Perfection of Wisdom

The Perfection of Wisdom literature in the Chinese Buddhist canon comprises one of the largest and most complete collections. This is part due to the compendium of Sūtras that was translated by Xuanzang during the 7th century, which included a complete translation of the massive Perfection of Wisdom in 100,000 Lines and spanned 600 fascicles of Chinese over 18 different texts. In addition to that, Chinese translations span the historical record, giving us snapshots of the development of many Perfection of Wisdom texts over the centuries.

Below is a list of these texts which are currently planned for translation. I will be updating my translation of Kumārajīva’s Diamond Perfection of Wisdom Sūtra, and translating the smaller Sūtras in Xuanzang’s compendium. More ambitious projects will come after that.

1. Diamond Perfection of Wisdom Sūtra (T235)

Kumārajīva’s translation was completed at the start of the 5th century and represents the earliest version of the Diamond-Cutter Perfection of Wisdom Sūtra. Compared to later texts in Chinese and Sanskrit, it shows the simplest and least expanded narrative, and it continues to be popular in East Asian Buddhism.

2. The Mañjuśrī Sūtra (T220, No. 7)

Part 8 of Xuanzang’s Great Perfection of Wisdom Sūtra is his translation of a text known by a couple different titles. In Sanskrit, it’s often called the Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines, but the title that was given in Chinese translation is Mañjuśrī’s Teaching of the Perfection of Wisdom.

3. The Nāgaśrī Sūtra (T220, No. 8)

To my knowledge, the Nāgaśrī Sūtra exists only in Chinese translation. The full title given to an alternate Chinese translation by Xianggong was Bodhisattva Nāgaśrī’s Unsurpassed and Pure Alms Gift. It is Part 9 of Xuanzang’s compendium, titled Nāgaśrī.

4. The Diamond-Cutter Sūtra (T220, No. 9)

The Diamond Sūtra was translated to Chinese six times, starting with Kumārajīva’s edition in 403 CE and ending with Yijing’s translation in 703 CE. I’m also translating Xuanzang’s edition because it is the fullest version that exists to my knowledge, being larger than the existing Sanskrit text.

5. The Principle of Wisdom Sūtra (T220, No. 10)

The smallest of the texts in Xuanzang’s compendium is Part 10 and titled the Principle of Wisdom. This text corresponds to the Perfection of Wisdom in 150 Lines in Sanskrit, and it was translated five other times to Chinese under various names. The most famous is perhaps Amoghavajra’s edition, which is used in East Asian Tantric Buddhist sects like the Shingon in Japan. He titled the text The Great, Joyous, Diamond, Non-Empty, and Real Occasion.

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