Sangha - SANGHA In the Batavahana period (ca. 150 C.E.),...

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Unformatted text preview: SANGHA In the Batavahana period (ca. 150 C.E.), towering gateways consisting of two pillars bearing three archi~ traves were erected at each railing opening. Every sur— face was carved with tumultuous and naturalistic reliefs that constantly threaten to break free from their architecturally defined, linear frames and the rock ma- trix. In comparison with Bharhut (first century B.C.E.), sand has proportionately more narrative scenes of Asoka and of animals worshiping the Buddha’s living presence in relics such as the bodhi tree and the stupas, as well as more scenes from the Buddha’s life and far fewer JAI‘AKAS. Safici’s narratives typically include scenes of worshiping crowds moving freely in space. Style and meaning cohere in expressing the unself- conscious and unrestrained joyousness that often char- acterizes devotional worship (bhakti). Loaded up with auspicious actions, motifs, and figures, Sanci’s gates simultaneously honor the sacred precinct and protect its liminal openings against negative powers seeking to enter. What better way to do so than by representing and invoking the power of worship? The Great Stupa’s six hundred short inscriptions in Prakrit attest to a pattern of collective, multiple dona~ tion typifying early Buddhist patronage. Accounting for a third of all donations, monks and nuns form the largest donor group. Next come merchants crisscross- ing the subcontinent. Donors include a guild of ivory- carvers and the Satavahana king's chief artisan. _j See also: Cave Sanctuaries; India, Buddhist Art in; Monastic Architecture; Relics and Relics Cult Bibliography Cunningham, Alexander. The Bhilsa Topes; or, BuddhistMonu— merits of Central India (1854). Reprint, Varanasi, India: In- dological Book House, 1966. Dehejia, Vidya, ed. Unseen Presence: The Buddha and Sanchi: I Bombay: Marg, 1966. Maisey, Fredrick Charles. Sanchi and Its Remains: A Full De- scription ofthe Ancient Buildings, Sculptures, and Inscriptions (1892). Reprint, Delhi: IndologiCal Book House, 1972. Marshall, Iohn Hubert. The Monuments of Sfifichz’. London: Probsthain, 1940. Marshall, John Hubert. A Guide to Sanchi, 3rd edition. Delhi: Manager of Publications, 1955. LEELA Aniri Wooo 7'40 SANGHA The sar'rgha (community) is the third of the three Bud- dhist REFUGES, or iswers (trimtna), of BUDDHA, DHAR.MA, and sangha. The word wright: literally means “that which is well struck together”; it derives from a Sanskrit root, ham (to strike), with the prefix 5am con: veying a sense of togetherness and completeness. The idea is that the true Buddhist community is well ham— mered together, impervious to schism, and in perfect harmony. From the very earliest period the undisputed focus of Buddhist WORSHIP has been the sangha, to- gether with the Buddha and dharrna, and the statement buddhom saranam gacchdmi, dharmom sorghum gar:- chdmi, sarigham s’amnam gaccluimi (I go for refuge to the Buddha, I go for refuge to the dharma, I go for refuge to the sangha) has been the primary, shared af- firmation of Buddhists. Idealized community The traditional explanation of sarigha describes it not as a community of ordinary monks and nuns belong- ing to a Buddhist order, but as a special community of eight noble beings called rim/as (Pelt, ariyas) who carry in their hearts the liberating dharma. They are de- scribed in the Ramiro-suitor of the Cullavagga of the Sutta Niprira (11.1.6—7), one of the very earliest Bud? dhist teachings: “The eight persons praised by the vir- tuous are four pairs. They are the disciples of the Buddha and are worthy of offerings. Gifts given to them yield rich results. . .free from afflictions they have obtained. . . the state beyond death. This is the precious sangha jewel.” The first pair of noble beings. are those who have reached, or are on their way to, the state of the ARI-{AT (one worthy of praise and offerings). The arhats, like the Buddha, have found liberation from unending SAlxiaSARA {the cycle of birth and death). The three other pairs of noble beings are those who, if not arhats, have reached, or are on their way to, the state of andga'min; that is, they are nonreturners to this ordinary world, which is dominated by sense gratification. If they are not yet at that stage of development, they have reached, or are on their way to, the state of sakrdcigamin (once— returners), and they will return once more to this or- dinary world. The fourth pair of noble beings are srota-dpannas, stream-enterers, who have obtained, or are on their way to Obtaining, a state where they may return to this ordinary world up to seven more times before they reach the goal of liberation at the end of ENCYCLOPEDIA or BUDDHISM the PATH. They are called stream-enterers because the stream of the dharma, the understanding of the FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS that systematize the content of the Bud- dha’s liberating teaching, has become one with the stream of their minds. In this traditional understand— ing of the sangha, the Buddha, as an arhat, is a mem- ber of the Sangha, and embodies the dharma as well. The salvific function of the sangha has been much discuSSed. Traditional explanations liken it to a nurse who helps a patient take the medicine (the dharma) that is prescribed by the Buddha, who is likened to a perfect dector. Early lndian Buddhism (Majjhimani- kayo; 75, 105), perhaps drawing on ancient Indian med- ical theory (e.g., Camkn-samhitri 9.19), claims that the Buddha or TATHAGATA (one who knows things as they are) can only teach disciples the path to the end of suf— fering, he cannot “wash away the sufferings of others by hand” (Udanavfirgn). The suffering person effects his or her OWn cure by putting into practice the eight- fold path to freedom taught by the Buddha. Salvific power resides in the dharma, not in the Buddha or in the sangha, and according to early Buddhist texts, not in monks or nuns, either as individuals or as a group. History of the early community The earliest parts of the Buddhist canon extant in Pali suggest that the original historical community con— sisted of those engaging in ascetic endeavors as sra- manas (Pali, samapa) and pmvrcijika (Pali, pabhajita; those gone forth into homelessness). Buddhist ascetics were distinguishable from other similar groups of mendicants primarily by their dislike of intellectual disputation, their avoidance of extreme asceticism, their shared admiration for Gautarna Sakyamuni, and a commitment to mental cultivation or MEDITATION (Suite Nipdta 2). Whereas the very earliest members of the community had no fixed monasteries, and shel— tered under trees or in caves, the difficulty of traveling during the rainy season soon led members to take shelv ter in permanent buildings. It is likely that house- holders and wealthy patrons who originally gave aims Without discrimination to all religious mendicants, be they Iainas, Ajivikas, or orthodox followers of the Veda, over time began to favor the followers of Gau- tama Buddha and to understand themselves as re— SpOnsible for their sustenance and well-being. This led t0 the basic division of the community into bhiksu (Pair, bhikkhu; norms) and bhiksum‘ (Pali, bhikkhunf; NUNS), words that literally mean “beggars,” and upésaka and updsika (male and female LAITY). According to tra- ENCYCLOPEDI’A or BUDDHISM SANGHA dition, ANANDA, the personal attendant of Gautama, asked that women be admitted into the community, and the first Buddhist nun was MAHAPRAJAPATT GAU~ TAMi, the Buddha’s aunt. Entrance into the community was originally earned simply by answering the Buddha’s call to come for- ward. When charismatics like SAMPUTRA and MAHA- MAUDGALYAYANA, with considerable followings of their own, became Gautama’s disciples, the community grew considerably larger. Even before Gautama’s demise it is probable that senior members of the com- munity were allowed to induct new members by hav« ing them recite the refuge formula (I go for refuge to the Buddha, etc.) three times. Gradually a more com- plex upasampadci (ritual ordination) came into being. By that time, ORDINATION meant ordination as a monk or nun, and for practical purposes the Buddhist com- munity became equivalent to the community of monks and nuns, though the community of the four assem— blies (monks, nuns, and male and female laity) was also recognized. The history of the community of Buddhist monks and nuns over its first five hundred years is primarily a history of margin (councils) and nikdya (ordination lineages or schools). Immediately after the death of the Buddha, members of the fledgling community met in what was later called the First Council to record the Buddha’s teachings. Probably the earliest codification of community rules, the PRATIMOKSA, was formulated at about that time. Pratimoksa may originally have meant “anti-dissipatory,” and its recitation was the main factor connecting the various nikayas, which were already growing separate because of geography, loyalty to particular charismatic monks, and minor disagreements over discipline. The Second Council took place about a hundred years after the death of the Buddha. By that time the basic constitution of the community of monks and nuns, and most of the rules and rituals relating to monastic discipline and procedure, had already been codified. The texts in which this codification is found are together called the VINAYA (discipline). These texts comprise the first of the three sections of the tripitalca (the Buddhist CANON). The Vinaya Pitaka consists of three main sections: (1) the Vinaya-vilahaiign, a list of ‘ personal rules for the different levels of ordination along with stories about how they came into being; (2) the Skandhaka (Pali, Khandhaka), an explanation of the rules governing community procedures, such as 74| SANGHA admission to the order and the conducting of the rains" retreat; and (3) the Parivdm, a compendium of addi- tional materials. The vinaya texts list seven different sets of rules for junior and senior members of the community. Besides the rules for the bhiksus and hhiksurjifs (fully ordained monks and nuns), there are also sets of rules for male and female novices. The further special set of rules for probationary nuns probably reflects a stage in the grad- ual elimination of the female component of the come munity. The bhiksunz' component of the community eventually died out in India, though it has continued in China and Korea to the present day. The morality expected of all members of the monas- tic community is given in the pratimoksa. At its core are four basic rules of defeat (pdrdjika): to refrain from taking life, from taking what is not offered freely, from sexual activity, and from lying about spiritual attains ments. Transgression of any of these rules entails ex- pulsion from the order. The different nikdyas list slightly different totals for the number of rules, rang— ing from about 350 for the full bhiksuriz'down to about thirteen for novices. Among these rules are some that _ enjoin on members of the community the yellow—, ma- roon-, or blue-colored robes, the begging bowl, the : kuti (monastic cell), and dietary habits such as not eat- ing in the afternoon and not keeping food overnight. The first major split in the sangha occurred between the MAHASAMGHIKAS (the Great Assembly, or Majorim tyists) and the Sthaviras (elders). Since most of what we know about the early history of the Buddhist order comes from the Mahévamsa (Great Chronicle), a his- tory written in Pall from the particular viewpoint of monks of the ancient Mahavihara monastery in Sri Lanka (the nikdya from which the presentaday THERAVADA school understands itself to originate), there has been a tendency to overemphasize the dif— ferences between different Buddhist nikayas, and to see them as sects fundamentally opposed to each other, rather than as different sanghas, each connected through the same basic pratimoksa. The community of Buddhist monks and nuns has never been a monolithic entity. It is possible that its basic decentralized structure, characterized by the ab— sence of a strong central ruler in favor of consensual assemblies, reflects the customs of the Sakyas, part of the Vrji (Pali, Vajji) confederation in the area of north— central India where Sakyamuni (“the sage of the Sakyas”) was born. Although diversity was an integral part of the Buddhist community from an early period, 742 the early nikfiyas were careful to formulate themselves in ways that avoided formal schism. Even after the Mahasamghika/Sthavira schism, there was no funda- mental split in the sangha, and it is an error to imag- ine that the split into HiNAYANA and MAHAYANA Buddhism was based on irreconcilable differences be- tween these early nikdyas. There were at least eighteen early Buddhist nikdyas, some of which give their names to later schools of Bud— dhist practice and philosophy. Many, if not all, recited the pratimoksa in their own vernacular language, and it is likely that each also had a vinaya, and perhaps an entire tripitaka. The complete tripituku of the Ma— havihara nikdya, or Theravada school, written in Pali, became available to European-language scholars in the nineteenth century. Although the original versions of the Vinaya Pitaka of many of the other schools have been lost, except for occasional texts and fragments, some are extant in Chinese and Tibetan translation. Among them, the Dharmaguptaka—vinaya in particular was followed in China and countries strongly influenced by Chinese Buddhism, and the MULASARvAervAnA-VINAYA was followed in Tibet and the regions influenced by it. Each sangha was (and still is to a great extent) defined by a shared recitation of the pratimoksa at a bimonthly postith (Pali, uposarlia; confession or restoration—of— morality ceremony) carried out while scrupulously fol- lowing karmavacana (Pall, kammavdcd; prescribed formula) and ritual action dictated by tradition. Also defining of a community are two other ritual activi- ties: setting up the sfma' (established boundaries) for the varsavdsa (rains—retreat; Pali, vassavdsa) and the rit— ual crossing of those boundaries at the end of the re- treat. This custom probably dates back to the original followers of Gautama and to the places where build— ings were located for groups of monks and nuns to spend the rainy season. A minimum of ten, or in some cases five, fully ordained members of a sangha consti- tute the required quorum. The presence or absence of these defining acts of a sangha is the basic criterion for deciding whether or not the slot—sand (Pall, sdsana; Bud- dhist teaching) is or is not present in a particular re- gion. Members of different communities keep basically the same rules, but they do not attend each others’ cer— emonies and they do not form a single sar'igha, except in the sense that they symbolize, through their clothes and adherence to the rules in the pratimoksa, the com— munity of noble beings described above. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BUDDHISM SANGHA Tibetan monks sitting together during 0 ceremony of o monastery in Himochol Erodesh, India. © Lindsey Hebberd/Corbis. Reproduced by permission. Mahayénu and Tantric sanghus We can see clearly in Edward Conze’s translation of the Large 8am: on Perfect Wisdom (p. 66 ff.) that the idealized Mahayana community is based on the eight noble beings. In addition to the eight noble beings of earlier Buddhism, however, the Mahayana com— munity also includes BODHISATTVAS and buddhas. These are theoretically infinite in number, but best known amongst them are the eight bodhisattvas, in— cluding Mafijusri, Avalokitesvara, Ksitigarbha, and so on, and the buddhas AKsOBHYA, AMITABHA, and Vairocana. These noble bodhisattvas and buddhas are sometimes called “celestial” because they are lo- cated not in this ordinary world, but on a bhflmi (high spiritual level) or in a fabulous buddhaksetra (buddha—field or pure land). Mahayana tradition holds that bodhisattvas and buddhas are not motivated by NIRVANA, the partial freedom from REBIRTH attained by the eight noble bee ings. They instead produce BODHICITTA (thought of Enlightenment), attain samyaksambodhi (right and per- fect enlightenment), become buddhas, and work for Countless ages for the benefit of the world. Noble bo- ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BUDDHISM dhisattvas are on their way to attaining, and buddhas have actually attained, an everlasting enlightenment that shows itself in manifold ways appropriate for the benefit of the world. The Mahayana scriptures there- fore claim that the Buddhist community is present in the world to a much greater degree and in many dif- ferent forms compared to the community of the eight noble beings that is described in the scriptures of the MAINSTREAM BUDDHIST SCHOOLS. In Buddhist TANTILA, the idealized community is understood to be pervaded by the nature of the guru and further augmented by VIDYADHARA (knowledge holders or sorcerers). Vidyadham are said to be highly motivated bodhisattvas who utilize esoteric medita— tion, including sexual pleasure, to quickly attain high spiritual goals. Also given importance in the idealized tantric community are wrathful female figures (BAKINT), personal meditation deities (istndevnté), and dharma protectors (dharmapctla). The differences between actual historical Mahayana and pre—Mahayana communities have not been con— clusively determined. The records of early Chinese travelers in India suggest that both functioned equally 743 SANJIE JIAO (THREE STAGES SCHOOL) as communities of monks, sometimes even including members of the same nikdya. As for the historical tantric communities, they are also largely an object of speculation. Ronald Davidson has suggested tribal ori- gins for some of them. It is likely that some tantric ,sanghas formed around charismatic tantric masters (vajrdcdrya) and held ritual meetings (ganacakra) and other rites as a group. David Gellner has shown that such groups still exist amongst the Newar Buddhists of Nepal. Modern Buddhist communities ‘ There has been a tendency in European writing since the end of the colonial period to associate Buddhist sanghas with the emergence and legitimization of the nation—state. Thus it is customary to talk about the Thai sangha, Burmese sar'rgha, Tibetan Buddhists, Chi- nese Buddhists, and so on. While this approach clearly has some descriptive value, it is misleading if it sug— gests a basic change from earlier nikdya structure. For example, in modern Sri Lanka the three nikdyas are di— vided on the basis of caste and do not cross each other’s boundaries; in Tibet nikayas are divided on the basis of regions, monastic colleges, or sects that may have strong antipathy to each other. Nevertheless, it is clear that for the majority of Buddhists in those countries such differences do not preclude the various commu- nities from being perceived as equally authentic Buda dhist sanghas; taken together in an undifferentiated manner, each sangha is esteemed as highly as the ide— alized community of the eight noble beings itself. Arnong new converts to Buddhism in Western countries there are widely differing views about what a Buddhist sangha entails. It is probably best under- stood as any group that meets together and that is joined by a shared Buddhist faith, or any group linked by its members’ devotion to a particular Buddhist teacher. The British founder of the Friends of the West- ern Buddhist Order is particularly insistent that his group's Aristotelian friendship between members of the same sex is what makes his an authentic Buddhist community. Groups strongly influenced by Western Christian notions define the sangha as a group with a shared level of commitment to social action. See also: Councils, Buddhist Bibliography Conze, Edward, ed. and trans. The Large Sfltra on Perfect Wis- dom, with the Divisions of the Ahhisamaydimikdra. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 3.975. 744 Davidson, Ronald. Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. Gellner, David N. Monk, Householder, and Tantric Priest: Newar Buddhism and Its Hierarchy ofRituai. Cambridge, UK: Cam- bridge University Press, 1992. Hornet, I. B., trans. The Book of the Discipline (Vinaya Pitdlca), 6 vols. London: Pali Text Society, 193871966. Prebish, Charles. Buddhist Monastic Discipline: The Sanskrit Prdtimoksa Sflrras of the Mahdsdmghikas and Mdiasarvdsti- vadins. University Park: Pennsylvania State University PreSS, 197 5. GARETH SPARHAM SANJIE JIAO (THREE STAGES SCHOOL] " The Sanjie jiao (Three “Levels” or “Stages”) movement begun by the Chinese monk Xinxing (540—594 CE.) is perhaps best known because its teachings and practices were suppressed as heretical numerous times over the ' two~hundred-plus years of its history. Banned from the official scriptural canon as apocryphal (weijing), San- jie writings were lost until discoveries of numerous manuscripts at DUNHUANG and eisewhere in the early twentieth century. In spite of opposition, the move- ment remained popular for several centuries, attract- ing the aristocracy as well as throngs of commoners. The movement takes its name from its central teaching, which divides SENTIENT BEINGS into three levels of spiritual capacity: the “wise, the in-between, and the stupid,” as the Wei-Shir (eighth century) put it. Xinxing taught that the people of his era were en- tirely of. the third level, blinded by prejudice and ha— tred and therefore incapable of a correct understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. Whereas sentient beings of ' superior capacity could benefit from the varied teach- ings of the different schools (hiefa), the degenerate be— ings of the third level needed to rely on the universal teachings (pufa) of ultimate truth that transcend dis- tinctions of truth .and falsity, purity and impurity. Xinxing was also influenced by the doctrine of the DE curve or THE DHARMA, according to which people’s ca- pacity for practice decreases as the time from the historicial Buddha increases. Equally important for Xinxing was the doctrine of universal buddha-nature or TATHAGATAGARBHA. This teaching asserts that all sentient beings are fundamenv tally of the same nature as the fully awakened buddha and wili one day realize that nature. From these doc- trines came the Sanjie practice of “recognizing the evil” ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BUDDHISM ...
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Sangha - SANGHA In the Batavahana period (ca. 150 C.E.),...

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