Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 2.1.7 Paṭhamapaṭipadāsuttaṃ
(How to Walk the Path Correctly)

Starting from these encouraging efforts of the five-hundred Arahants who participated in the first Dhammasaṅgīti the words of the Buddha have survived intact in their origin even today, two-thousand and six-hundred years after the demise of the Buddha. We still are able us to seek refuge in his teaching.

Directly at the termination of this first Dhammasaṅgīti the earth applauded by congratulating to that accomplishment: In this way at the time of the council the group of five-hundred well composed members of the Saṅga under the guidance of Mahākassapa divided all the sayings of the Buddha: that belongs to Dhamma, this belongs to Vinaya* ……Evametaṃ sabbampi buddhavacanaṃ pañcasatikasaṅgītikāle saṅgāyantena mahākassapappamukhena vasīgaṇena* ayaṃ dhammo ayaṃ vinayo, ……. - …….Thus the council verified, comprised and determined upon three baskets during the period of seven months. At the conclusion of the council as to show happiness and approval: “This Thera Mahākassapa has strengthened the teaching of the one endowed in ten powers to exist for five-thousand years” this great earth repeatedly quaked, trembled, shook and quivered up to the waters edge.”……-……tīsu piṭakesu sandissamāna* saṅgahappabhedaṃ vavatthapetvāva sattahi māsehi saṅgītaṃ. Saṅgītipariyosāne cassa idaṃ mahākassapattherena dasabalassa sāsanaṃ* pañcavassasahassaparimāṇakālaṃ* pavattanasamatthaṃ* katanti sañjātappamodā sādhukāraṃ viya dadamānā ayaṃ mahāpathavī udakapariyantaṃ katvā anekappakāraṃ kampi saṅkampi sampakampi sampavedhi. (Dhammasaṅgaṇī-aṭṭhakathā, Aṭṭhasālinī)

Fortunately inspite of his original prophesy with this successful performace of the First Council the period of five-hundred years got extended to five-thousand years.

Also Bhante Nāgasena resolved King Milinda`s double-edged question (see 2.1.1) by separating the two apparently contradicting sides:

“Yes, it has been stated, great King, by the Bhagava: “Ānanda, the true Dhamma will now stand firm for five hundred years.” And he also said at the time of his passing away to the wanderer Subaddha: “As long as, Subaddha, the Bhikkhus live perfectly, as long the world will not be bereft of Arahants.” But these two statements are different in meaning as well as different in letter. One is about the duration of the Sāsana, the other is an explanation about the practice, both are far apart, different from one another!” -“Bhāsitampetaṃ, mahārāja, bhagavatā ‘pañceva dāni, ānanda, vassasatāni saddhammo ṭhassatī’ti. Parinibbānasamaye ca subhaddassa paribbājakassa bhaṇitaṃ ‘ime ca, subhadda, bhikkhū sammā vihareyyuṃ, asuñño loko arahantehi assā’ti. Tañca pana, mahārāja, bhagavato vacanaṃ nānatthañceva hoti nānābyañjanañca, ayaṃ sāsanaparicchedo*, ayaṃ paṭipatti paridīpanāti dūraṃ vivajjitā te ubho aññamaññaṃ. ……

Bhante Nāgasena explained further that the Buddha has explained to Ānanda that the saddhammo would now last for five hundred years only instead of one thousand years, by declaring the time of the destruction of the sāsana after the female Bhukkhunis have been permitted to the order:” “Api ca, mahārāja, ……. ‘pañceva dāni, ānanda, vassasatāni saddhammo ṭhassatī’ti yaṃ bhagavā āha, taṃ khayaṃ paridīpayanto sesakaṃ paricchindi, vassasahassaṃ, ānanda, saddhammo tiṭṭheyya, sace bhikkhuniyo na pabbājeyyuṃ. Pañceva dāni, ānanda, vassasatāni saddhammo ṭhassatīti.”

It was the Buddha`s profound foresight that resulted in this statement. He was stating the envisaged fact, that five hundred years** later the saddhamma was to nearly disappear from India, that the discipline may suffer and the ideal of brahmacariya may get corrupted by lack of effort in monks to resist the deep rooted anusaya of lust. (see 3.5.7). A Buddha will never exclude or discriminate anyone: “Bhabbo, ānanda, mātugāmo tathāgatappavedite dhammavinaye agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajitvā sotāpattiphalampi sakadāgāmiphalampi anāgāmiphalampi arahattaphalampi sacchikātun”ti. (Vinayapiṭake, Cūḷavaggapāḷi, Bhikkhunikkhandhakaṃ) - “Women, oh Ānanda, are able to realize the fruits of Sotāpañña, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi and Arahatta once having left housholders life and having gone forth in the Dhamma and Vinaya as proclaimed by the Tathāgata.”

Regardless of the historical and cultural background of that time Buddha`s attitude towards women was unique: “Anyone who uses such a vehicle,*** be it woman or man, by means of it will get drawn close towards nibbāna.” - “Yassa etādisaṃ yānaṃ, itthiyā purisassa vā; sa ve etena yānena, nibbānasseva santike”ti. (Devatāsaṃyuttaṃ, Accharāsuttaṃ)

Pāli lesson (with audio) 2.1.7

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*The text continues by giving further separations and divisions of the words of the Buddha, like the different piṭakas, different nikāyas, different udānas, saṃyuttas, vaggas etc…
vasīgaṇena: vasī + gaṇena: having power, selfcontroll + group
*sandissamānaṃ : comparing, verifying
*dasabalassa sāsanaṃ: lit: the teaching of the one of ten powers, an epithet of the Buddha, amongst the ten powers are understanding according to reality possible and impossible, the result of past, present and future actions, the path leading to the welfare of all, rembering previous births, reapearing according to deeds, knowing liberation of mind, liberation through wisdom….
*pañcavassasahassaparimāṇakālaṃ: pañca + vassa + sahassa + parimāṇa + kālaṃ: five + years + thousand + measure + time
*pavattanasamatthaṃ pavattana + samatthaṃ: moving forward + strong, able
*sāsanaparicchedo: sāsana + paricchedo: teaching + limitation, boundary
**The Chinese traveller Hiuen-tsang (around 629-654 AD) reports from India that the moral conduct of monks and nuns had reached a very low standard. He gives an account of monks, who had wives and children, other historians (Kaḷhana) give a picture of monastries in Kashmir, where in one part monks of proper conduct dwelled, in a second part lived monks with wives and children.
***This yāna is not to be mistaken with what was later refered to as `vehicle` in Mahāyāna and so forth. This yāna travelles on the wheels of wholesomeness: - dhammacakkehi saṃyuto

Last modified: Monday, 14 December 2015, 8:31 AM