Kenneth Wilson was from India and he had a deep interest in mathematics till his death in 2013
He has probed deeply into numbers and found ancient sources that attribute large numbers to the Bodhisatva's
Link above has this paragraph.
The incalculable number
Kenneth Wilson did not come up with inclusivity. Yes, he found a way
to use it in the problems that were prevalent in mid-20th century
physics. But in the Mahavaipulya Buddhavatamsaka Sutra, an influential
text of Mahayana Buddhism written in the third or fourth century AD,
lies a treatment of very large numbers centered on the struggle to
comprehend divinity. The largest titled meaningful number in this work
appears to be the bodhisattva
(10^37218383881977644441306597687849648128) and the largest titled
number as such, the jyotiba (10^80000 infinities).
The jyotiba may not make much sense today, but it represents the early
days of a centuries-old tradition that felt such numbers had to exist,
a tradition that acknowledged and included the upper-limits of human
comprehension while on its quest to deciphering the true nature of
The Mahavaipulya Buddhavatamsaka Sutra itself, also known as the
Avatamsaka Sutra, also contains a description of an "incalculable"
number divined to describe the innumerable names and forms of the
principal deities Vishnu and Siva. By definition, it had to lie
outside the bounds of human calculability. This number, known as the
asamkhyeya, owes its value to one of three arrived at because of an
ambiguity in the sutra. Asamkhyeya is defined as a particular power of
a laksha, but there is no indication of how much a laksha is!
One translation, from Sanskrit to the Chinese by Shikshananda, says
one asamkhyeya is equal to 10 to the power of 7.1-times
10-to-the-power-of-31. Another translation, to English by Thomas
Cleary, says it is 10 to the power of 2.03-times
10-to-the-power-of-32. The third, by Buddhabhadra to the Chinese
again, says it is 10 to the power of 5.07-times 10-to-the-power-of-31.
If they have recognisable values, you ask, why the title
As far as authorship, there are several references to translators, but unlike many Buddhist texts, the authorship is attributed to someone that may not have written it, of unknown authorship or a collaborative effort.
The Avataṃsaka Sūtra was written in stages, beginning from at least
500 years after the death of the Buddha. One source claims that it is
"a very long text composed of a number of originally independent
scriptures of diverse provenance, all of which were combined, probably
in Central Asia, in the late third or the fourth century CE." Two
full Chinese translations of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra were made.
Fragmentary translation probably began in the 2nd century CE, and the
famous Ten Stages Sutra, often treated as an individual scripture, was
first translated in the 3rd century. The first complete Chinese
version was completed by Buddhabhadra (Bodhibhadra) around 420 in 60
scrolls with 34 chapters, and the second by Śikṣānanda around 699
in 80 scrolls with 40 chapters. There is also a translation of
the Gaṇḍavyūha section by Prajñā around 798. The second translation
includes more sutras than the first, and the Tibetan translation,
which is still later, includes many differences with the 80 scrolls
version. Scholars conclude that sutras were being added to the
According to Paramārtha, a 6th-century monk from Ujjain in central
India, the Avataṃsaka Sūtra is also called the "Bodhisattva
Piṭaka." In his translation of the Mahāyānasaṃgrahabhāṣya, there is
a reference to the Bodhisattva Piṭaka, which Paramārtha notes is the
same as the Avataṃsaka Sūtra in 100,000 lines. Identification of
the Avataṃsaka Sūtra as a "Bodhisattva Piṭaka" was also recorded in
the colophon of a Chinese manuscript at the Mogao Caves: "Explication
of the Ten Stages, entitled Creator of the Wisdom of an Omniscient
Being by Degrees, a chapter of the Mahāyāna sūtra Bodhisattvapiṭaka
Buddhāvataṃsaka, has ended."
It may not be that common in Buddhist texts, but Hindu texts are filled with all kinds of numbers. It is apparent that this environment friendly to numbers must have inspired some writers to go down this avenue, perhaps to appeal to potential Hindu converts to Buddhism.