Paper folding book with lavishly decorated covers containing the Saṅkhāra bhājanī, a commentary on the Abhidhamma, also known as ‘life and soul commentary’.
What is the text about?
The Saṅkhāra bhājanī is a commentary on the ‘higher teachings’ that are known as Abhidharma Pitaka. This text is written in Shan language, the language spoken by the Shan people living mainly in Myanmar (Burma), southern China and Thailand. In thirteen chapters it explains the role of perception and how ignorance and delusion lead to desire, and therefore rebirth and suffering. The text emphasises that everything is subject to impermanence: birth, growth, decline, decay, death, rebirth and so on. The mind, citta, perceives impermanence as suffering. Samsara (the cycle of transmigration) or samsara dukkha (the ill of transmigration) is perceived as a continuous cycle of sufferings. The Buddha’s teachings prescribe the way to escape from samsara, which includes the practice of generosity (dana/pariccaga), keeping the Buddhist precepts (sila) and meditation (bhavana).
What do we know about this manuscript?
The manuscript was commissioned as an act of merit by Phrah-takah Sarngjah and his wife Phrah-takah Nang Lah. The scribe’s name was Raharn Hsipaw and it was completed in 2460 BE (1917) at Mueang Lakorn, Pah Kham village in Northern Thailand. It has 278 folios and two lavishly gilded and decorated covers for added meritorious value. The manuscript was acquired from Doris Duke’s Southeast Asian Art Collection.
Browse through the entire manuscript on the Digitised Manuscripts website.
- Article by:
- T H Barrett
- Buddhism, Sacred texts
The Buddhist ‘canon’ is vast, complex and difficult to define. Here Professor Tim Barrett outlines some of the key works for the different branches of Buddhism.