Portrayal of the Didactic through the Narrative: The structure of Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacarita

Tanya Bharat Verma



At the end of his text, the Buddhacarita, Aśvaghoṣa has written that he has composed this poem for the good and happiness of the people, in accordance with the Sage’s Scriptures and out of reverence for the Buddha. The importance that he has accorded to disseminating the doctrine is evident from his emphasis on the discourse. However, this discourse is not communicated in the manner in which one would expect, and this may be attributed to the structure of the text. Since the Buddhacarita is a hagiography that traces the life of the Buddha from his birth till the attainment of Mahāparinirvāṇa, the expected student-teacher dialogue between the Buddha and his disciples is not present in the first half of the text (until his attainment of nirvāṇa). However, this does not mean that there are no such interactions. In this paper, I have examined the interesting manner in which the doctrine has been communicated by Aśvaghoṣa, through the agency of others, as prince Siddhārtha gradually proceeds to his ultimate position as the teacher of the doctrine, and after that as well. The manner in which Aśvaghoṣa has encapsulated the doctrine within the framework of a story, makes it interesting for the reader to probe the fascinating author/speaker and audience/listener dynamic in this text. 

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Tanya Bharat Verma