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The Śūraṅgama Sūtra (Sanskrit; traditional Chinese: 大佛頂首楞嚴經; pinyin: Dà Fódǐng Shǒuléngyán Jīng) is a Mahāyāna Buddhist sūtra, and has been especially influential in the Chán school of Chinese Buddhism.
An original Sanskrit version of Śūraṅgama Sūtra has not been found yet, and nobody knows its full Sanskrit name. The complete title preserved in Chinese version, is Chinese: 大佛頂如來密因修證了義諸菩薩萬行首楞嚴經, and may be translated as:
The Sūtra on the Śūraṅgama Mantra Spoken from above the Crown of the Great Buddha's Head, and on the Hidden Basis of the Tathagata's Myriad Bodhisattva Practices Leading to Their Verification of the Ultimate Truth.
In Chinese Buddhism, it could be shorted as Chinese: 首楞嚴經 or Chinese: 楞嚴經. That name is similar with Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra (traditional Chinese: 首楞嚴三昧經) in Chinese, so Joseph Edkins translated it to Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra in an English version. Then Charles Luk translated it to Śūraṅgama Sūtra. Śūraṅgama roughly means "indestructible." The word is composed of Śūraṅ (great, absolutely), with Gama (durable, solid).
East Asian title include:
- Traditional Chinese: 大佛頂如來密因修證了義諸菩薩萬行首楞嚴經
- Simplified Chinese: 大佛顶如来密因修证了义诸菩萨万行首楞严经
- Chinese Pinyin: dà fódǐng rúlái mìyīn xiūzhèng liǎoyì zhū púsà wànxíng shǒuléngyán jīng
- Korean: 대불정여래밀인수증료의제보살만행수릉엄경
- Vietnamese: Đại Phật đỉnh Như Lai mật nhân tu chứng liễu nghĩa chư Bồ Tát vạn hạnh thủ-lăng-nghiêm kinh
It is also known in Chinese by shorter versions of the title such as dà fódǐng shǒuléngyán jīng (大佛頂首楞嚴經) or simply and more commonly léngyán jīng (楞嚴經).
The first catalog giving an account of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra was Zhi-sheng (Chinese: 智昇), a monk of the Tang Dynasty. Zhi-sheng said this book was brought back from Guangxi to Luoyang during the Kaiyuan era. He gave two different accounts in two different books, which were published in 730 CE.
- According to the first account, in his book Buddhist texts catalogue of Kaiyuan era(Chinese: 開元釋教錄), the Śūraṅgama Sūtra was translated about in 713 CE by a monk Huai-Di (Chinese: 懷迪) with an unnamed Indian monk.[a][b]
- According to the second account, in his later book The story about this translation of Buddhist scriptures mural (續古今譯經圖記), the Śūraṅgama Sūtra was translated in May 705 CE by Śramaṇa Pāramiti from Central India, who came to China and brought the text to the province of Guangzhou. The text was then polished and edited by Empress Wu Zetian's former minister, court regulator, and state censor Fang Yong(Chinese: 房融) of Qingho.[d] The translation was reviewed by Śramaṇa Meghaśikha from Oḍḍiyāna, and certified by Śramaṇa Huai-di(Chinese: 懷迪) of Nanlou Monastery (南樓寺) on Mount Luofu (羅浮山).[e][f]
Zhi-sheng didn't explain why he wrote two different record, but at the end of The story about this translation of Buddhist scriptures mural (續古今譯經圖記) he left a small comment, recommending readers the record at Buddish Book catalogue of Kaiyuan era is better than The story about this translation of Buddhist scriptures mural (續古今譯經圖記).[g]
Dispute about this text arose in 8th century in Japan, so Emperor Kōnin sent a monk to china, asking whether this book is forgery or not. His Chinese teacher told him that this is was forged by Fang Yong.[h] Zhu Xi, a 12th-century Neo-confucian who was opposed to Buddhism, believed that it was created during the Tang Dynasty in China, and did not come from India. The same point of view was defended by the reformist Liang Qichao[i]. Lü Cheng(Chinese: 呂澂) wrote an essay attempting to prove this book is apocryphal, named "One hundred reasons about why Shurangama Sutra is apocryphal" (Chinese: 楞嚴百偽).
Hurvitz claims that the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is "a Chinese forgery"[unreliable source?] but gives no reason, and Faure declares it to be "apocryphal" also without a rationale. Ron Epstein gives an overview of the arguments for Indian or Chinese origin, and concludes:
[T]he Sutra is probably a compilation of Indic materials that may have had a long literary history [...] [O]ne of the difficulties with the theory that the Sutra is apocryphal is that it would be difficult to find an author who could plausibly be held accountable for both structure and language and who would also be familiar with the doctrinal intricacies that the Sutra presents. Therefore, it seems likely that the origin of the great bulk of material in the Sutra is Indic, though it is obvious that the text was edited in China. However, a great deal of further, systematic research will be necessary to bring to light the all the details of the text's rather complicated construction.
A number of scholars have associated the Śūraṅgama Sūtra with the Buddhist tradition at Nālandā. Epstein also notes that the general doctrinal position of the sūtra does indeed correspond to what is known about the Buddhist teachings at Nālandā during this period.
The Surangama Sutra has been translated from Chinese into Tibetan under the command of the Qianlong Emperor. The Changkya Khutukhtu supervised the translation of the Surangama Sutra from Chinese to Manchu language. The text was also translated into Mongolian and Tibetan.
There are two English translations:
- Charles Luk, 1967, Shurangama Sutra
- Buddhist Translation Society, 2009, with a commentary by Hsüan Hua
The Śūraṅgama Sūtra contains teachings from Yogācāra, Tathāgatagarbha, and Esoteric Buddhism. It makes use of Buddhist Logic, with its methods of syllogism and the fourfold negation (Skt. catuṣkoṭi), first popularized by Nāgārjuna.
Some of the main themes of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra are the worthlessness of the Dharma when unaccompanied by samādhi power, and the importance of moral precepts as a foundation for the Buddhist practice. Also stressed is the theme of how one effectively combats delusions that may arise during meditation.[j]
Ron Epstein and David Rounds have suggested that the major themes of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra reflect the strains upon Indian Buddhism during the time of its creation. They cite the resurgence of tribal influences, and the crumbling social supports for monastic Buddhist institutions. This era also saw the emergence of Hindu tantrism and the beginnings of Esoteric Buddhism and the siddha traditions. They propose that moral challenges and general confusion about Buddhism are said to have then given rise to the themes of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, such as clear understanding of principles, moral discipline, essential Buddhist cosmology, development of samādhi, and how to avoid falling into various delusions in meditation.
The Śūraṅgama Sūtra teaches about the Śūraṅgama Samādhi, which is associated with complete enlightenment and Buddhahood. This samādhi is also featured extensively in the Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra, another Mahāyāna text. It is equally praised in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, where it is explained by the Buddha that this samādhi is the essence of the nature of the Buddha and is indeed the "mother of all Buddhas." The Buddha also comments that the Śūraṅgama Samādhi additionally goes under several other names, specifically Prajñāpāramitā ("Perfection of Wisdom"), the Vajra Samādhi ("Diamond Samadhi"), the Siṃhanāda Samādhi ("Lion's Roar Samādhi"), and the Buddhasvabhava ("Buddha-nature").
White Parasol Crown Dhāraṇī
In addition to the sūtra's contents, the Sanskrit ritual speech contained in it is known in Chinese as the Léngyán Zhòu (楞嚴咒), or Śūraṅgama Mantra. It is well-known and popularly chanted in East Asian Buddhism. In Sanskrit, the dhāraṇī is known as the "Sitātapatra Uṣṇīṣa Dhāraṇī" (Ch. 大白傘蓋陀羅尼). This is sometimes simplified in English to "White Canopy Dhāraṇī" or "White Parasol Dhāraṇī." In Tibetan traditions, the English is instead sometimes rendered as the "White Umbrella Mantra." The dhāraṇī is extant in three other translations found in the Chinese Buddhist canon [k], and is also preserved in Sanskrit and Tibetan.
- In the East is the Vajra Division, hosted by Akṣobhya Buddha;
- In the south, the Jewel-creating Division, hosted by Ratnasaṃbhava Buddha;
- In the center, the Buddha Division, hosted by Vairocana Buddha;
- In the West, the Lotus Division, hosted by Amitābha Buddha;
- In the North, the Karma Division, hosted by Amoghasiddhi Buddha. These five divisions .
The Śūraṅgama Sūtra has been widely studied and commented on In China. Ron Epstein...
... found reference to 127 Chinese commentaries on the Sutra, quite a few for such a lengthy work, including 59 in the Ming dynasty alone, when it was especially popular ".
The Śūraṅgama Sūtra is one of the seminal texts of Chán Buddhism. It was first transmitted by Shenxiu, the original sixth patriarch and the seminal figure of the Northern school. It "is connected with the enlightenment of" Changshui Zixuan from the Song Dynasty and Hanshan Deqing (憨山德清) from the Ming Dynasty.
The Śūraṅgama Sūtra is being cited in case 94 of the Blue Cliff Record:
In the Surangama Sutra the Buddha says, "When unseeing, why do you not see the unseeing? If you see the unseeing, it is no longer unseeing. If you do not see the unseeing, it is not an object. Why isn't it yourself?"[l]
Dogen commented on the verse "When someone gives rise to Truth by returning to the Source, the whole of space in all ten quarters falls away and vanishes":
This verse has been cited by various Buddhas and Ancestors alike. Up to this very day, this verse is truly the Bones and Marrow of the Buddhas and Ancestors. It is the very Eye of the Buddhas and Ancestors. As to my intention in saying so, there are those who say that the ten-fascicle Shurangama Scripture is a spurious scripture, whereas others say that it is a genuine Scripture: both views have persisted from long in the past down to our very day [...] Even were the Scripture a spurious one, if [Ancestors] continue to offer its turning, then it is a genuine Scripture of the Buddhas and Ancestors, as well as the Dharma Wheel intimately associated with Them.
The contemporary Chán-master Venerable Hsu Yun wrote a commentary on the Śūraṅgama Sūtra. Venerable Hsuan Hua was a major modern proponent of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, which he commented and used in his instructions on protecting and supporting the Proper Dharma. About the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, he said:
In Buddhism all the sutras are very important, but the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is most important. Wherever the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is, the Proper Dharma abides in the world. When the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is gone, that is a sign of the Dharma Ending Age. In the Extinction of the Dharma Sutra it says that in the Dharma Ending Age, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra will become extinct first. Then gradually the other sutras will also become extinct. The Śūraṅgama Sūtra is the true body of the Buddha; the śarīra (relics) of the Buddha; the stūpa of the Buddha.
Note: Several notes are Chinese, due to the international character of Wikipedia. Help in translation is welcome.
- Buddhist texts catalogue of Kaiyuan era said, "Śramaṇa Huai-Di (Chinese: 懷迪), who born at Xún zhōu(循州), live in Nanlou Monastery (南樓寺) on Mount Luofu (羅浮山). This mountain is the place where Xian live and tour. HuaiDi studied Buddhist books for a long time, and profound erudition. He is also proficient in a wide range of knowledge. Here close to the coast, there are many Indians monk to come here. HuaiDi learn how to say and read their language with them. when Mahāratnakūṭa Sūtra was translate to chinese, Bodhiruci invites HuaiDi to verify the translation. After the translation finished, he returned to his hometown. Once came to Guangzhou, he met a monk came from India, whoes name is unknown, with a Sanskrit book. He ask HuaiDi to translate this book, total of ten volumes, which is Shurangama Sutra. HuaiDi wrote this book, and modify the wording. After the book was translated, the monk left, and no one knows where he goes. An official went to southern China, bringing this book back, so it was here." from 《開元釋教錄》：「沙門釋懷迪，循州人也，住本州羅浮山南樓寺。其山乃仙聖遊居之處。迪久習經論，多所該博，九流弋略，粗亦討尋，但以居近海隅，數有梵僧遊止；迪就學書語，復皆通悉。往者三藏菩提流志譯竇積經，遠召迪來，以充證義。所為事畢，還歸故鄉。後因遊廣府遇一梵僧 (未得其名) ，賚梵經一夾，請共譯之，勒成十卷，即《大佛頂萬行首楞嚴經》是也。迪筆受經旨，緝緞文理。其梵僧傳經事畢，莫知所之。有因南使，流經至此。」
- In 706 CE, Mahāratnakūṭa Sūtra began to translate. HuaiDi was invite to Luoyang. The translation finished in 713 CE. then HuaiDi went back to his hometown. So the Shurangama Sutra was translated after 713 CE.
- The mention of Fang Yong poses a chronological problem. According to the Book of Tang Fang Yong was put in prison in january 705 CE, because he was involved in a court struggle. Then he was exiled from Luoyang to Guangxi Qinzhou in february, where he died.[c] If the book was translated at 705 CE, the cooperation of Fang Yong might be doubtfull. If the text was translated in 713 CE, Fang Yong had no chance to aid in the translation of the text, since he died in 705
- The story about this translation of Buddhist scriptures mural said, "Śramaṇa Pāramiti, which is means Quantum, came from Central India. He travel, missionary, arrived china. He stayed at Guangxiao Temple in Guangxi. Because he was very knowledgeable, so many people came to visit him. To help people, so he determined not to keep secret. in May 23 705 CE, He recited a Tantras, which is The Sūtra on the Śūraṅgama Mantra Spoken from above the Crown of the Great Buddha's Head, and on the Hidden Basis of the Tathagata's Myriad Bodhisattva Practices Leading to Their Verification of the Ultimate Truth. Śramaṇa Meghaśikha from Oḍḍiyāna translated it to Chinese. Fang Yong(Chinese: 房融) of Qingho, the former minister, court regulator, and state censor, wrote it down. Śramaṇa Huai-di(Chinese: 懷迪) of Nanlou Monastery (南樓寺) on Mount Luofu (羅浮山) verify it. After teach it all, he came back to his country. An official went to southern China, bringing this book back, so we see it here. " from 《續古今譯經圖記》：「沙門般刺蜜帝，唐云極量，中印度人也。懷道觀方，隨缘濟度，展轉游化，達我支那。乃於廣州制旨道場居止。眾知博達，祈请亦多。利物為心，敷斯秘。以神龍元年龍集乙巳五月己卯朔二十三日辛丑，遂於灌頂部诵出一品《大佛頂如来密因修證了義、菩薩萬行首楞嚴經》一部（十卷）。烏萇國沙門彌迦釋迦（釋迦稍訛，正云鑠佉，此曰雲峰）譯語，菩薩戒弟子、前正諫大夫、同中書門下平章事、清河房融筆受，循州羅浮山南樓寺沙門懷迪證譯。其僧傳經事畢，泛舶西歸。有因南使，流通於此。」
- These two individuals - Pāramiti and Meghaśikha - are only been records in this book. Other books, talking about the story about Pāramiti, are references from this place then add some imagination.
- The story about this translation of Buddhist scriptures mural said, "These records is edited from the old data, but some errors have not been modified yet. If someone wants to write some records at the wall, please follow the record at the Buddhist texts catalogue of Kaiyuan era. In addition to what I mention here, the other is real." from 《續古今譯經圖紀》：「前紀所載，依舊錄編，中間乖殊，未曾刪補。若欲題壁，請依開元釋教錄。除此方撰集外，餘為實錄矣。」
- in-depth meaning of Three Treatise school said, "(Emperor Kōnin) sent Buddhist monks De-Qing(德清)and other to Dang Dynasty to find the answer. The Teacher of De-Qing at Dang dynasty, Buddhist Fa-Siang(Chinese: 法詳), told him, This Shurangama Sutra is forged by Fang Yong, not a real Buddhavacana. But Zhi-sheng know nothing about it, so he make a mistake to list this book at Buddhist texts catalogue." from 玄睿《大乘三論大義鈔》：「遣德清法師等於唐檢之。德清法師承大唐法詳居士：《大佛頂經》是房融偽造，非真佛經也。智昇未詳，謬編正錄。」
- Liang Qichao, the authenticity of Ancient books and their year, "The real Buddhist scriptures would not say things like Śūraṅgama Sūtra, so we know the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is a Apocrypha." from 梁啟超《古書真偽及其年代》：「真正的佛經並没有《楞嚴經》一類的話，可知《楞嚴經》一書是假書。」
- D.T. Suzuki gives a detailed overview of the contents of the sutra in Manual of Zen Buddhism.
- Taishō Tripiṭaka 944, 976, and 977
- This reminds of Nagarjuna's Sunyatasaptati:
 The sense of sight is not inside the eye, not inside form, and not in between. [Therefore] an image depending upon form and eye is false.
 If the eye does not see itself, how can it see form? Therefore eye and form are without self. The same [is true for the] remaining sense-fields.
 Eye is empty of its own self [and] of another's self. Form is also empty. Likewise [for the] remaining sense-fields.
- Buddhist Text Translation Society 2009, p. xxv.
- Buddhist Text Translation Society 2009, p. xiii.
- Epstein 1976.
- Hurvitz 1967, p. 482.
- Faure 1991, p. 42, 122 n9, 231, 240.
- Humphreys1995, p. 111.
- Dutt 1962, p. 264.
- Buddhist Text Translation Society 2009, p. xxx-xxxii.
- Buddhist Text Translation Society 2009, p. xxxii-xxxiv.
- Suzuki 2001.
- Buddhist Text Translation Society 2009, p. xxxiii-xxxix.
- Lamotte 1998, p. 36.
- Hua 1975.
- Faure 1991, p. 231, note 3.
- Sekida 1996, p. 387.
- Nagarjuna's Sunyatasaptati
- Dogen: On Turning The Wheel
- Buddhist Text Translation Society (2009), The Śūraṅgama Sūtra: A New Translation, Buddhist Text Translation Society
- Dutt, Sukumar (2008), Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India, Delhi: Motilal Barnasidass
- Epstein, Ronald (1976), The Shurangama Sutra (T. 945): A Reappraisal of its Authenticity
- Faure, Bernard (1991), The Rhetoric of Immediacy. A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press
- Hua, Hsuan (1975), The Wonderful Effects of the Shurangama Mantra
- Humphreys, Christmas (1995), The Wisdom of Buddhism
- Hurvitz, Leon (1967), The Surangama Sutra. Review in Journal of Asian Studies, Vol.26, issue 3, may 1967, pp. 482-484
- Lamotte, Étienne (1998), Suramgamasamadhi Sutra: The Concentration of Heroic Progress, translated by Sara Boin-Webb, London: Curzon Press
- Sekida (translator), Katsuki (1996), Two Zen Classics. Mumonkan, The Gateless Gate. Hekiganroku, The Blue Cliff Records. Translated with commentaries by Katsuki Sekida, New York / Tokyo: Weatherhill
- Suzuki, D.T. (2001), Manual of Zen Buddhism
- Śūraṅgama Sūtra translated by Upāsaka Lu K'uan Yu (Charles Luk), PDF file
- The Śūraṅgama Sūtra text with commentaries from Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
- Śūraṅgama Sūtra: Text, Commentaries, and Articles
- Sanskrit and Chinese versions of the Shurangama mantra
- Mahayana Buddhist Sutras in English