Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Buddhacharita

THE BUDDHACHARITA (Sanskrit, early 2nd century CE)

The Buddhist monk Ashvaghosha (c. 80-150 CE) was born in northern India, and is believed to have been the first Sanskrit dramatist; but today he is best remembered for the Buddhacharita or "Acts of the Buddha," an epic poem written in Sanskrit (previous Buddhist works had largely used Pali or another vernacular of Sanskrit) in the early second century CE on the life of Gautama Buddha. Only the first half survives complete in Sanskrit (fragments of the latter half remain), but Chinese and Tibetan translations were made early on. Dealing with the "miracles" in a restrained style (for the time at least) he tells of the Buddha's birth and youth, his flight, austerities and training, enlightenment, life with his followers, and death.


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