The Formation of Canons in the Early Indian Nikayas or Schools in the Light of the New Gandhari Manuscript Finds

Authors

  • Mark Allon University of Sydney

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.36761

Keywords:

formation of Buddhist canons, transmission of āgama/nikāya collections, Gāndhārī manuscripts, Gandhāran text culture

Abstract

The new Gandhari manuscript finds from Afghanistan and Pakistan, which date from approximately the first century BCE to the third or fourth century CE, are the earliest manuscript witnesses to the literature of the Indian Buddhist nikayas or schools. They preserve texts whose parallels are found in the various Tripitakas, or what remains of them, preserved in other languages and belonging to various nikayas, including sections of agamas such as the Ekottarikagama and Vana-samyutta of the Samyutta-nikaya/Samyuktagama and anthologies of such sutras, besides many texts that are not generally classed as "canonical", such as commentaries. These very early collections of texts raise questions concerning canon-formation, such as whether the Gandharan communities that produced these manuscripts had fixed agama collections and closed canons or whether this material witnesses a stage in which collections and canons were still relatively fluid and open, and whether these manuscripts, which span several centuries, witness a shift towards fixity. This paper addresses these issues and re-examines our understanding of the formation of the canons of the early Indian nikayas in light of the new Gandhari manuscript finds.

Author Biography

Mark Allon, University of Sydney

Mark Allon is Senior Lecturer in South Asian Buddhist Studies at the University of Sydney. His primary research interests are the composition and transmission of early Buddhist literature, the ways in which texts have been used by Buddhist communities, and the Indic languages of early Buddhist texts (Pāli, Gāndhārī, Sanskrit). He is involved in two major research projects. The first concerns the study and publication of the recently discovered Gāndhārī Buddhist manuscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The second involves the conservation, photographing, and study of the Kuthodaw Pagoda marble stelae recension of the Pāli canon in Mandalay, Myanmar. He is the author of Style and Function: A Study of Dominant Stylistic Features of the Prose Portions of Pāli Canonical Sutta Texts and Their Mnemonic Function (Tokyo, 1997), Three Gāndhārī Ekottarikāgama-Type Sūtras: British Library Kharoṣṭhī Fragments 12 and 14 (Seattle, 2001), and numerous articles on early Buddhist literature.

References

Allon, Mark. 1997a. ‘The Oral Composition and Transmission of Early Buddhist Texts’. In Indian Insights: Buddhism, Brahmanism and Bhakti: Papers from the Annual Spalding Symposium on Indian Religion, edited by Peter Connolly and Sue Hamilton, 39–61. London: Luzac Oriental.

———. 1997b. Style and Function: A Study of the Dominant Stylistic Features of the Prose Portions of Pali Canonical Sutta Texts and their Mnemonic Function. Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies.

———. 2001. (with contribution by Andrew Glass) Three Gandhari Ekottarikagama-Type Sutras: British Library Kharosthi Fragments 12 and 14. Gandharan Buddhist Texts 2. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

———. 2007. ‘Introduction: The Senior Manuscripts’. In Andrew Glass, Four Gandhari Samyuktagama Sutras: Senior Kharosthi Fragment 5. Gandharan Buddhist Texts 4, 3–25. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

———. 2008. ‘Recent Discoveries of Buddhist Manuscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan and their Significance’. In Art, Architecture and Religion Along the Silk Roads. Silk Road Studies 12. Proceedings from the Fifth Conference of the Australian Society for Inner Asian Studies (A.S.I.A.S.). Macquarie University, November 27th to 28th, 2004, edited by Ken Parry, 153–178. Turnhout: Brepols.

———. 2014. ‘The Senior Kharosthi Manuscripts’. In From Birch Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research, edited by Paul Harrison and Jens-Uwe Hartmann, 19–33. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1vw0q4q.5

Allon, Mark, Wendy Reade, Chris Clark, Ian McCrabb, Tamara Ditrich, Royce Wiles and Bob Hudson. 2016. ‘The Kuthodaw Pagoda Marble-stelae Inscriptions, Mandalay, Myanmar: Conservation, Photographing, and Study of a Neglected Recension of the Pali Buddhist Canon’. Bulletin of the Chuo Academic Research Institute (Chuo Gakujutsu Kenkyujo Kiyo) 45: 222–249.

Allon, Mark, Richard Salomon, Geraldine Jacobsen and Ugo Zoppi. 2006. ‘Radiocarbon Dating of Kharosthi Fragments from the Schøyen and Senior Manuscript Collections’. In Buddhist Manuscripts, Volume III. Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection, edited by Jens Braarvig, 279–291. Oslo: Hermes Publishing.

Allon, Mark and Blair Silverlock. 2017. ‘Sutras in the Senior Kharosthi Manuscript Collection with Parallels in the Majjhima-nikaya and/or the Madhyama-agama’. In Research on the Madhyama-agama, edited by Dhammadinna. Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts Research Series 5, 1–54. Taipei: Dharma Drum Publishing Co.

Analayo, Bhikkhu. 2007. ‘Oral Dimensions of Pali Discourses: Pericopes, other Mnemonic Techniques, and the Oral Performance Context’. Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies 3: 5–33.

———. 2009. ‘The Vicissitudes of Memory and Early Buddhist Oral Transmission’. Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies 5: 5–19.

Bareau, André. 1955. Les Sectes bouddhiques du Petit Véhicule. Saigon: École française d’Extrême-Orient.

Baums, Stefan. 2009. A Gandhari Commentary on Early Buddhist Verses: British Library Kharosthi Fragments 7, 9, 13 and 18. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Washington.

Bode, Mabel Haynes. 1909. The Pali Literature of Burma. London: Royal Asiatic Society.

Braarvig, Jens. 2014. ‘The Schøyen Collection’. In From Birch Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research, edited by Paul Harrison and Jens-Uwe Hartmann, 157–164. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1vw0q4q.10

Brough, John, ed. 1962. The Gandhari Dharmapada. London Oriental Series 7. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Clark, Chris. 2015. A Study of the Apadana, including an Edition and Annotated Translation of the Second, Third and Fourth Chapters. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of Sydney.

Collins, Steven. 1990. ‘On the Very Idea of the Pali Canon’. Journal of the Pali Text Society 15: 89–126.

———. 1992. ‘Notes on Some Oral Aspects of Pali Literature’. Indo-Iranian Journal 35: 121–135. https://doi.org/10.1163/000000092794742682

Cousins, L. S. 1983. ‘Pali Oral Literature’. In Buddhist Studies Ancient and Modern, edited by by P. Denwood and A. Piatigorsky, 1–11. London: Curzon Press.

Czuma, Stanislaw J. 1985. Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art in Cooperation with Indiana University Press.

Duroiselle, Charles, 1911. Review of Bode 1909. Journal of the Burma Research Society 1: 119–122.

Errington, Elizabeth, Joe Cribb, with Maggie Claringbull, eds. 1992. The Crossroads of Asia: Transformation in Image and Symbol in the Art of Ancient Afghanistan and Pakistan. Cambridge: The Ancient India and Iran Trust.

Falk, Harry. 2011. ‘The “Split” Collection of Kharosthi Texts’. Annual Report of The International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University for the Academic Year 2010 (ARIRIAB) 14: 13–23.

———. 2015. ‘A New Gandhari Dharmapada (Texts from the Split Collection 3)’. Annual Report of The International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University for the Academic Year 2015 (ARIRIAB) 18: 23–62.

Falk, Harry and Ingo Strauch. 2014. ‘The Bajaur and Split Collections of Kharosthi Manuscripts within the Context of Buddhist Gandhari Literature’. In From Birch-Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research, edited by Paul Harrison and Jens-Uwe Hartmann, 51–78. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1vw0q4q.7

Fussman, Gérard. 1974. ‘Documents épigraphiques kouchans’. Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient 61: 1–66. https://doi.org/10.3406/befeo.1974.5193

———. 1987. ‘Numismatic and Epigraphic Evidence for the Chronology of Early Gandharan Art’. In Investigating Indian Art: Proceedings of a Symposium on the Development of Early Buddhist and Hindu Iconography Held at the Museum of Indian Art Berlin in May 1986, edited by Marianne Yaldiz and Wibke Lobo. Veröffentlichungen des Museums für Indische Kunst, Volume 8, 67–88. Berlin: Museum für Indische Kunst.

———. 2012. Review of Glass 2007. Indo-Iranian Journal 55: 189–200. https://doi.org/10.1163/001972412X620295

Gethin, Rupert. 2007. ‘What’s in a Repetition? On Counting the Suttas in the Samyutta-nikaya’. Journal of the Pali Text Society 29: 365–387.

Glass, Andrew. 2007. Four Gandhari Samyuktagama Sutras: Senior Kharosthi Fragment 5. Gandharan Buddhist Texts 4. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Hamm, F. R. 1973. ‘On Some Recent Editions of the Pali Tipitaka’. In German Scholars on India: Contributions to Indian Studies, 123–135. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.

Harrison, Paul and Jens-Uwe Hartmann, eds. 2014. From Birch Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Jackson, Peter. 2006. ‘The Canonicity of the Netti and Other Works’. Journal of the Pali Text Society 28: 61–62.

Jantrasrisalai, Chanida, Timothy Lenz, Lin Qian and Richard Salomon. 2016. ‘Fragments of an Ekottarikagama Manuscript in Gandhari’. In Buddhist Manuscripts, Volume IV. Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection, edited by Jens Braarvig, 1–122. Oslo: Hermes Publishing.

Lamotte, Étienne. 1988. History of Indian Buddhism: From the Origins to the Saka Era. Translated by Sara Webb-Boin. Publications de l’Institut orientaliste de Louvain 36. Louvain: Peeters Press.

Lenz, Timothy. 2003. A New Version of the Gandhari Dharmapada and a Collection of Previous-Birth Stories: British Library Kharosthi Fragments 16 + 25. Gandharan Buddhist Texts 3. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Levering, Miriam. 1989. ‘Scripture and Its Reception: A Buddhist Case’. In Rethinking Scripture: Essays from a Comparative Perspective, edited by Miriam Levering, 58–101. Albany: State University of New York.

Norman, K.R. 1983. Pali Literature, including the Canonical Literature in Prakrit and Sanskrit of all the Hinayana Schools of Buddhism. A History of Indian Literature, vol. VII, fasc. 2. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

———. 2004. ‘A New Version of the Gandhari Dharmapada?’ Acta Orientalia 65: 113–133.

———. 2006. 2nd edn. A Philological Approach to Buddhism. The Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Lectures 1994. Lancaster: The Pali Text Society.

Nyunt, Peter, trans. 2012. Catalogue of the Pitaka and Other Texts in Pali, Pali-Burmese, and Burmese (Pitakat-to-sa-muin:) by Man:-kri: Mahasirijeya-su. Bristol: Pali Text Society.

Salomon, Richard. 1999. Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhara: the British Library Kharosihi Fragments. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

———. 2006. ‘Recent Discoveries of Early Buddhist Manuscripts and their Implications for the History of Buddhist Texts and Canons’. In Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE, ed. Patrick Olivelle, 349–382. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305326.003.0014

———. 2008. (with a contribution by Andrew Glass) Two Gandhari Manuscripts of the Songs of Lake Anavatapta (Anavatapta-gatha): British Library Kharosthi Fragment 1 and Senior Scroll 14. Gandharan Buddhist Texts 5. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

———. 2011. ‘An Unwieldy Canon: Observations on Some Distinctive Features of Canon Formation in Buddhism’. In Kanonisierung und Kanonbildung in der asiatischen Religionsgeschichte, edited by Max Deeg, Oliver Freiberger and Christoph Kleine, 161–207. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

———. 2014. ‘Gandhari Manuscripts in the British Library, Schøyen and Other Collections’. In From Birch-Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research, ed. Paul Harrison and Jens-Uwe Hartmann, 1–17. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1vw0q4q.4

———. 2017. ‘On the Evolution of Written Agama Collections in Northern Buddhist Traditions’. In Research on the Madhyama-agama, edited by Dhammadinna, 239–268. Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts Research Series 5. Taipei: Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation.

Silverlock, Blair. 2015. An Edition and Study of the Gosiga-sutra, the Cow-Horn Discourse (Senior Collection scroll no. 12), An Account of the Harmonious Anarudha Monks. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sydney.

Skilling, Peter. 2009. ‘Redaction, Recitation, and Writing: Transmission of the Buddha’s Teaching in India in the Early Period’. In Buddhist Manuscript Cultures: Knowledge, Ritual, and Art, edited by Stephen C. Berkwitz, Juliane Schober and Claudia Brown, 53–75. London: Routledge

Somadasa, K. D. 1987. Catalogue of the Hugh Nevill Collection of Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Library. Vol. 1. London and Henley-on-Thames: British Library and Pali Text Society.

von Hinüber, Oskar. 1996. A Handbook of Pali Literature. Indian Philology and South Asian Studies 2. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Wynne, Alexander. 2004. ‘The Oral Transmission of Early Buddhist Literature’. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 27(1): 97–127.

Downloads

Published

2018-12-31

How to Cite

Allon, M. (2018). The Formation of Canons in the Early Indian Nikayas or Schools in the Light of the New Gandhari Manuscript Finds. Buddhist Studies Review, 35(1-2), 225–244. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.36761