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60 Jurist 162 (2000)
The Buddhist Monastic Law in Ancient Sri Lanka

handle is hein.journals/juristcu60 and id is 164 raw text is: THE JURIST 60 (2000) 162-203

Vinayao nama Buddhasdsanassa ayu
Discipline is the life of Buddhist Dispensation.
Samantapdsddikd-B hiranidinavannand
Vol. 1 page 13. PTS. London. 1975
Buddhism originated in Northern India in the sixth century BC with
Gautama Buddha as its founder. He established the Order of Monks
known as sahgha with five members at the beginning. But this number
soon increased to hundreds and thousands who decided to devote them-
selves to higher spiritual status and also to continue the teachings of
Buddha. His doctrine as one could see is both Truth and Law. Today Bud-
dhism has become a powerful religion in the world influencing the lives
of many millions living in the east, west, south and north. It was due to
the efforts of Emperor Asoka in India in the third century BC that
Buddhism was introduced to countries outside India with the royal pa-
tronage provided by him. Buddhism in the course of its development
branched into two sections namely Theravdda and Mahdyana. Therava-
da is the branch of Buddhism now preserved in Sri Lanka, and it is so
called because the original teachings of Buddha were preserved by the
Elderly monks-Theras. Hence, Theravada means the doctrine of the El-
ders just suggesting the idea of its conservative nature.
With the rapid development of the Order of Sangha during the very
lifetime of Buddha, it was felt essential to guide these monks in keeping
with their holy life. Therefore a code of discipline was formulated. This
was called Vinaya or monastic discipline and the text in which all
the rules were compiled was called Vinaya Pitaka. These guidelines,
which originated during the lifetime of the Buddha, went through a
number of changes from time to time depending on the social demands
and other reasons. The following essay will illustrate some of the
* Senior Fellow-SOAS, University of London, Senior Professor of Sinhala, Universi-
ty of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

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