Asvaghosa, whose name means ‘whinny,’ was one of India’s greatest poets and was born in Sàketa in the 2nd century CE, converted to Buddhism in his youth and became court poet to King Kaniùka. The Buddha’s teachings not only brought about a revolution in Indian religious and philosophical thought but in the arts too. Within 500 years of the Buddha’s passing Buddhists were using all the visual and literary arts to draw people towards the Dhamma, explain it to them and awaken their faith. Asvaghosa epitomised this movement. He wrote the Saundarànandakàvya, a poem retelling the conversion of the Buddha’s cousin [[Nanda]; the Sàriputraprakaraõa, a play in nine acts about the life of Sariputta, the Gaõóistotra, a charming eulogy to the monastery bell and the Vajrasuci, a sustained critique of the Hindu caste system. But Asvaghosa’s most famous work was the Buddhacarita, a retelling of the life of the Buddha, which had a profound effect on the cultured class and later influenced many great Sanskrit poets.
- Buddhism A to Z. Ven. Dhammika, 2007.