Cover of The Biographical Scripture of King Aśoka
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Li Rongxi


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This biographical text relates how King Aśoka unified India for the first time in the third century BCE and, afer his conversion, sent emissaries throughout his kingdom to spread Buddhism. Complete in one volume.

Life of the great unifier of India who embraced the Buddhist path


Taishō 2043

Volume 50

The Biographical Scripture of King Aśoka

The Biographical Scripture of King Aśoka is a biography of King Aśoka, the third ruler of the Mauryan Dynasty in Magadha in Central India during the third centurry B.C.E. It relates how King Aśoka unified India for the first time and, having been converted to Buddhism, sent emissaries throughout the land spreading the teachings of Buddhism.

Note: A similar biography exists, Taishō 2042 (Skt. Aśokarājāvadāna). As the contents and order of events described therein agree with the present work, the two are thought to be variant translations of the same original text.

Skt. *Aśokāvadāna. Translated into the Chinese by Saṃghabhara as Ayuwang jing (阿育王經), 10 fascicles.

Table of Contents

A Message on the Publication of the English Tripiṭaka    NUMATA Yehan     v
Editorial Foreword     HANAYAMA Shōyū     vii
Publisher’s Foreword     Philip Yampolsky     ix

The Biographical Scripture of King Aśoka

Translator's Introduction     Li Rongxi     1
Chapter I        The Causes of His Birth   3
Chapter II       The Causes of Seeing Upagupta   21
Chapter III      The Causes of Making Offerings to the Bodhi Tree 39
                       The Causes of Vitaśoka [49]
Chapter IV      The Causes of Kuṇāla 63
Chapter V       The Causes of Offering Half an Āmra Fruit to the Sangha 81
Chapter VI      The Causes of the Buddha’s Prediction Concerning Upagupta 91
Chapter VII     The Causes of the Transmission of the Dharma-piṭaka by the Five Disciples of the Buddha 107
The Causes of Kaśyapa; The Causes of Ānanda; The Causes of Madhyāntika;The Causes of Śāṇakavāsin; The Causes of Upagupta; The Causes of Śāṇakavāsin’s Attainment of the Way
Chapter VIII     The Causes of Upagupta’s Disciples 147
The Causes of the Son of a Tigress; The Causes of Gorasa; The Causes of a Southern Indian; The Causes of a Northern Indian; The Causes of Devarakṣita; The Causes of the Brahman with the View That the Ego Is Real; The Causes of Sleepiness; The Causes of the Provisor; The Causes of the Artisan; The Causes of Food and Drink; The Causes of Contentment with Few Desires; The Causes of the Raksasas; The Causes of the Tree; The Causes of a Miser; The Causes of the Ghost; The Causes of Being Bitten by Vermin; The Causes of Contemplation on a Skeleton; The Causes of Avarice; The Causes of a Bamboo Brush; The Causes of Parental Sentiment; The Causes of the River; The Causes of a Whim in Meditation; The Causes of the Cowherds; The Causes of the Transformed Person; The Causes of Taking No Delight in the Dwelling Place; The Causes of a Monk’s Pewter Staff; The Causes of Sudarśana; The Causes of the Fief for a Monastery; The Causes of Dhītika

Glossary    185
Index   189
A List of the Volumes of the BDK English Tripiṭaka (First Series)   195