Neha Patil (Editor)

Sanskrit Buddhist literature

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Covid-19
Sanskrit Buddhist literature

Sanskrit Buddhist literature refers to Buddhist texts composed in classical Sanskrit or Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. Sanskrit was the main language used by Indian Mahayana Buddhists and most major Mahayana sutras were composed in this language.

Contents

Buddhist adoption of Sanskrit

While the earliest Buddhist texts were orally composed and transmitted in Middle Indo-Aryan languages called Prakrits; Sanskrit gradually became the main language of Buddhist scriptures and scholasticism in India mirroring its rise as political and literary lingua franca of the Indian subcontinent. This process began with the north-western Indian Buddhists of the Kushan empire (CE 30-375). The Sarvastivadin school wrote most of their Abhidharma texts in Sanskrit and many Mahayana sutras such as the Prajnaparamita sutra were composed in Mixed Sanskrit. The use of pure classical Sanskrit began with Asvaghosa (c. 100 CE), author of the Buddhacarita and one of the earliest Sanskrit dramatists. Major Buddhist thinkers like Nagarjuna, Dharmakirti and Vasubandhu also wrote in Sanskrit.

Johannes Bronkhorst argues that the main reason for the Buddhist adoption of Sanskrit was that the language had become associated with political prestige and power which was sought after by Buddhist viharas. The increase wealth and size of Buddhist monasteries such as Nalanda meant that they required elite patronage, and knowledge of Sanskrit was a way to cater to and communicate with the more educated upper classes and royal courts of Indian rulers. Later Buddhists, like their Hindu counterparts, began to believe that Sanskrit was the one original holy language. The decline of Buddhism in India saw the loss of a large number of Sanskrit Buddhist texts. The use of Sanskrit as a sacred language survives in the Newar Buddhism of Nepal and thus the vast majority of Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts were preserved by this tradition.

Partial list Buddhist texts extant in Sanskrit

Early sutra and Agamas
There is no complete Sanskrit copy of any of the Agamas, many fragments have been found, especially in the Tarim Basin and the city of Turfan.

  • Sarvāstivāda Dīrgha Agama (fragmentary)
  • Madhyama āgama (fragmentary)
  • Sarvāstivāda Saṃyukta Āgama (fragmentary)
  • Ekottara Agama (fragmentary)
  • Udanavarga
  • Dharmapada
  • Sutra Nipata (fragmentary)
  • Ajitasena Sutra (a 'proto-mahayana' text)
  • Prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom) sutras

  • Śatasāhasrikā - 100000 lines
  • Pañcaviṃśati Sāhasrikā - 25000 lines
  • Aṣṭadaśa Sāhasrikā - 18000 lines (fragments)
  • Daśa Sāhasrikā - 10,000 (fragments)
  • Aṣtasahasrika - 8000 lines
  • Adhyardha sāhasrikā - 2500 lines
  • Ratnagunasancayagatha
  • Advayasatika Prajnaparamita
  • Suvikrantigrami-paripṛccha Prajñāpāramitā nirdeśa Sūtra
  • Pañcaśatikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra - 500 lines
  • Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra-300 lines
  • Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra
  • Avatamsaka (flower ornament) sutras

  • Avatamsaka Sutra
  • Gandavyuha Sutra
  • Dasabhumika sutra
  • Ratnakuta sutras (Heap of Jewels)

  • Kashyapaparivarta nama Mahayana sutra
  • Sukhavativyuha sutra (larger) aka Infinite Life Sutra
  • Sukhavativyuha (smaller) aka Amitabha Sutra
  • Bhaisajyaguruvaiduryaprabharaja Sutra
  • Nairatmyapariprccha sutra
  • Aparimitayurjnana sutra
  • Rastrapalaparipṛchha sutra
  • Sagarnagarajaparipṛccha sutra
  • Triskandhanama Mahayana sutra
  • Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra
  • Other Mahayana sutras

  • Saddharma Pundarika Sutra - Lotus sutra
  • Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
  • Samadhiraja Sutra
  • Suvarṇaprabhāsa Sūtra - Golden Light Sutra
  • Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra
  • Saddharma-Smṛtyupasthāna Sūtra - "Fine-dharma establishing of mindfulness"
  • Pratyutpannabuddhasammukhāvaṣṭhitasamādhi Sūtra, ‘Samādhi of the Direct Encounter with Buddhas of the Present’
  • Vinaya (discipline, monastic regulations)

  • Bodhisattva Prātimokṣa Sutra
  • Bhiksu-karmavakya
  • Bhiksuni-vinaya
  • Mulasarvastivada-vinayavastu
  • Pratimoksa sutra of Mulasarvastivada
  • Pratimoksa sutra of Mahasanghika
  • Pratimoksa sutra of Sarvastivada
  • Vinaya sutra of Gunaprabha
  • Vinaya viniscaya Upalipariprccha sutra
  • Abhidharma

  • Arthaviniścaya
  • Abhidharma-kosa-bhasya of Vasubandhu
  • Abhidharma-samuccaya of Asanga
  • Abhidharma-samuccaya-bhasya
  • Jnanaprasthan shastra - Arya Katyayaniputra (fragmentary)
  • Abhidharmamrita-Ghosaka
  • Satyasiddhisastra of Haribhadra
  • Prajnaptipada - Maudgalyayana / Maha Katyayana
  • Sputarthabhidharmakosavyakhya of Yasomitra
  • Dharani - several collections from Nepal

  • Aparimitayur Dharani
  • Avadana

  • Avadanasataka (100 stories)
  • Kalpadrumavadanamala (26 stories)
  • Asokavadanamala
  • Vicitrakarnika Avadanamala (32 stories)
  • Divyavadana (38 stories)
  • Vrata Avadana (3 stories)
  • Bhadrakalpa Avadana (34 stories)
  • Mahavastu Avadana
  • Dvavimsatya Avadana (22 stories)
  • Sugata Avadana
  • Ratnamala Avadana (12 stories)
  • Avadanakalpalata (108 stories)
  • Bodhisattvavadana
  • Uposadhavadana
  • Suchandravadana
  • Lalitavistara Sūtra
  • Kumaralata's Kalpanamanditika (fragmentary, prose and verse)
  • Jataka

  • Jatakamala of Aryashura
  • Jatakamala of Haribhatta
  • Stotra

  • Prajñāpāramitā-stotra attributed to Rahulabhadra
  • Dharmadhatu-stava (praise to the sphere of reality) and other works attributed to Nagarjuna
  • The Satapañcasatka and the Catusataka of Matṛceta
  • Catusataka of Aryadeva
  • Shastra (treatise or commentary)

  • Prajnaparamita shastras
  • Madhyamaka shastras
  • Mūlamadhyamakakārikā and other works by Nagarjuna
  • Caryāmelāpakapradīpa (Lamp That Integrates the Practices) by Aryadeva
  • Śikṣāsamuccaya-kārikā by Shantideva
  • Madhyamakāvatāra (Entering the Middle Way) by Candrakīrti
  • Madhyamakahṛdaya-Kārikā by Bhāviveka
  • Yogacara shastras
  • Yogacarabhumi-sastra
  • Abhisamayalankara
  • Mahāyānasūtrālamkārakārikā
  • Ratnagotravibhāga
  • Madhyanta-vibhaga-karika
  • Mahayana-sutra-alamkara-karika
  • Trisvabhāva-nirdeśa by Vasubandhu
  • Vimśatikāvijñaptimātratāsiddhi by Vasubandhu
  • Triṃśikā-vijñaptimātratā by Vasubandhu
  • Pramana shastras
  • Seven Treatises on Valid Cognition by Dharmakirti
  • Prasannapadā (Clear Words) by Candrakīrti
  • Nirdesh shastras
  • Tantra

  • Kriya tantras
  • Carya tantras
  • Yoga tantras
  • Anuttarayoga Tantra
  • Sahajayana texts (“Vehicle of the Natural” or “Easy Vehicle”)
  • Ritual Vrata texts
  • Sadhana texts
  • Other (practice manuals, philosophical treatises, etc.)

  • Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra (the way of the Bodhisattva) by Shantideva
  • Bhāvanākrama (Stages of meditation) by Kamalashila
  • Mahakavya - Epic Poetry

  • Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita (partial in Sanskrit, complete in Chinese)
  • Asvaghosa's Saundarananda Mahakavya
  • Maitreyavyakarana (prophecy of Maitreya) of Aryacandra (fragmentary)
  • Sanskrit Drama

  • Asvaghosha's Sariputra-Prakarana (partial, ninth and last chapters)
  • References

    Sanskrit Buddhist literature Wikipedia


    Topics
     
    B
    i
    Link
    H2
    L