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Chou Po-Kan - The Problem of the Authorship of the Mahaprajnaparamitopadesa - A Re-examination

Chou Po-Kan - The Problem of the Authorship of the Mahaprajnaparamitopadesa - A Re-examination

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34´Á
BIBLID1012-8514(2004)34p.281-327
 2004¦~12¤ë¡A281~327
2004.10.19¦¬½Z¡A2004.12.21³q¹L¥Zµn
 
The Problem of the Authorship of the
 Mah
ā
 prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramitopade
 ś
a
: A Re-examination
Chou, Po-kan
*
 Abstract
This paper accounts for why Chinese Buddhists believe that N
ā
g
ā
rjuna is the author of the
 Mah
ā
 prajñ
ā
 paramitode
 ś
a
, the commentary on the
 Pañcavi
m%
 ś
atis
ā
hasrik 
ā
 Prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramit 
ā
 
ū
tra.
 It refutes past theories on the authorship of the text which proceed from the perspective of Indian Buddhism, and proposes a new theory which ascribes the authorship to Sengrui’s editorship that reflects the intellectual situation of Chinese Buddhism of the early fifth century. The authorship issue is actually of a historical event rather than a personal identity. For this new theory, the  paper investigates the intellectual activities of Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va and Sengrui, the translation process, and compares terminological differences and textual variations between the old and new translations of the
ū
tra
 and accompanied doctrinal explanations in the commentary.
Keywords:
 Mah
ā
 prajñ
ā
 paramitode
 ś
a
,
 Pañcavi
m%
 ś
atis
ā
hasrik 
ā
 Prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramit 
ā
 
ū
tra
, Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va, Sengrui, N
ā
g
ā
rjuna, translation of Buddhist scritpures. * Associate Professor, Department of History, National Taiwan University.
 
282
I. Sengrui (352?-436?) II. Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va (344-413)
III
. The Translation Process IV. Literary Form V. A Terminological Examination VI. Textual Variations V
II
. Sengrui as Editor of the Text V
III
. The Borderland Phobia IX. Conclusion
This paper is an attempt to resolve a protracted dispute over the authorship of the
 Mah
ā
 prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramitopade
ś 
a
 (
 Dazhidu Lun
 ¤j´¼«×½×, abbreviated as
 DZDL
 hereafter) --whether or not it is the work of the great Indian M
ā
dhyamika philosopher, N
ā
g
ā
rjuna. The
 DZDL
 is a commentary on the
 Pañcavi
m
%
 ś
atis
ā
hasrik 
ā
 Prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramit 
ā
 
ū
tra
 (
The S 
ū
tra of Transcendental Wisdom in Twenty-five Thousand Lines
, or, in Chinese,
 Dapin Jing 
 ¤j«~¸g, the
 Large Version of the Prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramit 
ā
 
ū
tra
, abbreviated hereafter
 LPP 
). This work, which has almost one million Chinese characters and one hundred chapters, is the largest in the extant Buddhist exegetical literature.
1
 Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va translated it into Chinese upon the request of the Buddhist king of the Later Qin dynasty, Yao Xing, from the summer of 402 to the twelfth month of 405. Chinese Buddhists have since relied upon this single text to study the highly dialectical and opaque Mah
ā
y
ā
na Buddhist doctrine of
 prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramit 
ā
, and have firmly believed Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va’s assertion that N
ā
g
ā
rjuna is its author. This assertion was never questioned until recently, first by E. Lamotte and then by other Buddhist scholars. In 1944, while publishing his first annotated French translation of the
1 According to testimonies of contemporary Chinese Buddhists, Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va only translated the commentary on the first chapter of the
 LPP 
 in full and abridged it beyond Chapter I. Otherwise the
 DZDL
 would be ten times longer than it now is.
 
The Problem of the Authorship of the
 Mah
ā
 prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramitopade
 ś
a
: A Re-examination
283
 DZDL
, Lamotte suspected that the work is not by N
ā
g
ā
rjuna, a southern Indian, as conventionally claimed, but by a Sarv
ā
stiv
ā
din convert to Mah
ā
y
ā
na Buddhism in Kashmir in the early fourth century. His suspicion finally materialized in 1970 in a long essay in the third volume of the French translation of the
 DZDL
.
2
 Lamotte’s startling discovery attracted the attention of many other Buddhist scholars. Conze follows Lamotte’s suggestion by saying that “Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va, the translator, was himself such a convert,” and thus implies that Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va was the author of the
 DZDL
.
3
 Hikata pointed out the many explanatory passages, such as “it is meant in Chinese,” which are only sensible as being addressed to Chinese, rather than Indian, readers, advocating that the text was basically written by  N
ā
g
ā
rjuna, but with many “additions or insertions by Kum
ā
raj
 ī 
va.”
4
 Tucci thinks that there could be two: one is the great M
ā
dhyamika philosopher and the other is the author of the
 DZDL
.
5
 Yet some scholars, like Ramanan and Venerable Yinshun, still hold the conventional view.
6
 Yinshun  particularly argues against Lamotte, contending that Lamotte confused two  branches of the Abhidharmic study in northwestern India, the D
ā
!
s!t
ā
ntikin in Gandh
ā
ra and the Sarv
ā
stiv
ā
din in Kashmir, by mistaking the former for the latter. Yinshun thinks that the
 DZDL
 accepts the former for its liberal view, while rejecting the latter for its conservative view, of Abhidharmic learning; in no way could the author once have been a Sarv
ā
stiv
ā
din scholar-monk, as Lamotte suggests. Yinshun also rejects Hikata’s addition
2 E. Lamotte, “Introduction,”
 Le Trait 
e  
 de la Grande Vertu de Sagess
e vol. III (Louvain: Universite de Louvain, 1970), v-lxviii. 3 E. Conze,
 The Prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramit 
ā
 Literature
 (Tokyo: Reiyukai, 1978), 94.
4 
R. Hikata,
 Suvikr 
ā
ntavikr 
ā
mi-parip
!cch
ā
 Prajñ
ā
 p
ā
ramit 
ā
-S 
ū
tra
 (Fukuoka: Kyushu University Press, 1958), lii-lxxv.
 
5 Giuseppe Tucci, “Review of 
 Le Trait 
e  
 de la Grande Vertu de Sagess
e, by E. Lamotte,”
 East and West 
, n.s., 22, nos.3-4, 1972, 367. In regard to the problem as to how many N
ā
g
ā
rjunas there are, see Ian Mabbett, “The Problem of the Historical N
ā
g
ā
rjuna Revisited,”
 Journal of the American Oriental Society
 118.3, 1998, 332-347; Jan Yun-hua, “N
ā
g
ā
rjuna, One or More?”
 History of Religions
 10, 1970, 139-155. 6 K. Venkata Ramanan,
 N 
ā
 g 
ā
rjuna’s Philosophy
 (Varanasi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, 1971), 13.

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