The Buddhacarita, ‘Acts of the Buddha’, was the first realistic and complete biography of the Buddha and was written by the famous Indian poet Asvaghosa in about the 2nd century CE. Earlier attempts at a biography, like the one in the Vinaya, are either incomplete or, like the Lalitavistara, are so full of hyperbole as to be more romance than fact. The Buddhacarita follows the events in the Buddha’s life as recorded in the Tipitaka quite closely but elaborates some parts for the sake of dramatic and didactic effect. The 2132 elegant and lyrical Sanskrit verses of the Buddhacarita have led it to be considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Indian literature.
- Asvaghosa’s Buddhacarita, trans by E.H. Johnson, 1998.