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Buddhism Mahayana Texts

Buddhism Mahayana Texts

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Published by: cleinhart on May 04, 2012
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02/18/2015

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Buddhist Mahayana Texts
Translated by E. B. Cowell, F. Max Müller and J. Takakusu
Oxford, the Clarendon Press[1894]Vol. XLIX of The Sacred Books of the East
pdf version by desolutiondesolution@nibirumail.com
 
 
INTRODUCTION
THE Sanskrit text of the Buddha-
k
arita was published at the beginning of lastyear in the 'Anecdota Oxoniensia,' and the following English translation is nowincluded in the series of 'Sacred Books of the East.' It is an early Sanskrit poemwritten in India on the legendary history of Buddha, and therefore containsmuch that is of interest for the history of Buddhism, beside its special importanceas illustrating the early history of classical Sanskrit literature.It is ascribed to A
s
hvaghosha; and, although there were several writers whobore that name, it seems most probable that our author was the contemporaryand spiritual adviser of Kanishka in the first century of our era. Hiouen Thsang,who left India in A. D. 645, mentions him with Deva, Narga
 juna, andKumarâlabdha, 'as the four suns which illumine the world [1];' but our fullestaccount is given by I-tsing, who visited India in 673. He states that A
s
hvaghoshawas an ancient author who composed the Ala
m
kâra-
s
âstra and the Buddha-
k
arita-kâvya--the latter work being of course the present poem. Beside these twoworks he also composed the hymns in honor of Buddha and the three holybeings Amitâbha, Avalokite
s
vara, and Mahâsthâma, which were chanted at theevening service of the monasteries. 'In the five countries of India and in thecountries of the Southern ocean they recite these poems, because they express astore of ideas and meaning in a few words [2].'
[1. Julien's Translation, vol. ii, p. 214.2. See M. Fujishama, Journal Asiatique, 1888, p. 425.]
A solitary stanza (VIII, 13) is quoted from the Buddha-
k
arita in Râyamuku
t
a'scommentary on the Amarakosha I, I. I, 2, and also by U
 gg
valadatta in hiscommentary on the U
n
âdi-sûtras I, 156; and five stanzas are quoted as fromA
s
hvaghosha in Vallabhadeva's Subhâshitâvali, which bear a great resemblanceto his style, though they are not found in the extant portion of this poem [1].The Buddha-
k
arita was translated into Chinese [2] by Dharmaraksha in the fifthcentury, and a translation of this was published by the Rev. S. Beal in the present
 
series; it was also translated into Tibetan in the seventh or eighth century. TheTibetan as well as the Chinese version consists of twenty-eight chapters, andcarries down the life of Buddha to his entrance into Nirva
n
a and the subsequentdivision of the sacred relics. The Tibetan version appears to be much closer to theoriginal Sanskrit than the Chinese; in fact from its verbal accuracy we can oftenreproduce the exact words of the original, since certain Sanskrit words arealways represented by the same Tibetan equivalents, as for instance theprepositions prefixed to verbal roots. I may here express an earnest hope that wemay still ere long have an edition and translation of the Tibetan version, if somescholar can be found to complete Dr. Wenzel's unfinished labor. He had devotedmuch time and thought to the work; I consulted him in several of my difficulties,and it is from him that I derived all my information about the Tibetanrenderings. This Tibetan version promises to be of great help in restoring themany corrupt readings, which still remain in our faulty Nepalese MSS.Only thirteen books of the Sanskrit poem claim to be A
s
hvaghoshacomposition, the last four books are an attempt by a modern Nepalese author tosupply the loss of the original. He tells us this honestly in the colophon --'havingsearched for them everywhere and not found them, four cantos have been madeby me, Am
ri
tânanda--the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth.'
[1. Professor Peterson has remarked that two stanzas out of the five occur in Bhart
ri
hari's Nîti-
s
ataka.2. We have for the present classed the Buddha-
k
arita with the Mahayana Sutras in default ofmore exact information.]
He adds the date 950 of the Nepalese era, corresponding to 1830 A. D.; and wehave no difficulty in identifying the author. Râ
 g
endralâl Mitra in his 'NepaleseBuddhist Literature' mentions Am
ri
tânanda as the author of two Sanskrittreatises and one in Newârî; he was probably the father of the old Pa
nd
it of theResidency at Ka
t
ma
nd
u, Gu
n
ânanda, whose son Indrânanda holds the office atpresent. Dr. D. Wright informs me that the family seems to have been therecognized historians of the country, and keepers of the MS. treasures of sundrytemples. The four books are included in this translation as an interesting literarycuriosity. The first portion of the fourteenth book agrees partly with the Tibetanand Chinese, and Am
ri
tânanda may have had access to some imperfect copy ofthis portion of the original; but after that his account is quite independent, andhas no relation to the two versions.In my preface to the edition of the Sanskrit text I have tried to show thatA
s
hvaghosha’s poem appears to have exercised an important influence on thesucceeding poets of the classical period in India. When we compare thedescription in the seventh book of the Raghuva
m
sa of the ladies of the city

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