THE SIX BUDDHIST COUNCILS - Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature


Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature

The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering. The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are: The Three Universal Truths; The Four Noble Truths; and The Noble Eightfold Path.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019



1. The First Buddhist Council (What?)
(a) Place:                  At Sattapaṇṇī Cave, Mount Vebhāranear Rājagaha. (Where?)
(b) Time/period:       Three months after the demise of the Buddha, in 544 BC 7 months                            (When? / How long?)
(c) Participation:      An assembly of 500 Elder Arahants. (How many)
                                 Vinaya Piṭaka recited by Rev. Upāli (how)
                                 Suttanta & Abhidhamma by Rev. Ānanda
                                 Approved by those who attended the Council.
(d) Object                 To observe the purity of the Teachings (Why?)
(e) President             Presided by Rev. Mahākasappa (Who)
(f) Supporter             Supported by King Ajātasattu (By Whom?)

2. The Second Buddhist Council (What?)
(a) Place                   Vesāli (Where)
(b) Time/period        One century after the demise of the Buddha
                                 During the reign of the King Kālāsoka, in 450BC (when)
                                 Eight months (how long)
(c) Partitipation         An assembly of 700 Arahants, among whom (how many)
                                 Eight Elders representing the Saṅgha of the East (how)
                                 Eight Elders representing the Saṅgha of the West
                                 Rejected the Ten points of Controversy or Monastic
                                 Indulgences as illegal
(d) Object                 To arrest the growth of irreligion and ensure the preservation of the Vinaya
(e) President             Venerable Sabbakāmi (Who?)
                                 Master of Ceremony … Reverend Ajita
(f) Supporter             Supported by King Kālāsoka (by Whom)
            N.B: The decision of the Council was in favour of the orthodox monks. The Vajjians refused to follow the decision and eventually were condemned and excommunicated. Thus, the Schism broke out threatening the solidarity of the Saṅgha Order. The monks who could not subscribe to the orthodox views convened another rivalry council in which ten thousand protesting monks participated. It was a great congregation of monks and they are known as Mahāsaṅghikas as distinguished from the orthodox elder Theravādins. Thus occurred the first schism in the Saṅgha which accounted for Mathe origin of two schools, The Theravāda school and Mahāsaṅghika schools. The Mahāsaṅghika or Mahāyana adapted the existing Vinaya rules to their liberal doctrine and introduced new regulations. They made alteration in the arrangements and interpretation of the Sutra and Vinaya texts. They also canonized a good number of Sutras and rejected certain portions of the Pāḷi canon which had been approved by the First Great Council. They even included the tests which had been rejected by the Theravāda Councils. Thus arose a Twofold division in the Canon. The compilation of Mahāsaṅghika was designated by the Acariyavāda as distinguished from the Theravāda scriptures.

*Ten Poins Of Controversy or Monastic Indulgences practised by Vajjian Monks
1.      Siṅgiloṇakappa:          The practice of carrying salt in a horn. This practice is contrary to Pācittiya 38 which prohibits the storage of food.
2.      Dvaṅgulakappa:          the practice of taking meals when the shadow is two fingers broad. This is against Pācittiya 37 which forbids the taking of food after midday.
3.      Gāmantarakappa:       The practice of going to another village and taking a second meal there on the same day. This is opposite to pācittiya 35 which forbids over-eating.
4.      Āvāsakappa:               The observance of the Uposatha ceremonies in various places in the same parish. This practice contravenes the Mahāvagga rules of residence in a parish (sīmā)
5.      Anumatikappa:            Obtaining a sanction for a deed after it is done. This also amounts to a breach of monastic discipline.
6.      Aciṇṇakappa:              Using customary practices as precedents. This also belongs to the above category.
7.      Āmathitakappa:           The drinking buttermilk after meals. This practice is in contravention of Pācittiya 35 which prohibits over-eating.
8.      Jālogiṃ-pātuṃ:           The drinking of toddy. This practice is opposed to Pācittiya 51 which forbids drinking of intoxicants.
9.      Adasakaṃ-nisīdanaṃ: Using a rug which has no fringe. This is contrary to Pācittiya 89 which prohibits the use of borderless sheets.
10.  Jātarūparajata:           The acceptance of gold and silver which is forbidden by rule 18 of the Nissaggiya Pācittiya.

3. The Third Buddhist Council (What?)
(a) Place                   Pātaḷiputta (now called Patna)
(b) Time/period       260 BC (for six months)
(c) Participation       1000 monks who were well-known in the canonical scriptures. The council compiled the original Tipitaka scriptures including the KathāvatthuPakarana.
(d) Object                 to examine and refute the heretical doctrines
(e) President             Ven. Tissa, the son of Moggali
(f) Supporter            Supported by King Asoka, a celebrated Buddhist monarch
The pious King motivated the council to dispatch missionaries to nine different countries of the world to propagate the true doctrine of Buddha. A missionary group lead by Ven Soṇa and Ven.Uttara arrived at Suvannabhūmi, in lower Burma (Myanmar). Ven. Mahinda and Saṅghamitta Therī were also charged with missionary work to the island of Ceylon.
Other missions were also sent so far off countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Stones pillars and rock edict were inscribed by the order of the emperor Asoka to record these noble events.

4. The Fourth Buddhist Council (What)
(a) Place                   Āloka Cave or Āluvihāra, Malaya, Ceylon(Where?)
(b) Time/period        100BC, 450B.E (for one year) (When) (How long)
(c) Participation       500 learned monks (How many)
                                 The Texts along with the Atthakathas were inscribed on palm leaves and the scriptures were checked over a hundred times. (How)
(d) Cause and Object
Because Buddhist religious practice and culture were threatened by growing materialism and the moral decline of mankind through wars and famines . To rehearse the Tipiṭaka and revise the Comentaries.
(e) President             Rev. Rakkhita (Who)
(f) Supporter            Patronized solely by a Minister of King Vattagamani Abhaya (By whom?)

5. The Fifth Buddhist Council (What?)
(a) Place                   Convened in Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar) (Where?)
(b) Time/period        187AD (2414 years after the demise of the Buddha. (For five months and three days) (when?) and (How long?)
(c) Participation       2400 learned monks, the recording of the entire Canon in Burmese Pāḷi character on 729 marble slabs known as "the Biggest Library" in the world. (How many/ how)  
(d) Object                 In order to prepare a uniform edition of the Pāḷi Canon and to record it on marble slabs. (Why)
(e) President             Sayadaw Jāgarābhivaṃsa, Marindabhibhidhaja, and Sumaṅgalasāmi           presided in turn.
(f) Supporter            Patronized by King Mindon (1853-1878 A. D.)

6. The sixth Buddhist council
(a) Place                   Mahāpasāṇa cave, Kaba-Aye, Rangoon capital of Myanmar
(b) Time/period        May, 1954 A.D. - 2498 B.E. (for two years)
(c) Participation       2500 learned monks from various countries of the world the council revised and edited all the texts, commentaries in their original form in Burmese Pāḷi script.
(d) Object                 to re examine and correlate the council texts with those of other Buddhist countries and get a purified text, and to spread the Buddhism in the world wide.
(e) President             Vev. Revatta (Nyaung Yan Sayādaw) presided over it.
                                 Ven Sobhana (Mahāsi Sayādaw) - Ven. Vicittasārābhivaṃsa (Mingun Sayādaw)
(f) Supporter             The government of Myanmar, President Sao Shwe Thaik, and Prime Minister U Nu.

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