Nice, thanks so much. That Mahayana originated from writing was one of Schopen’s most influential theses, and it seems it is now dead. I’m no expert in middle-period Buddhism, but it should come as little surprise that his ideas are subject to the same kinds of flaws as his writings on early Buddhism. Specifically, to argue that √dhṛ first meant preserving written texts and later memorizations is absurd; it clearly refers to memory in all early texts.
I also agree with Drewe’s remarks on the attitudes of western scholars—to which we might add, western students of Indic philosophies generally—towards the oral tradition. Much of it is based on nothing more than sheer incredulity. We simply can’t believe that such massive, complex texts were created and passed down in oral tradition. I still struggle to imagine how Panini is possible.
Unlike most scholars and translators, I have been a part of the oral tradition for most of my adult life. I’ve memorized not only the basic chants and suttas, as well as the patimokkha, but dozens of other suttas, long and short, and several hundreds of gathas. Obviously, this is far short of what even a moderate student in the old days would have learned, but it does give me a reasonable understanding of how it is all possible, and what the process involves.
In my translation so far, I have generally been rendering these terms so as to more explicitly evoke the oral tradition. I agree with Drewe that ud√grah probably primarily refers to “memorizing”, while √dhṛ refers to “remembering”, i.e maintaining and already-memorized text. pari-ava√āp (actually pari-√āp in Pali) is similar; probably these are all near synonyms. But I’ll recheck my renderings.
It is also worth noting that these words can also be used in very similar ways for both meditation and textual studies: these things were not nearly so distant then as they are today.
Kacci metaṃ, bhante, bhagavato sussutaṃ suggahitaṃ sumanasikataṃ sūpadhāritan”ti?
I hope I properly heard, memorized, focussed on, and remembered that from the Buddha?”
bhikkhuno paccavekkhaṇānimittaṃ suggahitaṃ hoti sumanasikataṃ sūpadhāritaṃ suppaṭividdhaṃ paññāya
the meditation that is a basis for reviewing is properly memorized, focussed on, remembered, and penetrated with wisdom by a mendicant