Legends and Transcendence Sectarian Affiliations of the Ekottarika Āgama in Chinese Translation

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Tse-Fu Kuan



Of the four complete Āgama collections, the Ekottarika Āgama (EĀ) has generated the most controversy about whether it can be attributed to any early Buddhist school and, if so, which school it could belong to. This paper examines the various hypotheses about the sectarian affiliation(s) of the EĀ. It shows that a considerable part of this corpus is likely to be of Mahāsāṃghika derivation, and that the EĀ contains numerous salient features of Mahāsāṃghika doctrine, particularly the transcendence of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This study also argues that the seeming affinity between several legends in the EĀ and those in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya is likely to have resulted from Mahāsāṃghika influence on the Mūlasarvāstivādins. The Mahāsāṃghika hypothesis for the school affiliation of the EĀ is substantially strengthened in this inquiry while the others are shown to be probably untenable.

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