[INDOLOGY] Buddhist murals Sri Lanka Vessantara-Jataka

Seishi Karashima skarashima at gmail.com
Mon Feb 13 01:11:06 UTC 2017

Dear colleagues,

I published nearly thirty years ago an annotated Japanese translation of
the Pāli *Vessantara-jātaka*, when I was studying under Prof. K. R. Norman
in Cambridge.

* Vessantara-jātaka Yakuchū *(ヴェッサンタラ・ジャータカ訳注) [An Annotated Japanese
Translation of the Pāli *Vessantara-jātaka*], in: *The Jātakas* (ジャータカ全集),
vol. 10, ed. by Hajime Nakamura, Tokyo: Shunjūsha, 1988, pp. 149–257,
263–317, ISBN4-393-11620-8.

As it is written in Japanese, I assume that no Western scholars of our
field has read it. When I wrote this, I checked all the then available Pali
manuscripts, and compared the Pali version with the Sanskrit, Tibetan and
Chinese versions and added 675 philological notes. According to my notes,
none of the versions except for the Pali Jātaka has the part in question.

The discrepancy between four red deer and four horses results not from the
difference of the Southern and Northern traditions but from the
interpretation of the Pali verse, no. 215 in the *Vessantara-jātaka* itself.

The latter half of the verse in question reads as follows: *migarohiccavaṇṇena
*(*v.l. migā ro-*; CpA* migā rohitavaṇṇena*) *dakkhiṇ(’)assā vahanti maṃ*
“The excellent (lit. able) horses, looking like red deer, carrying me on.”
(Cf. M. Cone, *The Perfect Generosity of Prince Vessantara*, Clarendon
Press 1977, p. 33).

The composer of the prose part (ca. 5c. C.E.) misunderstood this verse and
wrote as follows: *cattāro devaputtā rohiccamigavaṇṇena āgantvā rathadhuraṃ
sampaṭicchitvā agamaṃsu* “Four gods in the guise of red deer came, took the
yoke of the carriage and went forward.” (cf. Cone, loc. cit.; she
misunderstood the meaning of *sampaṭicchitvā*). Thus, *dakkhiṇ(’)assā* in
the verse was neglected in the prose part. This misinterpretation might
have based on the variant readings *migā rohi- *in some manuscripts and CpA.

Murals, which show four horses, and the Butsarana must base on the old
verse, while those, which depict the red deer instead, base on the prose.

Such discrepancipies between prose and verses are found also in the
*Mahāvastu* and *Saddharmapuṇḍarīka*, on which I am now working.

What I wrote above is not my finding. Alsdorf wrote about this discrepancy
in the *Vessantara-jātaka* 60 years ago!: “Bemerkungen zum
Vessantara-Jātaka”, in: Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Süd- und
Ost-Asiens I (1957): 37-38 = *Kleine Schriften*, hrsg. von Albrecht Wezler,
Wiesbaden 1974 (GlSt 10), pp. 306f. I also quoted his argument in notes in
my Japanese translation, p. 278, n. 199, 200.

     With best regards,

Seishi Karashima

2017-02-13 0:35 GMT+09:00 Fumi Yao via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info

> Dear Heiner,
> I think none of the three stories of Viśvantara in the Mūlasarvāstivāda
> Vinaya ("the Viśvantara-Jātaka I--III" in Panglung 1981 "Preliminary
> remarks on the uddānas in the vinaya of the Mūlasarvāstivādin," p.229) and
> the Viśvantarāvadāna in the Gilgit manuscripts ("the Viśvantara-Jātaka IV,"
> ibid.) gives aśvaveśa. They do not mention Śakra's help in this part of the
> story, either.
> Viś I (Tibetan, Chinese, and newly identified Skt fragments): Viśvantara
> gives both the coach and horses to a Brahmin and goes to the forest on foot.
> Viś II (Tibetan and Skt fragments): After he gave the coach to some
> Brahmins, Viśvantara rides his horse. Later, he gives the horse to another
> group of Brahmins and proceeds on foot.
> Viś III (Tibetan, Chinese, and Gilgit manuscript): same as Viś I.
> Viś IV (Gilgit manuscript): same as Viś I.
> I hope this helps you.
> Kindest regards,
> Fumi
> Fumi Yao
> McMaster University
> University Hall Room 104
> 1280 Main Street West
> Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L8
> Canada
> 2017-02-12 8:41 GMT-05:00 Rolf Heinrich Koch via INDOLOGY <
> indology at list.indology.info>:
>> Dear listmembers,
>> there is one episode in the Vessantara-Jātaka which describes the
>> following plot:
>> ...After Vessantara gave away the two horses of his coach, Sakka advised
>> four junior gods
>> to pull Vessantara's coach. They appeared in the guise of a red deer....
>> Some murals which depict this plot show four horses instead of the red
>> deer.
>> As the only textual source I found one edition of the Butsarana with
>> aśvaveśa (for mṛgaveśa).
>> All Pali and further Sinhala sources read mṛgaveśa.
>> I suppose there is a northern tradition which records aśvaveśa (Gilgit,
>> Tibetan or Chinese).
>> Anyone came across this version and is willing to share this with me?
>> Thank you in advance
>> Heiner
>> Rolf Heinrich Koch
>> https://rolfheinrichkoch.wordpress.com/
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