21 September, 2020

The Doors To A Sutra

A key translation proves that genuine scholarship survives in an age of faux Buddhism

The Doors To A Sutra
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
At this point in the publishing cycle, one tends to be sceptical of lavish books relating to Buddhism, especially when they carry a foreword by the Dalai Lama. That eminent personage tends to be a prolific and enthusiastic writer of endorsements, and Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism is still the flavour of the day, sometimes for all the wrong reasons.

The Perfection of Wisdom, a translation of sutras from the Sanskrit by R.C. Jamieson, is an honourable exception to the spate of faux Buddhist works flooding the market. It is excerpted from the Asta-saharika-prajna-paramita, an ancient collection of about 8,000 sutras on the contradictions of knowledge and being on the path to true enlightenment. In his foreword, the Dalai Lama categorises it as one of the definitive scriptures of classical Mahayana Buddhism and recounts the touching story of how, before leaving Lhasa for the long journey to India, he sat in his prayer room and read from these same sutras for solace and inspiration.

The Perfection of Wisdom is set in the community of monks at the Vulture peak...

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