Reuse and Intertextuality in the Context of Buddhist Texts

The real TOC!

The latest issue of the Buddhist Studies Review (33.1—2, 2016) has been published online. The printed issue will follow soon.

The core of the issue is constituted by a collection of articles on the topic of “Reuse and Intertextuality in the Context of Buddhist Texts” and edited by Elisa Freschi together with Cathy Cantwell and Jowita Kramer. Please scroll down for the table of contents.

I would be happy to receive any feedback on the project of dealing with reuse and intertextuality within the specific subfield of Buddhist texts. The Introduction is available OA on

P.S. the TOC below replaces the wrong one which was erroneously sent out on Monday the 23rd.

Philosophical commentaries in ancient India (UPDATED)

Commentaries can be manifold in ancient India. They have different purposes and form, but they all share some characters:

  • they have a given text as their main interlocutor/they are mainly about a given text
  • like with Origene’s commentaries, they are a genre in its own right, not a minor specialisation for authors at their beginnings (Sakai 2015, section 4, suggests that authors in fact needed to have already become acknowledged authorities before being entrusted with the honour of composing a commentary on an influential text.)
  • they are characterised by a varied but strong degree of textual reuse
  • they allow for significant degrees of innovation (This is evident in the case of the Navya Nyāya commentaries on the NS. Outside the precinct of philosophy, juridical commentaries often reflect the recent juridical developments much more than the original text they are commenting upon.)

What is a commentary? UPDATED

And how the Nyāyamañjarī and the Seśvaramīmāṃsā do (not) fit the definition

What makes a text a “commentary”? The question is naif enough to allow for a complicated answer. First of all, let me note the obvious: There is not a single word for “commentary” in Sanskrit, where one needs to distinguish between bhāṣyas, vārttikas, ṭippanīs, etc., often bearing poetical names, evoking Moons, mirrors and the like.

Veṅkaṭanātha as a way for reconstructing the history of Sanskrit philosophy in South India: The Bṛhaṭṭīkā

Veṅkaṭanātha is an important milestone for the reconstruction of the history of Indian philosophy. In fact, he is a historical figure and the reconstruction of his thought is also facilitated by the contextual knowledge already available about the times, the cultural and geographical milieu, and the religious tradition related to him.

Textual reuse in South Asian texts: Some resources

A basic bibliography on textual reuse can be found at the end of my Introduction to the Reuse of Texts in Indian Philosophy, available Open Access on and on the website of the Journal of Indian Philosophy. Apart from these titles, you might want to know about a few others which have been published thereafter or are now forthcoming:

The origins of Hayagrīva

The Hayagrīva (horse-head) form of Viṣṇu is slightly disturbing, not only for his half animal aspect (a characteristic shared by various other avatāras, from Narasiṃha to Matsya), but also for the fact that the horse head does not find a proper justification in most texts… And when it does find one, I strongly suspect that it is an ad hoc explanation, in order to solve the riddle. Let me elaborate a bit more:

Second day at the IABS 2014 in Vienna: The panel on textual reuse UPDATED

Yesterday was the day of our panel (meaning the panel on intertextuality within Buddhist literature organised by Cathy Cantwell, Jowita Kramer and me), which means that I spent most of the day there. The final discussion has been especially challenging and interesting, since

IABS: a panel on intertextuality

Did you notice? The program of the IABS conference is now available (you can download it from here). If you are not speaking on Wednesday, you might consider attending our panel on “Originality and the Role of Intertextuality in the Context of Buddhists Texts“.


How many texts are comprised in the Mimamsa Sastra? And why is it relevant?

(apologies in advance for the lack of diacritics, I am home, ill, with no access to a unicode keyboard)

Purva Mimamsa authors are generally not interested in the topic, whereas several Uttara Mimamsa (i.e. Vedanta) ones deal at length with the status of the Mimamsasastra (I am tempted to say that, similarly, Christians alone are concerned with the unity of the two testaments within the Bible).
A particularly puzzling element, in this connection, is the status of an “intermediate part” of the Mimamsasastra,