Second Buddhist Council: Reasons, Outcomes & More

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Second Buddhist Council

The Second Buddhist Council was held approximately 100 years after the passing of the Buddha in the year 383 BCE. It was decided to be convened by King Kalasoka of the Shishunaga Dynasty in the city of Vaisali in India. The main purpose of this council was to address certain practices and beliefs that were beginning to deviate from the teachings of Gautama Buddha. The Second Buddhist Council took place to resolve doctrinal disputes that had arisen within the Buddhist community. The Council was aimed at clarifying and preserving the teachings of the Buddha, as well as establishing a consensus on various issues related to monastic disciplines and doctrines.

People Involved in the Second Buddhist Council

The Second Buddhist Council was attended by nearly 700 monks from around the world, including:

  • King Kalasoka was the patron of the Second Buddhist Council.
  • Sabbakami – He was a revered monk of 125 years,  who presided over the Second Buddhist Council.
  • Yasa – Yasa was a well-respected Vajjain monk. It was at the request of Yasa, that the council was convened. 
  • Rewata – He added on with the request of Yass as he was also disturbed by the misbehaviour of the Vajjian monks.

These revered monks played an important role in the discussions and deliberations that took place during the Council.

Also Read – Buddhist Education System: Features, Role & Merits

Reasons for the Second Buddhist Council

Here are some of the reasons why the Second Buddhist Council was conducted – 

  • Disputes and Resolutions: 

One of the main disputes that were addressed during the Second Buddhist Council was the issue of monastic discipline. Yasa believed that Vajjian monks were performing 10 acts, which were non-permissible in Buddhism and were looked down upon in the teachings of Buddha. 

Yasa wanted to settle this dispute about the 10 permissible acts to be called Avinaya. Some monks had started to deviate from the established rules and regulations, leading to disagreements within the community. The Vajjain Monks became liberal in their thoughts and included  – 

1. Carrying salt in a horn is allowed as an extra food item.

2. It is permissible to eat after midday, which counts as an extra meal.

3. Eating while travelling from village to village is allowed and can be considered an extra meal.

4. It is allowed to gather at different residences within the same boundary to perform various observances, which can be considered different uposathas.

5. A person can vote without a proxy for a formal act, provided it is not diplomatic.

6. It is allowed to follow customary practices, as taught by the preceptor or teacher.

7. Drinking buttermilk is allowed and considered an extra food item.

8. Consumption of toddy or wine is allowed.

9. Using a rug without a border is permissible for luxury purposes.

10. Accepting silver, gold, and other valuables is allowed, which includes accepting money.

  • Schisms and Sectarianism – Despite the efforts made at the Second Buddhist Council to maintain unity and harmony within the Buddhist community, the Council ultimately led to the formation of different sects and schisms. This division had a lasting impact on the development of Buddhism, as various schools of thought emerged in the centuries that followed. The council led to the division of the Sangha into two sects: the Sthavira (Elders) and the Mahasanghika (Great Assembly).
Credits: Bruno Fuga Advocacia

Outcomes of the Second Buddhist Council

  • Purification of the Vinaya: One of the main outcomes of the Second Buddhist Council was the purification of the Vinaya, the code of conduct for Buddhist monks and nuns. The council aimed to root out any deviations from the Vinaya and endured its strict adherence among the monastic community. 
  • Schism in the Sangha: Despite the council’s efforts to maintain unity within the Sangha, disagreements arose among the participants, leading to a schism within the Buddhist community. This division eventually gave rise to different sects and schools of Buddhism.

Also Read – Sects of Buddhism: History, Origin, Branches

With its emphasis on preserving the purity of the Vinaya and upholding the authenticity of the Buddha’s teachings, the Second Buddhist Council became an important event in the chapters of the history of Buddhism, marking a turning point in the development of the religion.

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Sufi MovementBrahmo Samaj was founded by_____?

That’s all about the Second Buddhist Council. If you want to read more articles like this, you can get Study notes on the Modern History of India here. Also, you can visit our general knowledge page on Indian History!

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