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The Lotus Sutra and Its World: Buddhist Manuscripts of the Great Silk Road. Manuscripts and block prints from the collection of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies = 『法華経とシルクロード』展: 東洋学研究所 (サンクトペテルブルク)所蔵の仏教文献遺産; Venue: Soka Gakkai Josei Toda International Center, Tokyo; Period: November 10–30, 1998 = 開催期間: 1998 年 11 月 10 日~30 日; 会場: 戸田記念国際会館(東京都) / Supervisors: Evgenij I. Kychanov, Daisaku Ikeda = 監修: 池田大作, エヴゲーニ I. クチャー ノフ. [St. Petersburg]: St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies; [Tokyo]: Institute of Oriental Philosophy, [1998]. [2], 42 p.


Contents

Prerace. Daisaku Ikeda — 1

Acknowledgments.

Evgenij I. Kychanov, Yuri A. Petrosyan — 3

Yasuo Morita, Yoichi Kawada — 4

Introduction. M. I. Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya, E. I. Kychanov, L. N. Menshikov, E. N. Tyomkin — 5

Illustrations of Exhibits — 11

Catalog — 35

Preface

The St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences is undoubtedly one of the finest research centers for Buddhist scholars and Orientalists in the world. All specialists in these fields aspire to visit and, ii possible, study there.

Over the years, the St. Petersburg institute has counted among its members such outstanding Orientalists as Vasily V. Bartold (1869‒1930) and Vasily M. Alekseyev (1881‒1951), making it a sanctuary of learning in the field. Among the famous Buddhist scholars associated with the institute at one time or another are Sergei F. Oldenburg (1863‒1934), well known for his research on Sanskrit Buddhist sutras, and Fyodor I. Shcherbatskoy (1866‒1942), who introduced Buddhist logic to the rest of the world.

This exhibition, entitled “The Lotus Sutra and Its World: Buddhist Manuscripts of the Great Silk Road”, presents many of the precious texts and original artifacts preserved in the St. Petersburg collection. Since the latter half of the nineteenth century, a great many sutra texts have been discovered in Central Asia and areas along the Silk Road. The bulk of them are in the custody of the St. Petersburg institute, which has built up one of the world’s finest collections of Buddhist texts and manuscripts. It is the first time that these magnificent “treasures of humanity” have been shown to the public outside of Russia.

During the first century B.C., a great famine occurred in what is today Sri Lanka. The tremendous death toll that resulted, legend says, created such a serious sense of crisis among Buddhists that they committed sutras to writing for fear that Buddhism itself might perish along with the people. Until then, Buddhist teachings had been orally transmitted from generation to generation. In Mahayana Buddhism, the sutras themselves encourage transcription of the scriptures. Here w e can perhaps see at work the spirit of Mahayana Buddhism, which is by nature geared toward the propagation of its teachings to as many people as possible. This exhibit is guided by the same spirit, and I hope it will contribute much to the advancement of scholarly research on Mahayana Buddhism.

Ever since my youth, I have had a great admiration for the Silk Road. It provided routes not only for the exchange of goods and people between Eastern and Western civilizations but for the spread of Buddhism. The Silk Road was also a “'Dharma Route.” This exhibit is designed to enable the viewer to see and feel the diversity of the Silk Road, which may be called a model of multiethnicity and multiculturalism. Texts of the Lotus Sutra and other scriptures, written in Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, the Xixia language and many others, are a case in point. They clearly demonstrate the variety of the Buddhist cultures that nourished along the Silk Road.

Dr. Margarita I. Vorobyova-Dcsyatovskaya of the St. Petersburg institute, during our meeting in November 1996 in Tokyo, made a very insightful statement about the Lotus Sutra. “The Lotus Sutra,” she said, “is the ‘sun and light’ for human perfection, for self-fulfillment.”

In the fifth chapter of the Lotus Sutra entitled “Parable of the Medicinal Herbs,” Shakyamuni relates to his disciples the “parable of the three kinds o f medicinal herbs and two kinds of trees.” Nichiren (1222‒82), whose teachings we follow, interprets this famous parable as revealing the essence of Buddhism that gives full play to individual differences and diverse characteristics. He uses phrases like “illuminating and manifesting the true nature of all phenomena in the individual's life” and the principle of “the cherry, plum, peach and apricot blossoms,” which means that each and every thing has its own unique role to play.

The wisdom that makes possible coexistence among all races, nations and cultures, and also harmonious interaction between humankind and the natural environment is at once the key lo global symbiosis in the twenty-first century and the essential message of The Lotus Sutra.

In closing, I would like to express my sincere hope that this exhibition will help promote cultural and academic exchange and deepen friendship between Russia and Japan.

Daisaku Ikeda,
President
Soka Gakkai International
Founder
Institute of Oriental Philosophy

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Keywords


Buddhist manuscripts
the Lotus Sutra

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