Life of the Buddha (Hardcover)
The Buddhist monk Ashva-ghosha composed Life of the Buddha in the first or second century CE probably in Ayodhya. This is the earliest surviving text of the Sanskrit literary genre called kavya and probably provided models for Kali-dasa''s more famous works. The most poignant scenes on the path to his Awakening are when the young prince Siddhartha, the future Buddha, is confronted by the reality of sickness, old age, and death, while seduced by the charms of the women employed to keep him at home. A poet of the highest order, Ashva-ghosha''s aim is not entertainment but instruction, presenting the Buddha''s teaching as the culmination of the Brahmanical tradition. His wonderful descriptions of the bodies of courtesans are ultimately meant to show the transience of beauty.
Co-published by New York University Press and the JJC Foundation
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From the Publisher:
The Buddhist monk Ashva-ghosha composed his elegant biographical and religious poem in the first or second century CE, probably in the city of Ayodhya. Importantly, this is the earliest extent text of the Sanskrit genre of "literature as a fine art" (kavya).|Fourteen cantos take the reader from the birth of Siddhartha, the future Buddha, to his Awakening when he discovered the truths of Buddhism. The remainder of the composition, lost in the original Sanskrit, is here summarized from its Chinese and Tibetan translations. The most poignant scenes on the young prince's path to Awakening are the three occasions when he is confronted by the realities of human sickness, old age, and death, while at home he is continuously seduced by the transient charms of the women deployed by his father to keep him from the spiritual path.|A creative artist of the highest order, Ashva-ghosha's aim is not pure entertainment but deep instruction. His mission is to present the Buddha's teaching as itself the culmination of the Brahmanical tradition.