Hanyu Pinyin abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, written using Chinese characters; the system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters; the pinyin system was developed in the 1950s by many linguists, including Zhou Youguang, based on earlier forms of romanizations of Chinese. It was published by revised several times; the International Organization for Standardization adopted pinyin as an international standard in 1982, was followed by the United Nations in 1986. The system was adopted as the official standard in Taiwan in 2009, where it is used for international events rather than for educational or computer-input purposes, but "some cities and organizations, notably in the south of Taiwan, did not accept this", so it remains one of several rival romanization systems in use.
The word Hànyǔ means'the spoken language of the Han people', while Pīnyīn means'spelled sounds'. In 1605, the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci published Xizi Qiji in Beijing; this was the first book to use the Roman alphabet to write the Chinese language. Twenty years another Jesuit in China, Nicolas Trigault, issued his Xi Ru Ermu Zi at Hangzhou. Neither book had much immediate impact on the way in which Chinese thought about their writing system, the romanizations they described were intended more for Westerners than for the Chinese. One of the earliest Chinese thinkers to relate Western alphabets to Chinese was late Ming to early Qing dynasty scholar-official, Fang Yizhi; the first late Qing reformer to propose that China adopt a system of spelling was Song Shu. A student of the great scholars Yu Yue and Zhang Taiyan, Song had been to Japan and observed the stunning effect of the kana syllabaries and Western learning there; this galvanized him into activity on a number of fronts, one of the most important being reform of the script.
While Song did not himself create a system for spelling Sinitic languages, his discussion proved fertile and led to a proliferation of schemes for phonetic scripts. The Wade–Giles system was produced by Thomas Wade in 1859, further improved by Herbert Giles in the Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892, it was popular and used in English-language publications outside China until 1979. In the early 1930s, Communist Party of China leaders trained in Moscow introduced a phonetic alphabet using Roman letters, developed in the Soviet Oriental Institute of Leningrad and was intended to improve literacy in the Russian Far East; this Sin Wenz or "New Writing" was much more linguistically sophisticated than earlier alphabets, but with the major exception that it did not indicate tones of Chinese. In 1940, several thousand members attended a Border Region Sin Wenz Society convention. Mao Zedong and Zhu De, head of the army, both contributed their calligraphy for the masthead of the Sin Wenz Society's new journal.
Outside the CCP, other prominent supporters included Sun Fo. Over thirty journals soon appeared written in Sin Wenz, plus large numbers of translations, some contemporary Chinese literature, a spectrum of textbooks. In 1940, the movement reached an apex when Mao's Border Region Government declared that the Sin Wenz had the same legal status as traditional characters in government and public documents. Many educators and political leaders looked forward to the day when they would be universally accepted and replace Chinese characters. Opposition arose, because the system was less well adapted to writing regional languages, therefore would require learning Mandarin. Sin Wenz fell into relative disuse during the following years. In 1943, the U. S. military engaged Yale University to develop a romanization of Mandarin Chinese for its pilots flying over China. The resulting system is close to pinyin, but does not use English letters in unfamiliar ways. Medial semivowels are written with y and w, apical vowels with r or z.
Accent marks are used to indicate tone. Pinyin was created by Chinese linguists, including Zhou Youguang, as part of a Chinese government project in the 1950s. Zhou is called "the father of pinyin," Zhou worked as a banker in New York when he decided to return to China to help rebuild the country after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, he became an economics professor in Shanghai, in 1955, when China's Ministry of Education created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language, Premier Zhou Enlai assigned Zhou Youguang the task of developing a new romanization system, despite the fact that he was not a professional linguist. Hanyu Pinyin was based on several existing systems: Gwoyeu Romatzyh of 1928, Latinxua Sin Wenz of 1931, the diacritic markings from zhuyin. "I'm not the father of pinyin," Zhou said years later. It's a lo
Gautama Buddha known as Siddhārtha Gautama in Sanskrit or Siddhattha Gotama in Pali, Shakyamuni Buddha, or the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk, sage, philosopher and religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the śramaṇa movement common in his region, he taught throughout other regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kosala. Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism, he is believed by Buddhists to be an enlightened teacher who attained full Buddhahood and shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering. Accounts of his life and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarised after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
Scholars are hesitant to make unqualified claims about the historical facts of the Buddha's life. Most people accept that the Buddha lived and founded a monastic order during the Mahajanapada era during the reign of Bimbisara, the ruler of the Magadha empire, died during the early years of the reign of Ajatasatru, the successor of Bimbisara, thus making him a younger contemporary of Mahavira, the Jain tirthankara. While the general sequence of "birth, renunciation, search and liberation, death" is accepted, there is less consensus on the veracity of many details contained in traditional biographies; the times of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain. Most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE. More his death is dated between 411 and 400 BCE, while at a symposium on this question held in 1988, the majority of those who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha's death; these alternative chronologies, have not been accepted by all historians.
The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhārtha Gautama was born into the Shakya clan, a community, on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the eastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. One of his usual names was "Sakamuni" or "Sakyamunī", it was either a small republic, or an oligarchy, his father was an elected chieftain, or oligarch. According to the Buddhist tradition, Gautama was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal, raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, which may have been either in what is present day Tilaurakot, Nepal or Piprahwa, India. According to Buddhist tradition, he obtained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, gave his first sermon in Sarnath, died in Kushinagar. Apart from the Vedic Brahmins, the Buddha's lifetime coincided with the flourishing of influential Śramaṇa schools of thought like Ājīvika, Cārvāka, Ajñana. Brahmajala Sutta records sixty-two such schools of thought. In this context, a śramaṇa refers to one who toils, or exerts themselves.
It was the age of influential thinkers like Mahavira, Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambalī, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, as recorded in Samaññaphala Sutta, whose viewpoints the Buddha most must have been acquainted with. Indeed and Moggallāna, two of the foremost disciples of the Buddha, were the foremost disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the sceptic. There is philological evidence to suggest that the two masters, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, were indeed historical figures and they most taught Buddha two different forms of meditative techniques. Thus, Buddha was just one of the many śramaṇa philosophers of that time. In an era where holiness of person was judged by their level of asceticism, Buddha was a reformist within the śramaṇa movement, rather than a reactionary against Vedic Brahminism; the life of the Buddha coincided with the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley during the rule of Darius I from about 517/516 BCE. This Achaemenid occupation of the areas of Gandhara and Sindh, to last for about two centuries, was accompanied by the introduction of Achaemenid religions, reformed Mazdaism or early Zoroastrianism, to which Buddhism might have in part reacted.
In particular, the ideas of the Buddha may have consisted of a rejection of the "absolutist" or "perfectionist" ideas contained in these Achaemenid religions. No written records about Gautama were found from his lifetime or from the one or two centuries thereafter. In the middle of the 3rd century BCE, several Edicts of Ashoka mention the Buddha, Ashoka's Rummindei Minor Pillar Edict commemorates the Emperor's pilgrimage to Lumbini as the Buddha's birthplace. Another one of his edicts mentions the titles of several Dhamma texts, establishing the existence of a written Buddhist tradition at least by the time of the Maurya era; these texts may be the precursor of the Pāli Canon. "Sakamuni" in mentioned in the reliefs of Bharhut, dated to circa 100 BCE, in relation with his illumination and the Bodhi tree, with the inscription Bhagavato Sakamunino Bodho. The oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts are the Gandhāran Buddhist texts, repor
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th or 6th century. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Chan Buddhism to China, regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery that led to the creation of Shaolin kungfu. In Japan, he is known as Daruma. Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, subsequent accounts became layered with legend and unreliable details. According to the principal Chinese sources, Bodhidharma came from the Western Regions, which refers to Central Asia but may include the Indian subcontinent, was either a "Persian Central Asian" or a "South Indian the third son of a great Indian king." Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as an ill-tempered, profusely-bearded, wide-eyed non-Chinese person. He is referred as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian" in Chan texts. Aside from the Chinese accounts, several popular traditions exist regarding Bodhidharma's origins.
The accounts differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liu Song dynasty and accounts dating his arrival to the Liang dynasty. Bodhidharma was active in the territory of the Northern Wei. Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century. Bodhidharma's teachings and practice centered on the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra; the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall identifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Gautama Buddha himself. There are two known extant accounts written by contemporaries of Bodhidharma. According to these sources, Bodhidharma came from the Western Regions, was either a "Persian Central Asian" or a "South Indian the third son of a great Indian king." Sources draw on these two sources, adding additional details, including a change to being descendent from a Brahmin king, which accords with the reign of the Pallavas, who "claim to belong to a brahmin lineage."The Western Regions was a historical name specified in the Chinese chronicles between the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD that referred to the regions west of Yumen Pass, most Central Asia or sometimes more the easternmost portion of it.
Sometimes it was used more to refer to other regions to the west of China as well, such as the Indian subcontinent. The earliest text mentioning Bodhidharma is The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang, compiled in 547 by Yáng Xuànzhī, a writer and translator of Mahayana sutras into Chinese. Yang gave the following account: At that time there was a monk of the Western Region named Bodhidharma, a Persian Central Asian, he traveled from the wild borderlands to China. Seeing the golden disks on the pole on top of Yǒngníng's stupa reflecting in the sun, the rays of light illuminating the surface of the clouds, the jewel-bells on the stupa blowing in the wind, the echoes reverberating beyond the heavens, he sang its praises, he exclaimed: "Truly this is the work of spirits." He said: "I am 150 years old, I have passed through numerous countries. There is no country I have not visited; the distant Buddha-realms lack this." He placed his palms together in salutation for days on end. The second account was written by Tánlín.
Tánlín's brief biography of the "Dharma Master" is found in his preface to the Long Scroll of the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices, a text traditionally attributed to Bodhidharma and the first text to identify him as South Indian: The Dharma Master was a South Indian of the Western Region. He was the third son of a great Indian king, his ambition lay in the Mahayana path, so he put aside his white layman's robe for the black robe of a monk Lamenting the decline of the true teaching in the outlands, he subsequently crossed distant mountains and seas, traveling about propagating the teaching in Han and Wei. Tánlín's account was the first to mention that Bodhidharma attracted disciples mentioning Dàoyù and Dazu Huike, the latter of whom would figure prominently in the Bodhidharma literature. Although Tánlín has traditionally been considered a disciple of Bodhidharma, it is more that he was a student of Huìkě. Tanlin's preface has been preserved in Jingjue's Lengjie Shizi ji "Chronicle of the Laṅkāvatāra Masters", which dates from 713-716./ca.
715 He writes, The teacher of the Dharma, who came from South India in the Western Regions, the third son of a great Brahman king." In the 7th-century historical work "Further Biographies of Eminent Monks", Daoxuan drew on Tanlin's preface as a basic source, but made several significant additions: Firstly, Daoxuan adds more detail concerning Bodhidharma's origins, writing that he was of "South Indian Brahman stock". Secondly, more detail is provided concerning Bodhidharma's journeys. Tanlin's original is imprecise about Bodhidharma's travels, saying only that he "crossed distant mountains and seas" before arriving in Wei. Daoxuan's account, implies "a specific itinerary": "He first arrived at Nan-yüeh during the Sung period. From there he turned north and came to the Kingdom of Wei" This implies that Bodhidharma had travelled to China by sea and that he had crossed over the Yangtze. Thirdly, Daoxuan suggests a date for Bodhidharma's arrival in China, he writes that Bodhidharma makes landfall in the time of the Song, thus making his arrival no tha
A hagiography is a biography of a saint or an ecclesiastical leader. The term hagiography may be used to refer to the biography of a saint or developed spiritual being in any of the world's spiritual traditions. Christian hagiographies focus on the lives, notably the miracles, ascribed to men and women canonized by the Roman Catholic church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Church of the East. Other religious traditions such as Buddhism, Islam and Jainism create and maintain hagiographical texts concerning saints and other individuals believed to be imbued with sacred power. Hagiographic works those of the Middle Ages, can incorporate a record of institutional and local history, evidence of popular cults and traditions. However, when referring to modern, non-ecclesiastical works, the term hagiography is used as a pejorative reference to biographies and histories whose authors are perceived to be uncritical of or reverential to their subject. Hagiography constituted an important literary genre in the early Christian church, providing some informational history along with the more inspirational stories and legends.
A hagiographic account of an individual saint can consist of a biography, a description of the saint's deeds or miracles, an account of the saint's martyrdom, or be a combination of these. The genre of lives of the saints first came into being in the Roman Empire as legends about Christian martyrs were recorded; the dates of their deaths formed the basis of martyrologies. In the 4th century, there were three main types of catalogs of lives of the saints: annual calendar catalogue, or menaion, biographies of the saints to be read at sermons. In Western Europe hagiography was one of the more important vehicles for the study of inspirational history during the Middle Ages; the Golden Legend of Jacob de Voragine compiled a great deal of medieval hagiographic material, with a strong emphasis on miracle tales. Lives were written to promote the cult of local or national states, in particular to develop pilgrimages to visit relics; the bronze Gniezno Doors of Gniezno Cathedral in Poland are the only Romanesque doors in Europe to feature the life of a saint.
The life of Saint Adalbert of Prague, buried in the cathedral, is shown in 18 scenes based on a lost illuminated copy of one of his Lives. The Bollandist Society continues the study, academic assembly and publication of materials relating to the lives of Christian saints. Many of the important hagiographical texts composed in medieval England were written in the vernacular dialect Anglo-Norman. With the introduction of Latin literature into England in the 7th and 8th centuries the genre of the life of the saint grew popular; when one contrasts it to the popular heroic poem, such as Beowulf, one finds that they share certain common features. In Beowulf, the titular character battles against Grendel and his mother, while the saint, such as Athanasius' Anthony or the character of Guthlac, battles against figures no less substantial in a spiritual sense. Both genres focus on the hero-warrior figure, but with the distinction that the saint is of a spiritual sort. Imitation of the life of Christ was the benchmark against which saints were measured, imitation of the lives of saints was the benchmark against which the general population measured itself.
In Anglo-Saxon and medieval England, hagiography became a literary genre par excellence for the teaching of a illiterate audience. Hagiography provided priests and theologians with classical handbooks in a form that allowed them the rhetorical tools necessary to present their faith through the example of the saints' lives. Of all the English hagiographers no one was more prolific nor so aware of the importance of the genre as Abbot Ælfric of Eynsham, his work Lives of the Saints contains set of sermons on saints' days observed by the English Church. The text comprises two prefaces, one in Latin and one in Old English, 39 lives beginning on December 25 with the nativity of Christ and ending with three texts to which no saints' days are attached; the text spans the entire year and describes the lives of many saints, both English and continental, hearkens back to some of the earliest saints of the early church. There are two known instances; these are the Cornish-language works Beunans Meriasek and Beunans Ke, about the lives of Saints Meriasek and Kea, respectively.
Other examples of hagiographies from England include: the Chronicle by Hugh Candidus the Secgan Manuscript the list of John Leyland the book Life by Saint Cadog Ireland is notable in its rich hagiographical tradition, for the large amount of material, produced during the Middle Ages. Irish hagiographers wrote in Latin while some of the saint's lives were written in the hagiographer's native vernacular Irish. Of particular note are the lives of St. Patrick, St. Columba /Colm and St. Brigit/Brigid—Ireland's three patron saints. Additionally, several Irish calendars relating to the feastd
Hongren, posthumous name Daman, was the 5th Patriarch of Chan Buddhism. Hongren is said to have received Dharma transmission from Dayi Daoxin and passed on the symbolic bowl and robe of transmission to Huineng, the Sixth and last Chan Patriarch; as with all the early Chan patriarchs, many of the details of Hongren’s life are uncertain and much of his biography is layered with legend added well after his death. The following biography is based on Chan traditional sources. Hongren was born in Huangmei with the family name Chou, his father abandoned the family but Hongren displayed exemplary filial duty in supporting his mother. Although the Records of the Teachers and Disciples of the Lankavatara claim that Hongren’s father abandoned the family, Chan scholar John McRae points out that Hongren’s residence was converted to a monastery, implying that Hongren’s family was wealthy and prominent locally. Furthermore, mention of Hongren doing menial labour would only be of significance if this were unusual, indicating that Hongren was of upper-class birth.
At the age of either seven or twelve, Hongren left home to become a monk and began his studies under Daoxin, according to tradition recognized his insight: Daoxin met Hongren on a road in Huangmei. Daoxin asked his name. Hongren replied, “I have essence but it is not a common name.” The Chan master asked, “What name is it?” Hongren said, “It is the essence of Buddhahood.” Daoxin replied, “Have you no name?” Hongren said, “None, because essence is empty.” With this, Daoxin passed on the robe. The Ch’üan fa pao chi, written 712, says that Hongren was quiet and withdrawn, diligent in his menial labors, sat in meditation throughout the night, he "never understood everything he heard. After some ten years of teaching, the record claims that “eight or nine of every ten ordained and lay aspirants in the country had studied under him.” Hongren stayed with Daoxin until the latter’s death in 651. He was with Daoxin when the master was at Ta-lin ssu on Mount Lou and followed him to Mount Shuangfeng, one of the “twin peaks” of Huangmei.
Hongren was significant in the development of early Chinese Chan. The teachings of both Daoxin and Hongren became known as the “East Mountain Teachings”, but Hongren was the more prominent of the two. Tradition has it that Hongren, after Daoxin’s death, moved the community of monks to the East Peak, the easterly of the “Twin Peaks”; the teachings of Daoxin and Hongren became known as the East Mountain Teaching. The East Mountain Teachings were seen as the “authentic” Chan Buddhist teachings as promoted by Hongren’s student, Yuquan Shenxiu, the most prominent Buddhist monk of his time. Hongren’s significance can be noted by the fact that a compilation of his teachings shortly after his death, the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind, is the earliest collection of the teachings of a Chan master. Although Hongren’s students included Vinaya specialists, sutra translators, Huayan and Pure Land devotees, Hongren’s teaching focused on meditation practice. According to the Treatise on the Essentials of Cultivating the Mind, Hongren's basic teaching was that the Pure Mind was obscured by “discriminating thinking, false thoughts, ascriptive views.”
Eliminating false thoughts and maintaining a constant awareness of one’s natural enlightenment ensures Nirvana arises. Two meditation techniques are mentioned in the Treatise. Hongren is said to have instructed, "Look to where the horizon disappears beyond the sky and behold the figure one. … It is good for those beginning to sit in meditation, when they find their mind distracted, to focus their mind on the figure one." The Chinese character for "one" is a single horizontal line, resembling a horizon, metaphorically represents the unity of the mind and Buddha nature. He taught that the meditator should observe the mental processes within: "View your own consciousness tranquilly and attentively, so that you can see how it is always moving, like flowing water or a glittering mirage. …until its fluctuations dissolve into peaceful stability. This flowing consciousness will disappear like a gust of wind; when this consciousness disappears, all one’s illusions will disappear along with it." Hongren was held in high esteem by Chan-adepts in the ancient capital cities of Chang'an and Luoyang in the early eighth century, when Chan moved from a rural base to the centre of Chinese power, in the major urban areas and the imperial court.
Dumoulin, Heinrich. Zen Buddhism: India and China. World Wisdom, Inc. ISBN 978-0-941532-89-1. Ferguson, Andy. Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-86171-617-3. Keizan. Transmission of Light: Zen in the Art of Enlightenment by Zen Master Keizan. Shambhala. ISBN 978-1-57062-949-5. McRae, John R.. The Northern School and the Formation of Early Chʻan Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-1056-6. McRae, John R.. Seeing Through Zen: Encounter and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-23798-8
Mahāyāna is one of two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. This movement added a further set of discourses, although it was small in India, it had long-term historical significance; the Buddhist tradition of Vajrayana is sometimes classified as a part of Mahāyāna Buddhism, but some scholars consider it to be a different branch altogether. According to the teachings of Mahāyāna traditions, "Mahāyāna" refers to the path of the Bodhisattva seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings called "Bodhisattvayāna", or the "Bodhisattva Vehicle". A bodhisattva who has accomplished this goal is called a samyaksaṃbuddha, or "fully enlightened Buddha". A samyaksaṃbuddha can establish the Dharma and lead disciples to enlightenment. Mahāyāna Buddhists teach that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime, this can be accomplished by a layperson; the Mahāyāna tradition is the largest major tradition of Buddhism existing today, with 53% of practitioners, compared to 36% for Theravada and 6% for Vajrayana in 2010.
In the course of its history, Mahāyāna Buddhism spread from India to various other South and Southeast Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore. Mahayana Buddhism spread to other South and Southeast Asian countries, such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Burma and other Central Asian countries before being replaced by Theravada Buddhism or other religions. Large Mahāyāna scholastic centers such as Nalanda thrived during the latter period of Buddhism in India, between the seventh and twelfth centuries. Major traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism today include Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon, Japanese Zen, Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism and Vietnamese Buddhism, it may include the Vajrayana traditions of Tiantai, Shingon Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, which add esoteric teachings to the Mahāyāna tradition. According to Jan Nattier, the term Mahāyāna was an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvayāna – the vehicle of a bodhisattva seeking buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.
The term Mahāyāna was therefore adopted at an early date as a synonym for the path and the teachings of the bodhisattvas. Since it was an honorary term for Bodhisattvayāna, the adoption of the term Mahāyāna and its application to Bodhisattvayāna did not represent a significant turning point in the development of a Mahāyāna tradition; the earliest Mahāyāna texts use the term Mahāyāna as a synonym for Bodhisattvayāna, but the term Hīnayāna is comparatively rare in the earliest sources. The presumed dichotomy between Mahāyāna and Hīnayāna can be deceptive, as the two terms were not formed in relation to one another in the same era. Among the earliest and most important references to Mahāyāna are those that occur in the Lotus Sūtra dating between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE. Seishi Karashima has suggested that the term first used in an earlier Gandhāri Prakrit version of the Lotus Sūtra was not the term mahāyāna but the Prakrit word mahājāna in the sense of mahājñāna. At a stage when the early Prakrit word was converted into Sanskrit, this mahājāna, being phonetically ambivalent, was mistakenly converted into mahāyāna because of what may have been a double meaning in the famous Parable of the Burning House, which talks of three vehicles or carts.
The origins of Mahāyāna are still not understood and there are numerous competing theories. The earliest Western views of Mahāyāna assumed that it existed as a separate school in competition with the so-called "Hīnayāna" schools. According to David Drewes, for most of the 20th century, the leading theories about the origins of Mahāyāna were that it was either a lay movement or that it developed among the Mahāsāṃghika Nikaya; these theories have been overturned or shown to be problematic. The earliest textual evidence of "Mahāyāna" comes from sūtras originating around the beginning of the common era. Jan Nattier has noted that some of the earliest Mahāyāna texts, such as the Ugraparipṛccha Sūtra use the term "Mahāyāna", yet there is no doctrinal difference between Mahāyāna in this context and the early schools, that "Mahāyāna" referred rather to the rigorous emulation of Gautama Buddha in the path of a bodhisattva seeking to become a enlightened buddha. Nattier writes that in the Ugra, Mahāyāna is not a school, but a rigorous and demanding "spiritual vocation, to be pursued within the existing Buddhist community."Several scholars such as Hendrik Kern and A.
K. Warder suggested that Mahāyāna and its sutras developed among the Mahāsāṃghika Nikaya, some pointing to the area along the Kṛṣṇa River in the Āndhra region of southern India as a geographical origin. Paul Williams thinks that "there can be no doubt that at least some early Mahāyāna sutras originated in Mahāsāṃghika circles", pointing to the Mahāsāṃghika doctrine of the supramundane nature of the Buddha, close to the Mahāyāna view of the Buddha. Anthony Barber and Sree Padma note that "historians of Buddhist thought have been aware for quite some time that such pivotally important Mahayana Buddhist thinkers as Nāgārjuna, Candrakīrti, Āryadeva, Bhavaviveka, among many others, formulated their theories
Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a history going back about 3,500 years. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions. Sanskrit is an Old Indo-Aryan language; as one of the oldest documented members of the Indo-European family of languages, Sanskrit holds a prominent position in Indo-European studies. It is related to Greek and Latin, as well as Hittite, Old Avestan and many other extinct languages with historical significance to Europe, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, it traces its linguistic ancestry to the Proto-Indo-Aryan language, Proto-Indo-Iranian and the Proto-Indo-European languages.
Sanskrit is traceable to the 2nd millennium BCE in a form known as the Vedic Sanskrit, with the Rigveda as the earliest known composition. A more refined and standardized grammatical form called the Classical Sanskrit emerged in mid-1st millennium BCE with the Aṣṭādhyāyī treatise of Pāṇini. Sanskrit, though not Classical Sanskrit, is the root language of many Prakrit languages. Examples include numerous modern daughter Northern Indian subcontinental languages such as Hindi, Bengali and Nepali; the body of Sanskrit literature encompasses a rich tradition of philosophical and religious texts, as well as poetry, drama, scientific and other texts. In the ancient era, Sanskrit compositions were orally transmitted by methods of memorisation of exceptional complexity and fidelity; the earliest known inscriptions in Sanskrit are from the 1st-century BCE, such as the few discovered in Ayodhya and Ghosundi-Hathibada. Sanskrit texts dated to the 1st millennium CE were written in the Brahmi script, the Nāgarī script, the historic South Indian scripts and their derivative scripts.
Sanskrit is one of the 22 languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. It continues to be used as a ceremonial and ritual language in Hinduism and some Buddhist practices such as hymns and chants; the Sanskrit verbal adjective sáṃskṛta- is a compound word consisting of sam and krta-. It connotes a work, "well prepared and perfect, sacred". According to Biderman, the perfection contextually being referred to in the etymological origins of the word is its tonal qualities, rather than semantic. Sound and oral transmission were valued quality in ancient India, its sages refined the alphabet, the structure of words and its exacting grammar into a "collection of sounds, a kind of sublime musical mold", states Biderman, as an integral language they called Sanskrit. From late Vedic period onwards, state Annette Wilke and Oliver Moebus, resonating sound and its musical foundations attracted an "exceptionally large amount of linguistic and religious literature" in India; the sound was visualized as "pervading all creation", another representation of the world itself, the "mysterious magnum" of the Hindu thought.
The search for perfection in thought and of salvation was one of the dimensions of sacred sound, the common thread to weave all ideas and inspirations became the quest for what the ancient Indians believed to be a perfect language, the "phonocentric episteme" of Sanskrit. Sanskrit as a language competed with numerous less exact vernacular Indian languages called Prakritic languages; the term prakrta means "original, normal, artless", states Franklin Southworth. The relationship between Prakrit and Sanskrit is found in the Indian texts dated to the 1st millennium CE. Patanjali acknowledged that Prakrit is the first language, one instinctively adopted by every child with all its imperfections and leads to the problems of interpretation and misunderstanding; the purifying structure of the Sanskrit language removes these imperfections. The early Sanskrit grammarian Dandin states, for example, that much in the Prakrit languages is etymologically rooted in Sanskrit but involve "loss of sounds" and corruptions that result from a "disregard of the grammar".
Dandin acknowledged that there are words and confusing structures in Prakrit that thrive independent of Sanskrit. This view is found in the writing of the author of the ancient Natyasastra text; the early Jain scholar Namisadhu acknowledged the difference, but disagreed that the Prakrit language was a corruption of Sanskrit. Namisadhu stated that the Prakrit language was the purvam and they came to women and children, that Sanskrit was a refinement of the Prakrit through a "purification by grammar". Sanskrit belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, it is one of the three ancient documented languages that arose from a common root language now referred to as the Proto-Indo-European language: Vedic Sanskrit. Mycenaean Greek and Ancient Greek. Mycenaean Greek is the older recorded form of Greek, but the limited material that has survived has a ambiguous writing system. More important to Indo-European studies is Ancient Greek, documented extensively beginning with the two Homeric poems. Hittite.
This is the earliest-recorded of all Indo-European languages, distinguishable into Old Hittite, Middle Hittite and Neo-Hittite. I