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Who Composed the Mahāyāna Scriptures?: The Mahāsāṃghikas and Vaitulya Scriptures

辛嶋静志 1

1創価大學 國際佛敎高等硏究所

ABSTRACT

In this paper, I demonstrated that the earlier composers of the so-called Mahāyāna sūtras had named their texts vevulla / vaitulya / vaipulya (cf. Pāli vedalla), and only later were these titles changed to mahāyānasūtra. By investigating the earlier Chinese translations as well as the Chinese Buddhist catalogues, I also demonstrated the transition from vevulla (2nd century C.E.) to vaitulya (3rd century∼616 C.E.), and then to vaipulya (5th century onwards) and finally to mahāyānasūtra (5th century onwards). I assume that the original form of these variants could have been *vedulla, a Middle Indic form corresponding to vaitulya (> vetulla > *vedulla), which might mean ‘not’ (vi) ‘of the same kind’, i.e. ‘unusual, irregular’. This name *vedulla (Pā. vedalla) was used todesignate ‘unusual’ scriptures consisting of repeated questions and answers between an inferior and a superior person, such as between Indra and the Buddha or between disciples. Probably, those who had composed the new scriptures, thought that they were composing unique texts, whose contents and forms were not found in orthodox scriptures, named these texts as *vevulla, vaitulya, meaning as ‘incomparable, peerless’. The <大方等大集經>(*Mahāvaitulya-Mahāsannipāta), which was compiled in 586 C.E, is apparently a collection of the vaitulya-cummahāyāna- scriptures. In this collection, there is passages which describe the various Buddhist schools, among which the description concerning the Mahāsāṃghikas is expressed in a positive way, while other schools are described negatively. We may assume that the composer of this vaitulya-scripture belonged to the school of the Mahāsāṃghikas. The close relationship between the Mahāsāṃghikas and the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñāpāramitā, Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra, Samādhirājasūtra, Mahāparinirvāṇa mahāsūtra and Daśabhūmikasūtra have been already pointed out. The close relationship between the Mahāsāṃghikas and Mahāyāna in Pāṭaliputra is also recorded. Also, Nāgārjuna, Candrakīrti, Śāntideva and Dīpaṃkaraśrījñāna, who quoted Mahāyāna scriptures in their texts, are assumed to have been monks of the Mahāsāṃghikas. Vasubandhu, who was a monk of the Sarvāstivāda school and wrote the Abhidharmakośa, a compendium of its doctrines, but later also wrote commentaries on some Mahāyāna scriptures, was criticised as ‘a dropout from the Sarvāstivāda school’ in the Abhidharmadīpa of the same school. I also pointed out none of Mahāyāna scriptures are referred to in the whole Abhidharma texts, which were composed by the Indian Sarvāstivādins. Thus, the Sarvāstivādins were originally antagonistic to Mahāyāna Buddhism. In conclusion, I assume that members of the Mahāsāṃghikas composed new scriptures, often consisting of questions and answers, thus condemning the conservative thoughts on Buddhist doctrines, and called these newly-composed texts as vedulla / vaitulya, in the meaning of their being ‘irregular’ as Buddha’s scripture but ‘incomparable, peerless’. Later, they came to be called in a more positive way as vaipulya ‘full development, abundance, plenty, fullness’. Much later still, they came to be called mahāyāna-sūtra as well. Those who composed, copied, read, recited, proclaimed these ‘new scriptures’, did not call themselves ‘mahāyanists’ at the beginning. They were after all members of the Mahāsāṃghikas and therefore, it is quite natural that the name mahāyāna does not occur in early Indian inscriptions. Much later on, when the Mahāyāna scriptures and doctrine became much more popular, members of other schools acknowledged them and absorbed them as well.

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