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Отправлено: 19.11.12 19:34. Заголовок: A preliminary survey of some early Buddhist manuscripts recently acquired by the British Library.
A preliminary survey of some early Buddhist manuscripts recently acquired by the British Library.
The Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol.117 No.2 (April-June 1997) pp.353-358 COPYRIGHT 1997 American Oriental Society. Richard Salomon.
1. Introduction; general description of the manuscripts the Oriental and India Office Collections of the British Library have recently acquired, with the assistance of an anonymous benefactor, a substantial collection of early Buddhist texts written on birch-bark scrolls in the Gandhari or Northwestern Prakrit language and the Kharosthi script. The original provenance of the manuscripts is not known, but may be Afghanistan, in view of certain resemblances (discussed below) to other materials previously found there.
The manuscripts comprise thirteen rolls of birch bark which had been removed from their original container. According to verbal reports, they were originally found inside one of a group of five large clay pots, each bearing a Kharosthi dedicatory inscription, which have also been acquired by the Library. The bark rolls are extremely fragile and, in fact, had already been seriously damaged, in that substantial portions of one vertical edge of most of the manuscripts had been destroyed. When acquired by the Library, the scrolls were still in their original rolled-up state, and the exceedingly delicate task of unrolling them was successfully carried out by the conservation staff of the British Library. This has now made it possible to prepare preliminary photographs of the manuscripts, an example which is shown in figure 1, and to conduct a provisional survey of their contents.
The scrolls proved to consist of birch-bark strips, typically about five to nine inches in width, on which the texts were written in black ink. The long scrolls were built up out of shorter strips, apparently around twelve to eighteen inches long, which were overlapped and glued together, as shown by blank spaces in several fragments in which the original strips have separated. The scrolls were reinforced by a thread sewn along both margins. In a few cases traces of the original thread are preserved, and in many places the needle holes along the margins are still visible.
Typically, the scribes began writing at the top of the recto, continued to the bottom of the recto, and then reversed the scroll both from top to bottom and from front to back and continued writing from the bottom edge of the verso back to the top of the scroll.
This means that the texts both began and ended at the top of the scroll, which would be on the outside when it was rolled up from the bottom. But this is precisely the part of the scroll that is most subject to wear and tear, especially in the case of a fragile material like birch bark, which becomes extremely brittle when it dries out. The unfortunate result is that, but for one fragmentary exception, we do not have the beginning or end of any scroll, or the label or colophon that might have accompanied it. Virtually all the surviving material, in other words, is from the middle and bottom of the original scrolls. This situation is apparently not due to damage inflicted since they were recently rediscovered, but probably reflects their already imperfect condition when they were interred in antiquity (as discussed in part 2). The surviving sections of the scrolls range in length from mere fragments of a few lines or even a few letters to substantial, though still incomplete, portions of complete scrolls. The longest intact section of a single scroll is about eighty-four inches long.
For all these reasons, the condition of the manuscripts is only fair at best, and often much worse than that. All are incomplete, and many are mere fragments. Moreover, in most cases the delicate surface of the bark is peeled, faded, discolored, or otherwise damaged, so that it can be difficult or, not infrequently, nearly impossible to decipher the texts. Even where the texts are more or less legible, they contain, almost without exception, frequent and sizable lacunae.
2. Constitution, disposition, and affiliation of the manuscripts It has already become clear in the course of the preliminary cataloguing of the manuscripts that the original thirteen rolls do not all constitute single texts or scrolls. Although some of them do contain the remnants of a single scroll, several proved to contain fragments, of widely varying size, of two, three, or even more originally separate scrolls. In several cases it was also noticed that separate fragments of the same text, and presumably of the same original scroll, were found in two or more of the thirteen rolls.
And in at least one case, a scroll was broken in half lengthwise and the two long narrow halves of the text were placed in different rolls. This lengthwise splitting of the original scroll probably resulted from its having been bound by a string or ribbon and left untouched for a long period in antiquity, with the result that, as the bark became dry and brittle, the binding cord cut through and divided it in half.
These peculiarities of the condition and disposition of the texts all point to the conclusion that these manuscripts were already in fragmentary or damaged condition in antiquity, before they were interred in the clay jar in which they were reportedly discovered. This implies that they were discarded worn-out texts, an impression which is confirmed by the observation that five of them have secondary interlinear notations, in hands clearly different from those of the original scribes, reading likhidago, "[it has been] written," likhidago sarva "[it has] all [been] written," and the like (see fig. 2). These interlineations seem to be notations by later copyists who had rewritten the texts onto new manuscripts and marked the old ones as "copied," i.e., as ready to be discarded.
Such discards were then rolled up together, apparently more or less at random, placed inside clay pots, and buried, perhaps in a small stupa within the precincts of the monastery to which they belonged.
Such a practice is attested by earlier discoveries, such as those at Hadda, in eastern Afghanistan, where Barthoux (1933: 60) found similar clay pots containing, in some cases, fragmentary remains of
birch-bark manuscripts, and in others, pieces of human bone. It thus appears that the relics of venerable monks and of Buddhist texts were conceived and treated similarly as sacred objects deserving of ritual interment.
What we have in this new collection, in other words, is, in all likelihood, something roughly analogous to the genizah of Jewish tradition, that is, a collection of discarded documents for which religious law or custom required a ritual interment. The source of these discarded texts was no doubt the library, or perhaps rather the scriptorium, of a Gandharan Buddhist monastery, probably an establishment of the Dharmaguptaka sect. This affiliation is indicated by the inscription on the jar in which the scrolls were reportedly found, which records its dedication to members of that sect (dhamauteana parigrahami, "in the possession of the Dharmaguptakas"). Although this sect has hitherto been only very sparsely attested in the northwest, this and several other recent discoveries, including several that have not yet been published, of Kharosthi inscriptions recording donations to the Dharmaguptakas indicate that they were a major sect in that region, particularly in Afghanistan.
All in all, the preliminary survey revealed that the thirteen original rolls of manuscript material contained thirty-two separate "fragments," a fragment being here defined as a piece, of any size, of an originally separate scroll. However, it was further determined, by connecting separated fragments on the grounds of similar handwritings and contents, that these thirty-two "fragments" actually stemmed from about twenty-two different original scrolls.
The number of separate texts, however, is larger, probably about twenty-six, because some scrolls contain two, and possibly even more than two, separate and apparently unrelated texts. In many such cases, it appears that the first scribe used only the recto, which was apparently the preferred writing surface, and ended at or near the bottom. Another scribe, perhaps at a later date seems to have used the empty surface at the bottom of the recto and the completely blank verso to record another text.
These figures, at this point, are only provisional, and will almost certainly have to be adjusted as a result of the more detailed studies of the manuscripts, but they are sufficiently secure to give a general idea of the extent of the collection.
Although this is presumably only a small fraction of the total amount of literature in the monastery's library, it should prove to be enough to give at least a partial view of the contents of such a library.
3. Identification and classification of the texts. Identification and classification of the texts is still for the most part at a preliminary stage, and only a few of them have been positively identified with parallel texts in Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, or Tibetan. But the major genres of Buddhist canonical and paracanonical literature represented by this collection have become clear, at least in general outline. Most of the texts which are sufficiently legible to be analyzed in the preliminary survey seem to fall into the following categories:
1. Didactic or popular poetry, such as a Gandhari version of the "Rhinoceros' Horn Sutra", a well-known poem otherwise preserved in Pali as the Khagga-visana-sutta of the Sutta-nipata, and in Sanskrit incorporated into the Mahavastu (ed. E. Senart, 1.307-9).
2. Avadana texts describing the past lives and karmic background of various Buddhist personages, for example, a collection of stories describing the previous incarnations (provayoge = Sanskrit purvayogah) of Ajnata-kaundinya, Ananda, and the Buddha himself.
3. Canonical sutra texts and commentaries thereon, for instance, a Gandhari version of the Sangiti-sutra (also extant in Pali, Sanskrit, and Chinese) with an unidentified commentary.
4. Abhidharma texts, as yet unidentified.
5. Stotra text (only one fragment). It may seem surprising that no Vinaya material at all has been found in this substantial body of manuscripts. BUt a similar lacuna has been noted among the oldest of the Central Asian Sanskrit manuscripts, and Sander (1991: 141-42) has plausibly hypothesized that the Vinaya texts were preserved by oral recitation and not normally set down in writing in early times. It is possible, of course, that the absence of Vinaya texts among these new manuscripts is merely coincidental, "the luck of the draw," as it were, but I think it more likely that there were few if any Vinaya manuscripts in our hypothetical complete monastic library, for reasons similar to those adduced by Sander.
4. Date of the manuscripts. Certain considerations point to a possible date for the manuscripts as early as the first half of the first century A.D. The first of these is a clear reference, though in an uncertain context in a fragmentary text, to jihonige mahaksatra . . . (see fig. 3). Here a reconstruction such as mahaksatra(pe*) 'great satrap' is obvious, and there can be little doubt that the reference is to the Indo-Scythian satrap Jihonika, who is known from his coins and from the Taxila silver-vase inscription (Konow 1929:81-82), and who is likely to have ruled around the fourth decade of the first century A.D. (MacDowall 1973: 229). Of course, this reference to a contemporary historical figure, which is a (pleasant) surprise though not completely without parallel in Buddhist tradition, only establishes that the text in question was originally composed during or after the reign of Jihonika, but not necessarily that our actual manuscript was written in or around his time.
But the dedicatory inscription on one of the clay pots associated with the manuscripts (though not, apparently, the one in which they were found) also points to a date in the early first century A.D. This inscription records its donation by a woman named Vasavadatta, the wife of Susoma or Suhasoma (. . . deyadharme vasavadatae susomabharyae. . . . svamiasa suhasomasa sammepratyasae . . . bhavatu, ". . . the pious gift of Vasavadatta, wife of Susoma . . . May it be for the principal share [of merit] for [her] husband Suhasoma"). Both of these names match with ones known from other inscriptions datable to the early first century. Vasavadatta is given as the name of the sister of the Apraca prince Indravarman in his reliquary inscription of the Azes year 63 =6 A.D. (Salomon and Schopen 1984: 108-9). Suhasoma appears as the name of a royal kinsman (anakaena) and official (asmanakarena) of King Senavarman of Odi in his gold-leaf inscription (Salomon 1986: 265), which is undated but attributable from its reference to the Kusana overlord Kujula Kadphises to the first half of the first century. Of these two names, the second in particular, Suhasoma, is an unusual one and therefore very likely to refer to the same person in the two inscriptions where it occurs.
Unfortunately, the chronological significance of this inscription on jar A is vitiated by the lack of any reliable evidence as to the archaeological relationship of that jar with the jar (D) in which the scrolls were found. While there is reason to believe that both may have come from the same site, and hence may be more or less contemporary, there is no way to establish this. Other criteria, such as paleographic and linguistic features, indicate a dating range for the manuscripts from the beginning of the first century to the first half of the second century A.D. Thus, although it cannot be proven at this point, there is some reason to think that they date from the earlier part of the range, i.e., from the first half of the first century A.D. The possibility of such a date for this group of relics has been confirmed, or at least not contradicted, by thermoluminescence testing of the clay pots, which indicated a dating range from the first to the eighth centuries A.D., with a 10% margin of variation and no weighting implications for any period within this broad span.
5. Relationships to previous discoveries. Though unprecedented, the discovery of a large corpus of Buddhist texts written on birch-bark scrolls in the Gandhari language and Kharosthi script is not entirely unexpected. Only one more-or-less intact manuscript of this type has previously come to light, namely the "Gandhari Dharmapada," definitively published in Brough 1962, which was discovered in 1892 near Khotan (now in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China). The new manuscripts are broadly similar in form, age, and contents to the Gandhara Dharmapada, though there are some significant differences in the details of such features as language, orthography, and arrangement of the text.
But besides the well-known case of the Gandhari Dharmapada, there have apparently been several other examples of similar materials found in Afghanistan and Pakistan, though none of these has ever been properly published; therefore, they have gone almost entirely unnoticed in scholarship on the relevant fields. Thus, the early archaeological explorer of the northwest, Charles Masson (in Wilson 1841: 59-60), reported that some of the Buddhist reliquaries which he found in eastern Afghanistan were "accompanied by twists of tuz-leaves, inscribed internally with characters"; Wilson, in an editor's note (p. 60, n. 1), explained that "it seems likely that what Mr. Masson denominates 'tuz-leaves' is the inner bark of the Bhurj or birch tree, which was very commonly used for writing upon".
Barthoux, in his excavations at Hadda (1933:60-61), discovered numerous Kharosthi texts on birch bark, including some contained in clay pots like the newly discovered manuscripts. The fate of these manuscripts is described in his own words: "ces fragments, tres fragiles, etaient deja broyes par les decombres, et en les retirant, malgre toutes les precautions prises, l'on achevait de les detruire" (p. 61), and this explains why these, and probably the other similar discoveries as well, were never properly published.
6. Implications for the study of Buddhist literature and canons. Mainly on the basis of the evidence of the Gandhari Dharmapada, and secondarily on the grounds of inscriptional testimony of what seem to be Gandhari versions of Buddhist texts (Brough 1962: 42) and of evidence from the Chinese Buddhist tradition, it has been proposed that there may have existed a Buddhist canon in Gandhari, of which, until now, only a few fragments have survived. Thus Brough concluded, with due caution, that "the existence of this [Gandhari] Dharmapada does imply the existence of a canon of which it formed a part" (p. 43). The new discovery thus confirms what already seemed likely, namely that the Gandharan Buddhists in the early centuries of the Christian era did have a substantial corpus of written scriptures in the Gandhari language, comprising a considerable variety of genres ranging from didactic poetry to scholastic Abhidharma.
As to the contents, arrangement, and affiliations of this canon, it would be premature to make anything more than some very partial and provisional observations. Broadly speaking, it appears to represent early northern Indian Buddhist teaching and practice; nothing has been found in the texts to suggest anything like Mahayana doctrinal developments. This is in accord with the apparent connection of the scrolls with an establishment of the Dharmaguptakas (see sec. 2), a non-Mahayana sect generally understood to be affiliated with the Sarvastivadins.
Some, though by no means all, of the texts have either direct parallels or partial similarities to portions of the Pali canon or to Chinese translations of northern Indian Buddhist texts. Of special interest is an apparent concentration of texts parallel or related to various parts of the Pali Khuddaka-nikaya, and especially the Sutta-nipata. These include the aforementioned Gandhari version of the "Rhinoceros' Horn Sutra" (Khagga-visana-sutta), which appears as the third sutra in the Pali Sutta-nipata, as well as a commentary on a sequence of verses, most of which correspond to passages from various sections of the Sutta-nipata. Another scroll preserves a small fragment that matches well with the concluding portion of the Bhiksu-varga of the Gandhari Dharmapada, which in turn closely resembles the Uraga-sutta, the first sutta of the Pali Sutta-nipata.
This pattern of close association with the Sutta-nipata is of special interest because the Sutta-nipata generally, and certain parts of it in particular (including the Khaggavisana-sutta and the Uraga-sutta), have long been felt by Buddhist scholars to represent one of the earliest strata of the Pali canon, on the grounds of their numerous linguistic, stylistic, and doctrinal archaisms. The apparent concentration of Sutta-nipata-related texts in the new Gandhari corpus thus is likely not only to confirm the long-standing hypothesis of the antiquity and importance of this collection, but also to illuminate its textual history and role in the propagation of early Buddhism. This, of course, is only one example of the many contributions which the new documents can be expected to make to the study of Indian Buddhist textual and doctrinal history.
7. Linguistic and paleographical features. The new documents should also prove to be highly useful for linguistic and paleographic studies. As might be expected, the various manuscripts show considerable divergences and inconsistencies in their renderings of the Gandhari language, reinforcing the impression gained from the previously known specimens, mostly epigraphical, that the language was never fully standardized or regularized. However, these differences, though considerable, are likely to be more on the level of orthography than of actual dialectal or chronological variation. Examples of notable orthographic or dialectal peculiarities which were previously attested only sporadically, if at all, in Gandhari documents include the replacement, in one set of texts in the same hand, of g by gh in all cases. We also find in several documents the use of the subscript pre-consonantal form of r to denote, apparently, a geminate consonant; for instance, in the Rhinoceros' Horn Sutra MS the word for "rhinoceros" (Sanskrit khadga) is regularly spelled (according to conventional transcription) kharga, which seems to reflect the pronunciation khagga.
Also worthy of note is the absence of certain dialectal/orthographic features peculiar to the Gandhari Dharmapada, such as its distinctive treatment of combinations of nasal + homorganic stop of the type vinadi = Sanskrit vindati (Brough 1962: 98-99). These contrasts make it clear that the linguistic and orthographic peculiarities of the Dharmapada text do not represent a simple contrast between literary and epigraphic Gandhari, as it might have seemed until now. Detailed linguistic and paleographic study of the new documents should gradually clarify the complex patterns of development of Gandhari as a literary language.
8. Plans for study and publication. In 1996, the British Library and the University of Washington entered into a formal cooperative agreement in order to facilitate the efficient and systematic study and publication of this new collection of early Buddhist manuscripts, once again with the assistance of an anonymous donor. The goal of the project is to coordinate the preparation of a series of volumes, to be published by the British Library, containing editions, translations, and studies of the texts. An initial introductory volume containing a detailed description and survey of the collection is currently under preparation and is to be published as soon as possible. This is to be followed by the first text volume, which will present the "Rhinoceros' Horn Sutra" and associated texts. Plans for further volumes, including a projected facsimile edition of the manuscripts, are currently under discussion.
RICHARD SALOMON UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON REFERENCES
Barthoux, J. 1933. Les Fouilles de Hadda, I: Stupas et Sites. Text et Dessins. Memoires de la Delegation archeologique francaise en Afghanistan 4. Paris: Les Editions d'art et d'histoire. Brough, John. 1962, The Gandhari Dharmapada. London Oriental Series.
7. London: Oxford University. Konow, Sten. 1929. Kharoshthi Inscriptions with the Exception of Those of Asoka. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, vol. II, part 1. Calcutta: Government of India.
MacDowall, David W. 1973. "The Azes hoard from Shaikan-Dheri: Fresh Evidence for the Context of Jihonika." In South Asian Archaeology: Papers from the First International Conference of South Asian Archaeologists Held in the University of Cambridge, ed. Norman Hammond. Pp. 215-30. London: Duckworth.
Salomon, Richard. 1986. "The Inscription of Senavarma, King of Odi." Indo-Iranian Journal 29: 261-93. Salomon, Richard, and Gregory Schopen. 1984. "The Indravarman (Avaca) Casket Inscription Reconsidered: Further Evidence for Canonical Passages in Buddhist Inscriptions." Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 7: 107-23. Sander, Lore. 1991. "The Earliest Manuscripts from Central Asia and the Sarvastivada Mission." In Corolla Iranica: Papers in honour of Prof. Dr. David Neil MacKenzie on the occasion of his 65th birthday on April 8th, 1991, ed. Ronald E. Emmerick and Dieter Weber. Pp. 133-50. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Wilson, H.H. 1841. Ariana Antiqua: A Descriptive Account of the Antiquities and Coins of Afghanistan. . . London: East India Company.