04: Second Council

Second Dhamma Sangayana

WHEN Ajatasattu’s son Udayabhaddaka[1]. had slain him he, the traitor, reigned sixteen years. Udayabhaddaka’s son Anuruddhaka slew (his father) and Anuruddha’s son named Munda did likewise. Traitors and fools, these (sons) reigned over the kingdom; in the reign of these two (kings) eight years elapsed.

Munla’s son Nagadasaka slew his father and then did the evildoer reign twenty-four years.

Then were the citizens wroth, saying: ‘This is a dynasty of parricides,’ and when they had banished the king Nagadasaka they met together and (since) the minister known by the name Susunaga was proved to be worthy, they anointed him king, mindful of the good of all. He reigned as king eighteen years. His son Kalasoka reigned twenty-eight years. At the end of the tenth year of Kalasoka’s reign a century had gone by since the parinibbana of the Sambuddha.

At that time in Vesali many bhikkhus of the Vajji-clan[2] did shamelessly teach that the Ten Points[3] were lawful, namely ‘Salt in the horn’, ‘Two fingers’ breadth’, ‘Visiting the village’, ‘Dwelling’, ‘Consent’, ‘Example’, ‘unchurned milk’, ‘Unfermented palm wine’, ‘Seat without fringe’, ‘Gold and so forth’.

When this came to the ears of the thera Yasa, the son of the brahman Kakandaka, gifted with the six supernormal powers[4],’ who was wandering about in the Vajji country, he betook himself to the Mahavana (vihara)[5] with the resolve to settle the matter. In the uposatha-hall those (monks) had placed a vessel made of metal and filled with water and had said to the lay-folk: ‘Bestow on the brotherhood kahapanas[6] and so on.’ The thera forbade them with the words ‘This is unlawful; give nothing!’ Then did they threaten the thera Yasa with the penance called the Craving of pardon from layfol[7].’ He asked for one to bear him company and went with him into the city proclaiming to the citizens, that his teaching was according to the dhamma.

KahapanaKahapana The earliest unit of currency known in the island is referred to as a Kahapana. They are called puranas in Sanskrit and eldings in English. They are commonly known as punch-marked coins, due to the marks or symbols that had been struck either on one side or both sides of the coin. These coins were used in Ceylon from 3 BC. Kahapanas are reckoned to have been produced by cutting strips of metal from hammered sheets. The known coins have been of many shapes, such as round, square, rectangular or oblong. Their weight had been adjusted by clipping the corners. The metal of the Kahapana has been found mostly to be silver.
Central Bank of Sri Lanka

When the bhikkhus heard what (Yasa’s) companion had to tell, they came to thrust him out and surrounded the thera’s house. The thera left it, rising up and passing through the air, and halting at Kosambi, he forthwith sent messengers to the bhikkhus of Pava and Avanti;[8] he himself went to the Ahoganga-mountain and related all to the thera Sambhuta Sanavasi.[9]

Sixty great theras from Pava and eighty from Avanti, all free from the asavas,[10] came together on the Ahoganga. The bhikkhus who met together here from this and that region were in all ninety thousand. When they had all conferred together they, knowing that the deeply learned thera Revata of Soreyya[11] who was free from the asavas, was the chief among them at that time, went thence to seek him out.

When the thera heard this resolution (by his divine ear) he set out at once, wishing to travel easily,[12] upon the way to Vesali. Arriving day by day in the evening at the spot whence the sage had departed in the morning (the theras) met him (at last) at Sahajati.

There the thera Yasa, as the thera Sambhuta had charged him to do, at the end of the recital of the sacred word, addressing himself to the great thera Revata, questioned him on the Ten Points. The thera rejected them, and when he had heard the matter, he said: ‘Let us make an end (of this dispute).’

The heretical bhikkhus, too, in order to win support, sought the thera Revata. Preparing in abundance the things needful for ascetics[13] they took ship with all speed and went to Sahajati, bestowing food sumptuously when the mealtime came.[14]

The thera Salha, free from the asavas, who lived at Sahajati, having thought on the matter, perceived: ‘Those of Pava hold the true doctrine.’ And the great god Brahma drew near to him and said: ‘Stand thou firm in the doctrine,’ and he replied that he would ever stand firm in the doctrine.

They[15] took those needful things (that they had brought as gifts) and sought the thera Revata, but the thera did not take their part and dismissed (the pupil) who took their part.[16] They went thence to Vesali, shameless they went from there to Pupphapura,[17] and told king Kalasoka: ‘Guarding our Master’s perfumed chamber we dwell in the Mahavana-Vihara (Mahävana-vihära) in the Vajji territory; but bhikkhus dwelling in the country are coming, great king, with the thought: We will take the vihara for ourselves. Forbid them!’

When they had thus misled the king they went (back) to Vesali. Here in Sahajati eleven hundred and ninety thousand bhikkhus were come together under the thera Revata, to bring the dispute to a peaceful end. And the thera would not end the dispute save in the presence of those with whom it had begun;[18] therefore all the bhikkhus went thence to Vesali (Vesälï).

The misguided king likewise sent his ministers thither, but led astray by the design of the devas they went elsewhere. And the monarch, when he had sent them, saw himself in a dream, that night, hurled into the hell called Lohakumbhi. The king was sorely terrified and, to calm his fears, his sister, Nanda (Nandä), the therï free from the asavas (äsavas), came to him, passing through the air.

‘An ill deed is this that thou hast done! Reconcile thee with these venerable bhikkhus, the true believers. Placing thyself on their side, protect thou their faith. If thou dost so, blessed art thou!’ she said, and thereon vanished. And forthwith in the morning the king set out to go to Vesali. He went to the Mahavana (monastery), assembled the congregation of the bhikkhus there, and when he had heard what was said by both of the (opposing) sides, and had decided, himself, for the true faith, when moreover this prince was reconciled with all the rightly believing bhikkhus and had declared that he was for the right belief, he said: `Do what ye think well to further the doctrine,’ and when he had promised to be their protector, he returned to his capital.

Thereafter the brotherhood came together to decide upon those points; then, in the congregation (of monks), aimless[19] words were spent. Then the thera Revata, who went into the midst of the brotherhood, resolved to settle the matter by means of an ubbahika.[20] He appointed four bhikkhus from the East, and four from Pava, for the ubbahika to set the dispute to rest. Sabbakami and Salha, one named Khujjasobhita, and Vasabhagamika, these were the theras from the East; Revata, Sänasambhüta, Yasa, the son of Kakandaka, and Sumana, these were the four theras from Pavä.

Now to decide on those points the eight theras who were free from the Asavas betook them to the quiet and solitary Valikarama. There, in the beautiful spot prepared for them by the young Ajita,[21] the great theras took up their abode, they who knew the thoughts of the Greatest of Sages. And the great thera Revata, skilled in questioning, questioned the thera Sabbakämi successively on each one of those points. Questioned by him the great thera Sabbakämi thus gave judgment: `All these points are unlawful, according to tradition.’ And when, in due order, they had ended (their task) in this place, they did all again, in like manner, with question and answer, in the presence of the brotherhood. And thus did the great theras refute the teaching of those ten thousand heretical bhikkhus who maintained the Ten Points.

Sabbakämi was then the samghatthera on the earth, one hundred and twenty years did he number since his upasampada.

Sabbakami and Salha, Revata, Khujjasobhita, Yasa, the son of Kakandaka, and Sambhüta Sanavasika, the six theras, were pupils of the thera Ananda; but Vasabhagamika and Sumana, the two theras, were pupils of the thera Anuruddha. These eight fortunate theras had beheld the Tathagata in time past. One hundred and twelve thousand bhikkhus had come together, and of all these bhikkhus the them Revata then was the chief.

At that time the thera Revata, in order to hold a council, that the true faith might long endure, chose seven hundred out of all that troop of bhikkhus; (those chosen were) arahants endowed with the four special sciences, understanding of meanings and so forth,[22] knowing the tipitaka.

All these (theras met) in the Valikarama protected by Käläsoka, under the leadership of the thera Revata, (and) compiled the dhamma.[23] Since they accepted the dhamma already established in time past and proclaimed afterward, they completed their work in eight months.

When these theras of high renown had held the Second Council, they, since in them all evil had perished, attained in course of time unto nibbana.

When we bethink us of the death of the sons of the Universal Teacher, who were gifted with perfect insight, who had attained all that is to attain, who had conferred blessings on (the beings of) the three forms of existence,[24] then may we lay to heart the entire vanity of all that comes into being[25] and vigilantly strive (after deliverance).

Here ends the fourth chapter, called `The Second Council `, in the Mahävamsa or mahawansa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

  1. In the Sinhalese MSS. this name appears in the form ‘Udayibhaddaka’, Cf. D. 1. 5025 Udayibho or Udayabho (E. MULLER, J.P.T.S. 1888, p. 14). The Dip. 4. 38, 5. 97, 11. 8 has Uda-ya(bhadda) [^]
  2. On the confederacy of the Vajjis see RHYS DAVIDS, Buddhist India, pp. 25-26. On Vesali, ibid., p. 40. According to V. SMITH (Early History of India, p. 27, n. 1 ; J.R.A.S. 1902, p. 267 foll.) its site is the modern Basar (N. lat. 25o 58′ 20″, E. long. 85 11′ 30″) in the District Muzaffarpur, north of Patna. [^]
  3. The history of the Second Council is also given in the C.V. XII. Cf. Vinaya Texts, iii (S.B.E. xx) pp. 386 foll. Here C.V. XII. 1. 9 ; 2. 8 ) the single points are explained:
    (i) Sihgilonakappa, the custom of putting salt in a horn vessel, in order to season unsalted foods, when received.
    (ii) Dvangulakappa, the custom of taking the midday meal, even after the prescribed time, as long as the sun’s shadow had not passed the meridian by more than two-fingers’ breadth.
    (iii) Gamantarakappa, the custom of going into the village, after the meal, and there eating again, if invited.
    (iv) Avasakappa, the custom of holding the nposatha-feast separately by bhikkhus dwelling in the same district.
    (v) Anumatikappa, the carrying out of official acts by an incomplete chapter, on the supposition that the consent of absent bhikkhus was obtained afterwards.
    (vi) Acinnakappa, the custom of doing something because of the preceptor’s practice.
    (vii) Amathitakappa, taking unchurned milk, even after the mealtime.
    (viii) Jalogikappa, drinking unfermented palm-wine.
    (ix) Adas.akam nisidanam, the use of mats to sit on which were not of the prescribed size, if they were without fringe.
    (x) Jataruparajatam, accepting gold and silver. [^]
  4. Chalabhinna. The six abhinna are (i) the power of iddhi, (ii) the heavenly ear, i. e. supranormal power of hearing, (iii) the power to read the thoughts of others, (iv) the knowledge of former existences, (v) the heavenly eye. i. e. supranormal power of seeing, (vi) the abandonment of the asavas. The last of these abhinna is one of the signs of an arahant. See RHYS DAVIDS, Dialogues of the Buddha, i. 62; AUNG, Compendium of Philosophy, pp. 60-63; 224 foll. [^]
  5. The Mahavana-monastery is mentioned by Fa-Hian. See BEAL, Buddhist Records of the Western World, i, p. 52. [^]
  6. Kahapana (Skr. karsapana) is a square copper coin, weighing 146.4 grains = 9.48 grams. See RAPSON, Indian Coins, p. 2 ; RHYS DAVIDS, Buddhist India, p. 100.-6- [^]
  7. Patisaraniyakamina, see KERN, Manual, p. 87, note 8. [^]
  8. Kosambi on the Yamuna was the capital of the Vatsas or Vamsas. Pava that of the Mallas ; Avanti was the region of Ujjeni ; RHYS DAVIDS, Buddhist India, pp. 36, 26, 28. Instead of Paveyyaka some of the Sinhalese MSS. read Patheyyaka. But also at M.V. VII. 1. 1 ( = Vin. Pit. i. 2535)the Burmese MSS. have Paveyyaka. [^]
  9. See Vin. Texts, iii (S.B.E. xx), p. 394, note 2. [^]
  10. Anasava, see p. 15, n. 3. [^]
  11. Not far from Takkasila in W. India, see Parajika, 1. 4 (Vin. Pit. iii, p. 11) ; KERN, Manual, p. 36. [^]
  12. Cf. for the detailed description, C.V. XII. 1. 9 = Vin. Texts, iii (S.B.E. xx), p. 396. [^]
  13. Samanaka parikkhara (as a gift to Revata) is that which a monk is allowed to call his own, such as robes, the alms-bowl, &c. Cf. CHILDERS, s.v. parikkharo. [^]
  14. The underlying meaning is that they indulged in riotous living on their journey. Vissagga has the implied sense of something rich and luxuriant. The Tika paraphrases bhattavissaggam with bhattaparivesanam, bhattaparibhogam. [^]
  15. I. e. the Vajjian monks. [^]
  16. On this passage see Mah. ed., pp. xxv-xxvi. However, I now prefer the reading pakkhagahim, since the passage evidently refers to Revata’s disciple Uttara (C.V. XII. 2. 3), who allowed himself to be won over by the Vajjian monks. [^]
  17. Pupphapura, the City of Flowers, a name of Pataliputta (now Patna), capital at that time of the kingdom of Magadha. [^]
  18. Mulatthehi vina, lit. ‘without those who were at the root.’ [^]
  19. Anaggani bhassani ‘aimless’ or ‘inexact’ speeches. The reading anaggani bhassani (Ed. Col. nantani bho) is confirmed by C.V. IV. 14. 19 and XII. 2. 7. [^]
  20. Ubbahikaya ‘by means of a Referat’, the settlement of a dispute being laid in the hands of certain chosen brethren. For the rule on this, see C.V. IV. 14. 19 ff. ; Vin. Texts, iii (S.B.E. xx), p. 49 ff. [^]
  21. The reading daharenajitenettha is confirmed by C.V. XII. 2. 7: atha kho samgho ayasinantam pi Ajitam sammanni theranam bhikkhunam asanapannapakam (Vin. Pit. ii. 30534). [^]
  22. Pabhinnatthadinananam is explained in the Tika as atthapatisambhidadipabhedagatanananam; atthadippabhedagatehi patisambhidananehi samannagatanam ti attho; adiggahanenettha dhammapatisambhidadini nanani gahitani. The compound means therefore literally, ‘who possess the specialized knowledge of the attha and so forth, ‘that is, the four patisambhida. By this term is understood ‘a transcendent faculty in grasping the meaning of a text or subject (attha) ; in grasping the Law of all things as taught by the Buddha (dhamma) ; in exegesis (nirutti); readiness in expounding and discussion (patibhana) ‘. See Patisambhida-magga 1. 88. [^]
  23. Akarum dhammasamgaham. See note to 3. 17. [^]
  24. The three forms of existence are kamabhava, rupabhava, arupabhava ‘sensual existence, corporeal existence, formless existence’ (CHILDERS, P.D. s. vv.), that is, existences in the three worlds so named, which together form that part of the universe called the sattaloka, ‘world of beings.’ In this the kamaloka includes the eleven lowest worlds, the rupaloka the sixteen higher, and the arupaloka the four highest, celestial worlds. [^]
  25. Samkhatasarakattam : samkhata is a synonym of samkhara, and means in the widest sense the material and transitory world. See CHILDERS, s. v. samkharo. [^]
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