PhD thesis

Bibliographical details: Clark, Chris. 2015. A Study of the Apadāna, Including an Edition and Annotated Translation of the Second, Third and Fourth Chapters. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sydney. DOWNLOAD

Abstract: The Apadāna is a Theravāda Buddhist text in the Pāli language which contains a large collection of “autohagiographies” in verse. It is under-researched, partly because the Pali Text Society edition of this text is not of a high standard and partly because very few of its poems have been translated into any European language. The aim of this thesis is to provide a better understanding of the Apadāna’s content, its relationship to similar texts and the nature of its historical transmission. A series of textual comparisons revealed that the Apadāna has structural, stylistic and thematic similarities to a range of other early Buddhist texts. In particular, the system of karma underlying much of its narrative is reasonably consistent with that of several early Sanskrit avadāna collections, including its basic technical vocabulary. A major component of this thesis is an edition and annotated translation of the second, third and fourth chapters of the Apadāna. This new edition has been edited according to stemmatic principles, using a careful selection of nine palm leaf manuscripts (in Sinhala, Burmese and Khom scripts) and four printed editions (in Roman, Sinhala, Burmese and Thai scripts). The base text of this edition represents the reconstructed archetype of the selected manuscripts, corrected only where absolutely necessary. The corresponding annotated English translation has been produced with critical reference to the text’s primary commentary in Pāli, the Apadānaṭṭhakathā, and a word-by-word Burmese language nissaya translation. A major finding is that existing printed editions of the Apadāna not infrequently include silent emendations of the received text and also often reproduce the “smoother” and more easily understood readings first produced during the editorial preparations to the “fifth Buddhist council” of 1871 in Mandalay. More generally, this thesis demonstrates the indispensability of manuscripts for the historical study of Pāli language and literature.