Buddhist Homiletics on Grief

(*Saddharmaparikathā, ch. 11)

In: Indo-Iranian Journal
Péter-Dániel Szántó Universiteit Leiden The Netherlands Leiden

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The study first introduces a hitherto completely unstudied anonymous work, for which I reconstruct the title *Saddharmaparikathā. This substantial text is a Buddhist homiletician’s guidebook with sample sermons in Sanskrit on a rich variety of topics. I argue that it dates from the 5th century and that it was possibly authored in a Saṃmatīya environment. I first discuss the unique manuscript transmitting the text, the structure and contents of the work, what information it can provide for the tradition of preaching and its importance for Buddhist studies. In the second half, I provide a sample chapter ‘On Grief’ with an annotated translation.

In memoriam Stefano Zacchetti

Latiatuc feleym ʒumtuchel mic vogmuc. ýſa pur eſ chomuv uogmuc.

“See what we are, brethren? We are but dust and ashes.”

Sermo super sepulchrum in Old Hungarian (The Pray Codex, ca. 1192–1195 CE)

1 Introduction

The *Saddharmaparikathā or “Sermons on the True Law” is a Buddhist homiletician’s guidebook composed probably around the 5th century CE. The work survives in a single manuscript, which was penned somewhere in Magadha, possibly during the first half of the 11th century CE. While the copy seems to be complete in fifty-seven large-format palm-leaf folios, it does not transmit a colophon, and thus neither the original name of the work nor the name of the author are known. It is not unlikely that the work was left incomplete by the author himself.

The manuscript in question (henceforth Ms) was kept in Tibetan custody for possibly as long as nine centuries, but it was apparently never translated or even engaged with until modern times. The artefact was discovered for modern scholarship by Rāhula Sāṅkṛtyāyana (1893–1963) and Dge ’dun chos ’phel (1903–1951) in 1934, during a somewhat hurried visit to Spos khang monastery in Gtsang province.1 The famous Indian scholar was able to study it for a short time during a subsequent trip, enough for a brief scholarly report, which was published in 1938.2 This is what he says in the introductory part of the said report:

In my second trip to Tibet, I visited the monastery of Pökhang [i.e., Spos khang] where I saw three bundles of Sanskrit MSS. in which I noticed an important work by the great poet Aśvaghôṣa. My visit was so brief that I could not go through the whole work. Last time, [i.e., on his third journey to Tibet] I tried my best to visit Pökhang, but I could not go. This time I reached Pökhang on the 27th June [1938]. When the three volumes were brought, I found that one was Tridaṇḍamālā by Aśvaghôsha with a separate work named Parikathā by a later author. They are not poetical works, but their importance is great, since they deal with the art of eloquence. In fact, they are practical lessons to the students of those days who wanted to become good speakers. The first work by Aśvaghôṣa is rather more primitive, but the later work is far advanced, which shows that since the time of Aśvaghôṣa (1st century A.C.) up to the 8th century when probably this second work was composed the art of public speech was greatly developed.

His learned Tibetan companion left some short but relevant notes in his Gtam rgyud Gser gyi thang ma (composed mostly between 1934–1941). Here the manuscript is referred to as Yongs kyi gtam, or “Great Sermon” and it is claimed that it had a note at the bottom of a folio, which had the inscription bhikṣudīpaṃkarasya pustakam, i.e., “the monk Dīpaṃkara’s book.”3 As already pointed out by Kano, this note is not preserved in the photographs we now have, and he is probably right in agreeing with Dge ’dun chos ’phel that the Dīpaṃkara mentioned here is none other than Dīpaṃkaraśrījñāna, a.k.a. *Adhīśa/*Atīśa/*Atiśa (982?–1054). A more thorough palaeographical study is needed to determine whether the writing is consistent with an early- or mid-11th century environment. For the time being I accept the above hypothesis.

Sāṅkṛtyāyana is well-known for his diligent photography of the precious sources he had found in Tibet, and the tone of his report suggests that these were the kind of works that he would have had archived without a second thought. However, it is unclear what happened to the photographs of the manuscript or whether it had been photographed at all. While I do not have access to the Patna collection, I could consult the so-called Göttingen copies, but these turned out to be simply another print of a set of photographs taken by the next explorer who visited Spos khang, Giuseppe Tucci (1894–1984).4

Tucci’s expedition visited the monastery in the same decade, in 1939, and the photographs taken of the manuscript do survive.5 These are of varying quality: some parts of the folios are clearly legible, some are slightly out of focus, and some are blurred beyond recognition. However, with some practice, about 95 % of the text can be made out with a degree of certainty. Unfortunately, the manuscript is now probably lost forever and the only way we can access it is through photographs taken on behalf of Tucci.6

The material support is clearly palm leaf. The folios are quite long: according to Sāṅkṛtyāyana, they measure 22 inches (ca. 56 cm) in length and 1.75 inches (ca. 4.5 cm) in width. The manuscript seems to be complete in 57 such folios, with 1r and 57v not inscribed originally. We cannot tell what kind of para-textual elements these may have contained, because they were not photographed. 56 folios are meticulously numerated in the left margin of the versos with true numerical digits (i.e., not letter-numerals). The writing surface consists of three blocks, which are separated by two string-spaces left completely empty. The width of the string-spaces fluctuates between five to eight akṣaras. Each folio side is inscribed with five lines of writing. Each block contains about forty akṣaras, i.e., there are about 120 akṣaras per line. Traditionally, the size of the work would have been given as ca. 2,100 granthas. Sāṅkṛtyāyana calls the script Kuṭilā, or one might say proto-Maithili-cum-Bengali. The script is not unlike that of the known Vikramaśīla manuscripts,7 but it is not identical to them. The scribe commonly uses the pṛṣṭhamātrā, but there are also plentiful examples of the śirorekhā. Contrary to received wisdom, this does not necessarily mean that the hand is Nepalese.

The quality of the scribal work is very good, but not exceptional. The writing is elegant and is without doubt the work of a professional scribe, who also understood what he was copying. Spotted mistakes are meticulously corrected and there also seem to be corrections in a reader’s hand.8 Unfortunately, lacking good colour images it is difficult to make out what is a second hand and what is not. In spite of the obvious care, a number of mistakes remain, most crucially the omission of entire pādas (see e.g. stt. 3.70d, Ms 15r2 or 3.74b, Ms 15r5) in some of the verses. Grammar, the flow of the argument, and style also suggest that there must be omissions in the prose passages, too.

The work can be best described as a practical handbook of Buddhist homiletics. It is not a theoretical guide, since it is not about the way sermons are to be constructed or delivered. Instead, the author aims to give a series of templates for the actual sermons. The work, or what remains of it in its present state, is divided into fifteen (or, better said, 1 + 14) major, unnumbered and untitled chapters of uneven lengths. The longer chapters are subdivided into sections, either on account of the topic or because the preacher is given dispositions9 (called kalpa, krama, vidhi, or naya) as to how to deliver the same or a similar message with a different wording or rhetorical approach (inventio). A brief outline is as follows:

  1. (Ms 1v1–1v4) Introductory statements in twelve verses. The author briefly outlines his aims and modus operandi.10

  2. (Ms 1v4–9r1) On refuge, or the merits of converting to Buddhism (śaraṇagamanaviśeṣaṇārthaṃ … parikathā) in five dispositions.

  3. (Ms 9r1–21r4) On charity, or the merits of giving, primarily to the Buddhist monastic community (dānaparikathā) in eleven dispositions.

  4. (Ms 21r4–22v3) On offering garlands to stūpas (mālyābhihāraparikathā).

  5. (Ms 22v3–34v3) On morality (śīlaparikathā) in ten dispositions, where the fifth is specifically dedicated to the observance of the Poṣadha, the sixth to restraint from killing, the seventh to restraint from stealing, the eighth to restraint from adultery, the ninth to restraint from sinful speech, and the tenth to restraint from drinking liquor.

  6. (Ms 34v3–36v1) On offering lamps in front of Buddhist icons, stūpas, etc. (dīpamālādhikāra).

  7. (Ms 36v1–42r5) Refutation of other systems of thought (parasamayadarśanārthaṃ … parikathā) in two dispositions. Following a general introduction, a variety of Brahmanical gods are criticised for their exploits, then follows a critique of some Vedic rituals and dharmaśāstra injunctions. The second disposition is more philosophical in nature: it contains a refutation of Sāṃkhya, Vaiśeṣika, Digambaras, and Nirgranthas (possibly the Ājīvikas).

  8. (Ms 42r5–45v3) On icons, or on the virtues of creating and maintaining Buddhist images (tathāgatapratimācitrayituḥ saṃharṣaṇārthaṃ parikathā) in two dispositions.

  9. (Ms 45v3–5) On erecting and honouring a stūpa (stūpasatkārādhikāra).11

  10. (Ms 45v5–49r3) On refuting accusations of barbarism, i.e. incorrect linguistic usage (apaśabda) in seven dispositions.

  11. (Ms 49r3–53r2) On grief, or on the futility of mourning (śokavinodanārthaṃ … parikathā) in three dispositions. This is the chapter discussed here.

  12. (Ms 53r2–54r3) On gambling, or on the evils of dice-playing (dyūtādīnavapradarśana).

  13. (Ms 54r3–55v2) On bathing at sacred fords, or, more exactly, on the futility of this heathen custom (tīrthābhiṣekaparīkṣā).

  14. (Ms 55v2–57r1) On self-immolation and other such customs people consider to be acts of faith (agnipraveśādidharmaparīkṣā).

  15. (Ms 57r1–5) On the futility of fasting (anaśana).

Judging by the number of words dedicated to these topics, the reader’s first impression is that the primary concerns of the author seem to have been strengthening devotion in the already Buddhist community and converting Brahmanical laity (chs. 2, 7, 13, 14, 15), assuring charity to the Saṅgha (ch. 3), and the observation of morality (chs. 5, 12) and decorum (ch. 11). Less space is given to praising external displays of devotion (chs. 4, 6, 8, 9), which nevertheless remains an important topic. Perhaps the most remarkable (and possibly even unique) passage is the one in which the preacher is instructed how to address accusations of improper linguistic usage (ch. 9).

The work ends rather abruptly, discussing the futility of fasting. I find it highly unlikely that an author writing a work of this calibre would have left off without as much as the customary dedication of merits. We must therefore presume that the *Saddharmaparikathā was never finished. Alternatively, one might posit that given the venerable age of the text (see below), it was transmitted only in part already by the 11th century. Third, it is also possible that the work as we have it now is an unfinished draft. The somewhat haphazard arrangement of the chapters and at least one unmatched internal reference would suggest so.12 However, all these scenarios are mere hypotheses. It is not reasonable to assume that the exemplar of our scribe was incomplete, because the text does finish rather neatly at the end of a section. Had the scribe inherited a damaged copy, it is unlikely that the lacuna would have started exactly at such a point. Nor is it possible that the scribe left his work unfinished, because he signs off with a rather attractive fleuron and the auspicious śrīḥ (see Figure 1). These two elements suggest that he thought of his job as finished.


Figure 1

Fleuron and the auspicious syllable śrīḥ at the end of the manuscript on 57r5

Citation: Indo-Iranian Journal 64, 4 (2021) ; 10.1163/15728536-06403001

The text is composed in a mixture of verse (660+) and prose passages, and is interspersed with over 150 quotations in, again, both verse and prose (typeset in italics in the sample chapter here, below). With the exception of ch. 1, most of the content is what a preacher should be addressing to his audience directly, but there are some prose passages, typically at the beginning and end of chapters and sections, which are a kind of meta-text, containing instructions for the homiletician (typeset in boldface in the sample chapter).

As for versification, while our author is on the whole an elegant and at times even brilliant writer, he is not an outstanding poet. However, he does handle a wide variety of metres correctly and with relative ease. The preference for shorter verses (i.e., under fourteen syllables per line) is abundantly clear. Given the rhetorical nature of the work, this is very likely not accidental. It stands to reason that a preacher should have been aiming at easy intelligibility, wishing for his point to make an immediate impact, rather than to occupy the audience’s attention span with making out an intricate verse. Even when the stanzas are longer (e.g. sragdharā), they regularly consist of several syntactic units, making them easy to follow. The author is most comfortable in lines of the upajāti, here in the sense of a discretionary mix of indravajrā and upendravajrā quarter-verses, as well as the latter two patterns themselves, where indravajrā stanzas are far more numerous (in a ratio of 7 to 1). The total of such upajāti verses is over 250, close to 40 % of the entire prosodical body, but if we add the purely indravajrā and upendravajrā verses, we come close to almost half of the versified text. The vaṃśasthavila, which is essentially an extension of the indravajrā, is also common (ca. 60 stanzas). The humble anuṣṭubh is also used fairly frequently (ca. 100 stanzas); the number of vipulā varieties is noticeable, as these amount to about one fifth of the total. These are perfectly regular, with only very few instances where the position of the caesura (yati) is somewhat debatable. The vasantatilakā is also very common; such verses make up almost one sixth of the total. For a complete list of metres employed in the chapter studied here, see Appendix 1.13

The work is rich in quotations (150+), in both prose and verse, and from both Buddhist lore and outside of it. However, referenced quotations are rare. The thus all the more notable exceptions are the Śrāmaṇyaphalasūtra (Ms 24v2), the Cūrṇakarmavibhaṅga (Ms 34v5), and what look like parts of a tripartite canon, but these instances too are rare: sūtra (Ms 8r1, 32v2, 44v1), abhidharma (Ms 33v2), vinaya (Ms 42v5).14 The quotations function in the same way as the textus in Christian homiletics, although our author rarely starts a discussion stemming from them, rather using scripture to illustrate, substantiate, or confirm a point. However, some of the openings implicitly contain an āgama passage: a good example of this is the opening of the third disposition of ch. 3 (Ms 11v3–12r1), where the prose passage is clearly based on an equivalent of the Pāli Maṅgalasutta, the first verse of which is then immediately quoted. These textus passages are as a rule extremely short, sometimes consisting of a single word. This clearly indicates that the author expected a great amount of learning and mnemonic capacity from the preacher. It can be observed that scriptural quotations occur in greater numbers where the presumed audience is Buddhist and their occurrence is kept to a minimum where it is not. For example, the number of textus passages in ch. 2 is kept to a minimum and even those cited have uncontroversial content. Other chapters (12, 13, 14, 15) use no textus whatsoever. The language of the scriptural quotations poses a most serious problem. Many passages are clearly not Sanskrit, but some kind of Middle Indic. However, there seems to be a possible tendency in the transmission to Sanskritise these passages, and thus we cannot be certain what the author’s originals may have looked like. Given the linguistic register of most canonical passages, it is clear that some amount of diglossia or even polyglossia was natural for both the preacher and the audience. However, ch. 10, which deals with addressing accusations of inappropriate linguistic usage extensively, might suggest that receptiveness to these passages and non-standard Buddhist idioms was not always a given in Brahmanical society.

Silent quotations of non-scriptural sources are probably quite numerous, but of these I could trace only a handful. For example, a key verse on the superiority of the Buddha (st. 2.5, Ms 2r4) is an incorporation of st. 10 of the *Devātiśayastotra or Devatāvimarśastuti of Śaṃkarasvāmin or Varāhasvāmin, further testimony to the popularity and early date of this work.15 The author freely borrows verses and prose passages from Āryaśūra’s Jātakamālā (ca. 4th century), but he never references the name of the author or the overall title of the work, only the titles of individual chapters.16 Our author also quotes, again without any referencing, other works attributed by tradition to Āryaśūra.17 This is intriguing, because modern scholars generally do not accept that the following three works are by the author of the Jātakamālā.18

  1. Our st. 3.57 (Ms 14r2, mentioned on Ms 51v1 as well; see n. 72) is st. 22 of the *Subhāṣitaratnakaraṇḍakakathā; our author provides a lengthy elaboration on this verse, which changes the way we have edited and understood it so far.

  2. Again without any referencing, there are a number of incorporations (not always verbatim) from the Pāramitāsamāsa as well.19 E.g. our st. 3.116 (Ms 19v5–20r1; with some variants) = Pāramitāsamāsa 6.23; stt. 5.34–35 (Ms 24v2–3) = 2.63–64.

  3. Finally, stt. 5.48–50 (Ms 25v1–3) are from the *Supathadeśanāparikathā, the original Sanskrit of which is lost, but judging by the Tibetan translation (Derge no. 4175, 5v7–6r2) it is certain that it contained these verses.

Besides these directly traceable passages, the work is imbued with Āryaśūra’s diction and imagery, so much so that one might suspect that the author was, at least in a spiritual sense, a disciple of the famous poet. Thus it is all the more curious that the name of the master is never mentioned. An author explicitly referred to is Kumāralāta (Ms 12r5, 43v2), an early (ca. 3rd century) and very popular author of a collection of parables (dṛṣṭānta) called the Kalpanāmaṇḍitikā Dṛṣṭāntapaṅktiḥ.20

Outside the Buddhist world, the author is quite familiar with Sāṃkhya, Vaiśeṣika, Digambara Jainas, and a school of thought he calls that of the Nirgranthas, very likely the group we usually refer to as the Ājīvikas. The teachers of these schools are referred to as Kapila, Ulūka, Maskari, Pūraṇa, and Vardhamāna (Ms 2r3, 3v3, 8r4). There are references to the grammatical tradition of Pāṇini (Ms 47r4), to the grammarians Bhāguri and Śonaka (Ms 48v1),21 to dharmaśāstras (Ms 37v1–1, 54v5–55r1 is an unreferenced quotation of Manusmṛti 10.92), to an arthaśāstra which is not that of Kauṭilya (Ms 34v1),22 and to Pāśupata Śaivas.23 He is also familiar with a variety of Purāṇic stories, almost all of which can be traced in the Epics, with the notable exception of the liṅgodbhava myth.24 There are no explicit mentions of Mīmāṃsā, Nyāya, or later Śaiva schools.

Judging by the environment sketched above, the most plausible time bracket we can place our author into is the 5th century CE at the latest. Unfortunately, there are no traces whatsoever which would allow us to localise him on the Indian Subcontinent (which is probably consistent with the author’s wishes).

The deferential tone of the preacher (see e.g. n. 29) suggests that the author was working in an environment where Buddhists were in a minority: not unknown, but lacking political power. St. 30 and its environs below is a case in point: Brahmanical attitudes to mourning are both approved (tacitly) and criticised (subtly). It is particularly noteworthy that the ‘caste-system’ is nowhere attacked. When it comes to offering advice on personal devotion, a carefully crafted passage (Ms 2v2–4) states that a wise man should examine the virtues (guṇa) of his object of piety (bhakti), rather than following the king’s restrictions (rājanigraha), family tradition (kulakrama), or because of suspecting some kind of danger (bhayāśaṅkā), or because of being attached to some kind of miserly hope (āśākārpaṇya). Even with regard to criticism of rival gods, we see a variety of approaches. While ch. 7 is replete with scathing attacks on their various exploits as narrated in Purāṇic stories, in other sections (e.g. Ms 8v2) the preacher simply refuses to talk about these issues ‘in order to maintain civility’. Moreover, some passages suggest that the preacher was not actively seeking out an audience by missionary zeal but rather created such conditions where the audience came to him.25 Unfortunately, these conditions, such as some kind of proclamation or advertisement, are nowhere specified.26

As to the school to which the author may have belonged, this question will require further study. There are some signs that indicate a Sāṃmitīya/Saṃmatīya background,27 but my current hypothesis is that the author was not only doing his best to ignore internal sectarian divides (provided that such barriers were meaningful to him to begin with),28 but also attempted to provide a united front of ‘universal Buddhism’ to those who were potential converts or new to the religion.

What is perhaps the most important feature of the text is that its sermons are addressed almost exclusively to laypeople, both Brahmanical and Buddhist. The preaching seems to be almost exclusively communal. I cannot find any trace that any of the sermons were meant for a private audience, with the sole exception of the chapter edited here, the occasion of which is dictated by circumstance, namely the death of a friend, relative, or retainer. The plural is also used for the Buddhist community (e.g. vayam, naḥ, 1st person plural verbs), probably meant thus and not as a plural of humility. The common linguistic code of Sanskrit suggests a learned Brahmanical audience. Indeed, the preacher seems to find common ground with the audience by calling them Āryas in opposition to the non-Āryas or barbarians (mleccha). The terms do not seem to suggest anything racial, as the preacher points out that the crucial distinguishing definition between the two groups is that Āryas follow the Dharma, or perhaps better said “a dharma”. Social standing is very rarely referred to, but one passage suggests that the audience could be headed by some local potentate or even a king.29 While the primary targets for securing sponsorship were obviously well-to-do laypeople, the author also includes shorter sections specifically dedicated to donors of humble means (ch. 3, fourth disposition and explicitly in the seventh). That the audience consisted of both Buddhists and non-Buddhists is very clear. It is somewhat less clear what kind of Buddhists the author had in mind. As already mentioned (n. 28), he seems to distinguish a group who holds ‘the bodhisattva vow’, i.e. very likely followers of the Mahāyāna, and he does so without any trace of animosity. On the whole, the text does not deal with internal doctrinal discussions, again suggesting that the author favoured a catholic approach when it came to his co-religionists. There does not seem to be any effort on the preacher’s part to convert the laity to monkhood. As for the non-Buddhist audience, it is noteworthy that the author assumes a modicum of learning on their part, because he addresses them in a way that presupposes a basic familiarity with the Buddha’s person, his vita/s, and his moral teachings. Especially ch. 2 can be said to be a kind of halieutic theology in practice or missionary preaching. It is perhaps here that the preacher must have found it most difficult to find common ground. This our author resolves for the most part with an appeal for the love of virtues (guṇa), most importantly civility and reason, and an earnest wish for the summum bonum. If we wish to draw another parallel with Western homiletics, the most likely kindred scenario would be a converted Christian preaching to his fellow pagan Hellenes.

It is perhaps also worth pointing out that the text does not use the term dharmabhāṇaka anywhere. Instead it prefers the designation dhārmakathika for the preacher (and even that is used only once, Ms 46r1) and dharmakathā for the sermon (Ms 1v1, 3v1, 46r4, 47v1 with sad°).30 The audience is simply called parṣat (Ms 1v2 pariṣat ex em. metri causa, 2r2, 46r4, 48v2 and 48v3).

I hope that the above brief outline will persuade the reader that the anonymous *Saddharmaparikathā is an extremely rich work that merits closer and more extensive scrutiny. What we see here is a unique record of a mature homiletical tradition. Since public preaching with the aim of attracting converts and patronage must have been a widespread exercise, it is somewhat surprising that we do not have more major works of this genre.31

In the next part of the paper, I will provide a sample from this extensive work, a chapter dealing with grief (śoka). Grief, a universal human emotion felt at a loved one’s demise, is a state of mind in which one is especially prone to turn to religion for solace. Given Buddhism’s widespread interest in mortality, impermanence, and the fate of beings after death, it is surprising that there are very few instances in the surviving literature that deal with how to handle grief, either experienced by oneself or by one’s flock, on a practical level.32 One such rare example is a work attributed to Aśvaghoṣa, the Śokavinodana. Until very recently, this work was thought lost in the original and was known only via its canonical Tibetan translation (Derge 4177/4505, Peking 5418/5677), but the entire text can be extracted from the aforementioned Tridaṇḍamālā and a Chinese rendering too has been identified.33 This soliloquy is similar in tone to the chapter I deal with in the present paper.

The guiding argument of our author is that grief is an undignified emotion inasmuch as it is rooted in attachment. Nursing it (anu√vṛt) is not only pointless, but dangerous, because it leads to depression, which in turn causes one to neglect worldly and religious duties. Moreover, it has a detrimental effect on loved ones. Instead, one should display steadfastness and view the unfortunate event as something that prompts insight into the inevitable transience of beings and therefore serves to confirm the validity of the Buddhist message. This, essentially, is the thought process behind the author’s inventio displayed in all three sub-chapters or dispositions.

Of the three dispositions offered here (numerated in the translation as I, II, and III), the first is less clearly Buddhist in tone, and, minus some cosmographical elements, doctrinal concepts are brought forth only at the very end. Terms such as religious duty (dharma) and scriptural learning (śruta) are used somewhat ambiguously; they can be interpreted in a Buddhist or non-Buddhist framework alike. Moreover, only one textus and a single parable are cited. The third is much more emphatic about its sectarian identity and was probably the option reserved for an already converted audience. This is also indicated by the high number of scriptural passages, no less than thirteen. Here, the practice to overcome grief is a recollection (anusmṛti) of the Buddha himself, who is also presented as a template for the preacher’s efforts to gently steer the pious away from bereavement. The second disposition is somewhere in-between the two in how “Buddhist” it is. Here we find two textus passages and one jātaka; however, there is a reference to meditating on the Four Truths, some technical terms are employed (e.g. puṇyakriyāvastu and nirvāṇa), and some words are part of the Buddhist sociolect (e.g. samucchraya for body). This disposition distinguishes itself by its style: the author starts out with a pericope verse, essentially a list of disadvantages connected to grief, and then develops it. This is a favoured rhetorical approach seen elsewhere too in the *Saddharmaparikathā, e.g. the fifth disposition of ch. 3, the first, second, and third dispositions of ch. 5, and elsewhere. What is more, here the author skilfully blends in two further pericope verses (one from ch. 3, one from ch. 5) into the main discourse; these, doubtless depending on the circumstances, may or may not have been elaborated upon.

As for poetic style, some passages may be singled out as better crafted than others. The barrage of prose sentences after st. 4 is somewhat reminiscent of Bāṇa and probably had a convincing effect. The long daṇḍaka st. 31 starts out very promisingly and with a touching image, but ends abstrusely. Some verses are elegant enough to be included in aphoristic collections, e.g. stt. 33, 36, 38, or—perhaps one of the best—45, but this is evidently a matter of taste. Yet others are obscure (but this, at least in part, could be due to faults in transmission) or slightly clumsy (e.g. unwarranted punaruktis such as in stt. 35cd, 51bc, or 53ac). The diction is on the whole sober and unadorned; there are only a handful of similes (2, 26, 35b, etc.) and metaphors or metaphorical expressions (9a, 25b, 40d, etc.). Given the strongly performative nature of the text, the abundance of rhetorical questions is perfectly understandable (e.g. 3, 4cd, 7cd, 17, 23, etc.). Next to Āryaśūra’s pervasive influence, some echoes in the present chapter might suggest that our author was quite familiar with the Buddhacarita and the Raghuvaṃśa.

In spite of my best efforts and the very generous advice I have received from colleagues, especially Harunaga Isaacson, some sentences remain obscure, most significantly two rather frustrating cruxed passages (st. 5b, where the blurred image is difficult to make out, and the prose after st. 24).

2 Edition and Translation of ch. 11

The following abbreviations are employed in the apparatus:









diag. conj.

diagnostic conjecture


manuscript’s reading after correction (scribal or a lector’s)


manuscript’s reading before correction.

† … †

readings bracketed by cruces of desperation are beyond my understanding

The formatting, verse numeration, and punctuation are entirely mine and divergences from the scribe’s usage of daṇḍas (and resulting sandhi) have not been noted separately. Banal scribal or lector’s/lectors’ corrections have not been noted. Homorganic nasals, sibilants, m-virāma type anusvāras, s for visarga, geminations under repha, degemination of tva, and non-metrical cch have been silently standardised. Avagrahas were added where appropriate. Quotations are italicised. The author’s instructions to the preachers are typeset in bold. In the case of Pali, all references are to the Pali Text Society editions with the standard abbreviations (thus Thī = Therīgāthā, Sn = Suttanipāta, etc.; cf.

śokavinodanārtham evaṃ parikathā vācyā |

In order to alleviate grief, a sermon should be delivered as follows:

mitre guṇavati snigdhe
saṃśrite sve jane ’pi vā |
vidhiṃ naiyamikaṃ prāpte
vyarthatvāc chucam utsṛjet ‖ [1]

(I) When a virtuous, beloved friend, or a retainer, or even a family member has reached the certain end, one should give up grief, for it serves no purpose. [1]

avītarāgasya sataḥ
kāmaṃ śokaḥ priyātyaye |
mahān ogha ivābhyeti
taṃ tu nānubhramed budhaḥ ‖ [2]

Granted, for one who is not yet free of attachment, grief comes, overwhelming like a mighty flood, at the demise of a loved one. But a wise man should not follow him in this error. [2]

kā hi tena guṇāvāptis
tasya kaivātmano bhavet |
suhṛdāṃ svajanasya vā ‖ [3]

For what possible gain can be acquired by that [grief], either for the departed [loved one], or for oneself,34 or for one’s friends who share [both one’s] pleasure and pain, or for one’s kinfolk?35 [3]

na śucam iti bhajeta paṇḍitas
tadupaśame tu yateta vīkṣayā |
ka iva hi guṇapakṣaghātinaṃ
sukhavikalātmakam artham āśrayet ‖ [4]

Thus, a learned man should not nurse grief, but should strive to calm it with insight: for who could possibly adhere to something which not only inflicts casualty on the side of virtue but also never provides any comfort? [4]

kathaṃ punar ayaṃ guṇapakṣaghātī śoka ity ucyate | naitad vyākhyānagamyaṃ pratyakṣavispaṣṭatvāt | śokatamisrām anuvartamānasya hi janasya saṃhriyate dhairyaśobhā | nimīlyate buddhisāmarthyam | āchidyate smṛtiparākramaḥ | śāntim eti tejaḥ | tyajaty enam ojasvitā | nainam upaiti pramo[49v]daḥ | dūrībhavaty asmān manaḥprasādaḥ | dharmārthakīrtikṣameṣv api kāryeṣu visrasyata evāsyotsāhaḥ | antardadhāti śuklatvam | manaḥsaṃkṣobhād yathākālam āhārādyapratipatteś calatām upaity ārogyam | sopaplavaiva bhavati kāntiḥ | pramlāyate dviṣattamaḥpramāthinī dīptir vilīyate36 ca balam | ākulībhavati śrīḥ | śithilībhavati dākṣiṇyavinayādaraḥ | kārśyam upaiti paṭutā | astam upaiti saumanasyaṃ durādhāraṃ ca bhavati sukham | ity evaṃ guṇapakṣaghātī janasya śokaḥ |

But how can one say that grief inflicts casualty on the side of virtue? This does not [even] need any explanation; it is plainly clear to see. For a man who dwells on the gloom of grief loses the distinction of being steadfast; the capability of his intelligence withers; his power of being mindful is split asunder; his charisma fades; his energy leaves him; calm joy approaches him no more; his good mental disposition avoids him; his enthusiasm for any kind of business allowing for [the fulfilment of] religious duty, making money, or seeking fame is lost for good; his complexion darkens; because of [this] mental disturbance, he does not eat and so on at the proper time, and thus his good health becomes unstable; his charm is greatly affected; his valiance for quashing the enemy that is darkness shrivels and his strength fades; his Fortune is disturbed; his care for civility and modesty becomes lax; his skills become reduced; his cheerfulness wanes and he finds it difficult to achieve comfort. So, it is thus that a man’s grief inflicts casualty on the side of virtue.

tad evaṃ guṇapakṣoparodhinaṃ śokaṃ guṇavatsalātmanaḥ sarvakālaṃ tadanurakṣaṇodyatamater nālam anuvartitum āyuṣmataḥ |

Hence a gentleman, one who loves virtue, should never dwell on grief, an impediment for the side of virtue as explained above, [precisely] because he is constantly intent on cultivating virtue.

tat sādhu tām eva bhajasva saṃjñāṃ
†ko py eṣu rūḍhā tarayāntameṣu† |
guṇoparodhī na hi śokaśatrur
bhavadvidhair evam upekṣaṇīyaḥ ‖ [5]

Hence you should do well to resort only to that notion † … †37 Verily, the foe that is grief, an impediment of virtue, should not be disregarded in this way by good people such as yourself. [5]

saṃvardhanālabdhaphaleṣu kāmaṃ
svabhāvabhūteṣu satāṃ guṇeṣu |
śokaḥ kim evāpatito ’pi kuryād
guṇavyalīkaṃ tu na marṣaṇīyam ‖ [6]

Indeed, though grief may strike, what can it do to virtues, the very essence of good men, the fruits of which have been obtained by careful cultivation? But one should not put up with the opponent of virtue [either]. [6]

anyatra tāvat pravijṛmbhamāṇaṃ
necchanti śokaṃ guṇapakṣaśatrum |
manotibhūmiṃ tam avajñayaiva
prāptaṃ tu vidvān iha kaḥ saheta ‖ [7]

Now, [people] are averse to grief, the foe of the side of virtue, when it is manifesting in others. So when [grief] starts to overwhelm the mind with contempt, how could a wise man put up with it in this world?38 [7]

dharmārthayuktaṃ bahu cintyam asti
kṛtyaṃ ca te kīrtisukhopapādi |
manas tad eva pratipādayasva
bhavadvidhānām ayaśo hi śokaḥ ‖ [8]

There is plenty for you to be preoccupied with—religious duty, making money—and plenty of business for you to see to—[deeds] that bring fame and comfort [respectively]. Direct your mind to those alone! For grief is disgraceful for good men like yourself. [8]

alpasattvapratipannā khalajanarathyā hy eṣā |

Verily, this is the way of base men, resorted to by those of little courage.

avicārya toyagatacandracalāṃ
jagataḥ sthitiṃ dhṛtiguṇais tanubhiḥ |
dayitātyayeṣv atha bhavanti janāḥ
pṛthuśokadainyavihṛtadyutayaḥ ‖ [9]

Because their virtue of steadfastness is weak, men do not reflect on the fact that the state of the world is transient like the Moon reflected in water; and so, when those dear to them pass away, their lustre is snatched away by the depression resulting from intense grief. [9]

gāmbhīryagūḍhāpi tu sajjanasya
prakāśatām eti tadā guṇaśrīḥ |
yathaivam āpat katham abhyupaiti
na caiva śokaḥ katham abhyupaiti ‖ [10]

On the other hand, it is precisely then that the splendour of virtue in good men comes to light, even if it was previously well hidden because of their composure. This being so, it may so happen that disaster befalls them, but grief will never prevail.39 [10]

alabdhāvakāśāni śokena dhairyātmakatvāt
kṛtajñasvabhāvāt tu cittānugavyāhṛtāni40 |
parityaktabhūṣāṇi41 lokānuvṛttyā budhānāṃ
mukhāni priyavyāpadi sve guṇā bhūṣayante ‖ [1142]

At the time of a loved one’s demise, the visages of the wise are unaffected by grief on account of [their] steadfastness, but do utter considerate words because of [their] having a nature of gratitude [towards the departed and his kin] and are unadorned because of [their] compliance with worldly convention; [instead] their own virtues adorn them. [11]

sveṣu ca prāṇeṣv api dayām anādṛtya satpuruṣā guṇā[50r]n evābhipadyante | nānurudhyante doṣapakṣam | tad abhibhūyamānaṃ śokadainyenābhyupapattum43 arhasi dhairyam | manyuvaśād ivāpayāntī vyavasthāpyatāṃ cetasi smṛtiḥ | āvarjyatāṃ tejasvitā śrutasamāśrayāt | tadanvavekṣaṇāt prabodhyatāṃ buddhiḥ | kutra hi vidyāsthāne kenacic chāstrakāreṇābhyanujñātā śokānuvṛttiḥ | tat prajvālyatāṃ śokatamaḥpramāthī44 lokasthitisvabhāvasaṃdarśakaḥ prajñāpradīpaḥ |

Moreover, good people do not care even about their own lives, but devote themselves only to virtues. They adhere not to the side of vice. Thus, when [it is] overcome with the depression of grief, you should do well to adhere to steadfastness. Recollect your mindfulness when it is slipping away because of distress! Regain your vigour by listening to the scriptures! Ponder on what you have heard and awaken your intelligence! For what author of treatises in which branch of knowledge assents to dwelling on grief? Light then the lamp of wisdom which dispels the darkness of grief and shows the state of the world as it truly is!

tripiṣṭape ’py asti na śāśvatā sthitiḥ
patanti kṛtvāpi mahendratāṃ divaḥ |
parikṣayād dhyānaphalasya cāvaśāḥ
patanty adho brahmagaṇāḥ sahasraśaḥ ‖ [12]

There is no eternal state even in the realms of paradise; [gods] fall from the heavens even though they acted as [their] Great Lords. When the fruit of their meditations is fully exhausted, scores of Brahmās fall powerless by the thousands. [12]

ābhāsvarā bhāsvaramūrtayaś ca
śubhāś ca devāḥ śubhacārurūpāḥ |
adṛṣṭasatyās tata uttare ca
bhraṣṭadyuto bhraṃśam avāpnuvanti ‖ [13]

The Ābhāsvara gods too of resplendent bodies, the Śubha gods too of pure and beautiful shapes, and those above them who have not realised the truth—with their splendour gone, they reach decay. [13]

yad arūpāś ca bhavāgragāḥ surāḥ |
svakṛtasya śubhasya saṃkṣayāt
kṣayam āyānty aśivā bhavās tataḥ ‖ [14]

And the Formless gods too at the pinnacle of existence, with their lifespan of many thousands of aeons, when the good karma they have accumulated becomes exhausted, they perish and inauspicious births follow. [14]

iti daivatāny api sukhaṃ vividhaṃ
svakṛtāśrayāt samanubhūya ciram |
vivaśāni yad vinipatanti divaḥ
śaraṇatvam asti na bhaveṣu tataḥ ‖ [15]

In this way even the gods, after having enjoyed for a long time various pleasures on account of their good karma, fall from the heavens powerless. Therefore no realm is a refuge [from death]. [15]

svarge ’py evaṃ janma duḥkhānubandhaṃ
vyādhyāyāsakleśakaṣṭaṃ nareṣu |
duḥkhaṃ śuddhaṃ yat tv apāyeṣu tasmāj
jātiṃ vidyāt sarvaduḥkhapratiṣṭhām ‖ [16]

Thus, even heavenly rebirth is tainted by sorrow. As for humans—sickness, toil, affliction, misery. As for the lower rebirths—nothing but suffering. Therefore, one should know that birth is the root of all suffering. [16]

na cāsti sā nāsti ca duḥkhasaṃbhavaḥ
kuto hi citte ’sati caitaso vidhiḥ |
gataś ca dehaḥ praśamaṃ rujākaras
tadāśrayaṃ syāt kuta eva cāsukham ‖ [17]

If there is no [birth], there is no suffering. How indeed can there be the activity of mental factors, if there is no mind? When the body, the cause of pain, has ceased to be, how can there be suffering, which is rooted in it? [17]

punarbhavaṃ prārthayate tu yāvan
manas tadāsvādavikalpamūḍham |
duḥkhasya tāvad bhavati pravṛttiś
chinnā ca tṛṣṇā vigataṃ ca duḥkham ‖ [18]

The activity of suffering exists only as long as the mind, deluded by the thought of [life’s] relish, desires rebirth. As soon as thirst is put to an end, suffering [too] disappears. [18]

bhavān asārān kṣayiṇas45 tu paśyan
duḥkhānubandhāṃś ca nirātmakāṃś ca |
jahāti tṛṣṇāṃ46 vigamāc ca tasyā
duḥkhasya naivāsti punaḥ pravṛttiḥ ‖ [19]

But seeing the levels of existence as worthless and transient, both spoilt by suffering and without essence, [a wise man] forsakes thirst [for rebirth]; and when thirst disappears, the activity of suffering returns no more. [19]

tasmād imaṃ śokaparidravāṇāṃ
jātyādiduḥkhasya śamāya caiva |
bhajasva mārgaṃ gatam āryasattvaiḥ
śokānuvṛtter na hi deśakālaḥ ‖ [20]

Therefore, in order to end the afflictions of grief and to end the suffering beginning with that of birth, you should tread the path traversed by noble beings. For [this] is not the time nor the place47 to give in to grief. [20]

evaṃ hy uktaṃ bhagavatā |

ekā[50v]yano mayā bhikkhave |

For this is what the Lord taught:

Oh monks! I [have taught] the One Way …48

avāpya tasmān nṛṣu janma durlabhaṃ
vacaś ca duḥkhakṣayagāmi saugatam |
kuruṣva yatnaṃ svahitāptaye tathā
yathedṛśaṃ syād asukhaṃ na te punaḥ ‖ [21]

Therefore, having gained a human birth which is so difficult to obtain and the precious word of the Sugata which leads to the end of suffering, exert effort to obtain your own welfare in such a way that you shall experience such suffering no more. [21]

paramadurlabhaṃ hi śreyaḥprāptikṣaṇasamavadhānam ity atrātmakāmā na pramādam āpadyante | tadyathānuśrūyata ity atra kavāṭabhittidṛṣṭāntam uktvā vācyam |

Verily, the conjunction whereby the opportune moment for gaining the summum bonum is most difficult to obtain, hence those who desire their own [welfare] do not err with carelessness regarding this. As it is heard—and here, after having narrated the Parable of the Door and the Wall,49 one should say:

vīkṣya durlabhatām imām |
śreya eva prapadyasva
tyaja śokam apārthakam ‖ [22]

Having reflected thus on just how difficult it is to obtain the opportune moment for gaining the summum bonum, strive only for that good and give up harmful (/useless) grief.50 [22]

aparaḥ kalpaḥ |

(II) [I shall now explain] another disposition:

kṛśodayaṃ duḥkhaphalābhimarśaṃ
mahātyayaṃ dharmayaśaḥsapatnam |
necchanti santo ’rtham abhiprapattum
evaṃvidhaṃ kas tu bhajed anartham ‖ [23]

Good men do not desire to resort to a benefit that is (i) of paltry gain, (ii) connected with painful results, (iii) of great danger, (iv) an adversary of fame for religious duty.51 So what kind of person would entertain such a calamity (i.e., grief) [which is guaranteed to have all of these and more]?52 [23]

śokas tu kṛtyapratipattiśatruḥ
kṛśodayo ’smād vigatodayo vā |
kālopapannā paṭutā kriyāyāḥ
kṛtye niyuktā hy udayāvahā syāt ‖ [24]

(i) Now, grief is a foe of achieving what needs to be done, therefore it is of paltry or no gain. For [only] timely intensity of action applied to what needs to be done brings benefit. [24]

sa ca kramaḥ śokatamasā paryākulamānasasya abhibhūyamānasya dainyena vilupyamānasmṛter53 daurmanasyena kutaḥ syāt | tasmāt kṛśodayo nirudaya eva vā śoka iti naivānuvartitavyaḥ |

But how could there be such a course for one who is mentally distressed by the darkness of grief, overcome by depression, of lost mindfulness due to dejection? Hence grief, which indeed brings paltry or no gain, should not be dwelt upon.

cittasya saṃtāpavivardhanāc ca
śokānalo duḥkhaphalābhimarśaḥ |
kutaḥ sukhaṃ cetasi tapyamāne
samucchrayasyāpi tadāśrayasya ‖ [25]

(ii) Then, because it increases anguish in the mind, the fire of grief is connected with painful results. [For] how could there be comfort when the mind is tormented, let alone in the body, which depends on it?54 [25]

iti duḥkhaphalābhimarśo duḥkhātmaka eva ca śokaḥ |

Thus grief is connected with painful results and is nothing but suffering.

sa cāpratisaṃkhyānād anivāryamāṇaprasaraḥ punaranuvṛttyā labdhabala āpyāyamānaḥ55 kuvitarkaiḥ pramathya dhairyaśobhāṃ samabhibhūya smṛtiṃ saṃkṣobhayan dehāśritān anilādīn dhātūṃś cetovikāram †anyatathāsaṃ vā† prāṇoparodhinaṃ rogātaṅkam utthāpayet | tad evaṃ mahātyayatvād apy ananuvṛttikṣama eva śokaḥ |

(iii) Moreover, grief, when its spread is not checked for lack of a tranquil consideration, becomes even stronger by nursing it again, feeding on wrong reasoning. It then destroys the distinction of steadfastness, overcomes mindfulness, and disturbing wind and the other bodily humours, distorts the mind, † … † and causes sickness blocking the vital energies (/endangering life). So, because of its being of great danger too, grief should not be dwelt upon.

dharmayaśaḥsapatnabhāvāc ca parivarjya eva dūrataḥ śokaḥ |

(iv) Grief should also be avoided from afar on account of its being an adversary of fame for [dedication to] religious duty.56

viṣādadīnatvajaḍātmanāṃ śucā
kuto hi dharmapratipattidhīratā |
tayā vihīnasya ca kā manuṣyatā
vidharmasaṃjñā hi mṛgādibhiḥ samāḥ57 ‖ [26]

For how could those paralysed by the dejection and depression caused by grief muster the fortitude to undertake religious duty? And if one lacks that [fortitude to undertake religious duty], how can he be called a man? For those lacking the concept of religion are no better than beasts and [barbarians58]. [26]

na śokam asmāt svamano ’dhiropayet
tathā hi dharmasya bhaved a[51r]satkriyā |
suhṛttamebhyo ’py upakārato ’dhikaṃ
ka eva dharmaṃ ca vimānayed budhaḥ ‖ [27]

Therefore one should not allow grief to dwell in the mind, for by doing so one dishonours religion. And what kind of wise man would dishonour religion, which, from the viewpoint of assistance [it can provide], is superior to even the best of friends?59 [27]

virādhya dharmaṃ ca śuco ’nuvartanāt
paratra caiveha ca saukhyakāraṇam |
ka eva vidvān iti kīrtim āpnuyād
balena dhairyasya tad eva saṃtyajet ‖ [28]

And who could possibly gain fame as a learned man if one injures religion, the cause of comfort both here and in the hereafter, by dwelling on grief? One would do well to give it (i.e., dwelling on grief) up by the power of fortitude. [28]

iti dharmayaśaḥsapatnabhūtaṃ
manaso nirnuda60 sādhu śokadainyam |
asadharma61 ivāśruviklavākṣaḥ
kim amārge parikhedam abhyupaiṣi ‖ [29]

Thus, please cast aside from your mind the depression of grief, an adversary of fame for [diligence in] religious duty. Why exhaust yourself on a misleading path like a heathen (lit., a man lacking dharma) with eyes swamped in tears?62 [29]

āpadi samupanatāyāṃ
yaś ca vidhir naiva tatpratīkāraḥ |
niṣkevalaṃ śramaphalaṃ
prājñas tam anubhramet ka iva ‖ [30]

As for the customs prescribed regarding befallen misfortune (i.e., death),63 they do not serve as an antidote to [grief]. What kind of wise man would follow them in error, when they result in nothing else but exhaustion? [30]

tasmād dhairyam ālambya śrutānusāravyāpāre niyujya smṛtiṃ lokasvabhāvapratyavekṣayā samunmīlya prajñācakṣuḥ sarvaprakāram aparigrahakṣamaṃ tyaktum arhasi śokadainyam |

Hence, you would do well to resort to fortitude, to turn your attention to deeds in conformity with what you heard from scripture, to open the eye of wisdom by carefully analysing the nature of the world, and to give up the depression of grief, which should not be adopted no matter how one looks at it.

paśyatv āyuṣmān |

Behold, good sir!

pathika iva kuto ’pi ko ’py āgato yady ayaṃ mārgakhedād iva tvatsamīpe muhūrtasthitaḥ prasthitaḥ kvāpi kiṃ tatra śokānuvṛttyā svabhāvo ’dhvagānām ayam |
yadi ca tava guṇodayair vatsalībhāvam āpāditaḥ svārthapāṇḍityam asyaitad atyāryabhāvāt tu tat tvaṃ kṛtaṃ manyase ko hi nairguṇyadagdhaṃ janaṃ snihyati |
yadi ca tava na vetty64 avasthām imāṃ śokajāṃ saṃbhramavrīḍasaṃtāpavaśyo viditvā na vā jāyate65 naiti cājñāṃ yamasyāpy atikramya kiṃ vatsalas tarhy asau |
atha tu vidhir alabhya evāyam evaṃ gate ko guṇaḥ śokadainyena tulyārtisaukhyaṃ janaṃ bādhituṃ yat tato ’nantaraṃ kāryam āryeṇa tat kāryam eṣa66 kramaḥ ‖ [31]

He, much like some traveller, arrived who knows whence, dwelt by your side for a short while as if fatigued by the road, and now set out onwards who knows where—so why dwell on grief?67 This is the nature of travellers. And if he took to you because of your lofty virtues—well, that simply means that he knew what was best for him. You may think that he did so on account of his most noble nature—but who will love a man who is cursed by lack of virtues?68 Moreover, does he truly love you, if he is not aware of this state of grief of yours? Or perhaps he is aware—but then why does he not become subject to zeal, shame, and pain, and return [to you], transgressing even the command of the Lord of Death? But if this is impossible—and it is—what gain is there in tormenting others69 who share both your sorrow and happiness with the depression of grief? Do whatever a noble man needs to do after [death]—this is the proper order of things. [31]

tasmāc chokaṃ visṛja manaso naiṣa śokasya kālaḥ
kālo hy eṣa tvarayati janaṃ dharmatattvapravṛttyai |
yad yat kṛtyaṃ svahitaniyataṃ tatra tatrāpramāda-
vyāpāras te bhavatu manasas tattvasiddhipratiṣṭheḥ ‖ [32]

Dispel therefore grief from the mind! This is not the time for grief. Time (/Death) itself impels men to practice the essence of the doctrine. Become of unfailing action in whatever needs to be done for your own benefit, so that [your] mind may become established70 in the realisation of truth! [32]

avetya mṛtyor anivāryavīryatāṃ
calasvabhāvatvam avekṣya cāyuṣaḥ |
śucaś ca tatra pratikārabāhyatāṃ
hite sva eva prayateta paṇḍitaḥ ‖ [33]

Having understood the irresistible power of death, having seen the fickle nature of [a man’s] lifespan, and having realised that grief is no antidote for [either of] these, a wise man should strive only for his own benefit. [33]

tat punaḥ svahitaṃ kriyamāṇaṃ puṇyakriyāvastutrayasamāśrayāt saṃ[51v]pādyeta laukikam | yathoktaṃ bhagavatā |


sūtram uktvā vācyam |

As for one’s own benefit, when (/if) performed by relying on the three bases of meritorious acts, it will bring about worldly [benefit]. As the Lord taught:

These three …

After having recited the sūtra,71 one should say:

tatra dānam anekaguṇasaṃpādi tasmād ātmahitam | tadyathā |


iti vācyam |

Among these, (i) charity begets numerous virtues and thus one’s own benefit. To wit: [Here] one should recite [the verse] beginning with

Lustre of authority, …72

tathā śīlam | yathoktam |

kulād vittād alaṃkārāt |

(ii) It works in the same way with morality. As [we have] taught [above]:

[Morality is far superior] to: family lineage, wealth, ornaments, …73

tathā bhāvanā brahmalokopapattyādisaṃpādanīty abhihitam |

(iii) And in the same way with contemplation, which is taught to bring about benefits such as being born in the World of Brahmā.74

evam anekavyasanakaṇṭakasaṅkaṭaṃ vā saṃsāram anupaśyatā sarvaduḥkhapraśamābhilāṣiṇā caturāryasatyadarśanāya dhyātavyam | yathoktaṃ75 bhagavatā |

ye keci bhikkhave imaṃ duḥkhaṃ ti yathābhūtaṃ prajānanti te neva nirayaṃ gacchanti |76

iti vistaraḥ | atra pūrvām77 eva pracarcām78 uktvā vācyam |

Thus, alternatively [to worldly benefit], upon seeing that transmigration is nothing but a heap of thorn-like predicaments, he who desires the allaying of all suffering should meditate to realise the Four Noble Truths.79 As the Lord taught:

Oh monks! Whosoever realise as it truly is that all this is suffering will not fall into the realms of hell …80

etc. Here, after having recited the previous discussion,81 one should say:

dṛṣṭvāryasatyāni yathāvad evaṃ
nāpnoti bhūyo vinipātaduḥkham |
doṣā hi ye durgatihetubhūtās
tān satyadarśī prajahāti sarvān ‖ [34]

Having thus seen the Noble Truths82 as they truly are, one never returns to the pain of lower rebirths. For the seer of the Truth[s] obliterates all the vices which are the cause of lower rebirths. [34]

athāparān bhāvanayā vihatya
tamoviśeṣān saviteva dīptyā |
punar na duḥkhasya vaśaṃ paraiti
paraṃ ca nirvāṇasukhaṃ paraiti ‖ [35]

Next, having dispelled [all] other [kinds of vices] by the power of contemplation, just like the Sun [dispels even] the deepest darkness with its blaze, one is never again enslaved by suffering, but achieves the supreme bliss of Nirvāṇa. [35]

itīmāni cāpriyāṇy anityāni calāny anātyantikasamavadhānāni saṃpaśyatā saṃvega eva manasy upabṛṃhayitavyaḥ | na śokasaṃvignacitto hi śreyaḥpratipattikarmaṇyo bhavati | tadyathānuśrūyata ity atrāyogṛhajātakam uktvā vācyam |

So, having contemplated all these unpleasantnesses as impermanent, transient, connection with which is intermittent, one should cultivate in one’s mind only enthusiasm83 [for the spiritual path]. For while one’s mind is overwhelmed by grief, one is not suitable (/fit/competent/able) for the practice to achieve the summum bonum. As it is heard—and here, after having recited the Birth Story of the Iron House,84 one should say:

avāryavīryeṇa kṛtāntavahninā
pradīptam evaṃ prasamīkṣya sarvataḥ |
jagan nirākrandam anātham āturaṃ
śamāya saṃvegapathaṃ vrajed budhaḥ ‖ [36]

Having thus beheld from every angle the world set ablaze by the fire of death whose power cannot be checked, without fellow men to cry to, without protector, distressed, the wise man should take to the path of enthusiasm towards Peace. [36]

aparaḥ kalpaḥ |

(III) [I shall now explain] another disposition:

sarvatrāvyāhataṃ jñānam
uttamāṃ ca hitaiṣitām |
prājñaḥ saṃsmṛtya buddhānāṃ
nābhimanyeta tadvacaḥ ‖ [37]

A wise man should not disrespect the words of the buddhas, after having brought to mind their knowledge, which is unimpeded with regard to all [knowables85], and altruism which is supreme. [37]

jñānena yukto ’pi hiteṣv ayukto
hitodyataḥ syāc ca na buddhimān yaḥ |
vacas tayor nāpy asamīkṣya kuryāt
prāg eva tābhyāṃ rahitaś ca yaḥ syāt ‖ [38]

Some might possess knowledge but not be interested in altruism and others may be altruistic but lacking intelligence. One should not without due examination follow the words of either, let alone one who is devoid of both. [38]

jñeyeṣu sarveṣu tu yasya buddhir
loke hitādhyāśayavat pravṛttā |
avyāhatā tasya vacaḥpravṛtti-86
vimarśakhedopagamena ko ’rthaḥ ‖ [39]

Now, [the Buddha is such an authority] whose mind is unimpeded with regard to all knowables and functions together with an (/just like his) intention to bring benefit87 to the world. So what is the point of bothering ourselves with the toil of examining88 the ways of his word? [39]

[52r] vinivartitāś ca bhagavatā śokānuvṛttiprasaṅgavyākulamanaso vineyā niṣprayojanād duḥkhadaurmanasyopahartur apahartur guṇānāṃ śokāt |

The Lord himself steered away his followers from grief which is [not only] pointless, [but also] causes suffering and dejection, and robs people of their virtues, when their minds were overcome with dwelling on grief.

tadyathā duhitṛśokārtā urvarī sthavirī | yathoktam |

aṃmo jīva me tti krandasi |

(i) For example, the venerable nun Urvarī, tortured by grief for her daughter. As it was taught:

You wail «o my Jīvā» …89

tathā putraśokaśalyavyathitahṛdayā vāsiṣṭhisthavirī putraśokān nivartitā | yathoktam |

yassa māggaṃ na jānāsi āgatassa gatassa vā |

(ii) Or the venerable nun Vāsiṣṭhī, whose heart was pierced by the arrow of grief for her son was steered away from grieving for her son. As it was taught:

The way by which he came you cannot know, nor the path by which he went …90

tathā mātṛśokārtas tathāgatavacanānusmṛtyā vyavasthāpayann ātmānaṃ rājā prasenajit tasya kramasyānujñānād vistareṇa ca tasyārthasya pradarśanād vinivartitaḥ śokānuvṛtter bhagavatā | yathoktam |

ayyā me bhante mātā kālagatā |

iti sūtram anusmartavyam |

(iii) Or king Prasenajit, tortured by grief for his mother, who composed himself after having called to mind the word of the Tathāgata; the Lord, who first assented to that course and then explained extensively the statement’s meaning, steered him away from dwelling on grief. As it was taught:

Venerable one, my respected mother passed away …

and call to mind [the rest of] the sūtra.91

tathā sthavirāryānandas tathāgataḥ parinirvāsyatīti śokenābhibhūyamānacetā nivāritaḥ śokānuvṛtter bhagavatā

alam ānanda mā śoca

ityādi |

(iv) Or the elder noble Ānanda, when his mind was overcome with grief because he thought that the Tathāgata was about to reach complete Nirvāṇa, was steered away from dwelling on grief by the Lord [with the words] beginning with:

Enough, Ānanda, do not grieve …92

tathā tattannaimittikaśokaśalyoddharaṇārthaṃ sattvānāṃ parānukampakena bhagavatā pañcālambhanīyāni deśitāni yāni pradarśayatā sthavirāryanāradena muṇḍarājo bhāryānaimittike śokapaṅke ’vasīdann uddhṛtaḥ | yathoktam |

pañcemāni mahārāja alambhanīyāni

iti sūtram uktvā vācyam |

(v) Or again, the Lord, who took pity on others93 taught the Five Unobtainables for sentient beings to pluck out the arrows of grief caused by one thing or another. Explaining these five, the elder noble Nārada rescued king Muṇḍa, who was sinking into the swamp of grief caused by the death of his wife. As it was taught:

Great king, these Five Unobtainables …

and after having recited [the rest of] the sūtra,94 one should say:

vineyacitteṣv iti śokavahnim
udīryamāṇaṃ kuvitarkavātaiḥ |
nopekṣate sma pravaro munīnāṃ
vācāmbubhis taṃ śamayāṃ babhūva ‖ [40]

Thus did the best of sages not ignore the fire of grief in the minds of followers fanned by the winds of wrong reasoning; he extinguished it with the water of his words. [40]

vivardhamānaṃ hṛdayeṣv anarthaṃ
kathaṃ hy upekṣeta muniḥ pareṣām |
sattveṣu putreṣv iva yasya nityaṃ
paro hitādhyāśayasaṃniveśaḥ ‖ [41]

For how could the Sage ignore misfortune growing in the hearts of others, when his supreme intention to benefit sentient beings as if they were his sons is constant? [41]

naivānujajñe munisattamaś ca
yasyānuvṛttiṃ sa mahākṛpāluḥ |
prājñas tam abhyāpatitaṃ ka eva
śokaṃ manonirviṣayaṃ na kuryāt ‖ [42]

And since the Chief of Sages, he of great compassion, did not endorse dwelling on grief, what kind of wise man would not put it out of his mind95 once it has assailed him? [42]

kaḥ punas tadupāya ity ucyate |

But what is the method for that? We explain:

vijñāya niṣyandam imaṃ priyasya
tatrānurāgaṃ na samādadhīta |
jagatpravṛtter ati96cañcalatva-
svabhāvadoṣaṃ samavekṣamāṇaḥ ‖ [43]

Knowing the [inevitable natural] outcome of something dear (i.e., that it shall pass), one should not become attached to it, realising full well that the fate (/doings/matters) of the world bear the inherent defect of being extremely fickle. [43]

evaṃ hy uktaṃ bhagavatā |

ye [52v] keci śokā paridevitaṃ vā |

iti gāthādvayam |

priyāto jāyate duḥkham |

iti gāthātrayam | tathā |

yasya grāmaṇi cattāri priyāṇi cattāri tasya duḥkhāni |

For this is what the Lord taught: [here recite] the two stanzas beginning with

Whatever grieving cries and lamentations …97

[and/or] the three stanzas beginning with

From attachment arises suffering …98


O chieftain! He who has four attachments has four kinds of suffering …99

yathā coktam |

asitapītakhāyitasāyitasseso nāgila niṣyando100 ya idaṃ uccāraprasrāvo iṣṭassa kāṃtassa |

Moreover, as it was taught:

“Nāgila, the outcome of something preferred and loved when eaten, drunk, consumed, and tasted is but faeces and urine …”101

tasmād ucyate |

Hence it is said:

śokāyāsaviṣādadainyavirasaṃ yad viprayoge priyaṃ
tasmād ātmavatāṃ tad apriyam atas tadvarjanaṃ ca priyam |
bālānāṃ tu pataṅgalolamanasām āsvādamātrekṣiṇāṃ
tadvad vipriyajātam apy upaharan naivāpriyaṃ vipriyam ‖ [44]

Since [something or someone] beloved at the time of separation becomes insipid (/painful) with grief, weariness, depression, and affliction, for the self-possessed it is not beloved, and so forsaking it is what is beloved. Conversely, for the immature, whose minds move hither and thither like moths, who heed nothing but relishing [momentary pleasures], even if in the meanwhile they collect a heap of unpleasantness (/grief), no unpleasant thing (i.e., grief etc.) is not loved. [44]

api ca | tad evaṃ priyanidānaṃ śokādiduḥkham avetya na tatra snehaprasaṅgam anubhramet |

Moreover: so, having thus understood that the suffering of grief and so forth is rooted in [things and beings] loved, one should not erroneously become attached to love.

api ca |

muhūrtaramyeṣu calātmakatvād
analpaduḥkheṣu viyogakāle |
ko nāma kurvīta manaḥprasaṅgaṃ
svapnopameṣu priyasaṃgameṣu ‖ [45]

Who could possibly attach his mind to meetings with loved ones, [fleeting] like a dream, when they, being transient, can be enjoyed but for a moment, and cause much suffering at the time of separation? [45]102

yathoktaṃ paramarṣiṇā |

supinena yathāpi saṅgatam

iti gāthādvayam |

As the Supreme Sage taught:

Whatever he met with in a dream …

[and here one should recite the rest of] the two stanzas.103

yaś ca nāma pratīkāro
na bhūto na bhaviṣyati |
yasyām āpadi kas tatra
tam arhaty anuvartitum ‖ [46]

Now, who could possibly dwell on something (i.e., grief) that in the same kind of calamity never was nor will ever be an antidote? [46]

tad dhairyam ālambya jahīhi śokaṃ
mārgo na khalv eṣa bhavadvidhānām |
parīkṣakasyā104tmavataḥ satas te
girer ivādhairyam ayuktarūpam ‖ [47]

So, take to fortitude and abandon grief! Truly, this is not the path for people like yourself. Lack of fortitude does not befit you, a discerning, self-possessed, good man, any more than it would a mountain.105 [47]

jātipravṛttasya ca tasya tasya |
uvāca yo niḥsaraṇāya dharmaṃ
taṃ śokanāśāya jinaṃ smara tvam ‖ [48]

In order to remove grief, call to mind the Victor, who taught the Doctrine to escape from both this heap of sorrow and whatever other kinds [of sorrow] that follow [a man] from birth! [48]

yathoktam |

iti pi so bhagavā |

As it was taught:

Thus indeed is the Lord …106

iti pramodaṃ guṇasaṃsmṛtir muneḥ
karoti puṇyocchrayasiddhikāraṇam |
atas tayā śokatamo vyudasyate
sahasraraśmiprabhayā yathā tamaḥ ‖ [49]

Calling to mind thus the virtues of the Sage brings joy, the cause to accomplish the growth of merit. Thus, by that calling to mind the gloom of grief is dispelled, just as darkness by the light of the Thousand-rayed [Sun]. [49]

dinātyaye ca pravijṛmbhate punar
divākarasya prabhayā hataṃ tamaḥ |
muner guṇānusmṛtibhāvanoddhṛtaṃ107
na jāyate śokatamaḥ punaḥ punaḥ ‖ [50]

However, when the day slips away, the darkness that had been dispelled by the light of the Sun appears once again. But the gloom of grief removed by cultivating the recollection of the Sage’s virtues never returns. [50]

yathoktam |

cha imā bhikkhave anussatīyo |

As it was taught:

“Oh monks! There are six Recollections …”108

tasmāt smṛtiṃ jinaguṇeṣu niveśya saumya
śokaṃ jahīhi vipulaśramaduḥkhamūlam |
snehāt samānasukhaduḥkham avekṣamāṇo
bhaktaṃ janaṃ svaja[53r]nam eva suhṛjjanaṃ ca ‖ [51]

Friend! Become mindful of the virtues of the Victor and abandon grief, the root of much toil and suffering, being considerate of people devoted to you, who share both [your] pleasure and [your] pain because of [their] love [for you]: your kinsfolk and friends!109 [51]

vijṛmbhamāṇo hi yathā divākare
karoti rāhur jagad ākulākulam |
cidāśrayaṃ110 śokatamas tathā janaṃ
yato na tan marṣayituṃ tvam arhasi ‖ [52]

For just as Rāhu expanding on [the orb of] the Sun [as if devouring it] makes the world overcome with panic, so does the gloom of grief festering in the mind; thus you would do well not to tolerate it. [52]

vahnir yathā bhavanamūrdhani vardhamāno
vyādhir yathaiva ca śarīram abhiprapannaḥ |
āśīviṣaś ca bhavane samupekṣyamāṇaḥ
śokas tathā manasi nāyam ato ’nuvartyaḥ ‖ [53]

Like fire spreading on top of one’s house, like a disease that has seized one’s body, like a venomous snake inside the house unnoticed—such is grief in the mind. Hence one should not dwell on it. [53]

apārthakaś ceti na taṃ bhajed budhaś111
ciraṃ ruditvāpi hi ko guṇo bhavet |
jagatsvabhāvaṃ vigaṇayya cedṛśaṃ
vimokṣamārgonmukhamānaso bhavet ‖ [54]

Moreover, it is of no use, so a wise man should not entertain it. For even if one sobs for long, what could be the benefit? After having reckoned with the nature of the world being thus, one should turn the mind to the path of liberation. [54]

yathoktam |

ekāyanaḥ pracarcyaḥ |

As it was taught:

The One Way should be studied intensively112.”113

Appendix 1: List of Metres Employed in ch. 11

Note: the metres in bold occur only in this chapter.

  • anuṣṭubh: 1, 2 (pāda a = bha-vipulā), 3, 22, 37, 46

  • aparavaktra/vaitālīya: 4

  • āryā: 30

  • indravajrā: 34, 42

  • upajāti (indravajrā+upendravajrā): 5–8, 10, 13, 18–20, 23–25, 38–41, 43, 45, 47, 48

  • upendravajrā: 35

  • daṇḍaka: 31

  • pramitākṣarā: 9, 15

  • mandākrāntā: 32

  • mālabhāriṇī: 29

  • vasantatilakā: 51, 53

  • vaṃśasthavila: 12, 17, 21, 26–28, 33, 36, 49, 50, 52, 54

  • viyoginī (a.k.a vaitālīya/sundarī): 14

  • śārdūlavikrīḍita: 44

  • śālinī: 16

  • siṃhapuccha: 11

Appendix 2: Location of Folios in the Tucci Archive


= BBB090001.jpg folio 4


= CCC040001.jpg folio 12


= BBB090001.jpg folio 5


= CCC040001.jpg folio 13


= BBB090001.jpg folio 6


= CCC040001.jpg folio 14


= BBB090001.jpg folio 7


= CCC040001.jpg folio 15


= BBB090001.jpg folio 8


My thanks first and foremost to Harunaga Isaacson for his illuminating comments and emendations. I am very grateful to Ralph H. Craig III, Csaba Dezső, Dragomir Dimitrov, Rafal Felbur, Csilla Gábor, Xiaoqiang Meng, Richard Salomon, Jonathan Silk, and Vincent Tournier for the many ways in which they kindly helped me. All remaining errors are mine alone. This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 program (Advanced Grant agreement No 741884).


This study is dedicated to the memory of Stefano Zacchetti (1968–2020), scholar, humanist, mentor, teacher, and friend. I must confess that I have learnt nothing from the sermons of our anonymous homiletician: the untimely death of our dear friend still fills me with infinite sadness and I find little solace in the treasured memories of the times spent in his company. The fact that he would have had insightful comments on this study is the very least of our losses, but for me it is a missed opportunity I will always regret.


A short history of the monastery and an evaluation of its importance is provided by Tucci (1949: 201–204), and more recently by Heimbel (2013: 209–213). Spos khang was founded in 1213 ce by Byang chub dpal bzang po, a disciple of the famous Kashmiri master, Śākyaśrībhadra (for whom see Jackson 1990 and van der Kuijp 1994; the monastery was famous for housing some of his personal effects). The original site was abandoned and the monastery was re-established at its present location (Lat. N 29.133333, Long. E 89.366667).


Sāṅkṛtyāyana 1938: 139 (the passage cited here), 160–162 (a brief codicological note and a somewhat hurried transcription of the incipit, some of the chapter headers, and the explicit). For a more detailed description of these visits, see his Hindi biography-cum-travelogue, Sāṅkṛtyāyana 1994 [1998]: 173–174, 298. While this account is much more colourful and informative, it is also fraught with imprecisions. The initial visit is described very briefly in his scholarly report, see Sāṅkṛtyāyana 1935: 25–26, 28.


Kano 2016: 95, Matsuda 2020a: 28. Also see Jinpa and Lopez 2014: 36–38, although the translation of the passage is problematic.


For a catalogue of the Göttingen collection (in the Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek), see Bandurski 1994; the manuscripts in question are described on pp. 79–80 (Xc 14/42–42a). This set is not in any way better than Tucci’s and in fact it lacks some of the initial folios sides (1v, 2r, 2v, 3r, 4r, and 5r; here and henceforth ‘r’ and ‘v’ are used to abbreviate the recto and verso sides of folia). In a lecture given at Ōtani University in Kyōto, Tucci (1956: 14–15) stated that Sāṅkṛtyāyana was not able take photographs of the Tridaṇḍamālā; I take this to mean that implicitly the same is true for the *Saddharmaparikathā manuscript. How Tucci’s set of negatives ended up being developed once again for Sāṅkṛtyāyana’s collection is still unclear. The mystery is compounded by the fact that in his Hindi account, Sāṅkṛtyāyana claims that there were photographs taken at Spos khang (Sāṅkṛtyāyana 1994 [1998]: 298): खैर, वहाँ से हम 27 तारीख को पोइखङ् पहूँचे और 2 जुलाई तक वहीं रहे । वहाँ की पुस्तकों और चित्रपटों के बहुत-से फोटो लिये । “Anyhow, from there [i.e., Shigatse] we went to Pökhang on the 27th [of June] and stayed there until the 2nd of July. Many photographs were taken of the books and scroll-paintings held there.” A possible explanation is that Tucci was simply misinformed and that Sāṅkṛtyāyana’s negatives were damaged (unfortunately, this seems to have happened fairly often).


For a catalogue of this collection, see Sferra 2008. The plates containing the manuscripts are on the compact disks numbered MT 30 to 32. The material support was 7/11 negatives; the photographs were taken by Felice Boffa-Balaran; see Nalesini 2008: 93–94. I thank Prof. Francesco Sferra for allowing access to his digital scans of the pictures. For a map of where the folios edited here can be found, see Appendix 2.


As already pointed out by Sāṅkṛtyāyana, the manuscript containing the text under scrutiny is one of a pair (or a triad, but the contents of the third bundle do not concern us here). The sibling of our manuscript contains an even longer work called the Tridaṇḍamālā, which is attributed in the colophon to Aśvaghoṣa. After a very brief note by Johnston (1939), in which he dismissed the idea that the Aśvaghoṣa of this text is the same as the poet Aśvaghoṣa (ca. 80–150 ce), it is only very recently that a careful study of this witness has been taken up by Kazunobu Matsuda (2019, 2020a, 2020b, 2021) and Jens-Uwe Hartmann (2020: 376–380, as well as the 8th Prof. Michael Hahn Memorial Lecture, “Doctrine, Poetry, and Ritual: Did Aśvaghoṣa Author the Tridaṇḍamālā?” at the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies, Savitribai Phule Pune University in collaboration with Deshana Institute of Buddhist and Allied Studies, delivered on 12th July 2021). Also see n. 33. The results, to say the least, are outstanding: e.g. so far nearly two entire chapters from the lost latter half of the Buddhacarita have been recovered. While the scribal hand of the *Saddharmaparikathā and that of the Tridaṇḍamālā are not the same, they are very similar. The size of the material support and the layout are also very similar. The foliation is, however, in a different system. Nevertheless, the similarities suggest that the two manuscripts were products of the same scriptorium, in spite of the fact that the sectarian backgrounds of the two texts seem to differ: the Tridaṇḍamālā is clearly a Sarvāstivāda compilation, whereas the *Saddharmaparikathā is possibly a Saṃmatīya/Saṃmitīya work (see below). Moreover, at least five verses are transmitted in both texts. Unfortunately, this manuscript too seems to have fallen prey to the Cultural Revolution, during which Spos khang monastery was severely damaged. Neither of the two titles can be found in the catalogues compiled by Chinese scholars (Luo Zhao, Wang Sen, as well as some anonymous hand-lists).


See Delhey 2015.


If the manuscript did indeed belong to Dīpaṃkaraśrījñāna/*Adhīśa/*Atīśa/*Atiśa, there is a tantalising possibility that some of the corrections are in the famous Bengali master’s hand.


I borrow this term (and several others) from the tradition of Christian homiletics: the word dispositio is known as τάξις in Greek rhetorics. I benefitted greatly from the “Silva Rhetoricae” project’s excellent resource for homiletical terms, which can be found here:


This highly interesting chapter would of course merit a separate study, but here I shall limit myself to a note on a single verse-pair because of its importance for the history of the genre. The third and fourth stanzas (Ms 1v1–2) read as follows:

kāmaṃ lakṣaṇataḥ proktaṃ pūrvācāryair ayaṃ vidhiḥ |

tāvatā tu na sarvaḥ syāt kartuṃ parikathāṃ prabhuḥ ‖

yat tv (em., yatv Ms) adhītyaiva śaktaḥ syāt pariṣac(em., parṣac° Ms)cittakalyatām |

samādhātum akṛcchreṇa tan mayā racayiṣyate ‖

“Granted, this method has already been taught by previous masters (/the venerable master of yore) via their short indications (lakṣaṇataḥ); however, not everyone will become able to deliver sermons by only that much. I, on the other hand, shall compose such [a treatise], after the study of which one will immediately and with little effort become able to cause a mental receptiveness (cittakalyatā) in the audience.”

It seems that the entire pre-history of the homiletical genre hinges on our interpretation of the word lakṣaṇataḥ. There is a strong possibility that what our author means to convey by this word are not ‘definitions’, but the short introductory or concluding passages framing Āryaśūra’s Jātakamālā, a work that, as will be demonstrated below here, was a fundamental influence. Meiland (2009: xxii–xxiii) refers to these as ‘maxims’ and ‘epilogues’. If this interpretation is correct, it would mean that the author is consciously developing a new genre (to wit, sample homilies) which was hitherto present only rudimentarily in his intellectual world. A second problem is how to understand pūrvācāryair: it might be an actual plural or a plural of respect (possibly for Āryaśūra).


Given the importance of the stūpa-cult in the period, this passage is suspiciously short. I do not have a convincing explanation for this brevity, save perhaps that the author might have thought of the topic as sufficiently developed elsewhere (e.g. in the Prasenajitparipṛcchā, see Vinītā 2010, 207–258) and therefore something that he should not dwell upon for too long. Conversely, the particular attention to frescoes in the previous chapter is noteworthy. Chapter 6 also alludes to removing the darkness in a caityagṛha by lighting lamps. It is tempting therefore to think that the author was active in an environment where housed icons, perhaps in cave-shrines, were in abundance. Sites such as Ajanta immediately spring to mind.


The passage in question says (Ms 22v3): tac chāstuḥ pratipūjanād iti pūrvavad vācyam |[Then,] one should recite as before [the passage] beginning with ‘Therefore, by worshipping the Teacher’.” No such passage can be found in the text before this point.


For what may be gathered from such a statistical analysis of metres, see Hahn 1983a. Ch. 11 is, from a metrical viewpoint, somewhat unusual: as many as six metrical patterns out of the sixteen employed here are used only in this chapter and nowhere else in the text. I am not sure about the implications of this observation. Could it mean that we are dealing with a different author or a co-author? Are these verses silent quotations from a writer with a penchant for rarer metrical patterns?


I use the word ‘canon’ with the understanding that typologically speaking, the authoritative body of scripture that the author cites reveals a ‘practical’, not a ‘formal’ canon. For this distinction, see Blackburn 1999, Silk 2015: 13–15.


For the latest edition, see Schneider 2014. A new manuscript has been found recently which attributes the work to one Varāhasvāmin. I thank Prof. Schneider for this information (e-mail, May 2019).


Referenced jātakas of this collection are nos. 1 (Vyāghrī), 2 (Śibi), 3 (Kulmāṣapiṇḍī), 4 (Śreṣṭhi), 5 (Aviṣahyaśreṣṭhi), 6 (Śaśa), 8 (Maitrībala), 11 (Śakra), 12 (Brāhmaṇa), 13 (Śibi with Unmādayantī), 14 (Supāraga), 15 (Matsya), 16 (Vartakāpotaka), 17 (Kumbha), 20 (Śreṣṭhi), 23 (Mahābodhi), 24/27 (Mahākapi), 25 (Śarabha), 26 (Ruru), 30 (Hasti), 32 (Ayogṛha), and 33 (Mahiṣa). Our author was familiar with other jātaka collections too, since some of his references cannot be traced in Āryaśūra.

That textus passages, their explanations, and jātaka recitations were combined in sermons is also shown by Haribhaṭṭa in an illuminating passage in his prologue (JātakamālāH, p. 42):

dhārmakathiko hy ārṣasūtram anuvarṇya paścād bodhisattvajātakānuvarṇanayā citrabhavanam iva pradīpaprabhayā sutarām uddyotayati śrotṛjanasya ca manasy adhikāṃ prītim utpādayatīti bhagavatas traidhātukopapannānāṃ sattvānāṃ vyasanaparamparāpanodāya samutpāditamahāpraṇidheś caritam anuvarṇyamānam apāstastyānamiddhadoṣair avahitamanobhiḥ śrotṛbhir amṛtam iva pipāsubhir anekasaṃsāraduḥkhakṣayāya samāsvādayitavyam iti ‖

Tr. by Khoroche (2017: 10):

“A preacher first expounds a saying of the Buddha then, as if lighting up a picture gallery with a lamp, illuminates it further by recounting a jātaka of the Bodhisattva, and thereby fills the minds of his audience with enormous joy. With this in view, the audience should shake off sloth and torpor, pay attention and, as though with a thirst for nectar, relish the recital of a deed of the Lord Buddha, who made the momentous vow to banish the unending ills suffered by beings born in the three states of existence, so that the misery of countless rebirths should cease.”


See Steiner 2019.


Cf. however the objection voiced in Mirashi 1961 regarding the *Subhāṣitaratnakaraṇḍakakathā, which in light of this text might gain new strength. See also Yamasaki 2018, who attempts to study the problem from a stylistic point of view. I am not of course suggesting that the work per se is by Āryaśūra after all, rather that it contains more verses of this author than was previously thought.


For the latest edition, see Saito 2005.


See Horiuchi 2019. The titles of parables I could identify are no. 22 (Paṇadvaya), 34 (Āśīviṣa), and 57 (Vyāghrabhīṣitaka). The chapter numbers are according to Huber 1908 (where, in spite of its title, the underlying Chinese text, Taishō no. 201, is a translation of this work and not Aśvaghoṣa’s Sūtrālaṃkāra). For a partial Tibetan translation, see Hahn 1982. It is possible that our author was familiar with other collections of parables; see for example the untraced ‘Parable of the Door and the Wall’ cited at the end of the first disposition in ch. 11.


These two appear in a verse listing some grammatically sanctioned alternatives, thus—at least for our author—proving that Sanskrit morphology is not absolute. The identity of the second author remains unclear; a possible alternative is Śaunaka, the putative author of the Ṛgvedaprātiśākhya.


The passage in question claims that among addictive vices (vyasana) stemming from pleasure—normally hunting, dice, women, and drink—drink is the worst (vyasaneṣu pānam adhikam), whereas Kauṭilya argues that the worst of all is dice; cf. Olivelle 2013: 336–339.


The Pāśupatas are not named so, but their teaching is referred to in a mocking verse (st. 7.14, Ms 37r2–3) as śāstraṃ pañcārtham.


See Kafle 2013. If I am correct in positing the age of the text, this might be one of the very earliest circumstantially datable references to this famous myth meant to show Śiva’s superiority over Brahmā and Viṣṇu: the central element is that he displays his infinite liṅga while the other two gods vie with each other in vain to find either of the two ends. Our author concludes (st. 7.8, Ms 36v5):

rudrasya śaktipravidarśanārthaṃ sa ced vidhiḥ kiṃ na bhuje kṛto ’sau |

yuktaṃ (em., yuktaḥ Ms) sapaṃ darśayituṃ harasya tayor dvayoś cāpy ubhato ’nusartum ‖

“If this is a way to demonstrate the power of Rudra, then why was it not done with regard to his arm? How can it be proper for Hara to display his penis and for the other two to proceed on either side?”


E.g. after a masterful exordium praising the virtues of the audience, the preacher is supposed to say (Ms 2r1–2):

tad evaṃguṇāṃ śreyo’rtham abhigatāṃ parṣadaṃ ko nāma dharmātitheyena na pratipūjayet |

“Well then, what kind of person would not repay the honour to an audience of such virtues, which has gathered here desiring the summum bonum, by the hospitality of the Law?”

Readers unfamiliar with rhetorical terminology might find the following definition of exordium useful (Holmes 1755: 16; I retain the original formatting): “The Exordium, or Beginning of an Oration, is that in which we are to give our Audience some Intimation of our Subject, and from the Nature of it to prepare their Minds to Benevolence and Attention. In which Part the Speaker ought to be clear, modest, and not too prolix.”


We can perhaps extrapolate the circumstances from sources such as the Ratnarāśisūtra (section IV.6 in Silk’s numeration, for the reference see below). This passage is (in part) quoted thus in the Śikṣāsamuccaya (Cambridge MS Add.1478, 33r3–4; Bendall 1902: 56, who does not seem to mention the gloss):

ye dhārmakathikā bhikṣavo bhaviṣyanti, teṣāṃ pratīhāradharmatā kartavyā yāvad dhārmaśravaṇikāś codyojayitavyāḥ, parṣanmaṇḍalaṃ parisaṃsthāpayitavyaḥ, sāṃkathyamaṇḍalaṃ (gloss: anyonyakathānivāraṇāt) viśodhayitavyaṃ yāvan sādhukārabahulena cāsya bhavitavyam.

The tr. in Bendall and Rouse (1922: 56–57) is somewhat puzzling:

“For the monks who are preachers he [scil. ‘the serving monk’] must do duty as doorkeeper; and until the congregation has to be dismissed, the assembly-room must be kept in order. In a connected discourse the room must be kept clear until there is the abundant applause which is his due.”

Amongst other mistakes, the translators did not consult the text cited and took the yāvats (which I have de-italicised above) as part of the main text and not as meta-text denoting elided passages. For the entire passage of the sūtra, see Silk 1994: I.328–329 for the translation, II.441–442 for the Tibetan text (both currently being revised, I shall therefore not discuss the philological problems here):

“Now, Kāśyapa, the superintending monk shall not assign tasks to those who are reciters of the Teaching. He shall cause them to enter villages, towns, markets, districts and royal metropolises and preach the Teaching. He shall inspire the audience. He shall purify an assembly area. He shall arrange an assembly area for the elegant preaching of the Teaching. The superintending monk shall expel those monks who do injury to a monk who is a preacher of the Teaching. The superintending monk shall always greet the monk who is a preacher of the Teaching, and shall congratulate him generously.”

Thus, the administrative duties, such as arranging for an invitation, preparing the venue, gathering the audience, keeping them in check, and occasionally animating the proceedings was relegated to the superintending/steward/manciple monk (vaiyāpṛtyakara). It is reasonable to assume that this was the case for our author too.


Some circumstantial evidence for this is as follows:

  1. The unreferenced quotations from the Dharmapada linguistically stand closest to the Patna/Saindhava version (several instances, including some in the chapter edited here). For the hypothesis that this was the Dharmapada of the Sāṃmitīyas/Saṃmatīyas, see Dimitrov 2020.

  2. Some of the scribal/phonological/morphological features suggesting a Saindhavī background (cf. Dimitrov 2020: 117–146, 183–184) are:

    1. consonant clusters with -r-: kr, gr, tr, pr, br, etc. (however, there are no signs of -ttr- and -ggr-);

    2. the use of all three sibilants (ś, , s) and their geminates: e.g. aśśamedho (Ms 15r5), vaśśaśataṃ (Ms 15v1), sappuruṣā (Ms 24r5), upoṣadhassa (Ms 25r2), puruṣassa (Ms 33r1);

    3. the spelling ṃñ (however, not for Skt. -, but for -ny-): maṃñasi (Ms 15v3, possibly 24v2, 31r1);

    4. the gerund ñāttā (Ms 29v3);

    5. the nominative singular bhikkhū (Ms 21v1, 21v1–2).

  3. The fact that the future buddha is called Ajita and not Maitreya (st. 3.111, Ms 19v1); cf. Karashima 2018.

  4. Mention of a buddha of yore by the name Mahāśākyamuni (Ms 36r1–2), perhaps as a way of saying ‘the previous Śākyamuni’; cf. Skilling 2006: 104–106.


This includes what some people might anachronistically call the Hīnayāna/Mahāyāna divide, too. The author mentions donors who might be ‘holders of the bodhisattva vow’ (bodhisattvapratijñā) at least thrice. Ms 10r4–5: bodhisattvapratijñe tu dāyake sarvajñatāṃ prāpnuhīti yojyam | “In the case of a donor who is a holder of the bodhisattva vow, one should add [to the benediction]: ‘May your obtain omniscience!’ ”; 11v2: bodhisattvapratijñe tu dātari sarvajñatāṃ prāpnuhīti yojyam | (ditto); 17r4: bodhisattvapratijño dānapatir evaṃ saṃpraharṣayitavyaḥ | “A sponsor who is a holder of the bodhisattva vow should be gladdened as follows.”


Ms 48v2–3:

yadi kaścid avirādhanakṣamaḥ parṣatpradhāna īśvaro rājā vā svaśaktikhyātikāmo brūyād ayam apaśabda iti tasmin pūrvam eva vācyam | anaparādhavijayaśrīr atrabhavataḥ | kaścin nāma parṣadi tvadvidhena viduṣā saha vivadan vidvān ity ucyata iti nirvivādā vayaṃ bhavatā |

“Should the chief [guest] of the assembly, a potentate, or a king—somebody who should not be offended—out of a desire to display his own power say ‘This [statement of yours] is a [linguistic] barbarism!’, he should be answered from the very outset [as follows]: ‘Thy Fortune of victory is without blemish! Who in this assembly could possibly called a scholar, should they enter into a debate with a learned man such as yourself? Thus we are unable to enter into a debate with you, sire!’ ”

Note the deferential tone of the answer. In other words, the preacher is advised not to speak truth to power but to retreat with flattery.


For a discussion of these two terms, see Drewes 2006: 218–269 and Drewes 2011.


The emphasis is on ‘major’. There are of course several short works in the Tibetan Canon with °parikathā in the title and it can be reasonably assumed that they were used for preaching; see for example Dietz 2000, a study of the *Kaliyugaparikathā attributed to Mātṛceṭa. In light of the present work, I am now more than tempted to consider the *Subhāṣitaratnakaraṇḍakakathā as a collection of pericope verses, which were elaborated upon according to the occasion (for how such verses were employed, see st. 23 below). The idea that this collection was used by preachers has already been voiced, see Banerjee 1954: 86: “It was composed particularly for the use of monk preachers for inspiring in the minds of the laity a faith [sic] in Buddhism.”


There are some short passages in dharmaśāstra literature and purāṇas that supply examples of how such post-mortem sermons may have sounded in the Brahmanical world; see Kane 1953: 236–237. In Kane’s examples, both the Yājñavalkyasmṛti and the Viṣṇudharmottara suggest that the sermon was not delivered by a religious specialist but by elders or wise men of the family. Yājñavalkya’s agent is not clear, but the Mitākṣarā commentary says that they are the kulavṛddhāḥ; for the latter, see 2.78.1ab: budhair āśvasanīyāś ca bāndhavair mṛtabāndhavāḥ | “The relatives of the deceased are to be comforted by wise kinsmen.” For a kāvya example, see Raghuvaṃśa 8.83–90, an epistle-style message sent by Vasiṣṭha to king Aja upon the loss of his beloved queen. For elegantly expressed Jaina views with many conceptual parallels with our text, see e.g. ch. 29 of the Subhāṣitaratnasaṃdoha (pp. 85–87, stt. 712–739) of the Digambara Amigati (ca. 10th century).


See the forthcoming article “The Benefit of Cooperation: Recovering the Śokavinodana ascribed to Aśvaghoṣa” by Jens-Uwe Hartmann, Kazunobu Matsuda, and Péter-Dániel Szántó.


Cf. Viṣṇudharmottara 2.78.17cd: nopakuryān naraḥ śocan pretasyātmana eva ca ‖ “A grieving man will be of no help either to the departed one or to himself.”


Cf. 31d, 51cd below.


vilīyate] em., valīyate Ms.


The reading of this pāda is highly uncertain as the photograph is out of focus on this side of the folio.


The translation is tentative.


I understand both occurrences of katham in the sense of katham api.


cittānugavyāhṛtāni] diag. conj. (Szántó and Isaacson), cintānuguṇavyāpṛtāni Ms.


°bhūṣāṇi] conj., °bhūṣaṇāni Ms.


Judging by the punctuation (a daṇḍa after mukhāni and a single daṇḍa at the end), the scribe did not recognise this string as verse. Neither did I for some time, until I realised that with two interventions, the passage can be made to fit a somewhat rare metrical pattern (siṃhapuccha). The first conjecture remains diagnostic.


°ābhyupapattum] em., °ābhyupapatyum Ms.


°pramāthī] em., °pramāthi° Ms.


kṣayiṇas] em., kṣapiṇas Ms.


tṛṣṇāṃ] em. (Isaacson), tṛṣṇā Ms.


The irregular deśakālaḥ is poetically sanctioned, cf. Buddhacarita 3.62b.


Cf. Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasuttanta (DN 22, ii.290,7–10; also MN 10, i.55,31–56,3): Ekāyano ayaṃ bhikkhave maggo sattānaṃ visuddhiyā soka-pariddavānaṃ (var. °paridevānaṃ) samatikkamāya dukkha-domanassānaṃ atthagamāya ñāyassa adhigamāya nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya, yadidaṃ cattāro satipaṭṭhānā. There is a possibility that the textus is corrupt; perhaps it is to be emended to ekāyano maggo or ekāyano ayaṃ? For a discussion on the meaning of the term ekāyana, see Sujato 2012: 208–218. Also cf. with the end of the third disposition.


Untraced. I could not find this title among Kumāralāta’s parables.


Cf. with the famous stanza of the Bodhicaryāvatāra 1.4 (which, incidentally, on at least one occasion found its way into non-Buddhist poetic anthologies, see Subhāṣitāvali 3313, attributed to a bodhisattva/the Bodhisattva):

kṣaṇasaṃpad iyaṃ sudurlabhā pratilabdhā puruṣārthasādhanī |

yadi nātra vicintyate hitaṃ punar apy eṣa samāgamaḥ kutaḥ ‖

Tr. by La Vallée Poussin (1907: 2 [439]):

“Combien difficile à obtenir cet état béni qui réunit toutes les conditions du bonheur temporel et de la délivrance! Si l’homme n’en profite pas pour réfléchir au salut, c’en est fair pour bien longtemps de pareille rencontre.”


A possible alternative is to understand dharmayaśaḥ as a dvandva compound, depending on how we interpret 28c. Also cf. st. 8 above.


The play on artha/anartha is lost in translation.


vilupyamānasmṛter] em., vilupyamānaḥ smṛter Ms.


This is very likely an allusion to passages such as the famous first two verses of the Dharmapada.


āpyāyamānaḥ] st., āpyāyyamānaḥ Ms.


See n. 51.


samāḥ] em. (Isaacson), samā Ms.


That mlecchas are one of the groups covered by the ādi here can be inferred from st. 2.19 (Ms 3r4):

mleccheṣv api paṭuvyaktir arthakāmasamudyamaḥ |

lakṣaṇaṃ tv idam āryāṇāṃ yeyaṃ dharmānuvartitā ‖

“Even among the barbarians we find skilful exertion for wealth and pleasure, but the mark of noble ones/Aryans is this: following the Law.”

Also see 29c just below, provided that the emendation holds. Cf. Dante, Inferno 26.117–119 (ed. Giorgio Petrocchi, La commedia secondo l’antica vulgata, Milano 1966–1967):

Considerate la vostra semenza:

fatti non foste a viver come bruti,

ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.

I thank Vincent Tournier for pointing out this conceptual parallel, incidentally a favourite passage of S.Z.


Cf. Ms 26r5–26v1: saha pāṃsukrīḍitebhyo ’pi ca prājñebhyaḥ snehāvabaddhahṛdayebhyo mitrebhya upakārasamarthebhyaḥ śīlam eva viśiṣyate, sukhakaratvād iha parataś ca | “Because it provides comfort both here and in the hereafter, morality is indeed superior to friends, even ones with whom one played in the dust [during early childhood], wise ones, whose hearts are loving, and are able to assist [in all matters].”


nirṇuda] corr., nirnuda Ms.


asadharma] em., asaddharma Ms (unmetrical).


This is perhaps a reference to Yājñavalkyasmṛti 3.11:

śleṣmāśru (ed. prints śleṣmāśru°) bāndhavaiḥ muktaṃ preto bhuṅkte yato ’vaśaḥ |

ato na roditavyaṃ hi kriyāḥ kāryāḥ svaśaktitaḥ ‖

“Since the departed powerlessly swallows the mucus and tears emitted by [the grieving] relatives, there should be no wailing [for the dead]; instead, the [funerary] rites should be performed according to means.”

Cf. Raghuvaṃśa 8.86:

apaśokamanāḥ kuṭumbinīm anugṛhṇīṣva nivāpadattibhiḥ |

svajanāsru kilātisantataṃ dahati pretam iti pracakṣate ‖

“[Instead,] show favour to your [departed] wife by bestowing the mortuary offerings with a mind that has cast grief aside. For they (i.e., dharmaśāstra experts) say that the incessant stream of kinsfolk’s tears pains (lit., burns) the departed.”

Both Vallabha and Mallinātha cite the Yājñavalkya verse in their commentaries.


It is unlikely that here the āpaddharmas are meant, although the author is aware of them (e.g. st. 7.54, Ms 39v5–40r1; st. 7.56, Ms 40r1–2). The most likely referent of vidhi is the complex set of rules prescribed for impurity following death in the family (āśauca) and the śrāddha rites. For these, see Kane 1953: 179–551.


vetty] em., vety Ms.


A possible conjecture might be na vojāyate (=vā+ojāyate): ‘he does not become eager to [return], subject to’ etc.


eṣa] conj., eva Ms.


Cf. Buddhacarita 9.35:

yathādhvagānām iha saṃgatānāṃ kāle viyogo niyataḥ prajānām |

Tr. by Johnston (1936: 130):

“The separation of creatures who have come together in this world, as of wayfarers, is inevitable in the course of time. What wise man then would cherish grief, when forsaken by those who are only his kindred in name?”

Cf. Hitopadeśa st. 4.75 (= Sūktiratnahāra st. 197.5, attributed to the Bṛhatkathā):

yathā hi pathikaḥ kaścic chāyām āśritya tiṣṭhati (in the anthology: viśramet) |

viśramya ca punar gacchet tadvad bhūtasamāgamaḥ ‖

Tr. by Törzsök (2007: 500–501):

“Just as a traveler seeks shelter under a tree, stays in its shade to have some rest and then leaves it again, so too does one living being encounter another.”


Note that √snih should normally attract locatives (or genitives), not accusatives; while it is tempting to emend to °dagdhe jane, I have decided to keep the original reading, perhaps a true witness of the author’s usage.


Note the unusual construction of ko guṇaḥ with an infinitive, not an instrumental.


The word pratiṣṭhi is quite rare if not idiosyncratic and therefore the interpretation is somewhat uncertain.


There are several candidates for the source of the textus, e.g. an equivalent of the Puññakiriyavatthusutta (It 60, 51–52; AN 8.36, iv.241–243). Also cf. Saṅgītisuttanta (DN 33, iii.218,5–7): Tīṇi puñña-kiriya-vatthūni. Dāna-mayaṃ puñña-kiriya-vatthu, sīla-mayaṃ puñña-kiriya-vatthu, bhāvanā-mayaṃ puñña-kiriya-vatthu.


In the present work, this stanza is the pericope verse of the fifth option for sermons on charity, listing eleven karmic rewards (st. 3.57, Ms 14r2):

ājñādīptir bhogasaṃpat prakṛṣṭā rūpaudāryaṃ varṇamādhuryam ojaḥ |

vāk saubhāgyaṃ kāntir ārogyam āyus tattaddānād iṣṭam iṣṭaṃ phalaṃ ca ‖

“By [practising] various kinds of charity [one gains]: (i) lustre of authority, (ii) most excellent abundance of enjoyments, (iii) noble beauty, (iv) exquisite looks, (v) strength, (vi) eloquence, (vii) welfare, (viii) handsomeness, (ix) health, (x) long life, and (xi) all that he desires.”

The same stanza is found in the *Subhāṣitaratnakaraṇḍakakathā attributed to Āryaśūra (st. 22) and as st. 4.2 in the Dvāviṃśatyavadānakathā. (For the relationship between these two works, see Formigatti 2016: 120–123.) In light of our anonymous author’s elaboration of this verse, we can possibly improve Hahn’s superior edition (1983b: 333) in two places: tattaddānād is a compound, whereas vāksaubhāgyaṃ is not. Here vāk is glossed with ‘eloquence’ (pratibhā/pratibhāna) and saubhāgya with ‘welfare’ (bhāgya, saubhāgyalakṣmī).


In the present work, this is the beginning of a pair of stanzas (5.32–33, Ms 24v1–2) listing fourteen items to which morality is superior:

kulād vittād alaṃkārād aiśvaryād rūpasaṃpadaḥ |

vilepanebhyo hlādibhyaḥ sthānād yānāt tathāyuṣaḥ ‖

vaśīkaraṇamantrebhyaḥ svajanān mitrasaṃśrayāt |

laukikībhyaś ca rakṣābhyaḥ śīlaṃ dūraṃ viśiṣyate ‖

“Morality is far superior to: (i) family lineage, (ii) wealth, (iii) ornaments, (iv) sovereignty, (v) the fortune of beauty, (vi) ointments, (vii) things that bring comfort in heat, (viii) postures/places, (ix) vehicles, (x) lifespan, (xi) subjugating mantras, (xii) kith and kin, (xiii) association with friends, and (xiv) worldly prophylactic magic.”


As far as I can tell, the present work does not deal with the benefits of contemplation; the author must have had some other text/s in mind.


yathoktaṃ] em., yaktoktam Ms.


The Sanskritic spelling duḥkhaṃ is attested in Saṃmatīya-connected MIA sources, e.g. the Go Xoai inscription from Southern Vietnam (Skilling 1999) and the Devni Mori inscription from Gujarat (Tournier, forthcoming); neva is found in this form in another textus, Ms 19v4.


pūrvām eva] Msac, pūrvoktam eva Mspc


pracarcām] st., pracarcam Mspc, pracarccām Msac


Or: “the Four Truths of the Noble One (/Ones)”; cf. Norman 2008.


Untraced. While niraya normally refers to the hells (naraka) only, the subsequent stanza seems to suggest that for the author it meant the three durgatis/apāyas, i.e., the realms of hells, ghosts, and animals.


It is not quite evident which discussion the author refers to here. The intention of the corrector (it is difficult to ascertain whether this was the primary scribe or not) is not entirely clear, as the noun is normally feminine (pracarcā) and the masculine is only extremely rarely attested. I have therefore retained the ante correctionem reading in the constituted text.


See n. 79.


On this arguably untranslatable term, see Acri 2015. Inducing saṃvega is mentioned as one of the aims of delivering sermons in stanza st. 1.10 (Ms 1v3–4):

ataḥ prasādasaṃvegaharṣaṇādiprayojanāḥ |

vakṣye parikathāś citrāḥ śaraṇādisamāśrayāḥ ‖

“I shall therefore teach a variety of sermons which have as their aim calmness (prasāda), enthusiasm (saṃvega), gladdening (harṣaṇa), and so forth, beginning with [the merits of] taking refuge [in Buddhism].”

This is not very far from the stated aims of classical rhetorics and their application in a Christian context. Rhetorical/homiletical guides frequently claim that the three aims were defined by Cicero in De Oratore (although the wording there is slightly different): to teach/instruct (docere), to delight/please (delectare), and to move/persuade (movere); cf. also Holmes 1755: 1.


That is to say, Āryaśūra’s Jātakamālā no. 32.


See 39a below. Also cf. Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra 9.72ab, 20.47c; Abhidharmakośabhāṣya ad 7.30cd; Tattvasaṃgraha 3420.


°pravṛtti°] em. (Isaacson), °pravṛttir Ms.


The matup-ending compound hitādhyāśayavat does not construe smoothly, hence the interpretation is somewhat tentative.


The word °vimarśa° here echoes asamīkṣya in 38c.


Cf. Thī no. 33, stt. 51–53. Her name in Pali is Ubbirī, Jīvā is her daughter. The form cited here is slightly different, having a personal possessive pronoun and missing vanamhi “in the forest” before the verb. The vocative should most likely be corrected to *jīvā. For a list of problems concerning the form and interpretations of this verse, see Masset 2005: 119–120.


Cf. Thī no. 50, stt. 127–132, the only difference is that the Pali has the mora-correct maggaṃ (note, however, that Saṃmatīya-related MIA does not always observe the law of three morae; see Tournier, forthcoming). In the Pali version this set of verses is attributed to Paṭācārā, and is not the one by Vāsiṭṭhī, which is Thī no. 51, stt. 133–138. It is possible that something dropped out in our copy, as the clumsy repetition of putraśoka in the introductory sentence is suspicious. For Vāsiṭṭhī, see Durt 2001.


Cf. Ayyakāsutta (SN III.3.2, i.96,31–97,33): Ayyakā (var. ayyikā) me bhante kālakatā jiṇṇā vuḍḍhā mahallikā, etc. There seems to be a rare(r) variant of the textus here, as the departed lady is usually mentioned as the king’s grandmother. The Chinese parallels and an Inner Asian fragment are listed in Chung 2008: 217. For a Sanskrit fragment from Central Asia, see Hartmann 2017 (especially p. 96, n. 10 for sources attesting the same bifurcation, for which also see Willemen 1999: 8–9 as well as the Chuyao jing, Taishō no. 212 (IV) 621a18 which also has ‘mother’ here). For another version of this sūtra, see Tridaṇḍamālā 84r5–85v1 (here: āryikā). Here, the king regains his composure after calling to mind the Buddha’s word that no being is exempt from death (sarveṣāṃ sattvānāṃ sarveṣāṃ prāṇināṃ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ maraṇāntaṃ jīvitaṃ maraṇaparyavasānam, nāsti jātasyāmaraṇam). The Buddha echoes the general statement (which is likely what our somewhat obscure tasya kramasyānujñānāt means) and then elaborates on it with a long list of beings, beginning with kṣatriyas and up to tathāgatas.


Cf. Mahāparinibbāṇasuttanta (DN 16, ii.144,10): Alaṃ Ānanda mā soci (var. soca) mā paridevi (var. paridevā). etc.


Alternatively, although less likely: “whose compassion is supreme”.


Cf. Nāradasutta (AN 5.50, iii.57–63). The five things which are unobtainable for anyone are: that what is subject to aging (jarā) may not age, and then the same for sickness (vyādhi), death (maraṇa), destruction (kṣaya), loss (nāśana). Towards the end of the text, the sūtra is called the sokasallaharaṇo dhammapariyāyo, which is echoed by the introductory sentence here (tattannaimittikaśokaśalyoddharaṇārthaṃ).


This collocation is quite rare: it is seen only in Āryaśūra’s Pāramitāsamāsa (st. 2.5d) and once in Kālidāsa’s Kumārasaṃbhava (st. 5.38c).


ati°] conj. (Isaacson), iti Ms.


Dharmapada (Patna/Saindhava) 84–85. For the designation Saindhava, see Dimitrov 2020.


Dharmapada (Patna/Saindhava) 72–74.




niṣyando] st., niṣyaṃdo Mspc, niṣaṃdo Msac


Cf. Nāgitasutta (AN 5.30, iii.32,1–2): Asitapītakhāyitasāyitassa kho Nāgita uccārapassāvo, eso tassa nissando.


Cf. Buddhacarita 9.33cd: yat svapnabhūteṣu samāgameṣu saṃtapyate bhāvini viprayoge ‖ Tr. Johnston (1936: 129): “[…] since unions are fleeting as dreams and parting is certain.”


Cf. Jarāsutta (Sn IV,6.4–5, stt. 807–808, 158–159):

Supinena yathā pi saṅgataṃ paṭibuddho puriso na passati,

evam pi piyāyitaṃ janaṃ petaṃ kālakataṃ na passati.

Diṭṭhā pi sutā pi te janā, yesaṃ nāmam idaṃ pavuccati:

nāmam evāvasissati akkheyyaṃ petassa jantuno.

Tr. by Norman (1992: 94):

“Just as a man, awakened, does not see whatever he met with in a dream, even so one does not see beloved people when they are dead and gone. Those people are seen and heard of, whose name is ‘so and so’. When he has departed, only a person’s name will remain to be pronounced.”


parīkṣakasyā°] em., parīkṣya kasyā° Ms.


Cf. Buddhacarita 8.83ab: tyaja naravara śokam ehi dhairyaṃ kudhṛtir ivārhasi dhīra nāśru moktum | Tr. Johnston (1936: 121): “Cease grieving, O best of men, return to firmness; you should not, O steadfast one, shed tears like a man without self-control.” Cf. Raghuvaṃśa st. 8.90:

na pṛthagjanavac chuco vaśaṃ vaśināṃ uttama gantum arhasi |

drumasānumatoḥ kim antaraṃ yadi vāyau dvitaye ’pi te calāḥ ‖

“It does not befit you, greatest of men of self-control, to yield to grief like some commoner. What would be the difference between a tree and a mountain if both were to be swayed by the wind?”


Locus classicus unclear (possibly the Dhajaggasutta?). On this very popular formula, recited even today, see Bechert 1988: 8–9 passim, or most recently Hinüber 2020: 18–21. See also the Vimalaprabhā (vol. 1, p. 31; tr. in Newman 1987: 323–324), which specifically claims that it is in the ‘language of Magadha’: iha prathamaṃ tāvat śrāvakanaye Magadhabhāṣayā dharmadeśanā piṭakatrayādau tadyathā «iti pi so bhagavā sammāsambuddho vijjācaraṇasampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro» |. In his notes (tr. in Newman 1987: 361), Bu ston rin chen grub adds the ‘language of Sindhu’. Also cf. Tridaṇḍamālā no. 4, 6v–7r and no. 37, 103v–104v (Matsuda 2020b).


°oddṛtaṃ] em., °oddhṛtiṃ Ms.


Cf. Anussatiṭṭhānasutta (AN 6.25, iii.312–314). The six in Pali are buddhānussati, dhammānussati, saṅghānussati, sīlānussati, cāgānussati, and devatānussati (i.e., the recollection of the Buddha, the Dharma, the Saṅgha, morality, generosity, and deities).


Cf. 3cd and 31d above.


cidāśrayaṃ] em. (Isaacson), vedāśrayaṃ Ms (alternatively, emend to a rarer vidāśrayaṃ).


budhaś] em., buddhaś Ms.


Or: “One should start investigating the One Way”, depending on which flavour of the upasarga (prakarṣena or ādikarmaṇi, unless it is svārthe) was meant in the original context.




I thank Csaba Dezső for allowing a preview of the forthcoming edition of the text with Vallabha’s commentary (co-authored with Harunaga Isaacson, Dominic Goodall, and Csaba Kiss).


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