Forms of "Dharmaguptaka" in inscriptions

L.S.Cousins L.S.Cousins at NESSIE.MCC.AC.UK
Mon Mar 2 10:37:04 UTC 1998

Richard Salomon <rsalomon at U.WASHINGTON.EDU> writes:

>In Kharosthi inscriptions, Dharmaguptaka appears in the forms
>dha.mmagutaka- (Qunduz vase; also in a Brahmi ins. from Mathura, L:uders
>Mathura Inscriptions no. 150) and dhamautea- (Jamalgarhi; corrected
>reading by L:uders, AO 1940, pp.17ff.).  (dhar*)mautaa- occurs in a
>potsherd ins., to be published in my book.  And (dhar*)mautaka-
>appears in another potsherd published by Sadakata (JA 1996,
>pp.301ff).  Another Brahmi ins. from
>Mathura is reported to read dharmaguptika (Shizutani p.131), but this has
>not be definitively published, as far as I know.  All of these forms are
>usually found in the gen. pl., in formulaic phrases along the lines of
>"acaryana dha.mmagutakana parigrahe".

I have been in Oxford where I found Shizutani (with difficulty). It is
indeed useful and would have been worth buying, were it in print.

>That's the information I have, for what's it's worth.  But I doubt that it
>will help much in solving the question of the origin of the name.

Yes, I think you are right. This all evidences Middle Indian forms
equivalent to -aya (or -iya).  Had it been the other way (i.e. some form in
early inscriptions like dhamauta-), then that would have been strong
support  for an original name equivalent to Pali Dhammagutta-.

Yet, Bareau says that the form Dharmagupta is frequent (Sectes, p. 190: On
le trouve souvent écrit Dharmagupta . . .).  Probably, he is referring to
Chinese sources.

Bareau is undoubtedly right in seeing the origin of their separation from
the Mahi.m-saasakas as lying in a dispute over the relative merits of the
Buddha and Sangha, but I am not sure if he realized that this could also be
the origin of the name.  Obviously, if your opponent is including the
Buddha under the heading of the Sangha, this easily leads to a view that
the Sangha is the highest of the three refuges. So the Dhammaguttas could
very well have been defending the primacy of the Dhamma.

Lance Cousins


Email: L.S.Cousins at

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