The Robert Senior Collection
The Robert Senior Collection consists of twenty-four birch bark scrolls containing at least forty-one Buddhist texts in the Gāndhārī language and Kharoṣthī script. Dating to the early second century CE, it is the largest extant collection of Gandhāran sūtras, or discourses of the Buddha, and thus provides invaluable information about the production and transmission of such texts during a period when Buddhist literature was spreading rapidly from Gandhāra to Central and East Asia. The collection and the pot in which it was discovered also shed light on an important Buddhist practice, the burial and veneration of manuscripts as relics at stūpa sites, which were the ritual centres of Buddhism in ancient South Asia.
Gāndhārī Relic Inscriptions
The international effort underway to edit Gāndhārī manuscripts has added significantly to our understanding of the development and transmission of Buddhist literature rather than to our understanding of the ritual and religious practices of Gandhāran Buddhism. The focus of this collection is the characterization of the ritual of relic establishment through the detailed analysis of formulaic patterns in the content of reliquary inscriptions.
Kuṣāṇa Donative Inscriptions
Many religious donations made during the Kuṣāṇa empire, ca. 50-320 CE, have inscriptions that contain the name of the ruler, a date, the donor, a description of the donation, and a list of people who benefit from the donation. Information in these texts have furnished scholars with crucial evidence about the religious, political, social, and economic conditions in South Asia during the Kuṣāṇa empire. This project builds on the data provided in these text by comparing selected Kuṣāṇa donative inscriptions across regions and between languages in an effort of better understand religious and cultural practices during the Kuṣāṇa empire.