"This is an intelligently crafted and thought-provoking book that investigates one of the more obscure periods of Indian Buddhist history, the period that saw the formation of the early Buddhist sects. 

Drawing upon sources preserved in several canonical languages, Ven. Sujato has tried to penetrate beneath the myths that prevent clear understanding of this period, giving each of the early schools its own fair hearing. 

His conclusions are sometimes radical--and I don't follow him at every step--but his work is illuminated with many sharp insights and intellectually stimulating discussions."

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

I wanted to clarify my own thinking regarding the origins of the Buddhist schools, and somewhat against my will realized that I could not rest satisfied with either the traditional accounts or the attempts by modern scholars to construct a more rational history. I have carefully re-examined all the original sources, and drawn conclusions in certain respects quite different from any scholars that I am aware of. 

The main results of this project are contained in the book Sects & Sectarianism, found here and in book form through Lulu.com. This Lulu version will cost for printing and postage, but neither lulu nor myself receive any royalties. A free distribution version is now available through the Corporate Body of the Buddha in Taiwan.

Various more-or-less related side issues have come up in my research, and rather than burden an already over-complicated book, I put the resulting essays here. These are a mixture of technical notes, critiques, and sketches towards further studies. 

Please note that this is a BETA site, and all is subject to revision. Comments are welcome, please send to sectsandsectarianism [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sects & Sectarianism will form the theme of my presentation at the upcoming  “1st International Congress on Buddhist Women’s Role in the Sangha: Bhikshuni Vinaya and Ordination Lineages” . 


Version 2: 25/1/2007

I have just finished what will be the last revision for some time, perhaps forever. I've received valuable feedback from several quarters, most notably from Bhikkhu Bodhi, who carefully read the work before kindly offering his blurb. 

The new version attempts to render the ideas more explicit and clear. I've added an abstract and expanded the scope of the foreword. There are innumerable minor differences, but no substantial changes in the conclusions or the shape of the arguments.. 

In terms of research, the major addition has been taking into account the work of Sasaki, who has published a series of essays on similar topics. However, while he highlighted a number of crucial passages, his theoretical methods were quite different to mine so i was only able to make limited use of his results. A brief essay on his work (as well as a few other additions) may be found in the supplements.

Bhikkhu Sujato


Because of earlier display problems, I have tried to strip the formatting for adequate display on all browsers. As a result, some formatting such as italics has been sacrificed. Due to problems rendering footnotes, they are now all static text. (Not all the supplementary essays have been revised.) I have tested in IE7, Firefox, and Opera, and it now works well in all.


For correct display of diacriticals and special characters, set browser to Unicode:

View > Encoding > Unicode (UTF 8) 


It may help to set default font to Arial Unicode. 

In Firefox:

Tools > Options > Content > Fonts & Colors 

In IE: 

Tools > Internet Options > General > Fonts

In Opera:

Tools > Preferences > Web Pages 


Refresh browser.



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