(Skt., the doctrine of personhood).
The heretical view that beings are endowed with a real ‘self’ (pudgala). Although normative Buddhism denies the reality of the eternal soul (ātman), various groups in early Indian Buddhism, such as the Vātsīputrīyas.felt the need to posit the existence of some kind of subsisting identity to act as the basis for karma andrebirth. The notion of the pudgala was evolved to fulfil this function. In terms of the standard Buddhist theory of personal identity set out in the doctrine of the five ‘aggregates’ (skandha), the pudgala was said to be neither identical to the five skandhas nor different from them. The relationship between them was compared to that between fire (the pudgala) and its fuel (the skandhas). Although the pudgala-vāda position was eventually rejected, the question of karmic continuity was to persist throughout the centuries in India and other solutions were suggested, among which the storehouse consciousness (ālaya-vijñāna) and the embryonic Buddha (tathāgata-garbha) may be noted. Other schools which accepted the doctrine of the pudgala include the Saṃmitīyas.Dharmottarīyas, Ṣaṇṇagarikas, and Bhadrāyanīyas.