1. Later traditions concerning the location of the rainy season retreat
1-1 Types of tradition
1-2 Details about sources of traditions which give the year(s) of occurrence
1-3 Details about sources of traditions which give only the number of times the retreat was held
1-4 Places where the Buddha stayed for a long time, according to the Datang xiyuji (A Record of the Western Regions in the Great Tang).
1-5 Comparisons and contrasts
2. Locations of rainy season retreats recorded in the early scriptures
2-1 Gaggarā lotus pond at Campā in the country of Aṅga.
2-2 The Deer Park in the Bhesakalāvana grove at Sumsumāragiri in the country of Bhagga.
2-3 The country of Kāsi
2-4 The country of Kosala
2-5 The country of Magadha
2-6 The country of Malla
2-7 The Pārileyyaka grove
2-9 The 33 heavens
2-10 The country of Vajji
2-11 Kosambī in the country of Vaṃsa
2-13 The country of Videha
3. Verification of later traditions according to the location of the retreats recorded in the early scriptures
3-6 Bhagga Suṃsumāragira Bhesakaḷāvana
3-9 Nālā brāhmaṇagāma
3-15 Pubbārāma Migāramātupāsāda
4. Locations not recorded in the early scriptures but appearing in the traditional lore
4-2 Nālā brāhmaṇagāma
5. Conclusion, topics to be treated in the future
Rainy season retreats, location of the rainy season retreats, aṭṭhakathā, Sengjiluosha suojijing, Bada lingta minghaojing, Maṇkula peak, Magouluoshan, Suṃsumāragira, cārika, the Pārileyyaka grove
Regarding our aim of reconstructing the Buddha's biography and, as far as possible, making a time line for his life according to data in the early Buddhist scriptures (Nikāyas, Chinese Āgamas, Vinayas), a crucial task is to identify where he spent the 45 rainy seasons between his enlightenment at the age of 35 and his death at 80. Since the scriptures record in detail the subject of his discourses and where and to whom he spoke them, if we can clarify where he spent the successive rainy seasons, there is a strong chance that we will be able to identify the various circumstances, one identification leading to another.
There are certainly many traditions that transmit such information to us. They include the Pali commentaries (aṭṭhakathā) on the Aṅguttaranikāya and the Buddhavaṃsa, as well as modern works like R. Spence Hardy's A Manual of Buddhism and P. Bigandets The Life or Legend of Guadama, the Buddha of the Burmese, and literature of the northern transmission of Buddhism such as the Sengjiluosha suojijing and the Foshuo shieryou jing. They tell us where and in what year after his enlightenment the Buddha spent the rainy season: for example, the first year in Bārāṇasī, and the second and third years in Magadha. There are also traditions about how many seasons the Buddha spent in a particular place, for example, five times in Magadha and once in Vesālī, though which season is not specified. These traditions are to be found, in the southern transmission, in the commentary on the Dhammapada and, in the northern transmission, in the Foshuo Bada lingta minghaojing (Sutra of the Names of the Eight Sacred Places) and Buston's Chos Fbyung (History of Buddhism in India).
Unfortunately, these are not texts that we classify as early Buddhist scriptures providing primary data, but later commentaries. There are also many discrepancies among the traditions themselves, and we cannot rely on them uncritically. As a result we have examined the subject in the following terms:
1. We have arranged the several variations of the traditions to look at the relationship between the different names.
2. We have to the greatest extent possible gathered together all the accounts in the early scriptures describing the places where the Buddha spent the rainy season or where we can be fairly certain he did. What is the relationship between these and the place names that tradition associates with the rainy season retreats.
Our conclusions are:
1. Variations in the place names associated with traditions concerning the locations of the rainy season retreats can be ascribed to differences in translation and transcription. They are not derived from an independent growth between the northern and southern transmissions.
2. Since there are cases where locations mentioned in the early scriptures do not appear in the later traditions, where we can find no record in the early scriptures that the Buddha spent the rainy season in the places that the traditions say he did, and where there are contradictions when relating the Buddhas deeds during a rainy season retreat recorded in the early scriptures to the time line according to the traditions, we can assume that these traditions did not grow up based on the account in the early scriptures. Our studies so far have shown that the following work is necessary. First, we need to make a more precise investigation of the locations of the rainy season retreats as recorded in the early scriptures. We must study each account by comparing the Pali and Chinese versions. For example, if the events described are the same but only the name of the location of the retreat is different, we have to investigate the probability. This constitutes confirmatory work about the reliability of the account appearing in the early scriptures. Second, we need to understand what the later traditions that formed concerning the location of the retreats were based on. This constitutes confirmatatory work about the reliability of the tradition. Such work may become a deciding factor about whether or not we use a particular source in our reconstruction of the Buddhas biography.