Designations of Ancient Sri Lankan Buddhism in the Chinese Tripiṭaka.

Chuan Cheng


According to the Chinese literary sources, both Buddhist and secular,a formal diplomatic relationship between China and Sri Lanka started as early as the first part of the fourth century CE.  References to the Buddhist tradition existing on this island were made slightly earlier. This article examines all the Chinese references to it found in the Chinese Buddhist canon; they are mainly Chinese translations and transliterations of tāmraparṇīya and sthavira. It argues that the Buddhist tradition of ancient Sri Lanka is referred to in the Chinese Buddhist literature by terms such astāmraparṇīya and in some cases as sthavira or *sthaviriya. It also supports the view that it is Tāmraparṇīya (P.Tambapaṇṇī[ya]) rather thanTāmraśāṭīya that is used in Vasubandhu’s and Bhavya’s works in referring to the ancient Sri Lankan Buddhist tradition.

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