destruction of the Buddhist centres resulted in a further set-back to
Buddhism.
Seventh Phase It begins with the revival of Buddhism in eastern India due
to its patronage by the Palas (eighth and ninth centuries AD). The famous
Vikramasila University was founded by Dharmapala. However Buddhism
again underwent a general decline after the fall of the Palas and completely
disappeared in India after the Turkish invasions and the destruction of
Buddhist centres in eastern India by Bakhtiyar Khalji in 1198 AD.
Buddhist Councils
During the life of the Buddha himself, the Sangha or the order of the ascetics
came into existence. After the death of the Buddha, it undertook the
responsibility of maintaining the purity of Buddhism.
First Council Held at Rajagriha under the chairmanship of Mahakassapa
immediately after the death of the Buddha (483 BC), its purpose was to
maintain the purity of the Master’s teachings. It resulted in the settlement of
the Sutta Pitaka (Buddha’s sayings) and the Vinaya Pitaka (monastic code)
by Ananda and Upali respectively. Pitaka literally means a ‘basket’ and it
was called so, because the original texts were written on palm leaves and kept
in baskets.
Second Council Convened at Vaisali a century after the death of the
Buddha (around 383 BC), it was probably presided over by Sabakami. Its
purpose was to end the controversy between the Vajji monks who began to
follow some unorthodox practices, and their opponents who remained
orthodox. But unfortunately it failed to arrive at an agreement over monastic
discipline, leading to the division of the Buddhist Sangha into the orthodox
Sthaviravadins (or Theravadins) and the unorthodox Mahasanghikas.
Third Council Held at Pataliputra under the patronage of Asoka (around
250 BC) and under the chairmanship of Moggaliputta Tissa (also known as
Upagupta), its purpose was to settle the dispute arising out of the rival claims
to authority. Its results were: (i) establishment of the Sthaviravadins as the
true followers and expulsion of others as heretics; (ii) final compilation of the
Tripitakas (a third one was added to the earlier two), viz. Sutta Pitaka,