Humane King Sutra
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The Humane King Sutra (Chinese: 仁王經; pinyin: rén wáng jīng; Japanese: 仁王経; rōmaji: Ninnō-gyō; Korean: 인왕경; romaja: inwang-gyeong; Vietnamese: Kinh Hộ Quốc) is found in Taisho No. 245 and 246. Many scholars have suspected this sutra to be composed in China but not all scholars agree with this viewpoint.: 83–86 [note 1] There are two versions: the first is called the Humane King Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (仁王般若波羅蜜經), while the second is called the Humane King State-Protection Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (仁王護國般若波羅蜜經), more idiomatically the Prajnaparamita Scripture for Humane Kings Who Wish to Protect their States. Both sutras are found in the prajnaparamita section of the Taisho Tripitaka.
This sutra is unusual in the fact that its target audience, rather than being either lay practitioners or the community of monks and nuns, is the rulership (i.e. monarchs, presidents, prime ministers, etc.). Thus, for example, where the interlocutors in most scriptures are arhats or bodhisattvas, the discussants in this text are the kings of the sixteen ancient regions of India. The foregrounded teachings, rather than being meditation and wisdom, are "humaneness" and "forbearance" or "ksanti", these being the most applicable religious values for the governance of a Buddhist state. Hence today in some Chinese temples, the sutra is used during prayers on behalf of the government and the country.
A second translation from a Sanskrit text was carried out a few centuries after the appearance of the original version, by the monk Amoghavajra (Bukong 不空), one of the most important figures in the Chinese Esoteric tradition, as well as a patriarch in the Shingon school of Japan. This second version of the text (仁王護國般若波羅蜜經, T 246.8.834-845) is similar to the original version (仁王般若波羅蜜經, T 245.8.825-834), the translation of which was attributed to Kumārajīva, but it contains new sections that include teachings on mandala, mantra, and dhāraṇī.
One theme of the sutra is impermanence. A passage which is popular in Japan is the four-character expression (yojijukugo) "the prosperous inevitably decline" (盛者必衰, jōshahissui), which in full reads "The prosperous inevitably decline, the full inevitably empty" (盛者必衰、実者必虚, jōsha hissui, jissha hikkyo), and is analogous to sic transit gloria mundi in the West. This is famously quoted in the first line of The Tale of the Heike, whose latter half reads: "the color of the sāla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline." (沙羅雙樹の花の色、盛者必衰の理を顯す, sharasōju no hana no iro, jōshahissui no kotowari wo arawasu).
There are two classical Chinese translations extant:
- the 仁王護國般若波羅蜜經 Renwang Huguo Bore Boluomi Jing (trans. by Kumārajīva in 410-412).
- the 仁王護國般若波羅蜜多經 Renwang Huguo Bore Boluomiduo Jing (trans. by Amoghavajra in 765-766). Amogavajra translated the mantras.
- Yang p.85 said :
'Firstly in Huili's Records of the Tang Dynasty Tripitaka Master of the Great Ci'en Monastery it states that Xuanzang (602-664 CE) was requested by the King of Gaochang to give a Dharma Teaching based on the Humane King Sutra thereby implying the Humane King Sutra was known outside China'
Yang p. 83-85 said :
'there were altogether four translations - two of which were lost; none of the translations were suspected to be apocryphal in the traditional catalogs - only to have unknown translators'
Yang p.86 said :
'the records regarding the translation by Amoghavajra clearly states he worked from a Sanskrit text'
- Yang 2016
- Orzech 2002, p. 63
- Chapter 1.1, Helen Craig McCullough's translation
- "Taisho Tripitaka Vol. 8, No. 245, CBETA". Archived from the original on 2005-03-07. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- Orzech 1989, p.18
- "Taisho Tripitaka Vol. 8, No. 246, CBETA". Archived from the original on 2005-03-07. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- Orzech 1989, p.18
- On the Chinese Transcriptions of Northeastern Eurasian Languages
- Conze, Edward (1974). The Short Prajnaparamita Texts. [esp. The Sutra on Perfect Wisdom Which Explains How Benevolent Kings May Protect Their Countries] pp. 165-183. ISBN 0946672288
- Orzech, Charles D. (1989). Puns on the Humane King: Analogy and Application in an East Asian Apocryphon, Journal of the American Oriental Society 109 /1, 17-24
- Orzech, Charles D. Politics and Transcendent Wisdom: The Scripture for Humane Kings in the Creation of Chinese Buddhism. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008. ISBN 027102836X
- Orzech, Charles D. (2002). Metaphor, Translation, and the Construction of Kingship in The Scripture for Humane Kings and the Mahāmāyūrī Vidyārājñī Sūtra, Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 13, 55-83
- Yang, Weizhong (杨维中) (2016). 《仁王般若经》的汉译及其“疑伪”之争 [The Chinese Translation of 'The Humane King Perfection of Wisdom Sutra' and Arguments Regarding its Suspicious or Apocryphal [Origins]'] (in Chinese). 7. Journal of Southwest University - Humanities and Social Sciences Edition. pp. 81–86.
- Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (log in with userID "guest")