Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations

By Reginald A. Ray | Go to book overview

the Buddha in this sutta echoes the same themes: one should "wander homeless," not becoming preoccupied with questions of where he will sleep the night or what food he will obtain (970-71); the renunciant should resort to a lonely seat (963); there various sorts of obstacles will arise, such as insects, animals, heat and cold, hunger, even attacks from humans (964-66); in spite of these, the renunciant should not be deterred, but should persevere, making great effort (964-69); in his retreat, the renunciant should avoid wrong behavior (967-69); there he should meditate (962, 964); he should be mindful (973, 975); "intent on meditation, he should be very wakeful . . . with self concentrated" (972); and when wandering in a village, he should remain restrained, not uttering a harsh word even to those who may offend him (971). In this way, he may achieve realization (975).

The consistency of the image of Śāriputra as a forest saint in the Udāna, Theragāthā, and Suttanipāta, and moreover the contrast of this image with that of Śāriputra as the scholarly ideal and champion of settled monastic tradition in the majority of other texts in the Pāli canon arrests our attention. At the least, it indicates that the Pāli texts reflect at least two distinct hagiographical traditions connected with Śāriputra, one dominant in the Pāli canon--reflecting Śāriputra as paradigmatic monastic scholar--and a second, more recessive one--reflecting Śāriputra as a paradigmatic forest saint.

If, as seems not unreasonable, the Udāna, Theragāthā, and Aṭṭhakavagga accounts of Śāriputra reflect a stratum of Śāriputra's personality predating his monastic, scholarly character, then the earliest evidence shows him as a forest saint. As mentioned, Migot believes that the conversion story represents "the primordial element in [ Śāriputra's] legend" ( 1954, 455). However, the preceding discussion, seen in light of Chapters 1 to 3, suggests a somewhat different way of framing the matter. Śāriputra's forest traits in the conversion story--and even more strikingly in the Udāna, Theragāthā, and Aṭṭhakavagga--suggest a background and presupposition to the story, namely, Śāriputra's personality as a forest saint. It is not impossible that it was because of, and dependent upon, his forest personality that the conversion story was able to develop in the first place. It is Śāriputra's forest personality, then, that likely provides the real "primordial element" of his legend, although, as we have seen, this element becomes gradually obscured as it is taken into the primitive form of the conversion story, as that story undergoes development, and as Śāriputra's legend as a whole becomes more and more fully monasticized. However, Śāriputra's more or less complete monasticization does not represent the end of his journey. At a relatively advanced time in his history, Śāriputra appears at center stage in certain early Mahāyāna sūtras in which his early forest personality comes once again to the fore. For in the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra we find Śāriputra willing to open himself to the contemplative values of the prajñāpāramitā. 86


Conclusion

As we have seen, there are some clear differences in the ways in which the Sanskrit and Pāli traditions treat Mahākāśyapa. Both traditions know of two facets of

-136-

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Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Conventions xiii
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes 10
  • 1 - The Buddhist Saints and the Two-Tiered Model of Buddhism 15
  • Notes 36
  • 2 - Buddha Śākyamuni as a Saint 44
  • Notes 68
  • 3 - Saints of the Theragāthā and Therīgāthā 79
  • Notes 99
  • 4 - Some Orthodox Saints in Buddhism 105
  • Conclusion 136
  • Notes 141
  • 5 - Saints Criticized and Condemned 151
  • Notes 173
  • 6 - Cults of Arhants 179
  • Notes 205
  • 7 - The Solitary Saint, the Pratyekabuddha 213
  • Notes 241
  • 8 - Bodhisattva Saints of the Forest in Mahāyāna Sūtras 251
  • Appendix: the Minor Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā Sūtra on Forest Bhikṣus 275
  • Appendix: the Minor Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā Sūtra on Forest Bhikṣus 280
  • 9 - Ascetic Traditions of Buddhist Saints 293
  • Notes 318
  • 10 - The Buddhist Saints and the Stūpa 324
  • Notes 352
  • 11 - The Cult of Saints and Buddhist Doctrines of Absence and Presence 358
  • Notes 386
  • 12 - The Buddhist Saints and the Process of Monasticization 396
  • Notes 423
  • Conclusion: Toward a Threefold Model of Buddhism 433
  • Notes 447
  • Bibliography 448
  • Index 469
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