Sanskrit; Chinese 上座部) literally means "Teaching Of The Elders". They were one of the two main movements in early Buddhism that arose from the Great Schism, the other being that of the IAST|Mahāsāṅghika. "The Elders" referred to the Arahants and elder monks, who were naturally the leaders of the community, and whose voice and views carried more weight than more junior monks, which some scholars believe that, as the primary cause of the Schism itself.Dutt (1978).]
The Sthaviravāda were the proponents of an orthodox understanding of the Buddha's teachings which later became known as the Theravāda. They criticised the IAST|
Mahāsāṅghikaschool for adding additional rules to the Patimokkha.Fact|date=January 2008
The Schism happened between the second (350 BC) and third (250 BC) Buddhist Council. According to the
Mahavamsa, after the Second Council was closed, the Vajjian monks did not accept the verdict but held an assembly of their own attended by ten thousand calling it a Mahasangiti (Great convocation) from which the school derived its name IAST|Mahāsāṅghika.
Another belief on the cause of the Great Schism, were the disagreements in the five theories about an Arahant, put forward by Mahadeva, who later founded IAST|Mahāsāṅghika. The rest of the monks who rejected the five theories named themselves as "Sthaviravāda" to differentiate from the IAST|Mahāsāṅghika.
The Sthaviravāda doctrine survives today in the Theravāda tradition, but "although they share the same name (Thera and Sthavira being the
Pāliand Sanskritforms of the same word meaning 'elder'), there is no historical evidence that the Theravāda school arose until around two centuries after the Great Schism which occurred at the Council of IAST|Pāṭaliputra." [Keown (2003).] The Theravada is often recognized as being a continuation of the Sthaviravada, after the Third Buddhist Council.
Early Buddhist Schools
Schools of Buddhism
* Dutt, Nalinaksha (2nd ed., 1978). "Buddhist Sects in India". Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
* Keown, Damien (2003). "Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism". ISBN 0-19-860560-9.
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