October/November Update

Since my last update, I’ve been focusing on translating Chinese parallels to MN 12.

T757 Hair-Raising Joy

This is the complete parallel to MN 12 that we have in Chinese. It’s clearly a later version of the same sutra preserved in Pali. The two texts have almost identical structures with only a couple substitutions like the nine successive concentrations in T757 instead of the psychic powers in MN 12. Aside from a couple variations like these, T757 is essentially an expanded version of MN 12. Despite the fact that MN 12 has a different title, both versions include the “naming of the sutra” section at the end and agree that it’s a hair-raising discourse.

EĀ 27.6 Four Kinds of Fearlessness

The four kinds of fearlessness became closely associated with the ten powers of the Tathāgata in later texts, but we can find independent sutras like this one that present this list by itself. The direct parallel for this sutra is AN 4.8 in Pali. This version is very similar to the Pali list except for the third item, though the upshot is similar in both sutras.

EĀ 31.8 The Bodhisattva’s Austerities

This is an interesting sutra because it appears to be the source of some of the material we find in larger sutras like MN 12, MN 36, and T757. It collects together various stories about the extreme austerities the Buddha had practice prior to discovering the right way to enlightenment. Many of these stories, like exposing himself to extreme weather, eating cattle dung, and nearly starving himself to death with an extended fast reappear in MN 12 and T757. It also includes the story of the Buddha finally achieving awakening, which is included in T757 but not MN 12.

EĀ 46.4 The Ten Powers

This is the Ekôttarika version of the ten powers list as an independent sutra. It’s direct parallel in Pali is AN 10.21, although it lacks the simile of the lion at the start. I plan to create a comparative table of various versions of the ten powers when I have more versions translated, but a pattern has already emerged that I wrote about on SC’s forum. Most versions agree completely on the first two and last three powers, but the five powers in the middle are all different. This suggests to me that the Tathāgata’s powers began as five and then later were expanded to ten. Each Buddhist tradition seems to have a different version of those added powers.

EĀ 50.6 Knowledge of Rebirth

This is another EĀ sutra that’s surprising in that it presents a large chunk of what we find in MN 12 and T757 about the knowledge of rebirth as an independent sutra. It includes Nirvāṇa as a non-destination of rebirth as a contrast to the five forms of rebirth. We also find the parables illustrating how rebirth is directly observed by the Buddha in remarkable agreement with what is included in MN 12 and T757. Clearly, then, this section of MN 12 had circulated as an independent text.

SĀ 612 (7.10) The Archer

The simile of the archer shooting at the shadow of a tree is found in this brief SĀ sutra, which is about how the Buddha’s teachings are endless without anything to block them, like that archer’s arrow. This simile was included in MN 12 and T757. In T757, though, the same story has evolved into something almost unrecognizable about the disciples of the previous Buddhas of the present kalpa.

SĀ 684 (11.41) The Tathāgata and the Arhat

This is the SĀ version of the ten powers. Again, we see the pattern I mentions earlier, but the five middle powers do match fairly well to the Theravada list (but in a different order). We see here another example of how close the Theravada and Sarvâstivāda canonical lineages were. Another interesting thing about this sutra is that the ten powers are offered as a direct contrast to the five training powers that are part of the 37 factors of the path.

SĀ 701 (11.58) The Ten Powers

This sutra repeats the ten powers we find in SA 684 (as an abbreviation). It’s a simpler presentation that’s a direct parallel to AN 10.21.

I also translated the second chapter of EĀ, which covers the ten recollections. These ten sutras are direct parallels to the ten recollection suttas found at AN 1.296-305 in a slightly different order.

Lastly, I translated a few other SĀ sutras when time allowed, including:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s