Buddhist literature

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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.

Bibliography

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

References in periodicals archive ?
In Reading the Mahavamsa, Kristin Scheible discusses two Buddhist texts that have occupied the attention of scholars for generations.
(10) One of the oldest early Buddhist texts, the Digha Nikaya, makes this abundantly clear: "abandoning the taking of life, the ascetic Gotama (i.e.
Hansen balances close readings of Buddhist texts with a careful consideration of their historical and intellectual trajectories, their social and technological modes of transmission and their ritual functions, all of which she rightly views as inseparable from the texts themselves.
His task, then, is a hermeneutic one: improvisational interpretation of ancient Buddhist texts in the light of contemporary situations.
To understand specific ways in which scripture and reasoning are employed in Buddhist texts and how these uses vary in the course of history, scholars of Buddhism must examine concrete cases of application of scripture and reasoning found in the literature.
In the early Buddhist texts the results of actions are inescapable; there is nothing that stands between us and the consequences of our actions.
Salter begins with a history of printing in Japan (first developed for the dissemination of Buddhist texts) and a description of the careful method involving a carver, an artist and a publisher.
As with the previous volumes, a good number of the palm-leaf manuscripts contain Buddhist texts and commentaries that are rarely known outside Burma.
Palumbo seems unaware of this idiom and misunderstands waiguo fashitu as a phrase meaning "the masters and disciples of the Law in the foreign countries." Grohmann suggests that the above sentence be translated as: "It is a rule in foreign lands that [texts] are transmitted orally from master to disciple; to put them down in writing is not allowed." Therefore, this sentence states how Buddhist texts in general were transmitted in foreign lands, but Palumbo reads too much into it: in waiguo fa shitu xiangchuan he recognizes waiguo fashi as "the masters of the Law in the foreign countries," and inserts "[the Ekottarika-agama]" as the specific text transmitted by such foreign masters.
Just as in personal ethics, where Buddhist texts argue that compassion is selfinterested, the sutra claims that compassionate state policy is ultimately self-beneficial and rejects the idea that absolutizing national or personal interest is actually in the national or personal interest.
The authors note that Ruzbihan's expression of the self and its relationship with the unseen world comes very close to Buddhist texts. Introductory material is in English and the autobiography is in Arabic.
In fact Panya was not with Tan Kudt for very long, and since Tan Kudt brought up one of his daughters to read Thai classical literature aloud to him as he painted over about 15 years, it is also doubtful that Panya or Chalermchai had quite the same education in Buddhist texts or early nineteenth-century classical literature that this book might lead the ordinary reader to assume they did.