Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra – Tangut Manuscript

PrajnaparamitaFrom The Tangut Collection

Khara-khoto, 10th-13th century
Buddhist religious texts.
Institute of Oriental Manuscripts
Kozlov expedition 1909-1910.
BL #endangeredarchives @bl_eap

The Prajnaparamita Texts were composed in India between 100 BC and AD 600. They contain some of the most well known Buddhist texts such as Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā  (25,000 lines), Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā (8,000 lines), Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines, Heart Sutra, and Diamond Sutra. Perfect Wisdom: The Short Prajnaparamita. Published by Buddhist Publishing Group

The Tangut kingdom is one of the great lost civilisations of Asia. The kingdom, also known as Westen Xia, came to prominence in the 11th century and flourished until the early 13th century, when it was crushed by the armies of Genghis Khan. In that brief span, the Tanguts invented a new script, translated thousands of texts into their language, and pioneered the use of print technology, including moveable type. See more at: Tangut Manuscripts from St Petersburg

Infinite is the range and sphere of the perfection of wisdom. Just as the element of air has an infinite range and sphere, so has the perfection of wisdom.

The Buddha
The Questions of Suvikrantavikramin
Perfect Wisdom: The Short Prajnaparamita.
Published by Buddhist Publishing Group

Prajnaparamita Text

Saradvatiputra: Of what kind, O Lord, are the Bodhisattvas who have their range in these dharmas?

The Buddha: They are Bodhisattvas who do not apprehend dharma, much less no-dharma; who do not apprehend the path, much less the no-path; who do not apprehend or mind morality, much less immorality; who are unincluded in all the triple world, unincluded in the deceases and rebirths in all destinies and becomings; not bent on their bodies or lives, much less on outward objects; who have achieved the end of the stream of Samsara, have crossed the flood of the great becoming, have escaped from the great battle; it is of these Bodhisattvas, great beings, that this is the range and route in these dharmas.

The Questions of Suvikrantavikramin
Perfect Wisdom: The Short Prajnaparamita.
Published by Buddhist Publishing Group

Prajnaparamita text

Saradvatiputra: What is the mark of this perfection of wisdom?

The Buddha: Without mark is this perfection of wisdom. Just as the element of space and the element of air cannot be approached by the mark of the total reality of any dharma, just so the perfection of wisdom.

The Questions of Suvikrantavikramin
Perfect Wisdom: The Short Prajnaparamita.
Published by Buddhist Publishing Group

But at the time when the Bodhisattva in his meditation does not either develop or annihilate any dharma, then one speaks of his “having finished with the path” either developing nor annihilating all dharmas, he completely transcends any kind of development and reaches the sameness of dharma(s). In consequence a perception of the Path will no longer occur to him—how much less will he see the Path!

The Buddha
The Questions of Suvikrantavikramin
Perfect Wisdom: The Short Prajnaparamita.
Published by Buddhist Publishing Group

 Prajnaparamita text

The Buddha: How then, Manjusri, should the Tathagata be seen, revered and honoured?

Manjusri: Through the mode of Suchness (tathata) do I see the Tathagata, through the mode of nondiscrimination, in the manner of nonobservance. I see Him through the aspect of nonproduction, through the aspect of nonexistence. But Suchness does not attain (enlightenment) — thus do I see the Tathagata. Suchness does not become or cease to become — thus do I see the Tathagata. Suchness does not stand at any point or spot—thus do I see the Tathagata. Suchness is not past, future or present — thus do I see the Tathagata. Suchness is not brought about by duality or nonduality — thus do I see the Tathagata. Suchness is neither defiled nor purified — thus do I see the Tathagata. Suchness is neither produced nor stopped — thus do I see the Tathagata. In this way the Tathagata is seen, revered and honoured.

The Buddha: When you see this, Manjusri, what do you see?

Manjusri: When I see this, O Lord, I do not see anything, neither the production of a dharma nor its stopping.

Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines
Perfect Wisdom: The Short Prajnaparamita.
Published by Buddhist Publishing Group

Prajnaparamita Text

All those Buddhas who appear in the three periods of time, through having relied on the perfection of wisdom they fully awake to the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment. Therefore one should know the Prajnaparamita as the great spell, the spell of great knowledge, the utmost spell, the unequalled spell, allayer of all suffering, in truth—for what could go wrong? By the Prajnaparamita has this spell been delivered.

It runs like this:

GONE, GONE, GONE BEYOND, GONE
ALTOGETHER BEYOND, O WHAT AN AWAKENING,
ALL HAIL!

Heart of Perfect Wisdom, Short Form
Perfect Wisdom: The Short Prajnaparamita.
Published by Buddhist Publishing Group

Prajnaparamita text

Perfect Wisdom: Prajnaparamita TextsYou can buy a copy of Perfect Wisdom: The Short Prajnaparamita texts from:

The Book Depository for around £15 with free worldwide delivery. (The Book Depository is owned by Amazon.) Or Amazon.com for around $19.

Amazon Canada — Amazon Germany — Amazon Spain — Barnes & Noble — Amazon India — Amazon France

All prices are approximate.


Buddhist sutra Medium of original material: Concertina made of cotton paper. Writing uses gum ink. 27 x 12 cm

Preservation through digitisation of the Tangut collection at the Institute of Oriental Studies, St Petersburg Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences

The Institute of Oriental Studies holds 4,600 manuscripts and 3,765 block-prints in the Tangut language, the largest collection worldwide…

..This project will digitise the Tangut collection. These unique historical, literary, and administrative texts are of immense value for understanding Tangut language and culture. The metadata and images will be made freely available on the International Dunhuang Project database and websites in Russia, Britain, China, Germany and Japan. This will open the material to scholars worldwide, currently unable to study the materials firsthand due to distance and unsuitability of handling originals. High resolution digital images will help solve this problem. The manuscripts are very fragile, suffering from paper destruction and fungus lesion and there are currently no surrogate copies – they are unique documents. The 8365 Tangut manuscripts will require a minimum of 30-35,000 images – some are in scroll format requiring more than one shot, and the recto and verso of each item is always taken to ensure a complete archive.

Read more about this British Library project here.

 



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1 reply

  1. Gone, Gone, Gone, beyond Gone! The wisdom has risen and the Teacher got enlightenment. What more?

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