Gandhari language

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Gandhara fortified city depicted in a Buddhist relief

Gāndhārī is a Prakrit language found mainly in texts dated between the 3rd century BCE and 4th century CE in the region of Gandhāra, in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. The language was heavily used by the former Buddhist cultures of Central Asia and has been found as far away as eastern China, in inscriptions at Luoyang and Anyang.

Charles Willemen states:

Gāndhārī, the language(s) of the Gandhāran cultural area, including Gandhāra, Bactria, and Khotan, was the language used by the Buddhist schools in that area, such as Sarvāstivāda, Mahāsāṃghika, Dharmaguptaka, and so on. It is also the language from which most Chinese translations before the time of Kumārajīva (350–409/413) derive. It is the Buddhist literature of the Gandhāra region that was introduced to China during the first century B.C.E. through at least the fourth century C.E.[1]

Gāndhārī appears on coins, inscriptions and texts, notably the Gandhāran Buddhist texts.

Further reading:


  1. Willemen 2004, pp. 217-218.


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