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‘The Distinctionists’. A school of early Buddhism belonging to the Elder (Sthavira) tradition, which at the Council of Pāṭaliputra in c.250 ce (see Council of Pāṭaliputra II), was adjudged to embody the orthodox teachings of the Buddha. It is unclear, however, whether the Vibhajjavādins comprised one sect or a group of sects, and the precise nature of the movement and its doctrines and duration remain obscure. Since the Buddha is sometimes referred to in Pāli sources as a ‘Distinctionist’ (vibhajjavādī), the appellation may be an alternative designation for the Theravāda school. The ‘distinction’ in question may refer to the Buddha's basic methodological practice of making a ‘distinction’ between extremes and emphasizing the Middle Way (madhyamā-pratipad), but this interpretation of the origin of the term is conjectural.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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