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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
RICHARD SALOMON 57 spread around the world in the nineteenth century, the discovery of other schools and canons has drastically shifted this point of view. For example, it has been clear since the early twentieth century that there existed in northern India and Central Asia complete Buddhist canons in Sanskrit, representing the texts of the Sarvastivada and of the eighteen traditional schools. The discovery in the last two decades of extensive remnants of one or more canons in the Gand- hari language has broadened the picture even further, requiring us to speak of multiple Buddhisms and multiple canons throughout the Indian Buddhist world. Extrapolating from what we now have—a slightly larger fraction of the whole—we can begin to conceive of the vast variety and rich- ness of the many Buddhisms, the immense intellectual and spiritual production that must have coexisted in early India. This—along with the vast treasures of technical and historical data they provide—is the greatest gift the Gandharan manuscripts grant us. what is a Buddhist to do? Returning to the question of what, if anything, these discoveries mean for modern Buddhist practitioners, there are no answers that will appease everyone. Each individual practitioner must determine how to proceed for him or herself. On one hand, one can safely ignore the new material without missing anything essential to the theory or practice of Buddhism. On the other hand, Buddhists may wish to dip a toe—or even plunge headfirst—into these previ- ously uncharted waters. Modern Buddhists may be inclined to see the diversity that characterized Buddhism throughout its history as an emblem of strength rather than cause for doubt or confusion, a source of richness rather than conflict. The insights that the Gand- haran manuscripts provide into the wealth and variety of thought and belief during a formative stage of Buddhist history, and the per- spective they provide on the overall question of what Buddhism is, offer personal enrichment for those who seek it out.