Common Grounds of Ancient and Modern Buddhist-Protestants

The Chronicle of the Island
An Ancient Buddhist Historical Record
edited and translated by
Hermann Oldenberg


The results we have obtained regarding the connexion between the Dīpavaṁsa
and the ancient Aṭṭhakathā of the Mahāvihāra, furnish us with a clue for
gaining an insight into the relative position of the Dīpavaṁsa and the second
important historical text of the Pāli literature, the Mahāvaṁsa. The two works
are, indeed, in the main nothing but two versions of the same substance, both
being based on the historical Introduction to the great Commentary of the
Mahāvihāra. Each work represented, of course, their common subject in its own
way, the Dīpavaṁsa following step by step and almost word for word the traces
of the original, the Mahāvaṁsa proceeding with much greater independence and
perfect literary mastership.

Berlin, September 1879.
The Editor.

Chapter V. The Schools of the Teachers

30-31. The wicked Bhikkhus, the Vajjiputtakas who had been excommunicated by the Theras, gained another party; and many people, holding the wrong doctrine, ten thousand, assembled and (also) held a council. Therefore this Dhamma council is called the Great Council (mahāsaṅgīti).

  1. The Bhikkhus of the Great Council settled a doctrine contrary (to the true Faith). Altering the original redaction they made another redaction.

  2. They transposed Suttas which belonged to one place (of the collection), to another place; they destroyed the (true) meaning and the Faith, in the Vinaya and in the five Collections (of Suttas).

34-35. Those Bhikkhus, who understood neither what had been taught in long expositions nor without exposition, neither the natural meaning nor the recondite meaning, settled a false meaning in connection with spurious speeches of Buddha; these Bhikkhus destroyed a great deal of (true) meaning under the colour of the letter.

  1. Rejecting single passages of the Suttas and of the profound Vinaya, they composed other Suttas and another Vinaya which had (only) the appearance (of the genuine ones).

  2. Rejecting the following texts, viz.: the Parivāra which is an abstract of the contents (of the Vinaya), the six sections of the Abhidhamma, the Paṭisambhidā, the Niddesa, and some portions of the Jātaka, they composed new ones.

  3. Forsaking the original rules regarding nouns, genders, composition, and the embellishments of style, they changed all that.

  4. Those who held the Great Council were the first schismatics; in imitation of them many heretics arose.

It seems both the ancient and modern Buddhist-Protestants had/have closely similar grounds of rejections!


It is because it is those texts - as well as similar ones - and their commentaries that restrict them from wriggling and inserting their own views into the Dhamma. We can see from history that it is not long after such texts are no longer followed that all types of strange doctrines and practices creep into the Dhamma which dilute it.


It is just nice we have a group where we can sādhu articles like this without getting attacked. We are a minority in the English speaking world. But rest assured, the English speaking world is a minority in the Theravāda world.