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

By Reginald A. Ray | Go to book overview

4
Some Orthodox Saints in Buddhism

This chapter contains discussion of three "orthodox saints" of Indian Buddhism: Mahākāśyapa, Upagupta, and Śāriputra. These saints may be termed orthodox because they are paradigmatic, creative figures at the center of the history of the major Indian Nikāya schools, including those connected with the Mahāsāṃghika, the Sthavira/Theravāda, and the Sarvāstivāda. Also, in the texts of the established monastic traditions, they are cast in a consistently positive light as embodiments of the schools' highest ideals. The first saint to be treated, Mahākāśyapa, is an important saint throughout the Northwestern and Southern sources, with a character that is variously described. The second, Upagupta, is celebrated chiefly, though not exclusively, in the Northwestern sources. The third, Śāriputra, has particular importance for Southern Buddhism of the Sthavira/Theravāda.


A Preeminent Saint among the Buddha's Disciples: Mahākāśyapa

In the An + ̄guttaranikāya, in a well-known list of the Buddha's foremost disciples that includes the characteristic by which each is renowned, Mahākāśyapa is called "foremost among those who follow the dhutas [dhūtavāda]," 1 the code setting forth a lifestyle of forest renunciation and meditation (1:23 [WH., 1:16]). 2 In the Mahāvastu, Mahākāśyapa is similarly called dhutarāja, "king of the dhutaguṇas" ( Mv 1:77.2 [Jns., 3:55]). 3 In the Divyāvadāna, Mahākāśyapa is again known as foremost in the practice of the dhutaguṇas (61 and 395). The special character of Mahṇkaāśyapa as forest renunciant, follower of the dhutaguṇas, and meditator of great accomplishment is celebrated in a variety of other texts, including the Divyāvadāna, the vinaya of the Mūlasarvāstivādins, 4 the Pāli vinaya, suttas, and commentaries, and the Pāli jātakas. Although these texts reflect different times, places, and traditions, they contain certain consistent hagiographical themes, the more important of which are examined in this section. 5

According to the Mahāvastu, 6 Mahākāśyapa, born to a very wealthy family, 7 finds his wealth "cramped and full of defilements" (3:66-67 [Jns., 3:49]). He longs for "the open air" of the renunciant life and, abandoning his wealth, takes up a patched cotton cloak (paṭapilotika) 8 and sets out in quest of "whatever arhans

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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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