Brahmi, Gandhari, and the traditions of northern India

Ok, Brahmi is the early writing system and Pali is the language - thanks for that.

Are there also fragments of early Buddhist teachings found in any other language or, writing system that was found in the North - like Pakistan or Afghanistan?

Those early Buddhist texts - in Gandhari - are not just Mahayana, correct?

Are the Chinese Agamas translated from a language like Gandhari or, from the Pali or, Buddhist-Sanskrit translations of earlier Pali sources?

Are the Gandhari-texts probable translations of Pali and Sanskrit texts? Or, textual renderings of a Gandharan oral tradition?

There’s a Mahayana Sutra in those Gandhari texts - correct - and a little bit of Early Buddhist teachings as well?

We’re there chanting traditions in Gandhari that were then committed to writing, I’m just interested on your views about this?

Perhaps, @Brahmali may wish to help me understand these things, if he feels so inclined?

I apologise if my curiosity is inappropriate?

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Yes, there are a few fragments in other languages and scripts: Tocharian, Khotanese, Uighur.

Correct. The gandhari texts seem to be primarily Dharmaguptaka, but include some Mahayana as well. This is expected, as the sources seem clear that mahayana was not conceived of as a separate school of Buddhism until much later. “Mahayanists” were simply followers of Buddhism within the same monasteries and communities, but they studied Mahayana teachings and practices as well.

Probably all of the above. It’s really hard to infer the original Indic dialect from the Chinese translation. Since we know that the Dharmaguptakas used Gandhari, and that the Dirgha Agama is Dharmaguptaka, it seems plausible that the Dirgha Agama was translated from Gandhari. But that might not be the case! On more solid ground is the bulk of the Chinese translations from (Mula)-Sarvastivada, which seem to always use sanskrit. Other less-known texts are harder to figure out.

Most likely translations from some earlier dialect, maybe Sanskrit, but I am not sure whether this is known. Hmm, I’ll see if I can find out. The question about oral tradition is interesting, since the texts seem to lie very early in the period of written texts.

Pali per se seems to be restricted specifically to the Sri Lankan Mahavihara. However mainland schools would have used a variety of Prakrits, which would be quite similar.

Yes, it’s basically a mix of the different kinds of literature that were known to exist at the time. These manuscripts basically confirm what we already knew by textual analysis, that the Buddhist schools had developed a variety of literature by about 500 years after the Buddha, including the early suttas and Vinaya, later stories, verses, and elaborations, Abhidhamma treatises, and Mahayana sutras.

I’ll ask Mark Allon, he’s the expert.