This work is a translation of the Chinese version of the "Abhinishkramana Sutra" done into that
language by Dinanakuta, a Buddhist priest from North India. It refers to Buddha's leaving the
palace for a religious life i.e. Buddha's flight from his palace to become an ascetic. The legend
also includes Buddha's previous and subsequent history.
The work is called "Romantic Legend", because, as is well known, the first romances were
merely metrical histories. There can be no doubt that the present work contains as a woof (so to
speak), some of the earliest verses (Gathas) in which the History of Buddha was sung, long before
the work itself was penned. These verses, even in the Chinese, are frequently so confused as to
defy exact analysis. These Gathas were evidently composed in different Prakrit forms (during a
period of disintegration) before the more modern type of Sanskrit was fixed by the Rules of
Panini, and the popular epics of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
The interest of the book will be found to result, not from any critical studies, found
herein, but from the stories which throw light on contemporaneous architectural work in
THIS work is a translation of the Chinese version of the "Abhinishkramana Sutra? done into that
language by Djnanakuta, a Buddhist priest from North India, who resided in China during the Tsui
dynasty, i.e., about the end of the sixth century, A.D.
It would seem from a consideration of the title of the seventeenth chapter, “Leaving the palace
for a religious life", that originally the story of the "Abhinishkramana” was simply that of
Buddha’s flight from his palace to become an ascetic. Afterwards, the same title was applied to
the complete legend (as in the present work), which includes his previous and subsequent history.
A very valuable date, later than which we cannot place the origin of the story, may be derived
from the colophon at the end of the last chapter of the book. It is there stated that the
"Abhinishkramana Sutra" is called by the school of the Dharmaguptas Fo-pen- hing-King; by the
Sarvastivadas it is called Ta-chwang- yen (great magnificence, i.e., "Lalita Vistara") ; by the
Mahasanghikas it is called Ta-sse, i. e., Mahavastu.
We know from the "Chinese Encyclopaedia”, Kai- yuen-shi-Kiau-mu-lu, that the Fo-pm-king was
translated into Chinese from Sanskrit, by a priest called Chu—fa—lan, so early as the eleventh
year of the reign of Wing-ping (Ming-ti), of the Han dynasty, i.e., 69 or 70 A.D. We may,
therefore, safely suppose that the original work was in circulation in India for some time
previous to this date.
Of Related Interest:
Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha
Life of Buddha As Legend and History
Buddha: His Life, His Doctrine, His Order
Buddha for the Young
Jataka or Stories of the Buddha's Former Births (6 Volumes)
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