Has true dhamma disappeared already?

Bhante @sujato and bhante @Brahmali please focus your attention on this matter.

I am perplexed ! I can’t believe that buddha uttered something like this.

BD.5.356 “If, Ānanda, women had not obtained the going forth from home into homelessness in the dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder, the Brahma-faring, Ānanda, would have lasted long , true dhamma would have endured for a thousand years. But since, Ānanda, women have gone forth … in the dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Truth-finder, now, Ānanda, the Brahma-faring will not last long, true dhamma will endure only for five hundred years.

“Even, Ānanda, as those households which have many women and few men easily fall a prey to robbers, to pot-thieves, even so, Ānanda in whatever dhamma and discipline women obtain the going forth from home into homelessness, that Brahma-faring will not last long.

“Even, Ānanda, as when the disease known as mildew attacks a whole field of rice that field of rice does not last long, even so, Ānanda, in whatever dhamma and discipline women obtain the going forth … that Brahma-faring will not last long.

“Even, Ānanda, as when the disease known as red rust attacks a whole field of sugar-cane, that field of sugar-cane does not last long, even so, Ānanda, in whatever dhamma and discipline … that Brahma-faring will not last long.

“Even, Ānanda, as a man, looking forward, may build a dyke to a great reservoir so that the water may not overflow, even so, Ānanda, were the eight important rules for nuns laid down by me, looking forward, not to be transgressed during their life.”

Does this make sense? It says that true dhamma will last long only for 500 years . Is true dhamma no longer accessible ? As we all know buddha dhamma is flourishing throughout the world . This is quite unconvincing . Is the revival of buddhism in this era based on false doctrine ? :sweat: :fearful::frowning::anguished:
I doubt about the authenticity of this . Does it have any parallels in other vinaya texts ?(dharmaguptaka ,mahisasaka ,mahasamghika etc.)


as far as i’m aware there’s an opinion that this may be a later interpolation

i’m still hopefull but at the same time reckon that realistically the florescence of the Buddhadhamma must be measured by its success in producing four types of noble persons, and my assessment of it from this angle forces my hope to wither, which i fight against

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It doesn’t.


Yes, I agree, this statement is quite irrational on many levels, and I do not believe the Buddha said anything like it. If he did, he was superstitious, sexist, and wrong!

It is found in various other Vinaya texts. In my view, this, and the whole narrative of the ordination of Mahapajapati as we have it today, were added around 100 years after the Buddha’s death, some time around the Second Council.


To consider this question, the phrase ‘true dhamma’ (as found in SN 56.11) probably needs to be defined, in terms of both doctrine & lifestyle.

For example, is the mainstream dhamma for the last 2,000 years, which is heavily focused on Jataka & reincarnation, the true dhamma? Is mainstream Sri Lankan, Burmese, Thai, Tibetan & Australian Buddhism the true dhamma? Why did Nagarjuna (200 CE) make such an effort? Was Nagarjuna trying to defend the true dhamma against a dhamma so lost & confused (since Nagarjuna’s teachings themselves are also far from the true dhamma)?

Did the ordination of women change the true lifestyle from a forest dwelling wandering lifestyle to a monastic cloistered urban lifestyle? Did monasticism become a form of ‘next-life-merit-making’ rather than the original intention of here-&-now liberation from suffering? Did a concentration of monastics eventually result in the easy destruction of monasteries & Buddhists by opposing forces?

Since Buddhism did actually become extinct in India, the questions of this thread probably merit some consideration.



Your questions are all valid IMHO. No definite answers are coming, tho’. We simply do not know.

But I will speculate :wink: The initial spread and growth of Dhamma was it’s own undoing, since some people saw the way into power thru’ hierarchy. Organised religion took over. Then every time Dhamma changed (moved) the underlining culture, it changed too. It got “screwed onto” the existing belief system, so it would be easier to get accepted by populous.

The women question is also doubt. I read the sutta in which the Buddha, after awakening, was spilling the view of an equalitarian community that he wants to create. That flies directly in the face of that infamous quote above. Cannot recall the name of the sutta, sorry…


If we assess the efficiency of the Dhamma as it is practiced today by the number of people, lay and monastics, men and women, who have reached at least the stage of stream-enterer then it could be true that we are far from the original “true” Dhamma.






Bhante ,where can i get more info about this? Any references ?

If the true dhamma is present what you should do is to practice.

If the true dhamma is not present it is still a good idea to practice, as reducing craving will reduce your suffering in this life.

If you stay on the path you will eventually reach Nibbana. The Buddha said the earth will not be devoid of arahanths as long as the Noble Eightfold Path is practiced.

With metta



I discussed it in various books, especially Sects & Sectarianism. But the most extensive work on the Mahapajapati story is in White Bones Red Rot Black Snakes.


It is taking a safe bet.
The only reason I practice Dhamma is that gives me the peace of mind.
Peace of mind is the taste of final Nibbana.


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Thanks bhante ! I have the pdf version of sects and sectarianism and i hope the free pdf version of the black bones … is available at santipada !:slight_smile:

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This discussion is baesd on johnlekay’s FB post , https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=190458644780124&id=100014479683684&ref=bookmarks

He also mentioned that there is a parallel to this vinaya text in the anguttara nikaya .

Here to the phrases are similar to aforementioned vinaya text.

Afterall this saying of the buddha can’t be inauthentic ! :sweat: if its so this particular sutta should be a later addition as well .


You’ve also probably seen Ven Anālayo’s work on the subject in this book:
which is availabe as a pdf here

And here a short article.


Thanks a lot @Linda .

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Dear Sandun,

Although your query is quite old, I hope this response provides some clarification if you have not yet found the answer. I will aim to be precise and to the point.

The phrase “vassasatāni saddhammo ṭhassati” can be broken down as follows: “vassasatāni” means 500 years, “saddhammo” means teachings, and “ṭhassati” means remains stable. Thus, it translates to “for 500 years the true teachings remain stable.” This does not imply that the teachings will disappear after 500 years.

The phases of the Dhamma are described as follows:

  1. Wisdom-led Phase: Lasts for 500 years.
  2. Samadhi-led Phase: Follows for another 500 years.
  3. Morality-led Phase: Lasts another 500 years, making it 1500 years after the Buddha.
  4. Worship-led Phase: Follows for 500 years, accounting for 2000 years after the Buddha.
  5. Disappearance Phase: Lasts 500 years, during which the formal Dhamma (“antardhyati”) disappears. However, this does not mean it is entirely absent. During this time, the Sotapannas and Sakadagamis from previous lives will reignite the torch of the Dhamma, keeping this dark period illuminated.

In total, 2500 years pass in these cycles. After this period, the Dhamma begins to reappear in the same sequence it disappeared: starting with the Worship-led Phase for 500 years, followed by the Morality-led Phase, and so on. This cyclical pattern continues until the end of the world.

Another relevant sutta, the Saddhammapatirupaka Sutta, states, “The true Dhamma doesn’t disappear the way a boat sinks all at once.” This indicates that the disappearance occurs gradually in 500-year phases.

Similarly, saying that a human life is 100 years does not imply there will be no humans after 100 years.

Thanks Regards


Hi Sandun,

May I know what is BD.5.356? Any link that I can follow?


May I know which Sutta or Sutra are you referring? Any link that I can follow?

Since the Nikayas have been here from the start (and will not go anyhwere with today’s IT), this would imply that the true Dhamma is hidden within them or that they are not by themselfes adequate for the correct understanding of the Dhamma…