Sravakayana (Skt. śrāvakayāna; T. nyan thos kyi theg pa; C. shengwen sheng; J. shōmonjō; K. sŏngmun sŭng 聲聞乘) is translated as "vehicle of disciples" or "vehicle of listeners".
The śrāvakas are said to be motivated by a feeling of renunciation, the wish to escape from all the realms of samsara by themselves alone.
In the 4th century Mahāyāna abhidharma work Abhidharmasamuccaya, Asaṅga describes those who follow the Śrāvaka Vehicle (Skt. śrāvakayanika). These people are described as having weak faculties, following the Śrāvaka Dharma, utilizing the Śrāvaka Piṭaka, being set on their own liberation, and cultivating detachment in order to attain liberation. While those in the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle (Skt. pratyekabuddhayānika) are portrayed as also utilizing the Śrāvaka Piṭaka, they are said to have medium faculties, to follow the Pratyekabuddha Dharma, and to be set on their own personal enlightenment. Finally, those in the Mahāyāna (Skt. mahāyānika) are portrayed as utilizing the Bodhisattva Piṭaka, as having sharp faculties, following the Bodhisattva Dharma, and set on the perfection and liberation of all beings, and the attainment of complete enlightenment.
Sravakayana within the nine yanas
|The Nine Yanas|
|Sutrayana (Outer Yanas)|
|Three outer tantras|
|Three inner tantras|
Generally speaking, the Sanskrit word ‘shravaka’ has both the meaning of listening and of hearing, so [the Tibetan translation nyenthö literally means] ‘listener-hearer.’ Alternatively, the term can be understood to mean ‘listening and proclaiming,’ in the sense that the shravakas rely on masters and then proclaim to others all the words their teachers have spoken.
The initial entry point, the view, the meditation, the conduct and the results of the śrāvaka vehicle will now be explained below.
i. Entry Point
The śrāvakas are motivated by a feeling of renunciation, the wish to escape from all the realms of samsara by themselves alone. With this motivation, they receive one of the seven sets of pratimokṣa vows, those of a male or female lay practitioner, novice monk or nun, probationary nun, or fully ordained monk or nun, and having received these vows, they practise moral restraint, keeping their vows unimpaired, repairing any impairments that do occur, and so on.
As the basis of their path, they determine their view by focusing upon all phenomena included within the five aggregates and realizing that they are devoid of any personal self. They do not understand that all material and conscious phenomena are devoid of true reality, and, asserting a truly real partless particle in perceived objects and an indivisible moment of consciousness, they fail to realize the absence of phenomenal identity.
In terms of the path, they practise both śamatha and vipaśyanā meditation. They realize the state of śamatha by abandoning obstacles and cultivating factors conducive to samādhi, according to the nine stages of resting the mind and so on, and generate the wisdom of vipaśyanā by meditating on the sixteen aspects of the four truths.
They keep to the twelve ascetic practices that avoid the two extreme forms of lifestyle, over-indulgence in sense pleasures and excessive self-punishment.
They attain any one of eight levels of fruition, corresponding to the degree to which they have abandoned the kleshas of the three realms. There are eight levels because the four results of stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner and arhat are each divided into the two stages known as the emerging and the established.
- Boin-Webb, Sara (tr). Rahula, Walpola (tr). Asanga. Abhidharma Samuccaya: The Compendium of Higher Teaching. 2001. p. 199-200
- A Brief Presentation of the Nine Yanas by Alak Zenkar Rinpoche
- Shravaka yana
- Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. śrāvakayāna
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