Two Gandhari Manuscripts of the "Songs of Lake Anavatapta" (Anavatapta-gatha)

British Library Kharosthi Fragment 1 and Senior Scroll 14

Richard Salomon, with contributions by Andrew Glass

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  • Published: 2008
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies, Religious Studies, Buddhist Studies, Archaeology, Textual Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 496 pp., 22 illus., 12 in color, 8.5 x 11 in.
  • Series: Gandharan Buddhist Texts, vol. 5
  • Contents

This fifth volume in the Gandharan Buddhist Texts series (GBT) presents two fragmentary manuscripts of the poem "Songs of Lake Anavatapta." Previously known from versions in Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, and Chinese, the two recently discovered Gandhari-language versions confirm the poem's popularity in the ancient Buddhist world.

The "Songs of Lake Anavatapta" consists of a series of narrations by the Buddha's foremost disciples (and finally by the Buddha himself) in which each reveals his own complex karmic history over many past lives and explains how, as a result of good deeds, he has come to be an enlightened disciple of the Buddha.

An important theme is the complexity of karma, whereby not only the enlightened beings but even the Buddha himself suffer the effects of remnants of bad karma from evil deeds long-ago.

Richard Salomon is professor of Sanskrit in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at University of Washington and director of the University of Washington Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project. He is the author of Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhara and A Gandhari Version of the Rhinoceros Sutra.

For more information go to the Early Buddhist Manuscript Project web site at
Illustrations and Tables
Format, Transcription, and Citation System

Part I. The Anavatapta-Gatha and Its New Gandhari Versions

Part II. The British Library Manuscript of the Anavatapta-Gatha: British Library Karosthi Fragment 1

Part III. The Senior Manuscript of the Anavatapta-Gatha: Senior Scroll 14

Appendix 1: Text and Translation of Mahakasyapa's Recitation from the Sanskrit and Tibetan Texts

Appendix 2: Concordance of Verses in Mahakasyapa's Recitation

Work Index to the AG-Gl
Word Index to the AG-Gs


"This book is indisputably one of the most important contributions to the field of early Chinese history in recent years. It is an example of fine, well-founded scholarship that in its commendably lucid, logical, and unadorned style is very accessible and a true joy to read. At least on the graduate level it should be required reading for any class touching upon subjects of early Chinese political or intellectual history."-Journal of the American Oriental Society