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Sarvāstivāda (Pāli, Sabbatthivāda, from sabbam atthi, ‘everything exists’). One of three systematic schools of early Buddhism which derived from the Sthaviravāda of the first schism, the others being Pudgalavādins and Vibhajjavādins. They became the most prominent non-Mahāyāna school in N. India, whence they moved into China. Their main works on Abhidharma survive in Chinese and Tibetan. They are distinguished, in their teaching, by their view that dharmas have real existence, not only in the present but in the past, since they must exist as causes of karma. Thus they made dharmas into reified entities, indivisible constituents of reality. Each has its own nature (svadharma), and they are bound together in forms of appearance without constituting a self. Conflicts among Sarvastivādins led to a Council, c.100 CE, under Kaniṣka I, which produced a commentary of agreed teaching, Mahāvibhāṣā. Mainstream Sarvāstivādins, following this, were also called Vaibhāṣikas; dissenters split off to form the Sautrāntika school.

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