Does anyone know the book " History of Pali Scriptures: Sangitiyavamsa" by Somdet Phra Phonnarat, translated Santi Pakdeekham

This was published last year by “Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation”, which is Peter Skilling’s project for preserving manuscripts.


It’s a 1789 account of the six councils (the sixth being that of Bangkok in 1788) by Somdet Wannarat, abbot of Wat Pho. I’ve never read either the original or this translation, but there’s a summary of its contents in ch. 5 of Phanindra Nath Bose’s The Indian Colony of Siam.


Thanks! So it would seem that the main purpose of the book is to retell the account of the Indian Councils, appending the Thai Council so as to legitimate it.

Do you know what the “five councils” were? The best known “fifth council” was in Myanmar, but it postdates this.

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Hi venerable,

According to an article by Buddhist door:

The book contains nine chapters, some of which consist of several sub-sections, in addition to a detailed introduction. The main purpose of the volume is to present a portrayal of the nine Theravada Buddhist Councils (three in India, four in Sri Lanka, and two in Thailand) in chronological order, regardless of the venues of those councils.

So according to the Thai tradition, there have been 10 councils thus far (what we know as sixth council is tenth by their reckoning).

In the scheme that Thais learn in the Buddhist history part of their Nak Tham course, the first three sangāyanās are the usual ones (Rājagaha, Vesālī, Patāliputta); then the fourth is that of Mahinda, when Buddhism was first brought to Sri Lanka, and the fifth that of King Vattagāmanī Abhaya when the Tipitaka was first put into writing.

In the Burmese scheme the fourth in the Thai scheme is omitted.


I’ve never heard that! I don’t think even the Sri Lankans treat that as a council.

When I was in Sri lanka recently i heard of another council. This one was maybe in the 1880s? Just trying to recall details. It was in the south of Sri Lanka somewhere, and the govt. had recovered a nearly-complete set of manuscripts, from which they were planning to create an edition.

I suspect that what that Council actually achieved was to take Burmese manuscripts and copy them in Sinhalese characters.


The entry for “Mahinda” in the DPPN does mention one, giving the Samantapāsādika as its source.

The Samantapāsādikā mentions a recital held by Mahinda under the presidency of Mahā-Ariṭṭha.

Though according to Phra Payutto’s Buddhist dictionary Mahinda was the president and questioner and Ariṭṭha the respondent.

ครั้งที่ ๔
ปรารภจะให้พระศาสนาประดิษฐานมั่นคงในลังกาทวีป พระสงฆ์ ๖๘,๐๐๐ รูป มีพระมหินทเถระเป็นประธานและเป็นผู้ถาม พระอริฏฐะเป็นผู้วิสัชนา ประชุมทำที่ถูปาราม เมืองอนุราธบุรี เมื่อ พ.ศ. ๒๓๖ โดยพระเจ้าเทวานัมปิยติสสะเป็นศาสนูปถัมภก์ สิ้นเวลา ๑๐ เดือนจึงเสร็จ�ѧ��¹�_


Okay, so the Samantapasadika does describe a recitation by Mahinda and others, depicted as a grand affair. But it doesn’t actually call it a saṅgīti, a title that is reserved for the first three. But it’s not a great leap to use the word there, too.


After the first three councils held in Inida, according to Sangitiyavamsa (Sgv) the Fourth Council was held in Sri Lanka during the reign of King Devānampiyatissa under the convenorship of the Venerable Ariṭṭha Thera when Thera Mahinda arrived about 243 BCE on the island of Lanka.
The Fifth Buddhist Council was held in Sri Lanka during the first-century BCE. In this council Tipitaka was written down for the first time in Sri Lanka. Acco­rd­i­ng to the Sgv, the ven­­ue of this council is mentioned as Āluvihāra in Matale or the Ālo­k­a­­v­ihāra under the patronage of a local chieftain (gāmini) and under the convenorship of Mahātthera Rakkhita.
The Saṅgītiyavaṁsa considers the activities of the Pāli translation of the Sinhalese commentaries by Ācariya Buddhaghosa in 413 CE as the Sixth Council.
The writing down of the Atthav­aṇ­ṇ­a­nā to expl­ain the Pāli tran­sl­at­i­on by Buddh­a­ghosa of the original Sinhalese commen­t­a­r­ies is reg­a­r­ded as the Seventh Buddhist Coun­c­il in the Sgv. This council was held in the year 1165 ce, at the time of Parākkamabāhu I of Sri Lanka.
As per the Sgv, the Eighth Council was held in the Mahā­b­o­dhārāma of Nabbisipura (modern Chieng Mai), which was atten­d­e­d by several monks. The Mahāt­he­ra Dhamm­a­dinnā of Tāl­a­v­­ana Mahāvihāra (Wat Pā Tān) presided over the council, whi­c­h was pat­r­onised by the King Siridhamma-Cakkavatti-Tilaka­rājā (1441-87). The purpose of calling this cou­n­­cil was to correct the script and ort­h­ography (piṭak­at­t­a­­ya­kk­ha­raṃ sodhā­pe­t­v­ā) by ren­d­e­r­i­ng the Tipiṭ­a­ka into the Lānnā Thai alphabet. This council was held in 1476 CE (BE 2019) .
The eighth chapter of the Sgv, which bears the title of Dham­m­­asaṅgītiniddeso, discusses the Ninth Council. It was held in the Sisara­bi­jjutārāma of Bangkok in 2331 be in the Year of the Monkey, lasting for five months (from November 13, 1788 to April 10, 1789), under the aegis of King Rāma I and his brother. Two hundred and eigh­t­­­een monks and thirty-two lay scholars were at work for five mon­t­hs. The Saṅgharāja, personal name Si, was appo­i­n­t­ed as the presi­d­ent of the Ninth Council.


Are you talking about the recital of the Tripitaka at Pelmadulla in 1867, Bhante?

Thanks for the detailed review.

Interesting. So the Cullavagga we are working on, done a hundred years or so later under Parakkamabahu II, would stem from this recension.

Also interesting! This would lend support to my supposition that the later Sri Lanka Council was intended to put the Tipitaka in Sinhala characters.

It may well be, do you know anything about it? I was under the impression it was somewhat earlier than that, but I may well be wrong.

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Living-Fountains.pdf (1.7 MB)

This pdf has a little bit of information on the Pelmadulla group, referring to a “revision of the Tripitaka.”

Text references Sinhalese language Polwatte Buddhadatta: Samīpātītayehi Bauddhācāryayō, pp. 86 - 87, for details of how the revision was organised.

I don’t have any deep knowledge about it, but when you said “in the South”, I thought, hmm, Ven. Weligama Sri Sumangala! According to the pdf, he revised the vinaya while resident at Wellaboda Vihara.