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The Buddha-Carita or The Life of Buddha
Edited and Translated by E. B. Cowell
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Preface to the electronic edition
The text and translation of Buddhacarita presented here is for the most part that printed in The Buddhacarita or Life of Buddha by Aśvaghoṣa, which was prepared by Professor Edward B. Cowell (first published in 1893 [text] & 1894 [translation], reprinted together New Delhi, 1977). The readings and translation have been supplemented by E.H. Johnson's text and translation entitled Aśvaghoṣa's Buddhacarita or Acts of the Buddha (first published in Lahore, 1936; reprinted Delhi, 1995).
The electronic text has been made from a database prepared by Peter Schreiner in February 1990, which contained the pausa form of both Cowell's and Johnson's texts in ASCII format, which I have converted to normal diacritics. I hope at a later date to prepare a text with the pausa form analysis included, which will be a help to students studying the text.
The text and translation presented here represents the first fourteen chapters of Aśvaghoṣa's text, with the beginning supplemented by the spurious verses found at the beginning of Cowell's edition (presumably by Amṛtānanda, who supplemented the lost chapters of the work), and Johnson's translation (only) from the Tibetan and Chinese sources to round off Chapter Fourteen. Major discrepencies between the two editions have been noted and occasionally supplementary material from Johnson's edition has been included.
I have entered Cowell's notes to the translation, as they often provide interesting cross references, and I have also prepared his Introduction to the translation of the text. I have not entered his notes to the text though, as I hope at a later date to be able to make a full comparison with Johnson's edition.
The text itself has been presented with a metrical analysis elsewhere on this website, and an English only version of the translation, which contains the translation of Amṛtānanda's supplementary text, which was printed in the Editio Princeps, but which is omitted here as it throws no light on Aśvaghoṣa's original work.
The system of transliteration of Eastern scripts that was used in the Sacred Books of the East was later felt to have a number of disadvantages to it, and went out of fashion after the series was completed. Therefore in preparing this book for electronic publication I have taken the opportunity to update the presentation in this regard to a standard which is most commonly in use, and is in agreement with the other texts used on this website.
last updated: August 2005