[Buddha-l] Abhidharma for undergrads

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 13 01:38:21 MDT 2010

Concerning the Rahula translation of the Abhidharmasamuccaya (into French) 
and Sara Boin-Webb's English version that:

When Rahula did his dissertation (which became that edition), Gokhale's mss. 
for portions of the Sanskrit text were available. The remainder was 
translated for Rahula from Chinese into Sanskrit, and he then rendered the 
Sanskrit -- both the attested portions from Gokhale and the new 
back-translation -- into French, clearly distinguishing them in his 

Since then Tatia has published the Sanskrit of Sthiramati's Commentary, 
which contains much of the root text, but not all (it cites words and 
passages, but not the complete text). That is sufficient -- esp. when read 
alongside the Chinese and Tibetan versions -- to gain a fairly solid sense 
of what the original Sanskrit was.

There is a very useful compilation made in Japan that goes passage by 
passage through the entire text, giving Gokhale (when available), Xuanzang's 
Chinese, the Tib., Tatia's Sthiramati, Xuanzang's Chinese of that, and the 
Tib. It is available as a pdf for download at

(it's a long download)

Given the limitations under which Rahula and Boin-Webb worked, I think they 
did a better job than Alberto's characterization might have suggested, 
though not perfect by any means. Either the French or English would be 
"safe" to use with undergraduates -- if graduate students can read any or 
all of the canonical languages, they can use the translations as ponies 
alongside the originals.

Dan Lusthaus 

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