Buddhist literature

Buddhist literature

Buddhist literature. During his lifetime the Buddha taught not in Vedic Sanskrit, which had become unintelligible to the people, but in his own NE Indian dialect; he also encouraged his monks to propagate his teachings in the vernacular. After his death, the Buddhist canon was formulated and transmitted by oral tradition, and it was written down in several versions in the 2d and 1st cent. B.C. Its main divisions, called pitakas [baskets], are the Vinaya or monastic rules, the Sutra (Pali Sutta) or discourses of the Buddha, and the Abhidharma (Pali Abhidhamma) or scholastic metaphysics. Also included are the Jataka, stories about the previous births of the Buddha, many of which are non-Buddhist in origin. The only complete Indian version of the canon now extant is that of the Sri Lankan Theravada school, in the Pali language, written 29-17 B.C. (see Pali). North Indian Buddhist texts were written in a type of Sanskrit influenced by the vernaculars. Mahayana Buddhism produced its own class of sutras, and all schools of Buddhism generated a considerable body of commentary and philosophy. The entire corpus of Buddhist writings was translated into Chinese over a period of a thousand years, beginning in the 1st cent. A.D. This was a collaborative effort of foreign and Chinese monks. Its most recent edition, the Taisho Daizokyo (1922-33), is in 45 volumes of some 1,000 pages of Chinese characters each. Translation of Buddhist texts into Tibetan was begun in the 7th cent. The final redaction of the canon was by the Buddhist historian Bu-ston (1290-1364) and is in two sections, the Kanjur (translation of the Buddha's word) and the Tanjur (translation of treatises), consisting altogether of about 320 volumes of Tibetan script. The Tibetan translation is extremely literal, following the Sanskrit almost word for word and based on standardized Sanskrit-Tibetan equivalences for Buddhist terms; thus it is particularly useful for scholars.

See M. Cummings, Lives of the Buddha in the Art and Literature of Asia (1982).

The Chinese Buddhist Canon (Chinese character: 大藏經; Cantonese: Dai Zorng Ging;Mandarin: Dà Zàng Jīng; Korean: Dae Jang Kyung; Japanese: Daizōkyō, Vietnamese: Đại Tạng Kinh), which means Great Treasury of Scriptures, is the total body of Buddhist literature deemed canonical in China, Korea and Japan. It includes both the Agama, Vinaya and Abhidharma texts from the Early Buddhist schools, as the Mahayana Sutras of Mahayana Buddhism.

There are many versions of the canon in East Asia in different places and time A comprehensive intact version of the Buddhist canon in Chinese script is the or Palman Daejanggyeong. It is based on older Chinese versions, and it was carved between 1236 and 1251, during Korea's Goryeo Dynasty, onto 81,340 wooden printing blocks with no known errors in the 52,382,960 characters. It is stored at the Haeinsa temple, South Korea.

The most used version is Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō (大正新脩大藏經), a modern standardized edition published in Tokyo between 1924 and 1934. It is based on older Japanese versions, which are based on the , and compared to many other versions of the individual texts in Japan. There are a few Dunhuang cave texts. It contains 100 volumes. Volume 1-85 are the literature, in which volume 56-84 are Japanese Buddhist literature, written in Classical Chinese. Volume 86-97 are Buddhism related drawings, includes drawings of many buddhas and bodhisattvas. Volume 98-100 are texts of different indexes of Buddhist texts in Japan.

The 85 volumes of literature contains 5320 individual texts, classified as follows.

Volume Sutra Chinese Transliteration Indic Description
T01-02 01/01/51 阿含部 A-han Bu Āgama Early sutra collections
T03-04 152-219 本緣部 Ben Yuan Bu Jātaka Birth stories
T05-08 220-261 波羅部(般若部?) Bo-ruo Bu Pāramitā Perfection of wisdom
T09a 262-277 法華部 Fa Hua Bu Saddhammapundarikā Lotus of the true Dhamma
T09b-10 278-309 華嚴部 Hua Yan Bu Avataṁsaka Flower-garland
T11-12a 310-373 寶積部 Bao Ji Bu Ratnakūṭa Jewel-peak: collected Mahāyāna sutras.
T12b 374-396 涅槃部 Nie-pan Bu Nirvāṇa The Buddha’s passing away
T13 397-424 大集部 Da Ji Bu Mahāsannipāta The great collection
T14-17 425-847 經集部 Jing Ji Bu Sūtrasannipāta Collected sutras
T18-21 848-1420 密教部 Mi Jiao Bu Tantra Esoteric teachings
T22-24 1421-1504 律部 Lv Bu Vinaya Monastic discipline
T25-26a 1505-1535 釋經論部 Shi Jing Lun Bu Sūtravyākaraṇa Treatises explaining the sutras
T26b-29 1536-1563 毗曇部 Pi-tan Bu Abhidharma Systematic analyses
T30a 1564-1578 中觀部類 Zhong Guan Bu Lei Madhyamaka Texts of the Middle-way school
T30b-32 1579-1627 瑜伽部類 Yu-qie Bu Lei Yoga Texts of the meditation (Yogācāra) school
T32 1628-1692 論集部 Lun Ji Bu Śāstra Treatises
T33-39 1693-1803 經疏部 Jing Shu Bu Sūtravibhāṣa Clarifying the Sutra
T40a 1804-1815 律疏部 Lv Shu Bu Vinayavibhāṣa Clarifying the Vinaya
T40b-44a 1816-1850 論疏部 Lun Shu Bu Śāstravibhāṣa Clarifying the treatises
T44b-48 1851-2025 諸宗部 Zhu Zong Bu Sarvasamaya All the sects
T49-52 2026-2120 史傳部 Shi Zhuan Bu Histories
T53-54a 2121-2136 事彙部 Shi Hui Bu Collected matters
T54b 2137-2144 外教部 Wai Jiao Bu Non-Buddhist teachings
T55 2145-2184 目錄部 Mul Lu Bu Catalogues
T85a 2732-2864 古逸部 Gu Yi Bu Ancient
T85b 2865-2920 疑似部 Yi Shi Bu Doubtful
T86-97 圖像部
98-100 昭和法寶總目錄

The Zokuzokyo(Xuzangjing) version, which is a supplement of another version of the canon, is often used as a supplement for Buddhist texts not collected in the .

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