When did the gods become literate?

Ravindiran Vaitheespara vaithees at CHASS.UTORONTO.CA
Wed Nov 10 19:45:35 UTC 1999


On Wed, 10 Nov 1999, nanda chandran wrote:

> Lance Cousins writes :
> >It is completely anachronistic to refer to India and Ceylon/Sri Lanka as
> >separate entities at this time. Ceylon was as much, and as little,
> >different from, say, the Ganges valley as the Tamil country or >Andhra.
> In the first place Buddhism reached Lanka only after three hundred years
> after the death of the SAkhyamuni. Nor did it get it naturally, like the way
> the religion spread to other parts of India - Ashoka specifically sent his
> son to spread Buddhism in Lanka.
> And don't you think it is strange that Ashoka would send his son to Lanka
> for this specific purpose? Why did he not do the same with other parts of
> India which were not under his control? And his sending his son to Lanka was
> part of his effort to send missionaries to other countries - Greece, China,
> Persia - to spread the faith, which may imply that Ashoka considered Lanka
> as a foreign land like the others.
> Though Lanka is not very far off from India, in those days when marine
> capabilities were not so well developed, for all practical reasons it might
> indeed have been as foreign as Greece. (Though I wouldn't be too sure about
> this, for Tamils have a history of interaction with Lanka). But I doubt if
> it was like hopping on to a ferry to cross the river - so interaction
> between Lanka and India was not so easy or natural, like it would have been
> if connected by land.
> And it is my opinion that foreign lands never grasped Buddhism in its
> element - apart from the preservation of the scriptures, literature etc
> (which in truth doesn't amount to much), I know of none of the Buddhist
> lands (except Bhutan perhaps?), which took it seriously enough that its
> population turned vegetarian. For if you cannot even give up eating meat,
> how are you going to develop compassion and even more important how are you
> going to renounce your Self - anatta - which is so vital a part of Buddhism?
> Since Lankan bauddhas have not renounced meat, I cannot accept that they are
> true to the original tradition. While look at Ashoka in India who went great
> lengths to propagate vegetarianism thoughout his empire - that's the mark of
> a true bauddha.
> So we should be cautious when trying to read the development of Indian
> Buddhism based on Ceylon or Tibet.
> MahAyAna polemics does refer to three kinds of Bauddhas, which might map to
> TheravAda, Samskrutic HinayAna and MahAyAna : In the Saddharmapundarika,
> while trying to maintain the supremacy of MahAyAna over the other vehicles,
> bauddhas is split up into three as : 1. shravakas (TheravAdins), 2. Pratyeka
> bauddhas (SarvAstivAdins) and 3. Bodhisattvas (MahAyAnists). I request the
> specialists to confirm this.
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I always tell myslef that I wouldn't be provoked to write a response to
some of these tall pronouncements but here i go again. although i will be
extremely brief.

What is this about true buddhism? where did you learn your history? Or is
this an obsession with purity.
How many vegetarians are there who would not blink an eyelid at killing
people if not animals.
In your eyes it seems that lanka properly belongs to the land of the
mlechhas, beyond the pale of indic civilization. why dont you come out
and just say that instead of all this compassion bit and buddhism has to
be understood only properly in the indian element. Then why was it kicked
out of india...>

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