Dr. Stefan Baums (University of Munich)
Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 7:45pm-9pm
DRBU Southwing - 2nd Floor Student Lounge
The earliest preserved Buddhist manuscripts (as well as the oldest preserved manuscripts from South Asia) were written on birch‐bark scrolls in the Middle Indian language Gāndhārī and the Kharoṣṭhī script. The were produced between the first century BCE and the third century CE, and only recently rediscovered in the ruins of ancient Buddhist monasteries in what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan. In antiquity, this region was one of the centers of the Buddhist world, and it is from here that Buddhism was first brought to the Silk Road and, ultimately, to China. It has become clear that many of the earliest Chinese translations of Buddhist texts were based on Gāndhārī originals, so the newly discovered manuscripts also shed light on early Chinese Buddhist literature. This lecture will provide an introduction to the Buddhism of ancient Gandhāra and its rediscovered literature, show how scholars decipher and study the Gāndhārī manuscripts, and discuss their relationship to Pali and Chinese Buddhist literature.