The Early Development of Buddhist Literature and Language in India

Lance Cousins

Abstract


After some preliminary considerations concerning orality and writing in India and the date of the Buddha, this article re-examines the questions of where and when a version of the Pali Canon was first set to writing and what were the contents of that collection. It then goes on to examine the origin and evolution of the Māgadha language we now call Pali, seeing it as derived from a written language which was in wide use over the major part of India during the last centuries B.C. rather than directly from spoken dialects.

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