Early Buddhism was a predominantly spiritual movement which should ideally culminate in Enlightenment. Yet, it was embedded in the specific social environment of ancient India which included a hereditary caste system. Using the Buddhist Pāli texts and non-Buddhist literature from up until the last centuries BCE the article examines the four main hereditary categories (vaṇṇa, jāti, gotta, and kula) and how Early Buddhism related to them. We conclude that the Buddha and Early Buddhism did not oppose but rather confirmed the hereditary systems in society as well as its designations within the monastic community. The Buddha hereby followed the customs of earlier ascetic movements and imposed no specific rules on the monastics to eradicate their former social identity.
The science of lexicography with its focus on etymology reaches back to ancient times; the history of Tibetan dictionaries is almost as old as the written language itself. About 1,200 years ago, the wish to translate the Buddhist scriptures in Sanskrit initiated the compilation of the first bilingual dictionary. lt provides Tibetan synonyms for Sanskrit terms and is written in Tibetan script. lt was compiled and used by monks who worked as scholars and translators. Throughout the following centuries, Tibetan dictionaries have been compiled, and, as will be shown, this happened for various reasons. As the Tibetan language is not yet fully explored, new dictionaries for Tibetan are still being worked on. One of these is under preparation in Munich; it will be the focus of the main part of this article. As the paper addresses a wider audience and not specifically scholars of Tibetan studies, l will situate Tibetan lexicography within a broader context, commencing with a brief introduction into the Tibetan script and language followed by a survey on the development of Tibetan lexicography and dictionaries. Then, the paper introduces the Wörterbuch der tibetischen Schriftsprache, an ongoing long-term project at the Bavarian Academy for Sciences and Humanities in Munich.