Vaibhāṣika (Vaibhashika)

Sarvāstivāda-Vaibhāṣika or simply Vaibhāṣika, refers to an ancient Buddhist tradition of Abhidharma (scholastic Buddhist philosophy), which was the most influential tradition in India from the 1st – 7th century CE.

They were distinguished from other Sarvāstivāda sub-schools by their orthodox adherence to the doctrines found in the Mahāvibhāṣa – the Great Compendium of Abhidharma, compiled around 150 CE.

Despite numerous variations and doctrinal disagreements within the tradition, most Sarvāstivāda-Vaibhāṣikas were united in their acceptance of the doctrine of "Sarvāstitva" (all exists), which says that all phenomena in the 3 times (past, present and future) can be said to exist.

Vaibhashika School | Buddhism

1. Vaibhashika Vaibhāṣika Sarvāstivāda-Vaibhāṣika or simply Vaibhāṣika , refers to an ancient Buddhist tradition of Abhidharma (scholastic Buddhist philosophy), which was very influential in north India, especially Kashmir. In various texts this tradition has been referred also as Yukta-vāda (the doctrine of logic), and another name for them was Hetu-vāda . The Vaibhāṣika School was an influential subgroup of the larger Sarvāstivāda School: They were

2. Sources Canonical texts The main source of this tradition is was the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭaka . The texts of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭaka are: 1) Saṅgīti-paryāya ('Discourses on Gathering Together'), essentially a commentary on the Saṅgīti-sutra (Dīgha nikāya no. 33). 2) Dharma-skandha ('Aggregation of Dharmas'), a list of key doctrinal topics. 3) Prajñāpti Śāstra ('Treatise on Designations'), a list of doctrinal topics followed by

3. Dharmas Dharmas and their characteristics All Buddhist schools of Abhidharma divided up the world into " dharmas " ( phenomena , factors , or " psycho-physical events "), which are the fundamental building blocks of all phenomenal experience. Unlike the Sūtras , the Abhidharma analyses experience into these momentary psycho-physical processes. Dharmas refer to the discrete and impermanent instances of consciousness along with their

4. Nirvāṇa Nirvāṇa’s real existence In Sarvāstivāda, Nirvāṇa is a "distinct positive entity" ( dravyāntara ). It is "an ontologically real force that is acquired by the practitioner when a given defilement is completely abandoned." This force ensures that the defilement's acquisition will never arise again. Master Skandhila ’s definition indicates how this real entity has a positive presence, which is said to be "like

5. Time and Ontology Existence The name Sarvāstivāda literally means " all exists " ( sarvaṁ asti ), referring to their doctrine that all dharmas, past present and future, exist. This doctrine of tri-temporal existence has been described as an Eternalist theory of time. What does it mean for a dharma to exist? For the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharmikas, the main reasons that something is real or

6. Causality Theory of Causality An important topic covered in Vaibhāṣika Abhidharma was the investigation of causes , conditions and their effects . Vaibhāṣikas used 2 major schemes to explain causality: 1) the 4 conditions ( pratyaya ) and 2) the 6 causes ( hetu ). In this system, the arising of dharmas is totally dependent on specific causes. Causal force is what makes a

7. Epistemology The Vaibhāṣika epistemology defended a form of realism that is established through experience. Their theory of knowledge held that one could know dharmas as unique forces with unique characteristics by 2 means of knowledge ( pramāṇa ): 1) Direct perception (which includes spiritual vision) or 2) Inference (anumāna), which relies on direct experience. For Vaibhāṣikas like Saṁghabhadra “the characteristic of an existent (

8. Defilement (kleśa) The goal of Buddhism is often seen as the freedom from suffering which arises from the complete removal of all defilements ( kleśa ). This is a state of perfection that is known by an Arhat or Buddha through the "knowledge of the destruction of the outflows" ( āśravakṣaya-jñāna ). Abhidharmikas saw the Abhidharma itself, which in the highest sense is just

9. Karma While the Vaibhāṣikas acknowledge the profound and ultimately inconceivable nature of karma , they still attempted to give a rational account of its basic workings and to show how it was a middle way between determinism and absolute freedom. The Mahāvibhāṣa (MVŚ) notes that there are different but related ways in which the term karma is used: It can refer to actions in

10. Dependent Origination The Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma interpretation of the key Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Origination ( pratītya-samutpāda ) focuses on how the 12 links ( nidāna ) contribute to rebirth from the perspective of 3 periods of existence (past, present, future). This is explained in the following way: Past causes 1. Ignorance ( avidyā ), represents all the defilements in one's past life, since all

11. Spiritual path The study of the nature and function of spiritual paths is important to Abhidharma: For the Vaibhāṣikas the spiritual path is a gradual process of abandoning the defilements; there is no "sudden enlightenment". The analysis of the various spiritual paths, provided by the Vaibhāṣika Abhidharma, corresponds to the abandoning of various defilements. The beginning of the path consists of preliminary practices :