Clay Sanskrit Library Newsletter: June 2008


Two new volumes of the “Maha·bhárata” are now available to order: ‘Preparations for War’ (volume one), which contains a fascinating philosophical passage, the Sanat·sujatíyam that parallels the “Bhagavad Gita,” translated engrossingly by Kathleen Garbutt, and Adam Bowles’s gripping conclusion of ‘Karna’ (volume two).

Patrick Olivelle’s “Life of the Buddha” includes an incisive study which shows how Ashva·ghosha elegantly subsumed the mainstream Brahmanical ideology within a Buddhist discourse.

Life of the Buddha by Aśvaghoṣa OUT NOW
Patrick Olivelle
A poetic composition of the highest order, though the main aim is not to entertain but to instruct, to present the Buddha’s teaching as the culmination of the Brahmanical tradition. His wonderful descriptions of the lovely bodies of the courtesans are ultimately meant to show the transience of beauty.
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Maha·bhárata Book Five: Preparations for War (volume one of two) OUT NOW
Kathleen Garbutt
Foreword by Gurcharan Das
At the beginning of “Preparations For War,” the Pándavas have just completed their thirteen year exile, most recently having lived in disguise and in humiliating service in Viráta’s city. The Pándavas believe they have completed the terms of their exile, though Duryódhana claims that they did not manage to live unknown for the full thirteenth year, since Árjuna was recognized in the battle at the end of the preceding book, “Viráta.” This first volume of “Preparations For War” sees the Pándavas and Kurus gathering arms for the coming war and making preparations to fight.
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Maha·bhárata Book Eight: Karna (volume two of two) OUT NOW
Adam Bowles
“Karna” tells the events that occurred during the mighty hero Karna’s two days as general of the Káurava army. The second volume of “Karna” resumes on the war’s seventeenth and penultimate day. This will be a momentous day for the Bhárata clans and especially for a number of their most distinguished heroes, with some of the epic’s most telegraphed events reaching their climax.
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With so many volumes in our series, readers new to Sanskrit literature may wonder where to begin. The dilemma can be particularly pertinent with the “Maha·bhárata.” As Vaughan Pilikian writes in his concise introduction, the “Maha·bhárata” “cannot be read like a normal book from cover to cover, from beginning to end; one can and should begin reading anywhere.” If the array of book excerpts and Translators’ Insights are not enough to help you make up your mind, you might be interested to know what other people are reading by checking out the CSL top ten sellers, compiled by New York University Press.

It is not only conventional lovers of Sanskrit literature who have been espousing CSL books. With an elegant, recently redesigned format bound in a compact size and wrapped in a striking jacket, our books can be the perfect fashion accessory and travel companion. A recent article in the Daily Telegraph, a British national newspaper, features a CSL volume in the hands of a renowned London chef.


For the second year running, Pankaj Mishra has named CSL as his books of the year, this time in the Indian newsmagazine Outlook, announcing that our publications “promise to revolutionize our sense of the Indian past: it is the greatest publishing project of recent years.” Read the article here.

Buddhadharma reviewed two works by Ashva·ghosha:

The “Ocean of the Rivers of Story” (volume one) was reviewed by David Elton Gay in Journal of Folklore Research (HTML).

The “Epitome of Queen Lilávati” is featured in the SOAS Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter. Read Richard Gombrich’s introduction, featured in Issue 3 (February 2008).


Our Photo Gallery shows some of the people making the CSL happen. Send us your favorite pictures of you with a CSL volume and we will be delighted to post them on our site!


“Child Genius” is a UK Channel 4 documentary which follows ten of Britain’s most gifted children into adulthood.

One of the featured children, Michael Dowling, has an IQ of 170+ (off the scale on the Stanford-Binet IQ test). For his 13th birthday, Michael, a published novelist (he wrote his first novel when he was 8), asked for and received a copy of “Ramáyana Book Three: The Forest.” The scene broadcast portrays Michael receiving the book to his delight and his family referring to the book as a family favorite.