This volume continues the detailed examination of the British Library Kharosthi scrolls--extremely fragile and brittle fragments of manuscript on birch-bark rolls. Although their provenance is uncertain, there are strong indications that they came from Hadda in eastern Afghanistan and were most likely written in the early first century A.D. during the reign of the Saka rulers, making them the oldest known Buddhist manuscripts.
Fragments 16 and 25 are two long, relatively narrow fragments that obviously belong to the same scroll. Two texts were written on the scroll, each by a different scribe. The first text, referred to as the Gandhari London Dharmapada, represents an anthology of verses well known in the Buddhist tradition. The second text is a series of stories concerning previous births of the Buddha and of some of his disciples.
"The Gandhari canon may prove to be a crucial link in understanding the way Buddhism moved northward along the Silk Road, into Central and East Asia, even as it largely died out in India." -Chronicle of Higher Education
Timothy Lenz is a postdoctoral research assistant at the University of Washington and a member of the British Library/University of Washington Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project.
For more information go to the Early Buddhist Manuscript Project web site at http://www.ebmp.org/