Ancient Chinese Sanskrit Philosophical Manuscript Confirms Indus Script Relation to Sanskrit

The Spitzer Manuscript is dated to about the 2nd-century CE (above: folio 383 fragment). Discovered near the northern branch of the Central Asian Silk Route in NW China. It is the 2nd oldest Sanskrit philosophical manuscript known. It is also the 2nd oldest Sanskrit manuscript of any type related to Buddhism & Hinduism discovered anywhere in the world so far.

By Dr. Kalyanraman

The Spitzer Manuscript shows how Brahmi ka- is derived from Indus Script karṇaka ‘rim of jar

Thanks to Maanasa Taramgani for providing excerpts from the Spitzer Manuscript. This monograph demonstrates that Brahmi ka- symbol is derived from Indus Script cipher for

 karṇaka, ‘rim of jar’.

 The vikr̥ti-s of ka- include the following:

I suggest the common orthographic elements to signify ka- are derived from the word karṇaka ‘rim-of-jar’ The expression karṇaka is used in Indus Script with the hieroglyph of ‘rim-of-jar’ which has variants as follows in Indus Script Corpora to signify the rebus rendering of . karṇika ‘scribe’. The orthographic emphasis is on the two short splinter strokes on either side of the narrow-necked jarto signify

The rim of handle of the jar. These handles on either side of the karṇaka are clearly signified in the Spitzer manuscript with orthographic variants. The focus is on two splinter marks horizontally drawn on either side of the

koda ‘one’ (long linear stroke) rebus: kod ‘workshop’.

Thus, the Brahmi symbol वि-कृति ‘f. change , alteration , modification , variation , changed condition (of body or mind ; acc. with √ गम् , या , व्रज् , or प्र- √पद् , to undergo a change , be changed) MBh. Ka1v. &c‘ for the alphabet ka- is derived from karṇaka, the most frequently used expression in Indus Script Corpora. Read Full Study Here


“Buddhist scribes”,. Monastery of Karashahr. China.

The highly fragmented material of the Spitzer Manuscript was discovered in 1906 by a German expedition team. It was headed by Indologist Dr. Moritz Spitzer. The material was found in Qizil, China (Central Asia) which falls on the ancient silk route. The material is currently preserved in the Berlin State library.

The work is unique in that no parallel work has ever been found related to it and also the text has not been transmitted to China/Tibet/Japan through translations like most other early Buddhist texts do. This ancient manuscript was written with a broad-nib copper pen in Kuṣāṇa-Brāhmã script.

The manuscript fragments are actually copies of a collection of older Buddhist and Hindu treatises. Sections of Buddhist treatises constitute the largest part of the Spitzer Manuscript. They include verses on a number of Buddhist philosophies and a debate on the nature of Dukkha and the Four Noble Truths. The Hindu portions include treatises from the NyayaVaiśeṣika, Tarkasatra (treatise on rhetoric and proper means to debate) and one of the earliest dateable table of content sequentially listing the parva (books) of the Mahabharata, along with numerals after each parva. The Spitzer Manuscript


In confirmation of the ancient global presence of Sanskrit, the worlds two most ancient Sanskrit texts were both found beyond the borders of India. The world’s oldest known Sanskrit texts were found in Afghanistan. The world’s second most ancient Sanskrit texts were found in Qizil, Central Asia, along China’s Silk Road


The Spitzer Manuscript – consisting of a collection of treatises – is not the oldest known manuscript of ancient India, however. The oldest known Indian – and the oldest known Buddhist manuscripts in the world – so far are dated between 100 BCE and 30 CE. These were discovered in the caves of eastern Afghanistan (ancient Gandhara) in the early 1990s. They were acquired by the British Library and preserved there since 1994.

This collection includes birch bark scrolls and palm-leaf manuscripts. They are under study by groups in Japan, Germany and the USA (led by Richard Salomon). More have been acquired in the 2000s and 2010s, with some pothis (manuscripts) now a part of the Schøyen Collection and the Robert Senior Collection.

Some of these recently discovered manuscripts in the British Library have been examined, of which a few dated between 1st-century BCE and early 1st-century CE, by techniques such as paleography, names mentioned in the text, other internal evidence, and Carbon-14 dating. The oldest manuscripts are in Gandhari language (a Prakrit language, a daughter of Sanskrit, some features resemble Pali but Gandhari is different in many ways).[4][5][6]


The Spitzer Manuscript

The Oldest Philosophical Manuscript in Sanskrit

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The Spitzer Manuscript is one of the oldest Sanskrit manuscripts found on the Silk Road. The work preserved in it is unique; no further manuscripts of it have been discovered so far, nor is it transmitted in Tibetan or Chinese translations.

The present volume contains an introduction which summarizes previous research and discusses grammatical, lexical and palaeographical aspects of the work, together with an outline of its content. It is followed by a complete facsimile edition of the fragments accompanied by transliterations. These are supplemented by transcriptions of some fragments which are no longer available, recovered from the estate of the Indologist Dr. Moritz Spitzer.

A concordance juxtaposes the earlier and present-day arrangements of the fragments, and an extensive character table documents the peculiarities of the Kuṣāṇa-Brāhmã script used in the manuscript. A complete word index and a study which aims at reconstructing the last part of the manuscript conclude the volume.

As well as Buddhist scholastics the work also deals with a number of non-Buddhist topics, such as a theory of Vaiśeṣika qualities completely unknown from other sources it contains, inter alia, the oldest list of books of the Mahābhārata and an enumeration of the sixty-four arts and sciences. The last part of the work is devoted to dialectics

2 thoughts on “Ancient Chinese Sanskrit Philosophical Manuscript Confirms Indus Script Relation to Sanskrit

  1. “ Thanks to Manasata Ramgini for providing excerpts from the Spitzer Manuscript. This monograph demonstrates that Brahmi ka- symbol is derived from Indus Script ….” should be
    MAANASA TARANGANI in SAMSKRITAM.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much sir 🙏 I’ve corrected the error per your input with the a slight difference in the name (N & M are basically same if I’m correct when used this way) as it’s written to the Maanasa Taramgani’s page. I also added a link to the page. Again thank you. Namaskaram

      Like

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