本研究計畫以馬鳴（Aśvaghoṣa）以梵語大詩體（mahākāvya）寫成的《佛所行讚》（Buddhacarita）及《美難陀傳》（Saundarananda）為研究對象，探討梵語宮廷詩最先出現於佛教（而非印度教）所代表的意義，以及其在整個印度思想史上所透露之時代意涵。在印度的語言史上，梵語在西曆紀元之後慢慢展露頭角，爾後在亞洲各地（包括中國）開展長達千年以上銳不可當的語言文化攻勢。然而，通俗語或方言（ Prakrit ，）或者說是中世印度雅利安語（Middle Indo-Aryan languages）當為書面語，其在碑銘所出現的時間要比梵語早四、五個世紀左右。這種梵語在公眾語言上失勢幾百年之情形，被的法國的印度學家 Louis Renou 稱為「印度語言之大弔詭論。」 而本人此一研究課題則反思印度書寫文化的另一個弔詭，即：為何古典詩（kāvya）這種雕琢之艷情詩體書寫文化最先出現於佛教而非跟入世思想關係密切的印度教？事實上，上述兩大弔詭相互關連。因為不管碑銘文書還是古典詩歌，皆已非吠陀時期或佛教初期之口述傳承，而需加以筆記以維傳承的書面文化。準此而言，方言在印度碑銘誌史上遠早於梵語，而佛教出家比丘以宮廷詩來書寫佛陀皆為印度思想史上之重大課題。馬鳴（約公元一、二世紀）之古典敘述詩要比印度教最為著名詩人迦梨陀娑（Kālidāsa，約公元四、五世紀）的詩作早三百年左右問世。佛教僧眾率先 書寫梵語宮廷詩體來稱頌佛陀行誼及其教義，誠屬難解。以梵語來書寫宮廷詩涉及印度宗教思想上諸多複雜問題。略舉其要如下。第一，用梵語來傳布教法明顯違反佛陀最初規定不准用梵語傳法之語言政策。為什麼紀元之後佛教僧眾在傳法時大膽違背此一戒律呢？第二，宮廷詩所描繪的世界基本上是入世的，而且用華麗詞藻書寫感官及情慾世界。如此進路跟禁慾的修行理念大相逕庭。在巴利文獻裡，佛陀要求僧眾遠離文藝詩歌好修行，讓佛法得以常存。為何宮廷詩卻於此時出現呢？。第三，假如宮廷詩跟宮廷文化息息相關的 話，則馬鳴的詩作跟其所處時代之現實政治有何關係？是否佛教此時面臨印度教復興的挑戰，必須求取現世權力護持，好能在思想傳播上跟其競爭呢？本研究即為上述印度思想史上難解之謎提供可能的破解線索。 In Indian linguistic history, Prakrit (dialect, either vernacular or provincial) or Middle Indo-Aryan languages appeared in inscriptions centuries earlier before Sanskrit is an unsolved riddle. If we consider A?oka＇s Pillar Edicts in different Prakrits (3rd century BC) as the beginning of Indian Epigraphy, the first important Sanskrit epigraph-Junagadh Rock Inscription- appeared just around 150 AD. Why Sanskrit disappeared for many centuries as public language in India? Louis Renou considers this is“le grand paradoxe linguistique de l＇Inde (the great linguistic paradox of India).＂ (Renou, 1956:84) This research project is an attempt to provide a clue to the other paradox in Indian literary history: Why k?vya (court poetry) started with Buddhism? In fact, these two “paradoxes＂ are closely related to each other as they raise larger issues of the emergence of written or literary language in Indian intellectual history. Why Sanskrit was not first used in epigraph and why Buddhist ascetics wrote the court poetry before their Brahmana rivals? They are intricate puzzles which need extensive explorations. However, these intriguing puzzles about language have to be investigated in the broader religio-political context. It seems that the adoption of language in a religious tradition or a royal court in India is a calculated decision which has profound implications. How should we spell out the religio-political relevance of Sanskrit k?vya? In fact, to write in Sanskrit k?vya inevitably entails several related issues for Buddhism and Indian intellectual history. One is the problem of using Sanskrit as the canonical language which is a direct violation of the language policy approved by the Buddha. Another one is: k?vya as a literary genre depicting human emotional experience with sensational expression is in contradiction to Buddhism as an ascetic tradition. Also, if the court poetry has much do with court culture, what are its political overtones? Using A?vagho?a＇s two mah?k?vyas-Buddhacarita and Saundarananda- as reference points, this research project will explore grave implications of Buddhist k?vya and the above important matters will be closely investigated.