Panel: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Its Contexts in Early Gandhāra


Raum: F 3, EG, Fürstenberghaus
Tag Zeit    
Do 09:00-09:30 Baums / Strauch Einführung
Do 09:30-10:00 Bronkhorst Abhidharma and Mahāyāna
Do 10:00-10:30 Schlosser Everything Will Be Good: Prospects from Two Early Buddhist Manuscripts
Do 10:30-11:00 Pause
Do 11:00-11:30 Strauch The Bajaur Mahāyāna Sūtra and its Position within Early Mahāyāna Literature
Do 11:30-12:00 Baums A Gāndhārī Bhadrakalpika‐sūtra from Bamiyan
Do 12:00-12:30 Matsuda A Mahāyāna Fragment in the Hirayama Kharoṣṭhī Collection
Do 12:30-13:30 Mittagspause
Do 13:30-14:00 Salomon A Newly Identified Bamiyan Manuscript of the Ekottarikāgama in Gāndhārī
Do 14:00-14:30 von Criegern Prophezeiungen über die Zukunft des Dharma und ihr Bezug zur Mission im Mahāyāna‐Buddhismus
Do 14:30-15:00   Abschlussdiskussion mit Cristina Scherrer-Schaub


Stefan Baums, Ingo Strauch

Beschreibung des Panels:

The discovery of large numbers of early Buddhist (and non‐Buddhist) manuscripts from Greater Gandhāra is one of the most exciting developments in Buddhist Studies and Indology in recent decades. The pioneering work of Richard Salomon and Harry Falk has established Gāndhārī manuscript studies as an important subfield in the philology and history of early South Asia. So far, the focus of the field has been on the early canonical literature of the Śrāvakayāna traditions of Buddhism and their transmission from mainland India to Gandhāra. But a large part of known Gandhāran texts (in Gāndhārī and Sanskrit) belong to the new paracanonical or non‐canonical literary production of Buddhist scholastic traditions and the emerging Mahāyāna movement. Recent research has made it likely that these types of texts were actively produced within Gandhāra itself rather than merely being translated into Gāndhārī and Sanskrit from other dialects. We decided to convene this panel to discuss the specific character of the literature produced and used by Mahāyāna Buddhists in early Gandhāra, and its relationship to early canonical and scholastic literature, in order to arrive at a better understanding of the lay of the land of Gandhāran Buddhism. This is in turn will help to reevaluate the role of Gandhāra in the emergence of the Mahāyāna movement, and the specific contribution of Gandhāra to the transmission of Buddhist liteature and culture to Central Asia and China.


Indologie und Südasienkunde

Abstracts der Vorträge:

Baums, Stefan: A Gāndhārī Bhadrakalpika‐sūtra from Bamiyan

The discoveries of early Buddhist manuscript in Bamiyan in the mid‐1990s included more than 250 palm‐leaf fragments in Kharoṣṭhī script and Gāndhārī language. Sixty of these fragments have been identified as parts of the prajñāpāramitā and buddha sections of the Bhadrakalpika‐sūtra, and their decipherment and edition has recently been concluded in collaboration between Andrew Glass, Kazunobu Matsuda and the present author. This paper will describe the manuscript and present the findings from this earliest preserved Indian version of the Bhadrakalpika‐sūtra. A special focus will be the relationship between the Gāndhārī text and the near‐contemporary Chinese translation by Zhú Fǎhù (*Dharmarakṣa, 300 CE), the Bhadrakalpika literature of Khotan, and the Tibetan translation of the Bhadrakalpika‐Sūtra by Vidyākarasiṃha and Dpal dbyangs (revised by Ska ba dpal brtsegs in the 9th century).

Bronkhorst, Johannes: Abhidharma and Mahāyāna

The origin of Mahāyāna is a much debated issue in scholarship, which so far has defied all easy solutions. More and more scholars prefer to to speak of multiple origins, thus rejecting the very idea that there was such a thing as a single origin of Mahāyāna. In this discussion one important factor has not received the attention it deserves: the influence of Gandhāran Abhidharma on almost all surviving Mahāyāna texts. Since this particular form of Abhidharma arose at a specific time in a specific region of the subcontinent, we must consider the possibility that the earliest surviving Mahāyāna texts, which date roughly from that same period and already show the influence of Gandhāran Abhidharma, belonged to that same region. The paper presents an analysis of these data.

Matsuda, Kazunobu: A Mahāyāna Fragment in the Hirayama Kharoṣṭhī Collection

The Hirayama Collection in Kamakura, Japan, contains 26 Kharoṣṭhī palm leaf fragments in the Gāndhārī language which were discovered in the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan in the early nineties. Andrew Glass and Stefan Baums have already identified six of these fragments as the Mahāyāna Bhadrakalpika‐sūtra, but, judging from the content, there remains one Mahāyāna sūtra fragment among the other twenty. In this presentation I would like to introduce the content of the fragment and to seek its true character.

Salomon, Richard: A Newly Identified Bamiyan Manuscript of the Ekottarikāgama in Gāndhārī

More than twenty small fragments of a manuscript from Bamiyan (Afghanistan) in Gāndhārī language / Kharoṣṭhī script have recently been identified by members of the University of Washington Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project as belonging to a Ekottarikāgama / Aṅguttaranikāya. Parallels texts in Pāli and other Buddhist canons show that the fragments belong to the sixth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh of the eleven sections (nipāta) of the complete collection. This suggests that they belonged to a complete manuscript of the very extensive text, which must have comprised hundreds if not thousands of folios. This discovery therefore presents the first reasonably certain specimen of a complete manuscript of one of the principal sūtra collections in Gāndhārī, supporting the hypothesis that there existed a Buddhist canon in Gāndhārī by the second or third century C.E., if not earlier.

Schlosser, Andrea: Everything Will Be Good: Prospects from Two Early Buddhist Manuscripts

Two Gāndhārī scrolls from the Bajaur Collection (BC 4 and 11) contain treatises on happiness and suffering, and especially the happiness resulting from sensual pleasures (Skt. kāma‐sukha) as opposed to the happiness resulting from liberation to worldly desires (Skt. viveka‐sukha, vairāgya‐sukha, mokṣa‐sukha). Both manuscripts are written by the same scribe and similar in their wording, but contain two separate treatises that can be characterized as scholastic texts incorporating Mahāyāna ideas. So far no direct parallel to the texts has been found. This paper will introduce the manuscripts and discuss their content.

Strauch, Ingo: The Bajaur Mahāyāna Sūtra and its Position within Early Mahāyāna Literature

One of the largest Gāndhārī manuscripts contains a hitherto unidentified Mahāyāna sūtra which centers around the instruction and the  prediction of future Buddhahood to 84,000 devaputras who are supposed to be reborn as the Buddha Viholapravha (Skt. Vipulaprabha) in a buddhaland which resembles the Abhirati buddhakṣetra of the buddha Akṣobhya. The text was studied and received a preliminary evaluation by the author as part of the DFG‐funded project “The Bajaur Collection” at the Freie Universität Berlin and is currently being edited by Andrea Schlosser and Ingo Strauch in the framework of a collaboration between the project “Buddhist Manuscripts from Gandhāra” at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Munich) and the Chair for Buddhist Studies at the University of Lausanne. It is the aim of this paper to present a new attempt to describe the contents and structure of this important new text and to create thus a basis for defining its position in the broader context of early Mahāyāna literature and Gandhāran Buddhism.  Special focus will be given to its relation to contemporary Abhidharma traditions and to the Prajñāpāramitā literature which according to the evidence of the newly discovered fragment of the so-called Split Collection edited by Harry Falk was also represented among the early Gandhāran Mahāyāna literature.

von Criegern, Oliver: Prophezeiungen über die Zukunft des Dharma und ihr Bezug zur Mission im Mahāyāna‐Buddhismus

Mahāyāna‐Texte enthalten häufig Prophezeiungen über die Zukunft des Dharma bzw. des jeweiligen Textes nach dem Parinirvāṇa des Buddha. Mit dem Auftreten des Mahāyāna verbreiteten sich neue Lehren und Texte, die wegen ihrer Neuartigkeit von den übrigen Buddhisten in ihrer Authentizität bestritten und oft bekämpft wurden. Die vom Buddha gegenüber seinen Schülern ausgesprochenen Prophezeiungen dienen nun einerseits dazu, zu erklären, wieso es sich bei diesen neu in Erscheinung tretenden, bislang unbekannten Texten gleichwohl um authentisches Buddhawort handelt, andererseits dazu, die Mahāyāna‐Buddhisten auf die ihnen entgegenschlagende Ablehnung vorzubereiten und auf Standhaftigkeit in der Bewahrung und Verbreitung der Lehren und Texte einzuschwören. Diese Passagen reflektieren damit das Bewusstsein der Verfasser und Anhänger der Texte von sich selbst und ihrer Position in der Geschichte, sowie ihr darauf gestütztes missionarisches Ethos, das einer der Gründe für die so erfolgreiche Verbreitung des Mahāyāna‐Buddhismus gewesen sein mag. Im Vortrag sollen verschiedene Typen solcher Prophezeiungen kurz skizziert und dann anhand von Passagen aus Mahāyāna‐Texten aus Gilgit deren Bezug zum Missionsgedanken dargestellt werden. Dabei soll auch die Frage diskutiert werden, ob und inwiefern solche Prophezeiungen reale historische Konstellationen wiederspiegeln.