Did the Buddha practice asceticism prior to his awakening? A critical analysis of the Māhasīhanāda Sutta from the Majjhima Nikāya Cover Image

Czy Budda praktykował ascezę w okresie poprzedzającym jego przebudzenie? Krytyczna analiza sutty Māhasīhanāda ze zbioru Majjhimanikāya
Did the Buddha practice asceticism prior to his awakening? A critical analysis of the Māhasīhanāda Sutta from the Majjhima Nikāya

Author(s): Grzegorz Polak
Subject(s): Philosophy, Non-European Philosophy, Indian Philosophy
Published by: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Pedagogicznego w Krakowie
Keywords: asceticism; meditation; the bodhisatta; Mahāvīra; early Buddhism; Jainism;

Summary/Abstract: It is widely believed, that the Buddha practiced the most radical forms of asceticism and self mortification prior to his awakening. A critical analysis of the suttas depicting that crucial period of his life shows, however, that the only text which portrays the bodhisatta as a foremost ascetic is the Māhasīhanāda Sutta (MN 12/I, 68). The aim of this paper is to examine the issue of the authenticity of this text and thus to answer the question as to whether there is enough ground to claim that the Buddha was an ascetic at all. Through a comparative analysis, I show that the structure and content of the Māhasīhanāda Sutta cannot be reconciled with other suttas from the Majjhima Nikāya, which describe the bodhisatta’s path to awakening. I point out certain late features of the Māhasīhanāda Sutta. Then, through a comparative analysis I try to show that some parts of the Buddhist text may have been borrowed from the Jain Āyāraṁga Sutta. Next, I attempt to reinterpret the term attakilamathānuyogo from the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta in such a way which will not pertain to asceticism. In the final part of the paper, I try to explain how the view that the Buddha was a foremost ascetic prior to his awakening could have arisen.

  • Issue Year: VII/2017
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 17-32
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: Polish