About the Book:
Personalism (Pudgalavada) was a remarkable and durable aspect of an important part of early Buddhism. For more than tem centuries it was taught and defended by several schools and had numerous followers but was strongly criticized by other Buddhist schools.
The Literature of the Personalists (Pudgalavadins) of Early Buddhism attempts to present an historical overview of the Personalist schools and studies on the formation and content of the doctrine (dharma) and monastic discipline (vinaya) of the Pudgalavadins, in accordance with the documentation available.
With respect to the doctrinal problem, the literary evidence which exists has revealed to us the main thesis of the Pudgalavadins, the pudgala, and fifteen other secondary theses.
The creation of the theory of the pudgala represents a reaction to the depersonalisation of the dogmatic Abhidharma masters.
About the Author:
Bhikshu Thich Thien Chau was born in 1931. He entered pagoda in 1947 and became a bhikshu in 1952. He attended Buddhist courses at Bao Quoc Institute in Hue city in 1948 and graduated in 1958. He continued his Buddhist studies at Nalanda, India, from 1961 to 1965 and got the degree of Palyacharya; then got M.A. degree. He did his research work in the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London from 1966 to 1967, then in Sorbonne from 1967 to 1978 and got the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1971, Docteur D'Etates lettres et Sciences humaines in 1978.
Bhikshu Thich Thien Chau was the founder and President of the Truc Lam (Veluvana) Buddhist Institute, built in 1980, in Paris and now he is the President of Truc Lam Institute, Vice President of the Vietnam Buddhist Research Institute, and Vice President of the Committee of Translation and Publication of the Vietnamese Tripitaka. He has composed many books in French and Vietnamese.
This is indeed a remarkable book. It has the best treatment of the schools called Vatsiputriya and four other minor ones (p.5) that espoused the theory that a pudgala (a sort of person) supported the five personal aggregates (shandha) and made possible the intermediate state (antarabhava) between death and rebirth. The author Bhikshu Thich Thien Chau points out that this school of the persoanlists (pudgalavadin) once had its own version of three classes of scriptures (agama) but they are now lost. The remaining schools of Buddhism condemned these personalities. And the author mentions that there are only four surviving texts of this sect which are in the Chinese language (listed p. 19) the author obviously skilled in that period in the development of the Chinese language devotes the major part of this book originally written in French to presenting the contents of those four treatises.
Sara Boin Webb deserves credit for translating his book from French into English (including a number of long technical footnotes). The technical terms however translated do not alter the superb coverage of this work on the personalities.
Personalism (pud galavada) was a remarkable and durable aspect of an important part of early Buddhism. For more than ten centuries it was taught and defended by several schools and had numerous followers but was strongly criticized by other Buddhist schools.
The literature of the Buddhist Personalists schools is practically entirely lost so much so that we know their doctrine mainly the attacks of their adversaries.
Of importance to us is that for authentic works pertaining to the Vatsiputriyas and Sammitiyas have been preserved. The Four works are:
1) The San fat u lun= (Tridharmakasastra), Taisho XXV. No 1506.
2) The Ssu a huan mu ch’ao Taisho XXV, No. 1505.
3) The San mi tip u lun (sammitiyanikayasastra) Taisho XXXII No. 1649.
4) The Lu erh-shih-erh ming-liao lun (Vinayadvavimsatividyasastra) Taisho XXIV, No. 1461.
This thesis entitled the literature of the Personalities (pudgalavadins) of early Buddhism attempts to present an historical overview of the Personalist schools and studies on the formation and content of the doctrine (dharma) and monastic discipline (vinaya) of the Pudgalavadins in accordance with the documention available.
With respect to the doctrinal problem the literary evidence which exists has revealed to us the main thesis of the Pudgalavadins the Pud gala and fifteen other secondary theses. The pudgala the ineffable neither identical to nor different form the aggregates (skanda) entails three designations.
a) The Pudgala designated by the support (asrayaprajnaptapudgala)
b) The Pudgala designated by transmigration (samkramaprajnaptapudgala)
c) The Pudgala designated by cessation (nirodhaprajnaptapudgala)
The creation of the theory of the pudgala represents a reaction to the depersonalization of the dogmatic Abhi dharma masters. The personalists (pudgalavadin) however were determined to preserve the essence of the doctrine of insubstantial (anatmavdda). They insisted on the fact that adherence to the pudgala did not prevent the attainment of the knowledges (jnana) and fruits (phala). The position of the pudgala was misinterpreted by its adversaries. Nonetheless the theory of the pudgala offered much of interest in the doctrinal domain of Buddhist theoreticians.
It is most agreeable for us to able to express here our profound gratitude to Prof. Andre Bareau of the College de France who was find enough to direct our research in this field. We would also like to thank Michel Soymie Director of Studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes who took the trouble to give us valuable advice. We also offer our profound gratitude to Prof. Paul Demieville Membre de I’Institut Honorary Prof. at the college de France who has done us the honor of rereading the manuscript with patience and compassion and correcting its essentials.
Our deepest thanks also go to the Centre Nationate de la Recherché Scientifique which supported us in our research by giving us working contracts for several years it is due to its financial assistance that this research could be brought to a successful conclusion.
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