MS 2375/08
Description MS in Sanskrit on palm-leaf, India, late 3rd - early 4th c., 3 fragments from f. 160 and 6 from another f. in the same section, largest 4,3x11 cm, originally ca. 4,3x40? cm, single column, (ca. 4x38? cm), 4 lines in Kusana script.
Context MSS 2179, 2372-2386 and 2416 come from a Library that must have been of considerable size originally, maybe 1400 MSS or more. It probably belonged to a Buddhist monastery of Mahasanghika which was in Bamiyan, according to the report of the Chinese monk, Xuan Zhang (604-662) who visited this monastery in the 7th c. A few fragments with Karosthi script from the same library are in a private collection in Japan. Further 60 birch bark scrolls and fragments in Karosthi script in British Library, which according to Prof. Richard Salomon are "The Dead Sea Scrolls of Buddhism" (The Times, 26.06.1996). Similar fragments were in the Hackin collection in Kabul Museum, which was destroyed during the recent Afghan civil war. There are 725 leaves and fragments with similar scripts from this period found in Chinese Turkistan, now in Berlin. The original numbers of this MS was MSS 2375/8/1, 2375/8/2, 2375/12, 2374/2/3, 2374/2/6, 2376/66, 2376/126, 2376/146 and 2376/171/2.
Provenance 1. Buddhist monastery of Mahasanghika, Bamiyan, Afghanistan (-7th c.); 2. Cave in Hindu Kush, Bamiyan.
Commentary The present fragments are corresponding with the opening part of Section IV (Xufen), chapter IV (Jiajie pin) of the so-called Sariputra-Abhidarma, which exists only in Chinese translation as the Shelifo apitan lun, a translation dated 415. Recent research in Japan has adopted the theory that the work Sariputra-Abhidarma covers the entire Abhidarmapitaka of the Dharmaguptakas. In Northern India from Kashmir to Gandhara where various Buddhist schools coexisted, it is not inconceivable that they shared essentially the same corpus of Abhidharma literature. The hoard contains a great number of hitherto unknown Buddhist texts, as well as the oldest surviving MS testimony to some of the most important texts of Mahayana Buddhism. Among these are the by far oldest Prajnaparamita MSS known (2nd-3rd c.) This literature is the earliest scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahasanghikas are regarded as the traditional Buddhist school, which first propagated Mahayana ideas. The present collection stands right at the roots of the formation of Mahayana Buddhism, and is its single most important source.
Published Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection I, Jens Braarvig, Editor-in-chief: Buddhist manuscripts, vol. 2. Oslo 2002.
Place of origin India
Dates Late 3rd - early 4th c