Questions : TheravAda and SaravAstivAda

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon May 24 06:23:28 UTC 1999

I've a few questions on TheravAda and SaravAstivAda Buddhism. Hope someone
can clear it for me :

TheravAda :

In Milindapanha, NAgasena refutes the Self, asserting it is only the common
character of a series of mental states, which is mistaken to be so.

1. So what's NirvAna according to him? Is it the lifeless materialistic
state of the underlying elements of existence? If so, did he subscribe to
the atomic theory?

2. What are his views on consciousness? Did he think that there's no
continuous consciousness and it's only the series of momentary mental
states? If this is so, then isn't this at variance with the doctrine of the
five skandhAs, which distinguishes between mind and consciousness?

SaravAstivAda :

VaibhAshika - According to VAsubandhu in the Abhidharmakosham, NirvAna is
just a lifeless material existence of the underlying elements of existence.
The elements I suppose are the atoms.

VAsubandhu follows NAgasena in his views of a Self and infact devotes a
whole chapter to refute the concept of a permenant Self.

But the VaibhAshikas also assert that consciousness is permanent. Here, does
permanence mean eternal? Or is it just permanent for the duration of life,
thus refuting NAgasena's theory as a series of mental states?

SautrAntika - This schools believes everything is momentary - the Self as
well as the elements of existence. They also refute the VaibhAshika view
that consciousness is permenant. So what's reality according to them?

I remember reading somewhere that they believed that only a subtle
consciousness remains at NirvAna. If so, 1. How could they then assert that
consciousness is not permanent? and 2. Are they the transitory phase between
the VaibhAshikas and the YogacAras?

Indebted for any clarifications.

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