Journal of the American Oriental Society 114.4 (1994)
divide the estate of the dead monk Upananda!' Themonks, having brought it and having sold it in the midstof the community, divided (the
It lookshere like there was a kind of 'public' sale or auction ofthe belongings of a dead monk that was held by themonks, and that what was realized from this sale wasthen distributed to the monks in attendance.Although there is, in fact, a second reference to"selling" the goods of a deceased monk in this samepassage, this procedure, seen through the eyes of an In-dianist, will almost certainly appear unusual. But read-ers of J.Gernet's remarkable
Les Aspects e'conomiquesdu bouddhisme dans la socie'te' chinoise du ve au
will already be familiar with it. In discussing the"partage entre les moines des vCtements du dCfunt"Gernet said-almost forty years ago-that "les docu-ments de Touen-houang nous montrent les religieuxd'une m2me paroisse
. . .
rCunis pour la vente auxenchkres des vCtements et des pieces de tissu. LesbenCfices sont ensuite partages entre les moines
Professor Gernet, who for good reason paid less at-tention to the
of the MfilasarvBstivBdins, seemsto have thought that "il n'est pas question cependantdans les Vinaya de la vente des v&tementsdes moinesmorts," and that "seul le Vinaya des MahBsBmghikafait une allusion, fort discrbte,
ce mode de part-age
although he himself then quotes short pas-sages from both the
of the Sarvastiviidins and"la MBtrkB [des MiilasarviistivBdin]" which refer to thesale of monastic robes,5 and Lien-sheng Yang had al-ready some years before noted that "a [MiilasarvBstivB-din]
text translated in the early T'ang period,however, indicates that in India sale by auction wasused to dispose of such personal belongings" of de-ceased monks.6 Yang's assertion seems now, in part atleast, to be confirmed by the passage from the
cited above: that passage does not actually con-tain a word for 'auction', but clearly refers to the sale
iii.2: 1 19.13.
Les Aspects Pconomiques du bouddhisme dansla sociCtC chinoise du ve au
(Paris, 19561, 82.Gernet,
Les Aspects Pconomiques
Yang, "Buddhist Monasteries and Four Money-Raising Institutions in Chinese History,"
Harvard Journal ofAsiatic Studies
13 (1950): 174-91; esp. p.182. The text inquestion is Taishb 1452, the reconstructed title of which isgiven in P. Demieville,
Durt and A. Seidel,
RPpertoire ducanon bouddhique sino-japonais,
2nd ed. (Paris-Tokyo, 19781,as
ee below pp. 542-43and n. 60. Yang's paper is reprinted in L.-S. Yang,
Studies inChinese Institutional History
(Cambridge, 19611, 198-215.
"in the midst of the community" of a dead monk's pos-sessions, and-although it cannot establish that thiswas actually practiced in India-it does confirm thatMBlasarviistivadin
masters thought it should, orhoped it would.Such confirmation from an extant Sanskrit text is, ofcourse, welcome, but perhaps a more important point isthat without the work of sinologists the significance ofthe
passage might very easily be missed.Scholars working on China have in fact very oftenbeen the first to introduce and make available impor-tant Indian material bearing on the institutional andeconomic history of Buddhism, but this material rarely,or never, makes it into Indian studies. References toGernet's
Les Aspects e'conomiques du bouddhisme,
forexample, are extremely rare in works on Indian cul-tural and economic history.
Kosambi long agoreferred to Gernet when he raised the "fundamentalquestion" of the extent to which Buddhist monks andmonasteries in India participated directly in trade."The documentary evidence" for such participation,Kosambi said, "exists at the other end of the Buddhistworld, in Chinese records and translations," of the sortpresented byGernet.' But few have followed this up.AndrC Bareau, too, relied heavily on Gernet in a shortpiece he published on certain forms of monastic en-dowments in India and China.* Apart from these papers
know of little else.9There are of course problems in using Chinese sourcesin studying India. No one, I think, would accept withoutserious qualifications, for example, Kosambi's assertionthat "not only the art but the organization and economicmanagement of Chinese Buddhist monasteries, especiallythe cave-monasteries
were initially copied from In-dian models, so that their records can be utilized for ourpurpose," that is to say, to study directly Indian monas-teries.1° The use of Chinese translations of Indian texts issometimes less problematic, but here too there are stillserious difficulties. The process of translation often con-ceals, for example, the Indian vocabulary, and this is
D. D. Kosambi, "Dhenukakata,"
Journal of the AsiaticSociety of Bombay
30.2 (1955): 50-71; esp. pp. 52-53.A. Bareau, "Indian and Ancient Chinese Buddhism: Insti-tutions Analogous to the Jisa."
Comparative Studies in Societyand History
443-5 1.For some idea of sinological work on the economic andinstitutional aspects of Buddhism, see the equally rich book ofStanley Weinstein,
Buddhism Under the T'ang
(Cambridge,19871, and the sources cited there.
Jourr~alof the Asiatic Society of Bombay