Parallel Stories in the Āvaśyakacūrṇi and the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya A Preliminary Investigation

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Juan Wu



While it has been known for several decades that the Āvaśyakacūrṇi of the Śvetāmbara Jaina tradition and the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya of the Buddhist tradition share some common narrative plots or motifs, so far no detailed study has been made to understand the different ways in which parallel narrative material is utilized in the two texts. Through a comparative study of stories of three characters (Prince Abhaya, the physician Jīvaka, and King Udrāyaṇa) in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya and their counterparts in the Āvaśyakacūrṇi, this paper demonstrates that the Buddhists and the Jainas who composed or redacted the two texts exploited parallel narrative plots or motifs along different lines and for different purposes. In particular, with regard to Jīvaka, who is widely known among Buddhists as a model of medical skill and religious faith, this paper argues that the fact that Jīvaka is prominently featured in Buddhist literature but finds no parallel in Jaina literature may be explained by the different attitudes of the two religions to medical healing and to the role of secular physicians in general.

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