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The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism - Dhamma Wheel

The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
Bankei
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The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby Bankei » Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:25 am

I am interesting in evidence for early Buddhism and would like to find out what the earliest inscription evidence reveals.

Does anyone know of what the earliest evidence is and what the inscriptions reveal?

What about the earliest manuscripts? I believe that the Gandhari ones being analysed by Richard Salomon may be the oldest dating to around the 1st century AD, and there are also other manuscripts called the Senior manuscripts.

The oldest Theravada manuscript is apparently a fragment of the vinaya from the 12th century found in Nepal. There have also been some small engravings found inside a Stupa from Burma dating from around the 6th century.

Its a fascinating topic and would love to know more if anyone has any details.

Bankei
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Bankei

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retrofuturist
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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:33 am

Greetings Bankei,

It's hard to go past...

The Edicts of King Asoka
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el386.html

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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David N. Snyder
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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:58 am

As shown above, the Edicts of Ashoka are the best physical, archeological evidence we have; written on stone pillars, engraved in the Pali language using the Brahmi script and dating to the 3rd century BC, very close to the time of the Buddha's parinibbana.

Also there are the British Museum Scrolls: http://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=B ... um_Scrolls
dating to about the 1st century AD.

Other evidence is the discovery of the ruins of the palace and cities, described in the Suttas.
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Kare
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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby Kare » Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:52 pm

Mettāya,
Kåre

dspiewak
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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby dspiewak » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:12 pm


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David N. Snyder
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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:06 pm

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Gharchaina
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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby Gharchaina » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:02 pm


Bankei
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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby Bankei » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:57 am

Thanks for all the posts.

I have most of Schopen's works, read them many years ago and am slowly re-going through them again one by one. Brilliant stuff.

I have also found an interesting work by Richard Salomon called. INDIAN EPIGRAPHY: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the Other Indo-Aryan Languages
Published in 1998 Oxford University Press. I am yet to start this book, but have skimmed through it.

Salomon mentions the Asokan inscriptions and it seems these are in a great many different languages and dialects or variations - at least 3 dialects (Eastern, Western and Northwestern=Gandhari) of Prakrit which is an early Middle Indo Aryan language. The scripts used are also varied and include Brahmi, but also Greek, Aramaic, KharosthI etc.

Salomon mentions that inscriptions in canonical Pali are very rare in India. He also says in relation to Sri Lanka "Pali inscriptions are, somewhat surprisingly, very rare." p 151.

Bankei
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Bankei

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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:20 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: The Earliest Evidence for Buddhism

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:23 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .


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