The Buddhist Indus Script and Scriptures
On the so-called Bhaikṣukī or Saindhavī Script of the Sāṃmitīyas and their Canon

By Dragomir Dimitrov

Wiesbaden 2020
Harrassowitz Verlag
Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz
Veröffentlichungen der Fächergruppenkommission für Außereuropäische Sprachen und Kulturen
Studien zur Indologie, Band 7

The Buddhist Indus script (Sindhulipi or Saindhavī) discussed in this book refers to an Indian script with “arrow-headed” characters which Cecil Bendall (1856–1906) noticed for the first time in a twelfth-century manuscript, and which later scholars tentatively called “Bhaikṣukī”. With the help of some Tibetan sources it is actually possible not only to establish its original name, i.e. “Saindhavī”, but also to prove a direct connection between this script and the Saindhava monks or the Sāṃmitīyas. Despite the importance of this Buddhist school, until recently its original canonical literature was considered to have been lost. The present book contains information about the unexpected discovery of several Indian manuscripts written in Saindhavī script and offers a new analysis of the Old Bengali codex unicus of the so-called Patna Dharmapada, which should rather be known now as the Saindhavī Dharmapada. This study proves that in fact a number of original canonical texts of the Sāṃmitīyas and some of their post-canonical works have survived. The texts are written in a Middle Indian language which it is suggested here to call “Saindhavī”. The better understanding of the close link between the Sāṃmitīyas/Saindhavas, the Saindhavī language, and the Saindhavī script permits us to fill some glaring gaps in Buddhist studies and Indian linguistics.


The Buddhist Indus Script and Scriptures will appeal to specialists with interests in a variety of fields such as Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit literatures and linguistics, Indian palaeography, manuscriptology, epigraphy, Buddhist studies, Religious studies, as well as Indo-Tibetan studies.