[xxxv/36] In the Journal of the Pali Text Society of 1919, there appeared an article by Prof. Dr. M. Nagai on “The Vimutti-Magga, ‘The Way to Deliverance’ ”. Referring to it Mrs. C. A. F. Rhys Davids in a letter dated September 20, 1936 to the translators of the Gedatsu Dō Ron (Vimuttimagga) said, “Then as to the issuing of the book (referring to the Path of Freedom) in a volume of print: Were this society in easier circumstances enjoyed by it up to the Great War, when we were immensely helped by the princely donations of your wealthy men, I would undertake at once to publish the work with Prof. Nagai’s excellent article in our Journal, 1919, as preface, with anything he liked to add. Or, if you objected, I should ask you three to write your own preface, making such references to his article as you thought fit”.This article of Prof. Nagai took the Buddhist world by surprise; for, according to the Cūlavaṁsa chapter XXXVII, 236-39, when the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera had written the Visuddhimagga at the behest of the Mahāsangha, the devas had hidden it and he had to write it afresh. When this was done, it too was hidden by the devas. So, when he wrote it for the third time and presented it to the Mahāsangha, it is said, the devas produced the first two copies. It was then found that the three copies agreed in every detail. The record goes on to say ( [Cv] Ch. XXXVII, 241-43 ): ‘Then the bhikkhus read out all the three books together. Neither in composition and content, nor also as regards the sequence (of the subjects), in the teaching of the Theras, in the quotations, in words, and sentences was there any kind of deviation in all three books. Then the community satisfied and exceedingly well pleased, cried again and again: “without doubt, this is Metteyya!” and handed over to him the books of the three Piṭakas together with the commentary’ — Dr. Geiger’s translation. By this statement it was, perhaps, only intended to stress the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera’s great ability, which is amply borne out by this (i.e., the Visuddhimagga) and his later works. No other view seems to be warranted, or else it has to be conceded that the Mahāvihāra Theras knew very well that the Bodhisatta Metteyya could not have been born in this world at this time; — see, for instance, the earlier statement of the Mahāvaṁsa at [Mv] ch. XXXII, 73 : ‘Awaiting the time when he shall become a Buddha, the compassionate Bodhisatta Metteyya dwells in the Tusita-city’— Dr. Geiger’s translation. Further, that the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera and the Bodhisatta Metteyya are two different persons has been established by the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera himself in his Postscript to the Visuddhimagga (found only in the Sinhalese texts and translated by Ñāṇamoli Thera):

So may I in my last becoming
Behold the joys of Tāvatiṁsā,
And having in my last life seen
Metteyya, Lord of Sages, Highest
Of persons in the World, and Helper
Delighting in all beings’ welfare,
And heard that Holy One proclaim
The Teaching of the Noble Law,
May I grace the Victor’s Dispensation
By realizing its Highest Fruit’.

[xxxvi/37] And this, too, the Mahāvihāra Theras would have known. But in thus stressing his ability, the Cūḷavaṁsa account seems to make out that the visuddhi-magga was written without recourse to other works. There is a discrepancy in this account of the Cūḷavaṁsa. It will be noted that ‘the three Piṭakas together with Commentary’ were handed over to the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera by the Mahāsangha only after he had written the Visuddhimagga, which is correctly designated the General Commentary to the three Piṭakas. Now, if he had access to the three Piṭakas, and the Commentary only after he had written this General Commentary to the three Piṭakas, how did he do it? This is difficult to comprehend. Here is where the article of Prof. Dr. Nagai appears to fit in.Bearing No. 1293 in Prof. Nanjio’s Catalogue is a work in Chinese called Cié-to-tāo-lun (in Japanese rendered as Gedatsu Dō Ron). Prof. Nanjio has rendered the title of this work in Sanskrit as ‘Vimokṣa-Mārga’, the author being Arahant Upatissa. In trying to identify him with a Ceylon Thera, Prof. Nagai adduces the following reasons:1. It cannot be the Venerable Sāriputta Thera, who was also called Upatissa, because he is often quoted in the Venerable Upatissa Thera’s text.2. In the Samantapāsādikā (I, p. 263), it is said that there were two elders, named Upatissa Thera and Phussadeva Thera, pupils of the same teacher who was proficient in the Vinaya. Upatissa Thera was superior to the other; and he had two pupils named Mahāpaduma Thera and Mahāsumana Thera. The latter learned the Vinaya Piṭaka nine times from his teacher, while Mahāpaduma Thera learned it eighteen times and was, therefore, the superior. When the former left his teacher to live elsewhere Mahāpaduma Thera remained with his teacher saying that as long as one’s teacher was alive one should be with him and learn the Vinaya and the Commentaries many times more. The teacher, the Venerable Upatissa Thera, and his pupil the Venerable Mahāpaduma Thera, recited the Vinaya in this manner for many years more. During this period they expounded the Vinaya and on one occasion the Venerable Upatissa Thera, at the request of the Mahāsangha in assembly, pronounced a ruling on a question that arose regarding the first Pārājika.3. A teacher such as the Venerable Upatissa Thera was the most appropriate person to be the author of a work of such importance as the Vimuttimagga. Then he goes on to mention the account of the gift of King Vasabha’s queen to the Venerable Mahāpaduma Thera who accepted it as his teacher’s share.4. To show that the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera was aware of the existence of the Vimuttimagga, Prof. Nagai refers to the comments of the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera regarding the “fourteen cariya‘s” of the Vimuttimagga.It is quite probable that the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera had the Vimuttimagga in mind when he made this comment; for there is the definite statement of the Venerable Dhammapāla Thera in his commentary to the Visuddhimagga (Paramatthamañjūsā, Venerable Morontuḍuvē Dhammānanda Nāyake Thera’s Sinhalese ed. p. 103) which says: Ekacce ti Upatissattheraṁ sandhāyāha. Tena hi Vimuttimagge tathā vuttaṁ,—“‘Some’ is said with reference to the Venerable Upatissa Thera. It is said thus by him in the Vimuttimagga”. From the foregoing it is clear that the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera had the Vimuttimagga of Venerable Upatissa Thera before him when he wrote the Visuddhimagga.*[xxxvii/38]* In his Pali Literature of Ceylon, Dr. G. P. Malalasekera has this to say on the subject:(a) “The Vimutti-magga is an Abhidhamma exegesis, serving as a compendium for that portion of Buddhist literature … , and in some points the Chinese work seems to have been influenced by the Mahāyāna doctrine” (p. 86).(b) He says, further, that if it is granted that the Vimuttimagga was taken to China by some of the schools of approximately the same tradition, “it would not be difficult to conclude that the Visuddhi-magga and Vimutti-magga are more or less independent works, written by men belonging to much the same school of thought — the Thera-vāda” (pp. 87-88).Regarding the statement (a) above, it will be seen that very little Abhidhamma is found in the Vimuttimagga, though of course, it begins by saying that he who wishes to “lead those on the other shore to perfection, should be versed in the Sutta, Abhidhamma and Vinaya”. Here, the late Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera’s opinion on the subject will be of interest: “However the Vimuttimagga itself contains nothing at all of the Mahayana, its unorthodoxies being well within the ‘Hinayana’ field”. Again he says: “Also Abhidhamma, which is the keystone of Bhadantācariya Buddhaghosa’s exegesis, is not used at all in the Vimuttimagga (Aggregates, Truths, etc., do not in themselves constitute Abhidhamma in the sense of that Pitaka). There is, for instance, even in its description of the Consciousness Aggregate, no reference to the Dhammasaṅgaṇī’s classification of 89 types, and nothing from the Paṭṭhāna; and though the ‘Cognitive Series’ is stated once in its full form (in Ch. II) no use is made of it to explain conscious workings. This Vimuttimagga is in fact a book of practical instruction, not of exegesis” (Path of Purification Introduction pp. xxvii-xxviii). The statement of the Venerable Dhammapāla Thera in the Paramatthamañjūsā quoted earlier seems to disallow (b) above.The Venerable Buddhadatta Mahā Nāyaka Thera in the Pali Text Society’s edition of the Saddhammappajotikā refers to Prof. Nagai’s view that the author of the Vimuttimagga was the Venerable Upatissa Thera who flourished during King Vasabha’s reign, 66-109 A. C. He says, “However, there is no such great difference as cannot be bridged between his supposition and mine” (Introduction p. VIII).

Regarding the view that the Vimuttimagga was a work written at the Abhayagiri Monastery, the late Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera rightly says, “That it (the Vimuttimagga) contains some minor points accepted by the Abhayagiri Monastery does not necessarily imply that it had any special connection with that centre. The sources may have been common to both. The disputed points are not schismatical. Bhadantācariya Buddhaghosa himself never mentions it” (Introduction, XXVIII).Prof. Dr. P. V. Bapat in the Introduction ( [VimMagandVisMag] , p. liv ) to his careful work “Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga, A Comparative Study” (1937), has examined a great deal of material. In support of his theory that the Vimuttimagga originated in India, he puts forward, among others, the following reasons ( [VimMagandVisMag] , p. liv ): (a) “It is very likely that Vimuttimagga was one of the books brought over from India. From the internal evidence of the book we may say that there is no reference to any name [6] or place in Ceylon”. If the view of [xxxviii/39] the late Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera, that the “Vimuttimagga is in fact a book of practical instruction, not of exegesis” — which is also the view of the late Venerable Soma Thera and myself — is accepted, and if it is recognized that the whole style of the Vimuttimagga makes for brevity — it is even abrupt sometimes —, then it will be seen that the exclusion of any ‘name or place in Ceylon’ is not surprising.(b) “We find in this book many words which are transliterations of Indian words. The list of worms residing in different parts of the body gives names which are transliterations of Indian names. These names must have been taken by Upatissa from some old work or works on medical science” (p. liv). This is as it should be, seeing that the Dhamma is of Indian origin, and when medicine or anything related to medical science is mentioned it is natural for Ceylon writers to use Indian terms: for what medical knowledge Ceylon possessed at the time was of Indian origin. The standard Ayurvedic medical works in use even now are Suśruta and Vāgbhata. Caraka is not unknown. [7] The first two works have been in use in Ceylon through the ages. But if the list of worms is not derived from the first two works or one of them, then the Vimuttimagga most probably bases itself here on some other medical work of Indian origin known in Ceylon at the time.Regarding the statement, “We find Upatissa going into the details of the development of the foetus week by week” (p. lvi), it will be seen from note 3 that here the Vimuttimagga follows the Sutta and its commentary.(c) “Besides, the reference to a Caṇḍāla, which we have already noticed, also points to the origin of the book in India, [8] particularly, in South or Dravidian India where there is a very strong prejudice against Caṇḍālas” ( [VimMagandVisMag] , p. liv ). References to Caṇḍālas are found elsewhere, in the texts and commentaries. For instance, as pointed out by Prof. Bapat himself ( [VimMagandVisMag] , p. xlvi ), at [A] I, 107 and [A] III, 214 , caṇḍāla is mentioned. Here it should be borne in mind that in the society of the time, and also later, the caṇḍāla was a person looked down upon. To illustrate certain points in a way that the large mass of the people would understand, appropriate similes were used by the Buddha and his Disciples, and the commentators who came after them. It does not mean that they thereby endorsed some of the statements made in their similes. For instance, when the Buddha, in the Satipaṭṭhāna Suttas, says, “Just as if a clever butcher or butcher’s apprentice, having slaughtered a cow and divided it into portions were sitting at the main cross-road,” and so on, it does not follow that the Buddha upheld the butchers’ profession. If the word caṇḍāla was used in a simile, the motive behind it was nothing else than to facilitate the understanding of the point under discussion. The upholding of the caste system does not come in here. On the contrary, the Buddha and his disciples were opposed to it as we see in the use of the word caṇḍāla in a different context referring to an upāsaka (i.e., one who has gone to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha for refuge) but who does not observe the silas etc. — he being called upāsakacaṇḍāla ( [A] III, 206 ). The Vasala Sutta ( [Sn] 116-42 ) may also be mentioned here. Further, these sentences occur in the Vimuttimagga itself, thus: “Virtue is called excellent joy, the highest of all castes … This is to [xxxix/40] wear the thread which must be worn. This is the sacred caste” (p. 8).What has largely prompted Prof. Bapat to protest seems to be the statement found in Chapter m dealing with the Austerities, and his objection runs thus: “Let us note one peculiar fact about Upatissa. He seems to have some kind of contempt for, or low opinion of, a Caṇḍāla” (p. xlvi). Then on the same page he goes on to say the following, which are possibly the reasons for the statement mentioned above.(1) “In one place, there is a reference to a Caṇḍāla where we are told in a simile that he has no desire for a princely throne” (p. xlvi). The relevant passage is, “As an outcast has no desire for a king’s throne” (p. 25 of the present translation). The same idea is found in the Visuddhimagga too, namely, “Nirāso saddhamme caṇḍālakumārako viya rajje” (p. 54) — “He is desireless for the Good Law as a caṇḍāla (outcast) is for a kingdom”. It is therefore not a statement peculiar to the Venerable Upatissa Thera.(2) With regard to the next objection: “At another place, to see a Caṇḍāla on the way is considered to be a sufficient reason for the laxity in the observance of the practice of sapadāna-cārikā (going from house to house in succession for begging one’s food)” (p. xlvi). This is not quite what the text says, as will be seen later. There is no question of laxity. Then the next sentence continues, “Upatissa says that if a mendicant sees a Caṇḍāla on the way, he should cover his begging-bowl and may skip over some houses and go further. In the third place we find a lack of conscientiousness (ahirika) is compared to a Caṇḍāla” (pp. xlvi-xlvii). Further, at p. 23, “Even if he has taken up the practice of a sapadānacārika, he should avoid elephants or horses that may be coming in his way. Seeing a Caṇḍāla, he should cover his begging- bowl. ‘Following one’s ācariya or upajjhāya’ is also mentioned as an occasion for exception”. Here is the relevant passage from the present translation (p. 36): “What is the teaching as regards expedience in the observance of ‘regular almsround’? If a bhikkhu on seeing elephants or horses fighting or in rut, at the gate, avoids them, or on seeing an outcast (caṇḍāla, transliteration) covers his bowl, or goes behind his preceptor, teacher or a visiting bhikkhu, and thus commits certain faults for expedience’ sake, he does not fail in ‘regular almsround’ ”.Now let us consider why the expedience in regard to elephants and horses may be resorted to. It is plain that it is to avoid being hurt or even killed. Regarding the preceptor or teacher — it is out of respect due to them. It is an offence not to do so. Again, covering the bowl on seeing a caṇḍāla is for self-protection. The society at that time was very much caste-conscious. If the people objected to, or did not favour, the receiving of alms from one they considered an outcast, the support from the large majority of the people would be liable to be withdrawn and the life of the bhikkhu rendered difficult, to say the least. Here the story of the son and heir of the King Duṭṭhagāmaṇi comes readily to mind. It is said that the people were prosperous and happy during his reign and that he had a son named Sālirājakumāra, concerning whom the following is recorded.“Greatly gifted was he and ever took delight in works of merit; he tenderly loved a caṇḍāla woman of exceedingly great beauty. Since he was greatly enamoured of the Asokamālādevi, who already in a former birth had been his consort, because of her loveliness, he cared nothing for kingly rule” ( [Mv] Ch. XXXILL, 2-4 ). Therefore King Duṭṭhagāmaṇi, after his death, was succeeded by his brother, Saddhātissa, who reigned for eighteen years.*[xl/41]* “He cared nothing for kingly rule”, — So rajjaṁ neva kāmayi. Surely there is something similar in this statement and the simile which is common to both the Vimuttimagga and the Visuddhimagga, namely, Nirāso saddhamme caṇḍālakumārako viya rajje; — Vimuttimagga p. 25: He has no desire for the Noble (Law), as an outcast has no desire for a king’s throne”; Visuddhimagga p. 54: “He is desireless for the Good Law as an outcast (caṇḍāla) is for a kingdom”! Have not both the Vimuttimagga and the Visuddhimagga been making some sort of allusion to this event, which would, no doubt, have shocked the whole land? Might it not seem that here was an actual story well-known in the land and even recent history as far as the Venerable Upatissa Thera of King Vasabha’s reign was concerned (King Duṭṭhagāmaṇi reigned from 161-137 B.C. and King Vasabha from 66-110 A.C.)? If our author is in fact this Upatissa Thera, this story will provide him with the most appropriate material for a simile to illustrate the regardlessness of an unvirtuous man for the Good Law. How appropriate the background provided by the prince’s story is for purposes of the simile, which was perhaps even inspired by it, can be seen from the present translation.That the author of the Vimuttimagga, whoever it was, knew such passages as

1. Mā jātiṁ puccha caraṇañ ca puccha.
Kaṭṭhā have jāyati jātavedo;
nīcākulīno pi munī dhitīmā
ājāniyo hoti hirīnisedho — [Sn] 462
Judge not by birth but life.
As any chips feed fire
Mean birth may breed a sage
Noble and staunch and true∗ [9]
2. Na jaccā ‘vasalo’ hoti; — na jaccā hoti brāhmaṇo;
kammanā ‘vasalo’ hoti kammanā hoti brāhmaṇo — [Sn] 136
No birth a wastrel — or a Brahmin — makes;
‘tis conduct wastrels makes — and Brahmins too∗

is beyond doubt. And it is inconceivable that he had a prejudice which he put down in writing knowing full well that it was entirely against the Teaching of the Buddha.As for the statement that the Vimuttimagga “reveals no special mastery of the Vinaya which is claimed by Prof. Nagai for that Upatissa who lived in the first century A.D. in Ceylon” (p. lvi), the Vimuttimagga is hardly the place to display such special knowledge.Finally, to this following statement: “My discovery of the Tibetan version of the third chapter on ‘dhutas’ is also important… This Tibetan text provides an additional evidence to show the Indian origin of the book. It does not appear to be probable that a text from Ceylon was taken over to India and there it was studied in Buddhist schools and that it assumed such importance as to be translated, in part at east, in Tibetan” (pp. liv-lv). An article which the late Lama Geshe La Gedum Chomphell originally contributed [xli/42] to The Buddhist, the journal of the Y.M.B.A., Colombo, and which was reprinted in the Buddha Jayanti of July 22, 1956, begins — ‘The horse of Buddhism is dead in India; only the tops of the horse’s ears are still visible in the east and the west of the land’. This saying which had gained currency in Tibet once, perhaps originated with the monk Vanaratana, known, in Tibetan history, as the last great Indian Mahāpaṇḍita who came to live and teach in Tibet. A native of Bengal, he was ordained young, as a sāmaṇera, in a monastery of one thousand monks. He received full ordination in Ceylon, with two well-known Theras, the Venerable Buddhaghosa and the Venerable Dhammakitti as preceptor and teacher respectively. He studied the Vinaya Prabhā (Splendour of the Discipline), a Sarvāstivāda work. Then he returned to his native country and, after studying the Kālacakra, went to Tibet by way of Assam. The Lama says: “During the journey he is believed to have remembered his Sinhalese preceptor, and inscribed on a wayside rock these words: ‘I salute Buddhaghosa the teacher of thousands of beings’ ”. And he says further that in the middle of the seventeenth century the lama king of Bhutan, when at war with the Central Tibet government, had seen and mentioned it in one of his writings. On reaching Tibet his interpreter died, and so after a short stay there he returned to Bengal. “Vanaratana’s second visit to Ceylon lasted six years; during that time he studied all branches of Buddhism”, says the lama. The Venerable Vanaratana in his account of a pilgrimage he made to Śrī Padā in Ceylon states that he received two bone relics there. Then again the lama goes on to say, “With the relics and some books he had collected, Vanaratana returned to his country and not long afterwards reentered Tibet. This time he was able to speak Tibetan well; he made many lamas his disciples through his preaching. The chief of Vanaratana’s disciples was Rong-Thong-Pa, the founder of a new sect; to him Vanaratana gave one of the relics he had got in Ceylon. Rong-Thong-Pa built near Lhasa a monastery called Nālandā”. The Venerable Vanaratana died fifteen years after he re-entered Tibet “at a monastery in Singpori in Tsang province; his tomb can still be seen in that monastery … The full admission of Vanaratana to the Sangha by Ceylon theras, and the long stay here, point to the existence of cordial relations between the Indian and Ceylon Sangha of his time. Tibetan books show that Ratnākara Gupta of Vikramaṡīla stayed in Ceylon for seven years on his way to Dhanyakaṭaka; and Atīṡa (Dīpaṁkara Śrī Jñāna), who became abbot of Vikramaṡīla, was here in the eleventh century”. Further, I myself remember the late lama, when he was preparing this article, mentioning to the Venerable Soma Thera that he had seen in a monastery in Tibet a Sinhalese manuscript which, he said, probably dated back to the Venerable Vanaratana Thera’s time. [10] In view of the above we are entitled to say that, while it is not proved that the Vimuttimagga was written in Ceylon, it has been shown that the very reasons put forward to support the view that it must have been written in India, support equally well the view that it may well have been written in Ceylon. To this can be added the idea that the simile of the outcast having no desire for a king’s throne, possibly drew inspiration from the story of Sālirājakumāra, which must certainly have been current at the time, though [xlii/43] the account of it in the Mahāvaṁsa came to be written later. Yet the Mahāvaṁsa, according to Dr. Geiger (Introduction, Mv. translation p. IX), was ‘‘based upon older material”, the “Aṭṭhakathā-Mahāvaṁsa”, as he calls it, and “existed as did the Aṭṭhakathā generally, in different monasteries of the Island, in various recensions which diverged only slightly from one another” (p. X). He further says, “The chronicle must originally have come down only to the arrival of Mahinda in Ceylon. But it was continued later, and indeed to all appearance, down to the reign of Mahāsena (beginning of the fourth century A.D.)”.

Tipiṭaka Sanghapāla Thera of Funan

Below is given the Life of Tipiṭaka Sanghapāla Thera of Funan, being a translation from Kosoden, Biographies of Famous Clerics, in Vol. 50, No. 2059, Taisho edition of the Chinese Tripiṭaka:

In the early years of the Ryo dynasty there was Sanghapāla; he was a foreign scholar. His bearing was noble and he was handsome of feature. He was a skilful debater. Coming to the capital he stayed at Shōkwanji (Mahāvidarṣanārāma). The Emperor Bū honoured and respected him, and treated him with great consideration. He was requested by the emperor to translate Buddhist scriptures in Jūkoden (Āyus-prabhā vihāra) and Sen-un-kwan (… megha-vihāra). He translated the Mahā Aṡoka Sūtra, Vimokṣa- Mārga-ṡāstra, and others. Hōsho, En-don-u and others assisted (lit. wrote).

This occurs under the Biography of Guṇavrddhi of Mid-India who built Shōkwanji and died in Shōkwanji in the second year of Chūko (p. 345).

The following is from Zokukosoden, Further Biographies of Famous Clerics, number 2060, volume 50 of the Taisho edition of the Chinese Tripiṭaka. Here the life of Sanghapāla is given first. Sanghapāla: In the language of Ryo his name may be translated thus: : Order; and : Nurse. Or : Order; and Gui: Protector. He was a Funan-man. From his youth, he was very clever. Having mastered the Law, he became a monk. He was expert in the knowledge of the Abhidharma, and was famous in the lands of the Southern Sea. After completing (possibly the study of the Abhidhamma), he studied the Vinayapiṭaka. He was zealous in the propagation of the Vanquisher’s Faith, and hearing that the time was propitious for the spreading of the Truth in the country of Sai (Canton), he took ship and came to the capital. He stayed in Shōkwanji and became a disciple of Guṇabhadra, a ṡramaṇa of India and studied Vaipulya under him. Sanghapāla’s knowledge was wide and deep and he was conversant with the languages and books of several countries … Pāla was clean of body and of mind and was reluctant to engage in conversation. In the seclusion of his room he stayed and worked, taking very simple fare.

In the 5th year of Tenkwan, he was offered by the emperor these five places of residence: Jukoden, Karinenden (Flower-forest-garden), Shōkwanji Senunkwan and Funānkwan of the Capital Yoto (Sun City). He translated for seventeen years. His translations amounted to eleven cases of forty-eight fascicles. They are the great Aṡoka sūtra, the Vimokṣa-Mārga-ṡāstra and others. When the translations began the Emperor Bū himself came to Jukoden, attended the exposition of the Law by Sanghapāla and himself wrote (down the translations). After that he handed them over to the writer who was to make the printing blocks, The emperor commanded the ṡramaṇa Hōsho, the [xliii/44] ṡramaṇa Echo and the ṡramaṇa Sochi to assist Sanghapāla. His translations were in elegant Chinese and faithful to the original. The emperor treated him most cordially and respectfully and made him the court chaplain. It is said that he altered many customs of the people. Pāla did not hoard treasure. With offerings that were made to him Pāla built the Ryujūji (Ārabdha-vīryārāma). The minister Rinsenoko was deeply attached to him. In the fifth year of Futsu, he died at Shōkwanji. He was sixty five years old.

About the beginning of the Ryo dynasty another ṡramaṇa of Funan named Maṇḍāra came to China. He brought many Sanskrit texts and presented them to the emperor. The emperor ordered him to translate them together with Pāla. They translated Hō-ung-hō-kai-taisho-monju-hañña-kyo: Ratna-megha-dharma-dhātu-kāya-svabhāva-mañjuṡrī-prajñā-sūtra. Though he translated, he could not understand Chinese well. So in his translations there are many vague renderings (p. 426, fascicle 1).

The Visuddhimagga

Much has been written about the Visuddhimagga from the earliest times right down to the present day. King Parākrama-Bāhu II (1236-68 A.C.) is reported to have written the paraphrase to the Visuddhimagga after he had handed over the kingdom to his son Bodhisatta Vijaya-Bāhu (1271-72 A.C.). During the last century Pandit M. Dharmaratna revised this work. Of him and his work on the Visuddhimagga, the Venerable Soma Thera wrote in the Buddha Jayanti of April 5, 1955 thus: “Had he not written any of the works mentioned above and not edited the paper, still people of this country would have been obliged to remember him for his great gift of the translation of the Visuddhimagga, with his edition of the Visuddhi Text, and the revised version of the ancient paraphrase of the Visuddhi by Parākrama-Bāhu II, a comprehensive work which is of never-failing interest and great usefulness to all students of the Dhamma and the Sinhalese language”. Then again there is the late Venerable Paṇḍita Mātara Śrī Dharmavaṁsa Mahā Stavira’s more recent translation which was completed by his pupil the Venerable Paṇḍita Baṭuviṭa Nandārāma Māha Thera in 1957. There is also the English translation of the Pali Text Society by Prof. Pe Maung Tin of Rangoon, completed in 1931, and that of the late Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera of the Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa in 1956. The German translation is by the late Venerable Nyāṇatiloka Mahā Thera, founder of the Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa, the publishers being Verlag Christiani, Konstanz, 1952.

The Visuddhimagga is a household word in all Theravāda lands. No scholar of Buddhism whether of Theravāda or of Mahāyāna is unacquainted with it. Therefore there is no need of repeating what has already been said at one time or another. But an introduction to the Vimuttimagga, can hardly avoid all mention of the Visuddhimagga, and I may be excused if I go over ground already covered by others. An endeavour, however, is made to present some of these facts, briefly and with a slightly new approach. It is for the reader to assess how far this has been achieved.

In the introduction to his translation of the Visuddhimagga, The Path of Purification, the late Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera, after carefully sifting a large collection of material, points out that the influence of Sanskrit Buddhism, the centre of which was the Abhayagiri monastery in Anuradhapura, was so great in the first century A.C. that it became a threat to the Mahāvihāra’s [xliv/45] position as the central authority of orthodox Pali Buddhism in Ceylon. Indeed that threat grew into open rivalry and even enmity between these two institutions, culminating in King Mahāsena’s (277-304) giving protection to Sanghamitta, “a Cola monk, follower of Vetullavāda”, and driving away the monks of the Mahāvihāra from Anuradhapura for nine years. Then, Mahāsena, repenting of his deeds, restored the Mahāvihāra to its former position and burnt the Vetulyan books. But by then Sanghamitta had got the Lohapāsāda destroyed, and he and his friend, the minister Soṇa, were killed by a labourer on the orders of the queen when they attempted to destroy the Thūpārāma. The efforts of the Mahāvihāra monks since the beginning of the dispute with those of the Abhayagiri in the first century A.C. were solely directed to the establishment, says the Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera, of “Pali as the language for the study and discussion of Buddhist teachings, and the founding of a school of Pali literary composition” (Intro, p. xiv). He then goes on to say, “It is not known what was the first original Pali composition in this period; but the Dīpavaṁsa (dealing with historical evidence) belongs here (for it ends with Mahāsena’s reign and is quoted in the Samantapāsādikā), and quite possibly the Vimuttimagga (dealing with practice—see below) was another early attempt by the Great Monastery in this period (4th cent.) to reassert its supremacy through original Pali literary composition: there will have been others too. Of course, much of this is very conjectural” (Intro, p. xiv). It will be noted here that the Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera does not place the Vimuttimagga during the reign of King Vasabha, but in the 4th century. Still it does not contradict the fact that the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera had access to the Vimuttimagga of the Venerable Upatissa Thera when he wrote the Visuddhimagga.

If the suggestion that the Vimuttimagga “was another early attempt by the Great Monastery in this period to reassert its supremacy through Pali composition” is acceptable, it would then not be difficult to suppose that the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera, with what knowledge he had already acquired of the Dhamma in India—(for he had written the Ñāṇodaya, the Atthasālinī and had begun “to compose a commentary to the Paritta”, [Cv] Ch. XXXVII, 225-26 —), was able to write the Visuddhimagga, perhaps with the assistance of the Mahāvihāra Theras. This work is more comprehensive than the Vimuttimagga and in every sense more scholarly, with a wealth of material drawn from every imaginable source and interspersed with numerous Ceylon stories. Thus, not only did it provide instruction for those needing it in the practice of the Dhamma, but it was also capable of holding its own as a work of literary composition.

Two things seem to have played an important part in making available for later generations, even up to the present day, a work of such excellence as is the Visuddhimagga. They are: (1) The desperate need of the Mahāvihāra for a work which would prove its claim to be the centre of Buddhist learning in Ceylon; (2) the equally urgent need of the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera to prove his ability as a worthy scholar in the eyes of the Theras of the Mahāvihāra. Without this recognition he could not have obtained from them the commentaries and the expositions of the teachers (ācariyavāda) for translation into Pali as required by his teacher in India, the Venerable Revata Mahā Thera, and for which express purpose he came to Ceylon ( [Cv] Ch. XXXVII, 227-32 ). That this dual need was supplied to the complete satisfaction of both parties is amply borne out by the recorded history of the centuries that followed.

The Vimuttimagga and the Visuddhimagga

[xlv/46] On certain points the Vimuttimagga and the Visuddhimagga hold contrary views. For instance, the latter says that by developing the Buddhānussati (the recollection of the Buddha) the factors of meditation, jhāna, arise in a single moment; that as the qualities of the Buddha are unfathomable or else owing to reflection on his numerous qualities appanā (fixed meditation) is not attained, and only upacāra (access-concentration) is reached. The Vimuttimagga on the other hand says that “from the recollection of the Buddha the four meditations, jhānas arise”. This statement seems to agree with the sutta and its commentary quoted in note 3.

They agree that in practising Ānāpānasati (mindfulness of respiration) the breath should not be followed inside or outside because it distracts the mind. This causes the body and the mind to waver and tremble. The simile of the man sawing wood illustrating where the breath should be noted (i.e., at nose-tip or on the lip) is common to both works. The Visuddhimagga quotes other similes in illustration. It also quotes (TODO: p. 280) the Paṭisambhidāmagga ( [Pts] I, p. 165 ) which warns against the practice of trying to follow the inhaled breath to the heart (hadaya) and the navel (nābhi) and the outgoing breath back from the navel to the heart and nose-tip, for, both the mind and the body become ‘disquieted and perturbed and shaky’ if this practice is resorted to. The Visuddhimagga (TODO: p. 278) says that there are eight stages in the practice of Ānāpānasati, the first four of which are (1) counting, (2) connection, (3) touching, and (4) fixing. Here the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera does not quote authority for this statement as he usually does. The Vimuttimagga (VIII, sect. 4) supplies this omission by saying that ‘certain predecessors’ taught these four ways. Here both base themselves on authority outside the texts and the commentaries.

In discussing the earth kasiṇa, the Visuddhimagga (TODO: p. 123) says, ‘The four blemishes of the earth kasiṇa are due to the intrusion of blue, yellow, red, or white’. But it does not ‘give any reason. The Vimuttimagga (VIII) says, ‘By dwelling on white, black, or red, he practises colour kasiṇa’. It is seen here that by practising one subject of meditation another cannot be developed — for instance, when one practises Ānāpānasati one does not become proficient in, say, Buddhānussati, though this is sometimes imagined to be possible. If, for instance, one sees the form of the Buddha or a Buddha statue while developing any other meditation, then it is a clear case of failure in the practice of that particular meditation, though the seeing of these signs in itself is a good thing. The proper occasion for these signs to appear is when Buddhānussati is practised.

That the Vimuttimagga is an inspiring work is stated elsewhere. It is confirmed by the spontaneous testimony of those who have read the [xlvi/47] original draft translation. It has inspired men of ancient times. That is shown by the fact that the people of Ryo in the early years of the sixth century A.C. called the author of the Vimuttimagga ‘Great Light’.

What connection there is between these two works has been shown, though briefly, in the foregoing pages. No mere can be expected in an introduction. For a detailed study the reader may consult the thorough investigation made by Prof. Bapat in his “Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga, a comparative Study”, Poona 1937.