New Light on the Mahāyāna-Śraddhotpāda Śāstra

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New Light on the Mahāyāna-Śraddhotpāda Śāstra

Citation: Liebenthal, Walter. "New Light on the Mahāyāna-Śraddhotpāda Śāstra." T'oung Pao 46, no. 3/5 (1958): 155–216.

Article Summary

The study of the Mahāyāna-śraddhotpāda Śāstra[1]) has a long history. French, Chinese and Japanese scholars have participated in the discussion, some of them great authorities in the field of Sino-Indian Studies, as P. Demieville, Ui Hakuju, Tokiwa Daijō, and Mochizuki Shinkō[2]) . That I dare to add my grain to the store of knowledge already collected, though not even fully acquainted with the earlier efforts , demands an explanation. When studying Chinese Buddhism and slowly progressing through the centuries I came before the stumbling block of this text and found that without more definite knowledge about the Mahāyāna-śraddhotpāda Śāstra a clear picture of Medieval Buddhism could not be attained. As no answer has yet been given to this problem acceptable to all the debaters I had to look into it myself. Unfortunately, the Indian libraries in my reach are very incomplete with respect to Japanese and Chinese books and periodicals. So I was confronted with a dilemma which worries many scholars to-day, namely, whether I should continue my studies in spite of this handicap or stop altogether. Finally I decided that I would try to get a result by using what was available to me and adding material which I collected myself. This led to what I consider as a result worth while to be submitted as a basis of discussion. The professors Matsunami Seiren and Hayashi Kemmyō kindly sent me reprints of their papers.
      The present state of the discussion may in short be characterized as follows. The traditional view that (1) the Śāstra is a translation of a Sanskrit original and (2) that the translator is Paramārtha, is now generally abandoned[3]). It is also known that the lntroduction is forged.[4]) It is further known that the Sanskrit text translated by Śikṣānanda was itself a translation from the extant Chinese version[5]). If so much is accepted, early doubts of Chinese Buddhists concerning the Śāstra gain weight[6]).
      Hui-chün, an early seventh century witness, in the passage quoted above p. 156 note 4, speaks of "former" Dāśabhūmikas who forged the Śraddhotpāda. Chi-tsang (549-623) blames Dāśabhūmikas "of a former generation" that they mistook the eighth vijñāna for Buddha-nature (T. vol. 34 380 b 20 f.). In another place he speaks of "old" Dāśabhūmikas (T. vol. 42 104 c 7). This implies that we have to distinguish between late Dāśabhūmikas (after the arrival of the Mahāyāna-saṁgraha) and early ones (the first and second generations after the translators of the Daśabhūmika Śāstra)[7]) . Among them, those who belonged to the early generation are said to have forged the Śraddhotpāda Śāstra[8]).
      Tokiwa believes in a Chinese author who mainly relied on the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra both translations of which (Sung and Wei) he amalgamated. This may be correct though I could not find allusions peculiar to Guṇabhadra's (Sung) translation.
      Mochizuki has proved that the Chinese author was acquainted not only with the Laṅkāvatāra but with several other texts. He proposes as author T'an-tsun, a disciple of Fa-shang who dictated the Śāstra to his disciple T'an -ch'ien. See below p. 160.
      Hayashi Kemmyō, has traced material in Liang Wu-ti's writings and the Pao-tsang lun. Liang Wu-ti believed in immortal souls[9]). The Śraddhotpāda Śāstra contains nothing of that sort. Though influence from that side cannot be excluded, I do not feel this material to be significant enough to permit us to place the author in the South.
      Matsunami Seiren believes in Aśvaghoṣa if not as author yet as the spiritual father of the Śraddhotpāda. I have compared his quotations from the Sauṇdarānanda Kāvya etc . which are interesting. But I think we might consider as established that the author of the Śraddhotpāda Śāstra was a Chinese and work upon that assumption[10]). Besides, the main tenets of the Śāstra have not been found in the Kāvya.
      I pass by other theories of which I have only heard . Scholars are searching in all directions and undoubtedly will find material unknown to me which will throw even more light on the intricate problem of our text. Meanwhile I shall consider as established that the Śāstra was composed by an early Dāśabhūmika and limit my investigation to the question who this person was. (Liebenthal, "New Light on the Mahāyāna-Śraddhotpāda Śāstra," 155–58)
  1. T. 1666. I have compared the photos of manuscripts mentioned in Giles, Chinese Manuscripts from Tunhuang, nos. 4318-20, 5771-84. But I found no interesting versions. (No. 5783 seems to be a commentary of the Samyuktābhidharma-sāra!)
  2. Of this literature I had at my disposal : P. Demiéville: Sur l'authenlicité du Ta Tch'eng K'i Sin Louen. Bulletin de la Maison Franco-Japonaise, tome II, no. 2 , Tokyo 1929, reprint pp. 1-78 (Demiéville, Authenticité).
    Mochizuki Shinkō: Bukkyo daijüen (1935} (Mochizuki, Dictionary).
    Same : Daijo Kishinron no Kenkyū (1922) (Mochizuki , Study) .
    Same: Kōjutsu Daijō Kishinron (1938} (Mochizuki, Kishinron).
    Same : Kokuyaku Issaikyō, Ronshu-bu 5 (1953}. A translation with a detailed outline.
    Same : Bukkyō kyōten. seiritsu shiron (1949}, pp. 532–624.
    Ui Hakuju: Daijō Kishinron. Tokyo 1936. Matsunami Seiren: Yugagyoha no taikei lo nendai (Nippon bukkyō gakkai nempō, No. 22) . 1957.
    Same: Yugagyoha. no so lo shite no Memyō (Taishō Daigaku kenkyū kiyō, No. 39). 1954 .
    Same: Kishinron-shisō no taikei to nendai {Nippon bukkyō gakkai nempō, No. 22) . 1957.
    Same: Tensei naru Nanda (Taishō Daigaku kenkyū kiyō, No. 42). 1957.
    Hayashi Kemmyō: Kishinron no shin Kenkyū. 1945.
    Suzuki D. Teitarō: Awakening of Faith. Chicago l900.
  3. Also by Demiéville, see Le Concile de Lhasa (Bibliothèque de l'lnstitut des Hautes Études Chinoises, t. vii, Paris 1952), part 1 p. 57.
  4. Though old.
  5. Tao-hsüan's note following upon the biography of Hsüan-tsang in Hsü kao-seng chuan T. vol. 50 428 b 27.
  6. Cf. Mochizuki, Dictionary 3256b, also Ching-lu T. vol. 55 142a; Chinkai, Sanron gensho Mongiyō [Chinese characters not available] ch. ii (T . 2299 vol. 70 228c) quotes two passages from the Ta-ch'eng ssu-lun hsüan-i [Chinese characters not available] ch. 5 and 10 which, however, are not found in the extant fragmentary version (Hsü•tsang ching I. 74/I). It looks as if ch. 10 of that edition should more correctly be labelled ch. 12. I am translating these quotations: Ch. 5. '"The Śraddotpāda is made by a prisoner-of-war who borrowed the name of Aśvaghoṣa." Ch. 10. "Śraddotpāda. Some say that it is made by Dāśabhūmikas of the North . . . It is not by Aśvaghoṣa Bodhisattva. Former [Chinese characters not available] Dāśabhumikas made it. They borrowed the name (of Aśvaghoṣa) for the headline". The "prisoner -of-war" is perhaps imagination. The "former" Dāśabhūmikas seem to be correct.
  7. Cf. my "Notes on the Vajrasamādhi." T'oung Pao vol. xliv, 4-5, pp, 378-382 . I have in this paper discussed several allusions which l had found in the Vajrasamādhi and wish to add one more which I had overlooked. It is the famous half gāthā for which the rākṣasa gives away his body. Cf. T. vol. 9, 733b, c and Nirvāṇa Sūtra, Sheng -hsing p'in [Chinese not available], T. vol. 12 xiv 450a-451b.
  8. To say that the Śraddhotpāda Śāstra was forged is perhaps not correct. Aśvaghoṣa may appear in the title as spiritual author as he appears in the biography of T'an-yen dictating, in the shape of a horse, a commentary on the Nirvāṇa Sūtra. He and Nāgārjuna were worshipped as bodhisattvas under the Wei (Daśabhūmika, Introduction). He seems to have a function of inspirator similar to Maitreya. See Demiéville, La Yogācārabhūmi de Saṅgharakṣa, B.E.F.E.O. XLIV, 2. {1954) pp. 377-387, anti cf. T. vol. 50 334c 10 and vol. 8 530b 25 seq.
  9. Cf. Mon. nipponica Vlll I–2 pp. 376 seq.
  10. Quite apart from all other reasons, even the Chinese phrases make one often wonder whether they could be used in translation. Cf. Śraddhotpāda Śāstra T. vol. 32 577b II: [Chinese not available]