37 , 2015-03-31 , 東京大学大学院人文社会系研究科・文学部インド哲学仏教学研究室 , Department of Indian Philosophy and Buddhist Studies, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, University of Tokyo , 青山学院大学
While studying Sanskrit and Buddhist scriptures at Oxford, Nanjō Bunyū (1849–1929) sent a letter in 1879 to his senior Ogurusu Kōchō (1831–1905) who was then engaged in mission work in China. He asked Ogurusu for help in locating Sanskrit texts in China and Tibet. In this letter, Nanjō not only described the flourishing state of Buddhist Studies in the West, but also bitterly criticized the outdated mode of Buddhist scholarship in the East (Japan and China), arguing for the importance of studying Sanskrit scriptures. This doubtlessly foreshadowed a new development in the study of Buddhism in Asia. At the same time, a similar search for original Buddhist scriptures also began in China. At the beginning of the 1880s, the famous layman Xu Xi’an (dates unknown) of Suzhou asked another layman, Shen Shandeng (1830–1902), to write a letter to a third layman, Yang Wenhui (1837–1911), who was working at the Chinese embassy in London. His intention was to ask for Yang’s assistance in looking for Sanskrit scriptures in the West in order to elucidate the original ideas of Sakyamuni. Yang had already made the acquaintance of Nanjō in London in 1880 and was engaged in close contact with him, enthusiastically discussing the state of Western Buddhist Studies together. Through these discussions, the two came to share the idea that a new understanding of Sakyamuni’s teachings could be gained through the study of early Buddhist texts. What can be seen from the above description is that the new trends in Western Buddhist Studies did not emerge in isolation, but that Japanese and Chinese Buddhists both reacted in their own way to them, entering into intricate mutual relations and interactions. Buddhist scholarship in East Asia, which was based on Chinese translations of the Indian Buddhist scriptures, began to take note of the original Indian texts. This marks the emergence of a new dawn in Buddhist scholarship in East Asia. However, the two items of correspondence mentioned above have so far not received any scholarly attention, and even the specific nature of this historical turning point is not well known. This paper therefore introduces the content of these correspondences, considers the contacts between Chinese and Japanese Buddhists, and by doing so elucidates the concrete circumstances under which Japanese and Chinese Buddhists entered this period of historical change.