The Influence of Mahayana on Buddhadasa. buddhist/chinese/paper_20/010.pdfThe Influence of Mahayana on Buddhadasa’s Thought Abstract By Shih You Fang Thailand is a Theravada

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  • The Influence of Mahayana on Buddhadasas Thought


    By Shih You Fang

    Thailand is a Theravada Buddhist country. They preserve the tradition of

    Buddhist teaching. Theravada lineages in Thailand separate into two lineages are

    Maha nikaya and Dhammayutti nikaya. Maha nikaya establish by King

    Ramkhomheng in Sukhothai period. Dhammayutti Nikaya establishes by Rama IV

    Rattanakosin period. From the introduction in above we can see, Thai King

    emphasizes on Buddhist tradition. Thus Buddhism in Thailand can able to develop

    and spread very fast. Moreover from the influence of Thai king made Thai people

    follow to practice the teaching of Theravada. Now, the tradition and teaching of

    Theravada Buddhist harmonies into Thai people life.

    The next issue I would like to present the Thai Theravada monk who has the

    more influence and movement into Thai Theravada. That Thai Sangkha is

    Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. He is a philosophy monk in Thailand. In addition, Buddhadsa

    is accepted by the UNESCO. The UNECO honor him is the benefiter of Buddhism

    and importance person in the world. The interesting, he not only is accepted by

    UNESCO, but he apply the concept of Mahayana in Thailand. He base on the concept

    teaching in Chan School, especially the teaching of Chan Master Hui-Neng Chan and

    Master Huang-Bo in the land of Theravada. Buddhadasa create the new movement for

    Thai Buddhism. He develops the teaching style of Thai Theravada in news version.

    He opens Thai people heart more understand the difference teaching in difference

    Buddhist school or religious.

    Therefore in this thesis I present Thai Buddhist history including Buddhadasa

    biography and the influence of Mahayana Teaching on his thought.

    Key Word

    Buddhadasa, the concept of Mahayana, one mind and essential mind

  • A Brief Background of Thai Theravada

    The Buddhist history background in Thailand separate into four periods.

    1. Theravada Buddhism during the reign of Emperor Asoka

    2. Mahayana period

    3. Theravada in Pukam (


    4. Thai Theravada in Langavong School (


    In each period present how Buddhism come into Thailand. And How Theravada

    Buddhism has the most important in Thailand including how the teaching of

    Theravada has the most influence in Thai people.

    Furthermore, I explain the history background of Mahayana in Thailand. This

    issue is interesting. Because of once a time the influence of Mahayana is very popular

    in Southern of Thailand but the development of Mahayana Buddhism is not continues

    to develop.

    A Brief of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand

    Buddhism was the state religious of Thailand. Thai Theravada in today was the

    introduction of King Rama-Khamheng () who established Sukhodaya

    kingdom ( ) (13th -15th centuries AD) 1 and greatly expanded the

    ideology of Theravada Buddhism of Ceylonese lineage (!"), due to the king

    learned the attitude of Theravada Buddhism from the Sri Lanka monk who propagated

    the teaching of Theravada Buddhism in Nakon Srithammaraj (#!$)2

    thereafter he invited this monk came to Sukhodaya ( ) and offered the title of

    Sangharaja (Ruler of the order) to leader of the monks. King Rama Khamheng was

    the first monarch in Thailand who raised Buddhism to the status of state religion in

    the Sukhodaya kingdom. Moreover for help the reader understand more the religious

    belief on Thai Theravada in Sukhothai ( ). I present the description in the

    stone-throne.3 That recorded the situation and religious belief of Thai Theravada

    Buddhism in Sukhothai era ( ). The inscription says,

    1 Hazar Lal Kanai, Thailand: Political Historty and Buddhist Culture Influence , p.445 2 Some of background material of Buddhism in Sukhothai ( ) I also explain it in chapter I (Background materail) 3 King Rama Khomheng ordered to build a stone-throne on the ground surrounded by palm trees at the center place of capital and requested the monks to sit on it and to preach the sermons to people on holiday.

  • People in this state of Sukhodaya are inclined towards charity and to observe

    the precepts. King Rama Khamheng of Sukhodaya as well as his household and his

    court men or women, they all have the faith in the religion of Buddha.4

    In the other inscription says,

    Rama Khamheng sought to be ruler and lord over all the Thais, to be preceptor

    and instructor to all the Thais, to know true virtue and righteousness.5

    From these inscriptions we can see the Sukhodaya era, King Rama Khamheng

    () emphasized to adopt the morality of Buddhism organized Thai

    society and political therefore Thai people obtained the ideology of Buddhist morality

    from there era. The ideology of Theravada Buddhism has the strong relation with Thai

    society, specially the ideology of morality.

    Next I move on King Lithai (O "P ) (1347-1374AD)6 who ruled the

    Sukhodaya kingdom after King Rama Khomheng was succeed and acquired him to

    Pra MahaDhammaraja (O!$) for his contribution to development

    Buddhism. He created Sukhothai kingdom ( ) was the Buddhist center.7

    He adopted the teaching of Buddhism in Sukhothai kingdom ( ). Base

    on History of Siam that present the Buddhism contributions of the king who attempted

    to propagate the Buddhist expansions to the neighbors kingdoms as Muang

    Srisadchanalai (Q#$ ), Muang Pidsanulok (Q"R), Muang

    Kampengpet (Q$), Muang Pra-Bang (QO)8. King Lithai

    was the expert of Tripitaka thus he wrote a treatise called Tebhumikatha

    (PSTU"O)9 (Sermon in the Three worlds), that described the three planes of

    existence in Buddhist cosmology and the karma leading to Sukhodaya kingdom.

    Furthermore King Lithai (RS" "P ) welcomed a Sri Lanka monk, Phra Mahasvami


    (O#V$) to pass the rainy season (the Buddhist lent) in a

    newly constructed in the mango grove (WXYO). Thereafter King Lithai

    (RS" "P ) ordained to the monkhood for a temporary period, he was the first Thai

    King to do so11

    . King Lithai (RS" "P ) vowed as in the future he want to become

    the Bodhisattva. He made a vow as help sentient beings go to Nirvana. He also said

    the king should to enter the monkhood for learn the Buddhist scriptures because this

    is a characteristic of King.12

    Moreover King Lithai interpreted the ten royal precepts

    4 Hazar Lal Kanai, Thailand: Political Historty and Buddhist Culture Influence, p. 361 5 Ibid., p.362 6 Hazar Lal Kanai, Thailand: Political Historty and Buddhist Culture Influence, p. 369 7 Sitthithanyakij Paladisai, History of Siam, p.462 8 Ibid., p.464 9 Ibid., p. 462 10 Ibid., p. 463 11 Yoshinori Takeuchi, Buddhist Spirituality : Indian Southeast Asian, Tibetan, Early Chinese, p.110 12 Sitthithayakit, Pladisai (W" "!"!c"). History of Siam, p.413

  • ("!$!)13 for organized Sukodaya Kingdom. The rule of Buddhist precepts

    became very popular in Thailand and the present day the king in Thai Kingdom also

    applied these precepts for organized the kingdom. From this background it presented

    Thailand from the past to present always adopted the Buddhism morality to organize

    kingdom, in order to Thai people have the ideology of Buddhist morality, especially

    the concept of karma and merit.

    The next kingdom was Ayudhya kingdom ( ! ) (1733-1758).

    Ayuddhaya ( ! ) inherited the Theravada Buddhism from Sukhothai ( ) and

    Buddhism in this period continued to play important role as the national religion and

    the source of morality. When Ayudhya was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767, King

    Tak Sin (OdS") was able to liberate the Thai kingdom and established the

    newly kingdom called Thonburi (!#). 14 King Tak Sin (OdS") tried to

    restore Buddhism to its former state and undo the damage of the war. Buddhism in

    Thailand continued to stabilize and prosperity to Bangkok period15

    ( S").

    The Rattanakosin Kingdom (S") established by King Rama I16, who

    founded the Bangkok as the capital. The Buddhist contributions of King Rama I, he

    sponsored a Buddhist Council, which produced a standard, purified Pali Tipitaka

    written on corypha palm leaves17

    . Many of the major monasteries of Bangkok were

    built at his command, and the study and practice of Buddhism were encouraged. The

    next, I move on King Rama IV (King Mongkut) who had the more influence Thailand

    Buddhism. He was the first king who created a new nikaya in Thai Theravada during

    his twenty-seven years of monastic life which was Dhammayuttika nikaya thus Thai

    Theravada became to have the two sect, Dhammayutiika nikaya and Mahanikaya.

    Subsequent King Rama V (Chulalongkorn) (1868-1910), continued to the tradition of

    13 The ten royal precepts 1. Dana: liberality, generosity or charity. 2. Sila: morality - a high moral character. 3. Comfort Pariccaga: Making sacrifices if they are for the good of the people - personal

    name and fame; even the life if need be. 4. Ajjava: Honesty and integrity. He must be absolutely straightforward and must never take

    recourse to any crooked or doubtful means to achieve his ends. 5. Maddava: Kindness or gentleness. 6. Tapa: Restraint of senses and austerity in habits. Shunning indulgence in sensual

    pleasures, an ideal monarch keeps his five senses

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