Scholars differ in their opinions on the features, author, record, editions and the age of popularity of Dafangbianfo Bao’en Jing whose translator was unknown and which was affiliated to the Buddhist sutra catalogue of Eastern Han Dynasty. Some argued that it was a fake Buddhist sutra. Others claimed that it was a translated Buddhist sutra, but the translation was not done in Eastern Han Dynasty. In this paper, we try to verify its age by analyzing 12 Buddhist terms. According to the studies of Lou Yulie, the term “Arya Avalokiteshvara (观世音菩萨)” appeared for the first time in the translations of the famous Buddha Kumarajiva living in Later Qin Dynasty. The detailed information of the other eleven Buddhist terms is as follows: Some of them appeared for the first time in the translated versions during or after Eastern Jin Dynasty, such as “mahākaru ā (大悲愿)”,“Sazhe Niqian (萨遮尼乾)”，“Tianbaohua (天宝花/华)”, “incalculable kalpâsa khyeya (无量百千万亿阿僧祇劫)” which was an idiom used to describe an extremely long period of time，and “an arrow's flight (一箭道)”, a length unit in Buddhist sutras. “Bu Qing You (不请友)” appeared in the Buddhist sutras written by native Chinese after Eastern Jin Dynasty. The ten kinds of concrete names----“Buddha (如来)”, “Bhujiya (应供)”, “Samyak-sa buddha(正遍知)”, “Vidyā-cara a-sa panna (明行足)”, “Svaya -bhū (善逝)”, “Lokavid (世間解)”, “Sattva-sāra (无上士)”, “Purua-damaka (调御丈夫)”,“Nara-nāyaka (天人師)” and “Bhagavat (佛世尊)”----which were the same as the ten names of Buddha in Dafangbianfo Bao’en Jing appeared for the first time in the translations of Eastern Jin Dynasty and were frequently used especially in Kumarajiva’s translations. Apart from Dafangbianfo Bao’en Jing, the term “Sanzang Jiubu (三藏九部)” appeared in the Buddhist sutras written by native Chinese after the Northern and Southern Dynasties. “The Palace of Shishi (释氏宫)”, where Sakyamuni lived, first appeared in Kumarajiva’s translations in the Later Qin Dynasty but became “Shishi Jingshe (释氏精舍)” in Eastern Han Dynasty. “Siweituo (四围陀)” is found in the translations of Later Qin Dynasty. “Tianbao Xiang (天宝香)” and “Tianbaohua” were the offerings that Buddhists contributed to the Buddha. “Xiang (香)”, “Tianxiang (天香)”, “Hua (花/华)” and “Tianhua (天花/华)” were used only in the Buddhist sutras of Eastern Han Dynasty, with “Tianbaohuaxiang (天宝花香)” first appearing in the Buddhist sutras of the Three-Kingdom period. In the translations of Eastern Han and Three-Kingdom periods, only “Wugai (五盖)”, the first part of “Wugai Shichan (五盖十缠)” was used, and “Shichan (十缠)” first appeared in the translations of Later Qin Dynasty, with the combination “Wugai Shichan” appearing for the first time in the Kšantiqïlyuluqnombitig of Southern Liang Dynasty. These twelve Buddhist terms show that Dafangbianfo Bao’en Jing was not written in Eastern Han. If it is a translation, it should be done after Eastern Jin Dynasty. Special attention should be paid to the terms “Sanzang Jiubu (三藏九部)” and “Wugai Shichan (五盖十缠)”. Their credible examples were all found after Song of Southern Dynasties. We can draw the conclusion that Dafangbianfo Bao'en Jing was a Buddhist sutra whose age of compilation was very close to Chusanzangji Ji (between the year 510 A.D. and 518 A.D.) and Jinglu Yixiang (in the year 516 A.D.). Thus it is really odd that its translator was unknown. Meanwhile, apart from the use in Dafangbianfo Bao’en Jing, the term “Wugai Shichan” only appeared in Buddhist literature written by native Chinese. According to the above analysis, we arrive at the tentative conclusion that this sutra was written by native Chinese Buddhists, and was not a translated version.
方一新 高列过. 从佛教词语考辨《大方便佛报恩经》的时代[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 2012, 42(3): 139-147.
Fang Yixin Gao Lieguo. A Textual Study on the Age of Dafangbianfo Bao'en Jing Based on Some Buddhist Terms. , 2012, 42(3): 139-147.