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Home History General The Second Buddhist Council

The Second Buddhist Council

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Second Council

The Second Council was called one hundred years after the Buddha's Pari nibbāna in order to settle a serious dispute over the 'ten points.' This is a reference to some monks breaking of ten minor rules. they were given to:

1. Storing salt in a horn.
2. Eating after midday.
3. Eating once and then going again to a village for alms.
4. Holding the Uposatha Ceremony with monks dwelling in the same locality.
5. Carrying out official acts when the assembly was incomplete.
6. Following a certain practice because it was done by one's tutor or teacher.
7. Eating sour milk after one had his midday meal.
8. Consuming strong drink before it had been fermented.
9. Using a rug which was not the proper size.
10. Using gold and silver.

Their misdeeds became an issue and caused a major controversy as breaking these rules was thought to contradict the Buddha's original teachings.

King Kalasoka was the Second Council's patron and the meeting took place at Vesali due to the following circumstances.

One day, whilst visiting the Mahavana grove in Vesali, the Elder Yasa came to know that a large group of monks known as the Vajjians were infringing the rule which prohibited monk's accepting gold and silver by openly asking for it from their lay devotees. He immediately criticized their behavior and their response was to offer him a share of their illegal gains in the hope that he would be won over. The Elder Yasa, however declined and scorned their behavior. The monks immediately sued him with a formal action of reconciliation, accusing him of having blamed their lay devotees. The Elder Yasa accordingly reconciled himself with the lay devotees, but at the same time, convinced them that the Vajjian monks had done wrong by quoting the Buddha's pronouncement on the prohibition against accepting or soliciting for gold and silver. The laymen immediately expressed their support for the Elder Yasa and declared the Vajjian monks to the wrong-doers and heretics, saying "the Elder Yasa alone is the real monk and Sakyan son. All the others are not monks, not Sakyan sons."

The Stubborn and unrepentant Vajjian monks then moved to suspend the Venerable Yasa Thera without the approval of the rest of the Sangha when they came to know of the outcome of his meeting with their lay devotees. The Elder Yasa, however escaped their censure and went in search of support from monks elsewhere, who upheld his orthodox views on the Vinaya. Sixty forest dwelling monks from western countries and eighty monks from the southern regions of Avanti who were of the same view, offered to help him to check the corruption of the Vinaya. Together they decided to go to Soreyya to consult the Venerable Revata as he was a highly revered monk and an expert in the Dhamma and the Vinaya.

As soon as the Vajjian monks came to know this they also sought the Venerable Revata's support by offering him the four requisites which he promptly refused. These monks then sought to use the same means to win over the Venerable Revata's attendant, the Venerable Uttara. At first he too, rightly declined their offer but they craftily persuaded him to accept their offer, saying that when the requisites meant for the Buddha were not accepted by him, Ananda would be asked to accept them and would often agree to do so. Uttara changed his mind and accepted the requisites. Urged on by them he then agreed to go and persuade the Venerable Revata to declare that the Vajjian monks were indeed speakers of the Truth and upholders of the Dhamma.

The Venerable Revata saw through their ruse and refused to support them. He then dismissed Uttara.

In order to settle the matter once and for all, the Venerable Revata advised that a council should be called at Valikarama with himself asking questions on the ten offenses of the most senior of the Elders of the day, the Thera Sabbakami. Once his opinion was given it was to be heard by a committee of eight monks, and its validity decided by their vote. The eight monks called to judge the matter were the Venerables Sabbakami, salha, Khujjasobhita and Vasabhagamika, from the East and four monks from the West, the Venerables Revata, Sambhuta-Sanavsai, Yasa and Sumana.

They thoroughly debated the matter with Revata as the questioner and Sabbakami answering his questions. After the debate was heard the eight monks decided against the Vajjian monks and their verdict was announced to the assembly. Afterwards seven-hundred monks recited the Dhamma and Vinaya and this recital came to be known as the Sattasati because seven-hundred monks had taken part in it. This historic council is also called, the Yasatthera Sangiti because of the major role the Elder Yasa played in it and his zeal for safeguarding the Vinaya.

The Vajjian monks categorically refused to accept the Council's decision and in defiance called a council of there own which was called the Mahasangiti (The Great Council).

 

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The Dhammapada


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