The research project “Die frühbuddhistischen Handschriften aus Gandhāra: religiöse Literatur an der Schnittstelle von Indien, Zentralasien und China” was established in 2012. On the basis of philological and historical methods, it provides new insight into the early history of Buddhism on its way to becoming a world religion. The project studies manuscripts found in the 1990s in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan – the ancient region of Gandhāra. They were composed in Gāndhārī, the Middle Indic local language, and date from between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century CE. They thus constitute – apart from a small number of stone inscriptions – the oldest original sources for the history of Buddhism and for Indian writing culture. The manuscripts cast special light on the development of Buddhist scholasticism and Mahāyāna Buddhism. In the first centuries of our era, Gandhāra also served as a cultural bridge from India to Central Asia and China, and a famous school of Buddhist art flourished there. These, too, are processes whose understanding is enriched by the new sources. The project prepares text editions of Gāndhārī manuscripts that in turn form the basis for a dictionary and a grammar of Gāndhārī as well as for a history of literature and religion in Gandhāra.
Die frühbuddhistischen Handschriften aus Gandhāra
Religiöse Literatur an der Schnittstelle von Indien, Zentralasien und China
Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Sebastian Zwies M.A.
Union der deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften
Tel: 06131/218 528-17
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