This article examines the occurrence of the phrase dharmaparyāyo hastagato, “having the enumeration of the teaching in one's hand,” in a select number of texts classified as Mahāyāna sūtras and theorizes its occurrence in relation to the use of the book (pustaka) in the religious cultures of middle period (Common Era to fifth/sixth centuries) Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism. In recent scholarly discourse, the “cult of the book” in Mahāyāna Buddhist formations has been hypothesized to occur in relation to shrines (caitya) or not even to have occurred at all. This article suggests an alternative hypothesis. The paper first analyzes the syntax and composition of the terms dharmaparyāya and the participle hastagata as well as their occurrences within Indian Buddhist literature in Indic languages and in Tibetan and Chinese translations. The paper then identifies the occurrence of the phrase dharmaparyāyo hastagato in a select number of Mahāyāna sūtras and relates this phrase to an observable gradual process of bibliofication, a process where texts increasingly reference themselves as protective objects, that is detectable in the layers of accretion found within the comparative analysis of extant manuscripts. Based on this analysis, the paper concludes that the “cult of the book,” rather than being a stable or local cult phenomena, was comprised of highly mobile and translocal textual communities who carried their object of veneration with them.
The regular serial publication of the Society, issued quarterly, is the Journal of the American Oriental Society. The first volume, published in 1843-49, set the tone for all time in the broad scope of subject matter and the solidity of its scholarship. It included studies of Arab music, of Persian cuneiform, and of Buddhism in India, and brought to a wide audience the then novel theories of Pierre E. Du Ponceau, assailing the doctrine of the "ideographic" character of the Chinese script. From that year to the present day, the Journal has brought to the world of scholarship the results of the advanced researches of the most distinguished American Orientalists, specialists in the literatures and civilizations of the Near East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Inner Asia, the Far East and the Islamic World. The pages of the Journal are always open to original and interesting contributions from scholars. To assure competent and impartial appraisal of the scholarly level of the material submitted for publication, the editorial staff is composed of recognized scholars in each of the major areas served by the Society. Membership in the AOS includes an annual subscription to the Journal.
The American Oriental Society is the oldest learned society in the United States devoted to a particular field of scholarship. The Society was founded in 1842, preceded only by such distinguished organizations of general scope as the American Philosophical Society (1743), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1780), and the American Antiquarian Society (1812). From the beginning its aims have been humanistic. The encouragement of basic research in the languages and literatures of Asia has always been central in its tradition. This tradition has come to include such subjects as philology, literary criticism, textual criticism, paleography, epigraphy, linguistics, biography, archaeology, and the history of the intellectual and imaginative aspects of Oriental civilizations, especially of philosophy, religion, folklore and art. The scope of the Society's purpose is not limited by temporal boundaries: All sincere students of man and his works in Asia, at whatever period of history are welcomed to membership.