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The Eighteen Schools of Buddhism
by Vasumitra

An article by
By Rev. S. Beal, B.A.

The Indian Antiquary,
A Journal of Oriental Research
Edited by
Jas. Burgess, M.Ras., F.R.G.S.

Vol. IX. 1880

Reformated and reprinted here from the Sacred Texts Archives version scanned and edited by Christopher M. Weimer, April 2002



Schism. These schools (and even the Mahayana and Tibetan schools) do not actually fall under the understanding of 'schism' according to the way the word is defined here: for there to be a schism both the Buddha and his Dhamma must be renounced. Otherwise the different doctrines proposed by these schools are considered the works of the individuals involved.

p.p. explains it all —p.p.

[299] One of the most interesting but intricate questions that can occupy the attention of the Buddhist student is the history of the eighteen sects into which the Buddhist Church was at an early date separated. A clear account of the causes that led to the schisms and the several tenets held by the separatists was, in the opinion of the late Mr. Spence Hardy, one of the great desiderata in the history of this religion. The Chinese and Tibetan books contain much valuable information on these points. Among other works in the northern copy of the Tripiṭaka, common in the monasteries of China and Japan, is one which contains three translations from Sanskrit of the treatise, written by Vasumitra, on the eighteen schools. This Vasumitra[1] was one of the Buddhist patriarchs who lived probably about the time of Kanishka, that is, as far as we know at present with any certainty, about 42 B.C.[2] His aim was evidently to reconcile the differences that existed in traditions, customs, and acknowledged scriptures; and it was probably under his auspices, or by his influence that the Great Council was held that rearranged and revised the Buddhist Canon as it is known in the North. There are three translations of this treatise into Chinese; the first is anonymous, and is most obscure. The second is by Chin-ti, of the Tsin dynasty. The third is by Hiwen Thsang, of the Tang dynasty. It would be rash to attempt a translation of these tracts into English without aid or direction — nor would the present writer have undertaken such a task — but, fortunately, there is a parallel translation from the Tibetan in Vassilief's History of Buddhism (Second Supplement, p. 222). This translation by the learned writer named above was prepared after careful comparison of the Tibetan text with the three Chinese versions. The result is no doubt an accurate, though most obscure, reproduction of the work by Vasumitra. It may perhaps be useful to attempt an independent version of the three Chinese translations. Not that we can hope to render all plain, but with the purpose of inducing scholars in China to look into this matter, and endeavor to throw some light on the subject by comparing these translations and working independently in the production of others. The matter may appear of little consequence to some, and needless labour to others, but in the presence of facts, which are daily coming to our knowledge, it becomes almost the duty of those who are interested in the religious development of the Eastern mind, not only in India, but in other conntries more or less affected by Indian speculations, to search out the causes and the character of that development, and so connect it with the religions movements which occurred elsewhere about the same time. We proceed to give part of the translation by the anonymous Chinese writer, and which stands first in the Buddhist Canon.[3]



[300] An Account of the Eighteen Principal Schools of Buddhism, from the original Treatise of Vasumitra, translated into Chinese by three separate authors.

1. A treatise on the eighteen schools
(translator's name unknown).

In the 15th section of the latter volume of the work known as the Queries of Manjušrî (Manjušriparipṛichchhâ), the subject being "The division into schools." [It is thus written:]

   At this time Manjušrî questioned Buddha thus: "World-honoured! Explain, I pray you, what will be the different schools into which your followers will be separated in the future after your Nirvāṇa, and from what original division these schools will be formed?"

   Buddha answered Manjušrî thus: "There will be twelve schools among my followers hereafter, in which (the separate interpretation of) my law will be preserved in the world. These schools will be the repositories of the diversified fruits of my Scriptures (piṭakas) without priority or inferiority — just as the taste of sea-water is everywhere the same — or as the twelve sons of one man all honest and true, so will be the exposition of my doctrine advocated by these schools. Manjušrî! the two original germs of these separate schools will be found in the rendering of my doctrine by the Mahāyāna and the Prajñāpāramitā systems. The Šrāvakas, Pratyeka Buddhas, and different Buddhas (i.e., the doctrine which teaches these three degrees of religious advancement) will come from the Prajñāpāramitā, Manjušrî! as earth, water, fire, wind and space compose the material and visible universe, so the Mahāyāna and the Prajñāpāramitā compose the material of the system in which these different degrees of Šrāvakas, Pratyeka-Buddhas, and Buddhas are entertained."

   Manjušrî asked Buddha this question: "World-honoured! and by what names will these schools be known?"

   Buddha replied: "The two schools first formed will be 'the Mahāsāṃghikas[4] and the Pi-li'[5] (Sthaviras). Within a hundred years after my Nirvāṇa a school will be formed called 'Yeb-wu-in'[6] [Ekabhyohārikhās (Burnouf, tom. I, p. 357), or Ekavyavahārikās (according to Vassilief's Buddhism, p. 227, n.)]. Again, within a hundred years from the formation of this school, another will be formed called 'Ko-kiu-li'[7] [Kukkulikās]. Within a hundred years from this another school will arise called To-man[8] (Bāhušrutiyas). Within a hundred years from this there will be another school formed, called 'Che-tai-ho'[9] [Chaitiyavādās]. Within another hundred years a school will arise called 'Eastern Mountain'[10] [Pûrvašailās]. Within a hundred years another school will arise from this called 'Northern Mountain'[11] [Uttarašailās]. These seven schools come from the Mahāsāṃghikās, and including the original Saṃgha, or congregation, they are classified as eight schools.

"From the Sthaviras were formed eleven schools. Within a hundred years from the origin of the above school, there arose another, called 'Yeh-tsai-wu-in'[12] (Sarvāstivādas). Within a hundred years from this school proceeded another, called 'Yun-shan'[13] (Haimavatās). Within a hundred years from this school another will arise, called 'Vātsiputriyas'[14] (sons of the calf). Within a hundred years after this another school called 'Dharmottarîyas.'[15] Within a hundred years from this another called 'Bhadrāyanîyas.'[16] Within a hundred years from this school will come another called 'Yih-tsai-sho-kwei'[17] (Sammatîyas). Within a hundred years another school will arise from this, called 'Jing-shan'[18] (Jungle-hill, i.e., Shāṇṇagarika). Within a hundred years after this arose another school called 'Tai-puh-ho-ki'[19] [301](Mahîšāsakas). Within a hundred years from this arose the school called 'Fau'[20] (Dharmaguptās). Within a hundred years another school arose called 'Ka-hi-pi'[21] (Kāšyapîyas). Within a hundred years from this another school arose named 'Sieon-to-lo-ku'[22] (Samkantikās or Sautrāntikās). The above are the eleven schools derived from the Sthaviras, and including their mother-school, comprise twelve distinct branches."

   Buddha spoke the following gāthas: —

"The school of the Mahāsāṃghikas
Will divide into seven parts,
The Sthavirās into eleven,
This is what we term the twelve schools,[23]
The eighteen including the two original,
All these will arise from the Mahāyāna,
Which admits of neither affirmation or contradiction.
Now I say that in future time will appear,
The miscellaneous writings of the Master Kumārajiva
After the cessation (nirvāṇa) of the true Law,
Just one hundred years;
And by these various productions
The true Law will be gradually destroyed,
Everyone forming his own views,
Founding their opinions on heterodox sects,
Despising that which ought to be honoured.
A rebellious and discontented tone will arise
But now the Sûtras alone are the ground
On which to build the doctrine of Buddha,
Relying on the former truths.
Seeking a foundation on this solid basis,
Is like in the multitude of sand particles
Seeking for the true gold.
Thus have I heard former sages,
Who appear like suns among men."

"One hundred and sixteen years after the Nirvāṇa of Buddha (in a) city called 'I-ta-fuh,' (I for Pa, therefore equivalent to Pa-ta-fuh, i.e., Pātaliputra) there shall be a king called 'A-yu' (Ašoka) who shall gather (as in a square) the whole of Jambudwipa as his empire. In his time the division of the great congregation into schools shall begin. There shall arise a Bhikshu called 'Neng' (able), and another called 'Yin-un' (Nidāna), and another called 'To-man' (Bāhušrutiya ?) — these shall assert the necessity of teaching five propositions as a basis for religious instruction. The five Points are these: —

Profit and increase from others.
Words according to the religious formula.
To obtain reason.

"It was from a consideration of these questions that the first two schools arose, to wit, the Mahāsāṃghikās and the Sthavîras.[24]

"In the middle of the century (following) the Mahāsāṃghikās other schools arose as follows: — (1) 'Yih-shwo' [Ekavyavahārikās], (2) 'Chu-shai-kan-shwo' [Lokottaravādins], (3) 'Kiu-ku' [Gokulikas or Kukkuṭikās]. Again, in the middle of a century or so after the Mahāsāṃghikas will originate other schools, called 'Shi-chi-lun.'[25]

"Again, in the middle of the two hundred years, the heretical followers of the Mahādêva, taking on themselves the vows of religious ascetics, fixed their abode in Mount Chaitiya. Again, from the Mahāsāṃghikas arose three other schools, viz. Che-tika, 'Huh-pi-lo' (Apara), and Uttarašaila. Thus, from the Mahāsāṃghika arose nine schools, viz. (1) Mahāsāṃghikas, (2) Ekavyavahārika, (3) Lokottaravādin, (4) Gokulika, (5) Bāhušrutîya, (6) Shi-chi, (7) Yan-ka, (8) Ho-lo, (9) Uttarašaila.

"In the middle of the three hundred years from the Sthavira school, arose from Controversies connected with the Canon of the Abhidharma, different schools, as follows: (1) Sarvāstivādin, also called Hetuvāda, (2) Haimavatas. In the middle of the three hundred years again there arose another school called Vātsiputrîyās, from this school sprang another, called Dharmagupta (or Dharmottarîyas), another called Bhadrāyanîyas, and again, another called Mi-lî (where li is evidently a mistake for ti), otherwise named San-mi-ti (Sammatîyas), another school called the school of the six cities (Shannagarikas). Again, in the three hundredth year, the Sarvāstivādins produced another school, viz., Mahîšāsakas, from which sprang the Dharmaguptas (so called from the Master of the school, whose name [302] was In-chi-lin).[26][26] Again, in this three hundredth year, another school sprang from the Sarvāstivādins, called Yan-li-sha (Varsha), likewise named Kāšyapiyas. In the four hundredth year from the Sarvāstavādins sprang another school called Seng-kai-lin-to (Saṃkrānti), so called from the name of its founder Yeou-to-lo (Uttara), this school was also known as Sautrāntika.

"Thus, from the school of the Mahāsthaviras branched off twelve schools, viz. (1) Mahāsthaviras, (2) Haimavatas, (3) Sarvāstivādins,(4) Vātsiputrîyās, (5) Dharmottarîyas,(6) Bhadrāyanîyas, (7) Sammatîyas, (8) The school of six Cities, (9) Mahîšāsikas, (10) Dharmaguptas, (11) Kāšyapîyas; (12) Sautrāntikas."

We will now proceed to speak of the distinguishing tents {sic} of these various schools, both to their radical differences and also those held[27] in common.

The following schools, Mahasāṃghikas, Ekavyavāhārikas, Lokottaras, Kukkutikas, hold the views we are about to mention. They all say that the traditions respecting the Buddhas having been born into the world (as men) are incorrect — that the law is Tathāgata, and the only one in the world. They all say that the (system of religion known as) 'turning the Wheel of the Law' is at an end. They say that "things exist," "relationships exist," "truth exists." They say that Tathāgata is infintely extended, immeasurably glorious, eternal in duration, that to his power of recollection (nim, smriti), his power of faith (srāddhabala), his experience of joy, and his life, there is no end; he sleeps not, he speaks, asks, reflects not; they say that his existence is ever one and uniform (one heart), that all things born may obtain deliverance by having his instruction, that in his essential existence (one heart, ekachitta) Tathāgata comprehends all subjects (laws) in a moment by his own wisdom.


[1] Ind. Ant. vol. IV, p. 363.

[2] By some he is placed rather later. — ED. I. A.

[3] This translation is denoted as C by Vassilief.]

[4] This word means the great congregation, composed of young and old alike, the same as the school of "various and miscellaneous Moral Rules." — [Ch. Ed.]

[5] This word means the congregation of old men only, it is the same as that which acknowledges the authority of the (original) Vinaya only.

[6] So called because they agreed in the main with the Mahāsanghikas. — [Ch. Ed.]

[7] From the name of the master who formed it. — [Ch. Ed.]

[8] So called from the "famous wisdom" of its founder. — [Ch. Ed.]

[9] So called from the locality in which the founder lived.

[10] So called from the locality in which the founder lived.

[11] Likewise from the abode of the founder.

[12] So called because the founder of the school held the positive existence of all things in the three worlds. — [Ch. Ed.]

[13] So called from the abode of the founder.

[14] From the name of the founder.

[15] From the name of the founder.

[16] From the name of the founder.

[17] So called from the great esteem in which the master was held among men.

[18] So called from the character of the place where the founder lived. The name in Sanskrit however means "of six towns," and so in Tibetan; see Vassilief, p. 231. — J.B.

[19] So called because the founder of this school was, when a child, cast into a well by his mother, and when his father sent to recover his body he was found uninjured.]

[20] The founder's name.

[21] The founder's name.

[22] The founder rested his deductions on the Sûtras.

[23] That is the twelve schools that sprung from the Mahāsthavirās.

[24] In Chinese, "high-seat."

[25] I cannot explain this title at present. — S. B.]

[26] 26. Vide Vassilief, p. 232 n. 5.

[27] So I would translate "Chung-kan."]



The Sects of the Buddhists

T. W. Rhys Davids

Reprinted from:
The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1891



We find in the Dipavamsa (Chapter V. 39-48) a list of the eighteen sects (or schools rather) into which the Buddhists in India had,in the course of the second century of the Buddhist era, been divided. In the Mahavamsa (Chapter V.) there is a similar list, evidently drawn from the same sources, but omitting (in Turnour's texts) numbers 1-7 of the older list. It is curious that precisely where these names ought to come in (at line 5), the text given by Turnour is evidently corrupt, a half-sloka at least being missing, and probably more.[2.1]

So far as is yet known these eighteen sects are not elsewhere mentioned in Pāḷi literature, excepting only in the commentary on the Katha Vatthu, edited by the late Professor Minayeff, for the Pāḷi Text Society, in 1889. The book itself, composed by Moggali-putta Tissa, about 240 B.C., deals with a number of ethical points which were then matters of controversy; and it is the greatest pity that, owing to want of funds, the Pāḷi Text Society has not yet been able to publish it. But the commentary, short as it is (only 200 pages in the journal of the Pāḷi Text Society), gives the name of the particular sect against which certain of the arguments are directed.

These data are very important. Following the list of the eighteen sects in the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa above referred to is another list of six later sects, the names of which, with one exception, are derived from places, presumably the places where the sects in question took their origin. Now we find that in a large majority (about ninety as against about forty-five) of the cases in which the commentary gives the name of the sect referred to, the names are those of these six later sects. And of the forty-five directed against the eighteen older schools, sixteen are directed against one, nineteen against another, and seven against a third (only four others of the eighteen being mentioned at all, and three of these four being referred to only once.)

There is every reason to believe that the commentator's statements as to the sects against whom his author's arguments were directed are, so far as they go, correct. When we have the text before us we may be able to specify others. But we may fairly draw the conclusion that already in the time of Asoka only seven of the eighteen sects had retained any prtactical importance at all, and that of these seven only three, or perhaps four, were still vigorous and flourishing.

This will be made plainer by the following table, in which I have first arranged the list given in both the Ceylon chronicles (and derived by both from the history handed down in the Māha Vihara at Anuradhapura) in such a way as to show the relationship of these eighteen Hinayana sects one to another. To each sect I have then added the pages of the commentary on the Katha Vatthu, in which it is specifically referred to by name.[2.2]


		(A. The eighteen sects.)

		1. Thera-vadino.
			 2. Vajjiputtaka.
				 4. Dhammuttarika.
				 5. Bhaddayanika, 58.
				 6. Channagarika (Dip. Chanda, and Cy On Katha Vatthu Channa) 3.
				 7. Sammitiya, 42, 58, 67, 68, 97, 106, 110,
					 111, 112, 114, 123, 127, 129, 150, 156,
					 160, 161, 162. 174 (total 19).
			3. Mahigsasaka, 60, 90, 92, 111, 123, 160, 173, 181.
				 8. Sabbatthivada (Dip. Sabbattha-), 43, 58, 132.
						 10. Kassapika, 50.
							 11. Sankantika.
							 12. Suttavada.
				 9. Dhammaguttika.
		13. Mahasangitikaraka = Mahasamghika, 123-129, 131, 135,
			136, 147, 152, 154, 158, 176, 189, 190 (total 16).
			14. Gokulika, 58.
				 16. Bahussutaka = Bahulika.
				 17. Pannatti-vada.
				 18. Cetiya-vada.[2.3]
			15. Ekabyoharika.

		All these 18 arose in 100-200 A.B. (Dip. 5. 53=Mah. 5. 8).

		(B. Later sects in India.)

		1. Hemavatika.
		2-5. Andhaka, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65, 67, 68,
			 71, 78, 79, 80, 81, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89,
			 92, 93, 101, 102, 103, 105, 109, 110, 111,
			 115, 117, 118, 121, 122, 130, 133, 144, 149,
			 150, 151, 156, 161, 162, 163, 172, 173, 174,
			 177, 180, 184, 185, 189, 190, 193, 197, 198
			 (total 55).
			 2. Rajagirika, 1, 94-99, 140, 154, 163, 164.
			 3. Siddhatthika, 94-99, 163. 164.
			 4. Pubbaselika, 54, 56, 90, 106, 108, 109, 112, 114. Andhaka
			 5. Aparaselika, 54, 55, 56, 143, 148, 159, 187.
		6. Vadariya (so in Mah. The Dip. 5. 54, has Aparo Rajagiriko, and the Cy
			on the Katha. Vatthu, p.5, calls them Vajariya and Vajiriya).

		(C. Later sects in Ceylon.)

		1. Dhammaruciya (B.C. 90).
		2. Sagaliya (A.D. 251).
		3. Dathavedhaka (A.D. 601).

But the commentator mentions also five sects with names not occurring in Table I. I give these sects, therefore, in a separate table, again adding all the pages in which they are referred to.

		1. Uttarapathaka, 73, 81, 82, 92, 105, 117, 118,
			 119, 132, 137, 139, 141, 144, 145, 148, 149, 151,
			 160, 170, 172, 177, 179, 180, 183, 188, 191, 193,
			 194, 195, 197, 198 (total 34).
		2. Vibhajjavadino, 6 (=Thera-vadino).
		3. Vetulyaka, 167, 171, 197.
		4. Sunnatavada, 167.
		5. Hetuvada, 153, 154, 156, 158, 166, 181, 184, 198.

We can now, therefore, in a third table, give the names of the sects which are, so far, known to have been considered as of real practical importance in the time of Asoka, or rather when the Katha Vatthu was composed.


		 1. Thera-vadino (=Vibhajja-vadino), the old school, to which Moggaliputta Tissa
		 himself and the authors of the Ceylon commentaries, etc., belonged.
		 2. Sammitiya (derived from the above, but existing only on the Continent).
		 3. Mahimsasaka, with their subdivision, the
				  4. Sabbatthi-vadino.
	   5-8. The Andhra sects, with four subdivisons. (see Table I. B.).
		  9. The Mahasamghika.
	    10. The Uttarapathaka.

It will not be possible till we get the text of the Katha Vatthu to show the exact nature of the differences by which these sects were distinguished. But it is already clear from the commentary, which shows the nature of the questions at issue, that they one and all looked upon Arahatship (not Bodisatship) as the ideal of a good Buddhist, and were really much alike in essentials, not differing more than the various sects of Protestants do to-day.

The above results are entirely confirmed by such other evidence of value as is accessible to us. 'We have two important Hinayana books in Sanskrit, the Divyavadana and the Mahavastu, accessible to scholars in critical editions. The former mentions no sects, and though its ethical teaching, as is natural in a story-book, is put in the background, it contains very little that is contradictory to the older teaching. The latter purports to belong (see vol. i. p. 2, line 13) to the Lokottaravadins, a sect of the Mahasamghika (who are supposed to have been the furthest removed from the school of the Theras). But there is very little in its teaching which could not have been developed from the Thera-vada; and it also differs from the Pāḷi texts in the lower general tone — in the prominence given to legendary matter, and in the consequent inattention to ethical points, and the details of Arahatship - rather than by the enunciation of new and divergent doctrines.

We find a similar confirmation of our Katha Vatthu commentator if we look at the names of the sects referred to by the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims. These are shown in the following table.


		A. By Fa Hian.
		 In Lob and Karaschar the Hinayana, Ch. 2.
		 " Khoten . . . . . " Mahayana, Ch. 3.
		 " the Dard Country. " Hinayana, Ch. 6.
		 " Udyana. . . . " Hinayana, Ch. 8.
		 " Panjab. . . . " both, Ch. 14, 15.
		 " Kanauj. . . . . " Hinayana, Ch. 18.
		 " the Middle Country." 96 sects, Ch. 20 (apparently not Buddhists).
		 " Kosambi. . . . " Hinayana, Ch. 34.
		 " Patna. . . . . " Mahasamghika, Ch. 36.
		 " India. . . . . " 18 sects, Ch. 36.
		 " Patna (and China) ." Sabbatthi-vada, Ch. 36.
		 " Ceylon . . . . . " Mahimsasaka, Ch. 40.

		B. By Yuan Thsang.
		 In Gaz . . . . . . the Sabbatthivada, 1. 49 (trans. Beal).
		 " Bamiyan . . . . . " Lokottaravadino, 1. 50.
		 " Kapisa . . . . . " mostly Mahayana, 1. 55.
		 " India. . . . . " 18 schools (apparently both Hina- and Maha-yana!) 1. 80.
		 " Gandhara . . . . " Hina-yana, 1. 104.
		 " Po-lu-sha, . . . . " Hina-yana, 1. 112.
		 " Udyana . . . . " Maha-yana, 1. 120, and also Nos. 3, 8, 9, 10, 13, of Table I. (A), 1. 121.
		 " Takshasila . . . . " Mahayana, 1. 137.
		 " Kashmir . . . . " Mahasamghika, 1. 162.
		 " Sagala . . . . . . " Hinayana, 1. 172.
		 " Kuluta . . . . . " Mahayana, 1. 177.
		 " ? . . . . . " Hinayana, 1. 179.
		 " Mathura . . . . " both, 1. 180.
		 " Sthanesvara . . . " Hinayana, 1. 184.
		 " Srughna. . . . " Hinayana, 1. 187.

		In Rohilkund .... the Hinayana (Sabbatthivadino) 1. 190, 192, 196.
		 " Govisana . . . . " Hinayana, 1. 200.
		 " Pi-lo-shan-na. . . " Mahayapa, 1. 201.
		 " Ahikshetra. . . " Sammitiya, 1. 200.
		 " Kapitha. . . . " Sammitiya, 1. 102.
		 " Kanauj . . . . " both H. and M., 1. 207.
		 " Navadevakula. . . ." Sabbatthivadino, 1. 224.
		 " Audh . . . . " both, 1. 225.
		 " Hayamukha . . . . " Sammitiya, 1. 230.
		 " Prayaga . . . . " Hinayana, 1. 231.
		 " Kosambi . . . . " Hinayana, 1. 235.
		 " Visakha . . . . " Sammitiya, 1. 239-40.
		 " Sravasti . . . . " Sammitiya, 2. 2.
		 " Kapilavastu . . . . " Sammitiya, 2. 14.
		 " Benares . . . . " Sammitiya, 2. 44, 45.
		 " Ghazipur . . . . " Hinayapa, 2. 61.
		 " Mahasala . . . . " Mahayana, 2. 65.
		 " Svetapura (?). . . .,, Mahayana, 2. 75.
		 " Vajjians . . . . " both, 2. 78.
		 " Nepal . . . . " both, 2. 81.
		 " Magadha . . . . " Mahayana, 2. 82.
		 " " . . . . " both, 2, 103, 104.
		 " Gaya . . . . " Mahayana of the Sthavira School, 2. 133.
		 " Pigeon Vihara . . " Sabbatthivada, 2. 182.
		 " Mongir . . . . " Sammitiya, 2. 186.
		 " Campa . . . . " Hinayana, 2. 192.
		 " Po-chi-po Vihara . " Mahayana, 2. 195.
		 " Pundra . . . . " both, 2. 195.
		 " Bengal . . . . " Sthavira, 2. 199.
		 " Bhagalpur . . . . " Sammitiya, 2. 201.
		 " Orissa . . . . " Mahayana, 2. 204.
		 " Kalinga . . . . " Sthavira school, 2. 208.
		 " Kosala . . . . " Mahayana, 2. 210.
		 " Dhanakataka . . . . " Mahayana, 2. 221. (Here are the Pubbasela and Aparasela Viharas.)

		In Kancipura . . . . the Sthavira, 2. 229.
		" Ceylon . . . . " Sthavira, 2. 247.
		" Konkana . . . . " both, 2. 254.
		" Mahrattas . . . " both, 2. 257.
		" Baroach . . . . " Sthavira, 2. 260.
		" Malva . . . . " Sammitiya, 2. 261.
		" Kachch . . . . " Hinayana and Mahayana, 2. 266.
		" Valabhi . . . . " Sammitya, 2. 266.
		" Surat . . . . " Sthavira, 2. 269.
		" Gurjara . . . . " Sabbatthivada, 2. 270.
		" Ujjen . . . . " both, 2. 270.
		" N. Sindh . . . . " Sammitiya, 2. 272.
		" Parvata (Po-fa-to) . " both, 2. 275.
		" Kurachi (?) . . . " Samittiya, 2. 276.
		" Lang-kia-lo . . . " both, 2. 277.
		" Persia . . . " Sabbatthivada, 2. 278.
		" Pi-to-shi-lo . . " Sammitiya, 2. 279.
		" O-fan-cha . . . " Sammitiya, 2, 280.
		" Fa-la-na . . . " Mahayana, 2. 281.
		" Ghazni . . . . " Mahayana, 2. 284.
		" Hwoh . . . . " both, 2. 288.
		" Och . . . . " Sabbatthivada, 2. 304.
		" Kashgar . . . . " Sbbatthivada, 2. 307.
		" Cho-kiu-kia . . . " Mahayana, 2. 308.
		" Khoten . . . . " Mahayana, 2. 309.

On these lists it may be noted that Fa Hian knows of the list of eighteen Hinayana sects (see Ch. XXXVI.); but he mentions by name only three; and those three are precisely those three of the eighteen which, in our Table No. 1, are shown to have been, together with the Sammitiya, the most important in Asoka's time. Further, Fah Hian only knows of one other sect, the Mahayanists, and of them only in Khoten and the Panjab. Similarly the Katha Vatthu mentions only one other sect as at all of equal importance with those just referred to; and that sect is that of the "Northerners," the Uttarapathaka. The undesigned coincidence between the two authors is as complete as it is striking.

Yuan Thsang goes into much greater detail, but his statements are quite consistent with those of the earlier authors. He finds the Mahasamghika only in Kashmir, and there only in small numbers (100), and a subdivision of that school, that is the Lokottara-vadins, only in Bamiyan. Further down on the continent that school seems, in his time, to have passed over bodily to the Mahayanists. But the Hinayanists are still much the more widely distributed, and also more numerous; and of their subdivisions it is precisely those mentioned as important by the earlier writers who recur in Yuan Thsang. He also in most cases gives an estimate of the actual number of Bhikshus in each country. But before discussing these numbers it is necessary to notice the statement, astounding at first sight, that the 20,000 Bhikshus in Ceylon were then principally Mahayanists.

Yuan Thsang admits that the Ceylonese were originally Hinaynists, but he explains the change by a division of opinion which took place between the Bhikshus resident at the capital, in the Māha Vihara, and in the Abhayagiri Vihara (the latter drifting towards the Mahayana). This division he dates about 200 years after Mahinda's time, that is to say, shortly before the Christian era. He is referring evidently to the same schism as that described in the commentary on the Mahavamsa (Turnour, p. 53)), which is there dated about 90 B.C., and is said to have arisen between the residents at these two great Viharas. As the whole of the voluminous Pāḷi literature of Ceylon in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and later centuries, is written entirely from the Theravada standpoint, it is clear that Yuan Thsang, who did not himself visit Ceyion, either misunderstood or was misinformed as to the side on which the preponderance, in his time, lay. And when he adds that the particular school of the Mahayanists to which the Ceylonese Buddhists belonged was the Sthavira or Thera school, it can scarcely be doubted that he (or his informant) had in view the Theravada school to which we know the Ceylonese almost exclusively adhered. A Thera school of the Mahayanists has not been found mentioned in any other author, and the Sthavira school is elsewhere referred to as identical with the Theravada, the most fundamentally Hinayanist of all the sects.

Taking this to be so, it will be of value to arrange in another table, according to sects, the data given by Yuan Thsang, adding the numbers of the Bhikshus where he gives numbers.


	1. Sthavira sect (Thera-vadino).
				 In Gaya 1000 (in a Vihara founded by a Ceylon king).
				 " East Bengal 2000
				 " Kalinga 500
				 " Kancipura 10,000
				 " Ceylon 20,000
				 " Bharukaccha 300
				 " Surattha 3000

	2. Sammitiya (No. 7 of Table I.).
				 In Ahikshetra 1000
				 " Sankassa 100
				 " Hayamukha 1000
				 " Visakha 3000
				 " Savatthi few
				 " Kapila-vatthu 30 (text has 3000)
				 " Benares 3000
				 " Migadaya 1500
				 " Mungiri 4000
				 " Bhagalpur 2000
				 " Malva 2000
				 " Valabhi 6000
				 " N. Sindh 10,000
				 " Kurachi 5000
				 " Pi-to-shi-lo 3000
				 " Avanti (?) 2000

	3. Sabbatthivadino (No. 8 in Table I.)
				 In Balk   200
				 " Ma-ti-pu-lo (Rohilkund) 800
				 " Pigeon Vihara  200
				 " Kanauj   500
				 " Gurjara   100
				 " Persia several hundred
				 " Och  several hundred
				 " Kashgar  10,000
							  			More than 12,000

	4. Lokottaravadino (probably=No. 14 of Table I. A.).
				 In Bamiyan  1000
	5. Hinayana, without mention of any one of the eighteen sects.
				 In Sagala   100
				 " Sthanesvara  700
				 " Srughna   1000
				 " Govisana,  100
				 " Kosambi   300
				 " Ghazipur (near Benares) 1000
				 " Campa   200

	6. Mahayana.
				 In Kapisa (Hindukush)   6000
				 " Uyyana (so at 1. 120. But the schools are given, p. 121,
				 and they all belong to the Hinayana!)
				 " Kuluta (on the Upper Biyas) 1000
				 " Pi-lo-shan-na   500
				 " Ti-lo-shia-kia (20m. W. of Nalanda)1000
				 " Po-chi-po Khara   700
				 " Orissa    10,000
				 " South Kosala   10,000
				 " Dhanakataka   1000
				 " Fa-la-na    300
				 " Ghazni    1000
				 " Cho-kiu-kia   500
				 " Khoten    1000

	7. Bhikshus who study both Hina- and Maha-yana.
				 In Mathura (on the Jumna) 2000
				 " Kanauj  10,000
				 " Audh   3000
				 " Vajjians  1000
				 " Nepal   2000
				 " Magadha  10,000
				 " Pundra   3000
				 " Konkana  10,000
				 " Mahrattas  5000
				 " Ujjen   300
				 " Po-fa-to  1000
				 " Lang-kia-lo  6000
				 " Hwoh   200
				 " Och   1000

					Totals of above.
			Sthavira                      36,800 ¿
			Sammitiya                     43,630 ³
			Sabbatthivadino               12,000 96,430
			Lokottaravadino                1,000 ³
			(No name)                     34,000
	 Mahayana                                     32,000
	 Both Hina- and Mahayana                      54,500
	 (Total numbers of the Order)                182,930

These numbers are exclusive of those, not many cases, where it is said there were 'few' at any place. They show that Yuan Thsang estimated the Buddhist Bhikshus in India and the adjacent countries to the N.W. towards the close of the seventh century of our era at less than two hundred thousand. And further that, in his opinion, about three-fourths of them studied at that time what he called the 'Little Vehicle,' and about one-fourth of them what he called the 'Great Vehicle.'

Besides the above statements, we have others from Tibetan books of the tenth and following centuries, which will be of value, inasmuch as they attempt to give not only the genealogy of the sects (their relation to one another), but also a summary of their special doctrines. Mr. Rockhill, to whom we owe the best existing summary of these statements,[2.4] says of these as to doctrine that "the theories of the different schools are unfortunately given... so concisely that it is a difficult, if not an impossible task, to give a satisfactory translation of them." And the statements as to the origin of the sects are so confused, and even contradictory, that very little can be made out of them. Taranatha (of the seventeenth century) gives another account of the origin of the sects drawn principally from the same Tibetan sources as Mr. Rockhill summarises at greater length (Taranatha, pp. 270-273). It is plain that all these Tibetan data rest upon earlier Sanskrit summaries, and go back eventually to a tradition which, when it is fully known, will probably confirm, and even perhaps add to, the data derived from the other sources.[2.5]

I would add that in an essay in the Asiatic Researches (Vol. XVI. pp.424 fol., written in 1828), Mr. Hodgson has given us a somewhat extended summary of four later schools in Nepaul, none of which are even mentioned in the foregoing works. These are:

		 1. The Svabhavika.
		 2. The Aisvarika.
		 3. The Karmika.
		 4. The Yatnika

They are all probably Mahayanist, and if so are the only subdivisions of that school known to us by name. Mr. Hodgson does not refer to any Sanskrit authority, and is apparently quoting the verbal statements of a Nepal pandit. And, notwithstanding the lapse of time, the sects thus named have not yet been found in any Buddhist author.

Finally we have the following list of Buddhist schools known to Sayana-Madhava, in the fourteenth century A.D. in South India.[2.6]

		 1. The Vaibhashika.
		 2. The Yogacara.
		 3. The Sautrantika.
		 4. The Madhyamika.

The conclusion I would venture to draw is that our best authorities are really at harmony; and that the history of the Buddhist sects is not the confused and hopeless muddle it has been often supposed to be, but only awaits the publication of the texts, and especially of the Katha Vatthu, to be capable of reconstruction in an intelligible and fairly satisfactory way.


[2.1] Since the above was written I find that the missing passage has actually been found by Batuwan Tudawa. It contains exactly what we find in the Dipavamsa.

[2.2] The Maha-bodhivamsa, being edited this year for the Pāḷi Text Society, also gives the eighteen schools of Buddhists in India. But its data are merely derived from the older Ceylon sources, and it adds nothing new.

All our Ceylon information is really derived from the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura.

Three of the eighteen sects have been found in inscriptions of the second and third century A.D. — The Bhadrayaniya in the ''Archaeological Survey of Western India," II. 85; IV. 109-111 — the Cetika, ibid. IV. 115, and "Arch. Survey of Southern India," I. 100 — and the Mahasamghika in the "Arch. Survey of Western India," IV. 113.

[2.3] This school was very probably the source of the schools of the Eastern and Western Caves at Dhanakataka (the Pubba- and Apara-selika of Table I. (B.)) as its name occurs once on the Amaravati Tope in the description of one of the donors, a member of the order resident in one or other of these mountain Viharas.

[2.4] In his '' Life of the Buddha," Chapter VI.

[2.5] Mr. Beal, in the "Indian Antiquary." ix. 300, gives us the same details as we find in Mr. Rockhill, but through a Chinese instead of a Tibetan translation.

[2.6] Sarva Darsana Sangraha, Chapter III.



See Also:

Schools of Buddhist Belief, by T.W. Rhys Davids, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Sociey, 1892.
The Sects of the Buddhists, by T.W. Rhys Davids, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Sociey, 1891.

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