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Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts of Nepal


and Expansion of Mahāyāna Buddhism in the North
with Special Reference to China

Prof. Shanker Thapa, Ph. D.


Lumbini Buddhist University
Kathmandu, Nepal
drsthapa5721@yahoo.com
Cell phone: (+977) 9841495721
Home: (+977-1) 66 11470.

Paper Presented at the Seminar on


‘Buddhist Light: Symposium on Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage’

Organized by
Institute for Chindian Studies
Jinan University
Guangzhou, China
26~28 Dec. 2009

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Paper presented at the International symposium on ‘Buddhist Light: Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage,
Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009
2

Buddhist Sanskrit Literature of Nepal and Expansion


of Mahāyāna Buddhism in the North with Special Reference to China

Prof. Dr. Shanker Thāpā


Lumbini Buddhist University
Kathmanu, Nepal
drsthapa5721@yahoo.com
Contents
1. Buddhism and Early Contact with China
2. Historical Context: Visits of Early Chinese Pilgrims
3. Proliferation of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts of Nepal
4. Buddhabhadra’s Contribution in Translating Buddhist Texts
5. The Yongle Bell Inscription in Sanskrit
6. Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in China
7. Conclusion

Abstract

The 5th century CE has been a remarkable period in the history of Nepal-China cultural
relations as it witnessed a marshalling of activities designed to promote Buddhism on the
part of both Nepalese and Chinese monk-scholars. During that time, Chinese monks
prompted to undertake hazardous voyages to the Buddhist pilgrimages in Nepal and
India to collect purer sources of Buddhist literature in order to enrich Buddhism in
China because of excessive use of technical terminology in newly translated Buddhist
texts, confusion caused by erroneous translations, misunderstanding of subtle and mystic
ideas in Buddhist philosophy and absence of the code of conduct for the monastic. Fa-
hsien, Hsuan-tsang and Seng-tsai were the famous pilgrims. The most prominent figures
who immortalized Nepal-China relations are Fa-hsien, Hsuan-tsang, I-ching, Wang
Hsuan-tse, Buddhabhadra and Arniko. Among them, Buddhabhadra, made an enormous
contribution to Chinese Buddhism by translating Buddhist texts into Chinese. Along with
his contribution, Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts played prominent role in the historic
relationship and development of Buddhism in China.
Key words: Buddhism, manuscript, translation, script, Sanskrit, pilgrims.
Buddhism and Early Contact with China
The Cultural and political relations between China and Nepal has a long history.
Official contacts began as early as 5th century. However, political missions were exchanged as
the gesture of friendship with the T’ang dynasty only in the 7th century CE. Buddhism acted as
the most important factor in the relationship. It is also said that Chinese were always curious
to explore Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha.
After the introduction of Buddhism in China during the Eastern Han dynasty around
nd
2 century, it began to spread in China. After the Eastern Chin Dynasty ascended power,
Buddhism was promoted by constructing monasteries. Buddhism, an alien religion to Chinese
both in form and content, became an integral part of the spirit of China. After five hundred
years of arrival, Buddhism was firmly established. Under the Ming dynasty (4th to 7th
Century), Buddhism has become completely Sinified that it was no more considered an alien
creed. This situation was favourable for renaissance of Buddhism. From now on, Lāntshā
script, the Tibetan transliteration of Rañjanā script, was adapted exclusively to write Buddhist
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Paper presented at the International symposium on ‘Buddhist Light: Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage,
Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009
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charms and magic spells (Mantra and Dhāranī) in Sanskrit during the subsequent Manchu
dynasty (17th to 20th Century). Then Siddham, which once became popular script to write
Sanskrit in East Asia, fell completely oblivion.1 Manchu’s interest on esoteric Buddhism
somewhat revived Sanskrit language in China through the influence of Tibetan monks.
However, the study of Sanskrit language and South Asian scripts were practically non existent
in China from 15th to 20th centuries. The 5th century CE was a remarkable period in the history
of Nepal-China cultural relations as it witnessed a marshalling of activities designed to
promote Buddhism on the part of the Nepalese scholars. During that time, eminent Chinese
Buddhist monks undertook hazardous voyages to Buddhist pilgrimages in India and Nepal to
pay homage and collect authentic Buddhist texts in order to enrich Chinese Buddhism. The
erroneous translation of Buddhist texts, excessive use of technical terminology in translation,
misunderstanding of subtle and mystic ideas in Buddhist philosophy and absence of monastic
code created confusion among the Chinese Buddhists.2 It prompted Chinese monks to visit
India and Nepal. Renowned monk-scholars turned pilgrims Fa-hsien (Faxian), Hsuan-tsang
(Xuanzang), I-ching (Yijing), Wang Hsuan-tse, Seng-tsai and others visited India and Nepal
in search of genuine Buddhist texts and true doctrines, and also pay homage to the holy
Buddhist shrines. This was the beginning of the cultural relation between the two countries.
The Chinese Masters collected Buddhist texts in India and carried them as a treasure back to
China. All of them, with their elegant Chinese translations of Sanskrit texts, made a crucial
contribution in preserving and propagating the Dharma in China. This situation paved the way
for cultural relations between China and Nepal.
The important feature of Nepal-China relations is that it was first established by the
Buddhist monk-scholars of both the countries. The expatriate monks carried the message of
love and compassion, which Buddha has delivered for the cessation of sufferings. The cultural
intercourse between the two countries had far reaching consequences in the years to come.
Historical Context: Visits of Early Chinese Pilgrims
Significantly, the Chinese have preserved the records of the Chinese Buddhist scholars
such as Fa-hsien, Hsuan-tsang, Seng-tsai 3 and others who went to Nepal in different times.
Seng-tsai, a monk from Tsin Dynasty (265-420 CE) not only visited Nepal but also wrote a
book entitled – Wuo-Kuo-Shih (Matters Concerning the Foreign Kingdoms). Apart from the
fragments of his works which are included in the Shui-Ching-Chu (Commentary on the Water
Classic), there are some quotations in the Yuan-Chien-lei-an (Ch’ing Encyclopedia of 1710)
as well. His work provides interesting historical description of Kapilvastu, the hometown of
the Buddha.
Hsuan-tsang (602–664) was a Tripitaka Master in the Tang Dynasty. He translated
voluminous Sanskrit texts he brought back from India into Chinese. He was dissatisfied with

1
Siddham, literally means ‘successfully achieved’, seems to have been used by Buddhists as an auspicious
invocation at the beginning of literary works. Thus, we see that the alphabet on the Hôriuzi palm-leaves
begins with Siddham, and this script may afterwards have become the name of the alphabet itself.
2
Latika Lahiri, Chinese Monks in India, pp. XIX-XXI; Vijay K. Manandhar, ‘Ven. Buddhabhadra and His
Contribution in Buddhism in 5th Century China’, pp. 307-336.
3
Luciano Petech, Northern India According to the Shui-Ching-Chu, pp. 6 and 33-40.
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Paper presented at the International symposium on ‘Buddhist Light: Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage,
Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009
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the discrepancies and contradictions in available texts. So, he vowed to bring more texts from
India. For that purpose he visited India. He studied under Master Śīlabhadra at Nālandā
Monastery for five years. He collected Buddhist Sanskrit texts. After arriving in Chang an in
645 CE, for next nineteen years, Hsuan-tsang translated more than 55 Sanskrit Sūtras and
treatises in 1,335 fascicles including the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra (Ta pan jo po lo mi to
ching,) in 600 fascicles, the Yogācārabhūmī Śāstra in 100 fascicles and the
Mahābhūmīvibhāsā Śāstra in 200 fascicles along with many others. His book entitled Da
Tang Xi Yu Ji, (Journey to the West in the Great Tang Dynasty) has greater historical value.
It is an important source of information on the topography of Lumbini, the birthplace
of the Buddha. These source materials of spiritual and cultural intercourse between the two
countries have not yet been fully explored. Buddhist Masters such as Fa-hsien, Hsuan-tsang,
Wang Hsuan-Tse, Buddhabhadra and Arniko (Anige) immortalized Nepal-China cultural
relations. Among them, Buddhabhadra alone made enormous contribution in the development
of Chinese Buddhism through translation of a large corpus of Buddhist Sanskrit texts into
Chinese.
Lumbini, the holy pilgrimage has attracted Chinese monks to visit the shrine in Nepal.
The visiting Chinese monks had overcome every difficulty of journey for scholastic zeal and
religious pursuit. 5th century China has witnessed the visits of prominent Buddhist Chinese
monk-scholars to Nepal and India. Fa-hsien,4 the noted Buddhist monk-scholar from Shanshi
province, was one of the earliest Chinese pilgrims to visit Nepal and India. He thoroughly
studied Buddhism by procuring authentic Buddhist texts on the monastic code (Vinaya) and
searching for Buddhist scholars to invite to China, he strengthened Chinese Buddhism by
providing information on Buddhist texts. He along with other fellow monks Hui-Ching, Tao-
Cheng, Hui-ying and Hui-Wei set out for the journey in 399 CE.5 At that time, there were two
routes from China to India, firstly, overland route through the Gobi desert, Central Asian
plains and mountains and the Himalaya, and, secondly, the sea route from the port of Kuang-
chou into the Indian Ocean.6 Fa-hsien traveled overland through Dunhuang, Khotan and the
Himalayas, which was full of peril.7 He studied for ten years in India and copied Buddhist
texts. Hes also translated Buddhist texts into Chinese. Two of the most important texts he
translated were the Mahāparinirvāna Sūtra, a text glorifying the eternal, personal, and pure
nature of Nirvāna—on which the Nirvāna school in China then based its doctrines; and the
Vinaya (monastic code) of the Mahāsānghika School, which thus became available for the
regulation of the numerous monastic communities in China. Fa-hsien visited Kapilvastu and
Lumbini in Nepal in 405 CE. He recorded travel account in - Fo-Kuo-Chi (Fo-guo-ji > A

4
Faxian or Fa-hsien (The Splendour of Dharma) is the spiritual name of Sehi, who was born in Shanxi
province during the 4th century.
5
Fa-hsien, A Record of the Buddhist Countries, pp. 50-51; Wang Hung-wi, ‘Chin-Nepal Maitri, Prachin Tara
Naulo Utsah Sahitko’ (Ancient China-Nepal Ties with New Enthusiasm), Smārikā (Souvenir), p. 86; Chin
Keh-mu, A Short History of Sino-Indian Friendship, pp. 63-65.
6
Lahiri, f. n. no. 2, p. XIX.
7
Charles S. Prebish, The A to Z of Buddhism, p. 118.
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Paper presented at the International symposium on ‘Buddhist Light: Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage,
Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009
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Record of Buddhist Kingdom).8 He also visited Ceylon, where he studied Buddhism for two
years. After visiting more than thirty countries, he returned to China in 414 CE. He collected
abundance of Sanskrit texts. His contribution in the Chinese Buddhist history is enormous. He
carried back from India Buddhist manuscripts, images and paintings to China.9 His account
provides valuable references for the study of ancient Kapilvastu and Lumbini as well.10
Although his account is mainly that of a pilgrim interested in religious matters, he
nevertheless gives a good picture of India during the Gupta period [320-550 CE]. He has
expressed his dismay by narrating the declining condition of Lumbini and Kapilvastu in the
account. The importance of Fa-hsien in the history of Sino-Nepalese relations lies in the fact
that not only was he the prominent Chinese citizen to enter Nepalese territory, but also that he
helped make the journey of Buddhabhadra, the first Nepalese Buddhist monk-scholar ever to
visit China, a success. While in India, he decided to translate Buddhist texts into Chinese in
collaboration with the Nepalese scholar Buddhabhadra.
Proliferation of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts of Nepal
Among all the ancient languages, Sanskrit excels in the sheer number of the works in
the written form. Vast mass of Hindu and Buddhist Sanskrit literature has been preserved in
different scripts on birch-bark, palm-leaf and paper in India and Nepal. Not only in the orient,
had the western world given priority to collect and study Sanskrit manuscripts. On oriental
manuscript collection in the west, Klaus Ludwig Janert, a well known Sanskrit Buddhist
scholar, opines 11 –
More than a million manuscripts in Indian languages (author's addition: including that of
Nepal's Sanskrit manuscripts) exist in libraries throughout the world. More than 600,000 of
these have been listed or described with varying degrees of satisfaction since the inception of
Indian studies in the West about a century and a half ago.

After the collapse of Buddhism in India due to the Muslim invasion by the end of the
th
11 century, almost entire body of Buddhist Sanskrit texts were lost. However, that corpus of
Sanskrit Buddhist literature survived in tact in Nepal, and also, to some extent, in Gāndhāra,
Kashmir, Central Asia and Tibet. Manuscripts preserved in Nepal are extraordinary having
greater religious as well as academic significance. Indian Buddhist texts were also found in
the Central Asian region as well. However, they are fragmentary. In ancient times, each
teacher had his personal collection of Sanskrit manuscripts. Manuscripts were often deposited
in houses, educational institutions or temples. The educational establishments, monasteries,
royalties and nobilities also collected manuscripts and maintained repositories. Since the very
beginning, the collection of Sanskrit manuscripts spread over distant parts in the Indian

8
H. A Giles, The Travels of Fa-hsien (399-414 A.D.) or Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms, passim; Joseph
Needham, Science and Civilization in China, Vol. I, p. 207; James Legge, A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms;
Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-hsien of His Travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in
Search of the Buddhist Book of Discipline, et passim.
9
P. V. Bapat (ed.), 2500 Years of Buddhism, pp. 254-261; Kanai Lal Hazra, The Rise and Decline of Buddhism
in India, pp. 77-81; Jacques Gernet, A History of Chinese Civilization (Eng. tr. J. R. Foster), p. 223; P. C.
Bagchi, India and China, pp. 61-64; Kenneth Ch’en, Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey, pp. 89-92.
10
Bhuwan Lal Pradhan, Lumbini-Kapilvastu- Devadaha, p. 23.
11
Klaus Ludwig Janert, An Annotated Bibliography of the Catalogues of Indian Manuscripts, p. 347.
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Paper presented at the International symposium on ‘Buddhist Light: Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage,
Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009
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subcontinent and beyond. It reached as far as China and Central Asia. Thus, Sanskrit Buddhist
manuscripts proliferated to a large area from India to Nepal and Gāndhāra, Kashmir,
Indonesia, Tibet, entire Central Asia, China, and Japan. Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts are
also recovered in Gilgit, Swat and other adjoining areas in modern Pakistan. There are both
happy and painful moments for Buddhist scholars in which valuable manuscripts were
excavated or destroyed in recent times.
Indian expatriate monks and Buddhist scholars also took such manuscripts with them
to home countries. Consequently, a considerable mass of Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts exist
in Tibetan and Chinese translations. Although India was the place of the origin of Buddhist
Sanskrit manuscripts, it did not survive there. However, Nepal has rendered invaluable
contribution in preserving most of the Sanskrit Buddhist texts in tact for more than one
thousand years.
Nepal had taken initiation to preserve Buddhist Sanskrit texts. Nepal is the place
where Buddhist manuscripts are considered as sacred as Buddhist deities. Consequently,
religious texts in the form of hand written manuscripts tended to proliferate in the Buddhist
society, and the religiosity of the Newār people further helped it to maintain intact. Because
Nepal is the warehouse of Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts, foreign collectors had opportunity
to procure vast mass of Sanskrit manuscripts. Due to the significance of Buddhist Sanskrit
manuscripts, we must have proper understanding of cultural value of the manuscripts. Sanskrit
Manuscripts of Nepal is important cultural relic as well as valuable cultural heritage of
humankind. What makes the Sanskrit palm leaves stand out from other cultural objects are the
scripts written on them.
It is indeed a slight hidden anguish in the heart of the Nepalese people when they are
recalling that more than a hundred years ago, thousands of Sanskrit manuscripts were
captured by European and Japanese explorers, and that they are scattered now in different
countries in the world. Sanskrit manuscripts were exported abroad as raw materials.
Many collectors have dispatched their collection of Nepalese manuscripts to home
countries. Particularly the British scholars learnt Sanskrit in India, and then studied Nepalese
manuscripts. In the same way, British were the pioneers to explore manuscripts in Nepal.
Brian Hodgson found out that Nepal is the warehouse of Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts in the
middle of the 19th century. As British came in contact in the beginning, their collection is the
most remarkable collection of Nepalese Buddhist manuscripts. Hodgson collection12 and other
British collections 13 such as Wright, Bodleian, British Library, India Office Library, and

12
W. W. Hunter (Comp.), Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts Collected in Nepal by Brian Houghton Hodgson;
Hunter, Life of Brian Houghton: British Resident at the Court of Nepal, pp. 337-356.
13
K. Parameswara Aithal and Jonathan Katz, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Sanskrit and Other Indian
Manuscripts of the Chandra Shumshere Collection in the Bodleian Library; Moriz Winternitz and A. B.
Keith, (Comp), Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, pp. 248-263; Theodorr Aufrecht,
Catalogues Codd Sanscriticorum Bibliothecae Budleianae; Theodor Aufrecht, A Catalogue of Sanskrit
Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, pp. 1-111; J. Eggeling (ed.), Catalogue of Sanskrit
Manuscripts in the Library of India Office; E. Windische and J. Eggeling, Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts
in the Library of India Office; Charles H. Tawney and Fredrick W. Thomas (ed.), Catalogue of Two
Collection of Sanskrit Manuscripts, pp. 1-60. Arthur B. Keith and F. W. Thomas (ed.) Catalogue of the
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Paper presented at the International symposium on ‘Buddhist Light: Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage,
Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009
7

Royal Asiatic Society collections are significant manuscript collections outside Nepal. On the
other hand, scholars from other countries also showed up to collect, study and preserve
Nepalese Buddhist manuscripts. Nepalese manuscripts moved out to the extent that, at
present, various foreign institutions have set up repositories of Nepalese manuscripts. Those
collections contain original texts, copies and microfilms. A number of catalogues on them are
also published in Nepal and elsewhere. Indian Sanskrit scholars particularly Rajendralal
Mitra14 and Hara Prasad Shastri15 from Calcutta wrote on the Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts
available in Nepal. They are considered incomparable in the study of Nepal's Buddhist
manuscripts. Similarly, many other Buddhist and Sanskrit scholars also pursued research on
Nepalese manuscripts. Some of the prominent scholars to study Nepalese manuscripts include
- Benoytosh Bhattacharya, E. B. Cowell & J. Eggeling,16 Cecil Bendall,17 Junijiro Takakusu,
Ven. Ekai Kawaguchi, and others collected or studied Sanskrit manuscripts of Nepal.
Nepalese manuscripts are now preserved at Āsā archive (Āsā Saphū Kuthī),18 Keshar Library19
and National Archives of Nepal,20 Asiatic Society of Bengal, Buddhist Library, Nagoya21 and
other Japanese Collections, E. Burnouf and Societé Asiatique de Paris collection,22 German
collection,23 Russian Collection, Tucci’s collection24 and the US collections.25 Similarly, there

Sanskrit and Prākrit Manuscripts in the India office Library, pp. 1-99; Horace H. Wilson, Professor Wilson's
Sanskrit Manuscripts now Deposited in the Bodleian, pp. 1-20; Daniel Wright, History of Nepal Translated
from Parvatiyā, p. 201.
14
Rajendra Lal Mitra , Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal, pp. 1-313.
15
Hara Prasad Shastri, 'Notes on Palm-leaf manuscripts in the Library of H.E. Maharaja of Nepal', pp. 310-316.
Hara Prasad Shastri, 'On a Manuscript of Astasahasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Written in Nālandā and Discovered in
Nepal', pp. 39-40. Hara Prasad Shastri, A Catalogue of Palm-Leaf and Selected Paper Manuscripts Belonging
to the Durbar Library of Nepal, Vol. 1, pp. 2-3.
16
'Catalogue E. B. Cowel and J. Eggeling, 'Hodgson Manuscripts in the Royal Asiatic Society's Library', pp. 1-
52. Theodorr Aufrecht (ed.), A Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, 1869, pp.
1-11; of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Possession of the Royal Asiatic Society', pp. 1-52.
17
Cecil Bendall, 'Notes on a Collection of Manuscripts Obtained by Dr. Gimlette at Kathmandu', pp. 549-551;
Cecil Bendall, Catalogue of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the University Library Cambridge, pp. 1-207;
Cecil Bendall, Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the British Museum, pp. 1-261.
18
Charles M. Novak, Catalogue of Selected Buddhist Manuscripts in Āsā Saphü Kuthī, pp. 1-36. Raja Shakya,
Āsā Saphū Kuthī yā Saphū Dhala, pp. 1-84; Yoshizaki, Kazumi and Kimiaki Tanaka, Catalogue of the
Sanskrit and Newārī Manuscripts in the Āsā Archive (in Jap); Yoshizaki, Kazumi, A Catalogue of the
Sanskrit and Newārī Manuscripts in the Āsā Archives; Yoshizaki, Kazumi, (ed.), A Catalogue of the Sanskrit
and Newārī Manuscripts in the Āsā Archives,.
19
. Keshar Library has 141 Buddhist manuscripts. The oldest is the Kriyāsangraha dated 1090 CE. - A Tentative
List of Manuscripts in the Possession of Keshar Library, Kathmandu (Unpublished), Mitutoshi Moriguchi, A
Catalogue of the Buddhist Tantric Manuscripts. in the National Archives of Nepal and Keshar Library, pp.
1-158.
20
. Jagannath Upadhyaya and Sukadeva Sharma (Comp.), Suchipatra Boudha Visayaka Granthaharuko, Vol. I,
pp. 1-114; Purna Ratna Vajracharya, Suchipatram, pp. 1-104; 'Buddhist Manuscripts of the Bīr Library by the
Sanskrit Seminar of Taisho University', pp. 55-84.
21
Hidenobu Takaoka (ed.), A Microfilm Catalogue of the Buddhist Manuscripts in Nepal, p. V.
22
Eugene Burnouf, Catalogue des Livres Imprimes et Manuscrits composant la bibliotheque de feu, pp. 330-
336; ‘Catalogue des Livres Buddhiques, Ecrits en Sanskrit, que M. B. H. Hodgson a fail coper au Nepal pour
La Comte de la Societe Asiatique . . . ’, pp. 296-298; M. A. Foucher, Catalogue des peintures nepalaises et
tibetaines de la collection B. H. Hodgson e la Bibliotheque de l'Institut de France; A. Cabaton (ed.),
Catalogue Sommaine des Manuscrits Sanscrits et plais de la Bibliotheque Nationale. . . .
23
Kl. L. Jahnert and N.N. Poti, Indische and Nepalische Handschriften; R. Pischel, Katalog der Bibliothek der
Deutschen Morgenlandischen Geselschaft.
24
Francesco Sferra, ‘Sanskrit Manuscripts and Photos of Sanskrit Manuscripts in Giuseppe Tucci’s Collection,
pp. 397-447; Francesco Sferra (ed.) ‘Sanskrit Texts from Giuseppe Tucci’s Collection..
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Paper presented at the International symposium on ‘Buddhist Light: Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage,
Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009
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are many institutions in Japan that have Nepalese manuscripts in their collection. In addition
to it, earlier collection of Nepalese manuscripts deposited at the Tokyo University Library by
Takakushu and Kawaguchi, there are many university libraries in Japan that have Nepalese
manuscript in their collection. Those repositories include Otani, Kyoto, Bukkyo, Ryukoku,
Tokai, Toho, Tohoku and Taisho Universities and also the Toyo Bunko.26 Buddhist Sanskrit
manuscripts of Nepal are the authentic resources of Mahāyāna / Vajrayāna tradition.
Buddhabhadra’s (Juexian / Chiao-hsien)
Contribution in Translating Buddhist Texts
Nepal has secured important place in the development of Mahāyāna Buddhism.
Nepalese Buddhist scholars, both monks and laymen, have rendered remarkable contribution
in the making of Buddhist history. In this context, Nepal has served as the melting pot in
Buddhist activities for centuries. Consequently, Buddhist traditions headed towards the
northern countries were further enriched. Buddhist scholastic activity was well developed in
Nepal during the medieval times. The contribution of Newār scholars in Tibet for the
development of scholarly Buddhism is noteworthy.27 Tibetans also made arduous journeys
across the Himalayas to Nepal to study Sanskrit and Buddhism. Newār Buddhist scholars
taught Buddhist Tantras to them and other aspects of esoteric Buddhism. The contribution of
Newār scholars is well recorded in Tibetan historical sources.28 Several Sanskrit Buddhist
texts were also translated into Tibetan by Nepalese scholars. Not only limited to Tibet,
Nepalese Buddhist scholars for instance, Ven. Buddhabhadra became very famous in China in
the 5th century for scholarly activities. He lived there from 406 to 429 CE. It is also said that
Ven. Jīna Śrī was also a Nepalese who rendered invaluable contribution in the development of
Buddhism in China.
Around the 5th century, Kashmir was one of the most important centers of Buddhist
and Sanskrit studies. It was a centre of Sarvāstivāda doctrine.29 At that time, Great Master
Chih Yen (the 2nd Patriarch of the Hua-yen sect) went to Kashmir accompanied by four
Chinese monks with a motive to study Buddhism. There he met eminent Masters
Buddhabhadra and his teacher Sanghadatta. Chih Yen, impressed from their scholarly ability,
praised both the Masters –

25
IASWR (ed.), Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts,; David Nelson, ‘Penniman-Gribbel Collection of Sanskrit
Manuscripts’ pp. 203-217; Stephan H. Levitt, ‘A Descriptive Catalogue of the Indic and Greater Indic
Manuscripts in the Collection of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania', pp. 97-152.
26
Matsunami Seiren, Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Tokyo University, pp.1-386; Kiyotaka
Goçima and Keiyo Noguci, A Succinct Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Possession of the
Faculty of Letters- Kyoto University; Yutaka Iwamoto, 'Catalogue of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the
Library of Tokai University'; Catalogue of the Kawaguci - Takakusu Collection of Sanskrit Manuscripts
Possessed by Tokyo University Library (Handwritten); Yutaka Iwamoto, 'Catalogue of the Buddhist Sanskrit
Manuscripts in the Library of Tokai University', pp. 1-37; Gajin Nagao, Buddhist Manuscripts Text of
Kathmandu.
27
Newār people are one of the many ethnic groups living in Nepal. Primarily, they are the business people and
mostly live in urban areas. They speak Newārī language which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family. A large
section of the Newārs is Hindus where as a section of them are Vajrayāna Buddhists.
28
Shanker Thapa, ‘Newār Scholars and Tibetan Buddhists,’ pp. 81-89; Roerich, The Blue Annals, pp. 1-1093.
29
Lahiri, f. n. no. 2, p. 27.
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Paper presented at the International symposium on ‘Buddhist Light: Buddhism and Sino Nepal Cultural Linkage,
Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009
9

The conduct of these two Dharma Masters was extremely impressive and their cultivation was
correct and pure, and very much in accord with the Dharma. If only the monks in Chung Kuo
could be like this. But there were no ‘Good Knowing Advisors’ in Chung Kuo at that time and
so no one has an opportunity to become enlightened.

He had desired to return to Chung Kuo with a scholarly monk. So, he addressed an
Assembly of monks in Kashmir -
Which one of you will be compassionate and cultivate the Bodhisattva way by returning with
me to the land of Yao Chin (Chung Kuo) to convert living beings?

The other Buddhist Masters in Kashmir and the Abbot of the Vihāra recommended
Buddhabhadra to go to China for the holy mission. Finally, he set out for China with Chih
Yen where he lived until 429 CE. Buddhabhadra belonged to the Sarvāstivāda School which
flourished in Kashmir.30 He was also a disciple of the famous Dhyāna Master Buddhasena.
Historical evidences attest that Nepalese Buddhist Masters started to visit Tibet since
th
the 6 century CE. Pema bKathang, a Tibetan historical record, mentions that some
enthusiasts of Licchavi 31 origin went to Tibet from Nepal and renounced the world to become
Buddhist monks. Later, they developed understanding of Buddhism so greatly that they
became famous scholars in Tibet. The contribution of Nepalese scholars played important role
in the development of scholastic tradition in Tibet. Therefore, Nepalese scholars were very
prominent for Tibetans Buddhists. The fact that Buddhist manuscripts written in Rañjanā and
Newārī scripts, which are preserved in various monasteries in different parts of Tibet proves
the popularity of Nepalese Buddhist scholars and texts in Tibet. Not only this, Newār art and
artists also influenced Tibetan Buddhism in general and art and architecture in particular.
It needs to be pointed out that there were prominent Nepalese Buddhist scholars who
rendered valuable contribution in the propagation of Buddhism in China as well.
Buddhabhadra’s visit to China in the 5th century was the first of its kind by a Nepalese monk.
Similarly, two other Nepalese Buddhist Masters Vimoksasena32 and Subhākarasimha (Shan-
wu-wei) 33 also visited China in the sixth and eighth centuries respectively. They also
contributed in the development of Buddhism in China by translating some Buddhist texts.34
Unfortunately, Nepalese chronicles do not record the great accomplishments of the prominent
Nepalese Buddhist Masters Buddhabhadra. In fact, Buddhabhadra was the pioneer of Nepal -
China cultural relations.
Historical evidences suggest that the tradition of studying Buddhist texts already
existed before 7th century CE in Nepal. The literary activities of Buddhabhadra in China as a
Buddhist scholar attests the fact that Buddhist monks in Nepal studied Sanskrit Buddhist

30
E. Zurcher, Buddhist Conquest of China, p. 223.
31
Licchavi dynasty ruled Nepal from 4th to 8th centuries.
32
Vijay K. Manandhar, A Comprehensive History of Nepal-China Relationship, p. 47; P. C. Bagchi, f. n. no. 9,
pp. 45 and 220.
33
Jagannath Upadhyaya, ‘Vajrayana: Dharma, Darshan Aur Jeevan-Darshan, (Vajrayāna: Religion-Philosophy
and Vision)’, pp. 56-57; Chou Yi-Liang, ‘Tantrism in China’, pp. 251-272; Paul B. Watt, ‘Tantric Buddhism
in China', pp. 399-400; Manandhar, f. n. no. 32, pp. 47-49; P. C. Bagchi, f. n. no. 9 , pp. 52-53 and 218.
34
Subhākarasimha has translated Mahāvairocana Abhisambodhivikurvitādhisthānavaipulya Sūtra (Ta p’i lu che
na ch’eng pien chia ch’ih ching), Subāhuparipriccha Sūtra (Su p’o hu t’ung tzu ch’ing wen ching),
Susiddhikarapūjavidhi (Su his ti chieh lo kung yang fa) and some Dhāranī into Chinese.
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texts.35 The prevailing documentary evidences suggest that some Nepalese people of Licchavi
origin were initiated in Tibet.
Buddhabhadra belonged to the Shakya clan of the historical Buddha and was a disciple
of Dhyāna Master Buddhasena. Some historians claim that he was an Indian, however,
Nepalese authors along with some European historians considered him to be of Nepalese
origin.36 Buddhabhadra was born in Nagarahāra, in Afghanistan, in 358 CE. Later, he returned
back to Kapilvastu.37 He is also said a descendant of Amritodāna, an uncle of the Buddha. His
complete devotion to Buddhism turned him into a Buddhist Scholar of eminence. He also
worked for the promotion of Buddhism in Kashmir. He became famous by the names of Fo-
t’o-pa-t’o-lo and Chiao-hsien in China. In the beginning, he lived and taught Buddhism in
Mauthāyan Tholo Vihāra in Kashmir.38 As a Buddhist scholar, he preached Buddhism in
China and initiated translation of Sanskrit texts. He had solved a lot of puzzling questions
relating to Buddhism raised by Chinese monks. He soon became famous there. At that time,
Kumārajīva, another noted scholar was at Buddhist mission in China. In the beginning, they
collaborated in the Buddhist mission; however, later Buddhabhadra had difference of opinion
with him.39 As the confrontation grew very serious, Buddhabhadra left Chang-an for Nanking.
Then he took charge of the senior translator at Tao Ch’ang monastery in Yang-tu. Some
renowned Chinese monks also joined him in the translation project. Buddhabhadra also
collaborated with the great Chinese Sanskrit scholar Fa-hsien to translate Buddhist Sanskrit
texts. His meticulous efforts attest his scholarly ability. He has rendered significant
contribution in the Chinese Buddhist history. He has translated several Buddhist classics into
Chinese while staying at Tao Ch'ang monastery. His translations include -
• Mahāsānghika Bhikshunī Vinaya (Mo ho seng ch'i pi ch'iu ni chieh pen), 1 fascicle,
with Fa-hsien in 405 CE
• Mahasānghika Vinaya (Mo ho seng ch'i lu) 40 Vols, with Fa-hsien in 416 CE at Tao
Ch'ang monastery
• Mahāsānghika Bhikshu Vinaya (Mo ho seng ch'i ta pi ch'iu chien pen), 398-421CE.40
• Anantamukha Sādhakadhāranī (Ch'u sheng wu liang men ch'ih ching), 419 CE at Tao
Ch'ang monastery.
• Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra (Ta fang ten ju lai tsang ching), 420 CE at Tao Ch'ang
monastery.
• Bhadracaryāpranidhāna (Wen shu shih li fa yuan ching),41 420 CE at Tao Ch'ang
monastery.

35
The oldest available Sanskrit manuscript of Nepal dates back to 9th century which is now deposited at the
Cambridge University Library. The tradition of literary activities began much before this time in Nepal. See:
Shanker Thapa, 'Textual History of Pañcarakshyā Sūtra', pp. 21-38.
36
. Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, p.193; Samuel Beal, Records of the Western World, p. XII; The
native scholars such as Niranjan Bhattarai, Satya Mohan Joshi and Kaishar Bahadur K. C., and foreign writers
such as Holmes Welch and E. Zurcher believes that Buddhabhadra was a Nepalese scholar.
37
. Vijay K. Manandhar, Cultural and Political Aspects of Nepal-China Relations, p. 7.
38
. Ibid,
39
. Kenneth Chen, f. n. no. 9, p. 109; Zurcher, f. n. no. 30, p. 223.
40
Lewis R. Lancaster and Park Sung Bae, The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalogue, pp. 325 and
530; J. K. Nariman, Literary History of Sanskrit Buddhism, p. 263.
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• Yogācārabhūmī (Ta mo to lo ch'an ching), 2 fascicles, 421 CE in Lu Shan, Yang-tu,


• Avatamsaka Sūtra (Ta fang kung fo hua yen ching) - 50 chapters, (60 fascicles), 422 at
Tao Ch'ang monastery. 42
• Buddhayāna Samādhi Sāgara Sūtra (Kuan fo san mei hai ching), 10 fascicles, 423 CE,
in Yang-chou
• Dharmadhātu Pravesana Parivarta - Gandavyūha Sūtra (Ru fajie pin).43
• Vinayapitaka Buddhāvatamsaka Mahāvaipulya Sūtra,
• Buddhānusmriti Samādhī,
• Mahāparinirvāna Sūtra, 6 Vols,
• Vaipulya Sūtra,
• Jñāna Sūtra,
• Mañjuśrī Sūtra.
These translations of Ven. Buddhabhadra certainly brought revolutionary changes in
the existing form of Chinese Buddhism. It helped in expansion, institutionalization and
authentication Buddhism in China.
The Yongle Bell Inscription in Sanskrit
The Yongle Bell is exceptionally important because of Sanskrit Mantra and Dhāranī
inscribed on it. Mantras inscribed on the bell are in Rañjanā (Lāntshā) script and Chinese
characters. 44 The Mantras inscribed in Chinese are but a semblance of the original Sanskrit.
This bell was cast in 1404 CE during the reign of Emperor Zhu Di of Ming dynasty.
Astonishingly, the bell was cast entirely inscribed with Sūtras, Mantras and Dhāranis in Han
and Sanskrit languages. Rañjanā script spread to China in the 13th century from Nepal. It also
prevails in Tibet and was highly esteemed as a divine script of a divine language.
Yongle bell is Buddhist bell, which is an unequalled Buddhist icon. It has been
regarded as the Hua -yen (Avatamsaka Sūtra) bell. As the name implies, the inscriptions on
the bell should be the contents of Avatamsaka Sūtra. However, recent verifications of the bell
inscription has identified that the Sūtra is not included in the list of more than one hundred
Mantras and Sūtras inscribed so far on the bell in Sanskrit and Han languages. The inscription
constitutes more than 230,000 letters and characters. Along with Chinese characters, the
inscription bears Rañjanā scripts as well. There is a strong possibility that Newār script artists

41
Bunyiu Nanjio, A Catalogue of Chinese Buddhist Tripitaka -The Sacred Canon of Buddhism in China and
Japan; Lancaster et al, f. n. no. 40, pp. 119, 129, 355 and 361.
42
Lancaster et al, f. n. no. 408, pp. 43-44; Zurcher, f. n. no. 30, p. 407.
43
Douglas Osto, ‘Proto–Tantric Elements in the Gandavyūha Sutra’, Journal of Religious History, Vol. 33, No.
2, June 2009, p 166. The fifth-century translation by Buddhabhadra contains substantially the same content as
Siksānanda’s seventh-century translation.
44
Lāntshā is the Tibetan transliteration of Rañjanā script. It is an ornate Brahmic script derivative still used by
Tibetans, Nepalese and Bhutanese to write Sanskrit manuscripts. The Lāntshā script is essentially the same as
what in Nepal is known as the Rañjanā script. Many of the Buddhist Sanskrit palm-leaf and birch-bark
manuscripts brought to Tibet from Nepal are written in Rañjanā. This script is still used to write fine
manuscripts of Sanskrit Buddhist texts. The most frequent use for this script in Tibet today is on the title
pages of Tibetan texts, where Sanskrit title is often written in Rañjanā followed by a transliteration and
translation in the Sambhota (Tibetan) script. Rañjanā is also used decoratively on temple walls, on the outside
of prayer wheels as well as in drawing Mandalas to inscribe Mantras and Dhāranīs.
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from Nepal might have joined the project to design and inscribe the inscription in Rañjanā
script on the bell. In that case, Nepal‘s contribution in the religious project is obvious.
Certainly, it has impact in strengthening esoteric Buddhism in the mainland China.
Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in China
Historical evidences suggest that the tradition of studying Buddhist text was already
existent before the 7th century CE in Nepal. Buddhist scholarship helped to develop the
tradition of writing and copying Buddhist texts. Not only Indian Buddhist texts were inherited
in Nepal, Newār Buddhist scholars wrote a large number of indigenous Buddhist texts in
Sanskrit related to rituals, ritual songs, hymns, eulogies, Avadāna stories, Purāna and so on.
However, those texts written in Nepal are not translated into Tibetan or Chinese. The period
from 11th to the 14th century, has been considered as the golden period of Buddhist scholarly
activities in Nepal. Debther Snong po (The Blue Annals), a Tibetan historical record,
mentions about the activities of eminent Nepalese Buddhist scholars in Tibet as well as in
Nepal and relations between Tibetan and Nepalese scholars.
Tibet has very important collections of Nepalese Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts. They
are also preserved in some places in China as well although those manuscripts are few in
number. Due to religious, cultural and commercial relationship between Nepal and Tibet, a
great bulk of Nepalese Buddhist manuscripts reached there. There are monasteries where
Nepalese manuscripts are in their collection. For an instance, Tibet's gNor monastery has
Nepalese palm leaf manuscripts in its collection. In East Asia, China and Japan have Nepalese
Buddhist manuscripts in their collection. However, Korea never showed up with such interests
to set up a repository of Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts in spite of the fact that Buddhism is
deeply rooted in Korean society and culture.
Prof. Max Muller believes that during the middle-ages innumerable manuscripts were
taken from India to China. A bulk of Sanskrit Buddhist texts reached China via Central Asia
long before the seventh century of our era. Since the first century onwards, Chinese pilgrims
as well as expatriate Buddhists took thousands of volumes of Sanskrit manuscripts to China.45
Huen-tsang alone took 657 Buddhist texts from India.46 Buddhist scholars like Ahn Shih-kao,
Kumarajiva, Buddhabhadra, Fa-hsien and others translated important Buddhist texts into
Chinese. The earlier translated texts include – Ratnakuta Sūtra, Lalitvistara Sūtra (P’u Yao-
ching), Śuvarnaprabhāśa Sūtra, Daśabhūmika Sūtra and so on.47
Buddhist texts in Sanskrit which reached from Nepal and India became popular in
China. They were looked upon very sacred, full of mysteries and significant; and therefore as
the most precious relics. The monks performed incantations to expel demons, rescue souls
from hell, bring down rain on the earth, cope with calamities etc.48

45
The notable persons to collect Sanskrit manuscripts and took to China were Ahn Shi-kau, Chi-tsin, Chi-mang,
Dharmaraksha (Fa-hou), Kumarajiva, Fa-hsien, Sun-yun and many others.
46
F. Max Muller, ‘On Sanskrit Texts Discovered in Japan’, p. 155.
47
Also see for details: Lancaster et al, f. n. no. 40.
48
Max Muller, f. n. no. 46, p. 158.
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Sanskrit manuscripts were so important that they preserved carefully and almost
worshipped. In connection with Sanskrit manuscripts in China, it is worth mentioning about a
text of Sukhāvativyūha Sūtra in the possession of Prof. Max Muller given by a Japanese
scholar Ishikawa Shuntai. It is a Sanskrit text carried from Nepal to China and from China to
Japan, written in the Newārī alphabet with a Chinese translation, and transliteration in
Japanese. Its content differs to other Sukhāvativyūha Sūtra texts from Nepal preserved in the
Royal Asiatic Society - London, Bibliotheque Nationale, Asiatique Societé, Cambridge
University library and Bodleian Library.49
Prof. H. H. Wilson opines that Sanskrit texts of which the Chinese translations had
been recovered might still be found in the monasteries of China. A large numbers of Sanskrit
manuscript had been exported to China. These literary exportations began as early as the first
century CE. Even Sanskrit manuscripts that were taken to China from India, many of them
were written in Newārī scripts originated in Nepal.50 Sanskrit manuscripts are scattered in
distant monasteries in China. Both Indian and Nepalese Sanskrit manuscripts exist in China.
Sanskrit manuscripts that reached China from Nepal have been further modified, so as to give
it an almost Chinese appearance.51 Even Chinese pilgrims like Fa-hsien studied Sanskrit in
India, obtained palm leaf manuscripts of Buddhist texts and upon return to China translated
some of them into Chinese. Similarly, Sanskrit manuscripts made in roads to China via central
Asia, Gilgit and also directly from India. In later centuries, when Buddhist texts were
completely lost in India, they remained in tact in Nepal. Buddhist texts of Nepal which are
written in Newārī and Rañjanā scripts reached Tibet and from there to China. Similarly,
during political visits of dignitaries of the two countries, Buddhist manuscripts were used as
one of the precious items to exchange gifts.
Chinese translation of Sanskrit Buddhist texts brought social and religious changes in
the Chinese society. Chinese scholars were impressed from translated texts. The
Amoghapāśahrdaya Dhāranī is one of those documents which already in early Chinese
Buddhism have fascinated generations of scholars. Taisho Tripitaka has listed five Chinese
translations of Amoghapāśahrdaya Dhāranī from 6th to 10th centuries.52 It attests the
importance of Sanskrit Buddhist texts and their impact on development of Buddhist creeds in
China.
A Nepalese manuscript was discovered in a small depilated monastery in T’ien T’ai
shan in Chekiang province south of the port of Ningpo. It makes us believe that there are
many other Chinese monasteries that have Nepalese Buddhist manuscripts in their collection.
The Nepalese manuscripts in T’ien T’ai shan monastery were brought from Nepal in 1200 CE
or after.53 As Jan Yun Hua writes – ‘during the ninth month of the third year of Chih-tao, Lo-
hu-lo [Rahula?], a monk from Ni-po-lo [Nepal] [of the west] offered Sanskrit canons in

49
Ibid., p. 161.
50
Ibid., pp. 153-188.
51
Ibid., p. 161.
52
R. O. Meisezahl, ‘The Amoghapāśahrdaya-Dhāranī the Early Sanskrit Manuscript of the Reiyunji Critically
Edited and translated’, pp. 271-272.
53
A. Kielhorn, ‘Sanskrit Manuscript in China,’ Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, Oct 1894, pp. 835-838.
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twenty-six bundles.54 Similarly, he further writes that monks, namely, Hui-te and others came
back from the country of Nepal. Seventy-three bundles of Sanskrit manuscripts were
presented’.55
The Cultural Palace of Nationalities in Beijing has Nepalese Buddhist manuscripts in
its collection. In addition, Nepal’s Sanskrit manuscripts are also kept in the China Library of
Nationalities - Beijing, Lushun Museum and Lin Yin Temple in Hangzhou. Very significant
attempt is being made by the Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist and Sanskrit scholars to pursue
research on Sanskrit manuscripts recovered from different collections in Tibet in recent times.
It is being done at the 'Research Institute of Sanskrit Manuscript and Buddhist Literature
(RISMBL)' at Peking University. The Daśa Kriyā (Ten Life Cycle Rituals)56 manuscript
preserved at the Lin Yin temple in Hangzhou, which has forty three palm leaf folios, has been
transcribed by Saerji, a Tibetan Sanskrit scholar and Lecturer at Peking University. Similar
version of the manuscript is also in the collection of National Archives of Nepal. Although
small in number, China has a pool of promising Sanskrit scholars. Similarly, Peking
University has been working for the preservation and research of Sanskrit manuscripts of
Tibet with financial support from the Ministry of Education. Most importantly, a considerable
part of Sanskrit manuscripts available in Tibet are of Nepalese origin written in Newārī
scripts. This modern approach could promote and endorse centuries old Nepal - China cultural
relation.
The translation of Sanskrit Buddhist text into Chinese is an important aspect in the
development of Buddhism in China. However, in the beginning, even the best translation of
Buddhist texts was obscure to those Chinese literati who had not made a special study of the
creed. Abounding in Sanskrit terms in clumsy Chinese transliteration or ambiguous
translations, these texts could not be but repulsive to even those Chinese scholars whose
interest in this new religion had been roused.57 The 5th century translation of Buddhist Sanskrit
texts into Chinese by Buddhabhadra and his collaborator Fa-hsien greatly helped to overcome
the situation. However, much later, a 'College for Translating the Sutra' was also established
which comprised of Indian experts of Sanskrit and Chinese scholars.
Conclusion
Buddhism finally developed in two traditions – Theravāda and Mahāyāna. The former
headed towards Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia whereas the later reached
Nepal, Tibet, Gandhara, entire Central Asia, Buryat, China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan.
Entire textual corpus of Mahāyāna is written in Sanskrit. Mahāyāna texts constitute more than
1200 independent titles. Most part of those texts was written by Nālandā and Vikramśila
monks.
Mahāyāna Buddhism that prevails in Nepal and Tibet is esoteric Buddhism inherited
from Nālandā and Vikramśila tradition. Some of the Newār scholars were also affiliated to

54
Fo-Tsu T’ung-chi 997; Jan Yun-hua, ’Buddhist Relations between India and Sung China Pt II’, pp. 135-168.
55
Fo-Tsu T’ung-chi – 1020; IIbid.
56
The manuscript of Daśa Kriyā (Ten Life Cycle Rituals) is not translated into either Chinese or Tibetan.
57
R. H. Van Gullik, , Siddham: An Essay on History of Sanskrit Studies in China and Japan, pp. 11-12.
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Nālandā and Vikramśila Mahāvihāras. They contributed in the development of Buddhist


scholarship in Nepal. Newār Buddhist scholars also contributed in the development of
scholarly Buddhism in Tibet. The most important contribution of Nepal to the humankind is
the preservation of Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts after it was lost in India. Sanskrit text are
translated into Tibetan (Kanjur and Tanjur) and Chinese (Tripitaka) languages. In the course
of proliferation of Nepalese Buddhist manuscripts, they reached in Tibet and China as well.
During the course of development of Chinese Buddhism, many expatriate monk
scholars rendered valuable contribution. In this connection, Nepal’s contribution is also
enormous. Nepalese monk Buddhabhadra visited China in the 5th century. During that time, he
preached Buddhism and translated several Buddhist texts. His most significant translations are
Mahasānghika Vinaya (Mo ho seng ch'i lu) and Avatamsaka Sūtra (Ta fang kung fo hua yen
ching). His efforts have left imprints in Chinese Buddhism. In fact, proliferation of Sanskrit
manuscripts in the North also helped to expand and strengthen Mahāyāna Buddhism. The
activities of Buddhabhadra and other expatriate monks further helped Chinese Buddhism to
get flourished. It helped to develop authentic Chinese Buddhism.

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Selected Bibliography
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Indian Manuscripts of the Chandra Shumshere Collection in the Bodleian Library: Pt. 3,
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2. Aufrecht, Theodor, A Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College,
Cambridge: Deighton, Bell and Co. 1869.
3. Aufrecht, Theodorr, Catalogues Codd Sanscriticorum Bibliothecae Budleianae, Oxford: 1864.
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5. Bapat, P. V. (ed.), 2500 Years of Buddhism, New Delhi: Ministry of Information, 1997.
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7. Bendall, Cecil, Catalogue of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the University Library
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8. Bendall, Cecil, Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the British Museum, London: Gilbert
and Rivington, 1902.
9. Bendall, Cecil, 'Notes on a Collection of Manuscripts Obtained by Dr. Gimlette at Kathmandu',
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feu M. Eugène Burnouf, Paris: 1854
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Nepal pour La Comte de la Societe Asiatique et qui ont etc. presentes all conseil dans sa seance
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29. Haas, Ernst, Catalogue of Sanskrit and Palī Books in the British Museum, London: Trubner &
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University', Proceeding of the Faculty of Letters, Vol. 2, Tokyo: Tokai University, 1960,
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50. Matsunami Seiren (comp.), Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Tokyo University
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of Great Britain and Ireland’, New Series, Vol. 12, No. 2, Apr., 1880.
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Reiyunji Critically Edited and Translated’, Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 4, No. 1~4, 1962.
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Jinan University, Guangzhau, China, Dec.2009