by David Reigle

An extensive archive of Sanskrit texts has been assembled over the past thirty-five years in connection with research on the question of the existence of a once universal but now hidden wisdom tradition. In particular, these Sanskrit texts were gathered to one day annotate the so far unknown "Book of Dzyan," a generic title meaning Book of Wisdom (Jnana), used by H. P. Blavatsky for the source of the stanzas translated in her 1888 book, The Secret Doctrine. This ongoing research indicates the likelihood that such a book exists, and therefore that at some point it will become available.

There was always the intention to eventually make these Sanskrit texts widely accessible, and this has now become possible on the web. This archive of the Eastern Tradition Research Institute includes almost all known printed Sanskrit Buddhist texts, many Sanskrit editions of the primary Hindu texts, and the major Sanskrit and Prakrit Jaina texts. The Sanskrit Buddhist texts will be posted first, as being more in demand, since they are harder to find than the Hindu texts.

These are digital image scans of the original editions. They show the text exactly as it was printed, without the inevitable introduction of typographical errors when these texts are input to make electronically searchable files. They also make it possible to find specific references to specific page numbers in specific editions. Most importantly, they make available a full library of Sanskrit texts, many of which are rare and hard to find. As we continue the search for the Book of Dzyan, it is our hope that others will find these online Sanskrit texts to be useful in their own study or research.

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Now posted are two items from the seven Abhidharma books of the Sarvastivadins. First is a retranslation into Sanskrit from the Chinese translation of the Jnana-prasthana-sastra, of its first two chapters. These were retranslated by Santi Bhiksu Sastri and published as Jnanaprasthana-sastra of Katyayaniputra, vol. I (Santiniketan: Visvabharati, 1955). Second is a transcription of 68 folio sides of a Sanskrit manuscript discovered at Gilgit, containing fragments of the Dharma-skandha and the Loka-prajnapti, and also of the Ekottaragama. These were transcribed by Sudha Sengupta and published as "Fragments from Buddhist Texts," in the book, Buddhist Studies in India, edited by Ramchandra Pandeya, pp. 137-208 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975).
 
The seven Abhidharma books of the Sarvastivadins are lost in the original except for some fragments. All seven are preserved in Chinese translation. Only one of these, the Prajnapti-sastra, is also preserved in Tibetan translation. The Loka-prajnapti is included in the Prajnapti-sastra. But the Loka-prajnapti is missing in the Chinese translation of the Prajnapti-sastra, while it is found in the Tibetan translation of the Prajnapti-sastra. The names and authors of the seven books, as given in Yasomitra's Abhidharma-kosa-vyakhya on chapter 1, verse 3, are:
 
Jnana-prasthana by Katyayaniputra
Prakarana-pada by Vasumitra
Vijnana-kaya by Devasarma
Dharma-skandha by Sariputra
Prajnapti-sastra by Maudgalyayana
Dhatu-kaya by Purna
Samgiti-paryaya by Mahakausthila
 
Of these, the Jnana-prasthana is said to be the central one, the body or trunk, and the others are likened to its feet or limbs. Kogen Mizuno says about the Jnana-prasthana in his article, "Abhidharma Literature," in Encyclopaedia of Buddhism (vol. 1, fasc. 1, 1961, p. 71): "The doctrines expounded are so extremely technical and concise that they are very difficult to be understood by those who are not well versed in the doctrines and the methods of the Abhidharma." For this reason, he says, diverse interpretations of its teachings arose, and these were gathered into the huge commentary called the Mahavibhasa. As is well known, this commentary became the basis of the teachings of the Vaibhasika school of Kashmir, which was named after it. These, in turn, were summarized in the famous Abhidharma-kosa by Vasubandhu.
 
Our first reliable knowledge of these seven Abhidharma books and their contents came in J. Takakusu's important article, "On the Abhidharma Literature of the Sarvastivadins," Journal of the Pali Text Society, 1904-1905, pp. 66-146. Takakusu showed that the contents of these seven books are quite different than the contents of the seven Abhidhamma books of the Theravadins, preserved in Pali. This detailed article remains a major source even today, after more than a hundred years. His summary of the Jnanaprasthana is found on pp. 82-98. 
 
A briefer account of the seven Abhidharma books of the Sarvastivadins appeared in Anukul Chandra Banerjee's 1957 book, Sarvastivada Literature, pp. 51-75. The contents of the Jnanaprasthana are summarized on pp. 54-59. I have already mentioned Kogen Mizuno's helpful 1961 article, "Abhidharma Literature," in Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, which also summarizes the contents of these seven texts, pp. 68-71. A summary of the Jnanaprasthana is given in a one-page entry written by Upali Karunaratne in Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, vol. 6, fasc. 1, 1996, p. 60. These seven texts are described in the 1998 book, Sarvastivada Buddhist Scholasticism, by Charles Willemen, Bart Dessein, and Collett Cox, pp. 177-229. The Jnanaprasthana is the last one described, starting on p. 221. 
 
Summaries of these books are also found in the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, vol. VII, Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D., edited by Karl H. Potter (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996). Its summary of the Jnanaprasthana is found on pp. 417-449. However, the reader is not told that this summary is only of the first two sections, the sections that were retranslated into Sanskrit by Santi Bhiksu Sastri (now posted here). This is the most detailed summary we have of these two sections or chapters, but one must turn to other sources, especially Takakusu, for the remaining six sections.
 
The Jnanaprasthana consists of eight sections or greater chapters, within which are shorter chapters. The eight sections are:
 
1. samkirna (miscellanies)
2. samyojana (fetters)
3. jnana (wisdom)
4. karma (action)
5. mahabhuta (the four great elements)
6. indriya (sense faculties)
7. samadhi (meditative absorption)
8. drsti (views)
 
Of the other six Abhidharma books of the Sarvastivadins, fragments of two, the Dharmaskandha and the Lokaprajnapti, are included along with fragments of the Ekottaragama in the Gilgit manuscript folios transcribed by Sudha Sengupta (now posted here). The Dharmaskandha fragments are found on pp. 139-183, covering 38 of the 68 folio sides that were transcribed. They include most of chapter 21, which is the last chapter of this book, the beginning of chapter 1, and two stray folios from chapter 12. For these identifications and a concordance of these fragments with the Chinese translation, see Jikido Takasaki's article, "Remarks on the Sanskrit Fragments of the Abhidharmadharmaskandhapadasastra," in Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, January 1965, pp. 411-403. Later, Siglinde Dietz re-edited these fragments and published a corrected edition in Fragmente des Dharmaskandha: Ein Abhidharma-Text in Sanskrit aus Gilgit (Gottingen, 1984).
 
The fragments of the Lokaprajnapti and of the Ekottaragama were only later identified as such. The Lokaprajnapti fragments, identified by Kazunobu Matsuda in 1982, are found on pp. 195-208 of Sengupta's edition, covering 12 of the 68 folio sides that were transcribed. The Ekottaragama fragments, identified by Yusen Okubo in 1983, are found on pp. 183-195 of Sengupta's edition, covering 18 of the 68 folio sides that were transcribed. The Loka-prajnapti is part of the Prajnapti-sastra. However, unlike the other Abhidharma books of the Sarvastivadins, the Prajnaptisastra was translated into Chinese quite late (eleventh century C.E.), and the Lokaprajnapti is missing in this translation (Taisho no. 1538). There is a Lokaprajnapti translated into Chinese by Paramartha in 558 C.E. (Taisho no. 1644), but this is a different text. Fortunately, the Prajnaptisastra is the one Sarvastivada Abhidharma text that was translated into Tibetan, and the Lokaprajnapti is included in this translation. Other than these six Sanskrit folios from Gilgit (ed. Sengupta), four folios preserved in temples in Japan (see Lokaprajnapti: A Critical Exposition of Buddhist Cosmology, by K. Sankarnarayan, Kazunobu Matsuda, and Motohiro Yoritomi, Mumbai: Somaiya Publications, 2002), and fragments of four folios from Turfan, the Tibetan translation of the Lokaprajnapti is the only version of this text that we have.
 
The Sanskrit fragments of the Lokaprajnapti transcribed by Sudha Sengupta were collated with the Tibetan translation by Siglinde Dietz in her article, "A Brief Survey of the Sanskrit Fragments of the Lokaprajnaptisastra," in Annual Memoirs of the Otani University Shin Buddhist Comprehensive Research Institute, vol. 7, 1989, pp. 79-86. As Dietz here notes, the folios as published by Sengupta are out of order, and the text as published by her has many errors. Dietz is preparing a corrected edition of the Sanskrit fragments of this important text, like she did for the Dharmaskandha. Louis de la Vallee Poussin wrote long ago in his article, "Cosmogony and Cosmology, Buddhist," in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (ed. James Hastings, vol. 4, pp. 130-131): "The most systematic work on Buddhist cosmology is undoubtedly . . . the Lokaprajnapti."

It is by the noble efforts of David and Nancy Reigle, who work tirelessly towards the compassionate benefit of Humanity, through their efforts to shine the Light of the Ancient Wisdom onto the wayfaring pupil’s Path. I extend my sincere thanks for their efforts in making these Buddhist, Hindu and Jain texts available to the world.

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