Buddhism, Hinduism, and Multilinguism

/Buddhism, Hinduism, and Multilinguism

Buddhism, Hinduism, and Multilinguism

I would like to concentrate on three topics, which are quite closely interrelated.

  1. Buddhism and Buddhist art in Sogdiana: the Sogdians as transmitters of Buddhism from India to the East. On several occasions we hear and read that there were numerous traces of Buddhist influence in Sogdiana. Numerous iconographic borrowings can be observed in Sogdian artifacts; a collection of Sogdian Buddhist texts coming both from the mainland Sogdiana and from the colonies has been studied and published by the linguists; there is evidence of the existence of Sogdian Buddhist monks and monasteries attested by historians and archeologists. Sogdiana, a country on the crossroad of two big Mahayana Buddhist civilizations, China and India, although being mostly Zoroastrian, absorbed numerous religious traditions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Manichaeism and Hinduism (not to mention the later Islam). I will look into the history of the transmission of Buddhist ideas and iconography to Sogdiana, the absorption of Buddhism in Sogdian culture (analyzing preserved artifacts and texts) and the transmission of Buddhism from Sogdiana to the further East.
  1. My next topic focuses on Hindu and other Indian influences on Sogdian art and culture. The Sogdians had contacts with the Indians on their territories (numerous inscriptions in Sogdian language were found along the South and Southeast routes of the Silk road, especially in the Upper Indus and in Ladakh, then a part of the Kushan Empire), they also were engaged together in trade in Chinese provinces. There is evidence of a cult dedicated to Hindu deities on the territory of Sogdiana, namely in Panjikent where statues of Vishnu and Pārvati alongside with a Chinese Avalokiteshvara were discovered. The multihanded Kushan goddess Nana, perhaps the most widely venerated deity in the Sogdian oases cities, may have direct connections with the Hindu goddess Durga (Saraswati). I will analyze iconographic interconnections, and textual materials consisting in Sogdian translations of Sanskrit and Prakrit texts.
  1. The last topic covers the Sogdian language. It is a part of the Iranian group of languages, and by the 10th century AD had totally disappeared from circulation. The largest number of texts in Sogdian were found on the territory of Sogdiana itself and on the Chinese territory, although numerous written artifacts were discovered along the different routes of the Silk road. According to Sogdian scholars, only a small part of the Sogdian texts are dealing with trade, while the most of them are religious. Interestingly, different scripts were used to transcribe different kinds of document. For example, the Sogdian script was used for secular and Buddhist documents, the Manichean script to transcribe Manichean but also middle-Persian and Parthian religious texts, Christian scholars used a kind of Syrian Nestorian script, medical texts would be transcribed in Brahmi script etc.   This translingual diversity correlates exactly with the cultural diversity of Sogdiana, and can constitute an interesting supportive case witnessing the importance of the Sogdian civilization in transmitting cultural heritage along the Silk Road. Here I may include a passage about the Sogdians as translators.

Provisional bibliography:

Jakubovich, Ilja. 2009. «Problemy sogdijskoj etimologii (Problems of Sogdian Etymology), PhD dissertaion, Moscow, 201 p.

Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 1996a. “The Sogdian Manuscripts in Brahmi Script as Evidence for Sogdian Phonology”. Turfan, Khotan und Dunhuang: Vorträge der Tagung “Annemarie von Gabain und die Turfanforschung” veranstaltet von der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin (9.-12. 12. 1994). Ed. R. E. Emmerick et al. Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Pp. 307-315.

Livshits, Vladimir A. & A.L. Chromov. 1981. Sogdijskij jayzk [The Sogdian Language]. Osnovy Iranskogo jazykoznanija, ed. V.S. Rastorgueva et al., vol. II 347–514.

Sims-Williams, N. 1996. The Sogdian merchants in China and India. Cina e Iran da Alessandro Magno alla dinastia Tang, ed. A. Cadonna & L. Lanciotti. Florence, 45–67.

De la Vaissière, Étienne. 2005. Sogdian Traders. A History. Leiden: Brill.

Yoshida, Y. 2009. Buddhist Literature in Sogdian. The Literature of Pre-Islamic Iran, 288–329.

Sims-Williams, N., F. Grenet, & A. Podushkin. 2007. Les plus anciens monuments de la langue sogdienne: Les inscriptions de Kultobe au Kazakhstan. CRAIBL, 1005–1034.

Sims-Williams, N. 1989/1992. Sogdian and other Iranian inscriptions of the Upper Indus. 2 vols. London: SOAS.

Livshits, V.A. 2008. Sogdijskaja èpigrafika Srednej Azii i Semireč’ja [Sogdian Epigraphy from Central Asia and Semirechya]. Saint Petersburg.

Benveniste, Émile. 1940. Textes sogdiens. Paris: Geuthner.

Benveniste, Émile. 1946. Vessantara Jataka: texte sogdien. Paris: Geuthner.

Yoshida, Y. 2000. The form of the Manichaean Sogdian Letters from Bäzäklik. Tulufan xinchu Moni, pp. 250-279 [in Chinese].

Grenet, F. 2006. “La plus ancienne inscription sogdienne.” Ērān ud Anērān, Studies Presented to Boris Il’ič Marshak on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday, ed. M. Comparetti, P. Raffetta & G. Scarcia. Venice: Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina 2006, pp. 223-230.

MacKenzie, D.N. 1971. “Buddhist Terminology in Sogdian: A Glossary.” Asia Major n.s. 17/1, pp. 28-89.

Provasi, E. 2013. “Sanskrit and Chinese in Sogdian garb: the transcription of Indic proper names in the Sogdian Buddhist texts.” Multilingualism and History of Knowledge. Vol. 1. Buddhism among the Iranian Peoples of Central Asia, ed. M. de Chiara, M. Maggi, & G. Martini. Vienna: Verlag der ÖAW 2013, pp. 191-308.

Yoshida, Y. 2013. “Buddhist texts produced by the Sogdians in China.” In Multilingualism and History of Knowledge. Vol. 1. Buddhism among the Iranian Peoples of Central Asia, ed. M. de Chiara, M. Maggi, & G. Martini. Vienna:Verlag der ÖAW 2013, pp. 155–180.

Yoshida, Y. 2013. “When did Sogdians begin to write vertically?” Tokyo University Linguistic Papers 33, 375–394.

Mariko Namba Walter, “Sogdians and Buddhism,” Sino-Platonic Papers 174 (November 2006).

Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 1996. “The Sogdian Merchants in China and India,” in Cina e Iran da Alessandro Magno alla dinastia Tang, ed. A. Cadonna & L. Lanciotti (Florence: Leo S. Olschki Editore), pp. 45-67.







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