Buddha/writing in the Ramayana

John Brockington SKTJLBS at SRV0.ARTS.ED.AC.UK
Thu Nov 4 09:14:16 UTC 1999

>Date:          Thu, 4 Nov 1999 09:05:39 -0800
>From:          Paul Kekai Manansala <kekai at JPS.NET>
>Subject:       Re: When did the gods become literate? Was: Are the gods literate?
>More specifically, are there references to Buddhism and writing
>in the Ramayana?
>Paul Kekai Manansala

> From my _Righteous Rama_ (Delhi, 1984), p. 210:

The term 'sramana, in other texts often denoting a Buddhist monk, occurs in the first
stage to describe the 'Sabara woman (3.69.19 and 70.7, also 1.1.46), who follows more or
less orthodox ascetic practices, in the second stage in an obscure reference to an
incident of Mandhat.r's career (4.18.31), and even in the third stage linked as worthy
individuals with brahmans (1.13.8); however, the Buddha is once mentioned and condemned
in the fourth stage (2.2241* 13[l.v.]).

and p. 185:

The question of writing in the Ramayana has been extensively discussed [fn. refs],
especially with regard to its bearing on the date of the poem.  There are in fact very
few references in the text but these are all to marking objects with a name, not to the
use of writing for extended documents of whatever type.  The better known are the two
mentions of the ring marked with his own name which Rama gives to Hanuman as a token for
Sita (4.43.11 and 5.34.2); most recently Sankalia, regarding this as a definite
signet-ring, has argued that therefore this episode postdates the introduction of
signet-rings via the Indo-Greeks.  However, despite the expansion visible in the second
passage, both references belong apparently to the first stage, as do two references to
arrows marked with names, and it seems impossible to assign so late a date to the core
of the work.

Further discussion (including the references to the arrows "marked with Rama's name" at
5.19.21 and 6.52.25) continues on pp. 186-7.  [All references to the text are to the
Critical Edition and to stages to the phases of development identified in the book.]

John Brockington

Professor J. L. Brockington
Sanskrit, School of Asian Studies
University of Edinburgh
7-8 Buccleuch Place
Edinburgh   EH8 9LW     U.K.

tel: +131 650 4174
fax: +131 651 1258

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list