Sources of Early Buddhism

This project is  a cooperation between the separate disciplines represented by the project leaders Jens E. Braarvig, Ute Hüsken (Religious Studies, South Asian studies, Sanskrit). 


The involved parties enjoy a long-standing, productive, and flourishing cooperation at IKOS, the project has produced and continues to produce very successful MA and PhD projects in both disciplines involved, and also a strong international networks through the common research project “Sources of Early Buddhism”.

While the project leaders are very satisfied with the ongoing collaboration, the project and its outcome as such, they are painfully aware that a sustainable project needs early career scholars who are interested and capable of taking the field further. Therefore the project needs young scholars who make sure that this important and internationally very successful research field can continue with the same strength and vigor. Such projects depend on young scholars, who have to be supported by research fellowships.

The project and research field is very well established at IKOS, it is a sustainable project with a extensive publication record, that also has produced and continues to produce a number of internationally highly recognized publications (e.g. Bibliotheca Polyglotta; “Buddhism and Gender”, forthcoming in the Blackwell Companion to South Asian Buddhism; Words and Deeds. Hindu and Buddhist Rituals in South Asia, ed. by J. Gengnagel & U. Hüsken & S. Raman, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2005; Die Vorschriften für die buddhistische Nonnengemeinde im Vinaya-Piṭaka der, Berlin: Reimer, 1996; Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection (vols. i-iii, 2000-2007, vol. iv in the process of editing, expected 2105, Bodhisatvapiṭakasūtra (to be published next year in the dedicated series at the Viennese Academy of Science and the Tibet Research Centre in Beijing, 2015; “The Schøyen Collection” From Birch Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 2014)

A part of the overall project is the upcoming conference that deals with one specific Buddhist tradition, namely the Mūlasarvāstivādavinaya as a historical source (August 13th to 17th, 2014), funded by IKOS. This conference will be attended by the internationally recognized specialist in the field, and at the same time it will be an occasion for the local early career scholars (MA and PhD) to present their work, and to get integrated in this wider network of scholars. Especially vinaya (monastic law) texts constitute important sources for the religious and social history of Buddhist monastic institutions in ancient India.  These enormous texts (the Mūlasarvāstivāda version e.g. about 8000 pages in a printed paper version) contain a wealth of material, key to our understanding of the dynamics that turned Buddhist monasteries into a pivotal force in Early Buddhist cultures, along with their various projections into the present. More importantly yet, vinaya texts offer valuable insight into the history of the monastic institutions. The MSV is extant in Tibetan translation (from probably the 8th century C.E.), substantial parts have survived in Sanskrit (the Gilgit Manuscripts 9th century), and some sections are available in Chinese translation.

Overall, the project will contribute to our understanding of the dynamics and social expressions of Buddhist monastic communities in India from the 2nd to the 12th century C.E., and intends to deal with the Buddhist narrative tradition and the transformation of the Buddhist legends. In addition, it will contribute to our knowledge of the rise of monastic traditions in Tibet, by translations of texts, and making the texts involved available in a fully searchable electronic format.

Published June 2, 2014 1:23 PM - Last modified Nov. 8, 2018 9:59 AM