Pre-sectarian Buddhism

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Pre-sectarian Buddhism,[1] also called early Buddhism,[2][3] the earliest Buddhism,[4][5] and original Buddhism,[6] is the Buddhism that existed before the various subsects of Buddhism came into being.[web 1]

Some of the contents and teachings of this pre-sectarian Buddhism may be deduced from the earliest Buddhist texts, which by themselves are already sectarian.[quote 1][quote 2][note 1]


Various terms are being used to refer to the earliest period of Buddhism:

Some Japanese scholars refer to the subsequent period of the early Buddhist schools as sectarian Buddhism.[2][3]


Pre-sectarian Buddhism may refer to the earliest Buddhism, the ideas and practices of Gautama Buddha himself. It may also refer to early Buddhism as existing until about one hundred years after the parinirvana of the Buddha[9] until the first documented split in the sangha.[9]

Contrary to the claim of doctrinal stability, early Buddhism was a dynamic movement.[10] Pre-sectarian Buddhism may have included or incorporated other Śramaṇic schools of thought,[11][note 3] as well as Vedic and Jain ideas and practices.[12][13][14][15]

The first documented split occurred, according to most scholars, between the second Buddhist council and the third Buddhist council.[16] The first post-schismatic groups are often stated to be the Sthavira nikāya and the Mahāsāṃghika.[note 4] Eventually, eighteen different schools came into existence.[17] The later Mahayana schools may have preserved ideas which were abandoned by the "orthodox" Theravada,[18] such as the Three Bodies doctrine, the idea of consciousness (vijñāna) as a continuum, and devotional elements such as the worship of saints.[8][19][note 5]

Earliest Buddhism and the Śramaṇa movement

Siddartha Gautama depicted in Greco-Buddhist style during his extreme fasting prior to be "Awakened", 2nd-3rd century, Gandhara (modern eastern Afghanistan), Lahore Museum, Pakistan

Pre-sectarian Buddhism was originally one of the śramaṇic movements.[20][21] The time of the Buddha was a time of disruption in Indian society, and saw the growth of the śramaṇas, wandering philosophers that had rejected the authority of Vedas and Brahmanic priesthood,[22] intent on escaping saṃsāra[20][23] through various means, which involved the study of natural laws, ascetic practices, and ethical behavior.[22]

The śramaṇas gave rise to different religious and philosophical schools, among which pre-sectarian Buddhism itself,[24][25] Yoga,[26] Jainism, Ājīvika, Ajñana and Cārvāka were the most important, and also to popular concepts in all major Indian religions such as saṃsāra (endless cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle).[27][note 6] Nevertheless, despite the success that these wandering philosophers and ascetics had obtained by spreading ideas and concepts that would soon be accepted by all religions of India, the orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy (āstika) opposed to śramaṇic schools of thought and refuted their doctrines as "heterodox" (nāstika), because they refused to accept the epistemic authority of Vedas, denied the existence of the soul and/or the existence of Ishvara ("Supreme God").

The ideas of saṃsāra, karma and rebirth show a development of thought in Indian religions: from the idea of single existence, at the end of which one was judged and punished and rewarded for one's deeds, or karma; to multiple existences with reward or punishment in an endless series of existences; and then attempts to gain release from this endless series.[28] This release was the central aim of the Śramaṇa movement.[20] Vedic rituals, which aimed at entrance into heaven, may have played a role in this development: the realisation that those rituals did not lead to an everlasting liberation led to the search for other means.[20]

Contents and teachings of earliest Buddhism


Scholarly positions

According to Schmithausen, three positions held by scholars of Buddhism can be distinguished regarding the possibility to extract the earliest Buddhism:[29]

  1. "Stress on the fundamental homogeneity and substantial authenticity of at least a considerable part of the Nikayic materials;"[note 7]
  2. "Scepticism with regard to the possibility of retrieving the doctrine of earliest Buddhism;"[note 8]
  3. "Cautious optimism in this respect."[note 9]

Textual comparison

Information on the contents and teachings of the earliest Buddhism cannot be obtained from the existing Buddhist schools, nor from the early Buddhist schools, since they were sectarian from the outset.[1][quote 1]

One method to obtain information on the oldest core of Buddhism is to compare the oldest extant versions of the Theravadin Pāli Canon, the surviving portions of the scriptures of Sarvastivada, Mulasarvastivada, Mahīśāsaka, Dharmaguptaka and other schools,[37][6] and the Chinese āgamas and other surviving portions of other early canons.[note 10][note 11] Early Mahayana texts which contain nearly identical material to that of the Pali Canon such as the Salistamba Sutra are also further evidence.[38]

The oldest recorded teachings are the texts of the four main nikayas of the Sutta Pitaka,[note 12] together with the main body of monastic rules, the Vinaya Pitaka.[citation needed] Scholars have also claimed that there is a core within this core, referring to some poems and phrases which seem to be the oldest parts of the Sutta Pitaka.[39][note 13]

Resolving inconsistencies

The reliability of these sources, and the possibility to draw out a core of oldest teachings, is a matter of dispute.[12][40][41][33] According to Tillman Vetter, the comparison of the oldest extant texts "does not just simply lead to the oldest nucleus of the doctrine."[37] At best, it leads to

... a Sthavira canon dating from c. 270 B.C. when the missionary activities during Asoka's reign as well as dogmatic disputes had not yet created divisions within the Shtavira tradition.[37]

According to Vetter, inconsistencies remain, and other methods must be applied to resolve those inconsistencies.[37] Exemplary studies are the study on descriptions of "liberating insight" by Lambert Schmithausen,[42] the overview of early Buddhism by Tilmann Vetter,[40] the philological work on the four truths by K.R. Norman,[43] the textual studies by Richard Gombrich,[33] and the research on early meditation methods by Johannes Bronkhorst.[44]

Dhyana and insight

A core problem in the study of early Buddhism is the relation between dhyana and insight.[40][12][33] The Buddhist tradition has incorporated two traditions regarding the use of dhyana (jhana).[12] There is a tradition that stresses attaining insight (bodhi, prajñā, kensho) as the means to awakening and liberation. But it has also incorporated the yogic tradition, as reflected in the use of jhana, which is rejected in other sutras as not achieving the final result of liberation.[40][45][33] The problem was famously voiced in 1936 by Louis de La Vallee Poussin, in his text Musila et Narada: Le Chemin de Nirvana.[46][note 14]

Schmithausen[note 15] notes that the mention of the four noble truths as constituting "liberating insight", which is attained after mastering the Rupa Jhanas, is a later addition to texts such as Majjhima Nikaya 36.[42][12][40] Schmithausen discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas,[42] to which Vetter adds the sole practice of dhyana itself, which he sees as the original "liberating practice":[47]

  1. The four Rupa Jhanas themselves constituted the core liberating practice of early buddhism, c.q. the Buddha;[48]
  2. Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas, whereafter "liberating insight" is attained;
  3. Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas and the four Arupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained;
  4. Liberating insight itself suffices.

This problem has been elaborated by several well-known scholars, including Tilman Vetter,[40] Johannes Bronkhorst,[12] and Richard Gombrich.[33]

Schayer - Precanonical Buddhism

A separate stance has been taken by Stanislaw Schayer, a Polish scholar, who argued in the 1930s that the Nikayas preserve elements of an archaic form of Buddhism which is close to Brahmanical beliefs,[8][19][49][50] and survived in the Mahayana tradition.[51][52] Contrary to popular opinion, the Theravada and Mahayana traditions may be "divergent, but equally reliable records of a pre-canonical Buddhism which is now lost forever."[51] The Mahayana tradition may have preserved a very old, "pre-Canonical" tradition, which was largely, but not completely, left out of the Theravada-canon.[52]


Schayer searched in the early texts for ideas that contradict the dominant doctrinal positions of the early canon. According to Schayer, these ideas have

... been transmitted by a tradition old enough and considered to be authoritative by the compilers of the Canon. The last conclusion follows of itself: these texts representing ideas and doctrines contradictory to the generally admitted canonical viewpoint are survivals of older, precanonical Buddhism.[53][note 16]

Edward Conze notes further:

They assume that wherever the Canon contains ideas which conflict with the orthodox theories of the Theravadins and Sarvastivadins, and wherever these ideas are taken up and developed by the Mahayana, we have to deal with a very old, "pre-Canonical" tradition, which was too venerable to be discarded by the compilers of the Canon.[52]

Ideas and practices

Regamy has identified four points which are central to Schayer's reconstruction of precanonical Buddhism:[54]

  1. The Buddha was considered as an extraordinary being, in whom ultimate reality was embodied, and who was an incarnation of the mythical figure of the tathagata;
  2. The Buddha's disciples were attracted to his spiritual charisma and supernatural authority;
  3. Nirvana was conceived as the attainment of immortality, and the gaining of a deathless sphere from which there would be no falling back. This nirvana, as a transmundane reality or state, is incarnated in the person of the Buddha;
  4. Nirvana can be reached because it already dwells as the inmost "consciousness" of the human being. It is a consciousness which is not subject to birth and death.

Accordin to Ray, Schayer has shown a second doctrinal position alongside that of the more dominant tradition, one likely to be of at least equivalent, if not of greater, antiquity.[55]

Schayer's methodology has been used by M. Falk.[55][note 17] Falk details the precanonical Buddhist conceptions of the cosmos, nirvana, the Buddha, the path, and the saint. According to Falk, in the precanonical tradition, there is a threefold division of reality:[55]

  1. The rupadhatu, the samsaric sphere of name and form (namarupa), in which ordinary beings live, die, and are reborn.
  2. The arupadhatu, the sphere of "sheer nama," produced by samadhi, an ethereal realm frequented by yogins who are not completely liberated;
  3. "Above" or "outside" these two realms is the realm of nirvana, the "amrta sphere," characterized by prajna. This nirvana is an "abode" or "place" which is gained by the enlightened holy man.[note 18]

According to Falk, this scheme is reflected in the precanonical conception of the path to liberation.[57] The nirvanic element, as an "essence" or pure consciousness, is immanent within samsara. The three bodies are concentric realities, which are stripped away or abandoned, leaving only the nirodhakaya of the liberated person.[57] Wynne notes that this pure consciousness was the central element in precanonical Buddhism:

Schayer referred to passages in which "consciousness" (vinnana) seems to be the ultimate reality or substratum (e.g. A I.10) 14 as well as the Saddhatu Sutra, which is not found in any canonical source but is cited in other Buddhist texts — it states that the personality (pudgala) consists of the six elements (dhatu) of earth, water, fire, wind, space and consciousness; Schayer noted that it related to other ancient Indian ideas. Keith’s argument is also based on the Saddhatu Sutra as well as "passages where we have explanations of Nirvana which echo the ideas of the Upanishads regarding the ultimate reality." He also refers to the doctrine of "a consciousness, originally pure, defiled by adventitious impurities."[58]

Conze mentions ideas like the "person" (pudgala), the assumption of an eternal "consciousness" in the saddhatusutra, the identification of the Absolute, of Nirvana, with an "invisible infinite consciousness, which shines everywhere" in Dighanikdya XI 85, and "traces of a belief in consciousness as the nonimpermanent centre of the personality which constitutes an absolute element in this contingent world."[52]

According to Lindtner, in precanonical Buddhism Nirvana is

... a place one can actually go to. It is called nirvanadhatu, has no border-signs (animitta), is localized somewhere beyond the other six dhatus (beginning with earth and ending with vijñana) but is closest to akasa and vijñana. One cannot visualize it, it is anidarsana, but it provides one with firm ground under one’s feet, it is dhruva; once there one will not slip back, it is acyutapada. As opposed to this world, it is a pleasant place to be in, it is sukha, things work well.[8][note 19]

According to Lindtner, Canonical Buddhism was a reaction to this view, but also against the absolutist tendencies in Jainism and the Upanisads. Nirvana came to be seen as a state of mind, instead of a concrete place.[8]

Elements of this precanonical Buddhism may have survived the canonisation, and its subsequent filtering out of ideas, and re-appeared in Mahayana Buddhism.[8][49] According to Lindtner, the existence of multiple, and contradicting ideas, is also reflected in the works of Nagarjuna, who tried to harmonize these different ideas. According to Lindtner, this lead him to taking a "paradoxical" stance, for instance regarding nirvana, rejecting any positive description.[8]


According to Conze, Schayer's approach and results are "merely a tentative hypothesis".[59] Conze notes that it is also possible that these ideas later entered Buddhism, as a concession to "popular demand, just as the lower goal of birth in heaven (svarga) was admitted side by side with Nirvana."[59] According to Conze, the real issue is:

Did Buddhism originate among an elite of intellectuals, of philosophical ascetics, and then become a popular religion only at the time of Asoka? Or was it, even from the earliest times onwards, a popular religion based on the cult of the Bhagavan, of the Lord Buddha? And if so, was this religious side a part of its very essence, or just as propagandistic concession to laymen?[59]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 A.K Warder: "...a reconstruction of the original Buddhism presupposed by the traditions of the different schools known to us."[6]
  2. This kernel of doctrine is presumably common Buddhism of the period "before the schisms of the fourth and third centuries BC. It may be substantially the Buddhism of the Buddha himself."[6]
  3. See also Atthakavagga and Parayanavagga#Interpretation as heterodox
  4. Collin Cox: "Virtually all later sources agree that the first schism within the early Buddhist community occurred with the separation of the Mahasamghika school, or "those of the great community," from the remaining monks referred to as Sthaviras, or the "elders."".[16]
  5. See also Atthakavagga and Parayanavagga
  6. Flood & Olivelle: "The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterize later Indian religions. The renouncer tradition played a central role during this formative period of Indian religious history [...] Some of the fundamental values and beliefs that we generally associate with Indian religions in general and Hinduism in particular were in part the creation of the renouncer tradition. These include the two pillars of Indian theologies: samsara - the belief that life in this world is one of suffering and subject to repeated deaths and births (rebirth); moksa/nirvana - the goal of human existence."[27]
  7. Well-known proponents of the first position are A.K. Warder[quote 3] and Richard Gombrich.[32][quote 4]
  8. A proponent of the second position is Ronald Davidson.[quote 5]
  9. Well-known proponent of the third position are J.W. de Jong,[5][quote 2] Johannes Bronkhorst[quote 6] and Donald Lopez.[quote 7]
  10. Warder: "When we examine the Tripitakas of the eighteen schools, so far as they are extant, we find an agreement which is substantial, though not complete. Even the most conservative of the early schools seem to have added new texts to their collections. However, there is a central body of sutras (dialogues), in four groups, which is so similar in all known versions that we must accept these as so many recensions of the same original texts. These make up the greater part of the Sutra Pitaka."[17]
  11. Most of these non-Indian texts are only available in a Chinese translation, with the exception of some individual scriptures found in Nepal, which are composed in Sanskrit.[6] The Gandhāran Buddhist texts were recovered from Afghanistan. The central body of sutras in these texts is so similar that they are considered to be different recensions of the same text.[6]
  12. The Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya and Anguttara Nikaya
  13. Nakamura: "It has been made clear that some poem (Gāthā) portions and some phrases represent earlier layers [...] Based upon these portions of the scriptures we can construe aspects of original Buddhism [...] Buddhism as appears in earlier portions of the scriptures is fairly different from what is explained by many scholars as earlier Buddhism or primitive Buddhism.[39]
  14. See Louis de La Vallée Poussin, Musial and Narad. Translated from the French by Gelongma Migme Chödrön and Gelong Lodrö Sangpo.
  15. In his often-cited article On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism
  16. quote from Schayer 1935, p.124
  17. M. Falk (1943, Nama-rupa and Dharma-rupa
  18. See Digha Nikaya 15, Mahanidana Sutta, which describes a nine-fold chain of causation. Mind-and-body (nama-rupa) and consciousness (vijnana) do condition here each other (verse 2 & 3). In verse 21 and 22, it is stated that consciousness comes into the mother's womb, and finds a resting place in mind-and-body. [56]
  19. Cited in Wynne (2007) p.99.[58]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Leon Hurvitz: "... stressed that the written canon in Buddhism is sectarian from the outset, and that presectarian Buddhism must be deduced from the writings as they now exist."[1](quote via Google Scholar search-engine)
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.W. De Jong: "It would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism [...] the basic ideas of Buddhism found in the canonical writings could very well have been proclaimed by him [the Buddha], transmitted and developed by his disciples and, finally, codified in fixed formulas."[5]
  3. According to A.K. Warder, in his 1970 publication "Indian Buddhism", from the oldest extant texts a common kernel can be drawn out.[30] According to Warder, c.q. his publisher: "This kernel of doctrine is presumably common Buddhism of the period before th great schisms of the fourth and third centuries BC. It may be substantially the Buddhism of the Buddha himself, although this cannot be proved: at any rate it is a Buddhism presupposed by the schools as existing about a hundred years after the parinirvana of the Buddha, and there is no evidence to suggest that it was formulated by anyone else than the Buddha and his immediate followers."[31]
  4. Richard Gombrich: "I have the greatest difficulty in accepting that the main edifice is not the work of a single genius. By "the main edifice" I mean the collections of the main body of sermons, the four Nikāyas, and of the main body of monastic rules."[33]
  5. Ronald Davidson: "While most scholars agree that there was a rough body of sacred literature (disputed)(sic) that a relatively early community (disputed)(sic) maintained and transmitted, we have little confidence that much, if any, of surviving Buddhist scripture is actually the word of the historic Buddha."[34]
  6. Bronkhorst: "This position is to be preferred to (ii) for purely methodological reasons: only those who seek nay find, even if no success is guaranteed."[35]
  7. Lopez: "The original teachings of the historical Buddha are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover or reconstruct."[36]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hurvitz 1976.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Nakamura 1989.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hirakawa 1990.
  4. Gombrich 1997, p. 11-12.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Jong 1993, p. 25.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Warder 1999.
  7. Gombrich 1997, p. 11 -12.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Lindtner 1997.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mun-keat 2000, p. ix.
  10. Warder 2000, p. 262.
  11. Vetter 1988, p. 101-106.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Bronkhorst 1993.
  13. Lindter 1997.
  14. Lindter 1999.
  15. Wynne 2007.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Cox 2004, p. 502.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Warder 1999, p. 5.
  18. Potter 1996, p. 31-32.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Lindtner 1999.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Samuel 2010.
  21. Nilakanta Sastri 1988, p. 300.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Warder 2004, p. 32-33.
  23. Norman 1997, p. 28.
  24. Warder 2004, p. 35.
  25. Svarghese 2008, p. 259-260.
  26. Samuel 2008, p. 8.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Flood 2003, p. 273-274.
  28. Norman 1997, p. 28-29.
  29. Bronkhorst 1993, p. vii.
  30. Warder 1999, p. 0.
  31. Warder & 1999, p. inside flap.
  32. Bronkhorst 1997, p. viii.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 Gombrich 1997.
  34. Davidson 2003, p. 147.
  35. Bronkhorst 1997, p. vii.
  36. Lopez 1995, p. 4.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 Vetter 1988, p. ix.
  38. Potter, Karl H. Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D. page 32.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Nakamura 1989, p. 57.
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 40.4 40.5 Vetter 1988.
  41. Schmithausen 1990.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 Schmithausen 1981.
  43. Norman 1992.
  44. Bronkhorst 1997.
  45. bronkhorst 1993.
  46. Bronkhorst 1993, p. 133-134.
  47. Vetter 1988, p. xxi-xxii.
  48. Vetter, 1988 & xxi-xxxvii.
  49. 49.0 49.1 Akizuki 1990, p. 25-27.
  50. Ray 1999.
  51. 51.0 51.1 Reat 1998, p. xi.
  52. 52.0 52.1 52.2 52.3 Conze 1967, p. 10.
  53. Ray 1999, p. 374.
  54. Ray 1999, p. 374-377.
  55. 55.0 55.1 55.2 Ray 1999, p. 375.
  56. Walshe 1995, p. 223, 226.
  57. 57.0 57.1 Ray, p. 375.
  58. 58.0 58.1 Wynne 2007, p. 99.
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 Conze 1967, p. 11.


Printed sources

  • Akizuki, Ryōmin (1990), New Mahāyāna: Buddhism for a Post-modern World, Jain Publishing Company 
  • Anderson, Carol (1999), Pain and Its Ending: The Four Noble Truths in the Theravada Buddhist Canon, Routledge 
  • Batchelor, Stephen (2012), "A Secular Buddhism", Journal of Global Buddhism, 13: 87–107 
  • Bronkhorst, Johannes (1993), The Two Traditions Of Meditation In Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 
  • Bronkhorst, Johannes (1998), "Did the Buddha Believe in Karma and Rebirth?", Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 21 (1) 
  • Bucknell, Rod (1984), "The Buddhist to Liberation: An Analysis of the Listing of Stages", The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 7 (2) 
  • Buswell, Robert E. (2004), Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Macmillan 
  • Carr, Brian; Mahalingam, Indira (1997), Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy, London; New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-03535-X 
  • Conze, Edward (1967), Thirty years of Buddhis Studies. Selected essays by Edward Conze (PDF), Bruno Cassirer 
  • Conze, Edward (2008), Buddhism. A Short History, Oneworld 
  • Cousins, L. S. (1996), "The dating of the historical Buddha: a review article", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, 6 (1): 57–63 
  • Cox, Collett (2004), Mainstream Buddhist Schools. In: Buswell (ed.), "MacMillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism", Macmillan 
  • Davidson, Ronald M. (2003), Indian Esoteric Buddhism, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-12618-2 
  • Flood, Gavin; Olivelle, Patrick (2003), The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Blackwell 
  • Gethin, R.M.L. (2001), The Buddhist Path to Awakening, Oneworld Publications 
  • Gombrich, Richard F. (1997), How Buddhism Began, Munshiram Manoharlal 
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  • Hirakawa (1990), History of Indian Buddhism, volume 1, Hawai'i University Press 
  • Hurvitz, Leon (1976), Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma, Columbia University Press 
  • Jong, J.W. de (1993), "The Beginnings of Buddhism", The Eastern Buddhist, 26 (2) 
  • Kalupahana, David J. (1994), A history of Buddhist philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited 
  • Lindtner, Christian (1997), "The Problem of Precanonical Buddhism", Buddhist Studies Review, 14: 2 
  • Lindtner, Christian (1999), "From Brahmanism to Buddhism", Asian Philosophy, 9 (1) 
  • Lopez, Donald S. (1995), Buddhism in Practice (PDF), Princeton University Press 
  • Matthews, Bruce (1986), Post-Classical Developments In The Concepts of Karma and Rebirth in Theravada Buddhism. In: Ronald W. Neufeldt (ed.), "Karma and rebirth: Post-classical developments", SUNY 
  • Mun-keat, Choong (2000), The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism. A comparative study based on the Sutranga portion of the Pali Sarpyutta-Nikaya and the Chinese Sarpyuktagama, Harrassowitz Verlag 
  • Nakamura (1989), Indian Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass 
  • Nilakanta Sastri, K. A. (1988), Age of the Nandas and Mauryas, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0466-X 
  • Norman, K.R. (1992), The Four Noble Truths. In: "Collected Papers", vol 2:210-223, Pali Text Society, 2003 
  • Norman, K.R. (1997), A Philological Approach to Buddhism. The Bukkyo Dendo Kybkai Lectures 1994 (PDF), School ofOriental and African Studies (University of London) 
  • Polak, Grzegorz (2011), Reexamining Jhana: Towards a Critical Reconstruction of Early Buddhist Soteriology, UMCS 
  • Potter, Karl H. (1996), Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies Part VII: Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D., Motilall Banarsidass 
  • Ray, Reginald (1999), Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations, Oxford University Press 
  • Reat, N. Ross (1998), The Salistamba Sutra, Motilal Banarsidass 
  • Schmithausen, Lambert (1981), On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism". In: Studien zum Jainismus und Buddhismus (Gedenkschrift für Ludwig Alsdorf), hrsg. von Klaus Bruhn und Albrecht Wezler, Wiesbaden 1981, 199-250 
  • Schmithausen, Lambert (1986), Critical Response. In: Ronald W. Neufeldt (ed.), "Karma and rebirth: Post-classical developments", SUNY 
  • Svarghese, Alexander P. (2008), India : History, Religion, Vision And Contribution To The World 
  • Vetter, Tilmann (1988), The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism, BRILL 
  • Walsh, Maurice (1995), The Long Discourses of the Buddha. A Translation of the Digha Nikaya, Wisdom Publications 
  • Warder, A.K. (2004), Indian Buddhism, 3rd Revised edition, Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 
  • Wynne, Alexander (2007), The Origin of Buddhist Meditation, Routledge 


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Further reading

History of Buddhism (general)
  • Bronkhorst, Johannes (1993), The Two Traditions Of Meditation In Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 
  • Gombrich, Richard F. (1997), How Buddhism Began, Munshiram Manoharlal 
  • Norman, K.R. (1997), A Philological Approach to Buddhism. The Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Lectures 1994 (PDF), School ofOriental and African Studies (University of London) 
  • Samuel, Geoffrey (2010), The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press 
Early Buddhism
  • Schmithausen, Lambert (1981), On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism". In: Studien zum Jainismus und Buddhismus (Gedenkschrift für Ludwig Alsdorf), hrsg. von Klaus Bruhn und Albrecht Wezler, Wiesbaden 1981, 199-250 
  • Vetter, Tilmann (1988), The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism, BRILL 
  • Wynne, Alexander (2007), The Origin of Buddhist Meditation, Routledge 
Modern understanding

External links

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