This introductory chapter describes the book's trajectory: to explore the ways in which successive Buddhist generations, particularly Indian Buddhists, have imparted teachings through time. According to Professor Robert Sharf, the term “Buddhism” turns out to be a site of relentless dispute, “as a cacophony of voices lays claim to its authority.” Through these attempts to speak authoritatively, Buddhists are able to speak not only for themselves, but also for Buddhism in general-and thus to speak for Buddhas. Indian Buddhist literature depicts Buddhas as excellent speakers. They generate texts that are taken to represent “the speech of a Buddha” (buddhavacana); they are also held to manifest the characteristics of “right speech” (samyagvāc). The chapter aims to outline a map that would highlight the normative aspects of Indian Buddhist textual production that have been largely ignored, as well as the commentaries on Buddhist sūtra texts. It also provides a layout of topics for the subsequent chapters.
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