From the Jacket :
Buddhism believes that inward extinction of the self and the senses culminates in a state of illumination beyond suffering and existence which seem to be inseparable. While leading the common people to achieve the state of illumination, the Great Master also touched upon cosmology or the study of the Universe. For almost two thousand years, his words on cosmology, better known as Lokaprajnapti of Prajnapti Sastra, were available only in Chinese and Tibetan languages until it was discovered a few years ago that the palm leaf manuscripts preserved in a few Buddhist temples in Japan are Sanskrit Fragments which are identified as the Lokaprajnapti of Prajnapti Sastra of the Sarvastivada.
Lokaprajnapti: A Critical Exposition of Buddhist Cosmology covers salient features of Cosmology as reflected in the Sanskrit Fragments. It examines the concepts tracing their origin from the pre-Buddhist Indian thought. While discussing the central theme, the influence of various Buddhist schools of thought on Cosmology has also been assessed.
About the Author :
Dr. (Mrs.) Kalpakam Sankarnarayan is the Director, K.J. Somaiya Centre of Buddhist Studies, Mumbai, India. Recepient of Japan Foundation Fellowship for Researchers and Scholars, and later Visiting Professor at the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan, her research papers have been published in journals in India and abroad.
Prof. Kazunobu Matsuda who completed his graduate and post-graduate studies from Otani University, Japan, is now Professor at Bukkyo University. He has identified several rare Buddhist manuscripts found in Central Asia and published them. He is a Visiting Professor at Oslo University, Norway.
Dr. Motohiro Yoritomi is Professor of Buddhist Studies, International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan. Author of many books and several research papers in Japanese which have been acclaimed in academic circles, he is also the President of the Buddhist Cultural Assets Studies Society and President, Shuchin University, Kyoto, Japan.
The authors of the present book have critically analysed the words of
two thousand years ago, as preserved in palm leaves in the Buddhist
temples in Japan. This work is based on 'Sanskrit Fragments' identified
as Lokaprajnapti of Prajpapti Sastra, which till now was available either
in Chinese or Tibetan version. Based on the contents of these Sanskrit
fragments, a critical and analytical approach to the Buddhist cosmology,
tracing the concept from the earliest Indian thought, the Vedas (Sruti),
the authors have revived a seemingly defunct Buddhist cosmology by
viewing ancient themes from modern perspective. It should be noted that
the combined efforts of the authors have brought this work a significant
cross-cultural and comparative persepective. Such publications are
The teachings of Buddhism aim to lead people from the realm of
ignorance to the realm of enlightenment. To penetrate the realm of
enlightenment, it is necessary to understand the realm of ignorance.
Likewise, explanation of the realm of delusion requires reference to the
realm of enlightenment, and Buddhist Cosmological ideas are revealed
in the process. I congratulate the authors for their specific focus on
concerete descriptions of cosmology rather than on abstract doctrines.
They have opened the door to Buddhist Cosmology in attempt to reinstill
faith in the idea that somewhere, something of higher value exists; an
end to rebirth which can be achieved through meditation. Emphasis has
been given to the importance of Buddhist Cosmology hopefully making
it easily accessible and thus interesting to lay people.
We have put in our assimilated critical analysis on the available Sanskrit
fragments in Sarada Script preserved in Buddhist Temples in Kansai
Prof. Matsuda Kazunobou has identified the folios as part of
'Lokprajnapti' and published the findings in the Bukkyo Gaku.
Dr. Motohiro Y oritomi contributed to the theme from the view point of
Japanese Buddhism. Dr. Mrs. K. Sankaranarayan contributed to the
scheme by tracing the concept from the angle of Indian tradition. She
has taken an overall approach and assimilated thoughts of the other two
possible as a critical exposition on Buddhist Cosmology.
In Part I we have given the contents of the Sanskrit folios kept in
different temples. The text is transliterated into Devanagari script from
the Sarada script, followed by the comments on the manuscript and the
translation in English. In the Sanskrit text we have retained the danda
(/) in bracket. The end of each folio is marked as 'a' and number of lines
in each folio is mentioned as 'a-4' etc.
In Part II of this book we have taken the critical exposition based on
the content of these folios, from the earliest Indian Thought on cosmology
to that of the later Mahayana School of thought as in the far East Asia,
that is, Japan. It suggests that Buddhist Cosmology has been a worldwide
concern. The evolution of thought shows how the Buddhist conception
of the Universe underwent numerous changes over time. If we view these
shifts as changing responses to the problem of human suffering, we can
see a steady progress in one direction. Buddhism gradually ceased to
regard life as mere suffering. Inevitably the Buddhist world view,
originally based on the idea that suffering was inevitable increasingly
changed; the shift being initially from pessimism to nihilism and later
from nihilism to optimism.
In our critical study we have classed early Indian thought from the
Vedas to the Upanisads as Pre-Buddhist; Theravada or Hinayana
Buddhism as early Buddhist view; the view of Vasubandhu as of Pre-
Mahayana Buddhism; the views of Madhyamika philosophy including
Nagarjuna's voidness as provisional Mahayana Buddhism; and later
school of thought, as in far East Asian countries as True Mahayana
Buddhism. It shows that as knowledge is disseminated in ever greater
amount, people sought out the rational and overturned old dogmas, with
its practical philosophy and training of meditation.
Buddhist Cosmology showed the quickest way to understand the
Buddhist view that human life as delusion is to recognise it in one's own
inner life. Thus its vast cosmological system and its detailed explanations
are unique. This book speaks of the past spiritual legacy of the Buddhist
Cosmology as the present inspiring force, capable of stiring the
imagination to achieve the inner peace here and now. The intricate
philosophy of the earlier Indian tradition and the Japanese Buddhist
tradition as supplementary to it have not distracted in any way from the
profoundity of the theological foundations of Buddhism.
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