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.


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

References in periodicals archive ?
One notion central to this discourse, though, is the idea that Buddhism is under threat in the contemporary world -- an idea that appears not only in Myanmar's history but also in the Buddhist texts, written in the Indic language of Pali, that are taken as canonical in Myanmar.
As the early morning rays of the sun slice through the traditional windows of the Kanglung shedra, leaving slabs of light on the prayer hall, monks in maroon robes pore over Buddhist texts, reciting the verses in a low, monotonous drone.
Chinese Buddhists carried paper and papermaking throughout Asia as they sought to collect Buddhist texts, and paper quickly supplanted earlier writing media such as bamboo strips and silk cloth.
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.
Early chapters offer an unusually lucid discussion of the self in the context of Buddhist thought, richly outlined with stories and examples, many from traditional Buddhist texts.
The program will also benefit anyone who wants to deepen his or her understanding of the Buddhist tradition, or to gain a deeper understanding of how to prepare to translate Buddhist texts.
The classical Buddhist texts refer to this approach as "the way of the Bodhisattva.
In it, Suh describes how many Buddhist texts portray women as temptresses whose alleged filthy nature is disguised by superficial beauty.
Among the topics are the vernacularization of Buddhist texts from the Tangut Empire to Japan, rebooting the vernacular in 17th-century Vietnam, the languages of medical knowledge in Tokugawa Japan, unintended consequences of classical literacies for the early modern Chinese civil examinations, and "sound" in the orthographic reforms of early Meiji Japan.
The relationship of Iranian Buddhists and Chinese Buddhists dates probably back to the Parthian period; Sogdian Buddhist texts are one of the most important Iranian Mid.
3) On "Middle Period" as a working periodization for Indian Buddhist texts see, e.
According to Buddhist texts the Buddha, after his Enlightenment, spent a whole week in front of the tree, standing with unblinking eyes, gazing at it with gratitude.