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[Bibliotheca Buddhica XXIII:] Abhisamayālankāra-Prajñāparāmitā-Upadeša-Šāstra. The work of bodhisattva Maitreya / Edited, explained and translated by Th. Stcherbatsky and E. Obermiller. Fasciculus 1: Introduction, Sanscrit text and Tibetan translation. Leningrad, USSR Acaemy of sciences, 1929, XII, 112 p.

From the Introduction

Professor Sylvain Lévi has rightly pointed to the great historical issues connected with the prajñā-pāramitā doctrine of the Mahāyāna. He suggests foreign influence in the formation of this aspect of Buddhism. We have already expressed our opinion to the effect that the Central Conception of this form of Buddhism is genuinely Indian, for it is nothing but the Monism of the ancient Upanishads and modern Advaita-Vedānta (jñānam advayam). The doctrine is moreover much older than Nāgārjuna, who only has given it an extreme and very drastic expression. But professor S. Lévi is unquestionably right in maintaining that three centuries of a lively intercourse between two nations so highly intellectual as the ancient Greeks and the Indians were, could not but have resulted in some influences, which probably were reciprocal. Clear historical deductions will be possible when this domain of the Indian literature will have been sufficiently investigated. In two earlier works we have attempted to attain intelligible and precise renderings of Buddhist philosophical conceptions of the first and second period of Buddhist philosophy. In a forthcoming work the same will be done regarding its third and concluding period6. The investigation of the prajñā-pāramitā literature we propose to carry in the same spirit. Our chief help we derive from šāstra, not from sūtra. This implies a very high appreciation of the works of the great Indian and Tibetan ācāryas. The comprehension of an Indian philosophical text is a task wrought with many difficulties. Still more difficult is the comprehension of a work deeply steeped in mysticism. We have found it indispensable to give in all important passages a double translation a strictly literal one, which utterly disregards the exigencies of the tongue into which the text is translated, and a quite free one, which utterly disregards the exigencies of the tongue from which it is translated. Only then can the requirement of a strict philological method be brought not to interfere with that clearness and intelligibility, which always will remain the ultimate aim of science.

This fasciculus is the first installment of a series of works devoted to the investigation of the prajñā-pāramitā literature, which our Institution for the Study of Buddhist Culture proposes to undertake and carry out systematically. The next fasciculus will contain 1) an analysis of the 8 subjects and 70 points in which the doctrine of prajñā-pāramitā is systematized, 2) a table of the 173 aspects of the three kinds of Omniscience, 3) a table showing the concordance between the Abhisamayālankāra and the Aşţā-sāhasrikā and Pañcavimšati-sāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā sūtras, 4) an Index verborum of the šāstra, Sanscrit-tibetan and Tibetan-Sanscrit. All this work will be carried out by the Sektion Secretary of our Institution Dr. E. Obermiller. He has also undertaken, as already mentioned, an edition of the Sanscrit text of Haribhadra's commentary. A translation of the šāstra will then follow which will make use of all the materials available.


The entire 1st fasc. of the volume


Buddhist philosophy
Sanskrit texts
Tibetan texts

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