Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
Introduction to 2.1.8 Dutiyapaṭipadāsuttaṃ
(Why one ought to Walk the Path Correctly)
While the Buddha had issued rules and regulations as well as respective moderations according to particular occurrences in order to enable the Bhikkhus to follow the holy life in an ideal manner and to gain ample periods for meditation and inner self-observation. He expected them to abide by these rules with full and proper deep understanding rather than out of pure faith or anticipation. This traditional thorough understanding on the wholesome benefits derived from upholding these regulations in one’s own life gets underlined in the formula: “……veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi”:–“I solemly undertake the rule of training to abstain……”; which expects a different attitude, volition and perception than: “Thou shall not!”
Whether it had been that the Bhikkhus had fallen away from the practice of meditation or that more and more people had joined the Saṅgha as means of livelihood, obviously a different approach towards the ideal of brahmacariya developed in the Saṅgha. Already hundred years after the Buddha's Parinibbāṇa, in the tenth year of the reign of King Kāḷāsoka, certain Bhikkhus from the Vajji-clan from Vesāli had started following and teaching new preferences, thus demonstrating a more relaxed turn in brahmacariya. They were fond of storing salt in a horn in order to make food more tasty (siṅgīloṇakappa)1; taking meals even after midday (dvaṅgulakappa); eating at another time in the – or at another – village (gāmantarakappa); having separate dwellings (āvāsakappa) from other Bhikkhus; as well as acting on their behalf without prior consent (anumatākappa); performing different practices by following their respective preceptor (āciṇṇakappa); they started drinking unchurned milk after meal (amathitakappa) and fermented palm wine (jalogikappa); were sitting on different sized mats (nisīdanaṃ adasakaṃ), and accepting gold (jātarūpārajataṃ) and silver:–Atīte dasame vasse, kāḷāsokassa rājino; sambuddhaparinibbānā, evaṃ vassasataṃ ahu. Tadā vesāliyā bhikkhū, anekā vajjiputtakā; siṅgīloṇaṃ dvaṅgulañca, tathā gāmantarammi ca. Āvāsānumatāciṇṇaṃ, amathitaṃ jalogi ca; nisīdanaṃ adasakaṃ, jātarūpādikaṃ iti.
It was the Arahant Thera Yasa who by wandering through the Vajji region resolved to reproach a group of Vajjian monks who openly asked their lay devotees on an Uposatha day (see footnote at 1.3.9) to bestow coins in the vessel. - taṃ sutvāna yasatthero, evaṃ vajjīsu cārikaṃ. Chaḷabhiñño balappatto2, taṃ sametuṃ sa-ussāho3, ṭhapetvāposathagge te, kaṃsapātiṃ sahodhakaṃ; kahāpaṇādiṃ4 saṅghassa, dethanāhu upāsake. But in spite of his criticism of, “give not, this has nothing to do with Uposatha!” those monks were strongly attached to their habits and allowances and did not listen to him at all and even drove him away. Thera Yasa thereupon visited first the Thera Sambhūta to search his advice. Sixty forest dwelling monks from Pāvā and eighty monks from the southern regions of Avanti who were all without any remainder of impurity and of the same determination, met with others from different regions and offered to help him to settle the corruption of these rules. Pāveyyakā saṭṭhitherā, asitāvantikāpi ca; mahākhīṇāsavā sabbe, ahogaṅgamhi otaruṃ. Bhikkhavo sannipatitā, sabbe tattha tato tato; āsuṃ navutisahassāni, mantetvā akhilāpi te. Soreyya revatattheraṃ, bahussuta manāsavaṃ; taṃ kālapamukhaṃ5 ñatvā, passituṃ nikkhamiṃsu taṃ. Together they decided to consult the Venerable Revata in Soreyya as he was the foremost monk, well learned and free from any impurities. As soon as the Vajjian monks came to know this they even tried to bribe him, but as they were not successful here they induced his attendant Uttara. They finally even tried to entice the King Kāḷāsoka6 by accusing those monks from the country. They spread the information to the King that those were about to try to dissuade the local Vajjian monks from the true path by desiring to possess the Gandhakuṭi and Mahāvana-monastry:–vadiṃsu kāḷāsokassa, narindassa alajjīno. Satthussa no gandhakuṭiṃ7, gopayanto mayaṃ tahiṃ; mahāvanavihārasmiṃ, vasāma vajjībhūmiyaṃ. Gaṇhissāma vihāranti, gāmavāsikasikkhavo; āgacchanti mahārāja, maṭisedhaya te iti. King Kāḷāsoka was approached by his sister Therī Nandā, who was a highly developed Bhikkhuni and stipulated him to rectify his grave mistake, to take the right side, to reconcile the Bhikkhus and to protect the teaching: bhaginī nandatherī tu, ākāsena anāsavā. bhāriyaṃ8 te kataṃ kammaṃ, dhammike’yye khamāpaya; pakkho9 tesaṃ bhavitvā tvaṃ, kuru10 sāsanapaggahaṃ11 The king then agreed to ask them to settle the matter by determining on the correct view. Thus under King Kāḷāsoka's patronage the Second Council was inaugurated. After various fruitless discussions by the full assembly–saṅgho sannipatī tadā; anaggāni12 tattha bhassāni the Venerable Thera Revata decided on a ubbāhika, the format of settling a dispute by certain selected and chosen senior fully enlightened Bhikkhus: Tato so revatatthero, sāvetvā saṅghamajjhago; ubbhāhikāya taṃ vatthuṃ, sametuṃ nicchayaṃ13 akā14.
Under the guidance of Venerable Revata the selected eight Bhikkhus (the Venerables Sabbakāmi, Saḷha, Khujjasobhita and Vāsabhagāmika, from the East the Venerables Revata, Sambhuta-Sāṇavāsī, Yasa and Sumana from Pāva) went to the remote and silent Vāḷikārāma: pācinakeca caturo, caturo pāveyyakepi ca; ubbhāhikāya sammanni, bhikkhū taṃ vatthu santiyā. Sabbakāmī ca sāḷho ca, khujjasobhitanāmako; vāsabhagāmiko cāti, thero pācinakā ime. Revato sāṇasambhūto, yaso kākoṇḍakatrajo; sumano cāti cattāro, therā pāveyyakā ime. Sametuṃ tāni vatthūni, appasaddaṃ anākulaṃ; agamuṃ vālukārāmaṃ, aṭṭhattherā anāsavā. The Venerable Revata took it upon himself to ask the questions on the ten offenses and the most senior of the Elders of that day, the Thera Sabbjakāmi replied on all matters and decided that all these ten matters were not in line with the teaching: sabbāni tāni vatthūni, na kappantīti15 suttato. The verdict of these Theras was announced to the assembly and afterwards the Venerable Thera Revata selected seven-hundred Bhikkhus to re-established the procedure of the first Saṅgīti by reciting the Dhamma and Vinaya: Tato so revatatthero, saddhammaṭṭhitiyā ciraṃ; kāretuṃ dhammasaṅgītiṃ, sabbabhikkhusamūhato. Pabhinnatthādiñāṇānaṃ, piṭakattayadhārinaṃ; satāni sattabhikkhūnaṃ, arahantānamuccini. This historic council lasted eight months and came to be known as the Yasattherasangīti because of the major role the Elder Yasa had played in it and his zeal for safeguarding the Vinaya, but is also known as the Sattasatīsaṅgīti, because of the seven-hundred Elders who participated.
After the termination of the council the first serious schism in the Saṅgha occurred, because the Vajjian monks categorically refused to accept the Council's decision. According to the chronicles those monks later initiated a conference of their own in disobedience to the others which they called the Mahāsaṅgiti16. These monks also further betook upon themselves to develop their own interpretation of the teaching and decided to call themselves the Mahāsaṅgitas. Thus the first split of the Saṅgha had occurred only one hundred years after the Enlightened One had passed away. The inner stain, the inner opponent, the inner murderer of lobha in form of greed for possessions and easy life had overtaken first a few monks, then spread to a larger group in most of the region of Vesāli and finally divided the Saṅgha.