Buddhacarita: in praise of Buddha's acts
The Buddhacarita: In Praise of Buddha's Acts is a complete biography of Sakyamuni, from his birth until after his death (parinirvana), when his relics were distributed. Composed by Asvagho?a (early second century CE) the text was rendered into Chinese by Baoyun in 421 CE from the original Sanskrit, creating a simplified version that would be more easily understandable to a Chinese audience. The Buddhacarita reads like a play, describing the incidents and events of the Buddha's life story, from his miraculous birth and early life of wealth and privilege as Crown Prince Siddhartha, to his spiritual journeying and eventual attainment of enlightenment and the teaching and conversion of disciples and followers. Along the way key elements of the Buddha's teaching are revealed and the message of his life is an example of the possibility of awakening and liberation for all.
This work is a biography of Sakyamuni written by Asvagho?a, the great Buddhist poet of the first century A.D. (v. No. 93). Whereas the extant Sanskrit text begins with Sakyamuni's birth and, describing his youth and mental anguishes, ends with his defeat of mara, the Chinese version deals with the rest of his life as well, thus forming a complete biography. This latter half is not, however, an addition which was appended to the text in China, but has simply been lost from the original Sanskrit. This biography is a representative work of Buddhist literature, but the Chinese version, although it has been translated in a poetic style, is not necessarily a success as a literary work.