Sutra

Sutra (Sanskrit: सूत्र, romanizedsūtra, lit. 'string, thread[1]') in Indian literary traditions refers to an aphorism or a collection of aphorisms in the form of a manual or, more broadly, a condensed manual or text. Sutras are a genre of ancient and medieval Indian texts found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[2][1]

In Hinduism, sutras are a distinct type of literary composition, a compilation of short aphoristic statements.[2][3] Each sutra is any short rule, like a theorem distilled into few words or syllables, around which teachings of ritual, philosophy, grammar, or any field of knowledge can be woven.[1][2] The oldest sutras of Hinduism are found in the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of the Vedas.[4][5] Every school of Hindu philosophy, Vedic guides for rites of passage, various fields of arts, law, and social ethics developed respective sutras, which helped teach and transmit ideas from one generation to the next.[3][6][7]

In Buddhism, sutras, also known as suttas, are canonical scriptures, many of which are regarded as records of the oral teachings of Gautama Buddha. They are not aphoristic, but are quite detailed, sometimes with repetition. This may reflect a philological root of sukta (well spoken), rather than sutra (thread).[8]

In Jainism, sutras also known as suyas are canonical sermons of Mahavira contained in the Jain Agamas as well as some later (post-canonical) normative texts.[9][10]

A Sanskrit manuscript of Lotus Sutra in South Turkestan Brahmi script
A Sanskrit manuscript page of Lotus Sutra (Buddhism) from South Turkestan in Brahmi script
Kalpa sutra-Jina's mother dreams c1465
A manuscript page from Kalpa Sūtra (Jainism)

Etymology

Birch bark MS from Kashmir of the Rupavatra Wellcome L0032691
A 17th-century birch bark manuscript of ancient Panini Sutra, a treatise on grammar,[11] found in Kashmir.

The Sanskrit word Sūtra (Sanskrit: सूत्र, Pali: sūtta, Ardha Magadhi: sūya) means "string, thread".[1][2] The root of the word is siv, that which sews and holds things together.[1][12] The word is related to sūci (Sanskrit: सूचि) meaning "needle, list",[13] and sūnā (Sanskrit: सूना) meaning "woven".[1]

In the context of literature, sūtra means a distilled collection of syllables and words, any form or manual of "aphorism, rule, direction" hanging together like threads with which the teachings of ritual, philosophy, grammar, or any field of knowledge can be woven.[1][2]

A sūtra is any short rule, states Moriz Winternitz, in Indian literature; it is "a theorem condensed in few words".[2] A collection of sūtras becomes a text, and this is also called sūtra (often capitalized in Western literature).[1][2]

A sūtra is different from other components such as Shlokas, Anuvyakhayas and Vyakhyas found in ancient Indian literature.[14] A sūtra is a condensed rule which succinctly states the message,[15] while a Shloka is a verse that conveys the complete message and is structured to certain rules of musical meter,[16][17] a Anuvyakhaya is an explanation of the reviewed text, while a Vyakhya is a comment by the reviewer.[14][18]

History

Sutra known from Vedic era[19]
Veda Sutras
Rigveda Asvalayana Sutra (§), Sankhayana Sutra (§), Saunaka Sutra (¶)
Samaveda Latyayana Sutra (§), Drahyayana Sutra (§), Nidana Sutra (§), Pushpa Sutra (§), Anustotra Sutra (§)[20]
Yajurveda Manava Sutra (§), Bharadvaja Sutra (¶), Vadhuna Sutra (¶), Vaikhanasa Sutra (¶), Laugakshi Sutra (¶), Maitra Sutra (¶), Katha Sutra (¶), Varaha Sutra (¶)
Atharvaveda Kusika Sutra (§)
¶: only quotes survive; §: text survives

Sutras first appear in the Brahmana and Aranyaka layer of Vedic literature.[5] They grow in the Vedangas, such as the Shrauta Sutras and Kalpa Sutras.[1] These were designed so that they can be easily communicated from a teacher to student, memorized by the recipient for discussion or self-study or as reference.[2]

A sutra by itself is condensed shorthand, and the threads of syllable are difficult to decipher or understand, without associated scholarly Bhasya or deciphering commentary that fills in the "woof".[21][22]

The oldest manuscripts that have survived into the modern era, that contain extensive sutras, are part of the Vedas dated to be from the late 2nd millennium BCE through mid 1st-millennium BCE.[23] The Aitareya Aranyaka for example, states Winternitz, is primarily a collection of sutras.[5] Their use and ancient roots are attested by sutras being mentioned in larger genre of ancient non-Vedic Hindu literature called Gatha, Narashansi, Itihasa, and Akhyana (songs, legends, epics, and stories).[24]

In the history of Indian literature, large compilations of sutras, in diverse fields of knowledge, have been traced to the period from 600 BCE to 200 BCE (mostly after Buddha and Mahavira), and this has been called the "sutras period".[24][25] This period followed the more ancient Chhandas period, Mantra period and Brahmana period.[26]

(The ancient) Indian pupil learnt these sutras of grammar, philosophy or theology by the same mechanical method which fixes in our (modern era) minds the alphabet and the multiplication table.
— Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature[6]

Hinduism

Some of the earliest surviving specimen of sutras of Hinduism are found in the Anupada Sutras and Nidana Sutras.[27] The former distills the epistemic debate whether Sruti or Smriti or neither must be considered the more reliable source of knowledge,[28] while the latter distills the rules of musical meters for Samaveda chants and songs.[29]

A larger collection of ancient sutra literature in Hinduism corresponds to the six Vedangas, or six limbs of the Vedas.[4] These are six subjects that were called in the Vedas as necessary for complete mastery of the Vedas. The six subjects with their own sutras were "pronunciation (Shiksha), meter (Chandas), grammar (Vyakarana), explanation of words (Nirukta), time keeping through astronomy (Jyotisha), and ceremonial rituals (Kalpa).[4] The first two, states Max Muller, were considered in the Vedic era to be necessary for reading the Veda, the second two for understanding it, and the last two for deploying the Vedic knowledge at yajnas (fire rituals).[4] The sutras corresponding to these are embedded inside the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of the Vedas. Taittiriya Aranyaka, for example in Book 7, embeds sutras for accurate pronunciation after the terse phrases "On Letters", "On Accents", "On Quantity", "On Delivery", and "On Euphonic Laws".[30]

The fourth and often the last layer of philosophical, speculative text in the Vedas, the Upanishads, too have embedded sutras such as those found in the Taittiriya Upanishad.[30]

The compendium of ancient Vedic sutra literature that has survived, in full or fragments, includes the Kalpa Sutras, Smarta Sutras, Srauta Sutras, Dharma Sutras, Grhya Sutras, and Sulba Sutras.[31] Other fields for which ancient sutras are known include etymology, phonetics, and grammar.

Post-vedic sutras

Some examples of sutra texts in various schools of Hindu philosophy include:

  • Brahma Sutras (or Vedanta Sutra) – a Sanskrit text, composed by Badarayana, likely sometime between 200 BCE to 200 CE.[34] The text contains 555 sutras in four chapters that summarize the philosophical and spiritual ideas in the Upanishads.[35] It is one of the foundational texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy.[35]
  • Yoga Sutras – contains 196 sutras on Yoga including the eight limbs and meditation. The Yoga Sutras were compiled around 400 CE by Patanjali, taking materials about yoga from older traditions.[36] The text has been highly influential on Indian culture and spiritual traditions, and it is among the most translated ancient Indian text in the medieval era, having been translated into about forty Indian languages.[37]
  • Samkhya Sutra – is a collection of major Sanskrit texts of the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy, including the sutras on dualism of Kapila.[38] It consists of six books with 526 sutras.
  • Vaisheshika Sutra - is the foundational text of the Vaisheshika school of Hinduism, dated to between 4th-century BCE to 1st-century BCE, authored by Kanada.[41] With 370 sutras, it aphoristically teaches non-theistic naturalism, epistemology, and its metaphysics. The first two sutras of the text expand as, "Now an explanation of Dharma; The means to prosperity and salvation is Dharma."[41][42]
  • Nyaya Sutras – is an ancient text of Nyaya school of Hindu philosophy composed by Akṣapada Gautama, sometime between 6th-century BCE to 2nd-century CE.[43][44] It is notable for focusing on knowledge and logic, and making no mention of Vedic rituals.[43] The text includes 528 aphoristic sutras, about rules of reason, logic, epistemology, and metaphysics.[45][46] These sutras are divided into five books, with two chapters in each book.[43] The first book is structured as a general introduction and table of contents of sixteen categories of knowledge.[43] Book two is about pramana (epistemology), book three is about prameya or the objects of knowledge, and the text discusses the nature of knowledge in remaining books.[43]
  • Mimamsa Sutras - is the foundational text of the Mimamsa school of Hinduism, authored by Jaimini, and it emphasizes the early part of the Vedas, that is rituals and religious works as means to salvation.[48] The school emphasized precision in the selection of words, construction of sentences, developed rules for hermeneutics of language and any text, adopted and then refined principles of logic from the Nyaya school, and developed extensive rules for epistemology.[48] An atheistic school that supported external Vedic sacrifices and rituals, its Mimamsa Sutra contains twelve chapters with nearly 2700 sutras.[48]
  • Dharma-sutras - of Āpastamba, Gautama, Baudhāyana, and Vāsiṣṭha
  • Artha-sutras - the Niti Sutras of Chanakya and Somadeva are treatises on governance, law, economics, and politics. Versions of Chanakya Niti Sutras have been found in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.[49] The more comprehensive work of Chanakya, the Arthashastra is itself composed in many parts, in sutra style, with the first Sutra of the ancient book acknowledging that it is a compilation of Artha-knowledge from previous scholars.[50]
  • Kama-sutras
  • Moksha-sutras
  • Shiva-sutras
  • Narada Bhakti Sutra

Buddhism

In Buddhism, a sutta or sutra is a part of the canonical literature. These early Buddhist sutras, unlike Hindu texts, are not aphoristic. On the contrary, they are most often quite lengthy. According to Norman, the Buddhist term sutta or sutra probably has roots in Sanskrit sūkta (su + ukta), "well spoken" from the belief that "all that was spoken by the Lord Buddha was well-spoken".[8] They share the character of sermons of "well spoken" wisdom with the Jaina sutras.

In Chinese, these are known as 經 (pinyin: jīng). These teachings are assembled in part of the Tripiṭaka which is called the Sutta Pitaka. There are many important or influential Mahayana texts, such as the Platform Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, that are called sutras despite being attributed to much later authors.

Jainism

In the Jain tradition, sutras are an important genre of "fixed text", which used to be memorized.[51]

The Kalpa Sūtra is, for example, a Jain text that includes monastic rules,[52] as well as biographies of the Jain Tirthankaras.[53] Many sutras discuss all aspects of ascetic and lay life in Jainism. Various ancient sutras particularly from the early 1st millennium CE, for example, states M. Whitney Kelting, recommend "bhakti as devotionalism is a central part of a Jain practice".[9]

The surviving scriptures of Jaina tradition, such as the Acaranga Sutra (Agamas) exist in sutra format,[10] as is the Tattvartha Sutra – a Sanskrit text accepted by all four Jainism sects as the most authoritative philosophical text that completely summarizes the foundations of Jainism.[54][55]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Monier Williams, Sanskrit English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Entry for sutra, page 1241
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h M Winternitz (2010 Reprint), A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3, pages 249
  3. ^ a b Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0, pages 54–55
  4. ^ a b c d Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 108–113
  5. ^ a b c M Winternitz (2010 Reprint), A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3, pages 251–253
  6. ^ a b Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, page 74
  7. ^ White, David Gordon (2014). The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A Biography. Princeton University Press. pp. 194–195. ISBN 978-0-691-14377-4.
  8. ^ a b K. R. Norman (1997), A philological approach to Buddhism: the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Lectures 1994. (Buddhist Forum, Vol. v.)London: School of Oriental and African Studies,p. 104
  9. ^ a b M. Whitney Kelting (2001). Singing to the Jinas: Jain Laywomen, Mandal Singing, and the Negotiations of Jain Devotion. Oxford University Press. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-0-19-803211-3.
  10. ^ a b Padmanabh S. Jaini (1991). Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women. University of California Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-520-06820-9.
  11. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 150–152
  12. ^ MacGregor, Geddes (1989). Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy (1st ed.). New York: Paragon House. ISBN 1-55778-019-6.
  13. ^ suci Sanskrit English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
  14. ^ a b Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, page 110–111
  15. ^ Irving L. Finkel (2007). Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, with Additional Contributions. British Museum Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-7141-1153-7.
  16. ^ Kale Pramod (1974). The Theatric Universe: (a Study of the Natyasastra). Popular. p. 8. ISBN 978-81-7154-118-8.
  17. ^ Lewis Rowell (2015). Music and Musical Thought in Early India. University of Chicago Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-226-73034-9.
  18. ^ व्याख्या, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
  19. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, page 199
  20. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, page 210
  21. ^ Paul Deussen, The System of the Vedanta: According to Badarayana's Brahma Sutras and Shankara's Commentary thereon, Translator: Charles Johnston, ISBN 978-1-5191-1778-6, page 26
  22. ^ Tubb, Gary A.; Emery B. Boose. "Scholastic Sanskrit, A Manual for Students". Indo-Iranian Journal. 51: 45–46. doi:10.1007/s10783-008-9085-y. Retrieved 2013-03-16.
  23. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 314–319
  24. ^ a b Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 40–45, 71–77
  25. ^ Arvind Sharma (2000), Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-564441-8, page 206
  26. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, page 70
  27. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, page 108
  28. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 101–108
  29. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 147
  30. ^ a b Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 113–115
  31. ^ Max Muller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Oxford University Press, pages 108–145
  32. ^ Radhakrishna, Sarvepalli (1960). Brahma Sutra, The Philosophy of Spiritual Life. pp. 227–232.
    George Adams (1993), The Structure and Meaning of Bādarāyaṇa's Brahma Sūtras, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0931-4, page 38
  33. ^ Original Sanskrit: Brahma sutra Bhasya Adi Shankara, Archive 2
  34. ^ NV Isaeva (1992), Shankara and Indian Philosophy, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-1281-7, page 35 with footnote 30
  35. ^ a b James Lochtefeld, Brahman, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8, page 124
  36. ^ Wujastyk, Dominik (2011), The Path to Liberation through Yogic Mindfulness in Early Ayurveda. In: David Gordon White (ed.), "Yoga in practice", Princeton University Press, p. 33
  37. ^ White, David Gordon (2014). The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A Biography. Princeton University Press. p. xvi. ISBN 978-0-691-14377-4.
  38. ^ Samkhya Pravachana Sutra NL Sinha, The Samkhya Philosophy, page i
  39. ^ Kapila (James Robert Ballantyne, Translator, 1865), The Sāmkhya aphorisms of Kapila at Google Books, pages 156–157
  40. ^ Max Muller et al. (1999 Reprint), Studies in Buddhism, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-1226-4, page 10 with footnote
  41. ^ a b Klaus K. Klostermaier (2010), A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4, pages 334–335
  42. ^ Jeaneane Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-898723-94-3, pages 98–107
  43. ^ a b c d e Jeaneane Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-898723-94-3, page 129
  44. ^ B. K. Matilal "Perception. An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge" (Oxford University Press, 1986), p. xiv.
  45. ^ Ganganatha Jha (1999 Reprint), Nyaya Sutras of Gautama (4 vols.), Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-1264-2
  46. ^ SC Vidyabhushan and NL Sinha (1990), The Nyâya Sûtras of Gotama, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0748-8
  47. ^ Jeaneane Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-898723-94-3, page 130
  48. ^ a b c Jeaneane Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-898723-94-3, pages 67–86
  49. ^ SC Banerji (1989), A Companion to Sanskrit Literature, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-0063-2, pages 586–587
  50. ^ Thomas Trautman (2012), Arthashastra: The Science of Wealth, Penguin, ISBN 978-0-670-08527-9, pages 16–17, 61, 64, 75
  51. ^ M. Whitney Kelting (2001). Singing to the Jinas: Jain Laywomen, Mandal Singing, and the Negotiations of Jain Devotion. Oxford University Press. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-19-803211-3.
  52. ^ John Cort (2010). Framing the Jina: Narratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History. Oxford University Press. pp. 138–139. ISBN 978-0-19-973957-8.
  53. ^ Jacobi, Hermann (1884). Max Müller (ed.). Kalpa Sutra, Jain Sutras Part I. Oxford University Press.
  54. ^ K. V. Mardia (1990). The Scientific Foundations of Jainism. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 103. ISBN 978-81-208-0658-0. Quote: Thus, there is a vast literature available but it seems that Tattvartha Sutra of Umasvati can be regarded as the main philosophical text of the religion and is recognized as authoritative by all Jains."
  55. ^ Jaini, Padmanabh S. (1998). The Jaina path of purification. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 82. ISBN 81-208-1578-5.

References

  • Arthur Anthony Macdonell (1900). "The sūtras" . A History of Sanskrit Literature. New York: D. Appleton and company.
  • Monier-Williams, Monier. (1899) A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Delhi:Motilal Banarsidass. p. 1241
  • Tubb, Gary A.; Boose, Emery R. (2007). Scholastic Sanskrit: A Handbook for Students. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-9753734-7-7.

External links

Avatamsaka Sutra

The Avataṃsaka Sūtra (Sanskrit; alternatively, the Mahāvaipulya Buddhāvataṃsaka Sūtra) is one of the most influential Mahayana sutras of East Asian Buddhism. The title is rendered in English as Flower Garland Sutra, Flower Adornment Sutra, or Flower Ornament Scripture. It has been called by the translator Thomas Cleary "the most grandiose, the most comprehensive, and the most beautifully arrayed of the Buddhist scriptures."The Avataṃsaka Sūtra describes a cosmos of infinite realms upon realms, mutually containing one another. This sutra was especially influential in East Asian Buddhism. The vision expressed in this work was the foundation for the creation of the Huayan school of Chinese Buddhism, which was characterized by a philosophy of interpenetration. The Huayan school is known as Hwaeom in Korea and Kegon in Japan. The sutra is also influential in Chan Buddhism.

Brahma Sutras

The Brahma sūtras (Sanskrit: ब्रह्म सूत्र) is a Sanskrit text, attributed to Badarayana, estimated to have been completed in its surviving form some time between 450 BCE and 200 CE. The text systematizes and summarizes the philosophical and spiritual ideas in the Upanishads. It is one of the foundational texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy.The Brahma sutras consists of 555 aphoristic verses (sutras) in four chapters. These verses are primarily about the nature of human existence and universe, and ideas about the metaphysical concept of Ultimate Reality called Brahman. The first chapter discusses the metaphysics of Absolute Reality, the second chapter reviews and addresses the objections raised by the ideas of competing orthodox schools of Hindu philosophies as well as heterodox schools such as Buddhism and Jainism, the third chapter discusses epistemology and path to gaining spiritually liberating knowledge, and the last chapter states why such a knowledge is an important human need.The Brahmasutra is one of three most important texts in Vedanta along with the Principal Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. It has been influential to various schools of Indian philosophies, but interpreted differently by the non-dualistic Advaita Vedanta sub-school, the theistic Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita Vedanta sub-schools, as well as others. Several commentaries on the Brahma-sutras are lost to history or yet to be found; of the surviving ones, the most well studied commentaries on the Brahmasutra include the bhashya by Adi Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Bhaskara and many others.It is also known as the Vedanta Sutra (Sanskrit: वेदान्त सूत्र), deriving this name from Vedanta which literally means the "final aim of the Vedas". Other names for Brahma Sutra is Sariraka Sutra, wherein Sariraka means "that which lives in the body (Sarira), or the Self, Soul", and Bhikshu-sutra, which literally means "Sutras for monks or mendicants".

Buddha-nature

Buddha-nature or Buddha Principle refers to several related terms, most notably tathāgatagarbha and buddhadhātu. Tathāgatagarbha means "the womb" or "embryo" (garbha) of the "thus-gone" (tathagata), or "containing a tathagata", while buddhadhātu literally means "Buddha-realm" or "Buddha-substrate".Tathāgatagarbha has a wide range of (sometimes conflicting) meanings in Indian and later East Asian and Tibetan Buddhist literature. Debates on what the term means continues to be a major part of Mahayana Buddhist scholastics.

For example, the Tibetan scholar Go Lotsawa outlined four meanings of the term Tathāgatagarbha as used by Indian Buddhist scholars generally: (1) As an emptiness that is a nonimplicative negation, (2) the luminous nature of the mind, (3) alaya-vijñana (store-consciousness), (4) all bodhisattvas and sentient beings.

Buddhist texts

Buddhist texts were initially passed on orally by monks, but were later written down and composed as manuscripts in various Indo-Aryan languages which were then translated into other local languages as Buddhism spread. They can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized into canonical, commentarial, and pseudo-canonical. Buddhist traditions have generally divided these texts with their own categories and divisions, such as that between buddhavacana "word of the Buddha," many of which are known as "sutras," and other texts, such as shastras (treatises) or Abhidharma.

These religious texts were written in many different languages and scripts but memorizing, reciting and copying the texts were of high value. Even after the development of printing, Buddhists preferred to keep to their original practices with these texts.

Diamond Sutra

The Diamond Sūtra (Sanskrit: Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra) is a Mahāyāna (Buddhist) sūtra from the Prajñāpāramitā sutras or 'Perfection of Wisdom' genre. Translated into a variety of languages over a broad geographic range, the Diamond Sutra is one of the most influential Mahayana sutras in East Asia, and is particularly prominent within the Chan (or Zen) tradition,

along with the Heart Sutra.

A copy of the Tang-dynasty Chinese version of the Diamond Sūtra was found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in 1900 by Daoist monk Wang Yuanlu and sold to Aurel Stein in 1907. They are dated back to 11 May 868. It is, in the words of the British Library, "the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book."It is also the first creative work with an explicit public domain dedication, as its colophon at the end states that it was created "for universal free distribution."

Guanyin

Guanyin or Guan Yin () is the most commonly used Chinese translation of the bodhisattva known as Avalokiteśvara. Guanyin is the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion. In the East Asian world, Guanyin is the equivalent term for Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. Guanyin also refers to the bodhisattva as adopted by other Eastern religions. She was first given the appellation of "Goddess of Mercy" or the Mercy Goddess by Jesuit missionaries in China. The Chinese name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means "[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World." Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin in the heart of a lotus, and then sent to the western Pure Land of Sukhāvatī. Guanyin is often referred to as the "most widely beloved Buddhist Divinity" with miraculous powers to assist all those who pray to her, as is said in the Lotus Sutra and Karandavyuha Sutra.

Several large temples in East Asia are dedicated to Guanyin including Shitennō-ji, Sensō-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Sanjūsangen-dō, Shaolin, Dharma Drum Mountain and many others. Guanyin's abode and bodhimanda in India is recorded as being on Mount Potalaka. With the localization of the belief in Guanyin, each area adopted their own Potalaka. In China, Putuoshan is considered the bodhimanda of Guanyin. Naksansa is considered to be the Potalaka of Guanyin in Korea. Japan's Potalaka is located at Fudarakusan-ji. Tibet's Potalaka is the Potala Palace. There are several pilgrimage centers for Guanyin in East Asia. Putuoshan is the main pilgrimage site in China. There is a 33 temple Guanyin pilgrimage in Korea which includes Naksansa. In Japan there are several pilgrimages associated with Guanyin. The oldest one of them is the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, a pilgrimage through 33 temples with Guanyin shrines. Guanyin is beloved by all Buddhist traditions in a non-denominational way and found in most Tibetan temples under the name Chenrezig. Guanyin is also beloved and worshiped in the temples in Nepal. The Hiranya Varna Mahavihar located in Patan is one example. Guanyin is also found in some influential Theravada temples such as Gangaramaya, Kelaniya and Natha Devale nearby Sri Dalada Maligawa in Sri Lanka; Guanyin can also be found in Thailand's Temple of the Emerald Buddha,also Wat Huay Pla Kang (where the huge statue of her is often mistakenly called the "Big Buddha") and Burma's Shwedagon Pagoda. Statues of Guanyin are a widely depicted subject of Asian art and found in the Asian art sections of most museums in the world.

Heart Sutra

The Heart Sūtra (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya or Chinese: 心經 Xīnjīng) is a popular sutra in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its Sanskrit title, Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, can be translated as "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom".

The sutra famously states, "Form is empty" (śūnyatā). It is a condensed exposé on the Buddhist Mahayana teaching of the Two Truths doctrine, which says that ultimately all phenomena are sunyata, empty of an unchanging essence. This emptiness is a 'characteristic' of all phenomena, and not a transcendent reality, but also "empty" of an essence of its own. Specifically, it is a response to Sarvastivada teachings that "phenomena" or its constituents are real.The text has been translated into English dozens of times from Chinese, Sanskrit and Tibetan as well as other source languages.

Kalpa (Vedanga)

Kalpa (Sanskrit: कल्प) means "proper, fit" and is one of the six disciplines of the Vedānga, or ancillary science connected with the Vedas – the scriptures of Hinduism. This field of study focused on procedures and ceremonies associated with Vedic ritual practice.The major texts of Kalpa Vedanga are called Kalpa Sutras in Hinduism. The scope of these texts includes Vedic rituals, rites of passage rituals associated with major life events such as birth, wedding and death in family, as well as personal conduct and proper duties in the life of an individual. Most Kalpasutras texts have experienced interpolation, changes and consequent corruption over their history, and Apasthamba Kalpasutra ancillary to the Yajurveda may be the best preserved text in this genre.Kalpa Sutras are also found in other Indian traditions such as Jainism.

Kalpa Sūtra

The Kalpa Sūtra (Sanskrit: कल्पसूत्र) is a Jain text containing the biographies of the Jain Tirthankaras, notably Parshvanatha and Mahavira. Traditionally ascribed to Bhadrabahu, which would place it in the 4th century BCE., it was probably put to writing only after 980 or 993 years after the Nirvana(Moksha) of Mahavira.

Kama Sutra

The Kama Sutra (; Sanskrit: कामसूत्र, pronunciation , Kāmasūtra) is an ancient Indian Sanskrit text on sexuality, eroticism and emotional fulfillment in life. Attributed to Vātsyāyana, the Kama Sutra is neither exclusively nor predominantly a sex manual on sex positions, but written as a guide to the "art-of-living" well, the nature of love, finding a life partner, maintaining one's love life, and other aspects pertaining to pleasure-oriented faculties of human life.Kamasutra is the oldest surviving Hindu text on erotic love. It is a sutra-genre text with terse aphoristic verses that have survived into the modern era with different bhasya (exposition and commentaries). The text is a mix of prose and anustubh-meter poetry verses. The text acknowledges the Hindu concept of Purusharthas, and lists desire, sexuality, and emotional fulfillment as one of the proper goals of life. Its chapters discuss methods for courtship, training in the arts to be socially engaging, finding a partner, flirting, maintaining power in a married life, when and how to commit adultery, sexual positions, and other topics. The majority of the book is about the philosophy and theory of love, what triggers desire, what sustains it, and how and when it is good or bad.The text is one of many Indian texts on Kama Shastra. It is a much-translated work in Indian and non-Indian languages. The Kamasutra has influenced many secondary texts that followed after the 4th-century CE, as well as the Indian arts as exemplified by the pervasive presence Kama-related reliefs and sculpture in old Hindu temples. Of these, the Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh is a UNESCO world heritage site. Among the surviving temples in north India, one in Rajasthan sculpts all the major chapters and sexual positions to illustrate the Kamasutra. According to Wendy Doniger, the Kamasutra became "one of the most pirated books in English language" soon after it was published in 1883 by Richard Burton. This first European edition by Burton does not faithfully reflect much in the Kamasutra because he revised the collaborative translation by Bhagavanlal Indrajit and Shivaram Parashuram Bhide with Forster Arbuthnot to suit 19th-century Victorian tastes.

Lotus Sutra

The Lotus Sūtra (Sanskrit: Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, literally "Sūtra on the White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma") is one of the most popular and influential Mahayana sutras, and the basis on which the Tiantai, Tendai, Cheontae, and Nichiren schools of Buddhism were established. According to Paul Williams, "For many East Asian Buddhists since early times the Lotus Sutra contains the final teaching of the Buddha, complete and sufficient for salvation."

Mahayana sutras

The Mahayana sutras are a broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that various traditions of Mahayana Buddhism accept as canonical. They are largely preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon, the Tibetan Buddhist canon, and in extant Sanskrit manuscripts. Around one hundred Mahayana sutras survive in Sanskrit, or in Chinese and Tibetan translations.Mahayana Buddhists typically consider the Mahayana sutras to have been taught by Gautama Buddha, committed to memory and recited by his disciples, in particular Ananda, which were viewed as a substitute for the actual speech of the Buddha following his parinirvana (death). This claim is based on theological tradition rather than on historical evidence.

Nichiren Buddhism

Nichiren Buddhism (Japanese: 日蓮仏教) is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222–1282) and is one of the Kamakura Buddhism schools. Its teachings derive from some 300–400 extant letters and treatises attributed to Nichiren.Nichiren Buddhism focuses on the Lotus Sutra doctrine that all people have an innate Buddha-nature and are therefore inherently capable of attaining enlightenment in their current form and present lifetime. There are three essential aspects to Nichiren Buddhism, the undertaking of faith, the practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo accompanied by selected recitations of the Lotus Sutra, and the study of Nichiren's scriptural writings, called Gosho.The Nichiren Gohonzon is a calligraphic image which is prominently displayed in the home or temple buildings of its believers. The Gohonzon used in Nichiren Buddhism is composed of the names of key bodhisattvas and Buddhas in the Lotus Sutra as well as Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo written in large characters down the center.After his death, Nichiren left to his followers the mandate to widely propagate the Gohonzon and Daimoku in order to secure the peace and prosperity of society.Traditional Nichiren Buddhist temple groups are commonly associated with Nichiren Shōshū and various Nichiren-shū schools. There are also lay groups not affiliated with temples such as Soka Gakkai, Kenshokai, Shoshinkai, Risshō Kōsei Kai, and Honmon Butsuryū-shū. Several Japanese new religions are Nichiren-inspired lay groups. With the advent, and proselytizing efforts, of the Soka Gakkai International, called "the most prominent Japanese 'export' religion to draw significant numbers of non-Japanese converts", Nichiren Buddhism has spread throughout the world.Nichiren proposed a classification system that ranks the quality of religions and various Nichiren schools can be either accommodating or vigorously opposed to any other forms of Buddhism or religious beliefs. Within Nichiren Buddhism there are two major divisions which fundamentally differ over whether Nichiren should be regarded as a bodhisattva of the earth, a saint, great teacher—or the actual Buddha of the third age of Buddhism. It is practiced worldwide, with practitioners throughout the United States, Brazil and Europe, as well as in South Korea and southeast Asia. The largest sects are Soka Gakkai (Soka Gakkai International), Nichiren Shu, and Nichiren Shōshū.

Parinirvana

In Buddhism, the term parinirvana (Sanskrit: parinirvāṇa; Pali: parinibbāna) is commonly used to refer to nirvana-after-death, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained nirvana during his or her lifetime. It implies a release from the Saṃsāra, karma and rebirth as well as the dissolution of the skandhas.

In some Mahāyāna scriptures, notably the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, Parinirvāṇa is described as the realm of the eternal true Self of the Buddha.

Purva Mimamsa Sutras

The Mimamsa Sutra (Sanskrit: मीमांसा सूत्र, Mīmāṁsā Sūtra) or the Purva Mimamsa Sutras (ca. 300–200 BCE), written by Rishi Jaimini is one of the most important ancient Hindu philosophical texts. It forms the basis of Mimamsa, the earliest of the six orthodox schools (darshanas) of Indian philosophy. According to tradition, sage Jaimini was one of the disciples of sage Veda Vyasa, the author of Mahabharata.

Samkhya Pravachana Sutra

The Samkhya Pravachana Sutra (Sanskrit: सांख्यप्रवचन सूत्र Sāṁkhyapravacanasūtra) is a collection of major Sanskrit texts of the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. It includes the ancient Samkhya Sutra of Kapila, Samkhya karika of Ishvarakrishna, Samkhya Sutra Vritti of Aniruddha, the Bhasya (commentary) of Vijnana Bhikshu, the Vrittisara of Vedantin Mahadeva, Tattva Samasa and commentary of Narendra, and works of Gaudapada, Vachaspati Mishra, and Panchashikha.The text provides foundational doctrines of one of the influential schools of Hindu philosophy, such as "nothing can come out of nothing, and nothing can altogether vanish out of existence" in its doctrine of Sat-Karya-Siddhanta, a debate on the two theories for the origin of the world - the creationists (Abhava Utpatti) and the evolutionists (Vivarta, changing from one state to another), the doctrine of Parinama (transformation), among others.

Samkhya Pravachana Sutra is also known as Samkhya Sutra.

Tattvartha Sutra

Tattvartha Sutra (also known as Tattvarth-adhigama-sutra or Moksha-shastra) is an ancient Jain text written by Acharya Umaswati (Umaswami), sometime between the 2nd- and 5th-century AD. It is one of the Jain scriptures written in the Sanskrit language. The term Tattvartha is composed of the Sanskrit words tattva which means "reality, truth" and artha which means "nature, meaning", together meaning "nature of reality".The Tattvartha Sutra is regarded as one of the earliest, most authoritative texts in Jainism. It is accepted as authoritative in both its major sub-traditions – Digambara and Śvētāmbara – as well as the minor sub-traditions. It is a philosophical text, and its importance in Jainism is comparable with that of the Brahma Sutras and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in Hinduism. In an aphoristic sutra style of ancient Indian texts, it presents the complete Jainism philosophy in 350 sutras over 10 chapters. The text has attracted numerous commentaries, translations and interpretations since the 5th-century.One of its sutras, Parasparopagraho Jivanam is the motto of Jainism. Its meaning is interpreted as "(The function) of souls is to help one another", or "Souls render service to one another".

Vaiśeṣika Sūtra

Vaiśeṣika Sūtra, (Sanskrit: वैशेषिक सूत्र), also called Kanada sutra, is an ancient Sanskrit text at the foundation of the Vaisheshika school of Hindu philosophy. The sutra was authored by the Hindu sage Kanada, also known as Kashyapa. According to some scholars, he flourished before the advent of Buddhism because the Vaiśeṣika Sūtra makes no mention of Buddhism or Buddhist doctrines; however, the details of Kanada's life are uncertain, and the Vaiśeṣika Sūtra was likely compiled sometime between 6th and 2nd century BCE, and finalized in the currently existing version before the start of the common era.A number of scholars have commented on it since the beginning of common era; the earliest commentary known is the Padartha Dharma Sangraha of Prashastapada. Another important secondary work on Vaiśeṣika Sūtra is Maticandra's Dasha padartha sastra which exists both in Sanskrit and its Chinese translation in 648 CE by Yuanzhuang.The Vaiśeṣika Sūtra is written in aphoristic sutras style, and presents its theories on the creation and existence of the universe using naturalistic atomism, applying logic and realism, and is one of the earliest known systematic realist ontology in human history. The text discusses motions of different kind and laws that govern it, the meaning of dharma, a theory of epistemology, the basis of Atman (self, soul), and the nature of yoga and moksha. The explicit mention of motion as the cause of all phenomena in the world and several propositions about it make it one of the earliest texts on physics.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are a collection of 196 Indian sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga. The Yoga Sutras were compiled prior to 400 CE by Patanjali who synthesized and organized knowledge about yoga from older traditions. The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali was the most translated ancient Indian text in the medieval era, having been translated into about forty Indian languages and two non-Indian languages: Old Javanese and Arabic. The text fell into relative obscurity for nearly 700 years from the 12th to 19th century, and made a comeback in late 19th century due to the efforts of Swami Vivekananda, the Theosophical Society and others. It gained prominence again as a comeback classic in the 20th century.Before the 20th century, history indicates that the medieval Indian yoga scene was dominated by the various other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Vasistha, texts attributed to Yajnavalkya and Hiranyagarbha, as well as literature on hatha yoga, tantric yoga and Pashupata Shaivism yoga rather than the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.Hindu orthodox tradition holds the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali to be one of the foundational texts of classical Yoga philosophy. However, the appropriation - and misappropriation - of the Yoga Sutras and its influence on later systematizations of yoga has been questioned by scholars such as David Gordon White, but reaffirmed by others such as James Mallinson.Modern scholars of yoga such as Philipp A. Maas and Mallinson consider the Bhasya commentary on the Sutras to be Patanjali's own, and the Sutras to be his summary of older accounts of yoga. The combined document is thus considered to be a single work, the Pātañjalayogaśāstra.

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