Workshop on the Vajrāmṛtatantra by Prof. Francesco Sferra

Manuscript Or.158, colophon with the date Nepāla saṃvat 282 / 1162 CE.

Prof. Francesco Sferra (Istituto Universitario Orientale, Naples), will hold a two-hour workshop on the Vajrāmṛtatantra, a Buddhist Tantric work transmitted in a very old Nepalese manuscript kept in the Cambridge University Library (Or.158, dated 116 CE). Only one other manuscript of this text is known to have survived and is presently kept in a library in China. The reading and interpretation of selected passages will be integrated with the examination of images of the manuscript, thus providing both an introduction to manuscript analysis as well as to philological methodologies.

The workshop will take place on Monday January 20th, from 10.30am to 1pm in room at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge.

 

Buddhist Manuscript Culture: Textuality and Materiality

Programme (online version)

Programme (print version)

The two-day workshop held at the Faculty of Asian Middle Eastern Studies of the University of Cambridge was an attempt to analyze and look at Buddhist manuscript culture combining a more traditional philological approach with a broader perspective encompassing codicology and history of the book. The first day has been dedicated to papers dealing with the aspects of manuscript production and circulation, while the textual aspect has been the focus of the second day.

The discussions following each paper and the round table at the end of the two days were dominated by one key word: database. The urgent need for easily accessible and well structured data was felt as a priority above all for palaeographical and codicological studies—as it has been clearly pointed out in the papers by M. Delhey and C. Formigatti, as well as in the joint paper by H. Diemberger and M. Clemente.

Thanks to the contributions by H. Isaacson, F. Sferra, P. Szántó and G. Hidas, another aspect that emerged from the workshop is the importance of the Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts collections of the Cambridge University Library for the study of Tantric Buddhism.

Two papers were devoted to lexicography, both traditional and modern (by L. Deokar and M. Cone). The two speakers stressed the necessity of the application of a rigorous philological methodology in the examination of the data resulting by the analysis of manuscripts.

Last but by no means least, the influence of the material aspects of manuscripts (writing material, layout etc.) in shaping the text has been highlighted in three papers (by C. Scherrer-Schaub, A. Griffiths and V. Tournier), and it has been the focus of a lively debate during the round table.

Lecture by Prof. Francesco Sferra

MS Add. 1364, Kālacakratantra, illuminated wood cover and folio 1r

Prof. Francesco Sferra (Istituto Universitario Orientale, Napoli) will visit Cambridge on 12-14 March 2012 to examine some of the manuscripts in the UL Sanskrit collections and discuss the interest of these sources for future research with the project team.
On this occasion, he will also deliver a lecture, “Apropos of Some Late Indian Buddhist Manuscripts kept in the Cambridge University Library”, focusing in particular on some manuscripts of the Kālacakra tradition. The lecture will be held on Tuesday 13 March, 5pm, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Lecture by Prof. Harunaga Isaacson

Title page of C. Bendall’s Catalogue

Friday 27 January, 3 pm, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge

Bendall and beyond: Cataloguing the (Buddhist) Sanskrit Manuscripts in Cambridge University Library.

Prof. Isaacson will give a lecture about the Buddhist manuscripts in Cambridge, the achievements of Bendall’s catalogue and someof the work that remains to be done.

Oncoming Events

On 27-28 January Professor Harunaga Isaacson (University of Hamburg), Professor Dominic Goodall (École française d’Extrême-Orient, Paris) and Dr. Csaba Dezső (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) will visit Cambridge to examine some manuscripts in the UL Sanskrit collections and discuss cataloguing methods and priorities with the project team. On this occasion, on the afternoon of the 27th, Prof. Isaacson will also deliver a lecture about the Buddhist manuscripts in Cambridge, the achievements of Bendall’s catalogue and some of the work that remains to be done.

Lecture by Ms. Juan Wu

MS Add. 1590, f. 262r

Add. 1590, f. 262r, Kalpadrumāvadānamālā

Tuesday 6 December, 11.30 am, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge

Ajātaśatruparidāpitāvadāna of the Kalpadrumāvadānamālā (MS Add.1590):
Some Preliminary Notes

Ms. Juan Wu (PhD student, Department of Religious Studies, Cardiff University) will outline several versions of the legend of the conversion of Ajātaśatru in Buddhist literature, focusing on the story as narrated in MS Add. 1590.

Abstract

How it all began…

MS Add. 1042, four loose paper folios, written in 1873 as specimens of transcription.

These specimens were sent over from Nepal by Dr D. Wright in 1873, when it was proposed to obtain copies of various Sanskrit manuscripts existing in Nepal, for the University Library. It was from these leaves that the whole of the present collection took its rise.

Bendall, C. (1883), Catalogue of the Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts in the University library, Cambridge, p. 26-27.

Two leaves of the Divyāvadāna (ff. 1v-2r), containing part of the Maitrakanyakāvadāna.

Folio 2v of the Divyāvadāna and folio 1r of the Laṅkāvatāra.

Two leaves from the beginning of the Laṅkāvatāra manuscript (ff. 1v-2r).

A leaf from the beginning of the Laṅkāvatāra (f. 2v), and one from the end of the manuscript.