Introduction 

1. The tradition of Indra "sharing half a seat"
2. Other traditions concerning "sharing half a seat"
3. The significance of the tradition about "sharing half a seat"
4. The tradition of Sakyamuni "sharing half a seat" with Mahākassapa
5. Traditions in the Pali sources
6. The significance of the tradition about "sharing half a seat" regarding Mahākassapa
Appendix: Traditions about Sakyamuni "sharing half a seat" with Mahākassapa in Chinese sources


Mahākassapa, half a seat, Māndhātṛ, King Nimi, cakravartin, Indra, "Beholding the Precious Stupa" (11th chapter of the Lotus Sutra), Mahābhārata, Arjuna


 His article may be regarded as a supplement to Article 8, "Biographical Study of Mahākassapa" and studies the meaning of the tradition that Sakyamuni "shared half a seat" with Mahākassapa. 

 The question of who shared with whom is not confined to Sakyamuni and Mahākassapa; anti-Buddhist texts also say that Māndhātṛ, King Nimi (or Nemiya) and Arjuna, one of the heroes of the Mahābhārata, were among those offered half a seat by Indra. Among Buddhist texts, the eleventh chapter of the Lotus Sutra, "Beholding the Precious Stupa", tells us that the Buddha Prabhūtaratna shared half a seat with Sakyamuni, so that the two buddhas sat side by side inside the jewelled stupa. We also studied an account in the Fobenxingji jing (the Chinese Buddhacaritasangraha-sutra), where Āḷāra Kālāma, under whom Sakyamuni studied before his enlightenment, stated he would share a "half seat" with the bodhisattva and together they would teach his disciples. This throws light on the significance of "sharing half a seat" that is found in ancient Indian writings. The meaning of the tradition of Sakyamuni sharing half a seat with Mahākassapa can be explained as an attempt to confirm Mahākassapa's status in the Saṃgha.

 It is clear that the action of "sharing half a seat" has to be based on three conditions: that the person offering to share and the person to whom the offer is made are equal in face and figure, equal in authority and rank, and equal in ability. That the relationship between the Buddha and Mahākassapa fulfilled these conditions is confirmed in the accounts as found in the various sources.

 Despite the fact that the episode of the divided seat is found in a large number of Chinese translations, there is no such account anywhere in the Pali sources. This suggests that Mahākassapa's place in the Saṃgha was understood differently in the Northern and Southern Transmissions (the Northern Transmission attached greater importance to Mahākassapa than the Southern). Concerning this though, even in the Southern Transmission, the commentaries (athakātha) call Mahākassapa "equal to the Buddha". Since this designation expresses what is connoted by "half a seat", it is clear that it is not reasonable to view the two transmissions as having completely different views about Mahākassapa.