Full text of “Lalita Vistara English Translation Fasc 12 Rajendralala Mitra bis The Lalita-Vistara; or, Memoirs of the early life of Sakya Sinha BIBLIOTHECA. E. including an English translation by R. and to have this newly assembled literature be afforded the same inspired status as other instances of “the words of the. I only know Lalitavistara from Gwendolyn Bays’ translation from the French (The Voice . Thanks for that V. ‘The play in full’ is scarcely English.

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The Lalitavistara is edited by S. Lefmann who also brought out a translation of the first chapters in Berlin in The great Bengali scholar Rajendralal Mitra prepared an English translation for the Bibliotheca Indica of which 3 fasciculi have appeared.

Calcutta, to He has also brought out an incomplete text. Also Foucaux’s French translation of Lalitavistara introduction, vol. It appears to have been a biography of the Buddha representing the sect of the Dharmaguptas.

While in the middle watch of the night the Buddha sits sunk in meditation, from his head issues forth a stream of light which penetrates into the heavens and sets all the gods in commotion. While they panegyrize in extravagant terms the excellences of the text revealed by this and even earlier Buddhas, the Buddha expresses his assent by silence.

Only after these circumstantial introductions, which fill a large chapter, commences the biography proper of the Buddha which forms the contents of the work. The Bodhisattva is the recipient of over a hundred honorific epithets and the celestial palace in which he resides of over a dozen.

Under the sound of eighty-four thousand drums he is called upon to descend to the [21] earth to commence his work of salvation. She alone possesses all the qualities of a Buddha’s mother. Perfect like her beauty, which is described to minutest detail, are her virtue and chastity. Besides, of all the women of India she is the only one in a position to bear the future Buddha since in her is united the strength of ten thousand elephants.

Dharma Wheel

The conception proceeds with the assistance of the gods after the Bodhisattva had determined to enter the womb of his mother in the form of an elephant.

In this palace of jewels he sits in his marvellous tenderness. But his body shines translxtion glorious sheen and a light expands itself for miles from the womb of his mother. This part is comprised in chapters 2 to 6. The beginning of the sixth chapter has been translated by Windisch in his Buddha’s Geburtp. Lzlitavistara the conception so also the Bodhisattva’s birth.

It is accompanied by miracles and portents.

Early Buddhist Texts – Lalitavistara

Faith in the Buddha is taught as an essential component of religion. Like friends are they to me who seek refuge in me. This I commend unto you. Why this dialogue should appear just here is certainly not due to accident, but is based on the fact that it is with reference to the legends relating to the conception and the birth of the Buddha that the Lalitavistara diverges very strikingly from other Buddhist schools in its extravagance as to the miraculous.


It is no longer so in the future course of the narrative. The two texts in such cases are not dependent upon each other, but both go back to a common older tradition. But even here the Lalitavistara has much that is wanting in the older accounts. Two episodes in particular are noteworthy. One of these recounts chapter 8 how the Bodhisattva as a boy is brought by his foster mother to the temple and how all the images of the gods rise up on their pedestals to prostrate themselves at his feet.

The other episode chapter 10 relates the first experience of the Bodhisattva at school. With a suite of ten thousand boys with immense pomp in which the gods participate – eight thousand heavenly damsels for instance scatter flowers before him – the small Bodhisattva celebrates his admission into the writing school.

The poor schoolmaster cannot bear the glory of the divine incarnation and falls to the ground. A god raises him up and tranquillizes him with the explanation that the Bodhisattvas are omniscient and need no learning, but that they come to school only following the course of the world.

Then the Bodhisattva amazes the schoolmaster with the question as to which of the 64 scripts he was going to instruct him in.

And he enumerates all the sixty-four in which are included the Chinese symbols and the script of the Huns – alphabets of which the teacher did not know even the names. Finally with the ten thousand boys he commences his study of the alphabet. With every letter of the alphabet the Bodhisattva pronounces a wise maxim. The chapter 12 and 13 also contain episodes which are wanting in the other biographies of the Buddha Winternitz WZKMp. But even here the Lalitavistara is remarkable for its exaggerations.

While Gautama, for instance, passes the four weeks after his illumination, in our most ancient account, in meditation under various trees Mahavagga 1,Dutoit Life of the Buddhap. This assumption also explains lalitxvistara nature of the text which is by no means the single work of [25] one author, but is an anonymous compilation in which very old and very young fragments stand in juxtaposition. As a rule they are recapitulations of prose narration in an abbreviated and simpler and sometimes also more or less divergent form.

They belong to the ancient religious ballad poesy of the first centuries after the Buddha.

But several prose passages also, like the sermon at Benares in the XXVIth chapter, are assignable to the most ancient stratum of Buddhistic tradition. We do not know when the final redaction of the Lalitavistara took place. It was formerly erroneously asserted that the work had already been translated into Chinese in the first Christian century.


As a matter of fact we do not at all know whether the Chinese biography of the Buddha called the Phuyau-king which was published in about A. A precise rendering of the Sanskrit text is in the Tibetan, which was only [26] produced in the 5th century.

New Lalitavistara Sutra translation – Dharma Wheel

It has been edited and translated into French by Foucaux. It may be taken for certain that a version little different from our Lalitavistara was known to the artists who about decorated with images the celebrated temple of Borobudur in Java.

For these magnificent scriptures represent scenes in the legend of the Buddha in a manner as if the artists were working with the text of the Lalitavistara in the hand. And Pleyte has simply recapitulated the entire contents of transation Lalitavistara as an explanation of the sculptures The Buddha legend in the sculpture in the temple of BorobudurAmsterdam, See also Speyer Englush Museon lalitavistada, p.

But the artists who embellished the Greco-Buddhistic monuments of Northern India with scenes from the life of the Buddha are also already familiar with the Buddha legend as related in the Lalitavistara. They worked no doubt not after the text, but in accordance with living oral tradition. The harmony, nevertheless, between the sculptures and the Sanskrit text is not rarely of such a character that we must assume that the literary tradition was at times influenced by the artist.

Upon art and literature there was mutual influence. Can it not be connected with this that englixh the intervening centuries the Buddha became an object of Bhakti and the adoration of the Buddha was pushed into the central translztion of his religion?

It is, therefore, but natural that we should have preserved in the Translayion both the very old tradition, and accounts younger by centuries, of the legend of the Buddha. But it is erroneous to regard the Lalitavistara in its entirety translatikn a good old source for our knowledge of Buddhism as does Senart in his ingenious and unsuccessful Essai sur la legende du Buddhap. It is rather a key to the development of the Buddha legend in its earliest beginnings, in which only the principal events of the life of the great founder of the religion have been adorned with miracles, down to the final apotheosis of the Master in which from start to finish his career appears more like that of a god, above all the other gods.

But from the standpoint of trasnlation history the Lalitavistara is one of the most important works in Buddhist literature. It is not indeed a Buddha epic proper, but it embodies all the germs of one.