Three Early Mahāyāna Treatises from Gandhāra

Bajaur Kharoṣṭhī Fragments 4, 6, and 11

by Andrea Schlosser

The Gandhāran birch-bark scrolls preserve the earliest remains of Buddhist literature known today and provide unprecedented insights into the history of Buddhism. This volume presents three manuscripts from the Bajaur Collection (BC), a group of nineteen scrolls discovered at the end of the twentieth century and named after their findspot in northwestern Pakistan. The manuscripts, written in the Gāndhārī language and Kharoṣṭhī script, date to the second century CE. The three scrolls—BC 4, BC 6, and BC 11—contain treatises that focus on the Buddhist concept of non-attachment. This volume is the first in the Gandhāran Buddhist Texts series that is devoted to texts belonging to the Mahāyāna tradition.


There are no known versions of these texts in other Buddhist traditions, and it is assumed that they are autographs. Andrea Schlosser provides an overview of the contents of the manuscripts and discusses their context, genre, possible authorship, physical layout, paleography, orthography, phonology, and morphology. Transliteration and translation of the texts are accompanied by notes on difficult terminology, photographs of the reconstructed scrolls, an index of Gāndhārī words with Sanskrit and Pali equivalents, and a preliminary transliteration of the scroll BC 19.

The Gandhāran Buddhist Texts series presents text editions and studies of early Buddhist birch-bark scrolls in the Gāndhārī language, dating from about the first century BCE to the third century CE. These manuscripts, discovered in the ancient region of Gandhāra (modern Pakistan and Afghanistan), provide unprecedented insight into the early history of Buddhism as it was transmitted from India to Central Asia and China on its way to becoming a world religion. At the same time, as the earliest preserved manuscripts from South Asia, they are invaluable primary sources for the linguistic and literary history of the region.

Series editors: Stefan Baums, Ingo Strauch, and Richard G. Salomon

Funding for this book was provided by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities under the auspices of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Herausgegeben im Auftrag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften).