The Theravāda Lineage

The Nikāya Saṅgrahaya

A History of Buddhism in India and Ceylon
translated into English by
C. M. Fernando, M.A., LL.M. Cantab.

Revised and Edited
(With Introduction, Analytical Summary, and Notes)
Mudaliyā R. W. F. Gunawardhana
Public Instruction Department, Ceylon

Further Revised
Ānandajoti Bhikkhu

H. C. Cottle, Government Printer, Ceylon

This Edition

This 14th c. work is about the various sects that arose in Buddhism after the passing of its founder as they developed in India and later in Sri Lanka.




Html Table of Contents


Introduction, mainly about Dates

Analytic Summary

The Theravāda Lineage



[iii] The Sinhalese text of the “Nikāya Saṅgrahaya” was first edited and published by Mr. D. M. de Z. Wickremasinghe in 1890. A second and revised edition, in which I had the honour of taking part, was published by the Government of Ceylon in 1907. On that edition the present translation is based. As a few mistakes still occur in the revised edition, they have either been corrected in this translation or attention has been drawn to them. But this has been done as merely an expression of my own individual opinion, for which my co-workers in the revision are not responsible.

W. F. G.
Colombo, May 1908

Preface to the New Edition

The Nikāya Saṅgrahaya, which was written in the Sinhala language in the 14th century A.D., [The 20th century after the Buddha]. treats of the various sects that arose in Buddhism after the passing of its founder as they developed in India and later in Śrī Laṅkā, and how they were dealt with and the religion purified by the kings and great elders of old. Our author being a convinced Theravādin, and a strict adherent of that orthodoxy, who ascended to the leadership of the Saṅgha, carried out such a purification himself, and the book may have been written as a defence of that action, showing how it has historical precedents.

In dilineating its main topic, it also covers the succession of kings in Śrī Laṅkā, and how their behaviour was, or was not, in keeping with the protection of the religion, which here indicates the Mahā Vihāra orthodoxy, which until a couple of centuries before had been only one of three main lineages in the country. [The other two being the Abhayagiri and, later, the Jetavana traditions]. This also meant, of course, resisting and keeping out any foreign invaders who were of a different persuasion, and so our author glorifies the kings who were nationalist and orthodox, and blames those who were not.

The title of the original publication was left in Sinhala as Nikāya Saṅgrahaya, [For reasons I cannot explain the translation consistently printed the last word as Saṅgrahawa, though the text and the expected form is Saṅgrahaya. I have corrected it everywhere]. and did not include a translation. The title means A Manual of the (Buddhist) Sects, [I am grateful to Prof. Kapila Abhayavaṁsa for this translation]. but this doesn’t convey accurately what the book is about. It is not a manual of the orthodox and heterodox beliefs or ideas, which that title may suggest, but a history of how the orthodox Theravāda lineage was maintained, passed down and eventually achieved supremacy in Śri Laṅkā. I have chosen the present title, The Theravāda Lineage, based on the alternative title, Śāsanāvatāra, and the contents of the book, as I feel it clarifies what is the main thrust of the work.

This work then is a modified version of the original translation by C. M. Fernando, which is now in the public domain. In Śrī Laṅkā the language of the original text is called Miśra Sinhala (Mixed Sinhala) as it incorporates elements of Sinhala, Pāḷi and Sanskrit, and it is normal in the language to use more than one form for the same person or idea. This mixed nature makes it particularly difficult to render consistently in translation in English.

The original translation used many Sinhala names and terms, and a very outdated, and, in many ways, abnormal form of transliteration. To give an idea of some of the problems in the translation, here is a list of the books of the Tipiṭaka from near the beginning of the book:

Pariji, Paciti, Mahawaga, Suḷuwaga, Pariwāra, Daṁsaṅguṇu, Vibhaṅgapawuruṇu, Kathāwastu, Pudgalaprajñapṭi, Dhātukathā, lndriya-yamaka, Mūla-yamaka, Dwikapaṭṭhāna, Tikapaṭṭhāna, Dwika-Tikapaṭṭhāna, Dīgha Nikāya, Madhyama Nikāya, Saṁyut Nikāya, Aṅguttara Nikāya, and Khuddaka Nikāya consisting of Khuddakapāṭha, Dhammapada, Udāna, ltivuttaka, Sūtranipāta, Vimānavastu, Pretavastu, Theragāthā, Therīgāthā, Jātaka, Nirdeśa, Pratisambhidā, Apadāna, Buddhavaṁsa, Cariyāpiṭaka, &c.

I think some of the Sinhala forms of the names would not be recognised in the Buddhist world at large, and others, which were given in their Sanskrit forms are also not in use when referring to the Pāḷi books. Besides this, the divisions are not entirely in keeping with the way they are divided now. So in the revised translation I have given them in their Pāḷi forms and indicate their traditional division, with an additional note on the normal order of the three Piṭakas:

[Vinaya Piṭaka:]
Pārājika, Pācittiya, Mahāvagga, Cullavagga, Parivāra.
[Abhidhamma Piṭaka, which is normally placed after the Sutta Piṭaka:]
Dhammasaṅgiṇī, Vibhaṅgappakaraṇa, Kathāvatthu, Puggalapaññatti, Dhātukathā, lndriya-yamaka, Mūla-yamaka [both collected under the tile Yamaka], Duka-Paṭṭhāna, Tika-Paṭṭhāna, Duka-Tika-Paṭṭhāna [collected under the title Paṭṭhāna].
[Sutta Piṭaka:]
Dīgha Nikāya, Majjhima Nikāya, Saṁyutta Nikāya, Aṅguttara Nikāya, and Khuddaka Nikāya consisting of Khuddakapāṭha, Dhammapada, Udāna, ltivuttaka, Suttanipāta, Vimānavatthu, Petavatthu, Theragāthā, Therīgāthā, Jātaka, Niddesa, Paṭisambhidāmagga, Apadāna, Buddhavaṁsa, Cariyāpiṭaka, &c.

A similar problem arises with some of the names and terms, which were given in Sinhala, such as Visā [Pāḷi: Vesākha], Viśālā [P: Vesālī], Pæḷalup [P: Pāṭaliputta], asaṁkhya [P: asaṅkheyya], etc., etc. In this revision I have given them in their more recognisable Pāḷi forms. I have also occasionally corrected spelling mistakes made in the original text, but this has been done quietly and without notice.

I have not normally changed the Sanskrit forms of the names unless they refer specifically to Pāḷi works or words that are more familiar in Pāḷi. So I maintain, for instance, Dharmarakṣita as the name of the author, which in Pāḷi would be Dhammarakkhita, believing that the former would have been the form used by the author himself.

On the other hand well known names, which were given in their Sanskrit forms, such as Śāriputra, Maudgalyāna, Mahā Kāśyapa, etc. while being understandable, have been changed to their contextually more appropriate Pāḷi forms: Sāriputta, Moggallāna, Maha Kassapa.

Sometimes there was an unfortunate choice of word in the English translation, like the use of Church [with the capital C]. As that now reads rather awkwardly, in this revision I have replaced it with the words tradition and Saṅgha as context required. Other changes of this sort have been indicated in the notes as they occur.

The earlier part of the text was the easiest to revise, but when we come to the medieval history of Śrī Laṅkā it has sometimes been hard to know where to draw the line in the revision: I first tried to back translate many of the lists of names of the kings and elders into Pāḷi, using Mahāvaṁsa and Cullavaṁsa as reference points, but this could hardly be done consistently, as the texts differ somewhat in their lineages, and in the names used. So in the end I have mainly kept them in the form they were originally given, and occasionally inserted the better known Pāḷi names, and added a note acknowledging the original text.

As to the transliteration, the schema used seems to have been very rare. Some of these may be listed here:

What we now normally write as ś, was written as ṣ.
ṣ on the other hand was written as sh.
ṁ was written as circle under n.
e and o were written with a macron over them (this is not wrong, as they are indeed long vowels, but just unnecessary as they are all long anyway).
In certain words we find double dot under h, where we would normally write simple h these days as in Brahma, for instance.
-ṁk- and -ṁg- in the original are normally replaced with -ṅk- and -ṅg-, except when the word is in Sanskrit, and the convention is still to use the former.

Dates in the Analaytic Summary were indented into the paragraph. Here they have been placed at the beginning, usually, and sometimes at the end of the paragraph. I have also added explanatory notes, and sometimes clarifications inline in the text. I have included the Latin form of botanical names to enable easy identification. I have inserted the original page numbers to the 1908 edition. To identify these sorts of changes and additions all changes made by me have been placed inside square brackets [].

The first transcription of this text was made by Ven. Khemaratana, who has helped me with numerous projects of this sort. For reasons that should now be clear his task was very much complicated by the transliteration sheme adopted by the original publishers, and the difficulty of the language involved. I am particularly grateful to him for his perserverance and patience.

The final editing and the revised translation is something of a hybrid, and it is not entirely satisfactory. My aim was to make the work more accessible to a modern readership, but if there are any deficiencies in the present work I am entirely responsible. Any and all corrections and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
August, 2020


Introduction, mainly about Dates

Analytic Summary

The Theravāda Lineage