The possible school affiliation of T 102


I would like to ask Ven @sujato for his opinion about my conclusion of T 102’s possible school affiliation if he doesn’t mind.

T 102 was discussed in Not -self and control: the problems of translating a Chinese passage and I find it interesting how SA 34’s passages are a little difficult to understand. So, I decided to do some (very beginner level) comparative study of T 102 and its many parallels from other schools, namely:
-SA 34 (translated into English by Ven Analayo)
-SF 259 (translated into English by Ven Sujato)
-Sanghabhedavastu (relevant passages are translated into English by Dr. Mark Allon)
-Mahavastu (translated into English by J. J. Jones )
-Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya (relevant passages are translated into English by the Bodhi Translation Committee )
-SN 22.59 (translated into English by Ven Sujato)
-The Gandhari version (translated into English by Dr. Mark Allon)

The school affiliation of these texts are as followed:
-SA 34, SF 259, and Sanghabhedavastu most likely belong to the Sarvastivadins.
-Mahavastu belongs to Mahasanghika - Lokuttaravada.
-Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya belongs to Dharmaguptaka.
-SN 22.59 belongs to Theravada.
-The extant Gandhari version most likely belongs to Dharmaguptaka.

T 102 was translated by Ven Yijing, who if I remember correctly, translated some Sarvastivadin texts, so my hypothesis is that this text belongs to the Sarvastivadins.

Okay, here I go.

In T 102, the place where the teaching was taught was at Vārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana, which agrees with basically all the other versions. Mahavastu is the only version where the Buddha was said to teach both gods and humans.

Then, T 102 says that the Buddha addressed the five monks, which agrees with Mahavastu, Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, SN 22.59, and the Gandhari version. It differs, however, from SA 34, SF 259, and Sanghabhedavastu where they say that the Buddha instead addressed the four remaining monks. According to Ven Analayo’s study of the different versions of Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Mulasarvastivada versions mention how Ven Koṇḍañña was freed from all defilements, maybe that’s why the Sarvastivadin versions of SN 22.59 say “the remainder of the five monks”.

The next part is about the core teachings which are virtually the same in all versions. But, there are some different wordings which are worth noting I think. T 102 says that if form were self it would not lead to affliction and suffering, which agrees with SA 34, SF 259, Sanghabhedavastu, Mahavastu, Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, and the Gandhari version. SN 22.59, however, only mentions affliction. The Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya and the Gandhari version are the only parallels that explicitly employ the word “control” instead of saying how may form be like this or not be like that.

All versions continue with the Buddha asking about impermanence, suffering, and whether things should be regarded as you or yours. T 102 employs the following sentence “would a learned noble disciple herein regard it as the self” which is the same as the Sarvastivadin versions and different from the other versions where they don’t mention a learned noble disciple at this juncture. Again, the Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya and the Gandhari version agree with each other, which, at this point, the Buddha asked whether what is impermanent is suffering or happiness. The choosing of suffering or happiness occur only in these two versions.

The Buddha then continued with the instruction that one should see with right wisdom in accordance with reality the five aggregates as not-self. T 102 only says that one should view them as not-self, while SA 34 says that one should view them as “not self and does not belong to a self”. The other versions say that they should be viewed as “not mine, not I am, not my self”, except the Gandhari version where this part is missing.

In the final part, the Buddha told the monks about a learned noble disciple who practices the contemplation of the five aggregates. T 102 says that learned noble disciples contemplate the five grasping aggregates as not-self and not belonging to a self, which agrees with Sarvastivadin versions (except that T 102 refers to learned noble disciples in plural instead of in singular like Sarvastivadin versions). Mahavastu doesn’t seem to record this part. SN 22.59, Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, and the Gandhari version agree with themselves that “Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness. Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.” T 102 agrees with Sarvastivadin versions by specifying that the noble disciples “personally realizes Nirvāṇa”.

When it comes to the conclusion, T 102, SA 34, SF 259, Sanghabhedavastu, Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, and SN 22.59 agree that the monks were freed from all defilements. Mahavastu says that only Ven Koṇḍañña was freed while the other four monks became stream-enterers. I don’t know about the conclusion in the Gandhari version. T 102 also agrees with SA 34 that the five monks were delighted and received the teachings respectfully.

From the above information, it can be seen that T 102 is closest (but not identical) to the Sarvastivadin versions. There are wordings that are unique in the Sarvastivadin versions, namely: how a learned noble disciple herein would not regard form as the self, a learned noble disciple contemplates the five grasping aggregates as not-self and not belonging to a self, and the noble disciples personally realizes Nirvāṇa. Furthermore, T 102 and SA 34 conclude (with only few variations) that: the five monks were delighted and received the teachings respectfully.

Some variations that are detected, in my opinion, are simply because Ven Yijing got T 102 from a transmission lineage that was different from the other Sarvastivadin versions, but still from the Sarvastivadins. Moreover, Ven Yijing did some translation works on Sarvastivadin texts like T 110 where @llt talked in Short essay on Dharmacakra sūtras in Chinese about how T 110, SA 379, and Chinese Sarvastivada Vinaya are consistent in content and how T 110 matches with SA 379 and Chinese Sarvastivada Vinaya versions. In addition, unlike the Mulasarvastivada versions where Ven Koṇḍañña is said to be freed from all defilements, T 110 only mentions that the stainless, immaculate vision of the Dhamma arose in Ven Koṇḍañña, which would continue seamlessly with T 102 where all five monks were addressed instead of “the remainder of the five monks”.

Edit: I just took notice of a passage in T 102 that likely connects it to the Sarvastivadins. In T 102, when the Buddha asked the five monks if what is impermanent is suffering, T 102 is the only version that has this passage “或苦苦、壞苦、行 苦” which means “suffering in suffering”, “suffering in change”, and “suffering in conditions” respectively.

Among the EBT, these three types of suffering occur only in Theravadin texts, DA 9 of Dharmaguptaka, and T 12 of an unknown school. Other than the EBT, these three types of suffering mostly appear in commentaries, whether in Pali or not. The thing that really stands out is the differences in sequence of the sufferings. They can be divided into three groups:
The first group: 或苦苦、壞苦、行 苦 - “suffering in suffering”, “suffering in change”, “suffering in conditions” (T 102)
The second group: 行苦、苦苦、變易苦 - “suffering in conditions”, “suffering in suffering”, “suffering in change” (DA 9) and 輪迴苦、苦苦、壞苦 - “suffering in cycle of birth and death”, “suffering in suffering”, “suffering in change” (T 12)
The third group: Dukkhadukkhatā, saṅkhāradukkhatā, vipariṇāmadukkhatā - the suffering inherent in painful feeling; the suffering inherent in conditions; and the suffering inherent in perishing (Theravada)

The first item in T 12 seems most likely to be a mistranslation by mistaking “saṃskāra” (condition) with “saṃsāra” (cycle of birth and death). Anyway, it can be seen here that the sequence in T 102 is different from other versions, but it agrees exactly with the sequence that is found in Ven Asanga’s Abhidharmasamuccaya (who was himself linked closely with Sarvastivada). This sequence is also taught in Tibetan Buddhism where Mulasarvastivadin texts are studied. This particular sequence of the three sufferings, I believe, strongly suggests the link between T 102 and the Sarvastivadins.

So, I conclude that T 102 most likely belongs to the Sarvastivadins. Is my conclusion sound?


Something to bear in mind is that Yijing is about three centuries later in history than T 99, and after the advent of Xuanzang. He translated the entire Mulasarvastivada Vinaya when he returned to China in 695 CE after 20+ years traveling in other Buddhist countries.

Yijing’s translation of T102, thus, could be an expanded version of the same Sarvastivada text. Also, Yijing uses a more systematic and literal translation method, and (like Xuanzang) he was fluent in Chinese and Indic languages. His work can be assumed to be closer to the original than the older translations.