Fanwang jing

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LibrarySutrasFanwang jing

Fàn wǎng jīng
chos kyi rgya mo sangs rgyas rnam par snang mdzad kyis byang chub sems dpa'i sems kyi gnas bshad pa le'u bcu pa
Brahmā's Net Sūtra
D256   ·  T1,484

Fanwang jing. (J. Bonmōkyō; K Pǔmmang kyǒng). In Chinese, "Brahmā's Net Sūtra," the scripture is often cited by its reconstructed, but unattested, Sanskrit title, the *Brahmajālasūtra. This scripture is reputed to have been translated by KumārajIva in 406, but it is most likely an indigenous Chinese scripture (see apocrypha) composed during the middle of the fifth century. The Fanwang jing, in its current recension in two rolls, purports to be the tenth chapter of a much longer, 120-roll scripture tided the Bodhisattvaśīlasūtra, which is otherwise unknown. The first roll provides a description of the buddha Vairocana and the ten different stages of the bodhisattva path. Because subsequent Chinese indigenous scriptures that were closely related to the Fanwang jing, such as the Pusa yinluo penye jing, provided more systematic presentations of these soteriological models, this first roll was not widely studied and was typically omitted in commentaries on the scripture. Far more important to the tradition is the second roll, which is primarily concerned with the "bodhisattva precepts" (bodhisattvaśīla); this roll has often circulated independently as Pusajie jing (*Bodhisattvaśīlasūtra) "The Book of the Bodhisattva Precepts"). This roll provides a list of ten major and forty-eight minor Mahāyāna precepts that come to be known as the "Fanwang Precepts," which became a popular alternative to the 250 monastic precepts of the Dharmaguptaka vinaya (also known as the Sifen Lü). Unlike the majority of rules found in other non-Mahāyāna vinaya codes, the bodhisattva precepts are directed not only at ordained monks and nuns, but also may be taken by laymen and laywomen. The Fanwang jing correlates the precepts with Confucian virtues such as filial piety and obedience, as well as with one's buddha-nature (foxing). Numerous commentaries on this text were composed, and those written by Fazang, Mingkuang (fl. 800 CE), and the Korean monk T'aehyǒn (d.u.) were most influential. As the primary scriptural source in East Asia for the bodhisattva precepts, the Fanwang jing was tremendously influential in subsequent developments in Buddhist morality and institutions throughout the region. In Japan, for example, the Tendaishū monk Saichō (767-822) disparaged the prātimokṣa precepts of the traditional vinaya as being the precepts of hInayāna adherents, and rejected them in favor of having all monastics take instead the Mahāyāna precepts of the Fanwang jing. In Korea, all monastics and laypeople accept the bodhisattva precepts deriving from the Fanwang jing, but for monks and nuns these are still seen as complementary to

their main monastic vows. (Source: "Fanwang jing." In The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, 295. Princeton University Press, 2014.
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Translations of This Text

  • Muller, A. Charles, and Kenneth K. Tanaka, trans. The Brahmā's Net Sutra: (Taishō Volume 24, Number 1484). Moraga, CA: BDK America, 2017.
  • Muller, A. Charles, ed. and trans. Exposition of the Sutra of Brahma's Net. Collected Works of Korean Buddhism 11. Seoul: Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, 2012.

Recensions of This Text

Scholarly notes

Not to be confused with the Brahmajāla sūtra/sutta, the first of 34 suttas in the Dīgha Nikāya of the Pāli canon transmitted by the Theravāda tradition, the separate Dharmaguptaka recension appearing as the twenty-first sūtra in the Chinese translation of the Dīrghāgama, or the 梵網六十二見經 (fan wang liu shi er jian jing), the individual translation the Taisho edition attributes to Chih-ch'ien, numbered T21. For more on recensions of this sūtra, see The 'Sixty-two Views' – A Comparative Study by Bhikkhu Anālayo.

Text Metadata

Canonical Genre ~ Kangyur · Sūtra · mdo sde · Sūtranta

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