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Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha
Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha
Description
About the Book:

The Buddhacarita is the most famous work of Asvaghosa, the well-known Buddhist poet-Philosopher supposed to have been a contemporary of King Kaniska of the early 2nd century A.D. Of the twenty-eight cantos of the epic poem a little less than half is now available in the original, but complete translations in Chinese and Tibetan have been preserved.

This edition consists of three parts. The first part contains the Sanskrit text and the second the translation of the first fourteen cantos, filling up the lacunae in the Sanskrit from the Tibetan, together with an Introduction dealing with various aspects of the poet's works, with notes which discuss the many difficulties of text and translation, and an Index. The third part contains translation of Cantos XV-XXVIII based on the available Tibetan and Chinese versions so as to arrive as near the meaning of Asvaghosa's original text.

The poem falls into four distinct quarters of seven cantos describing birth and youth of the hero, enlightenment after long questing, how the Buddha made his discovery by teaching available to all beings, a missing ending with a universal conquest in which the hero converts the rulers and people in many countries to the new doctrine and the events leading up to the Parinirvana of the Buddha.

Review:

This is a reprint of the 1936 University of the Punjab (Lahore) edition of Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha, translated into English by E.H. Johnston. Part I is the complete Sanskrit text of Cantos I to XIV, using as its chief authority a Sanskrit manuscripts dating from approximately 1300 A.D., supplemented by the Tibetan version and a fifth century A.D. Chinese translation. Part II is a translation into English of the Sanskrit text, plus a lengthy introduction by the translator on Asvaghosa's life and works and his achievements as a Buddhist, as a scholar, and as a poet. In Johnston's words, the works of Asvaghosa, in all probability a former Brahman living in the first century A.D. in the eastern regions of India, "are invaluable to us, not for their originality of thought, but as giving us a complete and coherent picture of the faith of a typical Buddhist at a particular epoch." This is especially true with regard to his devotion to the Buddha, his handling of legend, and his exposition of doctrine. While not the only translation of this text into English, it is certainly the most useful. The reprinted edition is therefore of major importance. This volume belongs in all libraries which deal seriously with the Buddhist tradition and its textual materials.

BARDWELL L. SMITH
Carleton College
South Asia in Review, August, 1979.

CONTENTS

Preface

Abbreviations

Contents

Text, Cantos I - XIV

Appendix - The Buddhacarita and the Fo pen hsing chi ching

Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha

Item Code:
IDC113
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
1998
ISBN:
81-208-1029-5
Language:
Complete Sanskrit Text with English Translation
Size:
8.5" X 5.5"
Pages:
645
Price:
$39.50   Shipping Free
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About the Book:

The Buddhacarita is the most famous work of Asvaghosa, the well-known Buddhist poet-Philosopher supposed to have been a contemporary of King Kaniska of the early 2nd century A.D. Of the twenty-eight cantos of the epic poem a little less than half is now available in the original, but complete translations in Chinese and Tibetan have been preserved.

This edition consists of three parts. The first part contains the Sanskrit text and the second the translation of the first fourteen cantos, filling up the lacunae in the Sanskrit from the Tibetan, together with an Introduction dealing with various aspects of the poet's works, with notes which discuss the many difficulties of text and translation, and an Index. The third part contains translation of Cantos XV-XXVIII based on the available Tibetan and Chinese versions so as to arrive as near the meaning of Asvaghosa's original text.

The poem falls into four distinct quarters of seven cantos describing birth and youth of the hero, enlightenment after long questing, how the Buddha made his discovery by teaching available to all beings, a missing ending with a universal conquest in which the hero converts the rulers and people in many countries to the new doctrine and the events leading up to the Parinirvana of the Buddha.

Review:

This is a reprint of the 1936 University of the Punjab (Lahore) edition of Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha, translated into English by E.H. Johnston. Part I is the complete Sanskrit text of Cantos I to XIV, using as its chief authority a Sanskrit manuscripts dating from approximately 1300 A.D., supplemented by the Tibetan version and a fifth century A.D. Chinese translation. Part II is a translation into English of the Sanskrit text, plus a lengthy introduction by the translator on Asvaghosa's life and works and his achievements as a Buddhist, as a scholar, and as a poet. In Johnston's words, the works of Asvaghosa, in all probability a former Brahman living in the first century A.D. in the eastern regions of India, "are invaluable to us, not for their originality of thought, but as giving us a complete and coherent picture of the faith of a typical Buddhist at a particular epoch." This is especially true with regard to his devotion to the Buddha, his handling of legend, and his exposition of doctrine. While not the only translation of this text into English, it is certainly the most useful. The reprinted edition is therefore of major importance. This volume belongs in all libraries which deal seriously with the Buddhist tradition and its textual materials.

BARDWELL L. SMITH
Carleton College
South Asia in Review, August, 1979.

CONTENTS

Preface

Abbreviations

Contents

Text, Cantos I - XIV

Appendix - The Buddhacarita and the Fo pen hsing chi ching

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