Have we missed historical religious figures’ authenticity safeguards?

During his 50-year-long walking lecture tour, and especially if he had super-human mental powers (e.g., remembering the distant past, predicting the future, reading minds, and teaching devas), why did it not occur as worthwhile to the Buddha to write something down during his life, either himself or to have his closest disciples do it? He was supposedly a well-educated prince, and he lived in an area with plenty of trees and textiles. He easily could have written on leaves, bark, cloth, etc., and given what he wrote to local people to safeguard. People around India probably would have treasured and preserved what he wrote; they might have etched it in stone, as Emperor Ashoka later did, as the original documents degraded. Did no one, including any of the kings the Buddha visited, who probably had royal scribes and messengers, in any of the probably thousands of cities and towns he visited, take notes?

The Buddha must have known that people would use memory devices (e.g., repetitive stanzas in suttas) to remember what he said, and that memories change and get distorted over time. Fifty years is a long time to think about a problem. Even without super-human powers, he probably could have imagined the Sangha splitting, which it has many times, and unscrupulous people later writing new suttas and attributing them to him, which many people apparently have done. Yet he apparently did not create any mechanism for verifying suttas’ accuracy, completeness, or authenticity (e.g., using complex codes, signatures, or checksums). If he was relying on Ananda and his other close disciples to preserve everything after he passed into nirvana, why did he not ask them to incorporate such mechanisms into what they preserved. Or, did he do that, but we just have not yet discovered them? Was he not very concerned about precisely preserving the exact words/terms he had used and the rules he had made? Or did he actually write documents, but were they destroyed/replaced with documents that later traditions wanted to attribute to him?

Similar questions can be asked about other large religions’ central figures. If these people were so connected to universal powers and truths (e.g., God(s), karma, etc.), did it occur to any of them to include non-corruptible authenticity verification mechanisms into their teachings, so that later peoples would always know what they had truly taught?


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