The work "Uposatha Ceremony": The earliest traditions and later developments (mainly from Vinayic traditions preserved in Chinese) is an in-depth study of the fortnightly Uposotha (Sket Posadha) cer-emony observed by the Buddhist monks and muns of different sects as depicted in the various Vinaya versions preserved in Chinese, Sanskrit, Pali and Tibetan. The Uposatha observance occupies a very important part in the monastic life of the Buddhist monks and muns. The numerous items have been minutely analyzed to determine the earliest traditions and later developments with the help of a syste-matic methodology which has been discussed in the Introduction. An attempt has also been made to throw some light on the interrelation of the different Vinaya versions, which in turn throws light on the interrelation between the different schools.
Dr. Jayeeta Gangopadhyay is a Lecturer in Chinese in the Department of Chinese Language & Culture of Visva-Bharati University. She completed her M.A. in Chinese Language & Culture from Visva-Bharati in 1982, Diploma in Japanese also from Visva-Bharati in 1983 and the present work "Uposatha Ceremony: The Earliest Traditions and later developments" was submitted as Ph.D. thesis to Visva-Bharat' University for which she was awarded Ph.D. degree in 1989.
She is at present engaged in the study of the Buddhist Vinaya particularly from Chinese sources and quite a few of her articles have appeared in research journals such as the Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok. She has also started working on a Post-Doctoral Research project entitled 'Transformations of the Buddhist Community in Modern China" in which connection she visited China in May-June 1990 to collect the necessary materials for the project.
The purpose of the present thesis is to make a comparative study of the Uposatha observance, its earlier traditions and later developments on the basis of the source materials preserved in the different Vinayas. Our source materials consist of the Posadhavastu and Posadhasthapanavastu which have been preserved in Chinese, Pali, Sanskrit and Tibetan. The source materials may be divided into four sections (A) Chinese sources (B) Pali sources (C) Sanskrit sources and (D) Tibetan sources.
(B) The Pali sources of the Posadhavastu (Uposathakandhaka)and Posadhasthapanavastu (Patimokkhatapanakhandaka) of the Theravada (Th) Vinaya preserved in Pali in the Mahavagga and Cullavagga.
(C ) The Sanskrit sources consist of the Posadhavastu and Posadhasthapanavastu of the Mulasarvastivada (MU) Vinaya preserved in Sanskrit in the Gilgit Manuscript edited by Nalinaksha Dutt.
(D) The Tibetan sources consist of the Posadhastu and Posadhathapanavastu of the Mu vinaya preserved in Tibetan in BKah-Hygur Hdul Ba (Kanjur) Vol. 41 (Sde-dge Edition) Khe and Ne.
Our main task in the present thesis is to throw light on the different aspects of the Uposatha observance such as its inception, growth and development, while analyzing each of the events with respect to the earliest tradition and later additions and alterations. Dr. B. Mukherjee in his study of the Devadutta legends has shown the following table manifesting the division of the different schools.
Regarding our study of the Posadhavastu and the Posadhasthapanavastu also, this evolution of the Vinaya literature has been supported (Vide Conclusion).
Having made a thorough survey of the source materials, the subject matter of the text has been divided into several chapters, each of the chapters dealing with one of the aspects of the Uposatha observance. The thesis has been divided into eight chapters viz. (1) The introduction of the Uposatha observance. (2) The recital of the Pratimoksa (abbreviated Pink). (3) The venue for the Uposatha. (4) The compulsory attendance of all the monks at the Uposatha observance. (5) Modes of the Uposatha observance and recital of the Pmk. (6) The mutual behaviour of the incoming and resident monks on the day of the Uposatha. (7) The suspension of the recital of the Pmk. and the forms of legal and illegal suspension. The main body of the thesis consists of the first seven chapters. Each of these chapters has been divided into two main sections: (i) Reconstruction of the Earliest Version and (ii) Later additions and alterations. With the help of the chapter wise study of the various aspects of the Uposatha observance undertaken in the first seven chapters, in Chapter VIII (Conclusion) we have attempted to discuss the interrelation between the different Vinayas, fix the earliest tradition for the sequence of events, and comment on the historicity of the traditions. An index of the Buddhist technical terms from Chinese-Sanskrit-Pali-Tibetan and a corresonding index from Pali has also been appended alongwith a bibliography enlisting the original source materials and secondary source materials for ready reference.
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