The battle between meditators and scholars, if you let me to call them so, has been there since the Buddha’s time and prevails until today.
Just yesterday I spoke with a monk and told him that there is a small group of monks known as “Mahavihara” in Myanmar, who are very strict in Vinaya rules and dedicate their lives to study, rather than meditation. He immediately rejected their value as those who do not follow the Buddha’s will.
The Mahacunda Sutta, however, shows that we (meditators) are not supposed to talk like this. One of my reasons to write this topic is a suggestion that the word “dhammayogā bhikkhū” now translated as “mendicants who practice discernment of principles” seems to me somewhat inaccurate. The Commentaries explain that dhammayoga here means dhammakathika, i.e., those who recite Dhamma (scholars, theorists) -
“Dhamme yogo anuyogo etesanti dhammayogā. Dhammakathikānaṃ etaṃ nāmaṃ.”
“Because they engage in Dhamma, they are those who engage in Dhamma. It is the word for reciters of Dhamma.” (my simplified translation)
Maybe if the English translation followed the Commentaries (as all Burmese translations of Mula Pali do) it would be easier to appreciate the meaning. (Just a personal opinion.) Otherwise, some may doubt whether ven. Sujato @sujato is perhaps also one of the two groups and doesn’t feel enthusiastic to praise the other… (only hypothetically)
Another interesting teaching of the Buddha where the Buddha warns against scholars criticizing meditators is Dvesahāyakabhikkhuvatthu, DhpA story no.14, for verses 19 and 20.
In this discourse the Buddha actually suggests that indeed those who just follow pariyatti (scriptural studies) would benefit from meditation… There are many more suttas where patipatti (practice) is elevated above pariyatti, but my main point is related to the “monks” and their “peace.”
The pariyatti monks apparently later, in defense against the danger of being blamed for their lack of meditation experience, “created” (and yes, here I do accuse them of “creating”) a Buddha’s verse which the Buddha has never said. The verse appears only a single time, in an Anguttara Nikaya Commentary, but it is famous throughout the pariyatti world in South-East Asia.
"Yāva tiṭṭhanti suttantā, vinayo yāva dippati;
Tāva dakkhanti ālokaṃ, sūriye abbhuṭṭhite yathā.
"Suttantesu asantesu, pamuṭṭhe vinayamhi ca;
Tamo bhavissati loke, sūriye atthaṅgate yathā.
"Suttante rakkhite sante, paṭipatti hoti rakkhitā;
Paṭipattiyaṃ ṭhito dhīro, yogakkhemā na dhaṃsatī’ti. (MM ANA 1.72)
The masters here argue that until there are suttas, there will be vinaya. This verse apparently, unfortunately, led to a prevalent modern Buddhist community of monks who dedicate themselves to sutta studies but do not follow Vinaya rules.
Let me know anybody and everybody your thoughts, please.