Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra

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The Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra (T. Da ltar gyi sangs rgyas mngon sum du bzhugs pa’i ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo; C. Banzhou sanmei jing 般舟三昧經) is an early Mahayana sutra, on the topic of Amitābha and his buddha-field (buddhakṣetra) of Sukhavati.

The full title for this text is Pratyutpannabuddha Saṃmukhāvasthita Samādhi Sūtra (T. Da ltar gyi sangs rgyas mngon sum du bzhugs pa’i ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo), which translates to, "Sūtra on the Samādhi for Encountering Face-to-Face the Buddhas of the Present".[1]

Wisdom Library (wisdomlib.org) states:

A vision of the Buddhas ... is set forth in the Pratyutpannabuddha-saṃmukhāvasthitasamādhisūtra, in Tibetan Da ltar gyi saṅs rgyas mṅon sum du bzhugs paḥI tiṅ ṅe ḥdzin (“the concentration of being face to face with the Buddhas of the present”). This sūtra is often designated under the abbreviated title of Pratyutapannasamādhi or also Bhadrapālasūtra because the bodhisattva thus named is the principal interlocutor of the Buddha. This sūtra is known to us by Sanskrit fragments coming from eastern Turkestan, by four Chinese versions and one Tibetan translation.
This [text] is one of the oldest Mahāyāna sūtras. According to one conjecture, it may have been the manual of early Buddhists during the early Mahāyāna period (50–100AD). It is well known to the Chinese and Japanese Buddhists because it refers to worship of the Buddha Amitābha. The assembly where this sūtra was preached was simple, consisting only of 500 bhikṣus and 500 bodhisattvas: this shows that the sūtra goes back to the first days of the Mahāyāna.[2]

This text probably originated between the 1st century BCE and 2nd century CE in the Gandhara area of northwestern India.

This text is one of a group of samādhi sūtras within the Mahayana tradition.

History

The Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra was first translated into Chinese by the Kushan Buddhist monk Lokaksema in 179 CE, at the Han capital of Luoyang.[3] This translation, together with the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñāpāramitā, is one of the earliest historically datable texts of the Mahayana tradition.

In 2018, the discovery of fragments of a birch bark manuscript in the Gāndhārī language and written in Kharoṣṭhī script[4] was announced by scholars Paul Harrison, Timothy Lenz, and Richard Salomon, who wrote regarding the dating of the manuscript:

In conclusion, the fragments of the PraS (Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra) clearly date from the middle period of Gāndhārī/Kharoṣṭhī documents, but as usual a more specific date cannot be proposed with any significant accuracy. The fragments could date from the first or second centuries CE, or possibly even from the first century BCE, since Gāndhārī manuscripts with similar characteristics have been dated by radiocarbon tests to BCE dates.[5]

The post-script of the same paper notes that as the article went to press, scholar Mark Allon brought to the authors' attention "another set of birch-bark fragments, possibly from the same scroll or set of scrolls, containing a large section of Chapter 9 of the PRaS,"[6], which the authors state will be included in a follow-up article in the future.

Contents

The Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra contains the first known mentions of the Buddha Amitābha and his pure land, said to be at the origin of Pure Land Buddhism in China:[7]

Bodhisattvas hear about the Buddha Amitābha and call him to mind again and again in this land. Because of this calling to mind, they see the Buddha Amitābha. Having seen him they ask him what dharmas it takes to be born in the realm of the Buddha Amitābha. Then the Buddha Amitābha says to these bodhisattvas: "If you wish to come and be born in my realm, you must always call me to mind again and again, you must always keep this thought in mind without letting up, and thus you will succeed in coming to be born in my realm.

References

  1. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Pratyutpannabuddhasaṃmukhāvasthitasamādhisūtra.
  2. Bhadrapālasūtra, wisdomlib.org
  3. Shinko Mochizuki, Leo M. Pruden, Trans.; Pure Land Buddhism in China: A Doctrinal History, Chapter 2: The Earliest Period; Chapter 3: Hui-yuan of Mt.Lu; and Chapter 4: The Translation of Texts-Spurious Scriptures. In: Pacific World Journal, Third Series Number 3, Fall 2001, p. 241 PDF
  4. Fragments of a Gāndhārī Manuscript of the Pratyutpannabuddhasaṃmukhāvasthitasamādhisūtra: (Studies in Gāndhārī Manuscripts 1) Harrison, Paul; Lenz, Timothy; Salomon, Richard. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, v.41 (2018), 117 - 143 [1]
  5. Fragments of a Gāndhārī Manuscript of the Pratyutpannabuddhasaṃmukhāvasthitasamādhisūtra: (Studies in Gāndhārī Manuscripts 1) Harrison, Paul; Lenz, Timothy; Salomon, Richard. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, v.41 (2018), p. 123 [2]
  6. Fragments of a Gāndhārī Manuscript of the Pratyutpannabuddhasaṃmukhāvasthitasamādhisūtra: (Studies in Gāndhārī Manuscripts 1) Harrison, Paul; Lenz, Timothy; Salomon, Richard. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, v.41 (2018), p. 139 [3]
  7. Harrison, Paul. McRae, John. The Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra and the Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra. 1998. pp. 2–3, 19


Sources

External links

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