Baba Noritoshi, "Buddhist Orthodoxy and Heresy: The Establishment of the Pali Cosmopolis" - An exciting book to learn about Sri Lankan Buddhism and its relationship with India and its history!

Buddhist orthodoxy and heresy Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Southeast Asia

馬場紀寿『仏教の正統と異端 パーリ・コスモポリスの成立』概要と感想~スリランカ仏教とインドとの関係、歴史を知れる刺激的な一冊!

今回ご紹介するのは2022年に東京大学出版会より発行された馬場紀寿著『仏教の正統と異端 パーリ・コスモポリスの成立』です。

Let's take a quick look at the book.

「大乗仏教」でもなく、「上座部仏教」でもない――
サンスクリット語からパーリ語へ
「聖なる」言語の転換から描きなおす新たな仏教史


インドからスリランカ、そして東南アジアに伝わった「上座部仏教」と、日本にも伝わった「大乗仏教」という図式は近代が作りだした二分法であった。近代の分類概念を克服し、サンスクリット語とパーリ語をめぐるダイナミックなネットワークの実態から仏教史の新しい展開を切りひらく。

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仏教の主要な3つの分類を表した図。赤色がパーリ語仏典を用いる上座部仏教。黄色は漢訳仏典、青色はチベット語仏典を用いる大乗仏教 Wikipedia.

「「大乗仏教」でもなく、「上座部仏教」でもない――
サンスクリット語からパーリ語へ
「聖なる」言語の転換から描きなおす新たな仏教史」

こう言われると難しそうなイメージが湧いてしまうかもしれませんが、言語を切り口に仏教の歴史を見ていくこの本はものすごく刺激的です。

When studying Buddhism, we often come across the terms "Sanskrit source texts" and "Pali source texts. Sanskrit was not only the sacred language but also the common language of ancient Indian thought. Pali is likewise the classical language of Sri Lankan Buddhism. This is usually enough to understand the difference between these two languages, but there is a tremendous fact about the difference between Sanskrit and Pali. In this book, we will take a closer look at it.

Which language is older, Sanskrit or Pali, and what was its origin? Why did Sri Lanka use Pali instead of Sanskrit?

This is where the historical background of India and Sri Lanka came into play. This was not only a matter of Buddhist thought, but also a political issue at the national and royal level.

Furthermore, although the image of Sri Lanka as "a Theravada Buddhist country that has inherited the teachings closest to primitive Buddhism" inevitably comes to mind, in fact, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism coexist in the country, and it was once even a major center of Mahayana Buddhism in Southeast Asia. This also involves political issues.

Buddhism in Sri Lanka has been spun out of the relationship with royal authority. Buddhism has moved within a larger framework that cannot be defined simply at the level of religion or ideology. Of course, these issues of religion and history are not limited to Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka, as a country on the periphery of India, needs something solid to assert its identity and legitimacy. In Sri Lanka, this was the Pali language and "Buddhism," which most faithfully inherited Buddha's teachings. In this way, we can see that "the most faithful inheritor of Buddha's teachings" is not an objective fact, but rather "a claim made by Sri Lanka. This book also looks at this situation in detail.

正直、ものすごく面白いです。インド、スリランカの仏教を国際政治、内政の視点から見ていくというのはありそうであまりなかったのではないでしょうか。

I was also planning to visit Sri Lanka this year, so this was an extremely gratifying book. What I have described in this article is only a small part of the contents of this book. It is just a lot of exciting content. The beginning of the book is a bit complicated, and for a beginner of Buddhism, it can be tough to read, but in the middle of the book, it becomes easier to read as it goes into the history of Sri Lanka.

I would highly, highly recommend this book. Well, it was an interesting book! You should definitely pick up a copy.

以上、「馬場紀寿『仏教の正統と異端 パーリ・コスモポリスの成立』~スリランカ仏教とインドとの関係、歴史を知れる刺激的な一冊!」でした。

Click here to read the previous article.

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