Mark Allon, Sanskritisation and the diction of early Buddhist texts | SOAS University of London

This lecture titled “Sanskritisation and the diction of early Buddhist texts” was given by Mark Allon (University of Sydney) at the Centre of Buddhist Studies, SOAS University of London on 23 November 2017.

A comparison of Pali versions of early Buddhist texts with their Sanskrit parallels, which in their language and diction, at least, certainly stem from a later period, shows that the wording of the latter is commonly more elaborate. For example, in the Sanskrit version or versions sequences of parallel word elements, such as adjectives, nouns, and verbs, are commonly longer; descriptions of concepts, actions, and events are commonly more detailed; and generally more information is given.

In this paper I will discuss some of the differences encountered when parallel versions of canonical discourses and verse texts preserved in Pali, Prakrit and Sanskrit are compared and attempt to identify those changes that are likely to have happened as a result of or in conjunction with Sanskritisation and those that took place when the texts were still being transmitted in Prakrit, particularly in the light of recent Gāndhārī and Sanskrit manuscript finds from Afghanistan and Pakistan.