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Zichiji 資持記, also known as “Sifenlu shanfan buque xingshichao zichiji 四分律刪繁補闕行事鈔資持記” Wang, Xingyi


This entry aims to document Zichiji, a commentary of Dharmaguptaka Vinaya (Buddhist monastic rules) written by Yuanzhao (1048-1116). Zichiji is a secondary commentary based on a root commentary of Daoxuan’s (596-667) Sifenlü shanfan buque xingshichao (Xingshichao). Divided into 16 volumes, it is a complete commentary of Daoxuan’s original work, which is based on the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya. Like Xingshichao, Zichiji refers to various Vinaya-related texts and Buddhist materials and is intended to be used as a comprehensive guide to the Buddhist monastic way of living. Zichiji covers a wide range of monastic practices and management, such as ordination ritual, repentance ritual, funerary practices, daily management of the monastery, and the relationships with laypersons. Unlike Xingshichao, it includes valuable information on the Song Buddhist monasticism and Yuanzhao’s debate with other Vinaya masters in his time. In terms of the transmission history of the text, multiple historical sources record that Zichiji was canonized during the Southern Song period. However, we do not have a material copy of any Buddhist canon which contains this text. The current canonization of the Zichiji can only be traced to the modern compilation of Zokuzōkyō in 1902. The popularity of Zichiji is a symbolic mark for the beginning of an institutionalized Vinaya school in China. A litter earlier than Zichiji, Yunkan’s Huizhengji (not extant) was a parallel work circulated in the Northern Song. Yuanzhao and Yunkan demonstrated different interpretations of Daoxuan and the Vinaya. After the Yuan Dynasty, Zichiji, together with other commentaries written by Yuanzhao, did not survive in the continent. It has been preserved in multiple monastic libraries and archives in Japan, such as Otani University library, Seikado Bunko Library, and Kanazawa Library, and brought back to China in the modern period. The preservation of Zichiji bespeaks active Buddhist communication and exchange on the Vinaya between China, Korea, and Japan in the medieval period during the 12th-14th centuries. Exchange among different countries became possible together with the reopening of the maritime trade route interrupted by the end of the Tang and the period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. Zichiji was studied in Japan as one of the foundational commentaries for the Vinaya and thus facilitated the Vinaya revival movement in Kamakura Japan. Yuanzhao, as the author of Zichiji, was commemorated as one of the patriarchs of the Vinaya school. In the modern period, Chinese Vinaya master Hongyi wrote an annotated version of Zichiji, and it has been further edited and published in China.

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