Mahāpadesa Sutta advises to reject a teaching that is not in conformity with the Sutta and Vinaya. According to the Mahāpadesasutta Commentary the word “Sutta” herein refers to the whole Tipitaka and the word “Vinaya” refers to “Raga-vinaya …etc.” mentioned in the “Advices to Venerable Gotami” (Anguttanikaya and Cullavagga).
All the below mentioned Four Vinayas are ranked higher than “Non-Theravada Suttas” and “Non-Theravada Interpretations of Theravada Suttas”. Therefore according ot the Mahāpadesasutta Commentary, one should remain even in Attanomati when the other one is arguing with Non-Theravada Suttas or Interpretation.
(b) Suttānuloma: the four Mahāpadesas (Great Authorities) described in the Vinaya and the four Mahāpadesas described in the Suttanta.
(c) Ācariyavāda: miscellaneous exposition in elucidation of the doctrines of the Buddha that were made even during His lifetime at different places. Since they explain the Pāli texts, they were also called Commentaries (aṭṭhakathā). At the great Councils, the bhikkhu-elders recited the Pāli first and at the end of it, they prescribed the respective Commentaries to each division of the texts as the regular syllabus for elucidation. These learned sayings which were miscellaneous discourses as well as Commentaries, being written by learned teachers, come to be known also as Ācariyavāda. These learned observations or treatises which are referred to by three different names, which are Ācariyavāda, Aṭṭhakathā, Pakiṇṇakadesanā, were carried by the Venerable Mahinda to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka bhikkhu-elders translated them into Sinhalese to ensure, for Sinhalese bhikkhus, the tradition against doctrines that might be introduced by other sects later. The Venerable Mahā Buddhaghosa studied the Sinhalese Aṭṭhakathā, (i.e. the Mūḷa Pakiṇṇaka) cleared up repetitive statements and condensed them wherever suitable, classified them under suitable headings which were appropriate to the Piṭaka texts, elucidating wherever necessary, and thereby produced a new Commentary in Māgadī, adding the traditional views held by bhikkhu-elder (Theravāda) which came to be called ‘own views’ (attanomati), wherever necessary. Thus, Ācariyavāda, the third of the four Vinayas, is for practical purposes as used today, refers to (This new) Commentary.
(d) Attanomati: this is a reference to the ‘own views’ i.e. considered opinions held by bhikkhu-elders after following the principles contained in the Sutta, Suttanuloma and Ācariyavāda. Attanomate is also known as Theravāda, the doctrines upheld traditionally by bhikkhu-elders. Thus these four Vinayas are Sutta, Suttānuloma, Ācariyavāda and Attanomati, should be noted…
Preached at the Ananda cetiya in Bhoganagara.
The Buddha tells the monks of the four mahāpadesā to be respected by them. If a monks says he has a certain teaching direct from the Buddha himself, his statement should be compared with the rest of the Vinaya and Dhamma; if these do not agree, it should be rejected; if they do, accepted.
The same applies to that which is said to have been learnt from a group of monks led by a Thera from a body of senior monks residing in a certain place, or from a single senior monk, proficient in the Dhamma, the Vinaya, and the Mātikā. A.ii.167ff.; the sutta is incorporated in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (D.ii.123ff).