Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday January - Introduction Etymologies Mahayana = great(maha vehicle(yana differentiated from the vehicle that weve studied up until this

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Introduction: Etymologies - Mahayana = ‘great’ (maha) “vehicle” (yana) - differentiated from the vehicle that we’ve studied up until this point: Sravakayana = “vehicle” (yana) of the “hearers” (Sravaka) AKA Hinayana = “lesser vehicle” (pejorative or polemical term) coined by Mahayana writers in early centuries - Theravada = “doctrine of the elders” is the only fully surviving school of the Sravakayana - Tibetan scholars divide Buddhist teachings into three vehicles: the Hinayana or “Lesser Vehicle” the Mahayana or “Great Vehicle” the Vajrayana or “Vajra Vehicle” Mahayana - is an extremely diverse group of teachings and practices that defies attempts to organize them into a uniform whole The Murky and Contested Origins of the Mahayana - the earliest Mahayana sutras date from the 1st century CE - Mahayana as an organized movement with its own monastaries didnt arise until the sixth century - began as a group of writings - During his pilgrimage in India, Hsuan-tsang (600-664) notred that fewer that 50% of monks were followers of Mahayana, they were still in the minority - one (now outdated) theory argued that the Mahayana arose out of a “lay revolt against the arrogance and pretensions of the monks” - It is true that many Mah ā y ā na sutras emphasize the importance of the laity: in the Vimalakirtinirdesa Sutra, the laymen Vimalakirtii “is portrayed as an advanced Bodhisattva with a developed understanding of philosophy, admonishing and correcting a number of the Buddha’s leading monastic followers” (Williams). - today it is generally accepted by scholars that the Mahayana arose as an internal (ie. monkish) innovation “and who used lay figures in the sutras to embody a critique of other monks seen in some way defective in the light of the message of the sutra, or having lost the real message and direction of the Dharma” (Williams) - It may have origins in the worshipping of reliquaries (stupas) or books as sacred objects (or “book cults”) - It may have been influenced by forest or wilderness hermit traditions in addiction to innovations and developments within the “settled” monastic establishment Sutras - Sutras are seen in Buddhist traditions as authoritative scripture because they are records of Buddha-word - beginning with the words “Thus I have heard at one time”
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course RLG 206Y1 taught by Professor Professorb.wood during the Fall '10 term at University of Toronto- Toronto.

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Wednesday January - Introduction Etymologies Mahayana = great(maha vehicle(yana differentiated from the vehicle that weve studied up until this

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