- 東方学報 = Journal of Oriental studies (ISSN:03042448)
- vol.95, pp.580-524, 2020-12
Regarding the chronology of Early Buddhism, many researchers have been discussing which to take, the "long" or the "short" chronology, in order to pinpoint the year of Śākyamuni's death. In this article, the author advocates the possibility to accept both chronologies, because they were apparently based on and developed from the same original information. It appears that the history of "118 years" after the death of Śākyamuni was intentionally extended to that of "236 (=118 x 2) years" in the long chronology, and that in it the year of Aśoka's accession was accordingly set as the 219th year, when "218 (=118+100) years" had elapsed. This point seems to have been overlooked in previous studies, but should be taken into account. (1) The year of Aśoka's accession is around 268 BCE. (2) The year of Kanishka's accession, or the 1st year of a Kusāna century, is around 127 CE. (3) Xuanzang's narrative about King Kanishka is reliable. If these three points can be accepted, the above "236 (=118 x 2) years" theory should be adopted as the most likely explanation. As a result, the chronology can be read as following : The year of Śākyamuni's death is around 368 BCE. The date of his death is the autumnal equinox day, the 22nd day of the eighth month of the year in the Indian calendar. Around 268 BCE, the 101st year, when "100 years" had elapsed since Śākyamuni's death, Aśoka acceded to the throne. In the same year, Mahādeva started five modifications of the Buddhist teachings. Around 258 BCE, the 111th year, when "110 years" had elapsed, a group of monks in Vaishālī started ten unlawful matters. Around 252 BCE, the 117th year, when "116 years" had elapsed, the fundamental schism took place. The original Buddhist group was split into two, the Sthaviravāda and the Mahāsāmghika schools. Around 250 BCE, the 119th year, when "118 years" had elapsed, Mahinda arrived in Sri Lanka and introduced Buddhism. In the same year, the Vibhajyavāda school separated from the Sthaviravāda school.