Burlingame’s Introduction to Buddhist Legends

I recently published Prof. Burlingame’s translation of the 300 stories of the Dhammapada Commentary stories, which he entitled Buddhist Legends. In the original work he also added a very interesting 69-page long Introduction which adds considerably to our understanding of the texts and of their relationship to other stories in the tradition.

Initially I was unsure if I could get this transcribed as there was no preliminary work done on this part of the text, and it is very complex in terms of tables, references, etc. but now, having gained a week or two of free time, I have managed to transcribe it and get it corrected and online, so I think it makes a very good addition to the original work.

The Introduction starts with a very good summary of the traditional life of the Buddha, which is a necessary background against which all the stories play out; and follows it with an equally succinct account of the teaching and the role of meditation in the tradition.

He next discusses the Dhammapada itself, its position in the Canon, and the plan of the commentary on it, before giving a very useful list of the subjects dealt with, and the motifs found, in the work.

Probably the most interesting sections of the Introduction are the comprehensive comparative tables which Burlingame gives, examining and commenting on the stories in the various commentaries and their relationship to each other.

The final sections deal with the commentary’s parallels in previously published compilations of the Buddha’s teachings, which are in truth, very out-of-date, and barely used now. I have included it for completeness, but section § 14 onwards can be ignored by most people, without much loss.

The Introduction is online in html format and is included now in the first volume of the pdf series. Because of the great complexity of the tables, it has had to be omitted from the epub and mobi versions.

 




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2 comments to Burlingame’s Introduction to Buddhist Legends

  • Jeetendra Suryawanshi

    It should be translated in Indian languages .My pleasure I can contribute .Please comment

  • Anandajoti

    Dear Jeetendra, that is a very good idea, as the text is in the public domain now, please feel free to do so. Could you let me know which language(s) you are thinking of, and if I can be of any assistance.

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