Buddha for refuge.
I go to the Dharma for refuge.
I go to the Sangha for refuge.”
These lines can be recited by the person alone before the image of a
Buddha or repeated line by line after a monk or master. A Buddhist may
repeat the Threefold Refuge daily to remind himself that he has made a
commitment to attain the goal of happiness and Enlightenment through the
guidance and inspiration of the Triple Gem.
The Benefits of Taking Refuge
A Buddhist performs the act of taking refuge as the first step on the
path to Enlightenment. Thereafter, through Good Conduct and Mental
Development, he tries to achieve contentment, self-control, a calm and
clear mind, and wisdom. Even if Enlightenment is not achieved in this
life, a Buddhist who takes refuge in the Triple Gem is more likely to
have favourable conditions for attaining Enlightenment in a future life.
A person takes refuge when he fears the suffering of the world and
develops confidence in the Triple Gem which can lead him to happiness
and Enlightenment. The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are called the Triple
Gem because they represent qualities that are precious like a gem. A
Buddhist who wishes to attain Enlightenment regards the Buddha as his
guide, the Dharma as his path and the Sangha as his travelling
companions. He repeats the formula of taking refuge before an image of
the Buddha or a monk. Taking refuge is the first step on the path to
Secondary Level Unit 4: Becoming a Buddhist
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DN 5 Kuttadanta Sutta
(A discourse on the right and wrong sacrifice)
Thus have i heard.
Once buddha with the company of 500 monks arrived at a Brahmin village
called Khanumata where he stayed at the Ambalatthika park. At that time,
there was a Brahmin called Kutadanta and this discourse recorded what
was conversed between him and the Buddha. Kutadanta was living in a
beautiful house given to him by King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha.
Kutadanta was in the midst of planning a great sacrifice of 700 bulls,
700 bullocks, 700 heifers, 700 goats and 700 rams.
heard of Buddha’s arrival at Khanumata and knew he was a great teacher
of devas and humans and knew he taught the dhamma that is lovely in its
beginning, lovely in its middle and lovely in its ending. So he decided
to pay a visit to the Buddha. The rest of the brahmins knowing this
advised him not to as this will result in his reputation to drop and
that of Ascetic Gotama (Buddha) to increase; they said buddha should
visit Kutadanta instead.
However Kutadanta defended the Buddha
and explained to them why it is more fitting for the brahmins to go to
the buddha to learn from him. So he made his way together with other
brahmins to visit the buddha with an intention to ask buddha how to
conduct a successful triple sacrifice with the 16 requisites.
After exchanging courtesies, Kutadanta asked Buddha to explain how to
conduct the triple sacrifice with the 16 requisites. Buddha explained
that there was once a king called Mahavijita who was very rich with lots
of possessions and treasures. The King Mahavijita thought of conducting
a sacrifice to benefit himself and to bring himself happiness; hence he
asked his prime minister how to do it.
The prime minister
replied:” The country is manifested with thieves, some villages are
destroyed,the countryside is infested with robbers hence the countrymen
is unhappy and poor. Should the king tax the people now, it will be
inappropriate. Also if the king were to eliminate the robbers by
executions or imprisonment; the problem will not be completely resolved.
Those who survive the ordeal will seek revenge on the King. But we can
solve poverty and thefts by providing grains and cattle to farmers,
provide capital to the traders to aid their business and give reasonable
wages to those who are serving the government. By doing so, everyone
will have proper right livelihood, adequate wages to escape poverty and
they will not harm the kingdom and they will not steal. Then the kingdom
will be safe, revenues will be high and people will be happy. ” The
king accepted the prime minister’s advice and the kingdom is in peace.
The king then said since the kingdom is peaceful now, he can make the
sacrifice with 16 requisites for lasting benefits and happiness to
himself now. The prime minister then explained what are the 16
requisites which do not involve any killing of living beings.
The king of four divisions of people under him: the nobles (Khattiyas),
officials (advisers and counselors), Brahmins (priests), and
householders. That makes up four articles of furniture.
had eight personal qualifications himself: The king is well-born on both
sides, he is handsome, he is wealthy, he is powerful with 4 branched
army (elephants, cavalry, chariots & infantry), he is generous to
ascetics, he is learned, he is a wise scholar and he knew the meaning of
whatever is said.
His advising Brahmin had four personal
qualifications and this make up the total of the sixteen requisites
required for sacrifice: His brahmin is well born, he is a scholar versed
in mantras, he is virtuous and he is learned with great wisdom.
The prime minister then taught the king the three “modes” which simply
are the three conditions of mind at three different times: the
harboring of no regret before, harboring of no regret during, or
harboring of no regret after the sacrifice, at the expenditure involved.
The prime minister then further cleared the king’s doubts on
what’s more beneficial than carrying out a sacrifice. One who has right
view and follows the five precepts : abstain from killing, abstain from
lying, abstain from stealing, abstain from sexual misconduct and abstain
from intoxicants will have more benefits than carrying out many
Hence after the prime minister’s advise, no animals
were slaughtered, no trees were cut down for sacrificial posts, no
grasses were cut for the ritual site or vegetable, is injured. All the
labor involved is voluntary and no slaves or servants were forced to
work by force. Only ghee, oil, butter, curds, honey and sugar were used
(somewhat vegetarian). The expenditure involved were sponsored by the
wealthy khattiyas, counselors, influential brahmins and wealthy
householders; no money were used from taxation of the countrymen.
At the end of this explanation given by the Buddha, the brahmins
present applauded on how splendid it was to conduct a sacrifice this way
which is very different from the way the brahmins conduct the usual
sacrifice (involving slaughtering of animals, cutting down of trees and
spending lots of money). Brahmin Kutadanta then asked Buddha how he knew
how this sacrifice was conducted and asked if Buddha was present at the
time of King Mahavijita. Buddha replied that he was actually the prime
minister who advised King Mahavijita in his previous life. Hence this
sutta maybe a Jataka story.
Kutadanta once again asked Buddha:
“Is there any simpler, more fruitful and profitable thing to do than
this sacrifice with 16 attributes?”. Buddha replied: ” There is,
brahmin. That is generosity and donating to virtuous ascetics and the
needy. It is better to give DANA (charity) than to waste money setting
up the sacrifice. ”
Kutadanta asked again :” What is more
profitable than the above?”. Buddha replied :” There is, brahmin. That
is to provide shelter / accommodation for the Sangha (monks). “
Kutadanta asked again :” What is more profitable than the above?”.
Buddha replied :” There is, brahmin. That is if someone with a pure
heart to go to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha for refuge. ”
Kutadanta asked again :” What is more profitable than the above?”.
Buddha replied :” There is, brahmin. That is for someone with a pure
heart to take 5 precepts : abstain from killing, abstain from lying,
abstain from stealing, abstain from sexual misconduct and abstain from
Kutadanta asked again :” What is more profitable
than the above?”. Buddha replied :” There is, brahmin. A Tathagata, an
arahant, a fully enlightened buddha has arisen in this world and endowed
with conduct and wisdom; he taught the dhamma to the humans and devas
the path to end suffering which is the noble eightfold path to nibbana.
The buddha taught the dhamma that is lovely in its beginning, lovely in
its middle and lovely in its ending.
A disciple should practices
morality ( right speech, right action, right livelihood and observe the 5
precepts ) and guard the sense doors. The five precepts refer to
abstinence from killing, abstain from lying, abstain from stealing,
abstain from intoxicants and abstain from sexual misconduct. The
disciple through discipline and practice; attains the 4 Jhanas (
meditative adsorptions), develops various insights , achieve cessation
of the corruptions (taints) . Then he develops wisdom ( panna). He knows
there is nothing in this world.
So Brahmin, by following the
noble eightfold path, understanding the four noble truths, learning the
dhamma and practicing meditation; this is greater and more perfect, more
profitable and more fruitful than any other sacrifices.”
Brahmin Kutadanta praised buddha for his excellent explanation and
teaching; describing it as pointing out the way to one who had got lost.
He went to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha for refuge and asked Buddha to
allow him to be a lay-follower. He then set free the 700 bulls, 700
bullocks, 700 heifers, 700 goats and 700 rams instead of slaughtering
them for the sacrifice.
Buddha further delivered discourses
covering generosity, morality, on heaven, the danger of sense desires
and the benefits of renunciation to Kutadanta. When Kutadanta’s mind was
ready, free from hindrances and calm; buddha further delivered a
teaching of the dhamma in brief which covers the four noble truths
(suffering, origin of suffering, cessation of suffering and the noble
eightfold path) . Just like a cloth with all stains removed; brahmin
kutadanta had the pure and spotless dhamma eye and he knew ” whatever
things have an origin must come to cessation. (impermanence)”. He
invited Buddha over to his place for meal the next day as dana.
Moral of story: instead of the bloody sacrifice that were usually
practiced by brahmins back in that era, Buddha taught of a bloodless
sacrifice to the brahmin. Buddha also emphasized being virtuous,
observing the five precepts, practicing meditation, providing the 5
requisites to the sangha and learning the dhamma brings more joy and
benefit than any sacrifices. Hence this sutta is also called the
discourse on “Bloodless sacrifice”.
3. The long discourses of the Buddha (Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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