Jens-Uwe Hartmann: "Conversations with Brahmins, Kings, and Other Dignitaries: A New Version of the 'Long Discourses' of the Buddha"
About fifteen years ago parts of a voluminous manuscript, allegedly found in Northern Pakistan, surfaced on the Western rare book market in London. According to radiocarbon dating, the manuscript must have been written in the 8th or 9th centuries, at a time when Buddhism was still alive in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. It was found to contain a Sanskrit version of the Dīrghāgama, the "Long Discourses", an important collection of Buddhist canonical scriptures.
Since this particular version had never been translated into Chinese or Tibetan, it was considered irretrievably lost. It is quite different from the other two versions known so far, offering new insights into the development of the canonical collections and into the possible messages of the texts they contain. At the same time, a close study of the manuscript reveals for the first time details of the copying process in Indian Buddhist scriptoria, but raises puzzling questions as to the use and purpose of this specific manuscript.
Jens-Uwe Hartmann holds the chair of Indian Studies at the University of Munich. Before his appointment in 1999 he served as professor of Tibetology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Prof. Hartmanm was trained in Indology and Tibetology at the University of Munich. In 1978/79 he spent one year in Kathmandu working for the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. His work focuses on recovering and studying the literature of Indian Buddhism, mostly on the basis of Indian manuscripts and translations of Indian Buddhist texts into Tibetan. A particular interest of recent years has been the publication of Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts found in Pakistan and Afghanistan since the '90s.