Literary History of
A study of Sanskrit Buddhism from the Early Buddhist Tradition up to the Mahāyāna texts proper.
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What follows is the first nine chapters of J. K. Nariman’s book Literary History of Sanskrit Buddhism (Bombay 1919). For the chapters we are reproducing here Nariman was relying mainly on a section of Moriz Winternitz’ Geschichte der Indischen Literature, before it was translated into English as History of Indian Literature.
These chapters begin with the early texts which have survived from the Early Buddhist Tradition, and continue in the following chapters in both Winternitz’ and Nariman’s book to the Mahāyāna texts proper.
The work is now quite dated in terms of its scholarly references, and no attempt has been made to provide more up-to-date references, which would by now require an encyclopedic essay in itself. Despite these deficiencies the work provides a just overview of many of the main works that have survived from the Sanskrit tradition, and still serves as an good introduction to these works.
The original publication of Nariman’s text was in plain text and did not try to distinguish the original sounds, except for ‘sh’ which was used to represent both ‘ś’ and ‘ṣ’. Here I have inserted the diacritics for the Indian languages, but have omitted the diacritics used for European languages and have been unable to correct the transliteration (minor though it is) of the Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan characters.
One problem I faced is that I do not have access to all the articles and books quoted by Nariman and therefore I have sometimes been unsure whether diacritics were used by the authors in the original titles. I have preferred to use them but it may be found that they were omitted in the source work.
The formatting in other respects was also deficient and some attempt to impose consistency on the presentation of the text has been attempted here, so that most foreign words are italicised, as are book and journal titles. I have written out references in full, so that there is no need for a list of abbreviations.
I have also occasionally inserted words that are needed to perfect the sense (they are placed in square brackets in the text that follows), or corrected words that have been misspelt (this has been done silently); and I have occasionally divided up long paragraphs to make them easier to read. I hope that the presentation of this work will serve to introduce readers to the riches that are available outside of the Pāḷi texts.
I am very grateful to Ven. Gavesako and Upasikā Lim Sze Wei for help in preparing the first half of this text in 2009; and to Donny Hacker who did most of the work for the second half in 2016.
last updated: September 2009