Τετάρτη, 17 Απριλίου 2019

Philosophy

Denotation as Complex and Chronologically Extended: anvitābhidhāna in Śālikanātha's  Vākyārthamātṛkā - I

Abstract

The two theories of verbal cognition, namely abhihitānvaya and anvitābhidhāna, first put forth by the Bhāṭṭa and Prābhākara Mīmāṃsakas respectively in the second half of the first millennium C.E., can be considered as being foundational as all subsequent thinkers of the Sanskritic intellectual tradition (philosophers as well as ālaṃkārikas) engaged with and elaborated upon these while debating the nature of language and meaning. In this paper, I focus on the first chapter (pariccheda) of Śālikanātha's Vākyārthamātṛkā and outline the process of anvitābhidhāna described therein. Śālikanātha explains this as comprising three steps, and thereafter discusses each of these three to elaborate upon and philosophically defend this conception of how one cognizes sentential meaning. The aim of this paper is to present Śālikanātha's three-step model, and thus demonstrate especially the distinct conception of abhidhāna (denotation) for the Prābhākara Mīmāṃsakas (particularly Śālikanātha) as complex and chronologically extended as contrasted with the Bhāṭṭa conception of abhidhāna as non-complex and instantaneous. Such an understanding of the disparate semantic contents with which the Bhāṭṭas and Prābhākaras use the identical term abhidhāna is crucial for any correct study of their respective doctrines.



Aśvaghoṣa's Apologia: Brahmanical Ideology and Female Allure

Abstract

The question I pose in this paper is simple but crucial: Why did Aśvaghoṣa present Brahmanism as the backdrop for the emergence of Buddhism? In both his epic poems, he presents Brahmanism as the obvious and natural condition of society and kings, in the same way that it is depicted in the Brahmanical writings themselves. It has become increasingly clear that Brahmanical texts present ideologically motivated programs for social engineering rather than accurate descriptions of social reality. If social reality did not obligate Aśvaghoṣa to adopt this posture, then why did Aśvaghoṣa buy into this ideological position of Brahmanism? Why did he not describe the social reality underlying Buddhism in a way similar to Aśoka? While attempting to explore these questions, I will analyze Aśvaghoṣa's arguments against some central theological positions of Brahmanism: First, there is the theological argument that a person must turn to asceticism only after he has raised a family and performed his other religious obligations spelt out in the trivarga and the āśrama system. Second, there is the issue of kāma, both within the trivarga and within the common conception of a householder's life. The paper will attempt to analyze the way Aśvaghoṣa in his two epic poems deals with these two areas, one more strictly theological and the other dealing with themes of sex, eroticism, and conjugal love, all of which present obstacles to the Buddhist path of liberation that runs through the celibate monastery.



After the Unsilence of the Birds: Remembering Aśvaghoṣa's Sundarī

Abstract

Once encountered in Beautiful Nanda, Aśvaghoṣa's Sundarī is unforgettable. It is easy, then, to forget that we are given to see and hear her only in two of the eighteen chapters of Aśvaghoṣa's long, lyrical narrative of Nanda. When she is given to speak, her words and voice resonate powerfully, but the narrative reduces her at last to silence. Among the last images of her, there is the moment when she is likened to a screaming bird, bereaved of her mate, her voice transformed and eventually drowned out (Beautiful Nanda 6.30). This essay argues for a new interpretation of the salience of this figurative transformation, and of two different ways in which Sundarī is lost to view as she is forgotten or overlooked by characters in the narrative. Along with a close-reading of Sundarī?s loss of voice, this essay offers readings of the depiction of Sundarī?s grief (Beautiful Nanda 6.28-29) and Nanda?s ?disremembering? of her (Beautiful Nanda 7.5-7.9). In conclusion, I suggest that re-reading such passages recommends taking very seriously the possibility that for Aśvaghoṣa there might be a close relationship between the kind of sensitivity his poetry enables and a variety of moral attention.



Aśvaghoṣa and His Canonical Sources (III): The Night of Awakening ( Buddhacarita 14.1–87)

Abstract

The present paper is the third in a series dedicated to uncovering the canonical sources of Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita and, to the extent possible, the monk-poet's sectarian affiliation. Whereas parts I and II focused on Chapter 16's indebtedness to (Mūla)sarvāstivāda Vinaya and/or Sūtra literature, this third part inquires into the sources of Aśvaghoṣa's account of the Buddha's enlightenment in Chapter 14 (whose first 31 verses have been preserved in their Sanskrit original). Detailed analysis reveals this chapter's intimate relationship with T. 189, a (Mūla)sarvāstivāda (?) biographical sūtra extant in Chinese translation only, but also with textual materials that have come to belong to Mūlasarvāstivāda literature and, as already demonstrated by Kajiyama Yūichi, with the Nagar(opam)asūtra of the Saṃyuktāgama. Among these likely sources, some provide a lively description of the five destinies, others relate to the iconographic prescriptions laid down for drawing the so-called Wheel of saṃsāra/existence, while yet others spell out the doctrine of dependent origination. The detailed comparison of these materials is followed by an admittedly speculative attempt to assess the relationship between these sources.



The Sincerest Form of Flattery: On Imitations of Aśvaghoṣa's Mahākāvyas

Abstract

Imitations of the works of Aśvaghoṣa, especially the Buddhacarita, are widely attested, both in the form of extra verses interpolated into the texts themselves and of entire texts in Sanskrit and Tocharian (preserved only in fragmentary form) which are restructured versions of Aśvaghoṣa's work. Such imitations and restructurings are here evaluated from the point of view of Sanskrit literary theorists, who describe similar techniques of refashioning pre-existing poems, showing that such works should not be considered as plagiarism but rather as tributes to the original author.



Aśvaghoṣa's Viśeṣaka : The Saundarananda and Its Pāli "Equivalents"

Abstract

When compared with the Pāli versions of the Nanda tale—the story of the ordainment and liberation of the Buddha's half-brother—some of the peculiar features of Aśvaghoṣa's telling in the Saundarananda come to the fore. These include the enticing love games that Nanda plays with his wife Sundarī before he follows Buddha out of the house, and the powerful, troubling scene in which Buddha forces Nanda to ordain. While the Pāli versions are aware of fantastic elements such as the flight to the Himālayas, and while each adds its own unique emphases that re-shape the events, none raise such deep ambivalence as done by Aśvaghoṣa. The Comparison of the different tellings then raises a more general theoretical point in relation to Buddhist literature—that genre defines the special features of each adaptation of the story, rather than any historical conditions regarding transmission; the versions each conform to the specific intellectual context of the text that appropriates them. This understanding allows an advancement of the idea of genre in Buddhist canonical and semi-canonical texts.



Making It Nice: Kāvya in the Second Century

Abstract

Around the second century of our era, kāvya steps out from the shadows. What was kāvya at this early moment? What ties together the kāvya produced within the Kuṣāṇa empire in North India, in Sanskrit, with that produced within the Sātavāhana empire of the South, in Prakrit? What ties the Buddhist kāvya of Mātṛceṭa, Aśvaghoṣa, and Kumāralāta to the Jain kāvya of Pālitta and the secular kāvya found in the Seven Centuries? One answer involves the idea of ornamentation (alaṃkāra): the features that, when worked into a text, transform it into an aesthetic object, not simply the "figures" of sound and sense with which this word would later be associated. In the Prakrit texts associated with the Sātavāhana court, ornamentation is essential—the Seven Centuries proclaims that all of its verses have it—but it was just as essential for it to be inconspicuous. The paradox of "artless artifice" was central to the aesthetic of these texts. In the Sanskrit texts of the North, the reverse was the case: massive effort was expended in making the artless appear artful, in casting the teachings and stories of Buddhism as kāvya. I will offer a few speculations about why the North and South took these different "paths," and conclude by connecting them with the later discussion in Sanskrit poetics about the two "paths" of kāvya.



Processions, Seductions, Divine Battles: Aśvaghoṣa at the Foundations of Old Javanese Literature

Abstract

The influence of Aśvaghoṣa on the later tradition of kāvya was largely passed over in the South Asian tradition, even though the debt to his influence is clear in processional scenes developed by Kālidāsa and the attempted seduction of Arjuna developed by Bhāravi in his Kirātārjunīyam. We know from the testimony of the Chinese pilgrim Yijing that the Buddhacarita was a revered object of study in the Sumatran capital Śrībhoga near the close of the seventh century CE. It thus perhaps comes as no surprise that three tropes or themes developed by Aśvaghoṣa were developed by several important composers of kakawin, the Old Javanese literary genre comparable to the kāvya of South Asia. This paper looks at the development of the themes of processions, divine battles and attempted seductions in a long history beginning with Aśvaghoṣa and closing with the work of the Javanese author Mpu Tantular, who completed the Buddhist kakawin Sutasoma c. 1365–1389 CE. This paper is partly based on a revised perspective on the history of the Shailendra and Sañjaya dynasties of central Java developed by examining the role of the "Shailendra royal preceptors" in bringing Sanskrit learning to Central Java in the period 778–847 CE.



A Bibliography of Aśvaghoṣa

Abstract

Though quite extensive in its coverage, the present bibliography does not claim to be exhaustive. Among the many works traditionally (but incorrectly) ascribed to Aśvaghoṣa, some, such as the *Mahāyānaśraddhotpādaśāstra (Taishō no. 1666, 1667) or, to a lesser degree, the Kalpanāmaṇḍitikā alias Sūtrālaṅkāra, have lived their own lives in modern scholarship and received virtually as much attention as Aśvaghoṣa himself. An attempt has been made to list all the contributions that have proved decisive in questioning and finally rejecting the poet's authorship of them. In much the same way, most of what has been written about the Chinese and Japanese elaborations of the figure of Aśvaghoṣa (as a patriarch, as a god of sericulture, etc.) has been disregarded. Collecting in a systematic way all Indian editions and translations in modern-day Indian languages (Bengali, Hindi, etc.) has proved practically impossible. Finally, this bibliography does not include all the entries on Aśvaghoṣa in dictionaries, encyclopedias, histories of Indian literature, etc. Only the earliest and the historically or scholarly most significant ones (e.g., those of Winternitz and Keith, and, very recently, Salomon) have found their way into the list. This bibliography would have been even more limited in its coverage had Nobuyoshi Yamabe not generously agreed to include the most important Japanese titles on the subject. In carrying out this task he acknowledges his indebtedness to Kiyoshi Okano's online bibliography (http://gdgdgd.g.dgdg.jp/asvaghosa-index.html). This bibliography is meant as a work in progress. We would like to invite all those who are writing on Aśvaghoṣa to send us their publications or at least detailed references to them so that the bibliography (an online version of which should be available soon) can be regularly updated (vincent.eltschinger@ephe.psl.eu; yamabe@waseda.jp). The sign "†" signals references that were not/could not be accessed directly.



Reading Aśvaghoṣa Across Boundaries: An Introduction

Abstract

The prominence and the importance of Aśvaghoṣa's works and persona—to the understanding of the history of Sanskrit poetry, to the understanding of Indian Buddhism in a transitional stage and to its introduction to other parts of Asia—is well acknowledged in contemporary scholarship. But with few exceptions the existing scholarship on Aśvaghoṣa has tended to be highly specialized and focused, inviting further reading that builds on this in-depth research to offer an integrated treatment of the variegated aspects and contexts of his works. This special issue of the Journal of Indian Philosophy is intended as a modest step toward a holistic exploration of Aśvaghoṣa works, which reads them across disciplinary as well as regional and temporal boundaries. This introduction is designed to highlight, very schematically, some points of interest and recurring concerns with respect to Aśvaghoṣa works; to point out how the set of articles address these concerns, and to suggest a particular order in which they can be profitably read.



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