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Buddhist Literature and PÈramÊ 1.pdf · PDF file 1 CHAPTER - I Buddhist Literature and PÈramÊs 1.A.0. Buddhist literature The moral, practical and ethical systems expounded by

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    Buddhist Literature and PÈramÊs

    1.A.0. Buddhist literature

    The moral, practical and ethical systems expounded by the

    Buddha, who was the founder of Buddhism, known as Gotama

    (Gautama) Buddha, are called the Dhamma, and are more popularly

    known as Buddhism. Buddhism is a course or a way that guides a

    disciple through pure living and pure thinking, to gain supreme

    wisdom and deliverance from all evils and defilements.

    Although the Buddha had passed away 2550 years ago, the

    lamp of the Dhamma was never extinguished. It is still lightening and

    this is the benefit which we have received today from the right

    endeavor through successive teaching and learning (VÈda) of the

    great elder disciples (Thera) of the Buddha.

    Those learned, very orthodox enlightened great elder disciples

    never changed the Teachings of the Buddha (Dhamma) into another

    style. They never removed anything from the original Dhamma, nor

    inserted or substituted new and modern words or ideas. Those pious

    learned orthodox great elder disciples of the Buddha maintained well

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    and guarded properly the Dhamma in its pristine purity. That was

    why, it is called ‗TheravÈda‘ (The Original Teachings of the Buddha

    carried by the Elders). 1 The original Teachings of the Buddha

    handed down generation to generation (from the beginning of the

    lineage of great elders) are divided into three divisions. These three

    (Ti) divisions (PiÔaka) are called ‗TipiÔaka‘ which literally means

    ‗three baskets‘.

    (1)Vinaya PiÔaka (The Basket of Discipline),

    (2) Suttanta PiÔaka (The Basket of Discourses) and,

    (3) Abhidhamma PiÔaka (The Basket of Higher Discourses).

    These TipiÔakas can be categorized as NikÈyas or


    1. DÊgha-NikÈya (The Collection of Long Discourses),

    (SÊlakkhandhavagga, MahÈvagga and PÈthikavagga.)

    2. Majjhima-NikÈya (The Collection of Middle Length Discourses),

    (M|lapaÓÓÈsa, MajjhimapaÓÓÈsa and UparipaÓÓÈsa)

    3. SaÑyutta-NikÈya (The Collection of Kindred Discourses),

    (I. SagÈthÈvagga, NidÈnavagga. II. Khandhavagga,

    SaÄÈyatanavagga. III. MahÈvagga.)

    4. A~guttara-NikÈya (The Collection of Gradual Discourses),

    (I. Ekaka, Duka, Tika and Catukka NipÈta. II. PaÒcaka, Chakka, Sattaka

    1 Vin.IV.480

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    and AÔÔhaka NipÈta. III. Navaka, Dasaka and EkÈdasaka NipÈta.) and

    5. Khuddaka-NikÈya (The Collection of Short Discourses)

    (KhuddakapÈÔha, Dhammapada, UdÈna, Itivuttaka, SuttanipÈta,

    VimÈnavatthu, Petavatthu, TheragÈthÈ, TherÊgÈthÈ, JÈtaka,

    MahÈniddesa, C|Äaniddesa, PaÔisambhidÈmagga, ApadÈna,

    BuddhavaÑsa, CariyÈpiÔaka, Netti, PeÔakopadesa and


    1.A.1. PÈramÊ and Buddhist Literature

    In the BuddhavaÑsa of Khuddaka NikÈya, the Buddha

    explained about PÈramis (perfections) to be fulfilled for gaining noble

    qualities. The vital role of fulfilling PÈramis is to be a noble person,

    such as Buddha (supreme self enlightenment), Pacceka Buddha

    (solitary Buddha), Agga SÈvaka (great chief disciples), MahÈ

    SÈvaka (great elder disciples), etc.

    The Bodhisatta (Bodhisattva- to be Buddha) SumedhÈ, who

    became known as Gotama (Gautama) Buddha, had got exact

    prophecy from DÊpa~kara Buddha. Right after hearing the prophecy,

    SumedhÈ (Bodhisatta) ardently and continually practised and fulfilled

    ten kinds of PÈramÊs for four incalculable world-cycles plus a

    hundred thousand aeons. Those fulfilled PÈramÊs made him

    perfect, unique and unsurpassed by human or Deva (deities) or

    Brahma world.

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    There are ten kinds of Perfections practiced by SumedhÈ, the

    Bodhisatta himself in his previous lives.

    1.A.2. Ten kinds of Perfections (PÈramitÈs)

    In BuddhavaÑsa of KhuddakanikÈya, the Perfections (PÈramÊs) are listed as Ten in number. They are as follows:

    (1) DÈna PÈramÊ - Generosity, (translated sometimes as Charity, Liberality or just alms-giving),

    (2) SÊla PÈramÊ - Morality or Virtue, Discipline, Proper conduct,

    (3) Nekkhamma PÈramÊ - Renunciation,

    (4) PaÒÒÈ PÈramÊ - Wisdom, Insight,

    (5) VÊriya PÈramÊ - Energy, Effort, Vigour, or Diligence,

    (6) KhantÊ PÈramÊ - Forbearance or Patience, Tolerance, Acceptance, Endurance,

    (7) Sacca PÈramÊ - Truthfulness,

    (8) AdhiÔÔÈna PÈramÊ - Determination or Resolution,

    (9) MettÈ PÈramÊ - Loving- kindness; and

    (10) UpekkhÈ PÈramÊ - Equanimity.

    These ten perfections are discussed in the following chapters

    primarily based on Buddhist Literatures in TheravÈda. Buddhist

    Sanskrit sources are not unanimous in the number as mentioned

    before. Perfections like nekkhamma, sacca, adhiÔÔhÈna, mettÈ and

    upekkhÈ are expressed only in the PÈÄi list. According to

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    DhammapÈla, the ten pÈramitÈs are reduced to six: DÈnapÈramÊ,

    SÊlapÈramÊ, KhantÊpÈramÊ, VÊriyapÈramÊ, JhÈnapÈramÊ

    (DhyÈna) and PaÒÒÈpÈramÊ.

    NekkhammapÈramÊ is taking up an ascetic life, JhÈna and

    general meritoriousness. Here Nekkhamma as taking up an ascetic

    life should be considered as SÊlapÈramÊ because they are of

    similar nature; in the same way Nekkhamma is JhÈna, free from

    hindrances (nÊvaraÓa) should be considered as JhÈnapÈramÊ.

    Truthfulness is of three kinds; truthful speech (vacÊsacca);

    abstaining from falsehood (viratisacca) which is mental concomitant

    of right speech (sammÈvÈcÈ); and truthful wisdom (ÒÈÓasacca)

    which is mental concomitant of wisdom (paÒÒÈ). (NibbÈna, which is

    Absolute Truth- Paramattha sacca, is not relevant here.) Out of

    these, vacÊsacca and viratisacca being related to SÊla, should be

    counted as SÊlapÈramÊ; ÒÈÓasacca being the concomitant of

    wisdom should be counted as PaÒÒÈpÈramÊ. UpekkhÈpÈramÊ

    consists of concomitant of TatramajjhattatÈ and PaÒÒÈ;

    TatramajjhattatÈ should be taken as the JhÈnapÈramÊ to which it is

    related; and concomitant of PaÒÒÈ which is the same as

    ©ÈnupekkhÈ should be taken as PaÒÒÈpÈramÊ. MettÈpÈramÊ is

    included in JhÈnapÈramÊ. AdhiÔÔhÈnapÈramÊ is included in all

    the six pÈramÊs. 2 Such evidence points to the fact that

    DhammapÈla, being aware of a theory of the six pÈramitÈs, gave it

    a new interpretation of his own, while adhering in principle to the way

    2 CariyÈpiÔakaaÔÔhakathÈ, p-313

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    pÈramitÈs were counted in the TheravÈda tradition. Concepts and

    practices expressed by these terms are as important as other items

    in the list in Buddhism. Har Dayal in this connection tries to see a

    gradual growth of the doctrine of pÈramitÈ out of three fundamental

    steps; namely, SÊla, SamÈdhi and PaÒÒÈ, which are often cited as

    the right direction of practice one must follow in order to attain the

    final goal, NibbÈna. Based on the usually accepted enumeration of

    six pÈramitÈs in MahÈyÈna Buddhism, Vasubandhu in his

    MahÈyÈna sutrÈla~kÈra commentary explains that the six

    pÈramitÈs are fundamentally related to the three "siksas (sikkhÈ

    pÈÄi)"; i.e. AdhisÊla, Adhicitta and AdhiprajÒÈ (AdhipaÒÒÈ pÈÄi).

    Har Dyal's contention and the authoritative explanation of

    Vasubandhu are based on the Buddhist Sanskrit sources and may

    not therefore be applicable to the TheravÈda tradition of

    enumeration, for the PÈÄi list does not end in PaÒÒÈ, a prerequisite

    to entertain such a theory. According to BuddhavaÑsa of PÈÄi3, ten

    kinds of perfections are expressed in that order and Venerable

    Buddhaghosa, the author of DÊghanikÈya 4 , MajjhimanikÈya 5 ,

    A~guttaranikÈya6 and Dhammasa~ganÊ7 Commentaries, also stated

    3 BuddhavaÑsa PÈÄ, p-2.315

    4 SÊlakkhandha aÔÔhakathÈ, p-1.60 (yathÈ kassapo bhagavÈ dÈnapÈramiÑ p|retvÈ,

    sÊlanekkhammapaÒÒÈ vÊriyakhantisaccaadhiÔÔhÈnamettÈupekkhÈpÈramiÑ p|retvÈ, imÈ dasapÈramiyo, dasapupa pÈramiyo, da paramattha pÈramiyoti samattiÑsa pÈramiyo p|retvÈ, a~gapariccÈgaÑ, nayanadhanarajjaputtadÈra pariccÈganti ime paÒca pariccÈge pariccajitvÈpubbayoga pubbacariyadhammakkhÈnaÒÈtatthacariyÈdayo puretvÈ buddhacariyÈya koÔiÑ vattvÈna Ègato, tathÈ amhÈkampi bhagavÈ Ègato.)

    5 M|lapaÓÓÈsa aÔÔhakathÈ, p-1.48

    6 AA. 1. 76., AA,2.208., AA. 3.312

    7 Dhammasa~ganÊ aÔÔhakathÈ, 54

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    ten kinds of Perfections in various places. Venerable Upasena, the

    author of Niddesa Commentary and Venerable MahÈnÈma, the

    author of PaÔisambidÈmagga Commentary have mentioned same

    number of perfections in their books. The antiquity of the t

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