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The Sanskrit Udānavarga and the Tocharian B Udānastotra: a window on the relationship between religious and popular language on the northern Silk Road1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2016

Michaël Peyrot*
Affiliation:
Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften

Abstract

The majority of the Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts from the northern part of the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang (China) were found in an area where the local languages Tocharian A and B were spoken. In this article, the interplay of Sanskrit, the religious language, and Tocharian, the popular language, is investigated based on the example of the relationship between the Sanskrit Udānavarga and the Tocharian B Udānastotra. To this end, a reconstruction of the text of the introduction to the Udānastotra is attempted, which forms the transition from the Udānavarga to the Udānastotra proper. It is argued that this Tocharian B text was found in otherwise Sanskrit manuscripts, which suggests that speakers of Tocharian preferred certain doctrinal texts in Sanskrit.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © SOAS, University of London 2016 

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Footnotes

1

This article is an adaptation of a lecture with the title “The beginning of the end? On the introduction to the Tocharian B Udānastotra” held at Munich University on 4 April 2014 as part of the workshop “Überlieferung der buddhistischen Texte in Zentralasien: Tocharischer Buddhismus und seine Rolle” organized by Hiromi Habata and Olav Hackstein, whom I thank again for their kind invitation. For valuable feedback I am indebted to the participants of the workshop, in particular Stefan Baums, Gudrun Melzer and Georges-Jean Pinault, as well as to an anonymous reviewer. I further thank Nicolé Fürtig and the other staff of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, and Nathalie Monnet and Laurent Héricher of the Bibliothèque nationale de France for their kind help with checking the originals.

Abbreviations: TochA = Tocharian A; TochB = Tocharian B; UdS = Udānastotra; Uv = Udānavarga

References

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