Details Supporting Visuddhimagga:
Re: Commentary Review - How did the inconsistencies in the commentaries come about?
Colophons of Visuddhimagga
Modern critics who attempt to despise the Buddhaghosa Thera, often refer to the epilogue and colophon at the end of the Visuddhimagga.
There is a long sentence which praises Acariya Buddhagosa and Mahavihara at the end of the Visuddhimagga.
Ven. Nanamoli’s Visuddhimagga Tranlation:
This Path of Purification was made by the elder who is adorned with supreme and pure faith, wisdom and energy, in whom are gathered a concourse of upright,gentle, etc., qualities due to the practice of virtue, who is capable of delving into and fathoming the views of his own and others’ creeds, who is possessed of keenness of understanding, who is strong in unerring knowledge of the Master’s Dispensation as divided into three Piþakas with their commentaries, a great expounder, gifted with sweet and noble speech that springs from the ease born of perfection of the vocal instrument, a speaker of what is appropriately said, a superlative speaker, a great poet, an ornament in the lineage of the elders who dwell in the Great Monastery, and who are shining lights in the lineage of elders with unblemished enlightenment in the superhuman states that are embellished with the special qualities of the six kinds of direct-knowledge and the categories of discrimination, who has abundant purified wit, who bears the name Buddhaghosa conferred by the venerable ones, and who should be called “of Morandacetaka.”
And the critics say that “It’s not good to praise oneself like that”.
Next to that, there is a verse which says the author of the verse wish to meet Metteyya Buddha.
Ven. Nanamoli’s Visuddhimagga Tranlation:
[The following verses are only in Sinhalese texts:]
By the performance of such merit
As has been gained by me through this
And any other still in hand
So may I in my next becoming
Behold the joys of Távatiísá,
Glad in the qualities of virtue
And unattached to sense desires.
By having reached the first fruition,
And having in my last life seen
Metteyya, Lord of Sages, Highest
Of persons in the World, and
Helper Delighting in all beings’ welfare,
And heard that Holy One proclaim
The Teaching of the Noble Dhamma,
May I grace the Victor’s Dispensation
By realizing its highest fruit.
And the critics say that “he wished to meet the Metteyya Buddha without believing in Visuddhimagga he himself had written.”
“Even Buddhaghosa did not really believe that Theravada practice could lead to Nirvana.His Visuddhimagga is supposed to be a detailed, step by step guide to enlightenment. And yet in the postscript […] he says he hopes that the merit he has earned by writing the Vishuddhimagga will allow him to be reborn in heaven, abide there until Metteyya (Maitreya) appears, hear his teaching and then attain enlightenment.”
Source: The Broken Buddha, by Ven. S. Dhammika
Ven. Dhammika is making the common mistake of confusing Buddhaghosa’s colophon with that of the scribal copyist. The former dedicates the the merit of composing the Visuddhimagga to the happiness of all beings. It’s the scribe, not Buddhaghosa, who wants to go to heaven and later meet Metteyya.
In any case, the passage that expresses a wish to be reborn with Metteyya has multiple indications that it is a later addition, probably a scribal remark by a copyist.
It is only found in Sinhalese manuscripts
It doesn’t identify Buddhaghosa at all, merely saying “through the merit I have gained by this”.
It appears after the rather elaborate praise of Buddhaghosa, which itself appears to be a later addition (it’s not good form to praise oneself in this way).
It is right at the end, exactly where a copyist’s scribal mark would be added
This belief is implicitly rejected in the text itself (Vism 1.135)
Venerable Panditha of Burma:
Those colophons have not come from Acariya Buddhaghosa’s hands.
Acariya Buddhaghosa wanted to have all the credit transferred to the Mahāvihāra community.
Those introductions, epilogues, and colophons still have certain aspects not yet sufficiently examined.
Traditional scholars hardly believe that those colophons are written by Acariya Buddhaghosa.
All the works of Acariya Buddhaghosa were anonymous at the beginning.
This anonymity is the reason for someone in posterity to add such colophons in order to save the author’s name.
The reason for anonymity was to get the works endorsed by the prestige and authority of Mahāvihāra, expecting the longevity of books. If only a less number of people were interested in manually copying his book, it would remain “unpublished".
In this way, Acariya Buddhaghosa could successfully publish his works inland and internationally.
This circumstance of Acariya Buddhaghosa can be compared to presidential speech-writers. Although writer’s name is not a secret, no president would acknowledge the writer in the speech itself.
King Parakramabahu (1234 - 1269 CE) says:
"The Epilogue(/colophon) is written by Acariya Buddhagosa’s Student Venerable Buddhamitta.
King Parakramabahu-II of Kingdom of Dambadeniya had written a Sinhala glossary (Sannaya) to Visuddhimagga within 1234 to 1269CE .
It is called Visuddhimárga-mahásannaya or Parákramabáhu-sannaya.
Ven. Nanamoli’s Visuddhimagga Bibliography:
Sinhala: Visuddhimárga-mahásanne, ed. Ratanapala Medhankara et al, 2 vols., Kalutara, 1949. (Also called Parákramabáhu-sannaya. A Pali-Sinhala paraphrase composed by King Pandita Parákramabáhu II in the 13th cent. CE.)
The king had mentioned the epilogue starting from “This Path of Purification was made by …” an onwards as the addition of venerable Buddhamitta.
Furthermore the king had stated why the name of Acariya Buddhagosa is mentioned as “who bears the name Buddhaghosa conferred by the venerable ones (“garuhi”=by the teachers/venerable ones” in this epilogue. The king had said this is because the student-monk can’t mention the teacher-monk’s name directly. (A convention practiced by Venerable Ananda towards his teacher Venerable Mahakassapa and said to be practiced by Sri Lankan forest monks even in the present day).
This has embarrassed modern critics who attempt to despise the Buddhaghosa Thera in a petty way.