Kathrin Holz

Axes de recherche |

Axes de recherche

The evolution of mantric scriptures in early Indian Buddhism

Protective texts (Sk. rakṣā "protection") function mainly to provide protection and to ward off malignant beings, dangerous animals and all sort of calamities through magical spells, first in form of moral sayings which were later supplemented by mantras. With the implementation of mantras into the rakṣā literature, a completely new category of texts evolved. Frequently, traditional protective texts were simply extended by mantras. But even entirely new classes of texts emerged. A special feature of these texts is the fact, that they partly employ older canonical texts and build new compositions around that already existing core. Thus mantras often appear only in the texts from Central Asia and cannot be found in Pāli or Chinese parallels.
The investigation of two Sanskrit manuscripts of the Bhadrakarātrī-sūtra found in Central Asia is the central concern of my thesis. On palaeographical grounds these manuscripts can be dated to the 5th and 6th century CE. Similar to the Sanskrit manuscripts, an individual Chinese translation of the Bhadrakarātrī-sūtra, as well as three versions in the Tibetan Kangyur, continue after the canonical verses on an auspicious night with dhāraṇīs, while the narrative frame of the sūtras seems to be rather different. The parallel texts in the Pāli and Chinese Canon, however, do not contain any rakṣā elements let alone mantras which were introduced only in Central Asia.

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