Buddhist literature

Buddhist literature.

During his lifetime the Buddha taught not in Vedic Sanskrit, which had become unintelligible to the people, but in his own NE Indian dialect; he also encouraged his monks to propagate his teachings in the vernacular. After his death, the Buddhist canon was formulated and transmitted by oral tradition, and it was written down in several versions in the 2d and 1st cent. B.C. Its main divisions, called pitakas [baskets], are the Vinaya or monastic rules, the Sutra (Pali Sutta) or discourses of the Buddha, and the AbhidharmaAbhidharma
[Skt.,=higher dharma, or doctrine], schools of Buddhist philosophy. Early Buddhism analyzed experience into 5 skandhas or aggregates, and alternatively into 18 dhatus or elements.
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 (Pali Abhidhamma) or scholastic metaphysics. Also included are the Jataka, stories about the previous births of the Buddha, many of which are non-Buddhist in origin. The only complete Indian version of the canon now extant is that of the Sri Lankan Theravada school, in the Pali language, written 29–17 B.C. (see PaliPali
, language belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. Some scholars classify it as a Prakrit, or vernacular dialect of classical Sanskrit.
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). North Indian Buddhist texts were written in a type of Sanskrit influenced by the vernaculars. Mahayana Buddhism produced its own class of sutras, and all schools of Buddhism generated a considerable body of commentary and philosophy. The entire corpus of Buddhist writings was translated into Chinese over a period of a thousand years, beginning in the 1st cent. A.D. This was a collaborative effort of foreign and Chinese monks. Its most recent edition, the Taisho Daizokyo (1922–33), is in 45 volumes of some 1,000 pages of Chinese characters each. Translation of Buddhist texts into Tibetan was begun in the 7th cent. The final redaction of the canon was by the Buddhist historian Bu-ston (1290–1364) and is in two sections, the Kanjur (translation of the Buddha's word) and the Tanjur (translation of treatises), consisting altogether of about 320 volumes of Tibetan script. The Tibetan translation is extremely literal, following the Sanskrit almost word for word and based on standardized Sanskrit-Tibetan equivalences for Buddhist terms; thus it is particularly useful for scholars.


See M. Cummings, Lives of the Buddha in the Art and Literature of Asia (1982).

References in periodicals archive ?
Chinese monk Hiuen Tsang writes that Kashmir is a place of learning where Buddhist literature is produced in Sharda Brahmi, Sanskrit and Kharosthi.
In particular, with regard to Jivaka, who is widely known among Buddhists as a model of medical skill and religious faith, this paper argues that the fact that Jivaka is prominently featured in Buddhist literature but finds no parallel in Jaina literature may be explained by the different attitudes of the two religions to medical healing and to the role of secular physicians in general.
Among the major Indian religious and mythical literature, only Brahminical and Buddhist literature gives information about these mythical serpent-human creature or Nagas.
Among his topics are a Harappan-Vedic nexus: a seamless story or two separate episodes, from zero to infinite: mathematics in Jain and Buddhist literature, navigating the ocean of mathematics: Narayana Pandita and successors, Indian trigonometry: from ancient beginnings to Nilakantha, and battle for the mind: the rise of Western mathematics.
Peter Haskel gives an excellent account of how this rhetoric for transforming a challenge into an advantage is rooted in koan commentaries stemming from eleventh- and twelfth-century Zen Buddhist literature of Song-dynasty China.
The positing of a Central Asian medium of transmission of the collection to China based on a set of summaries finds an antecedent in similar types of digests that are attested in the same area, in Gandharan and Khotanese Buddhist literature.
He's as comfortable with the koans and cadence of classical Buddhist literature as he is with cerebral anatomy.
Finot greatly supported the dissemination of this modernist Buddhist literature through the Royal Library, established in 1925 in Phnom Penh, and the Buddhist Institute, founded in 1930 in the same city.
Scholarly discussions explain non-conceptual wisdom and Buddhist literature and make for a fine collection of three translated commentaries and an in-depth discussion of the two topics and their meaning in Buddhist scriptures.
It is considered to be the finest literary gem in Tamil Buddhist literature.
As well as contributions that consider the role that literature has played in exposing the limits of what counts as human in human rights discourses, the section also offers provocative pieces that explore the inherent violence in the defense of rights (Mansfield) and that suggest that Buddhist literature conceives of rights without subjectivity (Grieve).
7) For an example of this in Buddhist literature, see ibid.

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