Darstantika, Sautrantika and Sarvastivaldin

The Indian Historical Quarterly
Jean Przyluski
1940, 6
pp.246--254


p.246 Brahmanic literature contrasts quite usually sruti to smrti. The former term includes the revealed texts (Veda and Vedanga); while the latter the tradition contained in the Upaveda. Another classification, found in some late works, has been examined by L. Feer.(1) It is on the one hand adrstartha, which includes Veda, Vedanga, philosophical systems, jurisprudence; and on the other, drstartha which refers to the Upaveda, that is to say what consituted formerly the smrti. The notion of drsta, what is "seen" or known through experience, has thus encroached upon that of smrti. At first sight, it seems that the distinction between what is founded or what is not founded upon experience has replaced the former distinction between Tradition and Revelation. This change must probably be ascribed to a novel theory of knowledge. The materialists used to put perception (pratyaksa) at the source of knowledge, and denied sruti, intuition, any value. Perception (pratyaksa) is thus opposed to intuition (sruti): and,in the same way. drsta to adrsta. Finally, what we find in the classification of knowledge by adrstartha and drstartha, is the contrast between sruti and pratyaksa. The substitution of those two terms for the former categories named sruti and smrti shows the progress of philosophical speculation. It throws light, moreover, on a part of the Buddhist terminology and,consequently, on some problems of religious and literary history. In Buddhist thorght the notion of sruti is far more importantnt than is generally believed. It explains the frequently used term of babusruta, rendered literally in Chinese by to-wen, "who has much ----------------------- 1 Trente deux recits du trone, Intro., p. xxii -xxviii. p.247 heard." The initial formula of the sutra : evam maya srutam not only alludes to the promulgation of the sacred texts by Ananda when the First Council was held, but also indicates that those texts were revealed and that the whole of them constitutes the sruti.(2) And, just as sruta is opposed to drsta or sruti to pratyaksa, the former term implied, as compared to the latter, a knowledge of superior quality, sruti is opposed to drsti in the Buddhist vocabulary. It seems easier now to understand why Pa1i ditthi "view, opinion" is so frequently used deprecatingly with the meaning of "ill-founded or false opinion." When the word is used in good sense, it is necessary to insist upon the adjective samma as in samma ditthi; this expression shows that, formerly, ditthi must have been given a neutral and very general sense; the interpretation "false view" is a secondary one. The contrast sruti/drsti allows perhaps to explain two obscure terms which hold an important place in the controversies among the Buddhist sects. Masuda's work on the Vasumitra treatise(3) relates some traditions which might induce us to consider the Darstantika and Sautrantika sects as two sub-divisions of the Sarvastivadin school. To my mind, these sects owe their respective names to two categories of texts: drstanta and sutranta. Drstanta is formed with drsta, like sutranta with sutra. If a sutra is what has been "heard" (sruta) it is probable that the terms drstanta/ sutranta rest -------------------------- 2 It is true that, for Buddhaghosa, followed in this respect by the European scholars (Kern, Manual of Indian Buddhism, p. 2 quoted by de La Vallee Poussin, Opinions, p. 35) evam maya sutam means sammukha patiggabitam (Sumangala-vilasini, I.p.31 But this interpretation, which is a late one, dates from a moment when one had to prove the authenticity of the texts,tracing them back to the Buddha through Ananda, rather than to rank them with the Veda. In other words, the controversies between Buddhists had altered the mentality of the doctors: those of the earlier centuries were anxious, above all, to resist the Brahmins, whilst Buddhaghosa disputes with the people who recognize the Buddha's omniscience. 3 Asia Major, 1925. p.248 1 249 finally upon the contrast drsti / sruti. Let us exaimine this thesis in the light of the documents. Since H.Luders published the fragments of the Kalpanamanditika, the attention of the learned world has been driven towards Kumaralata, author of this collection and the founder of the Darstantika school. Several Japanese and European schlars have endeavoured to gather some pieces of information concerning this school, and more particularly those supplied by K'ouei Ki, one of Hiuan-Tsang's most famous disciples. The most important texts will be found in the commented translation of the Vijnaptimatratasiddhi by L. de La Vallee Poussin.(1) Before I bring forth K'ouei Ki's testimony, I will quote the learned scholar's translation, which, being exactly literal, forms a solid basis for discussion. K'ouei Ki, Vasumitra, II, 9b (Genealogy of the sects): "The comment of the Siddhi, iv, i, 53 b, says that the Sautrantika are of three kinds: 1. Mula (ken-pen), that is to say. Kumaralata; 2. Srilata; 3. in a vague way (wei-fan)the so-called Sautrantika. This text means probably that there are three kinds of Sautrantikai 1. the Mulasautrantika, that is to say, Kumaralata's followers; 2. Srilata's disciples; 3. those who are called Sautrantika without any other precision. These comment of the Siddbi, alluded to in the above quotation, is a little more explicit: "These (the Sautrantika ) are of three kinds: 1.Mula, that is to say Kumatalata; 2. Srilata, who composed the Sautrantika-Vibhasa, whom Sanghabhadra calls "the Sthavira"; 3. the socalled Sautrantika.(5) As the Mulacarya composed the Kie man louen, the Kouang chouo p'i yu, he received the name of Darstan tikacarya,borrowing his name from what he said." ------------------------- 4 Buddhica, t. I; p. 221-224: K'ouei ki sur les Sautrantikas. 5 I prefer this trsnslation to another one, given in a dubies way by de La Vallee Poussin in a note. p.249 This text' confirming the information given by the preceding one' adds that Srilata' auther of the Santrantika-Vibhasa, was also called the Sthavira and states that the Mulacarya, that is to say Kumaralata, was also called Darstantika-acarya. As a result Mula- sautrantika. disciples of Kumaralata and Darstantika are three ways of describing the same group. That Kumaralata the famous author of a Drstantapankti or Drstantamalya should have been called Darstantikacarya, is not astonishing. We know by the colophons of the Kalpanamanditika that this collection was a Drstantapankti and that its author was precisely Kumaralata. L. de La Vallee Poussin(p.223) points out, after Schiefner that: ''There is a Drstantamalya in the Tandjur. Referring to the Tibetan text, Sylvain Levi established without difficulty that the Tandjur Drstantamalya is a fragment of the Kalpanamanditika."(6) Kouei Ki's Kie man louen or Yu man louen is probably nothing else.(7) K'ouei Ki(Vasumitra II, 9 b) the tells us besides that Kumaralata, Darstantikacarya, appeared during the first century after the disappearance of the Buddha, and that at the time there was no Sautrantika yet. How is it possible to reconile this assertion with another one given by the same text, accordig to which Kumaralata would be the Sautrantika-mulacarya? It seems that the Sautrantika separated from the Darstantika at a late date; then the latter could have been looked upon as the Mulasautrantika and Kumaralata, their founder, was really the Sautrantika-mulacarya because the Darstantika bore in them the future Sautrantika. On the whole, whether it be a question of the properly socalled Sautrantika, or of Srilata's disciples, both groups can be con- ------------------------ 6 JA., 1929, I1, p. 270 ff. 7 For the different reading Kie man l uen, Yu man louen, cf. La Vallee Poussin, ibid., p. 221--222. About the equivalence Yu man louen--Drstantapankti, cf. Sylvain Levi, JA., 1927, II, p. 100. p.250 sidered as two branches sprung out of the original Darstantika or Mulasau trantika. Where does this name Darstantika come from? Kouei Ki admits that Kumaralata was called Darstantikacarya because of the drstanta that he had composed. In fact, darstantika derives normally from drstanta. This term is the synonym of avadana, as the Chinese translators render both the one and the other by p'i-yu (8) "example." In literature, the drstanta is then opposed to the sutra or sutranta, to which it is a kind of complement, or illustration." It seems strange that two names so different, Sautrantika and Darstantika should have served to describe Kumaralata's followers. If drstanta is opposed to sutranta, one does not see at first how names derived from these two terms could have meant the same school. This difficulty can be solved if one admits that the two names were used during different periods and in different places. If drstanta and sutranta mean texts of unequal value, It is scarcely probable that Kumaralata's disciples should have called themselves darstantika, because in so doing they would have recognized implicitly the superiority of the sautrantika. The word darstantika could only have been applied to them by their opponents. In the same way, the deprecative expression Hinayana was probably used only in the Mahayana school. We can therelore admit that at the time where Kumaralata's disciples reserved for themselves the title of Mulasautrantika, they were called Darstantika by their opponents. Here is how thing may be explained. After Kumaralata composed the collections of drstanta, he was given the name of Darstantika-acarya and his disciples were called Darstantika. Later on, the latter name being regarded unfavourable, Kumaralata's disciples reacted and took the title of Sautrantika. In course of time, Kumara- ---------------------- 8 Cf. Mahavyutp. 62.7; 139.30; 200, 6. 9 Cf. Rocznik Orjentalistyczny. VF, p. I4 ff. p.251 lata's school having been divided into several group, the practice was made of describing as Mulasautrantika those who claimed to follow Kumaralata, the other factions being called by the name of Srilata, or described as Sautrantika without any more precision. The passage from the Ta tobe tou louen, according to which the Vinaya of Mathura and that of Kasmir differ considerably should probably be ascribed to the same period. At Mathura, the Vinaya is composd of 80 chapters. There is besides a second part: the Avadana and Jataka in 80 chapters. At Kasmir we must distinguish between a text in 10 chapters and a vibhasa eight times bigger; Avadana and Jataka are excluded from this Vinaya.(10) The Vinaya of Mathura and that of Kasmir mark undoubtedly two successive stages in the evolution. The Buddhist tales are literary compositions, the authorship of which could not be ascribed to the Buddha. Theoretically these productions must therefore have been excluded from the Canon, and this course must have been followed at first. Later on, this strictness relaxed and the tales were included in the one or the other basket. The Kasmir school is faithful to the old exclusiveness, whereas the Mathura school is inspired by the novel tolerance. Darstantika, Sautrantika, Mathura or Kasmir schools, all these names refer, in the whole or in parts, to the great North-Western school, the texts of which were written down in Sanskrit and which was called Sarvastivadin. The formula sarvamasti proves a liking for metaphysical subtlety that is foreign to primitive Buddhism. Likewise the refinement in the way of thinking and in the style of Asvaghosa's writing is very far from the origins. However, we must not forget that some works, ascribed at a late date to Asvaghosa, may have Leen composed long before his time. ------------------------ 10 Cf.'Fables in the Vinaya-pitaka of the Sarvastivadin School,' IHQ,V, march, 1929, p. 3 ff. p.252 Since Ed. Huber translated into French the Chinese version of the Sutralamkara ascribed to Asvaghosa, the original was discovered in Central Asia by the German mission of Turfan, and published by M. H. Luders under the title of: Brucbstucke der kalpanamanditika des Kumaralata. The following colophon can be reconstructecd in it: aryakaumaralatayam kalpanamanditika [yam nama drstanta pamktyam.(11) Nothwithstanding this discovery, Asvaghosa's defenders have not deserted their own thesis, Sylvain Levi has supposed that Asvaghosa was the author of the primitive work, which would have been remodelled later on by Kumaralata, and this new edition of the Sutralamkara would have been called Drstantamala (or pinkti).(12) When I took up again in 1930 the study of this question, I showed that Kumaralata was rapidly forgotten, whereas Asvaghosa's fame kept on growing. It is incredible therefore that one of Asvaghosa's works may have been ascribed at a late date to Kumaralata. As indicated by the colophon of the original published by Luders, Kumaralata is the author of the collection of drstanta (drstantapankti) called Kalpanamanditika. Later on, this work, remodelled, was given the name of Sutralamkara and was ascribed under a new shape to the famous Asvaghosa.(13) In I932, I insisted upon the fact that, against the opinion stated above, the Chinese title of the Sutralamkara: Ta tobouang king louen stands for an original: Maha-sutralamkara-sastra. This shows that at the time where the former drstantapankti was given the title of Sutralamkara, this text was considered as a sastra, ------------------------ 11 The part in brackets is blotted out on the manuscript and, according to the editor, 6 aksaras would be missing (Bruchstucke, p. 19). To fill up this void, H. Luders has propsed yam dsrtanta, which is too short. I suggest yam name drstanta, exactly 6 aksaras. 12 Journal Asiatique, Oct.-Dee. 1929, pp. 279-280. 13 Asvnghosa et la Kalpanamanditika, Bulletin of the section of Letters of the Royal Academy of Belgium, sitting of Nov. 3, 1930,pp. 425-434. p.253 which means that it was classified with the treatises of Abhidharrma.(14) Thus it appears that the Buddhist texts were submitted to frequent alterations. Neither the contents, the title nor the classification of the works were fixed. The literature was subject to perpetual transformations,like the composition of the canons, the grouping of the collections and the nomendature of the sects. The testimonies that we have just gathered have permitted us to place in three successive periods the activity of three doctors belonging to neighbouring groups: Kumaralata, author of a Drstanta-pankti, Srilata, Srilata, auther of a Sautrantika-vibhasa, Asvaghosa, to whom the Sutralamkara is ascribed. The mere title of these works indicates that the first doctor belonged to the Darstantika school, the second to the Sautrantika school; the third one is attached by tradition to the North-West of India and to the Sarvastivadin school. We may then suppose that Darstantika, Sautrantika, Sarvastivadin are three successive names which correspond to the three phases in the development of the great North-Western school. From now on it seems presumable that the Mulasarvastivadin are the Mulasautrantika's successors, so they called themselves because they were connected with the teaching of the Mulacarya Kumaralata. To the three stages that we have just noted correspond different doctrinal attitudes which are marked by some changes in the way the Scriptures are classified and the schools and texts are called.(15) Drstanta, avadana and sutralamkara are three equivalent terms. It seems that the drstanta was excluded at first from the Canon and this was reasonable: the dharma, being the word of the Buddha, could not include tales which were the works of a ------------------------ 14 'Sautrantika et Darstantika, Roeznik Orjentalistyezny ,V III, p. 20. 15 Of course the appearance of a new term did not cause the former one to disappear everwhere, on the contrary it was liable to survive for a long time still in some spheres. p.254 doctor. Later on, the basket of the Vinaya having separated from the Dharma, some schools, like that of Mathura, inserted in it narrative texts which were called avadana or jataka. The authority recognized to the sutra at the time explains the fact that several groups claim the title of Sautrantika. Finally, during a third period, the activity of the theologians, of the prose-writers and of the poets is shown by the multiplication of the texts of every kind. One observes then the development of the Abhidharma. Theliking for metaphysical discussion brings into favour the name of Sarvastivadin; the use of poetical ornaments in order to enhance the style. of the tales cause the latter to be described as the ornament (alamkara) of the sutra, and these new texts are considered as sastra, that is to say, classified by the side of the Abhidharmapitaka treatises. On the whole, the evolution marked by the names Darstantika, Sautrantika, Sarvastivadin is parallel with the movement that ends in the codification of the Scriptures. At first, the dharma was an undistinguished mass, Later on, the two baskets of the Sutra and of the Vinaya separated. Finally, a third basket fomed which is the Abhidharma-pitaka.