Andre Bareau (1921 - 1993) was one of the foremost scholars of Buddhism of his generation. Dissatisfied with piecemeal and contradictor information on early Buddhist Schools, he set out to construct a coherent and authoritative overview, which has remained the standard treatment in the field since its appearance in 1955. This book offers a close description and analysis of Bareau's findings on the history geographical whereabouts, and doctrinal positions of early schools of Buddhism. He systematically presents data from a diverse array of sources: texts in canonical Buddhist languages (Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese), inscriptions, and accounts of Chinese Pilgrims to India. The result is an encyclopaedic resource on thirty four schools of Indian Buddhism and the approximately five hundred doctrinal theses by which they are differentiated. Bareau's genius was to conceive a plan to draw on an exhaustive range of primary sources preserved in all the major Buddhist languages and to conduct a comprehensive synthetic analysis, thus creating an authoritative picture. He provides several appendices, including summary tables of all doctrinal points discussed.
Several additions have been made to this the first English – language edition of the work to increase the effectiveness of the original volume: an index of names and places, a supplementary bibliography, and a short essay on Bareau's career and work. Complex diagrams have been redrawn, and the lengthy subject index table in Appendix I has been separated into separate tables to make the material more useable.
The Buddhist Schools of the Small Vehicle will be used by students and scholars as a primary resource and starting point for any discussion on the history and doctrines of early Buddhism and Buddhist schools. This seminal work is translated by Sara Boin Webb, who across a career of four decades translated into English some of the most important French-language works of Buddhist scholarship.
Born in Paris, Andre Bareau forged a career in the interpretation of Buddhist doctrine from textual sources that led him to become a professor at the College de France and a world authority on early Buddhism. He published several books, including several definitive volumes on the biography of the Buddha taken from the Sutra and Vinaya collections of the Buddhist canon, and more than one hundred scholarly articles.
Although Andre Bareau's Les sectes bouddhiques du Petit Vedicule was first published more than half a century ago in 1955, it remains a standard work of reference in the field of Buddhist Studies. The painstaking Scholarship of Bareau's Les sectes bouddhiques du Petit Vebicule has meant two things in particular first that subsequent scholars have had a reliable work of reference as a starting point for their own researches and discussions, and second that his work has yet to be superseded.
Les sectes bouddhiques du Petit Vehicule three main parts. The first part (four Chapter) is a general discussion of the formation of Indian Buddhist schools as documented in the ancient Buddhist Source. The second and most substantial part consists of thirty four chapters, each devoted to a particular school and in which Bareau sets out what is known about each school and in which Bareau sets out what is known about each school and lists main points of doctrine that the ancient sources associate with the School. The final part consists of a set of three appendices: The first takes the from of a comprehensive table off points of doctrine indicating which schools subscribed to them and which did not; on the basic of this first appendix the second attempts to indentify and tabulate the doctrinal affiliation of groups of schools the third appendix briefly discusses the origins of the Mahayana from the perspective of school affiliation.
It may be true that since its first publication many significant articles relevant to the formation and history of the Indian schools of Buddhism have appeared, and that out understanding of certain issues such as the nature of a Buddhist sect of Buddhist schism' of Buddhist schools of thought of vinaya lineages – may have been problematized and become more sophisticated, subtle or nuanced, but such progress has only been possible because of the sound foundations laid by such scholars as Bareau. While in particular instances with regard to this school or that one point of doctrine or another a further fifty years of scholarship means it is possible to question certain of Bareau's interpretations or to add to his material, nevertheless the comprehensive scope of his presentation means that his work remains, and is likely to continue to remain for some time, the standard work of reference on the schools of Indian Buddhism.
In particular, Bareau's documenting of the doctrinal points associated with the schools constitutes an invaluable resource for the issues that were the subject of ancient Abhidharma debate-a resource that has yet to be thoroughly explored and mined. An appreciation of these points of Abhid-harma interpretation that preoccupied Indian Buddhist thinkers may sometimes provide a key to understanding the principles that underlay developments in Indian Buddhist thought and practice more generally. It is to be hoped that the appearance of Bareau's work in a reliable English translation will encourage and facilitate such an appreciation.
Sara Boin Webb's work as English translator of some the most important French language works of Buddhist scholarship is well known and much appreciated by Buddhist scholars throughout the would Indeed, many scholars make routine use of her translation of Etienne Lamotte's History of Indian Buddhism (Louvain la Neuve, 1988). I was thus most pleased when some years ago I learnt that she wished to publish her translation of Bareaus's let sectes bouddhiques du Petit Vebicule. Sara contacted me asking if I might read through her translation, paying particular attention to the rendering of technical terminology and points of Abhidharma. I was very happy to do so and thereby perhaps make a very small contribution to sara's work. Following Sara's death in 2008 the final stages of bringing her translation to press have been overseen by Andrew Skilton, who has compiled a most useful supplementary bibliography of relevant works published since 1955, as well as adding a new index and rearranging appendix I as a series of tables to better function as an index of doctrinal points. Without doubt Sara's English translation of Bareau's standard work of reference on the schools of Indian Buddhism gives it a new lease on life,
Making it accessible to a new and much wider audience than it has hitherto had. The only sadness is that she did not live to see its final publication. it is however a most fitting posthumous addition to her contribution to Buddhist Studies.
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