Buddhist Council I
- Under various kings, there were four Buddhist councils.
- conducted with the support of Haryanka dynasty King Ajatasatru.
- The council was created to come to an agreement on how the Buddha’s teachings may be disseminated more widely.
- It took place in 483 BC, shortly after Buddha’s passing.
- It took place in Rajagriha’s Sattapani Caves (Sattaparnaguha).
- Mahakassapa, a monk, presided over the first council.
- The Buddha’s teachings’ preservation was the main goal.
- Ananda wrote the Suttapitaka (Buddha’s Teachings) during this council, and Mahakassapa wrote the Vinaypitaka (monastic code).
Buddhist Council II
- conducted with the support of Sisunaga dynasty King Kalasoka.
- It took place in 383 BC, or 100 years after the Buddha’s passing.
- It took place in Vaishali.
- The council was chaired by by Sabakami.
- The primary goal was to discuss ten Vinaypitaka-related topics of contention.
Here, two organisations that would later develop into Theravada and Mahayana underwent their first significant separation. The initial group was known as Thera (meaning Elder in Pali). They desired to maintain the original spirit of the Buddha’s teachings. The second faction, known as the Mahasanghika (Great Community), gave the Buddha’s teachings a more open-minded interpretation.
Third Council of Buddhists
- conducted with the support of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.
- It took place at Pataliputra in 250 BC.
- Mogaliputta Tissa presided over the council.
- The primary goal was to rid Buddhism of shady organisations and Sangha corruption.
- Here, the Abhidhamma Pitaka was written, bringing the contemporary Pali Tipitaka virtually to completion.
- Foreign nations received Buddhist missionaries.
- Hinayana Buddhism was the school Ashoka the Great promoted.
Buddhist Council IV
- conducted with the support of Kushan dynasty ruler King Kanishka.
- It took place in Kashmir’s Kundalvana in 72 AD, during the first century AD.
- Ashvaghosha and Vasumitra presided over this council.
- The language of all discussions was Sanskrit.
- Here, scriptures from the Abhidhamma were converted from Prakrit to Sanskrit.
- As a result of this council, Buddhism was split into the Mahayana (the Greater Vehicle) and Hinayana sects (the Lesser Vehicle).
The Mahayana sect valued rituals, Bodhisattvas, and idol worship. The Buddha was revered as God by them. The original Buddha’s teachings and practises were carried on through Hinayana. While the Mahayana also uses Sanskrit texts, they cling to the Pali-language scriptures.
The fifth and sixth Buddhist councils indeed exist, but no one outside of the region where they were held is aware of them. Burma
Buddhist Fifth Council
- In 1871, under King Mindon’s dominion in Mandalay, Burma, Theravada monks supervised over it.
- The ‘Fifth Council’ is how it is referred to in Burmese culture.
- Its goal was to recite all of Buddha’s teachings and look for any that had been overlooked, misunderstood, or altered.
- The Venerable Mahathera Jagarabhivamsa, the Venerable Narindabhidhaja, and the Venerable Mahathera Sumangalasami, three Elders, presided over the gathering, which had 2400 monks in attendance.
- Five months were spent in the council.
- The complete recitation was preserved on 729 marble slabs. Each slab was kept in one of the lovely little pitaka pagodas.
- It is situated on the grounds of King Mindon’s Kuthodaw Pagoda, which sits at the base of Mandalay Hill. 83 years after the fifth Council was held in Mandalay,
The sixth one
- It was called at Kaba Aye in Yangon (formerly Rangoon).
- It was supported by the Burmese government, which was headed at the time by the Honorable U Nu as Prime Minister.
- He gave the go-ahead for the construction of the artificial cave known as the Maha Passana Guha, also known as the “big cave,” which is eerily similar to India’s Sattapanni Cave, the site of the first Buddhist Council. The Council convened on May 17, 1954, once it was finished.
- Its primary goal, like with the previous councils, was to affirm and uphold the true Dhamma and Vinaya.
However, it was distinctive in that the monks who participated were from eight different nations.
The Tripiaka and its related literature in all the scripts were painstakingly inspected, their variations were noted down, the required changes were made, and all the versions were then compiled. The traditional recitation of the Buddhist Scriptures took two years.
The Tripitakas and Tipitaka, both written in the Pali language, are considered to be the most significant origins of Buddhism. As follows:
Vinaya Sutta Sutta Sutta Abhidhamma Pitaka Dhammapada: a section of the Sutta Pitaka’s Khuddaka Nikaya. It includes a selection of Buddha’s sayings in poem format.
Questions from Milinda Panha: Literal meaning in Pali. Around 100 BC is when it was written. It includes a conversation between the sage Nagasena and the Indo-Greek King Menander I, also known as Milinda of Bactria, in which Milinda queries the sage about Buddhism.
Ashvaghosha wrote the epic poem Buddhacharita in Sanskrit at the beginning of the second century AD. The subject is the Buddha’s life.
Causes of Buddhism’s Globalization
- Buddhist Councils – Buddhism’s Expansion
- Buddha’s alluring character.
- As opposed to Sanskrit, he taught in Pali, which was more widely understood.
- He didn’t discriminate based on caste when he accepted people into the Sangha.
- The first Sanghas were orderly, democratic organisations.
- The monks travelled to various locations to spread the Buddha’s teachings.
- It was given royal support by Bimbisara, Ajatasatru, Ashoka, Kanishka, and Harshavardhana, among others.
- Reasons for India’s declining Buddhist population
- Divided into Mahayana and Hinayana, the faith became weaker.
- Corruption existed among the later monks. They stopped being frugal and started enjoying luxury. The moral climate deteriorated.
- After the Gupta dynasty ended around 650 AD, royal support for Buddhism dwindled.
- In particular, the writings of Kumarila Bhatt and Adi Shankara contributed to the rise in popularity of orthodox Hinduism.
- The Hun invasions and later the Islamic armies’ incursions severely reduced Buddhism’s sway in the subcontinent.