Monday, March 5, 2018 at 12:15pm to 1:30pm
Uris Hall, G08
Gandhāra, modern day eastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, was an important hub of early Buddhist culture at a key location connecting South Asia, East Asia, and the West. Until the mid-1990s, scholars knew of only a single Buddhist manuscript in the Gāndhārī language, but since that time Gāndhārī manuscripts dating from the first century BCE to the third century CE have emerged in surprising numbers, and they continue to do so. They are the oldest extant South Asian manuscripts of any kind. Thanks to these texts, we now have a stronger understanding of the Gāndhārī language and the history of Buddhism than was possible just twenty years ago. Among the many issues illuminated by these manuscripts are the process of canon formation, the relationship between Pāli, Gāndhārī, and Chinese Buddhist texts, the localization of Buddhist literature, and the nature of early Mahāyāna Buddhism. In this talk, I present an overview of Gāndhārī manuscript collections, emphasizing texts that have changed the way we approach early Buddhism. To illustrate the unique challenges and rewards of reading these texts, I then focus on a case study, a second century scroll that offers our earliest manuscript evidence of the concept of Buddhist hells as well as a unique insight into an ancient siege tactic.
Joe Marino is a 2017 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University. He researches and teaches about the religions of South and East Asia with a focus on early Buddhist literature and Gāndhārī manuscripts. He completed his PhD in Buddhist Studies from the University of Washington. He has recently published work on Indian epigraphy and city imagery in early Buddhist texts.