18. Sautrantikas
     Pali sources mention six other sects—the Haimavatikas, Rajagirikas,
Siddhatthikas, Pubbaseliyas, Aparaseliyas, and Vajiriyas.
     Some of these sects became important in course of time and had a large
following and a literature peculiar to their schools. The Mahansanghikas had
their own Vinaya, and besides, they were the precursors of what later came to
be called the Mahayanists. The Sthaviravadins and the Sarvastivadins,
further giving rise to others, had their own literatures of Vinaya, Sutras, and
     The Kathavatthu merely mentions the different views held by one or
more individual members of one and the same Sangha. Based on that the
Kathavatthu commentary identifies these ‘views’ with those of the different
sects that had already come into existence by the time of the composition of
the commentary. On the evidence of the versions of Asoka’s pillar edicts
about the schisms in the Buddhist Sangha, some scholars believe that these
sects will have to be relegated to post-Asokan period.
Sthaviravadins The earliest and, at the same time, a vivid and simple
picture of the personality of the Buddha and his teachings is found in the Pali
literature of the Theravadins or Sthaviravadins, founded by
Mahakachchayana who hailed from Avanti. This literature also describes
Buddha as god of gods (devatideva), or as a superhuman being possessing
and exhibiting miraculous powers and capable of being a world-teacher; but
the more common description in it is that of a human being with concomitant
disabilities and frailties. The Buddha’s philosophy, too, was very simple, and
it may be summed up in three words: anatman, anitya, and duhkha.
Sarvastivadins Closely related with the school of Theravada the school of
the Sarvastivadins is centred round the idea, sabbam atthi (all things exist).
This idea is found as early as the Samyutta Nikaya. This school and that of
the Sthaviravadins are realists. For them, the external world and its
constituent parts, the dharmas, have a real existence. Therefore this school
believes that all things exist, and exist continuously—in the past and the
future as well as in the present.
     The greatest authority of this school was Vasubandhu, who wrote the
systematic treatise Abhidharmakosa. Kanishka was the patron-king of this