vimuttimagga- skilling PTS
JPTS_1994_XX skilling vimuttimagga.pdf (4.6 MB)
pts article by skilling
Heterodox Buddhism: The School of Abhayagiri
… a detailed examination of how the Abhayagiri School adopted heterodoxy of other Buddhist traditions.
… The Mahåvihåra and the Abhayagiri both accepted the Påli Tipiaka as authoritative texts, but the Abhayagiri went further step by accepting some non-Theravāda teachings including Vetullavāda or Vaitulyavāda (Mahāyāna) and Vājiriyavāda (Vajrayāna), in marked contrast to the Mahāvihāra ideology.
… I will discuss non-Theravāda influence on ancient Sri Lankan Buddhist literature, and …
… The practice of the Bodhisattva ideal in the early phase of Sri Lankan Buddhism, and its considerable development after the arrival of Mahāyāna Buddhism, are also discussed here. Based on some inscriptions, a new ideal of Bodhisattva practice, the universally applicable bodhicitta, which is completely related to Mahāyāna practice, is explored as a new trend of Abhayagiri Fraternity.
… The foreign relations of the Abhayagiri, with special reference to Tantric Buddhism and the impact of Tantric Buddhism on Sri Lankan paritta chanting and its culture, are also considered at this point.
… The Abhayagiri fraternity was always ready to welcome new ideas, and adjusted its monastic system in accordance with time and socio-religious
needs, whereas the Mahāvihāra considered this as an unwelcome and unacceptable transformation. In other words we can say that the Abhayagiri was radical and innovative whereas the Mahāvihāra was traditional and conservative.
… There is enough evidence to prove that several sectarian Buddhist schools dwelt together at the Abhayagiri in total harmony. As a result of this friendly atmosphere, new concepts and practices penetrated into Sri Lankan Buddhism, and some non Theravāda practices spread throughout the Island. Archaeological findings prove the authenticity of those records and show us how Mahāyāna and Tantric Buddhism played a dynamic and vital role in ancient Sri Lanka.
… The Mahāvihāra treated the Abhayagirivāsīns as heretics, since they presented some views on the Dhammavinaya that were different from the Mahāvihāra point of view.
… I have discussed some new trends introduced by the Abhayagiri fraternity to Sri Lankan Buddhism. Many new practices, rites and rituals were used for the popularity and the development of their own school, and also perhaps for the promotion of a close relationship between the monks and the lay
followers in terms of the stabilization of the Sāsana. The following new trends introduced by the Abhayagiri fraternity to Sri Lankan Buddhism have
been discussed in this chapter …
It is quite obvious that the Mahāvihāra and the Abhayagiri unanimously accepted the Pāli Tipiṭaka as authoritative texts. Yet the latter further
enlarged its ambit by accepting some non-Theravāda teachings, including Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna, showing a completely different attitude from the ideological stance of the Mahāvihāra.
The Visuddhimagga, perhaps the greatest work of Mahāvihāra, was composed after the Vimuttimagga of the Abhayagiri and the former was structured following structure of the latter. An important point we have to
consider here is that the Visuddhimagga is not a work of Mahāvihāra monks, but by Buddhaghosa Thera who came from South India. The Vimuttimagga is attributed to Upatissa Thera who was a member of the Abhayagiri fraternity.