Lost buddhist works?

Mar 2019
1,809
KL
Since Buddhism originated from India but got extinct there, there are no buddhist works recovered at place of its birth. Most of the buddhist texts are attested from gandhara, srilanka, myanmar, tibet and some from china, places which still preserve buddhism to this day, all of these places embraced buddhism not earlier than ashoka's proliferation.

I think loads of buddhist works from india got lost in the process and specially the very early works of buddhism when it was still not divided into factions or the factions which later got replaced by theravada and mahayana traditions which exist today.

Can learned buddhists shed some light on this if this is possible and if the earliest buddhist works still in existence can shed some light on earlier publications, if they appear as references in later works but are no more present?

regards
 
Jul 2017
3
Germany
Vimuttimagga may be one such text and may have gone on to influence the later Visuddhimagga



Constant loss at the hands of Islam would later force Buddhism to develop the Kalachakra ritual.

Taranatha's book from 1608 CE , History of Buddhism in India , may also shed some light on lost Buddhist works. I personally donot think much was lost. The first two pitakas of the Pali Canon is accepted even by scholars as at least 2,300 years old. of course some layers of Sutta Pitaka and Vinaya Pitaka are considered as tape recordings from the Buddha himself..such as Parayanavagga,Atthakavagga and the Rhinoceros Sutra....good thing about these suttas are that they donot have the mind numbing,stilted,repetitive language that is the hallmark of the Buddhist Scriptures
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: prashanth
Feb 2017
425
Latin America
Maybe not lost, but we have many just in their Tibetan and Chinese translations rather than in their Sanskrit originals. Definitely lost are the many Gandhara texts, which are fragmentary and don't exist anywhere else. If I'm not wrong, the Gandhara texts even list Buddhist texts that are no longer in existence even in fragmentary, incomplete form.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ashoka maurya
Mar 2019
1,809
KL
i was also wondering that many prakritic texts in magadhi etc must have been lost, there are in pali languages, but we hardly see in other prakrits like magadhi, and as you mentioned gandhara etc

regards
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,513
There are currently three major scriptural traditions today, the Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan. The Pali and Chinese Agamas preserved the earliest Buddhist sutras, although the Gandhara Buddhist text differed from both in organization, suggesting that they were stories which were organized differently by tradition and sects. The Pali cannon preserved the southern sectarian tradition whereas the Gandhara texts and the later Chinese Agamas preserved the northern sectarian tradition with sects such as Dharmagupta and Sarvastivadin. It's hard to say which is older. The Chinese sutras were translated from a number of languages, including Sanskrit, Prakrit or even Central Asian languages. It's clear from textual studies that many of the early Chinese sutras were translated from these Prakrit languages rather than Sanskrit. The Tibetan cannon is the biggest cannon of the three, but most of it deals with later Buddhist development dating to periods after the 5th century, especially esoteric Buddhism. There are only fragments of earlier Agamas preserved in Tibetan, and they do not even make up 1/20 the size of those in Chinese.
In the study of Buddhism, the Pali and Chinese cannon, as well as the limited number of Gandhara texts, are the most important for the study of early Buddhism. For Buddhism after the 3rd century (that is early Mahayana Buddhism), the Chinese cannon and some of the Tibetan cannon are the most useful, for the development of late Buddhism in India (7th century onwards), we rely almost solely on the Tibetan cannon (there are a few but very mediocre Chinese translations of Tantric texts).

There are certainly lots of lost Buddhist works, but it depends on what you consider orthodox.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Todd Feinman
Mar 2019
1,809
KL
with gandhara hint, it came to my mind that there must have been magadhan and prakritic buddhist texts which must have been lost with time. Sanskritic texts were preserved because of the brahmins, but the texts in vernacular languages were lost probably. This is probably the reason why there is no existing indian drama before christian era as well.

regards
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,513
Most Sanskrit version of Buddhist sutras we have today dates to no earlier than 16th century because of the non-canonical nature of Indian Buddhist sutra preservation. Only few texts, most notably, Candrakirti's Prasannapadā have old copies that date to the middle ages and is something that has been studied to death by modern scholars because of that. The current Pali canon and Chinese canon (and even much of the Tibetan canon) are older than any extant Sanskrit Buddhist sutras.