When did the gods become literate?

L.S.Cousins selwyn at DTN.NTL.COM
Tue Nov 9 09:28:52 UTC 1999

Various comments:

>>Yes, it seems as if Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka was fairly
>>isolated from northern India although people like Buddhaghosa have
>>borrowed a fair amount from Mahayana materials.
>And the more I think about it, stronger do I think it's wrong to judge
>the development of Indian Buddhism based on Ceylonese Buddhism.

It is completely anachronistic to refer to India and Ceylon/Sri Lanka
as separate entities at this time. Ceylon was as much, and as little,
different from, say, the Ganges valley as the Tamil country or Andhra.

>Maybe this is the way it happened :
>5th - 3rd century BC - The Buddha and PAli Buddhism
>2nd century BC - the MahAyAna and Samskrutic Buddhism makes their appearance

There is no secure evidence for the existence of Mahaayaana before
the second century A.D. The current finds of probably Dharmaguptaka
texts in Gaandhaarii from a source in or near Afghanistan include no
Mahaayaana material. Since these date from the first century A.D.,
this would suggest that Mahaayaana either did not exist at this date
or was confined to a very small minority.

Similarly it is unclear when Sanskrit came into use, but it
presumably depends on when the Sarvaastivaadins began to write in
Sanskrit. As far as I know, there is no conclusive evidence that that
happened before the second century A.D.


L.S.Cousins at nessie.mcc.ac.uk or selwyn at dtn.ntl.com

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