Common numbers and the Lalitavistara Sutra

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Common numbers and the Lalitavistara Sutra

Postby PRR » Sun May 19, 2013 12:46 am

Mods, I am not sure which forum this belongs in---please move it as is necessary.

I just came across a passage in the Lalitavistara (http://iteror.org/big/Source/buddhism/Lalitavistara-ch12.html) that records a story of the Buddha counting incredibly high numbers. My question is--were these numbers in actual use by other astronomers/mathematicians, or was this something that the Buddha himself (or the author of this story) made up?

The site I linked to suggests that the highest order mentioned, uttaraparamanurajahpravesa, is 10 to the 421st power. Pretty high, when you think that googol is 10 to the 100th power.

Are there ancient passages that actually use these mathematical terms/numerations?
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Re: Common numbers and the Lalitavistara Sutra

Postby fivebells » Sun May 19, 2013 1:14 am

It says up in the top LH corner of the page you linked, "A life of the Buddha in the Mahayana tradition." So no, it's not historically accurate.
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Re: Common numbers and the Lalitavistara Sutra

Postby PRR » Sun May 19, 2013 1:21 am

Thanks, OK I suppose I can take it that the actual Buddha didn't make that statement.

I'm still curious about those numbers, though. Were they numbers that were actually in use (even if only by mathematicians or astronomers)? Or were these terms non-sense terms, like a modern story might use terms like "gazillions" or "oodles"? or.....?
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Re: Common numbers and the Lalitavistara Sutra

Postby EmptyShadow » Sun May 19, 2013 11:54 am

You can ask this questions on the sister site : http://www.dharmawheel.net/
Since it's mahayana and vajrayana forum, the members there could be more helpful than us.
:anjali:
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Re: Common numbers and the Lalitavistara Sutra

Postby PRR » Sun May 19, 2013 1:01 pm

EmptyShadow wrote:You can ask this questions on the sister site : http://www.dharmawheel.net/
Since it's mahayana and vajrayana forum, the members there could be more helpful than us.
:anjali:


Thanks a lot. I appreciate the link and I've just posted there.
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