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Sanskrit Manuscripts : Bodhisattvabhūmi


Sanskrit Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The Bodhisattvabhūmi forms a major part of the Yogācārabhūmi(śāstra), a vast compendium of teachings taught in the Yogācāra school of Buddhism. The Yogācārabhūmi(śāstra) teaches 17 bhūmis (stages) of Yogācāra practice, and the Bodhisattvabhūmi is the 15th, but it is the most elaborate of all the parts of the Yogācārabhūmi(śāstra). The Yogācārabhūmi(śāstra) as a whole was translated into Chinese and Tibetan, but only a few parts of its Sanskrit source have so far been discovered. The Bodhisattvabhūmi is the first of those, and this Cambridge manuscript was the first of them. Before the translation of the whole of the Yogācārabhūmi by Xuanzang into Chinese in the 7th century, the Bodhisattvabhūmi had been independentaly translated into Chinese two times, by Dharmakṣema (5th c.) and Gunabhadra (5th c.). Additionally, Chinese translations of parts of the Bodhisattvabhūmi are known. The publication of the Sanskrit text of the Bodhisattvabhūmi by Wogihara using this manuscript was significant in the history of the Yogācāra studies. Not only this manuscript is significant for being one of the few surviving Sanskrit manuscripts of an important Buddhist treatise, it is also significant for its age. Bendall gives a special treatment for this and the Manuscript of the Pārameśvaratantra (Add. 1049) in his ”Excursus on two MSS. of the IXth Century, Add. 1049 and Add. 1702” in his Catalogue of the Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the University Library, Cambridge (Bendall 1883). Although Bendall dated this manuscript to the 9th century, the availability of more dated manuscripts from a similar era and an improved knowledge of the calendar used in Nepal between the 5th and 7th century enable us to date the manuscript probably to the 8th century. The manuscript originally consisted of 151 folios. Of those, ff. 1–3, 20, 30, 41, 51 are now missing. At the time of photographing, the first 21 folios were placed in the reverse order (25b, 25a, 24b, 24a, and so on). The rest maintains the correct order. At least two scribes participated in the production of this manuscript. The hand changes on folio 25. An image of the folio featured in Bendall's catalogue. The hand change occurring in mid-folio and paleographical similarities of individual letters between the two hands suggest minimal time-span between the two hands. </p>

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