Does the Mahayana scriptures record the first council of the sangha as it does in the Theravada vinaya?

I have wondered if there might be something similar to the Theravāda first council in the Mahayana scriptures, even though the sect was created several centuries later.

Any original source would be appreciated!

I’m not aware of any mention of the First Council in any Indian Mahayana text. That’s not to say, however, that Mahayanists were ignorant of the council, but rather that their knowledge of it came principally from Vinaya texts (i.e., those of the Dharmaguptakas, Mahasanghikas and Mulasarvastivadins) preserved in the Tibetan and Chinese canons. You’ll find a list of sources in:

Charles Prebish, A Review of Scholarship on the Buddhist Councils

I should note, though, that Prebish’s article is nearly fifty years old and I’ve really no idea how much of its scholarship remains current.


Kumarajiva’s Dazhidulun summarizes a version of it that starts in Chapter 3, which I believe is very close to the Vinaya account of the Sarvastivadins, though I haven’t tried to compare all the details closely.

I should probably also mention the introduction to the Ekottarika Agama, which is basically a Mahayana composition tacked onto an Agama. It depicts the story of how the Agama was composed at the first council, but Maitreya is on hand, too. Etc.


I don’t recall any mahayana sutras describing the first council, or second council.

Which is normal, because the scriptures are composed to introduce new ideas, or refute some things that is deemed misconception. Why elaborate something everyone already know?

Anyway, in Tibet, the book “Buddhism History in India” By Taranatha (1608) record the first council, second council, and Sarvastivada third council in Kashmir.

1 Like