Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies, Number Four, 20076 8
is the considerable emphasis placed on correct and accurate transmissionof what was perceived to be the authentic word of the Buddha. In this re-spect, the early Buddhist oral tradition differs decisively from the freeimprovisation that characterizes oral tradition of a more narrative type.The other determining factor is that those responsible for transmitting thetextual legacy of early Buddhism had not necessarily undergone trainingin memorizing skills from their early youth onwards, as was the case forVedic reciters.
This makes it nearly unavoidable for errors in transmis-sion to occur.The
is a good example of the degreeto which parallel versions concur in most aspects of their presentation,yet at the same time exhibit some differences. The Pāli version, whichoccurs as the one-hundred-thirty-third discourse in the
reports that a
visits a monk and finds out that the latter doesnot know the verses on an auspicious night. The
then tells the monkthat he should learn these verses from the Buddha. The monk followsthis suggestion and, having learned the verses from the Buddha, ap
proaches Mahākaccāna for a more detailed explanation of their signifi-cance.The same pattern of events recurs in the
parallelis part of a discourse collection translated by the Kashmiri GautamaSaghadeva during the period 397-398 AD, based on a written originalread out by Sagharaka, another Kashmiri monk. The Chinese monkDao-ci (
) acted as the scribe, assisted by Li-bao (
) and Kang-hua (
The original used for translation appears to have been in aPr
krit and with high probability stems from a Sarvāstivāda recitertradition.
In addition to the
version, another twopartial parallels to the
are known. Oneof these is another Chinese translation, while the other parallel has beenpreserved in Tibetan.
Two Significant Differences
Out of the variations found between the
counterpart, two instances are of par-ticular significance and thus deserve a more detailed examination. Oneof these two instances occurs in Mahākaccāna’s explanation of theverses spoken by the Buddha in the
version. Accord-ing to the
account, when describing the need to avoid