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

By Reginald A. Ray | Go to book overview

are worthy of praise and veneration. Finally, like the forest bodhisattva, the forest bhikṣu is seen as upholding authentic renunciant Buddhism, which here, as in the other texts we have examined, is identified with the way of forest renunciation. The main differences between the śrāvaka bhikṣu of the forest of the shorter text and the bodhisattva renunciant of the forest of the longer text are that the śrāvaka bhikṣu follows the prātimokṣa and seeks an end to his own suffering rather than aspiring to anuttarasamyaksambodhi. 154

In its final Mahāyāna configuration, then, the minor Rāṣṭrapāla Sūtra exhibits the same kind of flexibility with regard to language as is seen in the forest texts of the pre-Mahāyāna and the Mahāyāna that we have examined, in its reluctance to give too much substance to the terms Śrāvakayāna and Mahāyāna as necessarily opposed phenomena. The text thus stands forth as a sustained critique of the view that all śrāvaka bhikṣus conform to the conceptual stereotype of the śrāvaka bhikṣu as presented in Mahāyāna texts such as the Rāṣṭrapāla Sūtra. It wants to say, in effect, that this talk of "vehicles" has its place, but it is a limited place and must not blind one to similarities and alliances that, at first glance, do not appear to conform to type.

In all of this, the shorter text, like the Ratnaguṇa and the Lan + ̄kāvatāra Sūtra, provides us with insight into the time and the situation in which what finally became understood as the Mahāyāna was in the process of sorting out its own self- identity in relation to existing traditions. In addition, the shorter text is also like the other two texts, both of which clearly admit the existence of non-Mahāyānist renunciants of the forest who come close to the ideal of the forest-renunciant bodhisattva. What makes the shorter text distinctive is the strength of its affirmation of the authenticity and value of the forest bhikṣu of the Śrāvakayāna, while still managing to affirm its own sense of the superiority of the bodhisattva path. The minor Raṣṭrapāla Sūtra makes some other important contributions to the present discussion, but these will best be reserved for Chapter 12.


Notes
1.
On the bodhisattva ideal in Mahāyāna Buddhism see Suzuki 1930, 202-36; Dayal 1932; Rahula 1971; Snellgrove 1970; Basham 1981; Kajiyama 1982; and Lopez 1988. These studies discuss the doctrinal definitions, classical practices, and stages of development of the bodhisattva. They generally give little treatment to the image of the bodhisattva as a saint, particularly in the sūtra literature. The term bodhisattva, of course, is sometimes used in a nonrestrictive sense in Buddhism. Thus, the term may, as noted, refer to the person aspiring to become a pratyekabuddha, after his initial vow and prior to realization, as in pratyekabodhisattva. This study, unless otherwise noted, follows conventional usage, employing the term bodhisattva to refer to that person who aspires to and has taken the vow to attain the complete and perfect enlightenment of a buddha.
2.
See, e.g., Dutt 1930, 31, 34, 66-67, and passim; Dayal 1932, 30-49, 273-75; Bareau 1955, 260, 296-305, and passim; Dutt 1970, 81-84, 110-13; Nakamura 1987b.
3.
Some Sanskrit terms supplied by Lamotte have been deleted.
4.
In the Bendall and Rouse translation, these texts are identified as follows: the Ugraparipṛcchā (cf. Schuster's discussion of the full text in Chinese translation; Schuster 1985); Candrapradīpa Sūtra ( = Samādhirādja Sūtra [Ss 199]); Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā Sūtra;

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