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  • Tên sách : An Outline Of Early Buddhism
  • Tác giả : Dr. Ajay Mitra Shastri, M. A„ Pn.D
  • Dịch giả :
  • Ngôn ngữ : Anh
  • Số trang : 164
  • Năm xuất bản : .
  • Phân loại : Sách tiếng Anh-English
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           An Outline Of Early Buddhism


By   Dr. Ajay Mitra Shastri, M. A„ Pn.D„ VyAKARNACHARYA

Reader in Ancient Indian History & Culture Nagpur University.




P. 0. BOX No. 98





In the following pages an attempt has been'made to present an outline of early Buddhism on the basis of the material supplied by inscriptions. The early phase of Indian Buddhism comprises the period beginning with its foundation by the Buddha kyamuni and ending shortly before the rise of Mahayanato paramount post» lion, i.e. B. C. 500-A. D. 300. It was the age of the formation of the Vinaya and parts of the Buddhist canonical litetature, of great enthusiasm and zeal of the Buddhists 4o propagate their religion in various parts of India and outside and of the division of the Buddhist Order into several schools and sects. Although Mahayanism had originated long before the end of this period, it could not make much headway before the beginning of the Gupta Period.

Much work has been done to reconstruct the history bf Buddhism on the basis of literary sources. The data derived from inscriptions, if not untouched, have at least been solely neglected« The only sporadic known attempts in this direction have been made by Drs, B. M. Barua ( Message from Barhut Jakarta Labels, IHQ, I, pp. 50-8, 245-249), N. Dutt (Notes on Nagarjunikonda Inscrip­tions, IHQ,VII, pp. 633-53B. C. Law Bbiksbunis in Indian Inscriptions, El, XXV, pp 31-34 ), and J. N. Banerjea (Schools of Buddhism in Early Indian Inscriptions, IHQ,XXIV, pp. 251- 58). But their efforts were confined to some aspects of Buddhism, and the inscriptions utilized by them were very few. In the follow­ing pages an attempt has been made to collect all available mate­rials from inscriptions of the period under review, to critically inter­pret them in the light of the facts known from literature, and wherever possible, to shed new light on different aspects of Buddhism.

The value of epigraphic records in reconstructing the political history of India cannot be overestimated. But inscriptions are mainly of religious import, and, therefore, it is only in the fitness of things to regard them as one of the most important sources for the reconstruction of the religious history of Indiar Being engraved-on stone or metals, they are preserved in their original form. Many of them are dated either in some era or in regnal years, and even when they are not so dated the character of their script enables us to assign them to an approximate age. Being contemporory records, they are more reliable than literary works which are fraught with interpolations and later additions and whose dates cannot always be determined with precision. Besides, when engraved on materials which are not easily portable, they help us in tracing the spread of a particular sect or idea in a certain locality. They were not always engraved by the followers of a particular sect to which the records belong, and so in many cases they are also from the sectarian bias, an extraordinary quality not found in most of the literary works;

But inscriptions have certain drawbacks of their own. They were not intended by their composers to serve as a compendium of their religious canons, and so they afford very meagre information. There are very few records of our period which begin with an invo cation to tbe Buddha alone or the Three Jewels, while in most cases we have to deduce information only from stray words used as adjectives. The lacunae leave us to grope almost in the dark and admit of several mutually opposed interpretations In spite of all these difficulties, the value of inscriptions as contemporary records stands unimpeachable. Colebrooke {Miscellaneous Esaoys,Vol. II, p. 213), therefore, is perfectly righf in observing that in the scarcity of authentic materials for the ancient, and even the modern history of the Hindu race, importance is justly attached to all genu­ine monuments and especially inscriptions on stone and metal.. It is noteworthy in this connection that most of the pre-Gupta in­scriptions, numbering 1,500 or more, are composed in various Pra­krits aud connected with Buddhism. I need not, therefore, apolo­gise for harnessing these records to shed light on certain aspects of Buddhism.

The inscriptions of the period under review are of two kinds. (1) Official, and (2) Private. The edicts of Asoka and some inscrip­tions of the Satavahanas come under the first category. All other inscriptions, which are by far larger in number are those of private individuals.

They may also be classified chronologically under the following beads:        

(1)                 Inscriptions prior to the Christian Era. This category includes the Edicts of Asoka coming from the country bordering on Shahbajgarhi, Mansehra and sar-ikuna in the north­west, Nepal in the north, Orissa in the east and Mysore in the south. They are known as Dhammalipis. This category also comprises the inscriptions from Barhut and Sanchi belonging to the second century B. c, they are either votive inscriptions recording the names of the donors and sometimes the object of donation also or Jatakalabels describing various scenes to which they are appended. There are several other records, e. g , Pabhosa Inscr. of Ashadbasena ( 2nd century B. C.), Bhattiprolu Relic Casket In­scriptions ( 2nd or 3rd century B. C.), Shinkot Inscr of tbe time of Menander ,2nd century B. C.) which also belong to this class.

(2)                 Inscriptions posterior to the Christian Era. This class can be further subdivided into the following groups:

(i) Kushana Inscriptions—They hail from the northern and north-western provinces of India. Most of them mention the name of the reigning king and are dated either in the Kushana Era or in regnal years. Mostly they record the deposition of the Buddha’s relics, establishment of monasteries and stupas, installation of ima­ges and pious acts of donations, of digging water-reservoirs, tanks and wells, etc.

(it) Satavahana Inscriptions—They come from western India and Andhra Pradesh and are dated in regnal years of the rulers to whose reign periods they belong. They aim at recording the cons­truction of the chaityas, Bodhi-cbapels, digging of caves (lena) for the residence of the monks and gifts of the villages for the sangha belonging to some particular sect and locality. A large number of them are official records addressed to officers in charge of administra­tion of a particular locality which is often mentioned by name.

(iii) Ikshvaku Inscriptions come from Nagarjunikonda, Am- aravati and Jagayyapeta in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh and are assignable to the second or third century A. D. Some of them begin with a large laudatory string of invocations to the Bud­dha and are very rich in regard to the information they supply on all the aspects of Buddhism. There are several other recordscoming from other parts of the country which also belong to this period.

The present dissertation is divided Into four chapters. In the first chapter an attempt is made to estimate critically the different aspects of the historical and legendary personality of the Buddha, his teachings, and the doctrines of Buddhological interest only in so far as the inscriptional evidence goes. The second chapter deals with the origin and early history of the Buddhist schools, their geographical expansion and other questions Connected with them. In the third chaptèr are discussed some questions connected with The Order of monks and of nuns. The fourth chapter with which our study ends, summarises in brief the conclusions arrived at in the precedirg chapters.

The epigraphical material, it will be noticed, has not only cor­roborative value, but sheds new light on certain questions. For instance, the inscriptions not only help US in fixing the centres of difierent Buddhist schools, but also enable US to throw entirely new light on the origin of the Pũrvasaila and Aparasaila schools from an otherwise unknown sect called Mahảvanasaila. They furnish names of several Buddhist sects which are not known from any other source. Our knowledge about the Bauddha-goshthis for the administration of the sangha is also due to inscriptions.

Our object is not to re-write the entire history of early Budd­hism, but only to study certain aspects of Buddhism in the light of the materials supplid by epigraphs. This monograph substantially represents the thesis which the author submitted to the Banaras Hindu University ih lieu of a papar for his M. A. examination in the year 1957. Due to certain reasons the work could not be published earlier; I have utilised this interval in revising and making the dissertation as uptodate as possible.

My indebtedness to previous writers whose works I have utili­sed is expressed in proper places. However, I wish to make special mention o f the eminent Indologists like G. Biihler, Senart, s. Konow, B.M. Barua, E. Hultzsch,N. Dutt and E.J. Thomas whose writings have immensely benefited me.

In the end, it is my pleasant duty to acknowledge the help 1 received from different quarters in the completion of this work. am very greteful to my professors Dr. R, B. Pandey, Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Jabalpur University, Dr. A. K. Narain, Principal, College of Indology, Banaras Hindu University, and Dr. V. S. Pathak, Head of tbe Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, Gorakhpur University, without whose inspiring guidance this work could not have been undertaken and completed. In fact, it is difficult to express in a suitable form the dept of gratitude I owe to my teachers who introduced me to the field of Indological studies. Shri Ramesbwar Singh, the proprietor of the Indological Book House, also deserves my thanks for undertaking the publication of this monograph.

Owing to circumstances beyond my control., I did not get an opportunity to go through tbe proofs and so a number of misprints, both as regards spellings and diacritical marks, have crept into the book for which I crave the indulgence of my readers. An errata, by no means comprehensive, will be found at the end of the book, Misprints of diacritical marks which do not aflect interpretations have not been noticed.

Ajay Mitra Sbastri








The Buddha—Life And Legends           

Section 1 : Historical Personality of the Buddha      

     2: Teachings of the Buddha          

     3 : The Buddha as conceived by his followefs     

     4 : Buddhas and Bodhisattvas      


Buddhist Schools    

Section I :        Schism and Rise of Schools   

 Section   2:     Development of Schools        


The Sangha  

Section 1 :       Bbikshu-Sangha         

Section 2         :   Bhikshuni-sangha       

Section 3         :    Concept of the Order 



Select Bibliography    

Appendix A List of Jataka Labels from Barkut        

Corrections and Additions

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