Gandharan Avadanas

British Library Kharosthi Fragments 1-3 and 21 and Supplementary Fragments A-C

Timothy Lenz

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  • $90.00x hardcover (9780295990132) Add to Cart
  • Published: 2010. Paperback 2014
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies; Archaeology
  • Bibliographic information: 192 pp., 58 illus., 8 x 11 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Gandharan Buddhist Texts
  • Contents

The Gandharan Buddhist Texts series presents editions, translations, and studies of the British Library's unique collection of Buddhist manuscripts in the Gandhari language, dating from the first century AD. Gandharan Avadanas features editions and studies of five fragmentary scrolls containing collections of avadanas, or edifying stories. The manuscript fragments presented here comprise twenty-one avadanas that briefly summarize stories, typically furnishing no more than a title, identification of the main character, and minimal reference to the plot. Presumably, these summaries would have served as memory prompts for the intended reader, perhaps the scribe himself, who would already have been familiar with the avadanas. The newly discovered Gandharan avadanas differ from those popular in other Buddhist literatures in their lack of explicit reference to underlying karmic causes and also in addressing a broader array of themes such as the inevitable disappearance of the dharm and the pitfalls of samsaric existence.

For more information go to the Early Buddhist Manuscript Project web site at

"These schematic stories are fascinating puzzles, rough drafts for Buddhist literature to come, and Lenz is an excellent guide for making sense of them."
-Andy Rotman, Religious Studies Review, June 2011