I was told "There's no such thing as Classical Theravada." Obviously, that is a demonstrably false statement. But got me thinking, what is the traditional name for us?

While Classical Theravada is easily demonstrated as a very real thing, what is another, perhaps more traditional name for it? The idea that no one has delineated between those who hold the Abhidhamma and commentaries, and/or, specifically the Visuddhimagga as authoritative, and those who don’t, seems decidedly unlikely, they’ve had 2,500 years to come up with names for these delineations.

That’s it for the post. Following is further elaboration:

The contention by EBT “Theravadin’s” is that “Theravada” essentially has no meaning, and whoever wants to use the term “Theravada” is “Theravada”:

“You believe we are all an immortal consciousness outside the aggregates, and we live forever in nibbana, while ostensibly supporting this idea with a bizarre misinterpretation of the suttas, while throwing out the Abhidhamma and commentaries, since they are so specific as to destroy your case? Okay, you’re Theravada.”

“You believe in 100% Mahayana teachings while ostensibly supporting this idea… (same as above)? Okay, you’re Theravada.”

“You believe in a phenomenalist/subjective idealist/nihilist/everything is imaginary/etc. version of the dhamma, while ostensibly supporting this idea… (same as above)? Okay, you’re Theravada.”

“You believe that we have souls and that we all go to heaven to serve the immortal creator god after death, while ostensibly supporting this idea… (same as above)? Okay, you’re Theravada.”

“You accept the Abhidhamma and commentaries? Okay… well, they are false… your version of “Theravada” doesn’t even exist. All Theravada accepts pretty much whatever, and always has. “Theravada” only means Vinaya, which is shared by a bunch of Mahayana schools.”

Thus, any claim that there is such a thing as a group that can authoritatively refute their ridiculous hodgepodge, Frankenstein ideologies, frequently due to a consistent upholding of the Abhidhamma and commentaries as authoritative, is harshly, and obstinately rejected.

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True, those new age Buddhists always confused about the history of Buddhism.

Classical Theravada is simply refer to Theravada. The word “classical” is used to differentiate us from the secular Buddhism (that used sutta too but twisted understanding), or other modern sects such as Vimalaramsi’s Suttaavada and Buddhadasa sect.

I think we should use “Vibhajjavada” instead of “classical Theravada” though.

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Funny post:
In retrospect, I think Orthodox Theravāda would have been a better name for the website and the identity.

I find this website to be refreshing for Buddhist Discussions.


Good point, especially since the Pali Sutta Pitaka is agreed by many to contain non sectarian EBTs, and, hence, is not strictly Theravada, thus, throwing out the only things that are strictly Theravada, like the Abhidhamma and commentaries, and still calling yourself Theravada, is decidedly irrational. Do you think the word Vibhajjavada is more quickly associated with the Abhidhamma and commentaries?

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Thank you, Venerable. “Classical” has a nice ring to it. I like the name. I was just curious about alternate names for discussion purposes, outside of this forum. I was definitely not criticizing the name of this forum :heart:

And I agree, this website is like a summer cabin on a lake for me, chatting with friendly neighbors. Every other Buddhist discussion forum feels like being in a crowded public park full of extremely confused people who have nothing in common with me.

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I think “Vibhajjavada” aka the “doctrine of analysis” is a term differentiate classical teachings of the Buddha from two extremes: Eternalism and Annihilationism…which most new age Buddhist groups nowadays confused…

The term was coined by Arahant Moggaliputta Tissa during the third council. And I often use the term in real life conversation with others. Many people were not aware of it that Theravada tradition we have today derived from Sri Lanka, Burma, or Thailand, has its root traceable back to Vibhajjavada in the Third Council.


Interesting. Thank you. I found this on wikipedia:


Their doctrine is expounded in the Kathavatthu.

That is a very clear, foundational association with the Abhidhamma/commentary! Though I’m hesitant to call myself a Vibhajyavadin, because Theravada is what I’m most comfortable with, the Vibhajyavada is a really great suggestion for use in discussion, and I will use it from now on when referencing schools that, by definition, don’t play the games fake “Theravadins” play. Much appreciated.

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Buddha Sasana or Anatta Sasana
Sasana (teaching) is an original term used by the Buddha. Dhamma and Vada are also used – Buddha Dhamma, Buddha Vada (compare with Thera Vada/doctrine).

buddhasāsana : (nt.) the teaching of the Buddha

The many names of Theravada (Buddhist Studies: What is Theravada Buddhism?)
Theravada Buddhism goes by many names. The Buddha himself called the religion he founded Dhamma-vinaya, “the doctrine and discipline,” in reference to the two fundamental aspects of the system of ethical and spiritual training he taught.

Theravada is indeed Buddhavada - for keeping the entirety of Buddha Sasana, the Tipitaka. Burmese Tipitaka includes Milinda Panha, King Milinda’s Questionnaire. The king asked the questions on the texts of Tipitaka. The questions were answered by Venerable Nagasena. This venerable was able to memorised the entire Vedas at seven years old and rejected them for the lack of substances. While he was longing for knowledge, he met an arahant.

"There is, O brother Rohana, a Brahmin village, called Gajangala at the foot of the Himalaya mountains where dwells a Brahmin named Sonuttara. To that Brahmin a son called Nagasena will be born. Such being the case, O brother Rohana, you must go to the house of that Brahmin (and stand at the door) for donation of alms-food for seven years and ten months, at the end of which you must draw away the boy from a worldly life, and cause him to become a novice (samanera). When he shall have become a novice, then shalt thou become free of your obligation to perform the act of penitence.” The Venerable Rohana then give the undertaking saying: “Very good, O Venerable One.”

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Great info, thanks!

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