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Thomas William Rhys Davids
|Died||27 December 1922 79) (aged|
|Known for||Founder of the Pāli Text Society.|
One of the first translations of early Buddhist texts.
Thomas William Rhys Davids, FBA (12 May 1843 – 27 December 1922) was a British scholar of the Pāli language and founder of the Pāli Text Society. He took an active part in founding the British Academy and London School for Oriental Studies.
Fellowship of the British Academy (FBA) is an award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences. There are three kinds of fellowship:
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The British Academy is the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and the social sciences. It was established in 1902 and received its royal charter in the same year. It is now a fellowship of more than 1,000 leading scholars spanning all disciplines across the humanities and social sciences and a funding body for research projects across the United Kingdom. The academy is a self-governing and independent registered charity, based at 10–11 Carlton House Terrace in London.
Thomas William Rhys Davids was born in England, at Colchester in Essex, the eldest son of a Congregational clergymanfrom Wales, who was affectionately referred to as the Bishop of Essex. His mother, who died at the age of 37 following childbirth, had run the Sunday school at his father's church.
Colchester is a historic market town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in the county of Essex. Colchester was the first Roman-founded city in Britain, and Colchester lays claim to be regarded as Britain's oldest recorded town. It was for a time the capital of Roman Britain, and is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.
Essex is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, and London to the south-west. The county town is Chelmsford, the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region.
Deciding on a Civil Service career, Rhys Davids studied Sanskrit under A.F. Stenzler, a distinguished scholar at the University of Breslau. He earned money in Breslau by teaching English.
Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.
Adolf Friedrich Stenzler was a German Indologist born in Wolgast.
English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.
In 1863 Rhys Davids returned to Britain, and on passing his civil service exams was posted to Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon). When he was Magistrate of Galle and a case was brought before him involving questions of ecclesiastical law, he first learned of the Pāli language when a document in that language was brought in as evidence.
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.
Galle is a major city in Sri Lanka, situated on the southwestern tip, 119 km from Colombo. Galle is the administrative capital of Southern Province, Sri Lanka and is the district capital of Galle District.
In 1871 he was posted as Assistant Government Agent of Nuwarakalaviya, where Anuradhapura was the administrative centre. The governor was Sir Hercules Robinson, who had founded the Archaeological Commission in 1868.
Anuradhapura is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of North Central Province, Sri Lanka and the capital of Anuradhapura District. Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sinhala civilization. It was the third capital of the kingdom of Rajarata, following the kingdoms of Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara.
Hercules George Robert Robinson, 1st Baron Rosmead,, was a British colonial administrator who became the 5th Governor of Hong Kong and subsequently, the 14th Governor of New South Wales, the first Governor of Fiji, and the 8th Governor of New Zealand. From June 1859 until August 1896, he was known as Sir Hercules Robinson.
Rhys Davids became involved with the excavation of the ancient Sinhalese city of Anuradhapura, which had been abandoned after an invasion in 993 CE. He began to collect inscriptions and manuscripts, and from 1870-1872 wrote a series of articles for the Ceylon branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Journal about them. He learned the local language and spent time with the people.
Rhys Davids' civil service career and his residence in Sri Lanka came to an abrupt end. Personal differences with his superior, C. W. Twynham, caused a formal investigation, resulting a tribunal and Rhys Davids' dismissal for misconduct. A number of minor offences had been discovered, as well as grievances concerning fines improperly exacted both from Rhys Davids' subjects and his employees.
He then studied for the bar and briefly practised law, though he continued to publish articles about Sri Lankan inscriptions and translations, notably in Max Müller's monumental Sacred Books of the East.
From 1882 to 1904 Rhys Davids was Professor of Pāli at the University of London, a post which carried no fixed salary other than lecture fees.
In 1905 he took up the Chair of Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester.
Rhys Davids attempted to promote Theravada Buddhism and Pāli scholarship in Britain. He actively lobbied the government (in co-operation with the Asiatic Society of Great Britain) to expand funding for the study of Indian languages and literature, using numerous arguments over how this might strengthen the British hold on India. He gave "Historical Lectures" and wrote papers advancing a racial theory of a common "Aryan" ethnicity amongst the peoples of Britain, Sri Lanka, and the Buddha's own clan in ancient times. These were comparable to the racial theories of Max Müller, but were used to a different purpose. Rhys Davids claimed that Britons had a natural, "racial" affinity with Buddhist doctrine. This part of Rhys Davids' career is controversial.
In 1894 Rhys Davids married Caroline Augusta Foley, a noted Pāli scholar. Unlike his wife, however, Rhys Davids was a critic and opponent of Theosophy. They had three children. The eldest, Vivien, was involved in the Girl Guide movement and was a friend of Robert Baden-Powell. Their only son, Arthur Rhys Davids, was a Royal Flying Corps 25-victory fighter ace who was killed in World War I.
Rhys Davids died on 27 December 1922 in Chipstead, Surrey.
Pāramitā or pāramī (Pāli) is "perfection" or "completeness". While, technically, pāramī and pāramitā are both Pāli terms, Pali literature makes far greater reference to pāramī.
The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures. The original version of the Dhammapada is in the Khuddaka Nikaya, a division of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism.
The Vinaya is the regulatory framework for the sangha or monastic community of Buddhism based on the canonical texts called the Vinaya Pitaka. The teachings of the Gautama Buddha can be divided into two broad categories: Dharma "doctrine" and Vinaya "discipline".
Buddhaghosa was a 5th-century Indian Theravada Buddhist commentator, translator and philosopher. He worked in the Great Monastery (Mahāvihāra) at Anurādhapura, Sri Lanka and saw himself as being part of the Vibhajjavāda school and in the lineage of the Sinhalese Mahāvihāra.
The Pali Text Society is a text publication society founded in 1881 by Thomas William Rhys Davids "to foster and promote the study of Pāli texts".
Nikāya is a Pāli word meaning "volume". It is often used like the Sanskrit word āgama to mean "collection", "assemblage", "class" or "group" in both Pāḷi and Sanskrit. It is most commonly used in reference to the Buddhist texts of the Sutta Piṭaka but can also refer to the monastic divisions of Theravāda Buddhism.
Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys Davids (1857–1942) was a British writer and translator. She made a contribution to economics before becoming widely known as an editor, translator, and interpreter of Buddhist texts in the Pāli language. She was honorary secretary of the Pāli Text Society from 1907, and its president from 1923 to 1942.
The Milinda Pañha is a Buddhist text which dates from sometime between 100 BCE and 200 CE. It purports to record a dialogue between the Buddhist sage Nāgasena, and the Indo-Greek king Menander I of Bactria, who reigned from Sagala.
The Sutta Pitaka is the second of the three divisions of the Tripitaka or Pali Canon, the Pali collection of Buddhist writings of Theravada Buddhism. The other two parts of the Tripiṭaka are the Vinaya Piṭaka and the Abhidharma Piṭaka. The Sutta Pitaka contains more than 10,000 suttas (teachings) attributed to the Buddha or his close companions.
Taṇhā is a Pāli word, which originates from the Vedic Sanskrit word tṛ́ṣṇā, which means "thirst, desire, wish", from Proto-Indo-Iranian *tŕ̥šnas. It is an important concept in Buddhism, referring to "thirst, desire, longing, greed", either physical or mental. It is typically translated as craving, and is of three types: kāma-taṇhā, bhava-taṇhā, and vibhava-taṇhā.
The Mahavamsa is an epic poem written in the Pali language. It relates the history of Sri Lanka from its legendary beginnings up to the reign of Mahasena of Anuradhapura covering the period between the arrival of Prince Vijaya from India in 543 BCE to his reign. It was composed by a Buddhist monk at the Mahavihara temple in Anuradhapura about the fifth century A.D.
The Visuddhimagga, is the 'great treatise' on Theravada Buddhist doctrine written by Buddhaghosa approximately in the 5th Century in Sri Lanka. It is a manual condensing and systematizing the 5th century understanding and interpretation of the Buddhist path as maintained by the elders of the Mahavihara Monastery in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.
Hermann Oldenberg was a German scholar of Indology, and Professor at Kiel (1898) and Göttingen (1908).
Pali literature is concerned mainly with Theravada Buddhism, of which Pali is the traditional language. The earliest and most important Pali literature constitutes the Pāli Canon, the scriptures of Theravada school.
The Dipavamsa or Deepavamsa, is the oldest historical record of Sri Lanka. The chronicle is believed to be compiled from Atthakatha and other sources around the 3-4th century. Together with the Mahavamsa, it is the source of many accounts of ancient history of Sri Lanka and India. Its importance resides not only as a source of history and legend, but also as an important early work in Buddhist and Pali literature.
The Udana (udāna) is a Buddhist scripture, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. It is included there in the Sutta Pitaka's Khuddaka Nikaya. The title might be translated "inspired utterances". The book comprises 80 such utterances, most in verse, each preceded by a narrative giving the context in which the Buddha utters it.
Richard Francis Gombrich is an Indologist and scholar of Sanskrit, Pāli, and Buddhist Studies. He was the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford from 1976 to 2004. He is currently Founder-President of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. He is a past president of the Pali Text Society (1994–2002) and general editor emeritus of the Clay Sanskrit Library.
Khandhaka is the second book of the Theravadin Vinaya Pitaka and includes the following two volumes:
David J. Kalupahana (1936–2014) was a Buddhist scholar from Sri Lanka. He was a student of the late K.N. Jayatilleke, who was a student of Wittgenstein. He wrote mainly about epistemology, theory of language, and compared later Buddhist philosophical texts against the earliest texts and tried to present interpretations that were both historically contextualised and also compatible with the earliest texts, and in doing so, he encouraged Theravadin Buddhists and scholars to reevaluate the legitimacy of later, Mahayana texts and consider them more sympathetically.
Raga is a Buddhist concept of character affliction or poison referring to any form of "greed, sensuality, lust, desire" or "attachment to a sensory object". Raga (lobha) is identified in the following contexts within the Buddhist teachings:
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