A Note on a Sanskrit Palmleaf Manuscript Dated Parinirvāṇa 1808 / Śaka 1186 = ca. 1264 CE

John Newman Discussion


Scholars studying the chronology of late Indic Buddhism, the Sinhalese Theriya ('Theravāda') tradition, and the Tibetan tradition may wish to know of a dated Sanskrit palm-leaf manuscript of the Śrī Kālacakra (the Kālacakra laghutantra) which was recently made available in a high-quality scan by the British Library, accession no. Or 16981:


(One will have to register to obtain a British Library "Reader Pass" to view the scan.)

            I discussed this manuscript and its dates in my 1987 dissertation, The Outer Wheel of Time: Vajrayāna Buddhist Cosmology in the Kālacakra Tantra pp. 185–186, 660; this is available on my academia.edu page: https://ncf.academia.edu/JohnNewman.

            There is much to say about this manuscript and its dates. But for the moment I will simply note that it provides compelling evidence in support of the observation made by the Tibetan scholars Sa skya Paṇḍita and Bu ston that the Kashmiri master Śākyaśrībhadra and other contemporary Indian, Nepalese, and Kashmiri Buddhists employed a "saindhava" (which in this instance indicates the Sinhalese Theriya ['Theravāda'] tradition) parinirvāṇa era. This in turn bears upon the dating of other Indic manuscripts and inscriptions that employ a parinirvāṇa era during the 13th century CE.

Sarvamangalam on Tibetan Saga dawa,

John Newman

New College of Florida