New York: Macmillan, Although not produced by a Buddhist studies scholar, this is a masterful study of the ways in which multiple religious traditions in Southeast Asia interact and are influenced by tensions over politics, ethnicity, economics, and gender.
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Buddhist Legacies in Mainland Southeast Asia. Fourteen articles by the top scholars in Southeast Asian Buddhism, ranging from studies of murals and epigraphy to linguistics and history. The Buddhist Monastery.
Although this collection focuses on Southeast Asia, there are a few articles on Tibet, Bhutan, and eastern Asia. It is a wide-ranging blend of twenty art historical, textual, and anthropological studies. Particularly useful for the study of monastic architecture and imagery. Rhys-Davids, T. The Questions of King Milinda.
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Sacred Books of the East Oxford: Clarendon, His translations have been reprinted numerous times, and his editions even became the basis of textual study by elite monks and nuns in Southeast Asia. No student of Pali can work without his Pali-English dictionary. Skilling, Peter. Edited by Claudio Cicuzza. This is a selection of twelve articles by the leading scholar of Theravada Buddhism that reveals a breadth and depth rarely achieved by one person. Appendixes provided at the end of many articles list titles of stories, collections, inscriptions, languages, and the like.
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These, combined with the extensive notes and very useful bibliography, will make it a perennially useful reference work. Swearer, Donald. The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia. The recognized classic text introducing students to Southeast Asian Buddhism, which although focusing on northern Thailand, makes a number of broader points about shared regional practices. There is a good balance between historical and ethnographic evidence throughout. Originally published in Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page.
This creative classification, similar to that of the Sarvastivadins a Buddhist sectarian group that emerged in the mid-3rd century bce and that affirmed ontological realism , makes Buddhadatta a philosopher in his own right rather than a commentator who merely restates matters in new terms. As a result, this work provides valuable information about intellectual activity in traditional circles.
At the close of the 4th century ce , an even older work existed in Sri Lanka. This chronicle of the history of the island from its legendary beginning onward probably was part of the Maha-atthakatha , the commentarial literature that formed the basis of the works by Buddhaghosha and others. These artistic compositions contain rich mythic, legendary, and historical material. The vamsa tradition continued in Sri Lanka where it remains alive and other countries where the Theravada school was prominent.
This corpus includes commentaries and other works written in Pali in Sri Lanka and the Theravada countries of Southeast Asia , as well as many important texts written in Sinhalese , Burmese , Thai , Laotian , and Khmer. One of the important Pali texts is the Mangala dipani , a highly respected commentary on the Mangala-sutta that was written in northern Thailand in the 16th century. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents.
But what of the credentials of the commentators themselves: can their words be trusted? In addition to living a monastic life immersed in Dhamma, the compilers of the commentaries possessed unimpeachable literary credentials: intimate acquaintance with the Tipitaka, mastery of the Pali and Sinhala languages, and expert skill in the art of careful scholarship.
We have no reason to doubt either their abilities or the sincerity of their intentions. And what of their first-hand understanding of Dhamma: if the commentators were scholars first and foremost, would they have had sufficient meditative experience to write with authority on the subject of meditation?
The Buddha was bald
This is more problematic. Perhaps commentators like Buddhaghosa had enough time and accumulated merit both for mastering meditation and for their impressive scholarly pursuits; we will never know. But it is noteworthy that the most significant discrepancies between the Canon and its commentaries concern meditation — in particular, the relationship between concentration meditation and insight.
It is important to remember that the ultimate function of the post-canonical texts is — like that of the Tipitaka itself — to assist the student in the quest for nibbana , the highest goal of Buddhist practice. Concerns about authorship and authority recede when the texts are subjected to the same healthy skeptical attitude and empirical approach that should be familiar to every student of the suttas. If a commentary sheds light on a murky corner of a sutta or helps us understand a subtle point of Vinaya or of Abhidhamma, or if the chronicles remind us that we hold the future history of Dhamma in our hands, then to that extent they help us clear the path ahead.
And if they can do even that much, then — no matter who wrote them and from whence they came — these texts will have demonstrated an authority beyond reproach. In the following guide, I have arranged the most popular post-canonical titles thematically and by date Common Era. Authors' names are followed by the date of authorship if known.
The authors of these texts were all monks, but for the sake of concision, I have dropped the honorific "Ven. Each non-commentarial title is followed by a brief description. Many of these descriptions were lifted verbatim from other sources see Sources , below. For the purposes of this guide, the post-canonical texts may be grouped into the following categories:.
Paracanonical Texts. Why these texts matter Post-canonical Pali literature supplements the Tipitaka in several important ways. The authority of the texts One might reasonably wonder: how can a collection of texts written a thousand years after the Buddha's death possibly represent his teachings reliably? A Field Guide In the following guide, I have arranged the most popular post-canonical titles thematically and by date Common Era.
This commentary covers all five books. These books are introductions to the teachings of Buddhism. The source material derives directly from the Sutta Pitaka. BCE, who ruled over much of what is now Afghanistan and the elder monk Nagasena concerning key points of Buddhist doctrine.
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CE; some additions were probably made later. First translated into Sinhala in Horner, , PTS Paritta editor and date unknown. This ancient collection consists of material excerpted directly from the Tipitaka: twenty-four short suttas and several brief excerpts, including the three refuges, the precepts, ten questions for the novice monk, and a review of the thirty-two parts of the body. In Buddhist countries monks often recite passages from the Paritta during important ceremonial gatherings special full-moon days , cremation ceremonies, blessings, dedications of new temples, etc.
The Paritta texts have long been regarded as conferring special powers of protection upon those who hear or recite them. The "Island Chronicle. The text is based on the Dipavamsa , but contains new material drawn from the Atthakatha commentaries. Bode, , PTS Culavamsa various authors. Commentary of the Mahavamsa. Since the Mahavamsa itself is an expansion of the shorter Dipavamsa , the Vamsatthappakasini is usually considered a sub-commentary tika.
This account of the sacred bodhi tree of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, is mostly a compilation of material from older texts, including the Mahavamsa. This gigantic tree is said to be a direct descendant of a cutting that was taken from the original bodhi tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment, and was brought ca. Sister Sanghamitta on a missionary expedition to Anuradhapura. The life story, in prose and verse, of the Buddhist king Sirisanghabodhi r.
An outline of the literary and ecclesiastical history of Buddhism, including the first four councils, the first writing of Tipitaka, and the writing of the Tikas sub-commentaries. The source material for this book comes from the Tipitaka and the Atthakathas. A short history of the construction of six stupas that enshrine the hair relics that the Buddha personally gave to six arahants. A catalog of ancient Buddhist commentators and their works. A history of Buddhism in India until the third Council, and then in Sri Lanka and other countries to which Buddhist missions had been sent.
The source texts for this work include the Samantapasadika , Dipavamsa , Mahavamsa , and the Burmese chronicles.