|Abstract (english)|| |
The talent, enthusiasm, and effort of prominent scholars such as Burnouf, Lassen, Westergaard, Childers, and others, laid a solid foundation for the period of intensive editing, translation, interpretation, and publishing of Buddhist texts which started in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. By that time, Rasmus K. Rask, while staying in Ceylon, collected numerous Pāli and Sinhala manuscripts (1821); Burnouf and Lassen published their Essai sur le Pali (1826); in 1837 Georg Turnouf published the text and translation of Mahāvaṃsa; in 1869 I. P. Minaev published the text and translation of the Pātimokkha (1869); Viggo Fausbol translated Dhammapada into Latin in 1855, and in 1875 Childers edited and published Mahāparinibbānasutta. In 1837 a parcel containing Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts sent by Brian H. Hodgson from Nepal reached Société Asiatique in Paris and was received by Burnouf who dedicated much of his time and passion to examine them. Not only manuscripts in Pāli and Sanskrit were studied – Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian sources also became available to Western scholars, all of which prepared a way for the next generation of great scholars dedicated to the study of Buddhism. From the last quarter of the 19th century until approximately the middle of the 20th century, the field of Buddhist studies saw an increase in published texts and their translations. In that period, eminent scholars such as Émile Senart, T.W. Rhys Davids and his wife C. A.F. Rhys Davids, Hermann Oldenberg, Hendrik Kern, Étienne Lamotte, Sylvain Lévi, Louis de La Vallée Poussin, Wilhelm Geiger – to name just a few, strongly contributed to our knowledge of Indian Buddhism. The Pali Text Society, established by T.W. Rhys Davids in 1881 gathered many experts and incited the publishing of numerous and various Buddhist texts. T.W. Rhys Davids, his wife Caroline A.F. Rhys Davids, and Hermann Oldenberg are perhaps the best-known members of the so-called Anglo-German school. This group of authors considered texts preserved in Pāli to be the oldest and most valuable documents for our knowledge and understanding of the oldest (original) Buddhism. On the other side was the so-called Franco-Belgian school with Louis de La Vallée Poussin, Émile Senart, and Hendrik Kern as its most prominent members. They did not insist on Pāli texts as primary sources and they differed in their interpretation of the Buddhist texts. The two schools held different views about the founder of Buddhism as well. Scholars belonging to the Anglo-German school were convinced that Buddhist texts did preserve the earliest memories of Gotama Buddha and they considered him primarily a man whose life, over time, was hindered by numerous myths and legends. They firmly believed in philological methods and tried to reconstruct the life of Gotama by differing the earlier (more realistic) and later (more mythological and legendary) layers of Buddhist texts. Scholars of the opposing school considered Buddhaʼs biography mostly as a “meeting point” of much earlier mythological elements, believing however that Buddhaʼs life story contains some traces of realistic and historical facts. Among Franco-Belgians, the most radical view was held by Hendrik Kern who considered Gotama to be nothing more than a solar god. The two lines of thought became paradigmatical and most of the subsequent researches about the life of Gotama came to be inclined either to the Anglo-German or Franco-Belgian position. In more recent times, starting from the middle of the 20th century, new lines of the investigation appeared and scholars started to rely more confidently not only on the textual but also epigraphical, archeological, and other non-textual sources for a better understanding of the history and development of Indian Buddhism and the biography of its founder. The present thesis aims to present the major biographical episodes of the life of Gotama Buddha, namely, his conception and birth, going forth into homelessness, awakening, first sermon, and parinibbāna. It also offers their translation into the Croatian language since the majority of them, until now, were known to the Croatian audience only by the medium of English or some other major language. The main sources for the study of the development and changes of the conception of Gotama Buddha in the schools of Lesser Vehicle are Pāli canon Tipiṭaka (except for Abhidhammapiṭaka), Nidānakathā and Mahāvastu. The first two sources belong to the theravāda, while Mahāvastu belongs to the mahāsaṅghika-lokottaravāda school of thought. By extracting and comparing major biographical episodes one cannot expect to reach a definite conclusion about the diachronic development of Gotama Buddhaʼs biography since chosen textual sources belong to different schools, have a different purpose, and were shaped, over more than eight centuries, in culturally, politically and geographically distant areas. Still, by comparing biographical episodes one can try to point not only to the elements common to all sources but also to the more or less subtle changes in the perception of Gotama Buddha and the development of his biography among different Buddhist schools. The thesis is an attempt to justify the following assumption: the difference between Pāli texts, even those considered to represent an older layer of tradition, and the Mahāvastu, which due to some of its features is considered a transition to the so-called Mahāyāna Buddhism in which the Buddha becomes a supernatural or otherworldly being, cannot be interpreted as the result of a linear process of divination in which Gotama gradually lost his human characteristics and eventually became a supernatural being having an astonishing biography. The development of Buddhaʼs biography can be perhaps more properly interpreted as a process of its concentric spread around biographical details common to all sources. In that process, the biographical tradition was enriched with new details and even whole new episodes. The degree of “innovation” depended on the purpose of the text but also on the need to emphasize those biographical details that corroborated the views of a particular school. The Introduction (in which the aim of the present thesis is outlined ) is followed by the second chapter (Textual Sources) which brings the crucial information about the first two baskets of the Pāli canon Tipiṭaka, Nidānakathā, and Mahāvastu. Buddhist schools, namely theravāda and mahāsaṅghika-lokottaravāda to which these sources belong, are also briefly presented. The third chapter (The Conception and Birth of Gotama Buddha) is based on the following primary texts: Acchariyabbhutadhammasutta (MN iii. 119–124), Aṅguttaranikāya (AN ii. 130–132), Mahāpadānasutta (DN ii. 1–54), Suttanipāta (Sn. 686–693), Nidānakathā (JātA. I. 50–53), and Mahāvastu (Mv. i. 98–100, 142–153, 197–227, Mv. ii. 1–30). The fourth chapter (Going Forth into Homelessness) is based on Ariyapariyesanāsutta (MN i. 161–167), Dvedhāvitakkasutta (MN i. 116), Mahāsaccakasutta (MN i. 240), Suttanipāta (Sn. 405–424), Soṇadaṇḍasutta (DN i. 115), Sukhumālasutta (AN i. 145–148), Mahāpadānasutta (DN ii. 21– 30), Nidānakathā (JātA. I. 59–65) and Mahāvastu (Mv. i. 154–158, 227–228, Mv. ii. 115–134, 140–167, 189–210, 299–300). The fifth chapter (Awakening) brings forth selected passages from Bhayabheravasutta (MN i. 21–24), Ariyapariyesanāsutta (MN i. 167), Dvedhāvittakasutta (MN i. 117), Mahāsaccakasutta (MN i. 247–248), Vinayapiṭaka (Vin. i. 1–6), Mahāpadānasutta (DN ii. 30–36); Nidānakathā (JātA. I. 75–76), and Mahāvastu (Mv. i. 228–231, Mv. ii. 131– 133, Mv. ii. 263–271, followed by Mv. ii. 276–288, Mv. ii. 300–349, 397–420). The sixth chapter (First Sermon) is based on Vinayapiṭaka (Vin. i. 10–12), Dhammacakkappavattanasutta (SN v. 420–424), Ariyapariyesanāsutta (MN i. 173), Mahāpadānasutta (DN ii. 35–42), Nidānakathā (JātA. I. 81–82), and Mahāvastu (Mv. iii. 330–334, Mv. iii. 340–341). The seventh chapter (Buddhaʼs Parinibbāna) contains Croatian translations of the most prominent and wellknown passages from Pāli Mahāparinibbānasutta, contained in Dīghanikāya (sutta number 16). It also contains a short passage from Mahāvastu which describes events after Buddhaʼs death as well as a concise discussion about the importance of Buddhaʼs relics in the history of Buddhism. These five chapters contain major biographical episodes and follow the same methodology. The selected passages are translated into Croatian language and then compared in the attempt to establish what elements of the biographical tradition are common to all sources as well as to point out those elements which differ, considering that the chosen primary sources belong to schools that are opposed to each other when it comes to their view of Buddhaʼs nature. The eighth chapter (Changes in the Biography) highlights several ways which were employed by Buddhist authors/ compilers not only to broaden Buddhaʼs biography but also to give it a stamp of grandness and extraordinariness. By analyzing Buddhaʼs epithets, his physical, intellectual, and spiritual perfections, the purpose of miracles in his biography, the role of gods and heavenly beings in the crucial moments of his life, the ever-increasing number of Buddhaʼs past births and number of previous buddhas, the attempt is made to demonstrate in which degree are these elements present in selected primary sources. The last, ninth chapter (Conclusion) gives a summary of the research and outlines the most important features of Buddhaʼs biography which developed parallelly with the growth and spread of Buddhism.