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

By Reginald A. Ray | Go to book overview

saṃgha, based on the vinaya. 47 One dimension of the antistūpa trend involves a denial that the elite have any need of stūpas, that stūpas perform any necessary function for the intelligent. Thus, an official of the Saṃgha University in Rangoon commented, "A pagoda ostensibly houses something of the real Buddha. But an image is just symbolic of the Buddha's presence. Intellectual people don't need an image to concentrate their thoughts on. Common people do" (290). Similarly, the modern antistūpa trend also denies the authenticity of stūpa worship outright. When asked if there were not two ways within Buddhism--prayer and devotion (connected with the stūpa), and the more elite way of the monastic--one of Sadler's monastic informants remarked, "'In Buddhism there is only one way. Prayer is not important. Only morals and meditation.' . . . Q: 'Do you have some Buddhists in Burma who know only prayer?' A: 'Yes! The general public'" (283). 48

What can be the meaning of this antistūpa trend within Theravādin monasticism, which appears to be reflected in the Milindapañha, in the apparently systematic removal of references to rules for the stūpa from the extant Pāli vinaya and in the contemporary evidence discussed by Sadler? Such a trend begins to make sense when we recall that the stūpa is an important part of the Buddhist cult of saints and that, as we have seen in several examples in previous chapters, Pāli tradition shows similar negative attitudes to the Buddhist saints of the forest and their cults. This raises the interesting possibility that the Theravādin reservations about the charisma of the stūpa and the charisma of the forest saints may proceed from the same source and be part of the same phenomenon within Theravādin monasticism. This possibility will be considered in the next chapter. 49


Notes
1.
Who are these local saints thus enshrined in stūpas? The evidence suggests that stūpas were built to both male and female saints ( Schopen 1991c, 281), though the mention of local female saints seems comparatively rare. A forest lifestyle is sometimes specifically indicated, as when they are termed āraṇaka (forest renunciant) or qualified by another of the dhutaguṇas: peṇḍavatika or peḍapātika (piṇḍapatika) (292; 309). These are also people of attainment, indicated by their being called "one possessed of the three knowledges" (tevija) (296), "one possessed of the six superknowledges" (abhijñā) (310), nonreturner (anāgāmin) (296), and arhant (293). They are also called by other terms of respect such as elder (thera), reverend (bhayata) (293), and reverend (bhadata) (296), some of which may have implied spiritual attainment. One saint is called a vināyaka, perhaps indicating particular attainment in behavioral purity or mastery of vinaya texts (308).
2.
Mitra 1971, 21. Also see Barua 1926, 21; Pant 1973, 471-78; and Fussman 1986, 44.
3.
Discussed in Bareau 1975.
4.
For a discussion of some of the major theories see Bénisti 1960, 42-47.
5.
For some general treatments of the symbolism and cult of the stūpa, see Combaz 1932-33; Mus 1935, 1:76ff.; Bénisti 1960; Irwin 1977; and Dallapiccola 1980.
6.
On this, see N. Falk 1977.
7.
It has often been pointed out that in early Buddhism there are no images of the Buddha and that, in this sense, early Buddhism is aniconic. Mus, in speaking of the early

-352-

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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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