Bodhisattvas of the Forest and the Formation of the Mahayana Daniel Boucher Book Review Prabuddha Bharata August 2014

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Bodhisattvas of the Forest and the Formation of the Mahayana Daniel Boucher Book Review Prabuddha Bharata August 2014
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  PB August 2014 󰀵󰀰󰀲  Prabuddha Bharata 54 decide to marry and through their progeny pass on this divine wisdom gained by a direct ex-perience. All these stages—the start of chaste studies to marriage—are explicated with a nat-ural thoroughness by Pandey.One very important observation made in this book needs to be extrapolated: at the end of Chap- ter 󰀳 Pandey speaks of a real crisis in Hindu faith. 󰀀e language of Hindu rituals and chants are not accessible to the commoner and thus seem ab- struse to the ordinary tech-savvy Hindu. It is here that Hindus as a faith community must adopt and learn from one of the greatest religions of the world, which teetered at the edge of obsolescence near the middle of the last century. 󰀀e average Roman Catholic did not understand a word of the Latin Mass being said throughout the globe by their clergy. 󰀀e Second Vatican Council took a radical decision—they had scholars and schol-arly committees translate the whole liturgy into vernaculars, and these are still being translated by experts into various indigenous languages. Bible scholars have of course to learn at least four lan- guages: Hebrew, Latin, the two forms of Greek, and Aramaic. Roman Catholics worldwide now read the  Jerusalem Bible , for instance when they want to theologize as Catholics. Hence that reli- gion adapted itself and is able to proselytize—for instance, throughout India aer Holy Mass, the parish priest or the Catholic nuns, say ‘Jai Jishu’ to everyone in India’s Hindi heartlands. If Hindus as a faith community have to reach out to others who are in imminent danger of being alienated from the Sanatana Dharma, they need to have experts of the calibre of Pandey, the late Swami Gambhiranandaji of the Ramakrishna Order, and scholarly monks of this and other Orders to en- gage in serious works of translation and linguistic assimilation of all Hindu samskaras into English and vernacular languages. 󰀀e larger world can then understand directly Sanatana Dharma. If they wait that future generations will learn San- skrit and then access Hindu canonical scriptures, then Pandey’s efforts will be in vain. 󰀀is schol- arly book has been published by one of the best publishers within the field of Indian studies, but does that mean that this book will help the tired IT professional at Bengaluru explain her faith to a foreigner who might want to know why there is feasting aer a Hindu death. If this Hindu sis-ter is unable to explain this at that very moment, Hindu faith will be ridiculed by the likes of Ilaiah.  And Pandey gives the reasons for a feast aer a Hindu death, at the end of his scholarly tome. 󰀀e need of the times is that Hindus immedi-ately create greater accessibility to these kinds of works among the general populace. Pandey deserves to be known beyond the closed Indol- ogy group. Such texts, as this one under reviews, needs to be made accessible to all those who quest for their identities, including those of the Semitic religions. 󰀀is book fends off attacks against the barbarians at our doors. Subhasis Chattopadhyay  Assistant Professor of English,Ramananda College, Bishnupur Bodhisattvas of the Forest and the Formation of the Mahāyāna Daniel Boucher Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀱. xxiv + 󰀲󰀸󰀸 pp.  `   󰀵󰀹󰀵. D octrines are the results of experiments in-volving tremendous sacrifice and, many a times, tremendous restraint. All major reli- gious traditions have witnessed, in their forma- tive years, enormous asceticism and spiritual disciplines causing bodily privation. It is such asceticism that gives a solid foundation to the tradition. Once the religious tradition is fairly established, often physical austerity takes a backstage. For this very reason, sometimes the best way to trace the roots of any tradition is to trace the physical austerities of the early mas- ters of that path. While this is true, it is equally true that in many religious traditions the care-ful upkeep of the body has been prescribed to take away the mind from the body. Mahayana also has a rich past of carefully maintaining the physical body. 󰀀e wonderful integration of as-ceticism and glorification of body in this trad-ition is an interesting study. Boucher has quite  󰀵󰀰󰀳 PB August 2014  Reviews  55 successfully attempted this in the present book, which is a study of the Rashtrapalapariprich- chha Sutra and is located in a time in the history of Mahayana tradition when its adherents were losing sight of the vision behind the asceticism of the early masters. Lack of discipline and ab-stinence from opulence had led to resentment among some monks who believed that the early austerities had to be rediscovered. 󰀀is sounds similar to the need for more austerities felt by St Francis of Assisi or St Teresa of Avila. As he points out in the introduction, it is very diffi- cult to trace the early history of Mahayana Bud- dhism. 󰀀e social standings of the followers of this tradition, both monastic and lay, remain a mystery due to dearth of information. 󰀀e author makes it clear that the approach to this study of the formation of the Mahayana trad-ition is mainly from the social perspective and not so much from the philosophical standpoint. Boucher, however, promises not to miss out on the religious connotations of the text. He not only keeps his promise but brings out an extra- ordinary portrayal of the religious practices and beliefs by a careful analysis of the text. Virtue and the virtuous are oen shown to have corresponding physical manifestations of their goodness. Boucher shows examples of this in the Mahayana tradition. He also shows us how these portrayals have been interwoven into popular lore, like the Jātaka. While the phys-ical body is considered a gi, it is nonetheless restrained to attain perfection. 󰀀is practice of the early Mahayana is brought out through numerous narratives where ascetic practices of the Mahayana forest-dwellers are outlined. It is interesting to note that the author quotes a Belgian text too, showing his mastery over many languages. We are given an account, both from the mainstream and Mahayana literature, of the dhutaguna s, qualities of purification, or ‘the traditional set of ascetic disciplines in both Mainstream and Mahayana literature that came to characterize, or rather standardize, the rigor- ous life of the forest-dwelling monk’ (󰀴󰀳). 󰀀e ascetic practices are contrasted with their op- position and we are also given a chapter with ‘A Critique of Sedentary Monasticism’ (󰀶󰀴). Early Mahayana monks were quite vocal in their belief that the mainstream monastics had fallen from their path: ‘A householder is not as covetous with passion as these [corrupt monks] are aer going forth. 󰀀ey would have wives, sons, and daughters just like a householder’ (󰀶󰀵). Boucher tries to find the quality of relations among the members of Mahayana monastic communities. Such analysis points to the assumption that ‘a given nikāya could tolerate different vocations and that monks of different stripes could cohabi-tate in the same monastery, presumably without conflict’ (󰀷󰀴).  A unique aspect of this book is that it ven- tures into an analysis of the extant translations of the Rashtrapalapariprichchha Sutra. Delin-eating the shortcomings of these translations, Boucher gives a new translation based on San-skrit and Chinese texts of the sutra. We are re- minded that translations differ not only because of the target language but also because of the milieu from which the translation is done. He explains the need for this new translation, as our understanding of the language of this early Mahayana text has been enriched a lot since the extant translations were published. Boucher de- votes two chapters to the study of translations of early Mahayana texts in general, and the trans- lation of the Rashtrapalapariprichchha Sutra in particular. He delves on the difficulties in trans- lating such texts with reference to Indian and Chinese contexts. We are also given a detailed examination of the errors that could creep in, in the form of ‘Mistranslations and Missed Trans- lations’ (󰀱󰀰󰀱). 󰀀is Boucher shows by comparing different translations and citing particular in-stances. All this analysis makes the book valu-able not only to the student of Buddhism but also to anyone interested in translation studies. 󰀀e new annotated translation of the Rashtra-palapariprichchha Sutra is lucid and an easy read. Boucher deserves praise for retaining the srcinal ethos in the English idiom. He clearly reserves his place among the rare breed of scholars, who are also masters of language. 󰀀e text consists of the questions of Rashtrapala concerning various topics ranging from ‘󰀀e Glorification of the Bud- dha’ to ‘󰀀e Degeneration of the True Dharma’.  PB August 2014 󰀵󰀰󰀴  Prabuddha Bharata 56 󰀀e narrative is anecdotal and employs numer- ous similes and metaphors. 󰀀e language is direct like everyday parlance. 󰀀e behaviour of the illu-mined, the way of austerity, and the responses of the followers to the teachings of the Dharma, are some flowers of this garden of wisdom.  Almost a half of the book is devoted to co-pious notes and references. 󰀀ese notes help us locate the text and its various contexts. It is interesting to note that Chinese expressions are given in the srcinal script, thus creating add-itional value for Chinese readers. 󰀀e bibliog- raphy is exhaustive and could serve the purpose of an extensive reading list on early Mahayana Buddhism. A very important aspect of this work is that Boucher keeps drawing parallels to other religions and religious traditions. He refers to ascetic practices in the early history of various religious traditions. 󰀀is volume is a marvel-lous sociological and historical analysis of the body of Rashtrapalapariprichchha Sutra as a representative of the tradition of the recurring themes of the glorification of the body and as- ceticism in Buddhism.  PB The Journal of Oriental Research, Madras, 󰀰󰀱󰀰–󰀰󰀱 Eds. Dr V Kameswari,Dr K S Balasubramanian, and Dr T V Vasudeva 󰀀e Kuppuswami Sastri Research In- stitute, Mylapore, Chennai 󰀶󰀰󰀰 󰀰󰀰󰀴. 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀱 .  viii + 󰀱󰀹󰀰 pp.  `   󰀲󰀵󰀰 . T he Journal of Oriental Research  was started in 󰀱󰀹󰀲󰀷 by Prof. S Kuppuswami Sastri, who was also the founder of the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute. Originally an annual journal, its regularity has been disturbed due to financial diffi culties. 󰀀e present issue comprises volumes eighty-three to eighty-four and has been funded by the Dr V Raghavan Memorial Endowment. 󰀀e first article is on ‘Jainism and Anthol-ogies’, which critically analyses numerous an- thologies with brevity and clarity. In ‘Sanskrit as the Basis of World Languages’ we are shown how Sanskrit has influenced all language families. 󰀀is is followed by a masterly exposition of some instances of love- symbolism in Tamil and San- skrit devotional literature in ‘󰀀e Cuṇaiyāṭal— Brahmānubhava Equation’. Then comes the paper on ‘Māgha and Astrology’, where the writ-ings of Magha are shown to have insights into as- trology. ‘Yoga Darśana and Advaita’ shows how exponents of both Yoga and Advaita Vedanta have respected the other philosophy and have also advocated a world view based on them. In ‘Technical Methods and Metrical Modifications in Vāṇībhūṣaṇa  of Dāmodara Miśra’ the author gives a brief analysis of a work on vritta s, met- rics. One is baffl ed by the mathematical preci- sion of the various metres in Sanskrit prosody. 󰀀e next article is ‘An Introduction to the Pāṇinīya-Sūtrodāharaṇa-Kāvya’, which includes an explanation. We get a glimpse of the astro- logical works of Parashara in ‘Parāśara and His  Works’. 󰀀e text of Govindashtaka  by Shankara- charya is analysed with reference to Advaita philosophy, with a translation of the gloss by  Ānandagiri in ‘Advaita Concepts as Gleaned from the Gloss of Ānandagiri on Govindāṣṭaka ’.  We also find a comparative study in ‘Bhartṛhari and Bacon: A Comparative Study in Moral Phil- osophy’. A particular kind of Sanskrit play is analysed in ‘Unmattarāghava of Virūpākṣa—A Prekṣaṇaka’. 󰀀e nature of a class of ascetics is portrayed in ‘A Note on Pṛśnis’. 󰀀e culmination of yoga lies in the dissolution of the mind. 󰀀e path to attain this is studied on the basis of a text by Gorakshanatha in ‘Amanaskayoga—󰀀e  Yoga Bere of Mind’. 󰀀e concepts of  paratattva and jiva are discussed here. 󰀀ere is a section for book reviews at the end of the volume, of books of serious research on Indian philosophy and Sanskrit studies. 󰀀ere is also a section for obituaries, where the reader knows about some luminaries in Indian studies. 󰀀is journal proves once again that writings in Sanskrit need not necessarily be religious or philosophical. It is really a pity that the Institute is unable to bring this journal annually. Taking in the marvellous contents of the journal, the reader automatically prays for its immediate revival as an unbroken annual journal.  PB
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