Thursday, November 11, 2010

One odd side-effect of recent religious wars: oldest Buddhist scriptures found

There's something oddly karmic about this.

The scriptures are the world's most ancient Tripitaka scriptures more than 2,000 years old. Some parts of the ancient scriptures have disintegrated. More than 10,000 pieces will be on display at the exhibition [in Thailand].
 Buddha's teachings were first recorded on palm leaves during the first century BC. The scriptures were written with "Prommi" characters that were used during Buddha's time and serve as evidence that the scriptures are the world's oldest.
       The scriptures were discovered in caves in Afghanistan by Bamiyan people who escaped from Taliban attacks and took refuge in caves from 1993 to 1995. The Bamiyan people then took the scriptures to Pakistan to save them from destruction by the extremist Muslim Taliban government.
       Norway and Britain then secretly moved the scriptures out of Pakistan from 1997 to 2000. They brought out 5,000 complete scriptures and 8,000 pieces of broken scriptures inscribed on palm leaves, bark, leather and brass plates.
     
As has been noted by people time and again, even if these scriptures were never found, there would still be the truths of dukkha, its cause, a way to transcend dukkha, and a path to do so, as long as there were any practitioner.  But the fact that we now have these scriptures, which if memory serves me are older than the oldest extant copies of the bible is interesting.

2 comments:

lee said...

Well, the Bible is a Christian compilation of stuff that by definition couldn't possibly have anything pre 30CE or so.

If you count the "Old Testament," though, there are extant bits like the dead sea scrolls going back to around 150 BCE or so, and the "silver scrolls" from Ketef Hinnom which date all the way back to 600 BCE.

Since Sid was born around 400-500 BCE, you could discover his birth certificate and still be beat by the scrolls at Ketef Hinnom.

It's fun stuff.

Mumon said...

lee:
Yeah, Buddhism does go back a bit more than Christianity, and the issue - to me at any rate - never was really "My scripture's older than yours," but given the relative prominence of scriptures in one religion versus another, it seems Christianity's way more recent; in fact the canon of scripture was only settled in Western Christianity in the 4th century, if I recall correctly.