DHYĀNA TEXT, designation of a Buddhist Sogdian text of 405 lines discovered at Tun-huang (B.M. Or. 8212 [85]; facs. ed. in MacKenzie, pls. 67-108; Taishō Tripiṭaka XV, no. 643, pp. 690c6-692c27). The name applied by Hans Reichelt, who first studied the text, is still in common use among Sogdianists, though the original text was later shown by S. Matsunami to have been the Kuan fo san mei hai ching. A very badly preserved little fragment in Berlin, perhaps of the same text, is mentioned by Olaf Hansen (p. 86).

Benveniste and Weller commented extensively upon Reichelt’s edition, while comparing the text to the Chinese original, of which a French translation was provided by P. Demiéville (apud Benveniste, 1933b, pp. 195-213); the most recent revised edition was published by MacKenzie (text, pp. 53-77, notes, pp. 49-70).

The Kuan fo san mei hai ching, elaborating upon the ways and merits of contemplating the Buddhas, was translated into Chinese by Buddhabhadra at the beginning of the 5th century (for discussion of the Skt. title see Nanjio, Demiéville et al., and Weller). When the Chinese text shows variant readings, the Sogdian translation almost always agrees with the old manuscript of the 7th century preserved in Japan (cf. Weller, pp. 350-51; for a similar case see Kudara and Sundermann, pp. 334-40).



E. Benveniste, “Notes sur les textes sogdiens bouddhiques du British Museum (= Notes I),” JRAS, 1933, esp. pp. 44-48.

Idem, “Notes sur le fragment sogdien du Buddhadhyānasamā-dhisāgarasūtra (= Notes II),” JA 223, 1933, esp. pp. 213-39.

P. Demiéville et al., Répertoire du canon bouddhique sino-japonais. Fascicule annexe du Hōbōgirin, rev. ed., Paris and Tokyo, 1978.

O. Hansen, “Die buddhistische Literatur der Sogdier,” HO I/IV, 2/1, pp. 83-90.

K. Kudara and W. Sundermann, “Zwei Fragmente einer Sammel-handschrift buddhistischer Sūtras in soghdischer Sprache,” AoF 14, 1987, pp. 334-49.

D. N. MacKenzie, The Buddhist Sogdian Texts of the British Library, Acta Iranica 10, Tehran and Liège, 1976; reviewed by N. Sims-Williams in IIJ 20, 1978, pp. 256-60 and by W. Sundermann in BSO(A)S 40, 1977, pp. 634-35.

B. Nanjio, A Catalogue of the Chinese Translation of the Buddhist Tripiṭaka, Oxford, 1883.

H. Reichelt, Die soghdischen Handschriftenreste des Britischen Museums I, Heidelberg, 1928, pp. 33-56.

Taishō Tripiṭaka,ed. J. Takakusu and K. Watanabe, Tokyo, 1924-32.

F. Weller, “Bemerkungen zum soghdischen Dhyāna-Texte,” Monumenta Serica 2, 1936-37, pp. 341-404; 3, 1938, pp. 78-129.

(Yutaka Yoshida)

Originally Published: December 15, 1995

Last Updated: November 22, 2011

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Vol. VII, Fasc. 4, pp, 359-360