Indian Disciplinary Rules and Their Early Chinese Adepts: A Buddhist Reality

Download Indian Disciplinary Rules and Their Early Chinese Adepts: A Buddhist Reality

Post on 19-Jan-2017




2 download

Embed Size (px)


  • Indian Disciplinary Rules and Their Early Chinese Adepts: A Buddhist RealityAuthor(s): Ann HeirmanSource: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 128, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 2008), pp. 257-272Published by: American Oriental SocietyStable URL: .Accessed: 15/06/2014 03:06

    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

    .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact


    American Oriental Society is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal ofthe American Oriental Society.

    This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:06:27 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • Indian Disciplinary Rules and Their Early Chinese Adepts: A Buddhist Reality

    Ann Heirman

    Ghent University

    This study focuses on the various attitudes of Chinese Buddhist masters toward the intro

    duction of Indian disciplinary rules in a Chinese reality, more particularly in the Chinese

    society of the fifth to the eighth centuries, a period that saw the full development of Chinese monastic discipline (vinaya) and that continues till today to be the basic reference point for

    this subject. Many influential vinaya masters date from this period, but two stand out prom

    inently. The first is Daoxuan Hit (596-667), founder of what came to be called the Nanshan

    luzong l^lllflt^ or "vinaya school of Nanshan." This school promoted the vinaya rules, and in particular the Dharmaguptakavinaya, seen as the tradition on which the first Chinese ordinations were based. As abbot of the Ximing g?B?| monastery near the capital Chang'an, Daoxuan wrote several influential vinaya commentaries, and actively promoted Buddhism at the imperial court.1 The second notable vinaya master in this period is Yijing (635 713), who apart from the many other works he produced, is known as the translator of the

    M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya, and as the author of a detailed report on Indian monasteries, the Nanhai jigui neifa zhuan "S$|itFji? l^lffifll, or "Account of Buddhism Sent from the South

    Seas," T.2125.2

    The present article aims at improving our understanding of the position of these vinaya masters toward the practical implementation of vinaya rules into Chinese monastic life. How far can rules attributed to the Buddha, or rules considered to be the core of the ordina tion transmission, be applied in a pragmatic way? Or, from a different angle, how absolute or fundamental are these rules? In order to throw some light on these questions, we shall start with an overview of the vinaya background of Chinese monasteries and the reactions to it by Daoxuan and Yijing. In the second section of this study, we focus on the crucial term, like jiao or "abridged teaching," a concept that allows an actualization of many rules.

    Finally, the different attitudes of the masters toward the implementation of vinaya rules will be discussed. As we shall see, the same masters adopt very different attitudes when con fronted with the reality of the Chinese context in which Buddhist monasteries function. A strict interpretation of discipline is not always as strict as first announced. On the other hand, pragmatism clearly has its limits.

    1. vinaya background of the chinese monasteries

    In the first centuries of Chinese Buddhism, monasteries had to function without a Chinese translation of a full vinaya text. This deficiency prompted the monk Faxian to undertake

    1. For details, see R. B. Wagner, "Buddhism, Biography and Power: A Study of Daoxuan's 'Continued Lives of Eminent Monks'" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1995), 46-90; Yifa, The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China: An Annotated Translation and Study of the Chanyuan Qinggui (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 2002), 23-28.

    2. Translated by J. Takakusu, A Record of the Buddhist Religion as Practised in India and the Malay Archi

    pelago (A.D. 671-695) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896).

    Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008) 257

    This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:06:27 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • 258 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    in 399 a trip from Chang'an to India. In his travel account he explains that his main purpose was to obtain an original version of the vinaya.3 When he finally sailed back to China, he had obtained copies of the Mahis?saka- and Mah?s?mghikavinayas, as well as extracts of the

    Sarv?stiv?davinaya. In the meantime, however, other full vinayas had already reached China via the northern land routes, and it is in the north that full vinayas were translated for the first time into Chinese:4 the Shisong l? +11^ (T.1435), Sarv?stiv?davinaya, translated be tween 404 and 409 by Punyatr?ta/Punyatara,5 Kum?rajiva, and Dharmaruci, and revised by Vimal?ksa,6 and a few years later, the Sifen l? (T.1428), Dharmaguptakavinaya,1 translated by Buddhayasas and Zhu Fonian between 410 and 412. A bit later,

    vinaya translations were produced also in the southern part of China, namely in Jiankang, the capital of the Liu-Song dynasty. There, Buddhabhadra and Faxian translated the Mohe

    sengqi l? J|If?[ft|$^ (T.1425), Mah?s?mghikavinaya* between 416 and 418. It is also in

    Jiankang that a fourth vinaya was translated: the Mishasai bu hexi wufen l? l^Sp|5|[l8 (T.1421), Mahls?sakavinaya, translated, according to the Gaoseng zhuan itjflsfl^,9

    by Buddhajiva, Zhisheng Daosheng and Huiyan Mg in 423 or 424. Much later, at the beginning of the eighth century, the monk Yijing translated into Chinese large parts of the M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya (Genbenshuoyiqieyou bu pinaiye tfi^l?-^^OWn?S^W, T. 1442-1451), as well as other vinaya texts belonging to the same school.10 Around the same

    time, however, the Dharmaguptakavinaya was imposed by imperial decree as the only valid

    vinaya in China, a process strongly stimulated by Daoxuan.11 The Dharmaguptakavinaya

    consequently became the reference point for monastic discipline in China, and all ordinations

    since then have been based on its guidelines.12

    3. Gaoseng Faxian zhuan jSlg&jggfl, T.2085: 857a6-8, 864bl7, 864cl-3. See also A. Heirman, "Vinaya

    from India to China," in The Spread of Buddhism, ed. A. Heirman and S.-P. Bumbacher (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 174.

    4. For details on the first vinaya texts in China, see Heirman, "Vinaya from India to China," 175-77.

    5. Ch. Furuoduoluo $^#M. 6. See A. Yuyama, A Systematic Survey of Buddhist Sanskrit Literature, Erster Teil: Vinaya-Texte (Wiesbaden:

    Franz Steiner Verlag, 1979), 8. Of the Sarv?stiv?davinaya, many small Sanskrit fragments have been found (see

    J. Chung, "Sanskrit-Fragmente des sogenannten Das?dhy?ya-vinaya aus Zentralasien - eine vorl?ufige Auflistung,"

    in Sanskrit-Texte aus dem buddhistischen Kanon: Neuentdeckungen und Neueditionen, Vierte Folge, ed. J. Chung,

    C. Vogel and K. Wille (G?ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002). 7. For a translation into English of the rules for nuns (T.1428: 714a2-778bl3), see A. Heirman, The Discipline

    in Four Parts: Rules for Nuns according to the Dharmaguptakavinaya (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2002).

    8. The rules for nuns (T.1425: 471a25-476bl 1 and 514a25-548a28) have been translated into English by

    A. Hirakawa (in collaboration with Z. Ikuno and P. Groner), Monastic Discipline for the Buddhist Nuns: An

    English Translation of the Chinese Text of the Mah?s?mghika-Bhiksuni-Vinaya (Patna: Kashi Jayaswal Research

    Institute, 1982). 9. Or Biographies of Eminent Monks, compiled by Huijiao WM around 530, T.2059: 339a9-10.

    10. Of the M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya, a Tibetan translation as well as many Sanskrit fragments are extant. For

    details, see Yuyama, Systematic Survey, 12-33.

    11. See A. Heirman, "Can we Trace the Early Dharmaguptakas?" T'oung Pao 88 (2002): 419-23.

    12. Besides the above, two major vinaya texts have survived in an Indian language. The most important one

    is the Therav?da vinaya written in Pali. Although at the end of the fifth century a Pali vinaya was translated into

    Chinese, the translation was never presented to the emperor and was subsequently lost (see A. Heirman, "The

    Chinese Samantap?s?dik? and its School Affiliation," Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenl?ndischen Gesellschaft

    154.2 (2004): 377-78; and idem, "Vinaya from India to China," 190-92). The second text to have survived in an

    Indian language only, is the chapter for nuns (bhiksunivibhanga) of the Mah?s?mghika-Lokottarav?dins, preserved

    in a transitional language between Prakrit and Sanskrit (G. Roth, Bhiksuni-Vinaya, Including Bhiksuni-Prakirnaka

    and a Summary of the Bhiksu-Prakirnaka of the ?rya-Mah?s?mghika-Lokottarav?din [Patna: Kashi Jayaswal

    Research Institute, 1970], lv-lvi). It has never been translated into Chinese.

    This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:06:27 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • Heirman: The Vinaya and Early Chinese Adepts 259

    From the beginning, Chinese monasteries struggled with vinaya rules, and attempts were made to act as correctly as possible in accordance with the rules. "Correct" in the first

    place means linked to the Indian vinaya traditions.13 However, when near the start of the fifth

    century as many as four full vinayas were translated into Chinese, discussions developed on the sometimes contradictory guidelines contained in these texts. In addition, awareness arose that, if strictly interpreted, vinaya traditions mutually exclude each other.14 On the other

    hand, early Chinese monasteries seem not to have taken into account this mutual exclusion.

    Although all vinayas state that a legal procedure has to be carried out by a harmonious

    samgha (samagrasamgha),15 implying unity in the recitation of the pr?timoksa (list of pre cepts) at the posadha16 ceremony,17 attendance of all monks (bhiksus) and nuns (bhiksunis) who are present in the legal district (slma),1* and a sufficient number of monks or nuns to

    perform a legally valid act, the early Chinese monasteries probably used several vinayas at the same time.19 This situation gradually changed when Daoxuan started to write his com

    mentaries. In his Xu Gaoseng zhuan MMimiM, or Further Biographies of Eminent Monks, he complains that the precepts that monks receive at their ordination and the precepts that

    they later follow, do not tally with each other (T.2060: 620b6, cl-2). He consequently argues that one should take only one vinaya as a reference point, specifically that of the Dharma

    guptaka School, which, according to Daoxuan, lies at the basis of the first ordination intro duced in China (620c2-3).20 This does not imply, however, that only this vinaya should be studied. As is obvious in all of Daoxuan's commentaries, he had extensively studied all

    13. See, among others, Yifa, The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes, 3-98. 14. This fact is linked to the gradual redaction of the vinaya texts: regardless of the extent they developed inde

    pendently or in symbiosis with each other, at a certain point they were finalized as separate codes that mutually ex

    clude each other (H. Bechert, "The Importance of Asoka's So-called Schism Edict," in Indological and Buddhist Studies: Volume in Honour of Professor J. W. de Jong on his Sixtieth Birthday, ed. L. A. Hercus et al. (Canberra:

    Faculty of Asian Studies, 1982), 67-68; idem, "On the Origination and Characteristics of Buddhist Nik?yas, or

    Schools," in Premier Colloque Etienne Lamotte (Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut Orientaliste de Louvain, 1993), 54; O. von Hin?ber, Das P?timokkhasutta der Therav?din: Studien zur Literatur des Therav?da-Buddhismus, II

    (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1999), 89-91; A. Heirman, "Vinaya: Perpetuum Mobile," Asiatische Studien/ Etudes Asiatiques 53 [1999]: 849-71). This is certainly the case when ordination procedures are concerned. See H. Bechert, "On the Origination and Characteristics of Buddhist Nik?yas, or Schools," 54: "As a rule, monks be

    longing to different Nik?yas do not conduct joint Sanghakarmas [formal acts]. Though they may not always dispute the validity of each other's ordination, they do not recognize it as beyond dispute either. If there were doubts about the validity, the Sanghakarman would be questionable. If the validity of ordinations is called into question, the

    legitimation of the Sangha is endangered." 15. P?li vinaya, Vin I: 316; Mahis?sakavinaya, T.1421; 161cl7; Mah?s?mghikavinaya, T.1425: 422b9-14;

    Dharmaguptakavinaya, T.1428: 885cl4-15; Sarv?stiv?davinaya, T.1435: 220al3-14, c3-5; M?lasarv?stiv?da tra

    dition, T. 1453: 496b 16-22.

    16. This ceremony, at which the pr?timoksa is recited, is held every fortnight. 17. Cf. H. Hu-von Hin?ber, Das Posadhavastu: Vorschriften f?r die buddhistischen Beichtfeier im Vinaya

    der M?lasarv?stiv?dins (Reinbek: Dr. Inge Wezler Verlag f?r Orientalische Fachpublikationen, 1994), 219-26; H. Tieken, "Asoka and the Buddhist Samgha: a Study of Asoka's Schism Edict and Minor Rock Edict I," Bulletin

    of the School of Oriental and African Studies 63 (2000): 2-3, 10-11, 13, 26-27. 18. Any formal act has to be carried out within a well defined district (sima). In order to have a legally valid

    formal act, every monk or nun present in that district must attend the ceremony. See P. Kieffer-P?lz, Die Sim?: Vor

    schriften zur Regelung der buddhistischen Gemeinde grenze in ?lteren buddhistischen Texten (Berlin: Dieter Reimer

    Verlag, 1992), 27-28.

    19. See A. Heirman, "Chinese Nuns and their Ordination in Fifth Century China," Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 24 (2001): 296-97; and idem, "Vinaya from India to China," 192-95.

    20. Similarly also Daoxuan, Sifen l? shanfan buque xingshi chao K^ftflB?JK?Wff ^i^, or Abridged and

    Explanatory Commentary on the Dharmaguptakavinaya (T.1804: 51c7-9).

    This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 03:06:27 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • 260 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    vinaya texts. Here he emphasizes that the Dharmaguptakavinaya is the fundamental vinaya text, but that, if needed, others may be consulted.21

    This situation did not please the monk Yijing, who w...


View more >