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Buddhism In The History Of Indian Ideas
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Buddhism In The History Of Indian Ideas
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About The Book

The present work raises many challenging questions in regard to the nature and functional role of Buddhism in the history of Indian ideas.

Beginning with a general survey of the history of researches on Buddhism, it makes a reassessment of the views on the origins of Buddhism put forward by eminent scholars and deals with the ideological background of Buddhism in which its key-concepts as found in other sources have been traced, identified and documented. The traditional substrata of the Buddhist mythology have also been explored from the pre-vedic, vedic, puranic, regional and tribal sources. It has been argued that the doctrinal, epistemological and ontological critique of Buddhism vis-a-vis the standpoints of the Jains, Vedantists, Mima{msakas and Nyaya-Vaise]sikas clearly suggest that Buddhism was viewed by its opponents as a thought-complex and not as a distinct religious system.

It has also been pointed out how factionalism arising out of personality clashes eventually led to doctrinal centrifugality. The last chapter deals with the final transformation of Buddhism with reference to its basic character as the crucible for generating various ideas and practices. It has been stressed that the period which has been stigmatized by most historians as that of the decline and disappearance of Buddhism was in reality the only period in its long history in India in which it was able to come out of its dry academic shell and renovate all the existing traditional and popular spiritual disciplines by its own spirit. A long appendix on Buddhist iconography further enriches this path-breaking work.

As an Indologist, N.N. Bhattacharyya requires no introduction. He retired as professor of History from Calcutta University and passed away in 2001. He wrote a large number of books most of which have gone into several printings.

Introduction

Since their very inception modern researches on Buddhism have rested upon studies of corresponding manuscripts in at least four languages-Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese. The earliest known European to come to the East to study Pali was the Danish scholar R.K. Rask who reached Ceylon in 1821 where he studied not only Pali but also Sinhalese and acquired a rich collection of palm-leaf manuscripts. In 1824, Benjamin Clough made a study of Pali grammar and vocabulary; following this, in 1826, was the publication of Essai sur le Pali in French by Eugene Burnout and Christian Lassen.1 The edition in Roman characters with an English translation of the first thirty-eight chapters of the Mahavamsa in 1837 by George Turner marked the first important attempt to introduce the treasures of Pali literature to the scholars of the West. Subsequently the subject was taken up with much interest by N.L. Westergaard and F. Spiegel. In 1855 Vincent Fausboll of Copenhagen prepared an edition and a Latin translation of Dhammapada which was subsequently rendered into German in 1860. Between 1869 and 1880, a good number of texts belonging to the Sutta and Vinaya category were edited and translated by R.C. Childers, V. Fausboll, I.P. Minayeff, J.D. Alwis, T.W. Rhys Davids, Th. Steele, J.F. Dickson, Sir Coomaraswamy, P. Grimbolt, R. Pischel, H. Oldenbeig and others.2 An important advance was marked by the publication of the well-known Pali Dictionary in 1875 by R.C. Childers. The Danish scholar V. Trenckner published his edition of the Milindapanho in 1880. In 1881, T.W. Rhys Davids founded the Pali Text Society (PTS). In his own words: 'The sacred books of the early Buddhists have preserved to us the sole record of the only religious movement in the world's history which bears any close resemblance to Christianity, and it is not too much to say that the publication of this unique literature will be no less important for the study of history and especially of religious history than the publication of the Vedas has always been.' The PTS brought about a qualitative change in the study of Pali and Buddhism by publishing critical editions of the texts and their commentaries as well as their dependable English translations and a good number of journals containing scholarly articles on Buddhism and on Pali language and literature.

Interestingly, in the eighteenth century and in the first quarter of the nineteenth century when Buddhism was practically unknown in Europe, a modern critical study of it was introduced in Asia by the Japanese scholars Tominage Chuki (1715-45) and Jiun Sonja -(d. 1803). The latter studied Sanskrit by himself in the pre-Meiji period, and having examined the fragmentary Sanskrit MSS of the Horiyuji and other monasteries and having compared them with their Chinese versions, published the Sanskrit editions of a number of Sutras. B.H. Hodgson who stayed in Nepal between 1821 and 1843 made a collection of manuscripts which he presented to the libraries of London, Paris and Calcutta. The manuscripts sent by him to Paris offered Burnouf a great scope for studying Sanskrit materials directly. In 1839 he 'translated into French the Saddharmapundarika, which was printed in 1841. Subsequently, other works in Sanskrit pertaining to the pro-Mahayanic, Mahayanic and Tantric systems were collected, edited and translated. Since no complete canon of Sanskrit Buddhist works was found in India, scholars had to depend on Tibetan and Chinese sources. At the dawn of Buddhalogical studies, there ensued a controversy between the French scholar E. Burnout' and the Russian scholar V. Vasilev on the question whether Buddhism could be better understood from the Indian or also from the Chinese and Tibetan sources. According to the former, only Indian sources provided evidence on genuine Buddhism while the latter held that Buddhism in the totality of its development could be understood only from Tibetan and Chinese sources. Fragments of manuscripts discovered in Central Asia provided a fresh fillip to the study of the lost Sanskrit Buddhist canon.

Francesco Orazio della Penna, a Capuchin missionary who lived in Lhasa from 1716 to 1732, compiled a Tibetan dictionary and translated Tson-kha-pa's Lam-rim-chen-mo and the Pratimoksa. Another Jesuit missionary, Ippolito Desideri, who stayed in Lhasa from 1717 to 1721, wrote a book in 1729 on Tibetan custom and religion. As early as in 1827, E. Burnout' had referred to the Tanjur and Kanjur in a note on Tibetan literature. In the third decade of the nineteenth century Alexander Csoma de Koros gave an introduction to these collections in his writings on Tibetology. In 1845 J.J. Schmidt brought out an index of the Kanjur collection. Studies on the Tibetan sources were subsequently taken up by Anton Schiefner, V.P. Vasilev, Ph. E. Foucaux, C.F. Koppen, Sarat Chandra Das, A.I. Vostrikov and others. After Sarat Chandra Das, Rahul Sankrityayana and Giuseppe Tucci undertook several expeditions to Tibet and brought many valuable materials on Tibetan Buddhist literature and art. The Peking edition of the Tanjur was catalogued by P. Cordier (1909-15), and after his death his unfulfilled project of preparing an index to the Catalogue was completed by M. Lalou (1933). As early as in 1804-05 Benjamin Bergaman translated several Kalmyk texts and published a volume which became an important source for the study of religion and rituals as practised by the Kalmyks living between the Volga and the Don, and of Lamaism in general. J.J. Schmidt made a thorough study of the Mongolian sources on which he published several articles between 1832 and 1837. Such studies provided the basis of the emergence and development of the Russian School of Buddhalogy. Studies in the Sinhalese, Burmese and Siamese sources were initiated respectively by R. Spence Hardy, P. Bigandet and H. Alabaster.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

















Buddhism In The History Of Indian Ideas

Item Code:
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2020
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325
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About The Book

The present work raises many challenging questions in regard to the nature and functional role of Buddhism in the history of Indian ideas.

Beginning with a general survey of the history of researches on Buddhism, it makes a reassessment of the views on the origins of Buddhism put forward by eminent scholars and deals with the ideological background of Buddhism in which its key-concepts as found in other sources have been traced, identified and documented. The traditional substrata of the Buddhist mythology have also been explored from the pre-vedic, vedic, puranic, regional and tribal sources. It has been argued that the doctrinal, epistemological and ontological critique of Buddhism vis-a-vis the standpoints of the Jains, Vedantists, Mima{msakas and Nyaya-Vaise]sikas clearly suggest that Buddhism was viewed by its opponents as a thought-complex and not as a distinct religious system.

It has also been pointed out how factionalism arising out of personality clashes eventually led to doctrinal centrifugality. The last chapter deals with the final transformation of Buddhism with reference to its basic character as the crucible for generating various ideas and practices. It has been stressed that the period which has been stigmatized by most historians as that of the decline and disappearance of Buddhism was in reality the only period in its long history in India in which it was able to come out of its dry academic shell and renovate all the existing traditional and popular spiritual disciplines by its own spirit. A long appendix on Buddhist iconography further enriches this path-breaking work.

As an Indologist, N.N. Bhattacharyya requires no introduction. He retired as professor of History from Calcutta University and passed away in 2001. He wrote a large number of books most of which have gone into several printings.

Introduction

Since their very inception modern researches on Buddhism have rested upon studies of corresponding manuscripts in at least four languages-Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese. The earliest known European to come to the East to study Pali was the Danish scholar R.K. Rask who reached Ceylon in 1821 where he studied not only Pali but also Sinhalese and acquired a rich collection of palm-leaf manuscripts. In 1824, Benjamin Clough made a study of Pali grammar and vocabulary; following this, in 1826, was the publication of Essai sur le Pali in French by Eugene Burnout and Christian Lassen.1 The edition in Roman characters with an English translation of the first thirty-eight chapters of the Mahavamsa in 1837 by George Turner marked the first important attempt to introduce the treasures of Pali literature to the scholars of the West. Subsequently the subject was taken up with much interest by N.L. Westergaard and F. Spiegel. In 1855 Vincent Fausboll of Copenhagen prepared an edition and a Latin translation of Dhammapada which was subsequently rendered into German in 1860. Between 1869 and 1880, a good number of texts belonging to the Sutta and Vinaya category were edited and translated by R.C. Childers, V. Fausboll, I.P. Minayeff, J.D. Alwis, T.W. Rhys Davids, Th. Steele, J.F. Dickson, Sir Coomaraswamy, P. Grimbolt, R. Pischel, H. Oldenbeig and others.2 An important advance was marked by the publication of the well-known Pali Dictionary in 1875 by R.C. Childers. The Danish scholar V. Trenckner published his edition of the Milindapanho in 1880. In 1881, T.W. Rhys Davids founded the Pali Text Society (PTS). In his own words: 'The sacred books of the early Buddhists have preserved to us the sole record of the only religious movement in the world's history which bears any close resemblance to Christianity, and it is not too much to say that the publication of this unique literature will be no less important for the study of history and especially of religious history than the publication of the Vedas has always been.' The PTS brought about a qualitative change in the study of Pali and Buddhism by publishing critical editions of the texts and their commentaries as well as their dependable English translations and a good number of journals containing scholarly articles on Buddhism and on Pali language and literature.

Interestingly, in the eighteenth century and in the first quarter of the nineteenth century when Buddhism was practically unknown in Europe, a modern critical study of it was introduced in Asia by the Japanese scholars Tominage Chuki (1715-45) and Jiun Sonja -(d. 1803). The latter studied Sanskrit by himself in the pre-Meiji period, and having examined the fragmentary Sanskrit MSS of the Horiyuji and other monasteries and having compared them with their Chinese versions, published the Sanskrit editions of a number of Sutras. B.H. Hodgson who stayed in Nepal between 1821 and 1843 made a collection of manuscripts which he presented to the libraries of London, Paris and Calcutta. The manuscripts sent by him to Paris offered Burnouf a great scope for studying Sanskrit materials directly. In 1839 he 'translated into French the Saddharmapundarika, which was printed in 1841. Subsequently, other works in Sanskrit pertaining to the pro-Mahayanic, Mahayanic and Tantric systems were collected, edited and translated. Since no complete canon of Sanskrit Buddhist works was found in India, scholars had to depend on Tibetan and Chinese sources. At the dawn of Buddhalogical studies, there ensued a controversy between the French scholar E. Burnout' and the Russian scholar V. Vasilev on the question whether Buddhism could be better understood from the Indian or also from the Chinese and Tibetan sources. According to the former, only Indian sources provided evidence on genuine Buddhism while the latter held that Buddhism in the totality of its development could be understood only from Tibetan and Chinese sources. Fragments of manuscripts discovered in Central Asia provided a fresh fillip to the study of the lost Sanskrit Buddhist canon.

Francesco Orazio della Penna, a Capuchin missionary who lived in Lhasa from 1716 to 1732, compiled a Tibetan dictionary and translated Tson-kha-pa's Lam-rim-chen-mo and the Pratimoksa. Another Jesuit missionary, Ippolito Desideri, who stayed in Lhasa from 1717 to 1721, wrote a book in 1729 on Tibetan custom and religion. As early as in 1827, E. Burnout' had referred to the Tanjur and Kanjur in a note on Tibetan literature. In the third decade of the nineteenth century Alexander Csoma de Koros gave an introduction to these collections in his writings on Tibetology. In 1845 J.J. Schmidt brought out an index of the Kanjur collection. Studies on the Tibetan sources were subsequently taken up by Anton Schiefner, V.P. Vasilev, Ph. E. Foucaux, C.F. Koppen, Sarat Chandra Das, A.I. Vostrikov and others. After Sarat Chandra Das, Rahul Sankrityayana and Giuseppe Tucci undertook several expeditions to Tibet and brought many valuable materials on Tibetan Buddhist literature and art. The Peking edition of the Tanjur was catalogued by P. Cordier (1909-15), and after his death his unfulfilled project of preparing an index to the Catalogue was completed by M. Lalou (1933). As early as in 1804-05 Benjamin Bergaman translated several Kalmyk texts and published a volume which became an important source for the study of religion and rituals as practised by the Kalmyks living between the Volga and the Don, and of Lamaism in general. J.J. Schmidt made a thorough study of the Mongolian sources on which he published several articles between 1832 and 1837. Such studies provided the basis of the emergence and development of the Russian School of Buddhalogy. Studies in the Sinhalese, Burmese and Siamese sources were initiated respectively by R. Spence Hardy, P. Bigandet and H. Alabaster.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

















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