Early Buddhist Monachism

FREE Delivery
Delivery Ships in 1-3 days
Item Code: IDC870
Author: Sukumar Dutt
Language: English
Edition: 1996
ISBN: 8121501202
Pages: 182
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 5.8"
Weight 370 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description

About the Book

This treatise on the growth and early development of the Sangha (Buddhist Monastic Order) has often been referred to by scholars as the most complete and masterly treatment of the subject and, as such, invaluable to students of Buddhism.

It has besides a peculiar importance in relation to the history of Indian culture, As the author says, "Indian culture is composite and the Buddhist contribution to it during the two millennia contribution to it during the two Millennia and a half that Buddhism was a living religion in India is so much a part and parcel of it that no true view of Indian culture is possible by ignoring the Buddhist contribution". This contribution was made through the organization of Buddhist monkhood. The author has shown with a wealth of masterly scholarship how this organization was established and developed in India. His chapters on the Patimokkha and Vinaya regulation of the monk community, the growth of conoebium among them, their internal polity and communal life, written from a scientific and historical point of view, are interestingly presented and will hold the general reader. First submitted anonymously as a prize-thesis to the University of Calcutta, it won the Griffith Memorial Prize in 1919. The verdict of the University examiners has been confirmed by Buddhistic scholars the world over who hailed it on its first publication as a work of exceptional originality and of great value in the study of Buddhism and Buddhist history

About the Author

Dr. Sukumar Dutt was born in 1891 at Barisal (now in Bangladesh). He specialized during his academic career in English literature in which he held doctorate. But his interest in Buddhism and ancient Indian history had been roused early in life by his uncle the late Aswini Kumar Dutt, a famous nationalist leader of Bengal of the first three decades of this century. Dr. Dutt had over many years carried on studies in this line and was recognized as one of the most accomplished scholars of Buddhism in this country. He was a Senior Research Fellow of the University of Delhi. His published works are The Buddha and Five After-centuries, Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Their Contribution to India Culture; Buddhism in History and Culture; Buddhism in History and culture of East Asian People; Mahaparinirbaner Katha (in Bengali).

He was translating 'Bangalier Itihas' by Prof. Niharranjan ray when he died on April 9, 1970


A REVISED EDITION of this book was a long-felt need. Published originally in 1924 by Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench. Trubner and Company of London in Trubner's Oriental Series, the book went out of print in about a couple of years of its publication. For various reasons it was found to be impossible to bring out a fresh edition, though since its first publication, it has been cited and referred to continuously up to date in works dealing with Buddhism both in India and in Europe and America.

No study of Buddhism can indeed be complete without a proper understanding, which this book is intended to help, of the growth, development and organization of the Sangha, the Buddhist monastic Order. With the recent revival of interest in Buddhism, there has been a demand for the re-issue of this book and I am grateful to the Asia Publishing House of Bombay for its readiness to undertake it.

The present revised edition remains substantially the same as the original edition with only the addition or alteration of a few passages. The Pali citations in the footnotes as well as in the body of the book have been thoroughly revised and diacritical marks corrected. If I have failed to reach the scholar's standard of absolute accuracy in this respect, I can only crave the reader's indulgence. The most important addition is the Index which the original edition lacked. In this arduous task of preparing the In- dex, the efficient collaboration and assistance I have received from my daughter, Miss Krishna Dutt,M.SC., has not only been a great relief, but also a source of pride, pleasure and gratification to me. A few passages of this book have been incorporated in my latest work, The Buddha and Five After-Centuries (Luzac and Company, London, 1957) in the sections bearing on the Buddhist Sangha. I have thought it best to leave the "List of Books Consulted" as it stood in the original edition, although the multiplication of critical works on Buddhism and translations of original texts since its publication in 1924 must make it look somewhat anti- quated today. Also the difficulty mentioned in the Preface to the original edition about the availability of Pali books no longer exists. Happily the substance of the work, based on my own critical study of the Vinayapitaka in Oldenberg's monu- mental edition, has scarcely been affected by the progress of Pali and Buddhistic researches during the intervening decades. The book presents a picture in outline of the Buddhist Mon- astic Order in its growth and developmertt in India during the first three or four centuries of Buddhism. The need remains yet for a longer dynamic view and a more extended historical perspective,-for the Buddhist Sanghas, whose early evolution is the theme of this book, continued to function in this country, especially in the east and the south, for many more after-cen- turies. The great monastic universities in the east like Nalanda,- Vikramasila, Odantapura and Jagaddala represent the last fine efflorescence of Buddhist monachisrn and they were wiped out, only towards the close of the 12th century A.D. by the fanatic violence of the first Moslem invaders of Bengal and Bihar.

Indian culture is composite, and the Buddhist contribution to it during the two millennia and a half that Buddhism was a living religion in India is so much a part and parcel of it that no true view of Indian culture is possible by ignoring the Buddhist contribution. This contribution was made through the Buddhist monasteries and the monk organisations of which the history is practically unknown.


IT IS NOT yet time to dilate on the importance in ancient Indian history of the subject of the present work. The history of ancient India is still in the making; it is yet "in a temporary vagueness of outline, as of things half-seen and processes half- realized". Yet the assertion may be confidently made that, as the whole economy of ancient Indian life and culture is more intimately realized by us, the important place of Buddhist mon- asticism in it will appear with increasing clearness.

Its external relations, its influences on society, its contribu- tions to cultural history-these are yet theoretic and specula- tive. But Buddhist monasticism itself has been, like any other historic institution, the result of a gradual process, changing under the pressure of its 'sociological environments and its own inner principle of evolution. Buddhist monastic life in India, for example, as pictured to us in the records of the Chinese tra- vellers, is different from the monastic life that is reflected in the Vinayapitaka. In the Chinese accounts the monasteries have developed a new type; some of them are famous centres of learn- ing. It is in this latter part of their history that we actually feel their cultural importance and influence in ancient Indian life. Monasteries of this type were not just convents; their purpose was not introvert; they functioned as cultural centres, gathering into themselves the rich and varied intellectual life of the period. At Amaravati, Nalanda, Odantapura, Vikramasila and Jagad- dala there were monastic universities, each with a full comple- ment of libraries, schools of studies, lecture-halls, professors and students flocking from all parts of Asia, far and near. They impart a peculiar interest to the final chapter of the story of Buddhism in India.

No student of the culture-history of this country can fail to be struck with one feature which stands out in it, viz., the continual interpenetration of Brahmanical and Buddhistic ele- ments. There is reason to think that these famous Buddhist universities were the channels for the commingling of different elements in the intellectual and spiritual life of ancient India. Further development of these universities, however, seems to have been arrested mainly by the havoc wrought by Muham- madan invasions. These invasions were marked by acts of cruel fanaticism. The storming of Bihar and the wholesale massacre of Buddhist monks at the place round A.D. 1197 by Kutubud- din's general, Muhammad, which one of the survivors of the attacking party related so graphically to the historian Minhaz, I was probably a typical act of brute fanaticism. It seems, at any rate, that Buddhist monasticism, after the destructive violence of Muhammadan invasion, disappeared below the surface of Indian life, but though "passing through untold varieties of being", it seems never to have lost the secret of its vitality in the land of its birth. Recent researches have brought to light the existence of living Buddhism in Bengal and Orissa even at the present day." Whether Buddhist monachism, as distinct from Buddhist religion itself, has amongst us a similar history of sur- vival in disguise, is another question, though by no means all impossible one. For a Buddhist Order was founded in Orissa within living memory by Bhlma-Bhoi Araksitadasa, and some of the regulations of this Order, preserved in little-known Ori- yan manuscripts, seem to echo, however faintly and distantly, the ancient monastic laws of the Vinayapitaka. It is one of a few rare indications to show that the old monastic life never completely passed out of man's memory in the eastern regions of India. The insular position of Ceylon has served to safeguard the old type of monastic life there, where Buddhism was introduced in the 3rd century B.C. Being cut off from all the multiple cur- rents and cross-currents of thought and influence that largely transformed Buddhism in India itself, Ceylon has been able to preserve to a great extent its primitive pre-Mahayana character. But Ceylonese monastic life has an independent history of its own which is recorded in the Ceylonese chro- nicles, the Mahavamsa and the Dipavamsa. Yet, though the an- cient type remains fixed in Ceylon, its present system cannot, of course, be regarded as a replica of the Sangha life and organiza- tion that developed in northern India two thousand years ago. Account must be taken of the changing process of time. The nimble Time-spirit makes in all human institutions slow and imperceptible variations, and Matthew Arnold's picture of the unchanging East in the oft-quoted stanza of Obermann Once More has faded away before the "gladsome light" of modern research. It seems to me that Spence Hardy, writing in 1850, did not fully realize this point. He has too often identified Eastern Mona chism with the monachism of modern Ceylon. This indefatigable 'Wesleyan missionary, who landed in the "beautiful island" of Ceylon, as he affectionately calls it, in 1825, had gathered a vast and miscellaneous knowledge of Buddhism from Singhalese manuscripts; he had learnt from personal observation the habits and practices of modern Ceylonese monks; he had observed many remarkable parallelisms between them and mediaeval monastic institutions of Europe, and when he published his work on Eastern Monachism in 1850, it was with all the justifiable en- thusiasm of a new discovery. But Spence Hardy's information was derived from books current among Ceylonese monks which included promiscuously many ancient Pali books in Singhalese versions, as well as many Buddhist manuals in Elu, an ancient Ceylonese dialect and of evident Ceylonese origin, and many works in Singhalese of the same origin, of a comparatively modern date. These books were supplemented by stories and legends related to him by the monks. He treated all the works as being of the same value, and never attempted to discriminate between the fundamental ancient rules of the Vinayapitaka and the later accretions added to them in Ceylon. In each chapter of his work this shortcoming will be observed. The Rules of Novitiate, for ex- ample, which he quotes from the manual of Dina-Cariyawa, are not of the Vinayapitaka and are of no historical antiquity. Spence Hardy's Eastern Monachism does not, in fact, reflect at all the monastic life that prevailed in Northern India two thousand years ago.


I.The Laws of the Vinayapitaka and Their Interpretation11
II.The Primitive Parivarajakas: A Theory of Their Origin30
III.The Sangha and the Patimokkha: Development of the Latter61
IV.The Patimokkha as a Ritual81
V.The Growth of the Buddhist Coenobium90
VI.The Internal Polity of a Buddhist Sangha113
VII.Communal Life at an Avasa146
List of Books Consulted165

Sample Pages

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. What locations do you deliver to ?
    A. Exotic India delivers orders to all countries having diplomatic relations with India.
  • Q. Do you offer free shipping ?
    A. Exotic India offers free shipping on all orders of value of $30 USD or more.
  • Q. Can I return the book?
    A. All returns must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the delivery date. All returned items must be in new and unused condition, with all original tags and labels attached. To know more please view our return policy
  • Q. Do you offer express shipping ?
    A. Yes, we do have a chargeable express shipping facility available. You can select express shipping while checking out on the website.
  • Q. I accidentally entered wrong delivery address, can I change the address ?
    A. Delivery addresses can only be changed only incase the order has not been shipped yet. Incase of an address change, you can reach us at help@exoticindia.com
  • Q. How do I track my order ?
    A. You can track your orders simply entering your order number through here or through your past orders if you are signed in on the website.
  • Q. How can I cancel an order ?
    A. An order can only be cancelled if it has not been shipped. To cancel an order, kindly reach out to us through help@exoticindia.com.
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Book Categories