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Exploring Sanskrit Buddhist Canon

Exploring Sanskrit Buddhist Canon

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Published by Min Bahadur shakya

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Published by: Min Bahadur shakya on Sep 03, 2009
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Nagarjuna Buddhist Foundation
National Seminar
March 7-9, 2006 byMin Bahadur shakyaDirector  Nagarjuna Institute of Exact MethodsA center for Buddhist StudiesTitle of the Paper:
Exploring Sanskrit Buddhist CanonContents:
Introduction:
 
Exploring Sanskrit Buddhist canonRestoration of lost Sanskrit Buddhist literature and its importanceDigitization of Sanskrit Buddhist canonConclusion
I. Introduction:
We know that the various editions of Tibetan Kanjur contain the translation of the most of theimportant texts of Sanskrit Buddhist canons. In the catalogue index of Tibetan Kanjur preparedby Dharma Publishing there are more than 1000 Sanskrit titles in it.Among them only 10 percent are available in original Sanskrit.The canons of other schools of the Hinayana are largely identical to the Pali canonical traditionof the Theravada; however, they are however compiled in other languages or dialectsThe Vinaya Pitaka is found without too much variation in almost all schools.The Sutta pitaka shows more variations, however, none of them being of a fundamentalnature. In Sanskrit it is mostly referred to as the Agama Pitaka. The large body of literatureconcerning Agama texts is available only in Chinese Translations. Often Agama texts are longerthan Sutta texts.Concerning the Abhidhamma Pitaka there is no agreement with Abhidharma literature inSanskrit. This could be explained by the later date of the redaction.A lot of Sanskrit texts have been lost and only are extant in their Chinese and or Tibetantranslations.Besides the Theravada school, the only other school with a completed (i.e. closed) canon is theMulasarvastivada school.A great number of fragments are still being discovered, mostly in Sanskrit or Central Asianlanguages (Sogdian, Tokhari, Khotanese,).
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II.
Exploration of Sanskrit Buddhist Canon
 Nepal, Central Asia, Gilgit, Beijing-China, Tibetan Autonomous regions, Japan,UK/USA, will be dealt with.
I.
Nepal has the largest repository of Buddhist Sanskrit literature dealing with differentaspects of Mahayana creeds and practices. The monk scholars as well as VajracharyaPandits have contributed in producing and preserving Buddhist manuscriptsIt was not until the advent of Sir Brian B. Hodgson (1824-1842 AD.) a British diplomatin Nepal, discovered a great number of 
Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts
in Nepal.The existence of these Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts before his time was unknown, andhis discovery entirely revolutionized the history of Buddhism, as Europeans knew it inthe early part of this century. Copies of these works, totaling 381 bundles of manuscriptshave been distributed so as to render them accessible to European scholars.Of these 86 eighty-six manuscripts comprising 179 separate works, many were presentedto
Asiatic Society of Bengal:
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 85 to the
Royal Asiatic Society of London;
30 to the
Indian Office Library;
7 to the
Bodleian Library, Oxford;
174 to the
Société Asiatique,
and to French scholar 
Eugene Bernouf.
The last two collections have since been deposited in the
Bibliothèque Nationale of France.
It is in Nepal that most of the Sanskrit Buddhist documents have been found. Most of themanuscripts originally preserved in Nepal have been carried out of the country by the pioneers of the modern Indology.At present following organizations are working hard for the preservation of theseSanskrit Buddhist mss in Nepal.1.
National Archives:
It has recently published a catalogue of all the important SanskritBuddhist texts numbering 1800.2.
Nepal German Mss.Preservation Project
: NGMPP has published a catalogue of allmicrofilmed mss from National archive and the center’s collection.
3. Asha Archives
In collaboration with the Buddhist Library of Japan, Nagoya, theAsha Archives has recently completed the digitalization of its 7025titles of manuscripts. All the manuscripts including their paintings and illuminationsare available on
CD-ROM (368 cd's)
The Collections in this archives there are severalvaluable collections of palmleaf, loose leaf pothi and folded manuscripts .
4. Keshar Library:
.Keshar Library has preserved valuable Buddhist Mss which is worthmentioning dating back as early as 13th century..
II. Central Asia:
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A summary of contents of 85 Mss was published as Sanskrit Buddhist literature of Nepal by Rajendra LalMitra in 1882 published by The Asiatic Society of Bengal,Calcutta.
2
 
As we discussed, the discovery of Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts in Nepal hasrevolutionized the history of Buddhism and its academic study.In the beginning of the 20th century, from a series of missions in Central AsiaProf.A.F. Rudolf Hoernle, Prof. Stein Konow, Prof. A. Stein and others have reportedan existence of number of Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts, Prakrit,Uigurs,Sogdian,Tokhania and others in Central Asia
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.. As much as 33 Sanskrit Buddhist texts were published in fragments or some in full text. The Central Asia Manuscripts belong toall the major form of Buddhism.Some of these important texts are as follows:1. Samgiti Sutra-Dirghagama2. Atanatia sutra-Dirghagama3. Upali Sutra-Madhyamagama4. Suka Sutra-Madhyamagama5. Pravarana Sutra-Samuktagama6. Candropama Sutra-do7. Sakti Sutra-do8. Ratnarasi sutra-Ratnakuta Class9. Ratnadhvaja Sutra-Mahasannipata class10. Candragarbha Sutra-do11. Bhadrapala Sutra-do12. Mahaparinirvana Sutra-Nirvana class13. Suramgama samadhi sutra and several others.
II. Gilgit Manuscripts:
In 1931 Several Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts were discovered in a Stupa near Gilgitin Kashmir.The Manuscripts were written in 5th or 6th century A.D and are some of the earliest manuscripts discovered at the times.Most of these mss. are known throughChinese and Tibetan translations and not in their original Sanskrit.Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Nalinkasa Dutta who edited and published a series of raretexts worthy of praise and admiration. These titles are1. Samadhiraja sutra – 2.Vajrachedika Prajnaparamita3.Maitreyavyakarna4.Ajitasenavyakarana5.Hayagrivavidya6.Mulasarvastivadavinaya vastu7.Arya Buddhabaladhana sutra8.Ekadasamukham9.Sri mahadevi vyakaranam10.Sarvatathagata adhisthana vyuha and so forth.
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2
The report was published in the text" Manuscript remains of Buddhist literature found in EasternTurkestan" published by Sri Satguru Publication-Delhi , 1988 and first Oxford edition at 1916
3
Gilgit Manuscripts four volumes-9 parts published by Sri Satguru Publications,
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