Buddha-Carita | Aśvaghoṣa

Buddha-Carita | Aśvaghoṣa

The Buddha-Carita, or The Life of Buddha
by Aśvaghoṣa

The Buddha-carita (Buddha’s Life) is a complete biography of Buddha Śākyamuni, from his birth until after his death, when his relics were distributed.

The text was composed by Aśvaghoṣa (early second century C.E.), the main author of Kāvya literature (poetic prose or ornate poetry) before Kālidāsa (late fourth–early fifth century C.E.).

The text of Buddha-carita consists of twenty-eight chapters in both the Tibetan and Chinese translations, but of the original Sanskrit text only fourteen chapters are preserved. Hence, in the following translated text the first 14 chapters are translation from the original Sanskrit and chapters 15-28 are translations from Chinese translation.

 The author, Aśvaghoṣa, was a Brāhman from Sāketa in Central India who converted to Sarvāstivāda Buddhism. His mother’s name was Suvarṇākṣī but we know little of his life. He was deeply influenced by the ideas of the Mahāsanghikas.


1. The Birth of the Holy One
2. Life in the Palace
3. The Prince's Perturbation
4. The Women Rejected
5. Flight
6. The Dismissal of Chaṁdaka
7. Entry into the Penance Grove
8. The General Grief of the Palace
9. The Deputation to the Prince
10. Śreṇya's Visit
11. The Passions Spurned
12. Visit to Nārada
13. Defeat of Māra
14. Supreme Realisation.
15. Turning the Wheel of Dharma.
16. Bimbisāra Rāja becomes a disciple.
17. Conversion of the Great Disciples.
18. Conversion of the “supporter of the orphans and destitute” (Anāthapiṇḍika).
19. Discussion among Father and Son.
20. Acceptance of the Jetavana Pure Abode.
21. Subduing the Maddened Elephant Dhanapāla.
22. The Lady Āmra (Āmrapālī) sees Buddha.
23. Fixing His (Term Of) Years by Spiritual Power
24. Farewell to the Licchavis.
25. Parinirvāṇa.
26. The Great Parinirvāṇa.
27. Praising Nirvāna.
28. The Division of the Relics.