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In Session: Foreign Language Pedagogy, Acquisition, and Perception in Pre-Modern East and Inner Asia
1: How did a Japanese Buddhist Monk Read Sanskrit: Jōnen's Understanding of Sanskrit and Siddham
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
University of British Columbia, Canada
Dr. Jeffrey Kotyk will examine the explanation of Sanskrit in the Japanese Gyōrin shō 行林抄 (T 2409; “Summary of the Forest of Practices”), a compendium of Buddhist lore and rituals by the Hieizan 比叡山 monk Jōnen 靜然 in 1154. Attention will be paid to Jōnen's analysis of the vocabulary from a certain dhāraṇī, which he calls the "Sanskrit Letter Praise to the Eight Groups of Devas and Nāgas" (Bonji ten ryū hachibu san 梵字天龍八部讃) or "Sanskrit-Chinese Praise to the Eight Groups of Devas and Nāgas" (Bon Tō ryōjiten ryū hachibu san 梵唐兩字天龍八部讃). An examination of Jōnen's understanding of the Sanskrit language and the Siddhaṃ script stands to inform modern scholars on how medieval Japanese monks studied and learnt Sanskrit through a mix of Japanese and Classical Chinese.