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The Third Buddhist Council. (1) Said to have been held in Pa^t!aliputra波咤厘 about 250 years after the passing of S/a^kyamuni. Some scholars have doubts about the historicity of this event, but Prebish tends to accept the fact that it at least took place (see Encyclopedia of Religion, vol 4, p. 121). A monk from Pa^t!aliputra, Maha^deva, questioned the notion of the absolute perfection of the arhat, pointing out the fact that he can have nocturnal emissions, that he is not yet free from ignorance, and that he still has room for progress on the path to enlightenment. Differing views on these points led to division of the monks into two camps. The council, which was intended to reconcile these differences, could only confirm the division. Those who affirmed these points, and who believed themselves to be in the majority, called themselves Maha^sa^m!ghikas (Great Community 大众部). Their opponents, represented by the "elders," who were distinguished by outstanding wisdom and virtue, called themselves Sthavira上座部.

(2) The Pali school of Sri Lanka does not recognize this council. For them third council refers to the so-called synod of the Pali school of Pa^t!aliputra that took place around 244 B.C.E., during the reign of King A/soka阿育王. The occasion for this council was a conflict between the "authentic" Buddhist monks and those who insisted that the sangha be allowed to enjoy certain privileges. At the urging of A/soka, Moggaliputta Tissa convoked the synod, in which those monks who rejected his position were excluded from the sangha. In his work Kathavatthu 论事, which is included in the Abhidharma of the Theravada school, he refuted the heretical views. At this synod also, the entire canon was read out. Prebish also considers that this was definitely an historical event.

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