Introduction This was held 100 years after Buddha’s mahaparinibbana to settle the Vinaya rules. This lasted for 8 months. Vesali was chosen, as it was the place where the 10 vinaya rules were relaxed by the Vajjian monks. Held at the Valukarama temple. It was chaired by Venerable Rewata and 700 arahants attended.
King Kalasoka was the ruling king then, but he was very fond of the Vajjian monks. Venerables Yasa, Rewata and Sabbakami with the king’s sister who had become a Bhikkhuni were able to convince the king to support the council.
Causes of the 2nd Buddhist council
1.Yasa’s discovery of Vajjian monks’ collection of money (gold and silver) from lay disciples during Uposatha day in Vesali. He objected strongly to this practice. Later, the monks shared the money amongst them, and offered a portion to Yasa who refused to accept it. Yasa strongly objected to the bribery.
2.Vajjian monks imposed ‘Act of reconciliation’ and ‘Act of suspension’ on Yasa
Yasa had reprimanded lay disciples for giving ‘gold and silver’ to the Vajjian monks. Then the vajjian monks imposed the act of reconciliation (patisaraniya kamma’ i.e., to ask pardon from laymen) to Yasa in the presence of an accompanying Vajjian monk as they wanted to convince lay disciples would consider the act of giving gold and silver as proper.
Accompanied by another monk, Yasa went into town and told the laymen, ‘I acknowledge that although religious laymen have good intention, but this is adhamma and avinaya.’ He cited discourses by Buddha, which were decisive on the question of monks being forbidden gold and silver.
The laypeople believing Yasa, decided to break with the Vajjian monks: “There is none but Yasa who is an ascetic and a son of Sakya, all the others are neither ascetics nor Sons of Sakyans.”
The Vajjian monks was upset with Venerable Yasa and decided to impose an ‘Act of suspension’ ((Ukkepaniya Kamma) on Venerable Yasa to silence his objection and to show the lay public at large that it was proper to accept gold and silver from lay disciples. However Venerable Yasa left the Vajjian city before this was imposed.
3.The liberal nature of the Vajjian monks. Lack of Central Control
Yasa also found that Vajjian monks were performing 9 other non- permissible acts in addition to accepting gold and silver, which Venerable Yasa considered as ‘Avinaya’.
The Vajjian monks were more liberal than other monks in the rest of the country. The monk population was so big and scattered all over the country with no central control.
i. It is permissible to carry salt in horn. (Extra food) ii. It is permissible to eat after midday. (Extra meal) iii. It is permissible to eat from village to village. (Extra meal) iv. It is permissible to assemble in different residences belonging to the same boundary to carry out various Observances. (different uposatha) v. It is permissible to vote in absence of proxy; i.e. incomplete Order to carry out a formal act. (not diplomatic) vi. It is permissible to follow what is customary. (As habitually done by preceptor or teacher). vii. It is permissible to take butter milk. (extra food) viii. It is permissible to drink toddy. (wine) ix. It is permissible to use rug without a border. (use luxury item) x. It is permissible to accept silver, gold and other valuables (accepts money)
4.A need of a large number of respected monks to settle the dispute of whether the 10 permissible acts carried out by the Vajjian monks were Avinaya. Yasa had to gather a sufficient large number of monks who were in agreement with him that these 10 permissible acts were Avinaya. GHe decided that he would seek help from the monks of the West who were more conservative and ascetic in their practice.
Yasa paid a visit to Sambhuta Sanavasin who agreed that the 10 permissible deeds are wrong. 60 ascetics from Pava, 88 ascetics from Avanti and Deccan deliberated and decide to consult Venerable Rewata believed to be foremost in the Dhamma and Vinaya. When the issue was put to him, he also agreed that they should question the Vajjian monks about the 10 points.
5.Commitment of Venerable Rewata to holding of 2nd Buddhist council.
Venerable Rewata decided to push for the 2nd council to discuss about the Vinaya rules as he was disturbed by the misbehavior of the wealthy Vajjian monks who tried to push for their cause:
a. The Vajjian monks’ attempt to buy over Venerable Rewata with gifts of requisites. b. Vajjian monks’ persuasion of Venerable Rewata’s personal attendant of 20 years ordination, Venerable Uttara to influence Venerable Rewata to take the position of the Vajjian monks. c. Vajjian monks’ offer of leadership to Venerable Uttara and his acceptance when Venerable Uttara was reprimanded and dismissed by Venerable Rewata for supporting the Avinaya behaviour of the Vajjian monks.
Ven. Rewata approached Ven. Sabbakamin, a well-respected monk of 120 years old, who had shared a cell with Ven Ananda, his upadhyaya/ preceptor.
To oppose a strong Vesali Buddhist community, an impressive representative of the Buddhist community was made with 700 Arhants assembled for the 2nd Buddhist Council.
The 2nd council began but there were too many speeches and debates that a proposal was made that the matter be referred to a jury comprising of:
• 4 Bhikkhus from the East ( Sabbakamin, Salha, Kujjasobhita, Vasabhaganika) • 4 Bhikkhus from the West (Rewata, Sanavasin, Yasa, Sumana)
Venerable Rewata, member of the Western group would question Venerable Sabbakamin of the eastern group in the presence of the Order on each of the 10 points. Venerable Sabbakamin would refer to place where the act was first committed, as recorded in the Suttavibanga of the Vinaya Pitaka; and the punishment, which would be conferred for the offence.
The Western party was able to convince by reference to the Vinaya rules in the Sutta Vibanga that the 10 points maintained by the Vajjian Bhikkhus were contrary to the discipline. At the conclusion, the monks then recited the Vinaya rules and they were considered orthodox.
The theras who believed in sthavira (unshakable, unwavering) vada were the Theravada monks who paved the promotion of the Theravada Buddhist point of view.
The Theravadan literature that was compiled after the 2nd Buddhist council, according to Buddhaghosa, were the 9 parts of Buddha’s dispensation (Navanga satthu sasana).
The Vajjian monks initially appeared to accept the 2nd Buddhist council but they were not satisfied so they called upon another group- Mahasanghika and they held their own Buddhist council. They were able to invite 10,000 monks and gathered at Pataliputra. There became a great schism of the Buddhist Sangha 100 years after the mahaparinibbana of the Buddha.
The Mahasanghika group now cast doubt about the status of the Arahants. In particular, the monk Mahadeva who had very strong support weakened the ideal of Arahant by putting up the 5 points: 1. An Arahant may be subjected to temptation. 2. One may be an Arahant and know it not 3. An Arahant may have doubts on matter of doctrine. 4. One cannot be an Arahant without a teacher. 5. One may attain perfection by meditating with such exclamation as ‘How sad, how sad.’
The Mahasanghika also had own literature written in Sanskrit. 1. Pitaka Vinaya Pitaka 2. Agama Sutta 3. Sutra Parinibbana Sutta 4. Paramita Perfection 5. Avatamsaka Flower Garland. Lotus Sutra. 6. Avadana Heroic deeds like Jataka stories.
So after the 2nd Buddhist council, 18 Buddhist schools existed till King Asoka period.