The avadana literature is the largess corpus of Sanskrit Buddhist texts available to us. By providing an annotated translation of, and applying the methods of literary criticism to, a first-century account of the life of the saint Purna, the present study introduces the reader to the richness and complexity of a genre which has played an essential role in Buddhist self-understanding for over two thousand years. Buddhist tradition identifies the monk Purna of Surparaka as the great evangelist who introduced Buddhism to the land of Sronaparantaka, which corresponds to much of the present Indian State of Gujarat.
The Introduction which discusses methodological issues in some detail, is followed by an annotated translation of the text and by a detailed literary analysis. After brief concluding remarks, the appendices present translations of four other versions of the life of Purna.