Greetings to All:

I’m just looking for the Vinaya precept which states that, when there’s doubt about where to locate a sutta, the reciter or redactor should locate it in Sāvatthī.

I know there’s one in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya which Schopen mentions, but I was under the impression that the Theravādins had one as well.

I don’t think so. The Schopen article is

Schopen, Gregory. 2004. “If you can’t Remember, How to Make it up, Some Monastic Rules for Redacting Canonical Texts.” In Buddhist Monks and Business Matters, Still More Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India . Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. 395-407.

To the best of my recollection there is no Theravāda equivalent of this rule (and no equivalent in any other Vinaya).

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Thank you. Then it must’ve been the Mūlasarvāstivādin rule I was thinking of.

It occurs in other sources. I don’t have time to search through all of the accounts of the first council, but that’s where it’s most likely to be found. The source I know off the top of my head is the introduction to the Ekottarika Agama, which gives a narration of the first council story in verse. Ananda specifically says that he will place sutras in Sravasti if the location isn’t known. Cf. T125.2.550b13, or my translation:

“At Vārāṇasī, the first Dharma was taught,
Then the three Kāśyapas were converted in Magadha.
Next, he was in the land of the Śākya Lion,
Campā, Kuru, and Vaiśālī.

“Then, the palaces of gods, nāgas, and asuras,
And the gandharvas, et al. at Kuśinagara.
If the place a sūtra was taught is unknown,
I’ll say its origin was in Śrāvastī.


Just tagging Ven @Dhammanando in case he knows of anything in the commentaries.

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I haven’t come across such an instruction in any Pali source and would be quite surprised if there is one.

Firstly, it would run counter to the general tenor of the Mahāvihāra, whose pandits take a very dim view of those Buddhist schools that they regard as cavalier in their manner of preserving and transmitting texts.

Secondly, in the earliest Vinaya teaching manual, the Vinaya Pitaka’s Parivāra, the location where each Vinaya ordinance was laid down is a detail that the student of Vinaya is required to know.

Thirdly, it’s not in Buddhaghosa’s Vinaya Atthakathā, which is the kind of place you’d expect to find it if it existed.


Thank you to all who responded. It seems there is indeed no corresponding passage in any Theravāda basket, as @Jayarava stated. And, thank you, of course, to @cdpatton for the Chinese reference. And @Snowbird and @Dhammanando for your assistance as well.

I think we’ll finally consider this solved.