In this section we offer a translation from one of the so-called Alexander Books, composed by Csoma’s teachers at his request. This manuscript (Csoma No. 4) contains several summaries of various fields of Buddhist scholarship, beginning with cosmology. Buddhist cosmology, in the form that is presented in this manuscript, was summarized on the basis of the sutras revealed by Buddha and of the sacred writings on monastic discipline (vinaya sūtras) in the so-called ‘Abhidharma literature’, occurring at a very early phase of the history of Buddhism. However, the primary focus of the ‘Abhidharma literature’ is not cosmology, but the analysis and presentation of the various elements constituting human nature – that is why it is also called Buddhist psychology. This latter field utilizes different approaches to the various schools of Buddhism, but cosmology is treated in the same way – or with minor differences only – in Theravāda (Hinayāna) and Mahāyāna Buddhism.
We should note that the image of the world depicted here does not coincide with the Indian astronomy of the period. This work describes a world only perceivable to illuminated buddhas and arhats, as only these illuminated beings can clearly experience the circumvolution of birth, destruction and rebirth, and the chain of acts (karma) maintaining it. This cosmology is therefore not based on any scientific knowledge, rather, it is a system connected with the basic teaching of Buddhism.
The short summary presented here is written by Kun-dga’ Chos-legs, and is based on the work entitled Abhidharmakośabhāsya by the outstanding 4th-century Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu.
In the present electronic edition we publish the complete facsimile of the 40 page manuscript, accompanied by the Romanized transcription of the Tibetan text, as well as its Hungarian and English translations. To browse back and forth in this text, click on the thumbnails of the manuscript leaves on the top of each page.