Academic journal article Journal of Buddhist Ethics

The Going Forth of Mahapajapati Gotami in T 60

Academic journal article Journal of Buddhist Ethics

The Going Forth of Mahapajapati Gotami in T 60

Article excerpt

Introduction

Records of the going forth of Mahapajapati Gotami can be found in a range of Vinayas, (2) as well as in discourses in the Anguttara-nikaya and the Madhyama-agama. (3) This conforms to a general pattern evident in early Buddhist texts, where some degree of overlap exists between the material allotted to the collections of discourses and to the Vinaya. (4)

The Taisho edition attributes T 60 to Huijian. According to a suggestion by Mizuno, (5) T 60 could be part of a group of discourses from a no longer extant Madhyama-agama translation by Zhu Fonian, undertaken by him during the period of time in which he also translated the Ekottarika-agama, which is still extant in the Taisho edition as entry no. 125. Recent quantitative text analysis has shown Mizuno's hypothesis to be improbable. (6)

The Madhyama-agama collection translated by Zhu Fonian, as well as the still extant Ekottarika-agama, were orally transmitted by the same reciter and brought to China. This makes it highly probable that they would stem from a collection of discourses of the same Buddhist school. In contrast, discourses in the Madhyama-agama collection extant in the Chinese translation by Sanghadeva are so substantially different from their parallels in the extant Ekottarika-agama that they must reflect quite distinct lines of textual transmission that do not stem from the same school.

This is significant for the case of T 60 translated below, (7) because this discourse is closely similar to the account of the going forth of Mahapajapati Gotami in the Madhyama-agama, which I studied in detail elsewhere in comparison with its parallels ("Mahapajapati's"), the results of which apply similarly to the present discourse.

In view of the differences, at times quite substantial, between other extant versions that report her going forth, it seems safe to conclude that T 60 and the Madhyama-agama discourse stem from very closely related transmission lineages, (8) which in turn makes it highly probable that they were transmitted by the same school, namely the Sarvastivada. (9)

Translation

Discourse on Gotami's Declaration on the Fruits [of Recluse-ship]

Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu, in the Nigrodha Park, observing the rainy season together with a great community of monks.

At that time Mahapajapati Gotami approached the Blessed One. Having arrived, she paid homage with her head at the Blessed One's feet and stood back to one side. Standing back to one side, Mahapajapati Gotami said to the Blessed One:

"Blessed One, would it be possible for women to attain the four fruits of recluse-ship? (10) Will you not let women go forth in this teaching and discipline out of serene faith, becoming homeless to train in the path?"

[The Buddha replied]: "Wait, Gotami, do not [think like] this. Women do not obtain the going forth in this teaching and discipline out of serene faith, becoming homeless to train in the path. Gotami, you can always shave your hair, put on ochre robes, and until the end [of your life] practice the pure holy life."

Then Mahapajapati Gotami, being restrained by the Blessed One, paid homage with her head at the Blessed One's feet, circumambulated the Blessed One, left the Blessed One, and returned.

At that time the monks were making a robe for the Blessed One [thinking]: "Soon the Blessed One, having completed the rainy season among the Sakyans, the three months of the rainy season being over, with his robes made and done, having completed his [set of] robes, taking his robes and bowl, will journey among the people."

Mahapajapati Gotami heard that the monks were making a robe for the Blessed One [thinking]: "Soon the Blessed One, having completed the rainy season among the Sakyans, the three months of the rainy season being over, with his robes made, having completed his [set of] robes, taking his robes and bowl, will journey among the people. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.