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mahāvastu | Glossary of Terms
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The Mahāvastu or “Great Chapter” is a lengthy work of the Lokottaravāda (Proponents of the Supramundane) subsect of the Mahāsāṃghika (Great Saṅgha) tradition, which some scholars have regarded as a precursor of Mahāyāna Buddhism. It is written in mixed Sanskrit, Pāli, and Prakrit and is regarded as the earliest Sanskrit biography of the Buddha. The work belongs to the Vinayapiṭaka and in fact describes itself as a historical preface to the Buddhist monastic codes (Skt. vinaya). In this regard, it does correspond loosely to the Mahāvagga section of the Khandhaka in the Pāli Vinayapiṭaka. Over half the text comprises avadānas and jatakas (some having no Pāli antecedent), which tell of past lives of the Buddha when he was a bodhisattva on the path to awakening.
A work in Sanskrit related to the Vinaya of the Lokottaravāda branch of the Mahāsaṃghika school. It contains a biography of the Buddha interspersed with many teachings, avadānas, and jātakas.