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The Inquiry of Jayamati

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’phags pa rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa’i mdo

The Inquiry of Jayamati


’phags pa rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa’i mdo zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo

The Mahāyāna sūtra called “The Inquiry of Jayamati”


Summary The sūtra is introduced with the Buddha residing in Anāthapiṇḍada in Jeta Wood in Śrāvastī together with a great assembly of monks and a great multitude of bodhisattvas. The Buddha then addresses the bodhisattva Jayamati and instructs him on nineteen moral prescriptions and indicates the corresponding effects of practicing these prescriptions when they are cultivated.


Translation by the University of Calgary Buddhist Studies team. This sūtra was introduced and translated by James B. Apple.

This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha [ ].


At first glance, the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra (“The Sūtra of the Inquiry of Jayamati” appears to be a short Mahāyāna sūtra preserved in Tibetan Kanjurs,1 preserved in a recently published transcribed Sanskrit manuscript (Vinītā 2010, Vol I,2: 305-316). However, despite appearances, the

Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra in fact has an intertextual relationship, previously unrecognized, as part of the Śūraṃgamasamādhisūtra (“The Concentration of Heroic Progress”) (Apple 2015). The Sanskrit version of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra is preserved as the eighth sūtra among twenty sūtras contained in a

unique, yet incomplete, manuscript collection recovered from the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The Sanskrit edition is divided into three paragraphs with section numbers. We have retained the section numbers in the following translation of the Tibetan version. The Tibetan version of the

Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra exists in twelve available Tibetan exemplars that date initially from the late eighth to mid-ninth century, beginning with the Dunhuang IOL Tib J 75 exemplar, up through the vulgate editions of handwritten and printed Kanjur manuscripts which date from the thirteenth to the

eighteenth centuries. The Inquiry of Jayamati is listed in two early ninth century Tibetan catalogs of the Lhan kar ma catalog (§236; Herrmann-Pfandt 2008: 124) and the Dkar chag ’phang thang ma (Rdo 2003:18) as the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra (rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa) in eleven ślokas.

The late thirteenth century catalog of the Tibetan Bka’ gdam pa master Dar ma rgyal mtshan (1227-1305), commonly known as Bcom ldan ral gri, lists the sūtra as Jayamatiparipṛcchā (rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa) in eleven ślokas (Schaeffer and van der Kuijp 2009:133). A listing of texts appended to the History

of Buddhism in India and Its Spread to Tibet by Bu ston Rin chen grub (1290-1364) also records the work as the Jayamatiparipṛcchā (rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa) in eleven ślokas.2 These catalog lists match the Tibetan title of the sūtra that is found in a marginal note above line one of the Sanskrit

manuscript of the Jayamatiparipṛcchā as ’phags pa rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa’i mdo ste brgyad par rdzogs so (Vinīta Vinītā 2010:314, note α). However, among vulgate Kanjurs, the Tshal pa editions of Cone (C), Derge (D), Jang sa tham (J), Peking (Q), the independent Kanjurs of Phu brag (F, F2),

and the Gondlha (Go) proto-Kanjur give the title as the Jayamati-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra (blo gros zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo), “The Mahāyāna Sūtra which is called ‘Jayamati’,” while only the Kanjurs of the Thems spang ma line of London (L) and Stogs Palace (S), as well as the mixed Kanjur of Narthang

(N), give the title as Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra, “The Inquiry of Jayamati.” None of the available Tibetan editions have a colophon that lists the translators of the sūtra. Analysis of the Sanskrit and Tibetan versions indicate that they preserve different nidāna or prologues. The Sanskrit version

has the Bhagavān residing at Vulture’s Peak in Rājagrḥa with a great company of one thousand, two hundred and fifty monks while the Tibetan version has the Bhagavān residing at the grove of Anāthapiṇḍada in Jeta Wood in Śrāvastī together with a great assembly of monks and a great multitude of bodhisatvas.3 Vinītā’s study (2010, Volume I,1, p.

1 On the necessity of employing the plural “Kanjurs” as opposed to “the Kanjur,” see the work of Peter Skilling 1995, 2009, 2013. 2 Nishioka 1980:74, §277. See Van der Kuijp (2013) for an analysis of this work’s textual formation and transmission. 3 We follow the Buddhist Sanskrit spelling of

‘bodhisatva’ with a single rather than a double ‘t’ as found in manuscripts and inscriptions as the latter is a convention of modern editors. See Gouriswar Bhattacharya, “How to note a) also notes that the conclusions differ between the Sanskrit and Tibetan versions. The different accounts between the Sanskrit

and Tibetan versions of the introductory settings and formulaic conclusions may well indicate that this brief sūtra was redacted in a manner similar to the Mūlasarvāstivāda monastic rules of “How to make up a sūtra” (Schopen 2004). This is based on the fact that all Tibetan versions of the sūtra give Śrāvastī

as the setting, the favored location for a redacted text among the Mūlasarvāstivāda, according to Gregory Schopen’s recent analysis.4 The immediately apparent difference between the Sanskrit version and Tibetan version is that the edited Tibetan contains nineteen prescriptions rather than fourteen given

in the Sanskrit. In the following translation, the third and fourth prescriptions in the Tibetan are in inverse order compared with the Sanskrit. Notably, the eighth prescription in the Tibetan version discusses knowledge (ye shes ≈ jñāna) while the Sanskrit version has dhyāna (≈ bsam gtan). Classical

philological and phylogenetic textual analysis of the available Tibetan exemplars of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra indicates there are four lines of textual relations grouped within the (I.) Tshal pa (C, D, J, N, Q, Y) line, (II.) Thems spang ma (L, S) line, (III.) Dunhuang (M) and Phug brag (F, F2)

manuscripts, and (IV.) Western Kanjurs lines (Go). Textual analysis also indicates two recensions of the sūtra, with the Dunhuang exemplar and the two Phug brag exemplars, each containing sixteen prescriptions, representing one textual recension, while the Gondlha ProtoKanjur and vulgate Kanjurs represent

another textual recension. The Dunhuang and Phug brag exemplars may represent early, but incomplete, Tibetan translations of the sūtra. Be that as it may, the doctrinal content of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra, including all nineteen prescriptions found among vulgate Tibetan Kanjurs, is actually contained

within the much older version of Kumārajīva’s early fifth century Chinese Śūraṃgamasamādhisūtra (hereafter Śgs), the Shoulengyan sanmei jing 首楞嚴三昧經 (Taishō. no.642, 15), as well as the later ninth century Tibetan Śgs, the ’Phags pa dpa’ bar ’gro ba’i ting nge ’dzin zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo.

This intertextual relation between the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra and Śgs has not been noticed before by traditional Buddhist scholars nor by modern scholars in the Study of Buddhism. An English version of the corresponding content with the Śgs is located in section 153 of Étienne Lamotte’s translation

(1965:255-6; 1998:225-6) entitled by Lamotte as “Why and How to Practice the Heroic Progress.” Kumārajīva’s Chinese version and the Tibetan version of the Śgs, translated by Śākyaprabha and Ratnarakṣita, closely match the syntax and terminology found in the Tibetan version of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra,

despite several minor differences in wording (Apple, forthcoming). Although there is a direct correspondence in content between the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra and this section of the Śgs, a significant difference between the two sūtras is who is speaking the prescribed content. In the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra the prescriptions are being

Justify the Spelling of the Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Term Bodhisatva?,” in Eli Franco and Monika Zin (eds.), From Turfan to Ajanta: Festschrift for Dieter Schlingloff on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday, Rupandehi: Lumbini International Research Institute, 2010, Vol. II, pp. 35–50. 4 As detailed by

Schopen (2004: 397), narrative elements appear to carry great weight for some scholars but “we know next to nothing for certain about how early texts were redacted and transmitted.” (Ibid, page 399) “The rules for redaction in the Mūla-Sarvāstivāda Vinaya “clearly favor Śrāvastī” as the setting.” Both

Rājagṛha and Śrāvastī are among the six great cities recommended as a location if the setting is forgotten. Schopen provides analysis of occurences noting that Gokhale records a seventy-percent occurrence of Sāvatthi in Pāli texts, Minh Chang records forty-five percent occurrence in the Chinese Madhyama-

āgama, and Schopen himself estimates a eighty-percent occurrence rate for Śrāvastī in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya. Currently known redaction rules applied to sūtras therefore overly place the location in Śrāvastī.

delivered by the Buddha to the bodhisatva Jayamati. On the other hand, the Śgs attributes the prescriptions to Jayamati. After Jayamati proclaims the nineteen prescriptions in the Śgs, the Buddha responds to Jayamati, corresponding to section 154 of Lamotte’s Śgs translation (1998:226-7), with a

proclamation advocating the practice of the Śūraṃgamasamādhi, emphasizing how this samādhi encompasses and goes beyond the qualities that the bodhisatva Jayamati had declared. The correspondence between the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra and this section of the Śgs brings up a number of interesting questions related to philology, intertextuality, and other cultural practices in the study of Mahāyāna sūtras. Based on the analysis of these sūtras, the stemma

codicum for the content of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra, due to its being incorporated into the Śgs, pushes the inferred archetype or oldest inferable ancestor of this sūtra back before the fifth century of Kumārajīva. How do we know this? The content of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra was wholly subsumed and inverted from the Buddha’s speech to represent the bodhisatva Jayamati’s proclamation, including all nineteen prescriptions in the Śgs. This means that

the content of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra must precede the composition of this section of the Śgs. Most modern scholars theorize that the Śgs is one of the oldest Mahāyāna sūtras (Lamotte 1998:41) due to its listing in Chinese catalogs as being translated several times before Kumārajīva’s fifth century Chinese version, including the non-extant second century Shoulengyan jing 首楞嚴經 of Lokakṣema 支讖 (185 c.e.) and the lost third century translation of

Zhi Qian 支謙. 5 Although we are unable to verify the content of these early, but lost, Chinese versions to include the section that corresponds with the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra, we can still infer that the content of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra with its nineteen prescriptions must go back to the fourth century. It is highly probable that the content of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra circulated as a type of subhāṣita or set of well-spoken sayings for monks

who took up the vocation6 of Mahāyāna practices. In sum, the evidence of relationships between the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra and Śgs brings a nuanced awareness to the intertextual relationships between Mahāyāna sūtras. This evidence indicates that the authorial communities that composed and compiled “Mahāyāna” texts during the Kuṣāṇa and Gupta eras in South Asia were aware of each other’s work and that there were shared elements between authorial

communities of different “Mahāyāna” sūtras. The subsumption of the Jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra into the Śgs also provides a rare glimpse of something more. It points toward the editorial practices utilized by the authors of Mahāyāna sūtras to gain rhetorical advantage over competitors. The shared content

demonstrates that the authorial communities of these sūtras were not only borrowing each other’s ideas, stock phrases, and literary tropes, but were actively competing to demonstrate that their vision of the bodhisatva way superseded the practices and motivations outlined by other groups.

See Sylvie Hureau, “Buddhist Rituals” (2010:1224) and Jan Nattier 2008:75. 6 On the notion of early Mahāyāna formations as an optional and legitimate vocation, or particular lifestyle, within Buddhist communities see Nattier (2003:84-86) and Skilton (2002:134).

The Translation

The Inquiry of Jayamati

Homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas!

§1 [f.250b3] Thus I have heard at one time. The Bhagavān was residing at the grove of Anāthapiṇḍada in Jeta Wood in Śrāvastī together with a great assembly of monks and a great multitude of bodhisatvas. Then, the Bhagavān addressed the bodhisatva Jayamati:

Jayamati, a faithful man or woman of a good family

who desires merits should worship the Tathāgata;

who desires discernment should be devoted to learning;

who desires heavenly rebirth should uphold their moral conduct;

who desires wealth should increase their charity;

who desires beauty should cultivate patience; (6) who desires eloquence should pay respect to the guru;

who desires memory should not have excessive pride;

who desires knowledge should frequently practice appropriate mindfulness;

who desires liberation should abstain from all evil; (10) who desires to make all beings happy should generate the mind for awakening;

who desires a sweet voice should speak truthfully;

who desires virtuous qualities should take joy in solitude;

who desires the Dharma should attend to the spiritual friend;

who desires quiescience should frequently practice no contact with others;

who desires insight should frequently examine things as empty;

who desires [rebirth in] the world of Brahmā should cultivate love, compassion, joy, and equanimity;

who desires the abundant resources of gods and humans should behave in conformity with the path of ten virtuous actions;

who desires complete nirvāṇa should take joy in empty dharmas;

who desires to obtain all virtuous qualities should worship the Three Jewels.

§3 The Bhagavān having said this, the bodhisatva mahāsatva Jayamati, the complete assembly, and the world with its gods, humans, demigods and gandharvas rejoiced and highly praised what had been proclaimed by the Bhagavān.

The Noble Mahāyāna sūtra called “Inquiry of Jayamati” is completed.

7 The translation follows Vinītā’s (2010:57, 459) observation for kulaputra (as well as kuladuhitā) that –putra in the latter part of a compound does not mean ‘son’ but indicates a ‘member’ of a class or group.


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mdo sde, sa 257b7-258b3 (vol. 82); (Go)Gondhla Collection, Ka-Na 200b1-Ka-Ma 1a2 (Vol. 13); (J) Lithang Kanjur, mdo sde, tsa 282a3282b5 (vol. 56); (L) London Kanjur, mdo sde, za 7b4-8b1 (vol. 52); (M) IOL Tib J 75; (N)Narthang Kanjur, mdo sde, ba 403b3-404b3 (vol. 61); (Q) Peking Kanjur, mdo sna tshogs,

mu 260b5-261a6 (vol.34, p.232); (S) Stog Palace Kanjur, mdo sde, za 6b2-7b1 (vol. 73); (Y) Readings of the Yongle Kanjur found in Dpe bsdur ma Kanjur, p.681-683 deb re gcig pa/ (mdo sde/ tsa). Śūraṃgamasamādhināmamahāyānasūtra. Shoulengyan sanmei jing 首楞嚴三昧經 (Taishō. no.642, 15) translated by Kumārajīva (402-412 c.e.). ’Phags pa dpa’ bar ’gro ba’i ting nge ’dzin zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo. Tôh. no. 132. Dergé Kanjur, vol. DA, folios 253v.5-316v.6. Tr. by Śākyaprabha and Ratnarakṣita. See Lamotte 1998.

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