Category Archive: Buddhist Heroes

Sep 05

Buddha-carita, or Life of Buddha – Aśvaghoṣa

UntitledTranslated by E B Cowell

The Sanskrit text of the Buddha-carita was published at the beginning of last year [i.e 1893] in the ‘Anecdota Oxoniensia,’ and the following English translation is now included in the series ‘Sacred Books of the East.’ It is an early Sanskrit poem written in India on the legendary history of Buddha, and therefore contains much that is of interest for the history of Buddhism, besides its special importance as illustrating the early history of classical Sanskrit literature.

It is ascribed to Aśvaghoṣa; and although there were several writers who bore that name, it seems most probable that our author was the contemparary and spiritual advisor of Kaniṣka in the first century of our era. Hiouen Thsang, who left India in A. D. 645, mentions him with Deva, Nāgārjuna, and Kumāralabdha, ‘as the four suns which illumine the world;’1 but our fullest account is given by I-tsing, who visited India in 673.

He states that Aśvaghoṣa was an ancient author who composed the Alaṅkāra-śāstra and the Buddha-carita-kāvya, – the latter work being of course the present poem.

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Aug 31

The Stories about The Foremost Elder Nuns – translated by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu

UntitledIn the Book of the Ones in the Numerical Collection (Aṅguttaranikāya, 1.14) there is a bare list of seventy-four monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen whom the Buddha singled out as excelling in a certain spiritual quality they had developed.

No more information is given about them there, or the circumstances that led up to their being given these positions.

Although some of them are known from other places in the discourses to have held these positions, like the eldest disciples, others would be unknown today, if they were not named here.

The commentary on the Numerical Discourses, a section of which is translated here, tries to fill in this lacuna by providing detailed histories of the disciples, telling when and where they made an aspiration to hold the position; the good deeds they did, and the story of their last life.

Some of the life histories given here are long and detailed, while others are brief and hardly accomplish their aim of explaining why they were appointed to their position; a number are justly famous, while a few are short and easily forgotten. 

All the stories, however, play a very important role in the teaching, as they show that people with very different backgrounds – both fortunate and unfortunate – were capable of attaining the highest aim in life when given the right teachings at the right time, and they therefore serve as inspirations and role models for us today. 

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.dhammikaweb.com/?p=19906

Jun 25

Arahat Saṅghamittā’s Story – (from Extended Mahāvaṁsa V, XV, XVIII-XX)

Arahat_sanghamittaThe sections presented here are those that pertain to the Arahat Saṅghamittā’s story. This is not told, as we might like, in a continuous narrative, but rather – as it is incidental to the main story – comes to us it isolated sections.

Be that as it may, we still have a fairly large and interesting amount of information on a Nun who was – and still is – held in the very highest esteem in Sri Lanka.

The episodes cover her birth, going-forth, journey to Sri Lanka and the central role she played in establishing the religion in that country.

It also records her passing, along with the passing of the first generation of missionaries.

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