UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

A popular exposition in prose and verse of the Vimalakīrti Sūtra : an annotated translation of Stein manuscript number 4571 Salzberg, Stephan Marcus


This thesis consists of an annotated translation, with introduction, of a text recovered from Tun-huang, Stein manuscript number 4571. The text, dating from about 945 A.D., is of the genre called chianq-chinq-wen, texts used at religious gatherings, held twice yearly and lasting at least a week, at which lectures on a given Buddhist sutra were delivered for the benefit of a lay congregation. The text translated herein is one such lecture, covering the opening passages of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra (Wei-mo-chieh so-shuo ching), one of the more influential sutras in the history of Chinese Buddhism. The text partakes of the tripartate cyclical form characteristic of the genre: a chanted sutra portion, followed by a prose explanation or exposition, then by a relatively lengthy sung verse recapitulation which, in its final line, introduces the next sutra portion. The aim of the lecture lies less in scholarly explanation than in the fostering and reinforcement of certain religious attitudes through the narration and embellishment of the sutra passages. The translation, the first into any language, to the writer's knowledge, of a text in this genre, is accompanied by notes detailing, inter alia, discrepancies between the manuscript and the only printed edition of the text. The introduction describes the development and social context of the genre as well as the ceremonial setting of the lectures and their mode of performance. Various special features of the translated text are also discussed including the sources used and methods of adaptation.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.