The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

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Coëmgenu
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The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:39 pm

This is a thread for gathering information on both antique and innovative elements that can be found in the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra.

Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:57 pm
Minobu wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:23 pm
There are scholars that have ....{i am no expert in this and this is like foggy layman interpretation from stuff i read}....written that it is impossible for Sakyamuni buddha to have taught the Lotus sutra for it is in a language , pali or sanskrit or something that was not of the buddha...Some say it was written totally by some Persian dude....

I don't think any serious scholars would ever argue, knowing it is a foolhardy thesis, that the Lotus Sūtra is the fabrication of a single man, be he Buddhist, a Persian Buddhist, or a Persian Non-Buddhist, or any woman for that matter. It is definitely a Buddhist text. It is definitely a Mahāyāna sūtra. It also shows signs of extreme antiquity. It has dhāraṇī in Māgadhī Prākrit, a very old layer of language.

It also shows signs of elaboration. Things like descriptions of the Buddha's Pure Land and descriptions of places, locales, etc., for instance, become lengthened over time. This is only one thing that pops to mind, as I can look for the source immediately I think.

It's ultimately up to us to determine if it is plausible that the Buddha gave some sermon like this towards the end of his life. Some people think it is completely implausible that the 'historical' Buddha ever taught bodhisattvayāna at all.

It also begs the question: who is the Buddha, what is the Buddha? Once that is established, then "what is the Buddha's word" can be asked.

IMO
Another curious point of the Lotus Sūtra, pointing to antiquity, is this explanation given for the term "pratyekabuddhaḥ", from the Nepalese LS, it can be found in Ch 3, the Aupamyaparivartaḥ:
ātmaparinirvāṇahetorhetupratyayānubodhāya tathāgataśāsane ‘bhiyujyante, ta ucyante pratyekabuddhayānam ākāṅkṣamāṇās
those who apply themselves to the Tathāgata’s teachings in order to understand causes and conditions to reach
complete extinction of the self
It seems to loosely correspond with 樂獨善寂深知諸法因緣 in the Chinese, but I am looking closer.

Notice the little hetupratyaya in the explanation. This is in reference to the very old ambiguities between pratyekabuddhaḥ (lone buddha) and pratyayabuddhaḥ (cause buddha).
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः
उत्पन्नाजातुविद्यन्तेभावाःक्वचनकेचन

Sentient Light
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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Sentient Light » Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:50 pm

This recent paper by Seishi Karashima I think effectively proves that the latest stratum of the Lotus Sutra, and specifically the description of the stupa that rises out of the earth, was composed in Gandhara, probably sometime in the 2nd century BCE: https://www.academia.edu/36301355/A_Gan ... otus_Sutra

It's a pretty kick-ass paper and a jaw-dropping analysis of a Gandharan stupa and its relationship to the Lotus.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
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Fortyeightvows
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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:47 am

I don't have an account for that website above, but I'm sure the author there references the work of Professor Salomon who proposes that the gandhari language was replaced by the Sanskrit language. One possible reason he gives for this is that because india and that region had so many different languages, that the buddhists wanted to standardize so that they could communicate.
He uses examples from the lotus sutra to show that many of the early chinese translations were translations of ghandari rather than sanskrit. It is quite convincing.

Some of this is ironic as there is a well known story which is contained in the vinaya of all the schools where two brahmins asked if they should translate the techings into sanskrit and the buddha said no, they should use the common language of the people.

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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:13 am

And I think alot of this stuff will inevitable come back to the stupa cult vs. book cult debate. Proponents of both arguments seem to love to cite the lotus sutra to support their position. Gombrich seems to take the position that the use of writing gave rise to the mahayana.
Gregory Shoepan showed that many stupa donors were actually monks and supports the book cult idea.

On the other hand, the stupa cult and the idea that mahayana had it's beginnings as a laypeople movement I think is very convincing. All the biggest organizations today are a handfull of monastics and countless laypeople.

There will also be the whole 'forest hypothesis from people like Paul Harrison, Reggie Ray, Jan Nattier, etc. sometimes they cite primitive mahayana texts that empahsis asceticism. But the lotus sutra doesn't promote asceticism, so....

One thing I think is worth nothing is that the lotus sutra has so many passages about how the devotees will be mistreated or martyred.So many passages like this seem to suggest that the authors of the lotus sutra were in the minority at the time.

PS:
If you can get ahold of it, there was an article published by soka university in 2000 by Seishi Karashima called "who composed the Lotus Sutra? -antagonism between wilderness and village monks"
Last edited by Fortyeightvows on Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

Fortyeightvows
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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:15 am

I had posted this a while back, you will probably find it interesting:
viewtopic.php?f=53&t=28331

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:32 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:47 am
I don't have an account for that website above,
Academia.edu doesn't (AFAIK) publish anything new but people upload stuff to it from all over the place. That means that a bit of digging will often find you another source, not paywalled.
In this case, http://iriab.soka.ac.jp/content/pdf/ari ... (2018).pdf gets you a whole journal (do not click on the link if you have a slow or expensive connection!).
but I'm sure the author there references the work of Professor Salomon who proposes that the gandhari language was replaced by the Sanskrit language.
He doesn't, actually. It's a short paper and the focus is strictly on architectural ornamentation.
Karashima wrote:(1) Descriptions of the stūpa in the Lotus Sutra
At the beginning of the eleventh chapter of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka or the Lotus
Sutra, named Stūpasaṃdarśana “Manifestation of a Stūpa”, a stūpa suddenly appeared in the middle of Śākyamuni Buddha’s assembly while he was preaching the Lotus Sutra. In the stūpa, a body of a buddha of the past, namely Prabhūtaratna, was sitting. He came to praise Śākyamuni’s teaching of the Lotus Sutra. This stūpa as described in this chapter resembles the stūpas in Gandhāra, while differing from those in Central, South and the Eastern part of India.
Below, we shall see the descriptions of the stūpa found in the Sanskrit version. ...

(2) The stūpa in the Lotus Sutra agrees with those in Gandhāra
In the above-cited descriptions of the stūpa, we find a phrase “adorned with many
[O. hundreds of] thousands of arched-niches (toraṇa)” (KN 239.4f. bahutoraṇasahasraiḥ pratimaṇḍitaḥ; O. bahutoraṇaśatasahasrasupratimaṇḍitaṃ). The Sanskrit word toraṇa means usually “gate; arch”. However, the phrase “many hundreds of thousands of toraṇas” here does not mean gates outside a stūpa at the entrance from the four cardinal directions as seen in Bharhut, Sanchi etc. As Kumārajīva translated it as kanshi 龕室 meaning “arched-niche” (T. 9, no. 262, 32b19)7, toraṇa here must mean “arched-niche” made in the walls of each layer of a stūpa. As its upper part is arched, such a niche must have been called toraṇa as well.8 Stūpas with a large number of arched-niches can be seen in “Greater Gandhāra” (present-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan). ...
:namaste:
Kim

Fortyeightvows
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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:49 am

Thanks for that! I looked at that article a little. What a good idea to examine the description of the stupa! It seems he is looking at it differently and coming to a similar conclusion.

Sentient Light
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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Sentient Light » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:50 pm

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:49 am
Thanks for that! I looked at that article a little. What a good idea to examine the description of the stupa! It seems he is looking at it differently and coming to a similar conclusion.
I think it's been known since the late 90s/early 00s that a great deal of the earliest texts to be translated into Chinese were done from Gandhari Prakrit, rather than Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit as was originally thought. And there were already suspicions that part of the Lotus Sutra was composed in Gandhara; this archaeological study/comparison of an actual stupa in Gandhara to the descriptions in the Lotus Sutra is, to me, a confirmation of that hypothesis (Salomon was not the first to propose a Gandhari origin for the early Mahayana texts, but his work on the Gandhari texts recovered from the Bamiyan Buddhas has done a lot to confirm a Gandhari origin for many different texts, most notably the Prajnaparamita sutras and a few of the samadhi sutras).
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

Yuren
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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Yuren » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:11 pm

I read that it is believe originally Lotus was from chapter Expedient devices (2), to chapter (23? I think, "Entrusting)
And the subsequent chapter were later additions (chapters on various Bodhisattvas). Is there a consensus among scholars regarding this?

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Coëmgenu
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Re: The Antiquity and Novelty of the Lotus Sūtra

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Aug 19, 2018 11:16 pm

Well, the Karashima paper makes a good argument for the stūpasaṁdarśaṇaparivartaḥ Ch 11 being a Gāndhārī section, at the very least in its outward cosmetic description of Prabhūtaratnabuddha's stūpa
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः
उत्पन्नाजातुविद्यन्तेभावाःक्वचनकेचन

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