Sanskrit manuscripts and Indian scripts in Japan

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‘A rich literary treasure of Sanskrit literature consisting of dharanis, tantras, sutras and other texts has been kept in Japan for nearly 1400 years. Entry of Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures into Japan was their identification with the central axis of human advance. Buddhism opened up unfathomed spheres of thought as soon as it reached Japan officially in AD 552. Prince Shotoku Taishi himself wrote commentaries and lectured on Saddharmapundarika-sutra, Srimaladevi-simhanada-sutra and Vimala-kirt-nirdesa-sutra. They can be heard in the daily recitation of the Japanese up to the day.

Palm leaf manuscripts kept at different temples since olden times comprise of texts which carry immeasurable importance from the viewpoint of Sanskrit philology although some of them are incomplete Sanskrit manuscripts crossed the boundaries of India along with the expansion of Buddhist philosophy, art and thought and reached Japan via Central Asia and China. Thousands of Sanskrit texts were translated into Khotanese, Tokharian, Uigur and Sogdian in Central Asia, on their way to China. With destruction of monastic libraries, most of the Sanskrit literature perished leaving behind a large number of fragments which are discovered by the great explorers who went from Germany, Russia, British India, Sweden and Japan. These excavations have uncovered vast quantities of manuscripts in Sanskrit. Only those manuscripts and texts have survived which were takento Nepal and Tibet or other parts of Asia. Their translations into Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian fill the gap, but partly.’

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