Sautantrika and EBTs

(Mods, feel free to move to water cooler if I put this in the wrong place)

So I think it is fair to say that Sautantrika (Sautrāntika - Wikipedia) was an early attempt to react against the (Sarvāstivāda) Abhidharma in order to return to the suttas and uncover the EBTs. I find that this could be a goldmine for EBT scholars/practitioners today in trying to do similar work. Sure, maybe they didn’t have the same modern philological tools and access to EBT texts across many many languages, but they did lay some interesting groundwork (and historical precedence). My question, how much do EBT scholars turn to the sautantrika as part of their hermeneutic toolbox for reading the EBTs? Is it as useful as I imagine it to be? In what ways do they maybe err or got things right?

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As far as I’m aware they didn’t fully reject the Abhidharma, just sections or interpretations of it. In the end they ended up making an Abhidharma of their own, of sorts.


I mean that seems to be the pattern throughout Buddhist history. Attempts to go back to the source and then churn out a new set of Abhidharmas… lol. Perhaps in a few centuries we will get a new set of Abhidhammas from this group. :sweat_smile:

Edit: I am just being funny/tongue in cheek with this comment. Not a serious comment.

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Humor aside, I guess I was particularly interested in this paragraph of the wiki article and what the text mentioned in the article may have to offer:

The founding of the Sautrāntika school is attributed to the elder Kumāralāta (c. 3rd century CE),[8] author of a “collection of dṛṣtānta” (Dṛṣtāntapaṅkti ) called the Kalpanāmaṇḍitīkā . The Sautrāntikas were sometimes also called “disciples of Kumāralāta”.[9] According to Chinese sources, Harivarman (250-350 CE) was a student of Kumāralāta who became disillusioned with Buddhist Abhidharma and then wrote the Tattvasiddhi-śāstra in order to “eliminate confusion and abandon the later developments, with the hope of returning to the origin”.[10] The Tattvasiddhi was translated into Chinese and became an important text in Chinese Buddhism until the Tang Dynasty.

Might not need that long. Especially in this age of internet speed. With the internet, ages get shortened. 10 years feels like a generation instead of 30 years. Maybe a generation is even less than 10 years now.

I can see some things which the EBT can put in our own Abhidhamma already: intermediate existence between lives, the path doesn’t last merely for a thought moment etc. Maybe due to the social and moral pressure not to create new schools, such a project might get delayed for centuries indeed.

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I believe as in Vimuttimagga says about our predecessors taught counting breath. It seems maybe there was a Sri Lankan sanga coming from them.

Modern Dhamma books are Abhidhamma in a general sense (they’re books about the Dhamma and its structure), they’re just different kinds of Abhidhamma.