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, . , 42 p.
Prerace. Daisaku Ikeda — 1
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
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
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.
Soka Gakkai International
Institute of Oriental Philosophy
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