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Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary


by Franklin Edgerton (1885–1963), Sterling Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology, Yale University, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Ltd., Delhi, 1st ed. New Haven, 1953. ISBN: 81 208-0998-x (Vol. 1), ISBN: 81 208-0997. (Set of 2 books).

Scanned from the original book by Dr. Zin Tun, up to p009, and digitized by Daw Khin Wutyi. From p010 onwards, Daw Khin Wutyi has typed from the original book which I (U Kyaw Tun) have brought with me on my trip from DeepRiver to Yangon where Daw Khin Wutyi is based. This TIL edition is edited, with additions from other sources, by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA) and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL) . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

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Plan and methods of this work


Edgerton notes
Edgerton's footnotes are continuously numbered without any reference to pages. However for this TIL edition, I have given the page numbers as well. Thus fn001-02 means, it is footnote #02 found on p001, and fn003-07 is footnote #07 found on p003.


UKT notes 
Vedic Mantra-discovers becoming common Sanskrit-bards


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Plan and methods of this work


1.57. I trust that the preceding statements will justify a procedure adopted in this work, which at first sight may seem surprising. In principle, I have excluded from my grammar and dictionary all forms which are standard Sanskrit, and all words which are used in standard Sanskrit with the same meanings. fn009-18

1.58. My work is therefore to this extent incomplete. For certainly some words and some forms were common to the original dialect, as to all Middle Indic dialects, on the one hand, and to Sanskrit on the other. But there is no way of distinguishing such items from late intrusions put in by secondary redactors, copyists, or even modern editors; nor is there any general, objective, and reliable way of distinguishing those words which are Sanskrit in spelling only and were pronounced in Middle Indic fashion. To have included all words and forms presented in Sanskrit guise would have padded the work and, what is more important, obscured the picture. And it is impossible to draw any line objectively. It was a question of all or none.

1.59. What I have tried to do, then, is to collect and classify the non-Sanskrit forms and words, only, which are contained in BHS. It seems to me that this is what has always been needed; and no attempt has previously been made to supply it.

1.60. My work is based on available printed texts. A few of the editors have provided critical apparatuses giving the readings of their mss., or some of them (see §§ 1.73-75). [UKT ¶]

UKT 160126: Prof. Edgerton's sources are the "available printed texts". It shows that he did not see the actual mss., and so he has no idea of the scripts.

These are especially valuable and have been constantly utilized in my work. They demonstrated that even the best editors did not know how to handle the language, for lack of any standard to go by. How can an editor be sure whether a non-Sanskrit word of form found in his manuscripts is just a copyist's error, or represents (accurately or inaccurately) a real form of the language? It was necessary to collect the evidence from all, or nearly all, fn009-19, the published texts, and to classify and systematize the grammar and lexicon. Only then could editors know how to proceed. No existing printed text of any work in this dialect is satisfactory, or indeed could be, without such a work as I have tried to provide. The editors should not be blamed; theirs was an impossible task. Even the best of them print false emendations on almost every page; the worst, we may fear, do the same thing without acknowledging it.

1.61. It is, of course, true that my rule of excluding standard Skt. forms and words is not always easy to apply. Just what is 'standard Sanskrit;? I have tried to include, rather than exclude, doubtful cases, indicating the reason for my doubt. Exclusively Vedic words and forms are not 'Sanskrit'; but is it rarely necessary to consider them, since they hardly ever concern BHS. [UKT ¶]

Vedic Mantra-discoverers and Sanskrit-bards
UKT 160126: The Veda is body of Knowledge, whereas the "six limbs of the Veda" - {wé-dļn~ga.} are subsets. Rig Veda could be translated as {I.ži. bé-da.} 'Science of the Rishi'. It is a collection of Mantras or verbal formulas discovered by the human Rishis to control Nature, including the heavenly king Indra himself. Mantras are not hymns (songs) extolling the exploits of the celestial beings - the Dévas and Asuras. A Rishi is not a common bard - a wandering musician.

The Mahābhārata is another matter. It contains definite Middle-Indicisms; and I have thought best, for example, to mention in my Synopsis of Verb Forms (Chap. 43) the thematic present dadati, 'he gives', and forms of its type, which are not rare in the Epic (p009c1end-p009c2begin) and occur in the Veda. In the Dictionary, I [Edgerton] occasionally include in parentheses a word which seems to be used in standard Skt. in virtually the same way as in BHS, and yet to deserve inclusion for some reason. Compound nouns paralleled in Pali, and not recorded in Skt., I have tried to include, even when the parts are normal Skt. and the meaning of the compound is easily and simply derived from the meaning of its parts. Words and meanings recorded only by Sanskrit grammarians and lexicographers, or perhaps also once or twice in late and artificial literature, are generally treated as BHS. The extent and nature of the Skt. records about them are included with the definitions.

1.62. Naturally, the two great dictionaries of Boehtlingk (and Roth) have been my main reliance for Sanskrit. Schmidt's Nachträge have also been constantly consulted, and occasionally I have found a Skt. word elsewhere ; in such cases the word has been included in my Dictionary, at least in parentheses, with a reference to its Skt. occurrence.

1.63. Pali correspondents, when I have found any, are always cited in the Dictionary (cf. § 1.106). If no reference is given, the Pali word will be found in its alphabetical position either in the Copenhagen Dictionary, Volume I, or otherwise in the Pali Text Society's Dictionary. If I know no correspondent in Pali, but have found one in Ardha-Māgadhī, this is cited, from Ratnachandra's Dictionary (without reference), or Sheth. If no Pali or A Mg. correspondent is found, I cite (from Sheth, if no reference is given) any Prakrit equivalent found, or any from the Aśokan or other inscriptions, from the Deśīnāmamālā, or from Apabhraṃśa, or occasionally from a modern Indo-Aryan language. If no correspondent is cited, none is known to me.

UKT 160127: See my note on Apabhraṃśa, Skt अपभ्रंश (= अ प भ ् र ं श) {a.pa.Brän-sha.}, Prakrit: Avahansa) {a.wa.hūn-ža.} (?)

1.64. As stated above, my work is primarily based on the printed texts of BHS works listed in the Bibliography, with such critical apparatuses as are provided therein. I have had no direct access to manuscripts. To have tried to use them systematically would have meant, in effect, reediting the texts. New editions are unquestionably needed of most of them, and I trust that my work will facilitate the labors of future editors. But is I had tried to do this task myself, the fifteen years or so which I have given to this work would have been indefinitely I have given to this work would have been indefinitely extended, and I should certainly not have lived to finish it.

1.65. In general, the dictionary cites nouns, adjectives, and pronouns by stem form, verbs by third person singular present. For purposes of general reference, the grammar also uses these forms, but in the case of verbs it also often uses the 'root' in accordance with the common Sanskrit convention.

1.66. Specific forms cited from any text are in general intended to reproduce the exact spelling of the text cited, unless the contrary is stated, except that when the inflectional form is deemed unimportant, the bare stem alone may be cited. The chief further exception concerns alternative spellings, which vary at random, with either anusvāra or a nasal consonant before another consonant. This seems to be a purely orthographic matter, and as a rule not worth recording. Such writings as final - āṃand -ān are probably of no more significance. See on this whole subject §§ 2.65-67.

1.67. Often I adopt a reading stated to be that of all mss., which an editor emended (in my opinion wrongly). (p009c2end-p010c1begin) In such cases I sometimes write '(mss.)' or '(so mss.)' after the form in question, not always citing the emendation which the editor put into the text. In the case of the ending -etsu(ḥ), 3 pl. aor. or opt., which occurs many hundreds of times in Mv and is invariably replaced by -etsu(ḥ), in Senart's text (§ 1.88), I cite the reading of the mss, without calling attention to Senart's emendations individually. What seem to me clearly misprints (and, of course, still more what I believe are copyist's errors) are corrected, but (I hope) always with indication of the fact, if only by a phrase like '(so ready)', and oftener with quotation of the text as actually printed.

1.68. I need hardly say that I have read with care all the texts on which my works is based (with the qualifications noted under certain works in the Bibliography), tried to understand them, and noted all words and forms which seemed not to be standard Sanskrit. Naturally, in the case of the commoner words and forms, only samples could be included in the dictionary and grammar, but I have tried to make them typical and abundant enough to give an approximate notion of what the totality would show.

1.69. Unfortunately, the state of most of the textual tradition is deplorable. While many passages, and consequently many words and forms, have become clear as a direct result of my collection and collation, I am only too well aware that many textual and exegetic problems have remained unsolved. To help future investigators, I have tried to include all dubious words and forms as far as possible. It is unfortunately not always possible to do so; very often the true ord-division depends on the interpretation, and cannot be established in default of the latter.

1.70. Parallel passages in BHS itself are, of course, the most important aids to interpretation, as in all philological work. Next come parallel passages in Pali, which often contains close equivalents of BHS verses or prose passages, and still oftener phrases and locutions which correspond to those of BHS. The Copenhagen ('Critical') Pali Dictionary has proved extremely valuable in helping me to discover them. If that monumental and magnificent work of scholarship had progressed further than the first volume, I should doubtless have found more than I have. The other Pali dictionaries are much less useful.

1.71. Tibetan translations, so far as available, are extremely helpful. Their notorious literalness usually makes possible a confident decision as to what their BHS originals read, and how the translators understood it. Unfortunately I had access, while the work was in progress, to Tibetan versions of only a few of the BHS texts. After the work was completed, Yale University acquired a set of the Kanjur (Lhasa ed.), as gift from His Holiness the Dalal Lama; but this arrived to late to be useful to me.

1.72. I know no Chinese, and so have had to depend on others for such help as I have been able to get from Chinese Buddhist works. Finot, for example, furnishes a very helpful French translation (by Huber) of the Chinese version of Prāt. Various kind colleagues, present and past, Sinologists and Japanologists, have given me valuable (p010c1end-p010c2begin)  help, especially in interpreting the Chinese and Japanese equivalents of the BHS and Tibetan entries contained in Mvy; occasionally also in dealing with other works.

1.73. Perhaps the most difficult and corrupt, as also probably the oldest and most important, of all BHS works is the Mahāvastu. So far as is yet know, no translation of it exists in either Tibetan or Chinese. fn010-20. It was edited by Émile Senart [French Indologist (1847–1928)] in three stout volumes, 1882-1897, Senart's extensive notes often let the reader perceive the despair which constantly threatened to overwhelm him. It must be remembered that around 1880 comparatively few Pali texts had been published; even by 1897 many were still inaccessible; and as to BHS, few texts had been edited in Senart's day, and those few badly. Confronted with the many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of corruptions in Mv, Senart had little choice except to let them stand as the manuscripts present them, or to try to rewrite them himself. He did sometimes one, sometimes the other. It goes without saying that in a great many cases his emendations were successful; for he was a very great scholar. And yet, as is generally the case when an editor attempts a vast number of emendations, many of Senart's have not proved sound. We must, however, acknowledge with the utmost gratitude and appreciation the meticulous care with which he recorded the actual readings of his six mss, as far as i. 193.12, and thereafter of two typical ones. With the far more extensive aids now available, Senart's careful and scholarly critical apparatus has enabled me to recognize as correct many readings of his mss. Which he rejected and I fully believe that many others will be recognized by my better-informed or more perceptive successors.

1.74. Johannes Nobel has edited Suv with equally praiseworthy care, and also published its Tibetan translation. The fragments in Hoernle's MR are all admirably edited. There are other able and sound editions. Lefmann's edition of the important LV seems to be quite meticulous in giving the readings of his rather numerous mss., which makes his work very valuable, even tho his editorial judgment in constituting the text cannot be rated very high. On the other hand, the Kern-Nanjio edition of SP, which is also a text of prime importance, tho it professes to cite the readings of a number of mss., is sadly unreliable (see W. Baruch, Beiträge zum Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra, Leiden, 1938, pp. 7-12). And the later edition of SP by Wogihara and Tsuchida has little value; for example it constantly repeats, without note or comment, indefensible emendations of the KN text.

1.75. Still less helpful are the texts, printed usually in the Orient, which do not even try to record the readings of the mss., or do so only very sporadically and unsystematically. Many of them are obviously printed very badly, with numerous misprints, which at times are not easy to distinguish from scribal errors of the underlying mss. Yet I have hesitated to refuse to use a printed text on such grounds alone; some of them contain important materials. I have, to be sure, tried to exercise restraint and caution in relying on the evidence of such texts, of which the edition of Mmk is a rather extreme example. (p010c2end)

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Edgerton Footnote

Edgerton's footnotes are continuously numbered without any reference to pages. However for this TIL edition, I have given the page numbers as well. Thus fn001-02 means, it is footnote #02 found on p001, and fn003-07 is footnote #07 found on p003.

fn009-18. Technical terms of Buddhist religion, and proper names, belonging exclusively to Buddhist stories, are of course included in the dictionary, even tho they occur in Buddhist works which are composed in standard Sanskrit (§ 1.2). This constitutes no real exception to the above principle.
- fn009-18b

fn009-19. A few works have been used only partially, or not at all, because they appeared in print, or became accessible to me, only after my work was nearing completion; or because they seemed to me of minor importance.
- fn009-19b

fn010-20. To the kindness of my colleague Professor Johannes Rahder I owe the following note. A Japanese work called Bombun-butsuden-bungaku no Kenkyū (Studies in Sanskrit biographies of Buddha), by Taiken Kimura (died 1930) and (his pupil) Tsūshō Byōdō (799 pp., Tokyo 1930), deals extensively with the Mahāvastu on pp.565-668. Particularly noteworthy is a comparison of the contents of Mv i and ii (vol. iii is not treated only 'for lack of time', not because of lack of parallels) with the contents, especially, of the Chinese Fo-pźn-hsing-chi-ching (not later (p010fnc1end-p010fnc2begin) than the end of the 6th century). This work seems to follow rather closely the outline of Mv, omitting a great deal, much of which is suspected on other grounds of having been added to Mv in late times. Byōdō believes that it is either a translation of an older version of Mv, or that both it and Mv were based on an older Indian work. Fuller knowledge may possibly compel us to qualify the usual statement that the Mv was 'never translated into Chinese' (so e. g. Lin Li-kouang, L'Aide-mémoire, 174).
- fn010-20b

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UKT notes


- UKT 160128


From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apabhra%E1%B9%83%C5%9Ba 160128

"Apabhraṃśa " Skt-Dev: अपभ्रंश «apabhraṃśa» 'fallen down languages', is a term used by vyākaraṇin (grammarians) since Patańjali (fl. c. 150 BCE) to refer to the dialects prevalent in the Ganges (east and west) before the rise of the modern languages. (UKT ¶)

UKT 160128: Since the principal languages prevalent in the Ganges were the dialects of the Magadha Mahajanapada, Magadhi-Asokan would have been included. Magadhi-Asokan would be the language looked down on by the Brahmin-Poanna {braah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:} grammarians who simply loved their own complex grammar with gender, number, tense and inflexions. We can imagine that Magadhi-Asokan being a Tib-Bur language would have a very simple grammar devoid of gender, number, tense and inflexions similar to the modern colloquial Bur-Myan and probably Néwari-Asokan - the language of the blood relatives of the Buddha in Nepal the present-day geo-political country.

The hall-mark of Bur-Myan and Néwari-Asokan is the presence of {nga.} /ŋ/ in the onset of syllables. Such syllables are absent in Eng-Lat and Hindi-Dev the IE languages.

It is not surprising why Patańjali had looked down on these dialects, because by this time, the Buddhist king Bṛhadratha Maurya «bṛhadratha maurya» (king from c. 187–180 BCE) had been assassinated by his own general - a Brahmin-Poanna {braah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:}, and the throne of Maurya kingdom had fallen into the hands of the Hindu usurpers.

In Indology, it is used as an umbrella term for the dialects forming the transition [1] between the late Middle and the early Modern Indo-Aryan languages, spanning the period between the 6th and 13th centuries CE. However, these dialects are conventionally included in the Middle Indo-Aryan period. [2]:p.42 Apabhraṃśa in Sanskrit literally means "corrupt" or "non-grammatical language", that which deviates from the norm of Sanskrit grammar.

Apabhraṃśa literature is a valuable source for the history of North India for the period spanning the 12th to 16th centuries. [3]

The term Prakrit, which includes Pali, is also used as a cover term for the vernaculars of North India that were spoken perhaps as late as the 4th to 8th centuries, but some scholars use the term for the entire Middle Indo-Aryan period. (UKT ¶)

Middle Indo-Aryan languages gradually transformed into Apabhraṃśa dialects, which were used until about the 13th century. The Apabhraṃśas later evolved into Modern Indo-Aryan languages. The boundaries of these periods are somewhat hazy, not strictly chronological. Modern North Indian languages are often considered to have begun to develop a distinct identity around the 11th century - while Apabhraṃśas were still in use - and became fully distinct by the end of the 12th century.

A significant amount of Apabhraṃśa literature has been found in Jain libraries.

UKT: More in the Wiki article

Go back Apabhramsa-note-b

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- UKT 160128

The Mahavastu {ma.ha-wut~htu.} 'great story' was first published by É. Senart with a detailed conspectus of contents in the Introduction, in French, in Paris 1882-1897. English translation of Chapter 3 of from Ancient Buddhist Texts, Sri Lanka, is given below. See also the English translations by Jones, J.J. (trans.) (1949–56). The Mahāvastu (3 vols.) in Sacred Books of the Buddhists. London: Luzac & Co. vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3
in downloaded files in TIL SD-Library - Jones-Mahavastu<Ō>

From Wikipedia: - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%81vastu 160128

The Mahāvastu 'Great Event' or 'Great Story' {ma.ha-wut~htu.} 'great story' is a text of the Lokottaravāda school of Early Buddhism. It describes itself as being a historical preface to the Buddhist monastic codes (vinaya). Over half of the text is composed of Jātaka and Avadāna tales, accounts of the earlier lives of the Buddha and other bodhisattvas. [1] [2]

The Mahāvastu contains prose and verse written in mixed Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit. [3] [4] It is believed to have been compiled between the 2nd century BCE and 4th century CE. [2] [5]

The Mahāvastu's Jātaka tales are similar to those of the Pali Canon although significant differences exist in terms of the tales' details. Other parts of the Mahāvastu have more direct parallels in the Pali Canon including from the Digha Nikaya (DN 19, Mahāgovinda Sutta), the Majjhima Nikaya (MN 26, Ariyapariyesana Sutta; and, MN 36, Mahasaccaka Sutta), the Khuddakapātha, the Dhammapada (ch. 8, Sahassa Vagga; and, ch. 25, Bhikkhu Vagga), the Sutta Nipata (Sn 1.3, Khaggavisā ṇa Sutta; Sn 3.1, Pabbajjā Sutta; and, Sn 3.2, Padhāna Sutta), the Vimanavatthu and the Buddhavaṃsa. [1] [6]

The Mahāvastu is considered a primary source for the notion of a transcendent (lokottara) Buddha, common to all Mahāsāṃghika schools. According to the Mahāvastu, over the course of many lives, the once-human-born Buddha developed supramundane abilities including: a painless birth conceived without intercourse; no need for sleep, food, medicine or bathing although engaging in such "in conformity with the world"; omniscience; and, the ability to "suppress karma." [7]

English translations: Jones, J.J. (trans.) (1949–56). The Mahāvastu (3 vols.) in Sacred Books of the Buddhists. London: Luzac & Co. vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3
See downloaded files in TIL SD-Library - Jones-Mahavastu<Ō>


From Ancient Buddhist Texts, Sri Lanka,
- http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/Reference/Early-Buddhist-Texts/03-EBT-Mahavastu.htm 160130

Ch03: Mahāvastu

As belonging to the old school of Hīnayāna we have in the first place to mention the Mahāvastu “the Book of the Great Events.”

Le Mahāvastu, Sanskrit text, was published for the first time with introduction by E. Senart with a detailed conspectus of contents in the Introduction, Paris 1882-1897. A. Barth in Revue de l'Histoire des Religions., 11, 1885, p. 160; 42, 1900, p. 51 and Journal des Savants 1899, p. 459, p. 517, p. 623. E. Windisch, the Composition of the Mahāvastu, Leipzig 1909. A conspectus of the contents is also given by Rajendralal Mitra in his Nepalese Buddhist Literature, pp. 113-161. (UKT ¶)

UKT 160130: Whenever you see the word "Nepalese" in connection with religious literature, make sure what the written language is. It could be Nepali-Bhasa aka Néwari (Tib-Bur language group) or Nepali (IE language group).
Néwari shares commonality with Bur-Myan for the presence of syllables beginning with {nga.} /ŋ/. Syllables of this type is absent in Skt-Dev and Pal-Myan. I presume because of the {nga.} consonant dedicated-glyph in Asokan, the Old Magadhi written in Asokan Brahmi or its direct descendant Mag-Myan Pali-Myan would have this consonant.

The book gives itself the title of: “The Vinayapiṭaka according to the text of the Lokottaravādis belonging to the Mahāsaṅghikas.” These Mahāsaṅghikas, that is, the adherents of the Mahāsaṅgha or the Great Order are according to concurrent reports the most ancient Buddhist schismatics.

This is the only thing positive which we can ascertain regarding the rise of Buddhist sects from the contradictory and confused accounts. (Compare Kern Manual of Buddhism, p. 105).

A sub-division of theirs was the Lokottaravādis, that is, those according to whose doctrine the Buddhas are Supramundane or Lokottara and are only externally connected with worldly existence.

“Nothing in the perfectly Awakened Ones is comparable to anything in the world but everything connected with the great ṣis is exalted above the world.” They wash their feet although no dust attaches to them, they sit under the shade although the heat of the sun does not oppress them, they take nourishment although they are never troubled with hunger, they use medicine although they have no diseases (Windisch loc. cit. p. 470). According to [12] the Mahāvastu, the Lokottaravādis belong to the Madhyadeśa or the 16 countries lying between the Himālaya and the Vindhya mountains (Mahāvastu V.1, p. 198.)

Entirely in keeping with this doctrine, the biography of the Buddha which forms the principal contents of the Mahāvastu is related as an “Avadāna” or a miraculous history. It is clearly not thereby differentiated much from the texts of the Pāḷi canon which are devoted to the life of the Buddha. Here in this Sanskrit text just as in the Pāḷi counterpart we hear of miracles which accompanied the conception, the birth, the illumination, and the first conversions brought about by the Buddha.

The Mahāvastu harmonizes with the Pāḷi Nidānakathā in this that it treats of the life of Buddha in three sections, of which the first starts with the life of the Bodhisattva in the time of the Buddha Dīpaṅkara (V. 1, 193) and describes his life in the time of other and earlier Buddhas. The second section (in V. 2, 1) takes us to the heaven of the Tuṣita gods, where the Bodhisattva who is re-born there is determined to seek another birth in the womb of Queen Māyā and relates the miracle of conception and the birth of the prince, of his leaving the home, his conflict with Māra, and the illumination which he succeeds in acquiring under the Bodhi Tree. The third section (V. 3), lastly recounts, in harmony with the principal features of the Mahāvagga of the Vinayapiṭaka, the history of the first conversions and the rise of the monastic order. And this is also one reason why the Mahāvastu is described as belonging to the Vinayapiṭaka, although barring a few remarks on the initiation of the Order it contains next to nothing about the Vinaya proper or the rules of the Order.

Note: The Mahāvastu does not contain the Pāḷi technical expressions, Dūrenidāna, Avidūrenidāna and Santikenidāna [which are found in the late Jātakanidāna]. See Windisch loc. cit. p. 473, 476 ff. [13]

When we, however, say that the Mahāvastu recounts the main outline of the life of the Buddha for the Lokottaravādis, that by no means implies that this exhausts the contents of the work; nor does it give an adequate idea of its composition. Far from being a literary work of art, the Mahāvastu is rather a labyrinth in which we can only with an effort discover the thread of a coherent account of the life of the Buddha. This account is constantly interrupted by other material, specially by the numerous Jātakas and Avadānas and also by dogmatic Sūtras. We find no order. Sometimes an attempt is made to put together in a loose fashion the various component parts of the work. Moreover, the same story is frequently repeated whether it be an episode in the life of the Buddha or a Jātaka, being related twice one after another, first in prose and then in verse, although in a more or less diverging version. But in several passages the same episodes recur with a trifling difference. Thus the legend of the Buddha's birth is recounted no less than four times (Windisch, Buddha's Birth, p. 106, 124 ff.). Again language is also not uniform. No doubt the whole work, both the prose and verse, is written in what we call “mixed Sanskrit,” but this dialect makes a varying approach to Sanskrit. The more disparate it is from Sanskrit, the more ancient it appears (Oldenberg Zeitschift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 52, 663).

Importance of Mahāvastu

Despite this and not withstanding the circumstance that out of this book we learn hardly anything new on the life of the Buddha or of the Lokottaravādis, it is [still] of the greatest importance because it preserves for us many ancient traditions and old versions of texts which also occur in the Pāḷi canon. Thus the setting out of his home by the Prince Siddhārtha, the celebrated abhiniṣkramaṇa of Sanskrit books, is related, as in the Pāḷi Majjhimanikāya (26 and 36) in the most archaic fashion (V. 2, 117).

As [14] an instance of the various strata of the book we may mention another version of the same episode in the life of the Buddha and belonging to a later period which follows immediately after the first and more ancient recital in Mahāvastu. Similarly we find early versions of the celebrated “Benares sermon” and presentments of the following well-known texts in the Pāḷi canon:- The Mahāgovinda Sutta (Dīghanikāya 19) the Dīghanakhasutta (Majjhimanikāya, 74) the Sahassavagga of the Dhammapada, the Khuddakapāṭha, the Pabajjā, the Padhāna and the Khaggavisāṇa Suttas belonging to the Suttanipāta, and pieces from Vimānavatthu and the Buddhavaṁsa (Oldenberg Zeitschift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 52, 659 f. 665 f. Windisch Māra and Buddha, 316 f, 322 f). There are poems, moreover, on the birth of the Buddha and vestiges of ancient Buddhistic ballads which we so often come across.

Its Jātakas

Quite of special value is, however, the Mahāvastu as a mine of Jātakas and other stories. These have been separately treated by Serge d'Oldenberg (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1896, p. 335 f.) and by Barth (Journal des Savants 1889, p. 625 f.) Charpentier has discussed a few of the Jātakas in the Mahāvastu in his history of the Pacceka Buddhas (p. 2 f. 12 f, 25 f.) A good half of the book consists of Jātakas which are related partly in prose with verses inserted, or first in prose and then again in verse. Further we see the Bodhisattva now as a universal sovereign, now as the son of a merchant, then as a Brahman, again as a Nāga prince, as a lion, as an elephant, etc. Many of the Jātakas are versions of the same story which we find in the Pāḷi book of Jātakas. They harmonize word for word with the Pāḷi and many a time show more or less divergence. Thus, for instance, the Śyāmakajātaka (V. 2, p. 209 f.), the pathetic story of the Brahman's son who is shot dead with his arrow by King Peliyakṣa is only a [15] version of the Sāmajātaka [Pāḷi No. 540] so well known to us. The Kinnarījātaka (V. 2, p. 94 f.) corresponds in character, though not in contents to the Kinnara legend in the Jātaka book. Kuśajātaka appears once (V. 2, p. 420 f.) in a recension which is tolerably divergent from Pāḷi, a second time (V. 1, p. 3 f.) in metrical form which betrays resemblances with the Pāḷi gāthās. The story of Amara, the smith's daughter, (V. 2, p. 836) answers to the Pāḷi Jātaka No. 387. The Markatajātaka (V. 2, p. 246 f.) is the fable of the monkey and the crocodile and is known to us as No. 208 of the Pāḷi Jātaka book. The history of Nāliṇī who is seduced by Eka Śṅga, grows into a highly developed legend in Mahāvastu (V. 3, p. 143 f.). But it retains some of the more ancient features which have disappeared in the prose Pāḷi Jātaka of Isisiṅga (Luders, Nachrichten von der K. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen 1901, p. 20 f.)

Mahāvastu and Purāṇas

There are, however, many Jātakas and Avadānas in the Mahāvastu which have nothing corresponding to them in Pāḷi. In these are especially glorified again and again the extraordinary propensity to self-sacrifice and generosity on part of the Bodhisattva. Thus as King Arka, for example, the Bodhisattva bestows upon the Buddha of the age 80,000 grottoes or cave temples fashioned out of the seven kinds of precious stones (1, 54). On another occasion he surrenders his wife and child only [in order] to learn a wise maxim (1, 91 f.) As a beggar he is more pious than King Kki, for he kills no living being and places his pots on crossways in order that they may be filled with rice and grain for the hungry; and when he hears that his parents in his absence have given away to the Buddha the straw with which he had shortly before embellished his hut he rejoices over it for a month (1,317 f.) [Despite what Nariman said above this last corresponds to Ghaṭikāra the potter's story in Majjhimanikāya 81]. [16]

Many of the narratives bear the impress of a Brahmanic or Purāṇic character. Such is, for instance, the history of Brahmadatta who is childless and betakes himself to the ṣis upon which three birds are borne to him which speak with a human voice and utter many sapient proverbs. This story reminds us of the beginning of the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa. And incidentally it may be observed that portrayal of hell in the beginning of the Mahāvastu has points of contact with the same Purāṇa. It is, however in the Pāḷi tradition that we find the foundation of the visit of Maudgalyayāna to the 8th Inferno as well as his sojourn in the world of beasts and the world of Pretas, the Asūras, and various kinds of deities. For in the Pāḷi tradition also Moggallāna is a saint who roams through heaven and hell and all the worlds. However, the Rājavaṁśa or the History of the Kings to whose dynasty Śākyamuni belonged begins entirely after the fashion of the Purāṇas with an account of the creation (1, 338 ff.) The sprit of the Purāṇas is also breathed by the Jātaka (1, 283 ff.), in which a ṣi named Rakṣita who is the Bodhisattva, attains to such miraculous powers as an ascetic that he touches the sun and the moon with his hand. The spirit of the Purāṇas is very similar to that of the Mahāyāna and many of the stories in the Mahāvastu betray the same partiality for the phantasmagorial - astounding sorcerers to perform the miracles of saints, so peculiar to the Mahāyāna texts. To this class belongs “the Story of the Umbrella” (Chattravastu I, 253 ff.) After the Buddha had freed the city of Śrāvastī of a terrible plague caused by Yakṣas, gods or spirits hold up umbrellas over the Buddha to do him honour. The latter however with his usual compassionateness makes one Buddha to appear under each umbrella by virtue of his supernatural powers so that each god believes that the Buddha is seated under his own umbrella. [17]

More Mahāyāna Affinities

And, although the Mahāvastu belongs to the Hīnayāna and has contacts with much which may or actually does occur in the Pāḷi texts of the Theravādis, it embodies a good deal which makes an approach to the Mahāyāna. Thus, for instance, we find in the first volume (1, 63-193) a large section on the ten Bhūmis or places which a Bodhisattva has to go through and the description of the virtues which he must possess in each of the ten stages. In this section has been interpolated a Buddhānusmti (1, 163 ff.) that is, a hymn to the Buddha who in no way is here different from Viṣṇu or Śiva in the stotras of the Purāṇas. It is also in keeping with the idea of the Mahāyāna when it is said that the power of Buddha is so great that the adoration of the Exalted One alone suffices for the attainment of Nirvāṇa (II, 362 ff.) and that one earns for oneself infinite merit when one only circumambulates a stūpa and offers worship with flowers and so forth. That from the smile of the Buddha proceed rays which illuminate the whole Buddha field (Buddhakṣetra) occurs innumerable times in the Mahāyāna texts (III, 137 ff). It is also a Mahāyānist conception when mention is made of a great number of Buddhas and when it is stated that the Bodhisattva is not generated by father and mother, but springs directly from his own properties (Windisch, The Buddha's Birth, p. 97 Note, p. 100 f. and p. 193 f.)

Antiquity of Mahāvastu

The nature of the composition of the Mahāvastu entails the difficulty that the period when it was composed is very hard to determine. Many circumstances point to a high antiquity, for instance, the fact that it belongs to the Lokottaravāda school and also its language. That the work is entirely written in “mixed Sanskrit” while in the Mahāyāna texts this dialect alternates with Sanskrit, is a mark [18] of its greater antiquity. For, as Barth said Sanskrit is in Buddhist texts only an interloper (Journal des Savants, 1899,p. 459).

Certainly old are those numerous pieces which the Mahāvastu has in common with the Pāḷi canon and which go back to ancient Pāḷi sources. The gāthās of the Khadgaviśāṇa Sūtra (I. 357,) may be even older than the corresponding Khaggavisāṇa Sutta in the Pāḷi Suttanipāta. When, however, in the Mahāvastu these verses are sung by five hundred dying Pratyeka Buddhas then in their mouth they refrain. “He wanders lonely like a unicorn” sounds peculiarly incongruous and it becomes improbable that the prose portion should be as old as the gāthās.

To the time of the first century after Christ likewise point the Mahāyānist features already indicated as well as a few passages which seem to have been influenced by the sculptors of the Gandhāra art. When for example, in the scene of the flower miracle, the lotus flowers in the form of a circle fall round the halo of the Buddha, it may be noted that the halo was first introduced into India by Greek artists (see A Foucher Journale Asiatique 1903, p. 10, part II, p. 208, and his L'art grecobouddhique du Gandhāra, vol. I, p. 622; besides, the many Buddhas under the umbrellas remind us of the sculptured monuments). The reference in the Mahāvastu to the Yogācāras brings us down to the fourth century (I, 120); and so do the allusions to the Huns and the most interesting ones to the Chinese language and writing and the characterisation of astrologers as “Horāpāṭhaka” (III, 178). But the core of the Mahāvastu is old and probably was composed already two centuries before Christ, although it has been expanded in the fourth century after Christ and perhaps even at a later period. For it is only the embellishment that has been borrowed from the Mahāyāna, while on the other hand, it is merely a feeble admixture of the Mahāyāna doctrine proper and not of the Mahāyāna mythology which we find in the Mahāvastu. [19]

UKT: End of article

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Vedic Mantra-discoverers and Sanskrit-bards

UKT 160126:

My note is based on my knowledge of elements of Esoteric sciences dealing with Mantra and Yantra ("Yan" in Cambodia and Thailand).

A Mantra is a verbal formula recited, with a concentrated mind acquired by training of the physical body using Yogic methods while on a strict regimen of food intake such as fasting. To have a clear mind, the practitioner must abstain from any intoxicants such as tobacco, betel chewing, drugs and alcohol. Mind defiling acts such as singing, dancing, playing musical instruments must be avoided. Sex in terms of mental and physical, is a taboo.

The most favoured Yogic method is mindful breathing in and out, concentrating on the touch of air at the tip of nostrils. Your mind must not follow the puffs of air into the lungs, nor notice the heaving of the chest. Your body can be in any position of sitting, standing, or lying prone. The most favoured position is sitting cross-legged as comfortably as possible on a hard even wooden-floor with no noticeable drafts of air coming through cracks in the wall and floor. Silence is a requirement. You must have a clear mind - not thinking of any arguments or philosophy, or even of the Buddha. If an image of the Buddha were to come up on your mind, you must kill it by going back to the touch of air on the nostrils.

The Mantra is recited concentrating on each word. In a way the Mantra recitation is to guide you along while you are constructing a Yantra. Since the sound of each word -- the vibrations of air waves -- is supposed to have mystic powers, the aim is to input these powers into the Yantra.

A Yantra is an "instrument" or "tool" with which to control Nature in the form of unseen beings from the Heavenly king Indra to lowly ghosts and demons. Of course Indra hates humans who invent such Mantras and Yantras, and would resort to low mean tricks as those he played on the human king-turned-rhisi - Rishi Vishvamitra. Indra sent his most seductive dancer to seduce the Rishi. Indra succeeded when the Rishi fathered a daughter. The Rishi realized how he had been tricked, and went back to his Yogic practice, and, Indra had to succumb to the powers of the Rishi and proclaimed the Rishi as the Great Rishi - the Brahmarshi. Rishi Vishvamitr is the discover or inventor of Gayatri Mantra.

Prof. Edgerton realises that "Exclusively Vedic words and forms are not 'Sanskrit';". So he does admit that Vedic is not Sanskrit. Since my interest is not only in speech but in script as well, I must know in what script was Vedic written. Since, the most ancient script that is found in the Indian subcontinent is Asokan Brahmi , I am quite confident that by the time of Panini (fl. 4th century BCE), Vedic speech was written in Asokan, and we should specify it as Vedic-Asokan.

After entering the Indian subcontinent, the IE speakers of the Iron Age with their intellectuals the Brahmin-Poannars {braah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:} adopted many ideas of the Tib-Bur speakers including the belief that humans can use the natural forces for their betterment. For doing so they have to transcribe and translate the Vedic into their own language. The trouble is groups of humans speaking different languages use different sets of vocal muscles to produce the vowel sounds. And the whole process of transcription became a mess. There were various attempts to solve the mess and Panini was the most successful of the IE linguists.

Yet, even with a good transcription, it is inevitable that the underlying meanings became changed.

We must remember that there were 16 Mahajanapadas at that time, and most if not all were Tib-Bur languages. They were being slowly changed into Skt-Dev forms. Tib-Bur languages, exemplified by Bur-Myan, have very simple grammar - with no inflexions, no gender, no number and no tense. It is said, for example that Magadhi (Mag-Myan) is so simple that even higher animals could understand it. Retracing our argument, we may say that Vedic-Asokan was a very simple language.

However, the IE speaking Brahmin-Poannars {braah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:} use a very rhotic speech, with their very rhotic vowel-pair ऋ {iRi.}- ॠ {iRi} (not present in Bur-Myan). They have very limited nasal sounds (only two /n/ and /m/ - not five /ŋ/, /ɲ/, /ɳ/, /n/ and /m/) had made a mess of Vedic-Asokan. Specifically, they have no  /ŋ/. The result was not only a change in pronunciation, but in meaning as well. For example, the Pali-Myan I'thi {I.ži.} (UHS PMD0195) was turned into Rishi  ऋषि «ṛṣi» {iRi.ži.}. Being not used to thibilant sound /θ/, they pronounce {ža.} /θ/ as {žhya.} /ʃ/. Because of this mis-pronunciation {iRi.ži.} is pronounced as {iRi.žhyi.} --> {iRi.shi.}. Soon the initial vowel /i/ was lost and the word became Rishi beginning with consonant /r/.

The venerated Mantra-discovers {I.ži.} - who were equated to the Buddha in dictionary meaning - are not cheap singers (common bards). I was surprised to see a pre-Buddha, Rishi Narada, mentioned in the Buddhist Ten Great Birth stories, turned into a common bard who traversed the Indian subcontinent singing the exploits of Deva-gods to the tune of a string instrument he was playing. See Wikipedia on:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rishi 160127
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narada 160127

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