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Avaghoa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[06/01/2014 7:19:40 PM]


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Avaghoa (Devanagari : ) [go] (c. 80 c.
150 CE) was an Indian philosopher -poet, born in Saketa in
northern India to a Brahmin family.
He is believed to have been
the first Sanskrit dramatist , and is considered the greatest Indian
poet prior to Klidsa. He was the most famous in a group of
Buddhist court writers, whose epics rivaled the contemporary
Ramayana .
Whereas much of Buddhist literature prior to the
time of Avaghoa had been composed in Buddhist Hybrid
Sanskrit, Avaghoa wrote in Classical Sanskrit .
Contents [hide]
1 Life as an ascetic
2 Written works
3 See also
4 References
Life as an ascetic [edit]
According to the traditional biography of Avaghoa,
which was translated into Chinese by
Kumrajva, and preserved in that language, he was originally a wandering ascetic who was able to
defeat all-comers in debate.
He set a challenge to the Buddhist monks that if none could meet with him in debate then they should stop
beating the wood-block which signalled to the people to bring offerings to them. There was no one there
to meet the challenge so they stopped beating the wood-block.
However, in the north there was an elder bhiku named Prva at the time, who saw that if he could
convert this ascetic, it would be a great asset to the propagation of the Dharma, so he traveled from
northern India, and had the wood-block sounded.
The ascetic came to ask why it had been sounded and though thinking the old monk would be unable to
debate with him, he accepted his challenge, and after seven days the debate was held in front of the King,
his Ministers, and many ascetics and brahmans. The loser agreed to become the disciple of the other.
They agreed that the elder Prva should speak first, and he said: "The world should be made peaceable,
with a long-lived king, plentiful harvests, and joy throughout the land, with none of the myriad
calamities", to which the ascetic had no response and so was bound to become Prva's disciple, and he
was given full ordination as a bhiku.
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Avaghoa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[06/01/2014 7:19:40 PM]
Although he had to consent to this, he still wasn't convinced of the elder's virtues until he showed him he
had mastered the Bases of Spiritual Power (rddhipd), at which point he gained faith. Prva then
taught him the 5 Faculties, the 5 Powers, the 7 Factors and the 8-fold Noble Path and he eventually
mastered the teaching.
Later the central kingdom was besieged by the Kuna King's army, who demanded 300,000 gold pieces
in tribute. The King could not pay so much as he had only 100,000. The Kuna King therefore asked for
the Buddha's begging bowl, the converted monk and the 100,000 gold pieces for his tribute.
Although the King of the central kingdom was unhappy, the monk persuaded him it would be for the good
of the propagation of the Dharma which would spread across the four continents if he went with the
Kuna King. He was therefore taken away.
The Kuna's King's Ministers however, were unhappy, not thinking that the bhiku was priced correctly
at 100,000 gold pieces. The King, who knew his worth, ordered that seven horses be starved for six days,
then he made an assembly and had the bhiku preach the Dharma.
Even the horses, whose favorite food was placed in front of them, were entranced by the Teaching of the
monk, and listened intently. Everybody was thereby convinced of his worth, and he then gained the name
Avaghoa, Horse-Cry.
He traveled throughout northern India proclaiming the Dharma and guiding all through his wisdom and
understanding, and he was held in great regard by the four-fold assembly, who knew him as The Sun of
Merit and Virtue.
Written works [edit]
He was previously believed to have been the author of the influential Buddhist text Awakening of
Mahayana Faith, but modern scholars agree that the text was composed in China.
And it is now
believed he was not from the Mahayanist period,
and seems to have been ordained into a subsect of the
Mahasanghikas .
He wrote an epic life of the Buddha called Buddhacarita
(Acts of the Buddha) in Sanskrit . I-tsing
(Yijing) mentioned that in his time Buddhacarita was "...extensively read in all the five parts of India and
in the countries of the South Sea (Sumtra, J va and the neighbouring islands). He clothed manifold
notions and ideas in a few words which so delighted the heart of his reader that he never wearied of
perusing the poem. Moreover it was regarded as a virtue to read it in as much as it contained the noble
doctrine in a neat compact form."
It described in 28 chapters the whole Life of the Buddha from his birth until his entry into Parinirvna, but
during the Muslim invasions of the 10th - 12th centuries half of the original text was lost
in Sanskrit,
and today the second half only exists in Chinese and Tibetan translations.
He also wrote Saundaranandakavya , a kvya poem with the theme of conversion of Nanda, Buddhas
half-brother, so that he might reach salvation. The first half of the work describes Nandas life, and the
second half of the work describes Buddhist doctrines and ascetic practices.
He is also thought to be the author of the Mahlakra (Great Ornament).
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See also [edit]
Buddhists born to Brahmin families
References [edit]
1. ^ Olivelle, Patrick; Olivelle, Suman, eds. (2005). Manu's Code of Law . Oxford University Press. p. 24.
ISBN 9780195171464 .
2. ^ Randall Collins, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. Harvard
University Press, 2000, page 220.
3. ^ Coulson, Michael (1992). Sanskrit. Lincolnwood: NTC Pub. Group. p. xviii. ISBN 978-0-8442-3825-8 .
4. ^ Stuart H. Young (trans.), Biography of the Bodhisattva Avaghoa , Maming pusa zhuan ,
T.50.2046.183a, translated by Tripiaka Master Kumrajva.
5. ^ Nattier, J an. 'The Heart Stra: A Chinese Apocryphal Text?'. Journal of the International Association
of Buddhist Studies Vol. 15 (2), 180-81, 1992. PDF
6. ^ Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha by Robert E. Buswell. University of Hawaii Press: 1990. ISBN 0-8248-
1253-0. pgs 1-29
7. ^ Dan Lusthaus, "Critical Buddhism and Returning to the Sources." Pages 30-55 of J amie Hubbard, Paul
Loren Swanson, editors, Pruning the bodhi tree: the storm over critical Buddhism. University of
Hawaii Press, 1997, page 33.
8. ^ Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditaiton. Routledge, 2007, page 26.
9. ^ E. B. Cowell (trans): Buddhist Mahyna Texts, "The Buddha-karita of Asvaghosha", Sacred Books of
the East, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1894. Available online
10. ^ Willemen, Charles, transl. (2009), Buddhacarita: In Praise of Buddha's Acts, Berkeley, Numata Center
for Buddhist Translation and Research. ISBN 978-1886439-42-9 PDF
11. ^

J .K. Nariman: Literary History of Sanskrit Buddhism, Bombay 1919. Avaghoa and his School
12. ^ Yoshichika Honda. 'Indian Buddhism and the kvya literature: Asvaghosa's Saundaranandakavya.'
Hiroshima Daigaku Daigakuin Bungaku Kenkyuuka ronshuu, vol. 64, pp. 17-26, 2004. [1] (J apanese)
Categories : Indian poets Ancient Indian dramatists and playwrights Ancient Indian poets
Buddhist philosophers Converts to Buddhism Zen Patriarchs 2nd-century people
80s births 150s deaths