Āryikā-sūtra; Composite Manuscript; Muktaka of the Uttaragrantha; Saṃyuktāgama; Turfan Manuscript
Buddhist canonical literature preserves a number of versions of a story that concerns King Prasenajit and his grief at the death of his grandmother. The story serves as an illustration of impermanence and especially the certainty of death for all living beings. It is contained in the surviving versions of the Saṃyuktāgama/Saṃyuttanikāya, but it is also referred to in some Vinayas, most notably the Muktaka of the Mūlasarvāstivādins, which quotes the sūtra. Complete versions are known from the Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan Tripiṭakas, but no Sanskrit edition seemed to have survived. Recently fragments of a manuscript containing a Sanskrit version were recovered, having first been found one hundred years ago in one of the cave monasteries situated along the northern route of the ancient Silk Road in the Tarim Basin. The script and material (birch bark) point to a foreign origin and suggest that the manuscript was imported from Gandhāra to Central Asia. It appears to represent a so-called composite manuscript that contains selected texts in a non-canonical order. All manuscripts of the German Turfan Collection written in the same script are listed in this paper. The purpose and the possible function of composite manuscripts are briefly discussed with regard to the present sūtra. Finally, the Sanskrit fragments are edited and reconstructed with the help of the parallel versions.