Gāndhāri from China

Over the last weeks, I went through the body of Chinese and Japanese publications on Gāndhārī documents from China, completing the coverage of this material in our Bibliography of Gāndhārī Studies and Catalog of Gāndhārī Texts. With the addition of 95 new documents, the Catalog now contains a total of 2,712 entries. I would like to thank my colleagues Matsuda Kazunobu 松田和信 and Ching Chao‐jung 慶昭蓉 for their generous help in locating and procuring the relevant publications.

Dictionary Lookup Types

We added Sanskrit and Pali search functionality to our Dictionary, and together with the existing Lemma and Form searches we now offer four different ways to look up articles:

  • Prefixing L: to the search string or choosing ‘Lemma’ in the drop‐down menu to the right of the search box will search article headwords in their normalized spelling.
  • Prefixing F: or choosing ‘Form’ will search for word forms as they are actually spelled in source documents.
  • Prefixing S: or choosing ‘Sanskrit’ will search Sanskrit words cited in the etymology sections of articles.
  • Prefixing P: or choosing ‘Pali’ will search Pali words cited in the etymology sections of articles.

The Sanskrit and Pali lookups may still return a small number of false positives, but we hope their usefulness far outweighs this inconvenience as we continue to improve them. Any of the four lookup types understands the regular‐expression syntax described in the Preface so that the search string


for instance will return all those lexemes whose etymologies involve Sanskrit words containing r followed by a sibilant.

Aśoka’s Edicts

We completed coverage of the Aśokan edicts in our Dictionary. This includes the sets of Major Rock Edicts at Shahbazgarhi and Mansehra as well as the lipikara signatures at Brahmagiri, Jatinga‐Rameshwara and Siddapura. Overall, thanks to a long history of study and the available parallels, the Aśokan edicts are among the best‐understood groups of Gāndhārī texts, but still some riddles remain and await a solution. One is the enigmatic yesu vihita eṣa agrabhuṭisuśruṣa in Rock Edict XIII, apparently corresponding to τοὺς ἐκεῖ οἰκοῦντας ἔδει τὰ τοῦ βασιλέως συμφέροντα νοεῖν in its Greek translation.

Outline of Gāndhārī Grammar

The discovery of numerous Gāndhārī manuscripts and inscriptions in the last twenty years calls for a reassessment of Gāndhārī grammar. I took a first step towards an up‐to‐date description of Gāndhārī grammar (from the vantage point of a single text) in Baums 2009: 110–239. When I began teaching introductory classes in Gāndhārī (at the University of California, Berkeley, in fall 2010, then at the University of Leiden and the University of Munich), I reworked this material into a practical outline of Gāndhārī grammar for the use of students. I am currently preparing a comprehensive working grammar of Gāndhārī as a tool for scholars editing Gāndhārī texts, but several colleagues teaching Gāndhārī at their own institutions have asked for my grammar outline which seems to fill a need. I am therefore making it available here under the CC BY-ND license. If I were to prepare the outline today, I would base it on the standard orthography that I developed for the Dictionary of Gāndhārī rather than on IPA transcription. When my working grammar of Gāndhārī is complete, I will thoroughly revise the grammar outline, drawing on the full range of grammatical information that will then be accessible.

Manuscript Growth and Episodic Composition

Last week, at the XVIIth Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Vienna, I presented the paper “Manuscript Growth and Episodic Composition: Commentaries and Avadānas in Early South Asia” in which I argue that several of the Gāndhārī scrolls containing scholastic texts and narrative sketches show signs of having been compiled and added to over a period of time. Proceedings for the conference panel, containing an extended version of the paper, are in the early planning stages. In a side note of my paper, I also announced a recent discovery that I made when reading the Khotan Dharmapada with my students and that may be of wider interest: The colophon of this scroll does not (as per Brough’s edition) specify the monastery where it was written, but rather that the scribe was a certain Dharmaśrava. I briefly present the evidence in my article “Gandhāran Scrolls: Rediscovering an Ancient Manuscript Type,” and am working on a comprehensive discussion of my new reading of the Khotan Dharmapada colophon and its implications.

Manuscript Coverage

We completed coverage of all published Gāndhārī manuscripts in our Dictionary, including the Khotan Dharmapada, the recent manuscript discoveries published in the Gandhāran Buddhist Texts series, the various published samples from the British Library, Senior, Bajaur and Split Collections, and some Central Asian manuscript fragments on palm leaf, silk and paper. The total number of Dictionary articles is now 3,912.

Completeness of the Dictionary

A new volume on South Asian Buddhist manuscripts (From Birch Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research) has just been published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. It brings together papers from the 2009 conference ‘Indic Buddhist Manuscripts: The State of the Field’ at Stanford University and provides the most comprehensive and detailed overview of the topic available. In spite of its title (adapted from my 2012 paper “From Birch Bark to Digital Editions”), the volume does not address the digital representation of manuscripts, but our Catalog of Gāndhārī Texts and Dictionary of Gāndhārī are mentioned in the survey of Gāndhārī manuscript studies by Richard Salomon (pp. 1, 14–15). We are given more credit for completeness than currently due: The cited number of 125,000 (now 138,560) “entries” refers to individual word tokens in the source corpus for our Dictionary. The number of proper Dictionary articles (most of them recently written) is currently 1,941, though happily growing at a steady pace. We anticipate that we will complete lexicographic coverage of published Gāndhārī manuscripts by the end of this year.

Preliminaries to a Grammar of Gāndhārī

This Monday, at the 224th Annual Meeting of the American Oriental Society in Phoenix, I presented the paper “Preliminaries to a Grammar of Gāndhārī: Sound System and Morphological Categories.” After an overview of the main varieties of literary Gāndhārī, I proposed a chronology of sound changes between Old Indo‐Aryan and late Gāndhārī. I then discussed two central problems that I face in my preparation of a working grammar of Gāndhārī for the user of manuscript editors: the set of productive morphological categories in Gāndhārī and their relationship to fossilized forms, and the range and practical handling of linguistic variation in Gāndhārī sources. I concluded by giving an update on the tagged corpus of Gāndhārī texts prepared by Andrew Glass and myself for our Dictionary of Gāndhārī.

Collaborative Research Tools for Gāndhārī and Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts

At the international symposium “Humanities Studies in the Digital Age and the Role of Buddhist Studies” at the University of Tokyo last week, I presented the paper “Collaborative Research Tools for Gāndhārī and Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts.” After an overview of the field of Gāndhārī manuscript and epigraphic studies and the particular challenges of its source material, I describe the resources and software solutions that we provide on Gandhari.org. In addition to our Dictionary, Bibliography and Catalog, over the last fifteen years we assembled a comprehensive corpus of Gāndhārī source texts (2,441 manuscripts, inscriptions and coins) and linked our reference works and their source corpus by a custom software system. At this juncture, the standardization of tools and data formats has assumed special importance in order to ensure the long‐term usefulness of our content and an improved interchange with other projects engaged in the study of Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist literature. I describe how we plan to address these challenges and introduce a new software development effort (supported by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, University of Washington, University of Lausanne and Prakaś Foundation) implementing our designs and enhancing the collaborative research tools on Gandhari.org.