Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
7Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Gregory Schopen - On the Buddha and His Bones: The Conception of a Relic in the Inscriptions of Nagarjunikonda

Gregory Schopen - On the Buddha and His Bones: The Conception of a Relic in the Inscriptions of Nagarjunikonda

Ratings: (0)|Views: 143 |Likes:
Published by Ɓuddhisterie2
Journal of the American Oriental Society, 108 (1988): 527-537
Journal of the American Oriental Society, 108 (1988): 527-537

More info:

Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Ɓuddhisterie2 on Sep 03, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

06/15/2013

pdf

text

original

 
ON THE BUDDHA AND HIS BONES: THE CONCEPTION OF A RELIC IN THE INSCRIPTIONS OF NAGARJUNIKONDA
An attempt to show that when a doctrinally important passage in the Mahacetiya inscriptionsof Nagarjunikonda is punctuated properly, and its vocabulary placed in its proper context, itturns out to be yet another piece of evidence for a pervasive-though little noticed-early IndianBuddhist conception of a "relic."
NAGARJUNIKONDA,
HICH
LIES
NOW
AT
the bottomof a man-made lake, was a rich source not only ofBuddhist and Hindu archaeological and art historicalremains, but also of inscriptions. It has proved to be,as a consequence, an equally rich source of conun-drums and a well-watered ground for speculation.There has been a persistent series of attempts, forexample, to see elements of the Mahayana in the earlyphases of Nggarjunikonda in spite of the fact thatthere is no actual epigraphical or art historical evi-dence for this movement anywhere in the Andhra areaprior to the 5th16th century
c.E.,
and in spite of thefact that what epigraphical and art historical evidencewe actually have richly documents the presence thereof non-Mahgygna groups.'
'
N. Dutt, "Discovery of a Bone Relic at an Ancient Centreof MahByHna,"
Indian Historical Quarterly
5 (1929): 794-96;Dutt, "Notes on the Nagarjunikonda Inscriptions,"
IndianHistorical Quarterly
7 (1931): 633-53;
H.
Sarkar,
Studies inEarly Buddhist Architecture of India
(Delhi, 1966), 74-96;E. S. Rosen, "Buddhist Architecture and Lay Patronageat Nagarjunakonda," in A. L. Dallapiccola and S.
Z.
Lalle-mant (eds.),
The StCpa, Its Religious, Historical and Archi-tectural Significance
(Wiesbaden, 1980), 112-26; A. and
H.
Wayman,
The Lion's Roar of Queen ~rimdla
New York,1974), 1-4; A. Wayman, "The MahHsamghika and theTathagatagarbha,"
The Journal of the International Associa-tion of Buddhist Studies
1 (1978): 42-43; etc.-On theMahayana in Andhra art see D. Barrett, "The Later Schoolof Amaravati and Its Influence,"
Art and Letters
28.2 (1954):41-53; D. Barrett,
Sculptures from Amaravati in the BritishMuseum
(London, 1954), 59; ~t.amotte, "MafijuSri,"
T'oung Pao
68 (1960): 4; on the Mahayana in epigraphicalsources see
G.
Schopen, "Mahayana in Indian Inscriptions,"
The inscriptions from NZggrjunikonda are difficult.They are difficult because of "the want of precision ofwhich they show ample evidence." Vogel has notedthat "considering that these inscriptions were meantto be perpetual records of pious donations made byladies of royal blood, the careless manner in whichthey have been recorded isastonishing."' They arealso difficult because they are in many ways atypical.They contain a number of phrases and formulae notfound elsewhere in Indian Buddhist inscriptions sothat we do not have, in many cases, parallels to assist
US.^
This difficulty is offset, and then only in part, bythe fact that these inscriptions tend to be highlyrepetitive; there are frequently numerous "copies" ofthe same basic inscription.I would like here to look atone of these atypical phrases that has importantimplications for Buddhist doctrinal history, and to
Indo-Iranian Journal
21 (1979):1-19; Schopen, "The In-scription on the Kusan Image of Amitabha and the Char-acter of the Early Mahayana in India,"
The Journal of theInternational Association of Buddhist Studies
10.2 (1987):99-137. Since writing the first of these I have come across asingle instance of the Mahayana formula in an inscriptionfrom the Andhra area; it dates to the 5th century; see T. N.Ramachandran,
Ndgdrjunikonda
1938
(Memoirs of the Ar-chaeological Survey of India, No. 71) (Calcutta, 1953), 29(111).
J.
Ph. Vogel, "Prakrit Inscriptions from a Buddhist Siteat Nagarjunikonda,"
Epigraphia Indica
(=
EI)
20 (1929):11-12.Cf.
G.
Schopen, "Filial Piety and the Monk in thePractice of Indian Buddhism: A Question of 'Sinicization'Viewed from the Other Side,"
T'oung Pao
70 (1984): 121-22.
 
528
.lournu1 of the American Oriental Society
108.4
(1988)
exploit the advantage that the existence of multiplecopies presents us with.Most of the pillar inscriptions connected with the
~ahdceti~a~
re structured in exactly the same way.They begin with
(I)
the word
sidham,
"success!"; thisis followed usually by (2) an invocation to the Buddhawhich consists of the word
narno,
"adoration to,"followed by a string of epithets of the Buddha in thegenitive. Then comes
(3)
the name of the place atwhich the gift recorded was made, put in the locative;
(4)
the name of the donor, her 'pedigrees'and relation-ships:
(5)
the purpose or intent behind her gift:
(6)
thenature of the gift. etc. We will be concerned here onlywith the second and third elements: the invocationconsisting of the
narno
plus the string of epithets inthe genitive, and the name of the place at which thegift was made in the locative.The first thing to notice is that the number ofepithets in the string of genitives following
narno
varies. The fullest form of the formula containing theinvocation and the name of the location at which thegift was made is, in the Prakrit original:
namo bhagavato deva-raja-sakatasa supabudha-bo-dhino savamfiuno sava-sat-anukampakasa jita-raga-dosa-moha-vipamutasa
mahagani-vasabha-gapdha-
hathisa samma-sambudhasa dhatuvara-parigahitasamahacetiye
.
.
.
(C3)
Sircar translates this into Sanskrit as:
namah bhagavate devar%jasatkrt?tya suprabuddhabo-dhaye sarvajfiaya sarvasattvanukampak%ya-jitara-gadosamoha-
(=
asaktighrn2jfiPna-)-vipramuktiiyamahsgani-vrsabhagandhahastine
(=
bahusankhyaka-Sisya-mahacaryesu pradhanah) samyaksambuddhayadhatuvara-parigrhitaya
(=
nirvSnaprZptSya)
(
[asmin]mahacaitye
.
. .
'
and Vogel puts it into English as:
Adoration to the Lord, the Supreme Buddha, hon-oured by the Lord of the gods, omniscient, compas-sionate towards all sentient beings. freed from lust,hatred and delusion which have been conquered byhim, the bull and musk-elephant among great spiri-Vogel, EI20 (1929), A2-A4; BlLB5; ClLC5; D2-D4; and
X.
Citations in the text are made according to Vogel'sletter1 number system.
'
D. C. Sircar,
Select Inscriptions Bearing on Indian His-tor?: and Civilization,
2nd ed. (Ca!cutta, 1965). 230 (1 have
silently
corrected two misprints in the passage cited).tual leaders, the perfectly Enlightened One, who isabsorbed by the best of the elements (i.e., by Nir-vana). At the Mahachetiya.
.
.
'
At least four "copies" of this same inscription omiteverything after
deva-riiju-sakatasa
up to
samrna-sam-budhasa.
reading as a consequence:
namo bhagavato deva-raja-sakatasa samma-sambu-dhasa dhatuvara-parigahitasa mahacetiye
.
.
.
Vogel's interpretation of what he takes to be thelast of the string of
epithets-dhdtuvara-parigahitu,
"absorbed by the best of the elements (i.e.. by Nir-vana)"-was suggested to him by de la Vallee Poussinwho added: "If the inscriptions belonged to the Ma-hasanghikas, a conjectural explanation of
dhdtuvara
as
Dharrnadhdtu
would not be excluded. The
Dhar-rnadhdtu
was sometimes a kind of Buddhist Brahmanfor the followers of the ~ah2yIna."~ircar also hastaken the term in much the same way, glossing it with
nirvanaprdpta,
and Dutt, who translates the com-pound by "possessed of the excellent dhatu," wants tosee in it evidence that raises "the presumption that theAndhaka conception of Nirvana was different fromthat of the Theravadins or their sub-sect the MahiSB-sakas,"' which de la Vallee Poussin at least does notquery."'
A.
M.
Shastri, finally, sees in the expressionevidence indicating that "the Andhakas
.
. .
upheld thedocetic theory and believed that the Buddha wassupra-mundane." and. following de la Vallke Poussin,that it "most probably alludes to the Kaya doctrine ofthe Mahayanists for whom the Buddha was not ahistorical personality.""This line of interpretation, which connects the ex-pression with the development of MahayIna scho-
Vogel,
El
20 (1929): 17.
'
Vogel,
EI
(1929): 16 n. 2; B3, CI, D2 and D4.Vogel,
EI
(1929): 29 n. 1.
'
Dutt, "Notes on the Nagarjunikonda Inscriptions," 649-50, and N. Dutt,
Buddhist Sects in India
(Calcutta 1970),124-25.
'"
L. de la Vallte Poussln, "Notes et
bibliographic
boud-dhiques,"
Mdlanges chinois et bouddhiques
1 (1931-32): 383.
I'
A.
M.
Shastri.
An Outline of Early Buddhism (A His-torical Survey of Buddhology, Buddhist Schools and San-ghas Mainly Based on the Studj, of Pre-Gupta Inscriptions)
(Varanasi, 1965), 29-30; cf.
A.
M.
Shastri, "The LegendaryPersonality of the Buddha as Depicted in Pre-Gupta IndianInscriptions."
The Orissa Historical Research Journal
8(1960): 172-73.
 
529CHOPEN:
On the Buddha and his Bones
lastic definitions and conceptions of the Buddha, didnot go unquestioned. In editorial notes added toVogel's initial publication of the inscriptions in
Epi-graphia Indica,
H. Sastri said "to me it does notappear to be impossible that the Mahachetiya hasbeen specified in these inscriptions as 'protected by thecorporeal remains of the Buddha' and that the geni-tive case is used here to discriminate this
stiipa
fromothers not similarly c~nsecrated."'~Longhurst toowas inclined toward this interpretation.I3 Even Dutt,three years before his "notes" on Vogel's treatment ofthe inscriptions, seems to have gone in this direction:he refers to one of the inscriptions and says it records"the gift of a pillar..
.
to the caitya, enshrining a
dhdtu
of Sammiisamb~ddha."'~There are basically two problems here. The inter-pretation of Vogel et al. takes
dhatuvara-parigahita
asone of the series of epithets governed by the initial
namo.
H. Sastri et al. want it rather to be a kind of"partitive" genitive constructed with the following
rnahdcetiye.
This is the first problem. The second,quite simply, is the meaning of
dhdtuvaraparigahita,
the discussion so far having turned almost entirely onthe significance of the final member of the compound.The first problem arises in large part from the factthat the inscriptions are not punctuated. To quoteagain only the short form we find:
namo bhagavato deva-raja-sakatasa samma-sambu-dhasa dhatuvara-parigahitasa mahiicetiye
.
.
.
Vogel et al. understand a
danda
or full stop after
dhdtuvaraparigahitasa.
Sastri's interpretation, how-ever, implies a full stop after
summa-sambudhasa.
Butat least two other inscriptions from Nagarjunikondaindicate that neither of these constructions of the textis correct. "Ayaka-pillar inscription B2" opens notwith the invocation to the Buddha, but with severallines praising the donor's father. The reference to thesite at which the gift was made does not occur untilalmost the very end of the inscription and reads:
bhagavato samma-sa[m]budhasa dhatuvaraparigahi-tasa mahscetiye imam khambham patidhapamta [rd.patithspitam] ti
.
. .
l2
Vogel,
EI
20 (1929): 29 n. 1.
l3
A. H. Longhurst,
The Buddhist Antiquities of Ndgar-junikonda, Madras Presidency
(Memoirs of the Archaeo-logical Survey of India, no. 54) (Delhi, 1938), 18.
l4
Dutt, "Discovery of a Bone-Relic at an Ancient Centreof Mahayana," 794.
Here where the
namo
construction does not interfereit is clear that the genitives are constructed with
mahacetije.
and that
dh~tuvaraparigahita
is an ad-jective modifying
summa-sambudhasa.
This is fullyconfirmed by the "First Apsidal Temple inscriptionE.
'
This inscription also opens, like "Ayaka-pillarinscriotion B2," with the praise of a relative of thedoncr. Here the gift recorded is said to have beenmade at:
samma-sambudhasa
dhatu-[vara]li-parigahitasa
ma-hacetiya-padamiile
. . .
Once again, without the
namo
+
genitive construction,there is no doubt as to how the text is to be constructed.In light of these two unambiguous cases it seems fairlysure that
dhatuvaraparigahitasa
everywhere must bean adjective modifying
summa-sambudhasa,
and that
summa-sambudhasa dhdtuvaraparigahitasa
everywheremust be taken not as a part of the string of epithets inthe genitive governed by
namo,
but as a separateadjectival phrase modifying
mahdcetiye.
This is onlymore fully confirmed if we notice that although almostall our Niigarjunikonda inscriptions open with or con-tain a
namo
invocation consisting of strings of
different
epithets of the Buddha. the collocation
samma-sam-budhasa dhdtuvara-parigahitasa
occurs
only
in inscrip-tions which make reference to the
mahacetiya
and
always
immediately precedes the noun
mahdcetiya
inthe locative. Just this much allows some improvementin our understanding of the text which, in the shortform of the formula, might now be read:
namo bhagavato deva-rsjasakatasa
[
1
]
samma-sambu-dhasa dhatuvaraparigahitasa mahacetiye
.
. .
"Homage to the Blessed One, he who is honored by theKing of the Gods! At the Great Shrine of the PerfectlyEnlightened One who is
dhdtuvaraparigahita
. .
."
While this is an improvement it still leaves us, ob-viously, with the problem of the meaning of
dhdtuva-raparigahita.
Although most previous discussions haveconcerned the meaning of the final member of thecompound and, only correlatively, the first, the mean-ing of the middle term
may
also be of significance.
dhatu-
in our inscriptions has been taken by most in-terpreters-as we have seen-in the sense of "sphere,""state," "condition," and assimilated to
nirvaa-dhdtu,
The "scribe" has omitted
-vara-
here, but this is almostcertainly only another instance of the "carelessness" in theserecords noted by Vogel; cf. also
EI
20 (1929): 21, nt. 2.

Activity (7)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 hundred reads
Amogavajra liked this
Prasad Praturi liked this
Gabriele Burrini liked this
yphapan liked this
Deshpandem liked this
Ɓuddhisterie liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->