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Facets of Early Buddhism (A Study of Fundamental Principles)

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Item Code: NAL384
Author: Dr. Bela Bhattacharya
Publisher: Maha Bodhi Book Agency
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9789380336534
Pages: 242
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 400 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

The Buddhist Philosophy is a psychophysical thought as well as a practical way of virtuous life. It puts forth a very scientific way of thinking to the path of realisation. It does not indulge in speculative thoughts or superstitious beliefs but takes up the direct problem "Suffering of beings" and prescribes methods of its eradication by following a practical path of taking them to the state of eternal bliss. In the present book, FACETS OF EARLY BUDDHISM, the author, besides dealing with Buddha-biography and background of Buddhism, has elaborately analysed Some Aspects of Fundamental Principles of Early Buddhism such as Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, Three Principal Characteristics of Buddhist Thought, namely, problems of Anitya, Duhkha and Anatman; Doctrine of Karma and Nirvana, the ultimate reality or goal of Buddhist way of life. It has compared with other non-Buddhist and Brahmanic-views as necessitated. The author having taken up these difficult issues and going deep into the original sources of Pali canonical and non-canonical texts has made a commendable contribution in the field of Buddhist Philosophy by presenting an authentic, understandable and lucid expositions of these fundamental principle and hope this book will render substantial help to the students, scholars and the readers in general for proper understanding of Buddha's basic doctrines.


About the Author

Dr. Bela Bhanacharya was born in a respectable Brahmin family of Brindabanpur, Howrah, West Bengal, India. She passed the Higher Secondary Examination from Baniban Girls' High School and graduated from Uluberia College. Subsequently she got associated with the study of Pali and Buddhism and obtained Master Degree in Pali, 1970 having stood First in the First class and awarded the University Gold Medal. She adorned with the degree of Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) in the First Class, passed Master Degree in Education (M.Ed) and also obtained Diploma in Tibetan Language. The University of Calcutta conferred on her the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in 1979 for her thesis entitled STUDIES IN THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF BUDDHISM.

Dr. Bhattacharya, a Griffith Memorial Prize Winner, has been teaching in the Department of Pali in the University of Calcutta for nearly three decades, and also in the Department of Language (Tibetan). She has contributed a large number of research papers on the different branches of Indology in India and abroad. She edited journals of the Department of Pali, Encyclopaedia of Buddhism (Bauddha Kosa), Pali text books, Tibetan Readers, Haraprasad Smarane etc. under the University of Calcutta. She travelled London, Japan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri-Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Taiwan, Oxford etc. and attended seminars and delivered lectures on Buddhism. Students from India and abroad have done their research activities under her guidance. She has dedicated still now herself to the study of Tibetology, Pali and Buddhism.



Because of unbelievable technological advances and rapid industrialization, people are suffering from quite a number of complexities. Science and technology have, no doubt, added to mundane ease and comfort. On the contrary due to their colourful progress the beings-not merely the human ones, but also other forms of life-are suffering from various diseases both physical and mental. Morality appear to be only panacea for all such types of illness. As an inevitable consequence Pali and Buddhistic studies are gaining more and more importance day by day. Many books on these subjects are being written and published both in India and abroad. The present Book on the Facets of Early Buddhism: A study of Fundamental Principles is the outcome of one of such endeavours. Dr. Ms. Bela Bhattacharya in this comprehensive and useful work, as its title indicates, has dealt with some primary topics of Buddhism offering to its readers a scope for having a first-hand knowledge of this religious movement which commenced during the sixth century B.C. with the birth of prince Siddhartha who, by sedate self-control and ethical exercises, attained to the Bodhi or Enlightenment and ultimately became the Buddha, the Enlightened One whose later career was equally attractive and meaningful.

Mainly based on the Pali and Buddhist Sanskrit texts the present work proposes to study Early Buddhism or more precisely Theravada Buddhism, from various perspectives with additional information about the life and activities of the Master and the background story of Buddhism. It also treats elaborately of the Fourfold Noble Truth, Theory of Dependent Origination, Teaching of Three Principal characteristics, Doctrine of Action, and the concept of Nibbana. Besides, it supplies the readers with a detailed bibliography of Pali and Buddhism, apart from well-devised indices. In fact, within its two covers the book presents a fair idea of the origin and tenets of Early Buddism. It will, therefore, be useful to the serious scholars and students alike.



The present book entitled Facets of Early Buddhism is the out-come of my research on Studies in the Fundamental Principles of Buddhism for Ph.D. Degree under the guidance of Late Professor Dr. Anukul Chandra Banerjee.

Appearance of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism is an extra ordinary event in the history of mankind. In the religious history of the world the period round about the sixth century B.C. is very Significant, as it witnessed a great spiritual upsurge in the West and the East. Pythagoras (580-500 B. C.) who was born in the Island of Samons in the Archipelage and settled down at Crotona in Italy, taught his disciples celibacy, abstinence, asceticism, meditation, devotion and the social virtues together with the doctrine of the transmigration of souls and moral retribution. In Greece appeared Socrete's (480-400 B.C.), who taught the one-ness of knowledge and virtue. Zarathustra or Zoroster, who appeared in Persia in the seventh century B.C. taught an ethico-religious doctrine of dualistic principles according to which there are two principal spirits, one good and the other bad in thought, speech and action. Confucious (551-479 B.C.) established in China the ethical system known as Confucianism which consists of benevolence, tolerance, humanity, self-control and other virtues. Before Confucius Laucius or Lao-tse, founder of Taoism preached his doctrine of way of Nature. In India also mighty thinkers like Mahavira, founder and reformer of Jainism, who is known as Nigantha Nataputta in the Pali Tripitaka and preached the doctrine of severe abstinence, self-mortification, boundless love of living beings, doctrine of karma and the transmigration of souls and lastly like Buddha, who was a great revolutionary socio-religious reformer unparallel in the world and whose doctrine influenced the thought and culture of millions of people of Asian countries for more than twenty five centuries.

Before the appearance of Buddha, Indian thinkers were mainly engaged in religious, ethical and philosophical matters. The Brahmanas appeared the powerful gods by singing hymns and offering sacrifices. Many Vedic gods were adopted after being humanized and moralized in Buddhism. But they have lost their dignified position and are regarded as inferior beings to Buddha and other holy persons. The Vedic Brahmanas considered ceremonial sites to be the most important thing in human life and believed that they could move or rule over gods and men of the world by means of rituals and ceremonies. Buddha repudiates efficacy of ceremonies, and used term 'kamma' as a moral or a good or bad action for the effect of a good or bad action, while in the Vedic scriptures the term karma signifies a religious action, a ceremonial performance or rite. Buddhism, from its early phase, disregards caste system which was established in the Aryan society and teaches the equality of mankind and regards moral conduct more highly than the birth or profession. Denying the Upanisadic concept of permanent soul (atman) and other non-Buddhist philosophical speculations Buddha established his own doctrine and served the humanity by showing the path of eternal peace and happiness.

The fundamental doctrines and views of Buddha as recorded in the Pali canonical and non-canonical texts which are corroborated by Sarvastivada and Madhyarnika Sanskrit works have been enumerated and analysed in the present book. It is divided into six chapters--preceeded by an Introduction which deals with critical analysis of the Buddha-biography. The first chapter discusses the religious, political, social and economic back-ground of Buddhism. In the second chapter an attempt has been made to explain the Four Noble Truths (Cattari Ariya Saccani). The third chapter gives a brief exposition of the doctrine of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada) which is regarded as Buddha's novel contribution to the philosophical thoughts of India. The fourth chapter deals with the Three Principal Characteristics of Buddhist Thought (Tilakkhana)-Dukkha, Anatta and Anicca. The fifth chapter is concerned with the Doctrine of Action (kamma) as expounded in the Pali works, canonical and non-canonical. The sixth chapter, the concluding one, describes Nibbana, the Summum bonum of life.

I have revised my original dissertation. One more chapter is added and more references are given to make the discussions perspicuous and authentic. The following pages embody the results of my years of regular study and investigation which though not exhaustive, yet throw light on some of the intricate doctrinal points connected with Early Buddhism. I hope, this work will serve as a guide to the students and researchers in this field.

I have added the English translation of the Dhamma- cakkappavattana Sutta in the APPENDIX for convenience of the readers.

On this occasion, I have to fulfil the most agreeable duty of acknowledging my indebtedness to late Dr. Anukul Chandra Banerjee, former Professor and Head of the Department of Pali, and Ex-Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Calcutta, who initiated me into Pali studies and who, not only provided me with all facilities in various ways, but also guided me at every step, while writing this thesis. I think it my duty to mention here my special obligation to my teacher late Dr. Sukumar Sengupta, Ex-Reader, Department of Pali and Lecturer, Department of Sanskrit, University of Calcutta, who took very keen personal interest in the progress of my work and who spared no pains in going through the whole thesis step by step inspite of his pre-occupations.

I convey my heartful gratitude to Prof. Biswanath Banerjee, Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan; Prof. Suniti Kumar Pathak, Alexander Coma De Koross Research Professor of Tibetan Studies, The Asiatic Society, Calcutta and Dr. Madhusudan Mallick, Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, for their encouragement and help in my research study.

I am grateful to my respected reacher Prof. Dipak Kumar Barua, Professor and Head of the Department of Pali and Ex-Dean of the Faculty of Education, Journalism and Library Science, University of Calcutta, who has kindly written the Foreword to this book. I am ever grateful to Prof. Heramba Nath Chatterjee Sastri, Research Professor of Smriti and Purana, Sanskrit College, Calcutta and Prof. Binayendra Nath Chaudhury, Prof. B.M. Barua Research Professor of Pali and Buddhism, The Asiatic Society, Calcutta, for their untiring help in the publication of this book. I am also grateful to my teacher Dr. Kanai Lal Hazra, Reader in the Department of Pali, University of Calcutta, for his kind words of appreciation and encouragement, I am indebted to my respected colleague, Dr. Asha Das, Ex-reader in the Department of Pali, University of Calcutta for her affection and encouragement at every step of my progress in research activities and other fields of work. I am grateful to Dr. Sukomal Choudhury, Officiating Principal, Sanskrit College, Dr. Sadhan Chandra Sarkar, Reader, Sanskrit College, Calcutta and Dr. Manikuntala Halder (De), Lecturer, Department of Pali, University of Calcutta for their encouragement in my work. I am indebted to Jinabodhi Bhikkhu for co-operation in my work.

I am also grateful to Dr. Chittaranjan Patra and the authority of the Indian Museum, Calcutta, for their courtesy of allowing me to use the photocopy of a Buddha-figure on the cover.

I express my hearty gratitude to Prof. Swapan Kumar Pramanik, Professor, Department of Sociology, Dr. Nrisingha Kumar Bhattacharya, Reader, Department of Applied Psychology, Prof. Ranjugopal Mukherjee, Professor and Sri Sudipti Banerjee, Reader both belonging to the Department of Commerce, and also to Dr. Sukla Chakraborty, Senior Lecturer, Department of Tamil, University of Calcutta, for their sincere help and encouragement.

Here I express my indebtedness to my husband Dr. Sibaprasad Bhattacharya, Reader and Ex-Head, Department of Education, University of Calcutta who helped me in publication of the book. I am indebted to my son Akash Bhattacharya and my daughter Ahana Bhattacharya who co-operated with me by way of allowing me to do library work gladly. I express my indebtedness my sister Dr. Sandhya Bhattacharya who helped me in my research work.

I am also thankful to Sri Gour Pal and his staff of the Modern Printers for their co-operation in printing.

Lastly, I am thankful to the authorities of the Calcutta University Library, Sanskrit College Library, Asiatic Society Library and National Library for giving me permission to consult books and periodicals.





  Foreword ix
  Preface xi
  Abbreviations xvii
  Introduction 1
Chapter 1 : Background of Buddhism 47
Chapter II : Four Noble Truths (Cattari Ariya Saccani) 85
Chapter III : Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada) 111
Chapter IV : Three Principal Characteristics of Buddhist Thought (Tilakkhana) 137
Chapter V : Doctrine of Action (Kamma) 155
Chapter VI : Nibbana 185
  Appendix 203
  Selected Bibliography 207
  Index 221


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