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A History of Indian Buddhism

From Sakyamuni * to Early Mahayana*

Asian Studies at Hawaii, No. 36

Hirakawa Akira

Translated and Edited by Paul Groner


© 1990 University of Hawaii Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 97 98 99 00 01 02 8 7 6 5 4

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hirakawa, Akira, 1915 [Indo Bukkyo * shi. English] A history of Indian Buddhism : from Sakyamuni* to Early Mahayana* / Hirakawa Akira ; translated and edited by Paul Groner. p. cm. (Asian studies at Hawaii; no. 36) Translation of: Indo Bukkyo shi. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0 8248 1203 4 1. BuddhismIndiaHistory. I. Groner, Paul. II. Title. III. Series. DS.A2A82 no. 36 [BQ336] 950 sdc20 [294.3'0954] 89 20647 CIP University of Hawai'i Press books are printed on acid-free paper and meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Council on Library Resources


CONTENTS Translator's Preface Author's Preface Abbreviations Introduction 1 Part One: Early Buddhism Chapter 1. Indian Religion at the Time of the Buddha Chapter 2. The Life of the Buddha Chapter 3. Early Buddhist Doctrine Chapter 4. The Organization of the Order Chapter 5. The Establishment of the Early Buddhist Canon Chapter 6. The Development of the Buddhist Order Chapter 7. The Buddhism of King Asoka * Part Two: Nikaya* Buddhism Chapter 8. The Development of Nikaya Buddhism Chapter 9. Abhidharma Literature Chapter 10. The Organization of the Dharmas in the Abhidharma Chapter 11. Buddhist Cosmology and the Theory of Karma 105 127 139 170 13 20 38 60 69 76 95 vii xv xvii


Chapter 12. Karma and Avijñapti-rupa * Chapter 13. The Elimination of Defilements and the Path to Enlightenment Part Three: Early Mahayana* Buddhism Chapter 14. The Evolution of the Order after Asoka*




Chapter 15. Mahayana Texts Composed during the Kusana* Dynasty


Chapter 16. The Origins of Mahayana


Chapter 17. The Contents of Early Mahayana Scriptures


Chapter 18. Theory and Practice in Early Mahayana Buddhism




Bibliographical Essay







TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE The Japanese version of this book, Indo Bukkyoshi * volume 1, was published by Shunjusha* of Tokyo in 1974; volume 2, not included here, was published in 1979. When Hirakawa began work on it, he intended to write a handbook for students interested in the development of Buddhism across Asia that would serve as a useful guide to the basic issues in Buddhist doctrine, history, and bibliography. Although the project soon became much longer and had a narrower focus than he had originally planned, it benefited in at least two ways from Hirakawa's original intention. First, it is an exceptionally comprehensive discussion of Indian Buddhism, treating its history, doctrine, and bibliography with an admirable degree of completeness. Most of the significant topics in Indian Buddhism are discussed in some detail. Second, it is a very clearly written text. Because Hirakawa wrote it with students as the intended audience, he composed it in a style that could be readily understood by students and informed general readers. The present volume is a translation of the first of Hirakawa's two-volume history. It covers the period from Sakyamuni* Buddha to Early Mahayana* just before Nagarjuna* and includes the periods on which Hirakawa did most of his own earlier research. From 1960 to 1968, he published three important studies on Buddhist institutions: Ritsuzo* no kenkyu* (A study of the Vinaya-pitaka*), Genshi Bukkyo* no kenkyu (A study of Early Buddhism), and Shoki Daijo* Bukkyo no kenkyu (Studies in Early Mahayana Buddhism). These studies, all coming out of his interest in the vinaya, demonstrated his mastery of Indian Buddhist institutional history. This research was particularly important in his formulation of a new theory of the rise of Mahayana *. By focusing on the need to identify an institutional base from which Mahayana arose, Hirakawa argued that stupa* worship and the formulation of Mahayana sets of precepts provided important evidence for the development of Mahayana Buddhism. Besides these book-length studies, Hirakawa has written over 240 articles on various aspects of Buddhism. These cover a wide variety of issues, such as the usage of fundamental terms or the roles particular figures played in the Indian Buddhist tradition. The ideas advanced in many of these articles and the background research that went into them have been incorporated into this history. Hirakawa has also been aware of the need for improved reference tools for scholars. He is currently supervising the compilation of a Chinese-Sanskrit Buddhist dictionary, a tool that will assist scholars in making better use of Chinese translations of Indian texts. He has also been an advocate of the use of computers in Buddhist studies. One of the earliest results of this interest was the publication of a detailed and computerized index of the


articles in Indogaku Bukkyogaku kenkyu* (Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies), one of the leading publications on Buddhism in Japan. His interest in reference tools also led to his supervision of a concordance of the Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese versions of Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosa* (Kusharon sakuin) Because the Abhidharmakosa is one of the most systematic expositions of Buddhist doctrine ever composed, it has been an influential text across Asia, even among those who did not accept many of its positions. The doctrinal exposition of abhidharma thought in Hirakawa's History of Indian Buddhism is based primarily on the Abhidharmakosa. This volume thus incorporates Hirakawa's mature views on subjects that he has studied in depth for several decades. It is published here as an independent work, giving an overall view of the first half of Indian Buddhist history. The second volume of Hirakawa's history covers Indian Buddhism from Nagarjuna* through Tantric Buddhism and the decline of Buddhism in India. As Hirakawa notes in his preface, the understanding of the history of Indian Buddhism is an ongoing process that must be continually elaborated and revised as our knowledge of the subject expands. He thus sees his own work as being improved upon by subsequent histories of Indian Buddhism by both Japanese and Western scholars. Hirakawa's historical interpretation is representative of Indian Buddhism as it is viewed by many, but certainly not all, Japanese scholars. It also differs from the perspective of many Western authors who have written histories of Indian Buddhism. Three ways in which Hirakawa's treatment differs from most of the histories of Indian Buddhism written in English are elaborated below: (1) use of primary sources, (2) secondary scholarship consulted, and (3) comprehensive coverage. First, English-language surveys of Indian Buddhism have relied predominantly upon Sanskrit and Pali * primary source materials, often ignoring important primary source materials available in Chinese and Tibetan translation. In contrast, Hirakawa has utilized materials from Chinese and Tibetan as well as Sanskrit and Pali. For example, Englishlanguage surveys have usually depended upon Pali materials for their presentation of Early Buddhism, mainly because these sources have been extensively studied by British, Indian, and Sri Lankan scholars as a result of Britain's historical ties with South Asia. For similar reasons, abhidharma studies in English have usually concentrated on the Theravada* tradition. Hirakawa has been able to use Chinese translations of early Buddhist texts such as the agamas* and abhidharma texts to better place the Pali material in the context of Indian Buddhism as a whole. For example, in the field of abhidharma, Hirakawa places his emphasis on the development of the Sarvastivada* tradition rather than on Theravada, primarily because the Sarvastivada material helps elucidate later Mahayana* developments. However, far from ignoring the Pali material, Hirakawa describes its place in the development of Indian Buddhism and uses it to provide a contrast with the Sarvastivada VIII

1986]. Hirakawa has used the scant source material concerning the Mahasanighika* and other schools to elucidate the role that these traditions played in the evolution of Indian Buddhism. Western scholars often have underestimated the importance of these traditions as they focused their attention on the traditions that interested them. In his discussion of Early Mahayana. A bibliography of journal articles on Buddhism published by Japanese authors between 1970 and 1983 includes almost four thousand entries on Indian Buddhism (Ryukoku* daigaku Bukkyogaku kenkyushitsu [ed. The numbers of Chinese translations of tathagatagarbha or Pure Land texts suggest that these topics may have played a more significant role in the development of Early Mahayana* than some Western scholars have thought. vol. Unfortunately. Modern Japanese scholars have published more on Buddhism than the rest of the world combined. Hirakawa has utilized secondary studies that have been ignored by many scholars who wrote in English. development. Hirakawa has used these sources. Hirakawa's history maintains a better balance and is more comprehensive than many English-language histories. Hirakawa's extensive reading of Japanese secondary scholarship is summarized in the History of Indian Buddhism. At times the subjects that attracted Japanese attention have differed from those upon which Western scholars concentrated. In addition. Buddhanature (tathagatagarbha*). His treatment of later Mahayana developments in the second volume has benefited from the increasing use of Tibetan materials by Japanese scholars.]. along with Nakamura Hajime's Indian Buddhism. 4). it introduces the Western audience to the issues that Japanese scholars have considered important and to some of their conclusions. This work thus serves as more than a record of Hirakawa's own views of Buddhism. Hirakawa traces these and other doctrinal themes back to early sources whenever possible. but also has employed dated Chinese translations of Mahayana sources as well as inscriptions from archeological sites to present a much fuller description of the origin. Third.interpretations. Bukkyogaku * kankei zasshi ronbun bunrui mokuroku [Kyoto: Nagata Bunshodo*. topics such as Pure Land. and the early development of Esoteric Buddhism receive much more emphasis in Hirakawa's history than they have in English-language surveys. demonstrating the gradual evolution of many Mahayana positions. For example. partly because these traditions played major roles in the development of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. and social setting of Mahayana. Earlier surveys of Indian Buddhism have generally IX . The importance of Chinese and Tibetan materials is reflected in the chapters of Hirakawa's work that discuss sources for the study of each period of Buddhism. few of these studies are known to Western scholars working on Indian Buddhism. Many English-language surveys of Indian Buddhism rely primarily on undated Sanskrit materials for much of their presentation of Mahayana. Second.

such as Buddhist philosophy. This translation follows Hirakawa's text closely with several minor deviations. and Esoteric Buddhist elements in Early Mahayana. I have augmented these so that sources for direct quotations or references to specific passages have been indicated to make the text conform to Western styles of scholarship. Finally. I have elected not to add extensive editorial notes discussing variant views on such subjects as the biography of the Buddha. The text references refer to primary sources. Because Hirakawa included few references to primary sources in his original text. often tracing developments back to their origins in Early Buddhism. Mahayana devotionalism. Hirakawa's history includes three types of discussions: historical. The chapter notes. and several minor changes in the text have been made after discussions with Hirakawa. bibliographical. as well as French and Japanese secondary scholarship. or the role that X .emphasized either one aspect of Buddhism. the rise of Mahayana*. and doctrinal. Occasionally a note has been added to clarify some aspect of the translation or to refer to a significant Japanese discussion of an issue. particularly in the areas of abhidharma traditions other than Theravada and Sarvastivada*. generally refer to secondary studies in Japanese. a few comments about the translation are necessary. all of which have been included in a notes section following the text. it will have served its purpose. Younger scholars are using Chinese and Tibetan primary sources. The first two chapters have been combined. Balance and comprehensiveness are especially important in a survey because the author should discuss connections between events and ideas that might be ignored in narrower. If this translation of Hirakawa's history is useful in the evolution of Buddhist studies in the West. Since Hirakawa's history was originally intended as a general reference for Japanese students. The recent publication of an English translation of Étienne Lamotte's Histoire du Bouddhisme Indien des origines à l'ère Saka * will add immensely to the information available in English. Hirakawa examines the relations between movements in Buddhism. It also gives ample space to a number of subjects that have not been adequately treated in most earlier surveys. it is not as heavily annotated as the Western reader might normally expect of this type of book. The study of Tibetan sources and the use of inscrip tions from archeological sites appear in increasing numbers of scholarly articles. Hirakawa's introduction has been adapted to fit the needs of a Western audience. English-language scholarship on Indian Buddhism has been evolving in ways that will remedy many of the problems indicated above. Many of the added references have been included after consulting Hirakawa's other writings and the studies to which he refers. or one approach. more specialized studies. such as Theravada*. In the past decade.

bibliographical notes for each chapter have been included in a bibliographical essay preceding the bibliography at the end of the book. I have also added to the bibliographical essay short bibliographical comments for each chapter consisting of notes about both primary and secondary sources the reader might consult for additional information or other views. and a question mark (?) if the reconstruction is doubtful. a reference to the Chinese canon. In discussions of Early Buddhism. to texts available in Chinese to aid the reader in identifying the text and as a reminder that many of the texts are available in dated Chinese translations. Because a completely satisfactory solution was difficult to arrive at. In particular. partly because its use was also applicable to Sarvastivada* and Mahayana* sources. However. Because the Sanskrit titles of works preserved in Chinese are sometimes problematic. In addition. I have used Pali at certain times. However.tathagatagarbha* teachings played in Early Mahayana. no annotation is given after the title. after the first occurrence. Sanskrit has been the preferred language. However. to help the reader find discussions of some of these problems in Western languages. I have adopted the convention used in the Hobogirin*: Répertoire du Canon bouddhique sino-japonaise of placing an asterisk (*) after the Sanskrit title if it is based on a Sanskrit or Pali* work. The titles of primary source texts have generally been given in both their Chinese and Sanskrit pronunciation at their first appearance. some terms are known primarily in Chinese translation. The number of Western-language works in the bibliography of related readings has been substantially augmented. a number sign (#) if it is based on a reconstruction from Tibetan. I have translated the titles of the Japanese works in the Japanese bibliography at the end of the book. this choice was made to emphasize the importance of Chinese sources in the history. I have adopted the following convention. I have also added the Taisho * number. adding extensive annotation would have been tantamount to writing a new book. For additional references. because the Pali sources are so valuable in any discussion of Early Buddhism as well as indispensable for a discussion of Theravada* abhidhamma and history. some of the terms used in Nikaya* Buddhism in schools other than the Theravada and Sarvastivada or in early Mahayana are known only from Chinese XI . When a Sanskrit or Pali work is being referred to. the reader should refer to Frank Reynolds' Guide to the Buddhist Religion for English-language sources or to Nakamura Hajime's Indian Buddhism: A Survey with Bibliographical Notes for Japanese sources. Because the translation was intended to present Hirakawa's views. most authors are faced with the problem of whether to use Pali or Sanskrit terms. The most common occurrences have been either when a primary source in Pali is being referred to or in discussions of Theravada abhidhamma. I have usually only given the Sanskrit title to keep the text from becoming too cumbersome. Hirakawa included a full bibliography of Japanese secondary works and mentioned a number of works in Western languages in the Japanese version of this book.

his concern for Buddhist scholarship. terms have also been developed within East Asia that reflect or sum up the Indian situation well. and his interest in his students have served as a constant inspiration to me. the term has been given in Chinese rather than a questionable Sanskrit reconstruction. In such cases. who read vinaya texts with me and introduced me to the world of Japanese scholarship when I was a graduate student in Tokyo from 1971 to 1974. I dedicate the translation to Professor Hirakawa. My wife Cindy helped with the style through her careful reading. XIII . This translation could not have been completed without the encouragement of a number of people. In all cases where I have rendered Chinese and Japanese terms into Sanskrit. Patricia Crosby and the editorial staff at the University of Hawaii Press have improved the text with their careful editorial questions. I have striven to use the concordances and reference works for the texts under discussion. only a few of whom I can mention here. Stanley Weinstein of Yale encouraged me to undertake the project and reassured me of its value when I felt discouraged. In addition.translations. The clarity of his explanations. A Sanskrit reconstruction of such terms would be difficult and lead to questionable results. Hirakawa Akira repeatedly answered my questions concerning certain passages or about the Sanskrit equivalents to Chinese terms.

The bibliographies are compilations of sources that a student undertaking serious research on Buddhism might consult. When I first began this book. an accurate historical account of Buddhism in India is vital to our knowledge of the overall development of Buddhism. In this study. According to sources such as the Sri Lankan chronicle Dipavamsa* almost all the schisms of Sectarian (Nikaya* or Hinayana*) Buddhism had occurred before the reign of King Asoka*. books have been published in Japan and the West with titles such as The History of Indian Buddhism or The History of Indian Philosophy. cited hereafter as T) or Pali* texts published by the Pali Text Society. In many cases. but since this chronology has not yet been proven to be correct. scholars have not arrived at a consensus. Research by Westerners is discussed in the bibliographical essay compiled by the translator. Because virtually no materials with accurate dates for India's ancient history exist. Because XV . a chronology that permits the most reasonable account of the historical development of Buddhism has been adopted. Nor has all the evidence for each position been presented. It reflects the current state of research and follows established opinions and theories as far as possible. rather than exhaustive lists of studies. the schisms occurred after Asoka's reign. In this volume. making the compilation of a definitive history impossible. In contrast. This issue not only affects our evaluation of Asoka's rule but our account of the entire development of Early Buddhism and the emergence of Nikaya Buddhism. writing a history of Indian Buddhism may seem like a futile undertaking.AUTHOR'S PREFACE Indian culture is often said to lack historical consciousness. such an approach would have made the study too cumbersome. according to the sources of the Northern Buddhist tradition. Many other scholarly problems remain in Indian Buddhism. Although I could have explained and contrasted the various views of each topic. both Western and Japanese scholars have made great strides in the study of the history of Indian Buddhism. Some of the relevant primary sources for positions are cited in parentheses within the text. On the basis of their research. or parinirvana * are still being disputed. Instead. Such basic issues as the date of the historical Buddha's death. The present volume follows the pattern established by such studies. sources are usually from either the Taisho shinshu daizokyo * (Chinese version of the canon. in most cases only the most reasonable position has been introduced to produce a unified and consistent narrative. however. Studies by modern (usually Japanese) scholars analyzing these materials are listed in the endnotes. During the last century. I intended to write a one-volume survey of the development of Buddhism from India to Japan that could be used as a reference. However. other chronologies and accounts may prove to be more accurate.

I have striven to make this book more accessible to the reader than previous histories by stressing the connections between different periods and types of Indian Buddhism and by eliminating the gaps between periods and varieties of Buddhism. Because I have been able to read and assimilate only a small part of the vast research on Indian Buddhism.Tokyo University was the site of student disturbances at the time. In most narratives of Indian Buddhism. XVI . Criticisms and suggestions will be gratefully received and used to improve any future editions. and the contents of early Mahayana Buddhist scriptures. I found it difficult to allot my time as I had originally intended and eventually had to abandon my original plan for the book. they are compared in detail. I finally decided to concentrate on the history of Indian Buddhism and to divide the book into two parts. This book owes much to the research of other scholars. For this reason. errors may be present in the text. The current translation is the first volume of this project. When several accounts of these topics exist in primary sources. I have also striven to clearly describe the doctrinal positions of major forms of Buddhism such as abhidharma in simple language unencumbered by technical jargon. a number of gaps and inconsistencies are evident. special attention has been paid to such topics as the transition from Early to Sectarian Buddhism. the emergence of Mahayana* Buddhism.

ABBREVIATIONS AN Ch. DN IBK KN MN P. -PP S. SN T Tib. VP * # ? Anguttara-nikaya * Chinese Digha-nikaya* Indogaku Bukkyogaku kenkyu* Khuddaka-nikaya Majjhima-nikaya Pali* -Prajnaparamitasutra* Sanskrit Samyutta-nikaya* Taisho shinshu Daizokyo* Tibetan Vinaya-pitaka* edited Sanskrit version of the text is extant Sanskrit title based on Tibetan sources Sanskrit title uncertain XVII .