A Study of the Original Texts of the Lotus Sūtra

1.      Previous Studies

Sanskrit copies of the Lotus Sūtra (Skt. Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtra), which

was completed in India, were transmitted to China where they were translated; among the extant translations, the oldest may be the work (A. D. 286) by Dharmarakṣa entitled, Chêng-fa-hua-ching 正法華經 [Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō (or Taishō Issaikyō) 大正新脩大藏經 (hereinafter, Taishō) No.263]. Although, in general, this was a literal translation of the Sanskrit original, it failed to circulate widely because, it was an early translation that was difficult to comprehend. In contrast, the translation (A.D. 406) by Kumārajīva entitled Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching妙法蓮華經 [Taishō No. 262] was and remains extensively used today because, being based on liberal translation of the original, it was rendered more fluently. In China, this became the basis for several commentaries on the Lotus Sūtra and for the teachings of the T’ien-t’ai school founded by Chih-i (A.D. 538-597). Again, the history of Japanese devotion to the Lotus Sūtra, which begins with Prince Shōtoku’s (A.D. 574-622) Hokekyōgisho 法華經疏義 [Taishō No. 2189], reflects similar reliance on the Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching, as does the founding of  the independent Japanese Tendai school by Saichō and Nichiren sect (A.D. 1253) by Nichiren.

        Although critical studies of the Lotus Sūtra can be found in such Chinese sources as the “Catalogues of Sūtras” and in the preface to the T’ien-p’in miao-fa-lien-hua-ching添品妙法蓮華經 [Taishō No. 264]  translated  (A.D. 601) by Jñānagupta and Dharmagupta, they were far from complete. However, their inception in Japan can be traced to the introduction of Western philological method after the Meiji period.

        K. Fuse, comparing Sanskrit and Chinese texts in Hokekyō seiritsushi 法華經成立史 (Tokyo, 1934), indicated that there are differences in the structure and content of the Lotus Sūtra, and suggested that several stages preceded its completion. G. Honda, comparing Sanskrit Lotus Sūtra manuscripts unearthed in Central Asia and Nepal in Butten no naisō to gesō 仏典の仏內相と外相(Tokyo, 1934) and Hokekyōron 法華經論 (Tokyo, 1944), attempted to provide an explanation for the differences in the Chinese translations. Although the research method of the two professors can be said to have paved the way for philological study of the Lotus Sūtra in Japan, the number of Sanskrit manuscripts used in their research was extremely small.

        A copy of a Sanskrit manuscript of the Lotus Sūtra was first collected in 1821 by the them British minister to Nepal, B.H. Hodgson. This copy was presented to E. Burnouf of France whose translation in French was published after his death by J. Mohl:

        Burnouf, E., Le lotus de la bonne loi, 2 tomes, Paris, 1852; Nouvelle édition avec une préface de S. Lévi, Paris, 1925; Reproduction, 1 tome, Paris, 1973.

This was followed by an English translation by H. Kern of Holland:

                Kern, H., tr., The Saddharma-puṇḍarīka or The Lotus of the True Law, Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXI, Oxford, 1909.

The first publication of a Sanskrit manuscript of the Lotus Sūtra was:

                Kern, H. and Nanjio, B., ed., Saddharmapuṇḍarīka, Bibliotheca Buddhica X, St.-Pétersbourg, 1908-1912; Reprint, Osnabrück, 1970.

This work, however, was based on the following manuscripts:

                A.: MS. Of the Royal Asiatic Society, London.

               [R in Sanskrit Manuscripts of Saddharmapuṇḍarīka, hereafter SMS]

               B.: MS. Of the British Musuem, London. [SMS:B]

                Ca.: Add. MS. 1682 ( mistake for Add. 1683) of University Library, Cambridge. [SMS: C4 ]

                Cb.: Add. MS. 1683 ( mistake for Add. 1684) of University Library, Cambridge. [SMS:C5]

                K.: MS. In the possession of Rev. Ekai Kawaguchi, acquired in Nepal. Tokyo University Library MS. No. 414.品SMS:T8}

                W.:MS. in the possession of Mr. Watters, formerly British Consul in Formosa.

                O.: Petrovskij MS. Discovered in Kashgar, held in the Institute of the Peoples of Asia, USSR Academy of Sciences, Leningrad.品SMS:O}

                P.: The lithographic text in Nagari published by Ph. Ed. Foucaux in his work Para bole de l’Enfant égaré (Paris, 1854).

Except for MS. O, unearthed in Central Asia, all other manuscripts are of the Nepalese group. Although Kern comments on the points of difference between the MS. O and the Nepalese manuscripts, it is hardly complete. That there are significant differences between the two should be clear from the present work. Be that as it may, because Kern’s publication had confusedly treated the manuscripts from the two groups, it embraced a number of problems.

        The next publication was the work by Professor U. Wogihara and Mr. C. Tsuchida:

                Wogihara, U. and Tsuchida, C., Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtram, Romanized and Revised Text of the Bibliotheca Buddhica Publication by Consulting a Skt. MS. And Tibetan and Chinese Translations, Tokyo, 1934-35.

        This text was revised with references to the Tibetan and Chinese translations and the Kawaguchi manuscript [SMS:K] held in the Tōyō-bunko. It was followed by the publication of:

      Dutt, Nalinaksha, rev., Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtram, with N.D. Mironov’s Readings from Central Asian MSS., Bibliotheca Indica No. 276, Calcutta, 1953.

        Not based on any single manuscript, it is a revised edition of the texts by Kern-Nanjio and Wogihara-Tsuchida, with corrected portions made with references to the same. It also includes Mironov’s reading of the manuscript unearthed in Central Asia in the footnotes. Furthermore, in Vaidya, P.L., ed., Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtram, Buddhist Sanskrit Text No. 6, Darbhanga, 1960,

A similar editorial approach is taken; it is no more than a selective adaptation with references to already published works.

        The manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra are classified into three groups according to the place of discovery:

(1)   Nepalese manuscripts

(2)   Kashmir (Gilgit) manuscripts.

(3)   Central Asian manuscripts.

Thus, first of all, there is a need to study the manuscripts in terms of each group. For this purpose, the initial step in the study of original texts ought to be an objective compilation of a text based on each manuscript. In this regard, Dr. Shōkō Watanabe’s recent publication is appraised highly:

                Watanabe, Shōkō, ed., Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Manuscripts Found in Gilgit; pt. I Photographic Reproduction, Tokyo, 1972; pt. II Romanized Text, Tokyo, 1975.

        As a bibliography of the heretofore published works on the original texts of the Lotus Sūtra, the following is of considerable use:

                Yuyama, Akira, A Bibliography of the Sanskrit Texts of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra, Canberra, 1970.

II. Summary of Sanskrit Manuscripts

A.     Nepalese Manuscripts

Among the extant Buddhist Sanskrit texts, the greatest share is found

in the Nepalese (including Tibetan) manuscripts. Since the first Sanskrit manuscript of the Lotus Sūtra was collected by Hodgson in the first half of the nineteenth century, the number of manuscripts known to us today is at least 36.

1.      Manuscript of the Tōyō-bunko, Tokyo.品SMS:K}

Brought to Japan from the Shālu dGonpa Monastery in Tibet by Rev.

Ekai Kawaguchi, it is now preserved in the Tōyō-bunko. Palmleaf; 181 folios; 5 lines; probably an 11th century copy. (Dates A.D. 1069-1070 appear)

2.      Manuscripts of the Cambridge University Library, Cambridge.

Six different manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra are preserved in the

Cambridge University Library with the following designations: Add. 1032,1324,1682,1683,1684, and 2197. Among these, Add. 1683 corresponds to MS. Ca in the Kern text, and Add. 1684 to MS. Cb of the same. (The Kern text mistakes Add. 1682 and 1683 to Ca and Cb respectively.)

a.      Add. 1032 [SMS:C1]:Paper, 90 folios, 14-20 lines.

b.      Add. 1324 [SMS:C2]:Paper, 96 folios, 14 and 16 lines.

c.      Add. 1682 [SMS:C3]: Palmleaf, 83 folios, 5 and 6 lines, an 11th century copy.

d.      Add. 1683 [SMS:C4]: Palmleaf, 141 folios, (5-) 6 and 7 lines.

e.      Add. 1684 品SMS: C5}: Palmleaf, 158 folios, 5 and 6 lines, an 11th century copy. (Dates A.D. 1063/1064 appear.)

f.        Add. 2197 [SMS: C6]: Palmleaf, 131 folios, 5-6 lines, an 11th century copy. (Dates A.D. 1091/1092 appear; the postscript in Newārī shows A.D. 1685/1686.)

3.      Manuscript of the British Museum, London. [SMS:B]

The Sanskrit manuscript of the Lotus Sūtra preserved in the British

Museum corresponds to Kern’s MS. B. Or. 2204, palmleaf, 175 folios, 6 lines, probably of 11-13th century copy.

4.      Manuscript of the Royal Asiatic Scoeity of Great Britain and Ireland, London. [SMS:R]

The Sanskrit manuscript of the Lotus Sūtra collected by Hodgson and

now preserved in the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain corresponds to MS. A in the Kern text. MS. No. 6, paper, 173 folios, in Newārī script, 6 lines, an 18th century copy.

5.      Manuscript of the Bibliothéque National, Paris.

Two different Sanskrit manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra are preserved in

the Bibliothéque National of France, both were used by Burnouf in his translation in French.

a.      MS. Nos. 138-139 [SMS:P1]:Paper, 224 folios, 9 lines, a 19th century copy.

b.      MS. Nos. 140-141 [SMS:P2]:Paper, 205 folios, 6 lines, a 19th century copy.(Dated A.D. 1827.)

6.      Manuscripts of the Tokyo University Library, Tokyo.

Nine Sanskrit manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra are preserved in the

Tokyo University Library with the following designations: Nos. 10(1), 408,409,410,411,412,413,414,and 415.

a.      No. 102(1) [SMS:T1]:Though the manuscript has the title,

Kīrtivīṣayāvadānapari-karma-kathā, it is actually a portion of Chapter XXII of the Lotus Sūtra. Paper, 9 folios, 7-9 lines.

b.      No. 409 [SMS:T2]: Palmleaf, 125 folios, in Siddhānta script, 7 lines, probably of 11th century copy.

c.      No. 409 [SMS:T3]: Paper, 232 folios, in modern Newārī script, 7-9 lines.

d.      No. 410 [SMS:T4]: Paper, 194 folios, in Newārī script, 7-8 lines.

e.      No. 411 [SMS:T5]: Paper, 288 folios, in Newārī script, 6 lines.

f.        No. 412 [SMS:T6]: Palmleaf, 147 folios, in Siddhānta script which resembles Newārī, 5 lines.

g.      No. 413 [SMS:T7]: Palmleaf, 111 folios, in Kuṭila script, 5-6 lines, probably of 11th century copy.

h.      No. 414[SMS:T8]: Paper, 118 folios, in Kuṭila script, 8 lines. This corresponds to MS. K in the Kern text.

i.         No. 415[SMS:T9]: Paper, 114 folios, in modern Nepalese script, 6 and 8-11 lines.

7.      Manuscripts of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta.

Three Sanskrit manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra are preserved in the

Asiatic Society with the following designations: Nos. G4079, G4199 and B7.

a.      No. G4079 [SMS:A1]: Paper, 215 folios, 7lines.

b.      No. G4199 [SMS:A2]: Paper, 137 folios, 7lines.

c.      No. B7 [SMS:A3]: Paper, 131 folios, 10lines.

8.      Manuscripts of the National Archives of Nepal, Katmandu.

In the National Archives of Nepal, there are seven Sanskrit

manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra; these were formerly deposited in the Bir Library (Katmandu) with the following numbers: Nos. 3/240, 3/259, 3/613, 3/678, 3/373,* 3/781, 1/1098. According to C. Vogel**, ten manuscripts are preserved:

a.      No. 4/21 [SMS:N1 ]:Palmleaf, 178 folios, 6 lines.

b.      No. 3/672 [SMS:N2 ]:Palmleaf, 138 folios, 5 lines.

c.      No. 5/144 [SMS:N3 ]:Palmleaf, 73(72) folios, 6 lines, incomplete.

d.      No. 3/259 [SMS:N1 ]:Paper, 69 folios.

e.      No. 5/82:Paper, 200 folios.

f.        No. 4/217:Paper, 249 folios.

g.      No. 1/1098:Paper, 160 folios.

h.      No. 5/211:Paper, 175 folios.

i.         No. 3/781:Paper, 179 folios.

j.         No. 3/613:Paper, 226 folios.

*Bir Library MS. 3/373; Palmleaf, 4 folios, in Upright Gupta script, 3-4 lines.

Brhatsūcīpatram, Vīrapustakālaya, Pt. 3, p. 85.

Hokke-bunka (Institute for the Comprehensive Study of Lotus Sūtra,

Rissho University), No.2 (1967), pp. 5-7.

**Vogel, C., “The Dated Nepalese Manuscripts of the

Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra,”Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, I. Philologisch-Historische Klasse, Nr. 5, 1974.

B.     Kashmir (Gilgit) Manuscripts

Among the several Buddhist manuscripts (palmleaf) in Sanskrit

discovered in June 1931 in a stūpa located 20 kilometers north of Gilgit in Kashmir, Lotus Sūtra texts in Sanskrit were included. Most of the folios, however, were sold individually and thus were scattered and lost before their contents could be brought to light.

1.Manuscripts in the National Archieves of India, New Delhi.

                A majority of the manuscripts mentioned above are held in the National Archives of India classified under six groups. For convenience sake, they are presented under three groups in the present work.

a.      Serial No. 45 [SMS:D1 ]:Birch-bark, 120 folios, 8-9 lines.

b.      Serial Nos. 44, 47, 49, 50 [SMS:D2 ]:Birch-bark, 49 folios, 9-10 lines.

c.      Serial No. 48 [SMS:D3 ]:Birch-bark, 48 folios, 11 lines.

Totaling 217 folios, in Upright Gupta script. 5-6th century transcription. It is assumed that the transcription was done by several student transcribers. The extant palmleaves comprise about three fourths of the entire manuscript.

        Of these palmleaves, Serial Nos. 44, 45, 47, 48 and 49 (Box V) were published as a photographic edition by Raghu Vira and Lokesh Chandra:

        Vira, Raghu and Chandra, Lokesh, reproduced, Gilgit Buddhist Manuscripts, (Facsimile Edition), Pts. 9-10, Śata-piṭaka Series, Indo-Asian Literatures, Vol. 10, New Delhi, 1974, Plates Nos. 2785-3220.

        Furthermore, manuscripts (s) and (b) from the same edition were made public by Dr. Shōkō, ed., Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Manuscripts Found in Gilgit, pt. I Photographic Reproduction, Tokyo, 1972; pt. II Romanized Text, Tokyo, 1975.

2.Manuscripts in the British Museum, London. [SMS:D3]

        Seven folios of the above-mentioned Sanskrit manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra unearthed in Gilgit were collected by J. Hackin and once preserved in the Musée Guimet in Paris. At present, they are held in the British Museum:

MS. Gil. C8 0r. 11878B:Palmleaf.

Six of these have been photographed already and brought to Japan by Dr. Giei Honda and Mr. Jōjun Deguchi. They appear in:

Honda, G., Saiikishutsudobonpon-hokekyo, Kyoto, 1949, Nos. 225-236. (Hereinafter, Honda text.)

Prior to this publication, however, one of the six folios was made public in:

    Lévi, Sylvain, “Note sur les manuscripts sanscrits provenants de Bamiyan (Afghanistan), et de Gilgit (Cachemire)”, JA, ccxx, 1932, pp. 13ff. (Honda text: Nos. 235 and 236) 235 and 236)

Three of the six were made public in:

        Baruch, W., Beiträge zum Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra, Leiden, 1938; Plated Ia, Ib, IIa, IIb, IIIa, and IIIb. (Honda text: Nos. 225-230)

The last of the seven folios had not been made public until Professor Shōkō Kabutogi brought it to Japan and introduced it in:

        Hokke-bunka, No. 6(1968), p.3; No. 8(1969), p.7.

3.Manuscripts in the possession of Mr. M.A. Shah.[SMS:D3]

  A folio of Sanskrit Lotus Sūtra was found among the manuscript fragments (approx. 275 folios) which Mr. Shah of Lahore sent to P.V. Bapat for purposes of identification. In Upright Gupta script, 10 lines:

       Bapat, P. V., “Another Valuable Collection of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts.”

        Manuscripts obtained by George Macartney, the then British Consul General stationed in Kashgar, 6 folios:

        Hoernle MS. No. 142, SB 12 (Honda text: Nos. 215-16):1 folio.

                                No. 142, SB53 (Honda text: Nos.63-40:1 folio.

                                No. 148, SA 22-5 (Honda text: Nos. 41-8)[SMS:0]: 4 folios.  

b.Manuscripts in the British Museum, London. [SMS: 0]

        A collection by Stein preserved in the British Museum:

         MS. Or. 9613. (Honda text: Nos. 49-56, 133-176, 183-184, 189-202, 203-212, and 223-224):40 folios.

c.Marburg Manuscript [SMS:0]

        Sanskrit manuscript fragments discovered by Emil Trinkler in Khotan between 1927 and 1928; originally deposited in the German Academy (Berlin), but later transferred to the Academy of Science and Literature (Mainz), and now preserved in the German National Library (Marburg):

        Mainz 685, 686, 687, 688, 689, 705, 706, 715, and 717 (Honda text: Nos. 23-40): Paper, Upright Gupta script, 9 folios.

        It is assumed that the above 40 folios of the Stein collection, 4 of Macartney’s, and 9 of the Marburg collection were, alogn with the Petrovskij manuscript cited above, originally from a single text but were sold separately and scattered.

        References are made to these manuscripts under code ”0” in the Kern text; they have also been made public in Honda-Deguchi’s Saiikishutudobonpon-hokekyō.

3.Farhād-Beg Manuscript[SMS:F]

        A Sanskrit manuscript of the Lotus Sūtra discovered by Stein in 1906 at Farhād-Beg-Yailaki, about 13 killometers northwest of Khadalik, and how held in the India Office Library:

        No. F xii. 7:Paper, 35 folios, in Upright Gupta script, 8 lines; probably a 6th century copy, considered the oldest among the Lotus Sūtra manuscripts unearthed in Central Asia. (Honda text: Nos. 65-132)

4.Mannerheim Fragment

        A fragment of the Sanskrit Lotus Sūtra discovered among the manuscripts brought back by Baron C. G. Mannerheim from his 1906-08 expeditions to Kashgar, Khotan, Turfan, and other regions of Central Asia. The place of discovery, however, is unclear: Paper, 1 folio, 6 lines. (Honda text: pp. IX-X)

5.Turfan Fragments

        Fragments of the Sanskrit Lotus Sētra obtained by the Turfan expedition team of Albert Grünwedel and Alber von Le Coq, now preserved in the German Academy of Sciences:

a.      Nr. 622=Lüders Nr. Sg 800 (S 60): Paper, 1 folio, 9 lines; obtained in Sengim, about 30 kilometers east of Turfan.

b.      Nr. T. 4, Chotän 8: Paper, 1 folio, 6lines; obtained in Khotan(?). (Honda text: Nos. 277-8)

6.Ōtani Manuscript

        The Sanskrit manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra which the Ōtani expedition team brought back from Central Asia on three occasions from 1902 to 1914 were originally in the Kantōchō 関東庁 Museum (Ryojun) but, at present, their whereabouts is unknown.

                Kantōchō Museum, “Bonji-hokekyō-dampen” 梵字法華経斷片, Ōtanike-shuppin-mokuroku 大谷家出品目錄,Nos. 687-697: 271 folios, in Upright Gupta script.

III. Structure of the Lotus Sūtra

        When we next examine the chapters constituting the Lotus Sūtra and the order in which they are arranged, we note there are significant differences between the Sanskrit, the Tibetan (Dam-paḥi chos pad-ma dkar-po shes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-poḥi mdo, Ōtani No. 781, Tr. by Surendrabodhi & ye-śes sde) and the Chinese texts. This strongly indicates that the Lotus Sūtra appeared in various forms as it was transmitted. If we were to represent the structure of the Lotus Sūtra by means of a table, it would be as follows:

C. Central Asian Manuscripts

        From the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century, expeditions to Central Asia recovered a large number of Sanskrit Buddhist texts in fragments. It became clear that among them were included Sanskrit manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra. These manuscripts are variously named according to their place of discovery or the name of the discoverer.

1.      Petrovskij Manuscript Unearthed in Kashgar. [SMS:0]

This is the manuscript obtained in 1903 by the then Russian

Consul General Petrovskij who was stationed at Kashgar in China’s Sinkiang Province. It is now held in the Leningrad branch of the Institute of Peoples of Asia, USSR, Academy of Sciences, Leningrad. Originally totaling 459 folios, the present manuscript contains 393 folios.Paper, in Upright Gupta script, 7 lines, probably of 6-7th

century copy.

The Manuscript in parts had been made public by Messrs.

Sanada and Kiyota, but a photographic edition was recently published by Dr. L. Chandra:

        Chandra, Lokesh, ed., Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra, Foreword by Dr. Heinz Bechert, International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi, 1976, Śata-piṭaka Series, Indo-Asian Literature, Vol. 229. (Second impression published by the Reiyūkai, Tokyo, 1977)

2.      Khadalik Manuscripts

These are the Sanskrit manuscripts of the Lotus Sūtra

discovered in Khadalik, 115 kilometers east of Khotan. Paper, in Upright Gupta script.

a.      Manuscripts in the India Office Library, London.

(1)   Stein Manuscripts

The manuscripts obtained by Stein in 1906, now held in

the India Office Library under the code, Kha.

Kha. 0013b (Honda text: Nos. 1-2)

Kha. I. 24(Honda text: Nos. 3-6)

Kha. Ix. 23 (Honda text: Nos. 7-8)

Kha. 92b (Honda text: Nos. 237-8)

Kha. Ix. 36 (Honda text: Nos. 239-40)

Kha. 0014b (Honda text: Nos. 9-10)

Kha. I. 214b  (Honda text: Nos. 11-12)

Kha. I. 102 (Honda text: Nos. 13-14)

Kha. I. 134b (Honda text: Nos. 15-16)

Kha. I. 174c (Honda text: Nos. 17-18)

Kha. Ix. 28 (Honda text: Nos. 241-2)

Kha. Ix. 29 (Honda text: Nos. 243-4)

Kha. I. 185c  (Honda text: Nos. 19-22)

Kha. 0013b (Honda text: Nos. 245-6)

Kha. Ix. 16a, b (Honda text: Nos. 247-8)

Kha. 0011 (Honda text: Nos. 57-58)

Kha. Ix. 16a, b (Honda text: Nos. 59-62)

Kha. Ix. 24 (Honda text: Nos. 249-250)

Kha. Ix. 18 (Honda text: Nos. 177-8)

Kha. Ix. 38, 42 (Honda text: Nos. 179-80, 251-2)

Kha. Ix. 1,3 (Honda text: Nos. 253-6)

Kha. I. 215a (Honda text: Nos. 181-2)

Kha. I. 38, 42 (Honda text: Nos. 257-8, 185-6, 259-64)

Kha. I. 317b (Honda text: Nos. 265-8)

Kha. Ix. 38, 4 (Honda text: Nos. 269-70)

Kha. I. 311a (Honda text: Nos. 187-8)

Kha. I. 21 (Honda text: Nos. 271-2)

Kha. Ix. 38, 42 (Honda text: Nos. 213-14)

Kha. Ix. 15 (Honda text: Nos. 217-18)

Kha. Ix. 38, 42 (Honda text: Nos. 273-4)

Kha. I. 177 (Honda text: Nos. 219-20, 221-2)

Kha. I. 305 (Honda text: Nos. 275-6)

(2)   Hoernle Manuscripts










1.      Nidāna.





2.      Upāyakauśalya.

(Thabs-la mkhas-pa)

















(Nan-thos lu-bstan-pa)

…… 授聲聞決品第六


…… 授記品第六

…… 授記品第六


(Sṅon-gyi sbyor-ba))

…… 往古品第七

…… 化城喻品第七

…… 化城喻品第七


(Dge-sloṅ lṅa-brgya luṅ-bstan-pa)

…… 授五百弟子決品第八



9.Vyākaraṇa.(Kun-dgaḥ-bo daṅ sgra-gcan-zin daṅ dge-sloṅ ñis-stoṅ luṅ-bstan-pa)









11.Stūpasaṃdarśana.(Mchod-rten bstan-pa)










(Bde-bar gnas-pa)





(Byaṅ-chub-sems-dpaḥ sa-rum-nas






(De-bshin-gśegs-paḥi sku-tsheḥi tshad)





(Bsod-nams-kyi rnam-graṅs)





(Rjes-su yi-raṅ-baḥi-bsod-nams bstan-pa)





(Skye-mched drug rnam-par-dag-paḥi phan-yon)





(Rtag-tu brñas-pa)





(De-bshin-gśegs-paḥi rdsu-ḥphrul mon-par











(Sman-gyi rgyal-poḥi sṅon-gyi sbyor-ba)





(Saṅ-saṅ-poi dbyaṅs)





(Spyan-ras-gzigs-dbaṅ-phyug-gi rnam-par-

phrul-pa bstan-ba kun-nas-sgo)





(Rgyal-po dge-ba bkod-paḥi sṅon-gyi sbyor-ba)





(Kun-tu-bzaṅ-po spro-bar-bya-ba)





(Yoṅs-su gtaṅ-pa)




In the table above, 27 chapters constitute the Sanskrit texts, the T’ien-p ‘in-miao-fa-lien-hua-ching, and the Ch’eng-fa-hua-ching, while 28 chapters consitute the Miao-fa-lien-hua ching. The difference comes from the Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching treating the Devadatta passage independently, while the three other versions include it within the Stūpasaṃdarśana chapter. A philological study of the Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching, however, has shown that Kumārajīva’s translation contained 27 chapters, that is, without the Devadatta. Furthermore, we can be certain, from the fact that the oldest manuscript in Sanskrit unearthed in Farhād-Beg continues directly from the Stūpasaṃ-darśana to the Utāha chapter without the intervening Devadatta, that a Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching text comprising 27 chapters without the Devadatta did actually exist. The Devadatta, on the other hand, appears as a separate chapter in the Petrovskij manuscript unearthed in Kashgar, making it a 28 chapter text similar in structure to the present Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching.

        When we compare the Chêng-fa-hua-ching and the Mia-fa-lien-hua-ching which respectively represent the forms of late 3rd and early 5th centuries, we can discern considerable structural differences between the two. These differences apparently led to a need for a revised edition which appeared in the form of T’ien-p’in-miao-fa-lien-hua-ching. On the circumstances surrounding the new translation, the following note appears in the preface to the same:

                Formerly during the reign of Emperor P’u-wu, Śramaṇa Dharmarakṣa

            Of Tun-huang translated the Chêng-fa-hua (-ching). Later, Emperor Yao-hsing (Wen-huan) of the Later Ch’in Dynasty asked Kumārajīva to translate the Miao-fa-lien-hua (-ching). Examining the two, we see that they are not from a single source. Dharmarakṣa’s (translation) is like the manuscript on tāla-leaves; Kumārajīva’s (translation) like the manuscript from Kuccha. When I closely examined the two in light of the Tripiṭaka, (the manuscript on the leaves of) tāla matched the Chêng-fa (-hua-ching) and (the manuscript from) Kuccha is exactly like the Miao-fa (-lien-hua-ching). The original text of Dharmarakṣa is incomplete while that of Kumārajīva is complete. (The original text of) Dharmarakṣa lacks the gāthā of the P’u-men-p’in 普門品. Kumārajīva’s (original text) lacks the (latter) half of the Yo-ts’ao-yü-p’in 藥草喻品, the beginning of the Fu-lou-na-p’in 富樓那品 (Wu-pai-ti-tzu-shou-ji-p’in 五百弟子受記品) and the Fa-shih-p’in 法師品, the entire Ti-p’o-ta-tuo-p’in 提婆達多品 and the gāthās of the P’u-men-p’in. Further, in the (original text of) Kumārajīva, the Chu-lui (-p’in) 囑累(品) precedes the Yo-wang (-p’u-sa-shih-p’in) 藥王(菩薩本事品). In both, however, the T’o-lo-ni (-p’in) 陀羅尼(品) is placed after the P’u-men-p’in. The differences between the two are too extreme to be explained.

        In the Miao-fa lien hua-ching, we see that six chapters, from the Yo-wang-p’u-sa pen-shih-p’in 藥王菩薩本事品(Bhaiṣajyarājapūrvayoga) to the P’u-hsien-p’u-sa-ch’üan-fa-p’in 普賢菩薩勸發品(Samantabhadrotāhana), are placed after the Chu-lui-p’in (Chapter XXII, Anuparīndanā); it is assumed that these chapters, newly created, were added to the original form of the Lotus Sūtra. Parenthetically, the usual practice is to place the Chu-lui-p’in at the end of the Sūtra; the fact that this is so in the Sanskrit texts, the Chêng-fa-hua and the T’ien-p’in is seen as a proof of later editing. Furthermore, the position of the T’o-lo-ni-p’in behind the P’u-men-p’in is seen as a proof of later editing. Furthermore, the position of the T’o-lo-ni-p’in behind the P’u-men-p’in is similar to that found in the Ōtani MS. (Mironov’s readings) unearthed in Central Asia, while its position behind the Shen-li-p’in 神力品(Thatāgatarddhyabhisaṃskāra) can be similarly attributed to later adjustment.

        Finally, as seen in the original translation of the Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching and in the Sanskrit text unearthed in Farhād-Beg, it is believed that the original form of the Lotus-Sūtra continued directly from the Pao-t’a-p’in寶塔品 (Stūpasaṃdarśana) to the Ch ‘üan-ch’ih-p’in 勸持品 (Utāha). However, in connection with the Pao-t’a-p’in, the Sa-t’an-fên-t’o-li-ching薩曇分陀利經(A. D. 265-316, translator unknown, Taishō No. 265), expounding the vyākaraṇa of Devadatta and women’s attainment of Buddhahood, was circulated as a separate volume. The first attempt at incorporating the Sa-t’an-fên-t’o-li-ching into the Lotus Sūtra occurred while the Chêng-fa-hua-ching was still in the process of being transmitted. This is proven by a passage corresponding to the Sa-t’an-fên-t’o-li-ching found only in the Pao-t’a-p’in of the Chêng-fa-hua-ching. The differences among the various extant texts indicate the stages in the formation of the Lotus Sūtra.


Keishō Tsukamoto

Yenshū Kurumiya