Prajñaptivāda (Skt., prajñapti, ‘designation’, + vāda, ‘way’). An early school of Buddhism. Having originated in the late 3rd cent. BCE as an offshoot of the Mahāsaṃghikas, the Prajñaptivāda claims a line of descent from one of the Buddha's disciples, Mahākātyāyana. No texts of the school are extant but both Paramārtha and Vasumitra claim that the Prajñaptivāda had a special Abhidharmic text which differentiated between two levels of statement in the Buddha's teachings; those acceptable for non-initiates and therefore requiring further elaboration, and those aimed at adepts. Such a distinction closely corresponds to the Mahāyānist doctrine concerning conventional (saṃvṛti) and ultimate (paramārtha) sūtra utterances; and for this reason the Prajñaptivāda is sometimes held to be a proto-Mahāyānist school.
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