How were the Mongolian versions of The Lotus Sutra transmitted?
(55th Meeting, 2012)
Full texts of the Mongolian version of Saddharmapuṇḍarīka or The Lotus Sutra available at present can be dated back as early as the 18th century. It is stated in the colophon of the oldest one、a Peking xylograph PLB16, that Erdeni mergen dayičing tayiǰi revised the original by Chos kyi ’od zer in view of another translation by Samdan sengge. Erdeni mergen dayičing tayiǰi and Samdan senge are counted among active monks in the late 16th century and the early 17th century, namely at the time of the second introduction of Buddhism and also Chos kyi ’od zer was well-known as a highly learned monk of the 14th century, that is, at the time of the first introduction. It has been shown definitely, however, that the colophon is not worth trusting; the revision is so half-hearted that we find not only errors too careless for us to believe that Chos kyi ’od zer had committed but also archaic forms which were so obsolete then that careful revisers would not fail to overlook. In fact, the lines of two fragments of the 24th chapter (of the Chinese version or the 25th chapter of the Tibetan version) of this work, excavated at Turfan, which can be estimated as handwritings of the 14th century, do not coincide with any lines of this works at our disposal. It can be supposed that this work had been firstly translated into Mongolian based on the original, not Tibetan but presumably Uighur, and later, probably in the late 16th century or the early 17th century, this early original translation, now missing, was so remolded as if it were based on the Tibetan original. In this paper this hypothesis will be verified.