BHADRAKALPIKASŪTRA, the name of a Buddhist Mahayanist text. Due to an error introduced by S. Konow it has usually been incorrectly called Bhadrakalpikāsūtra in Khotanese studies. It is a sacred text (Sanskrit sutra) concerning the names of the Buddhas to appear in the good aeon (Sanskrit bhadrakalpa). Originally, the good aeon was considered to be one in which five Buddhas will appear, the fourth being the historical Buddha Śākyamuni and the fifth the future Buddha Maitreya, but according to another tradition 1,000 Buddhas will appear in it. The Khotanese version of this text has apparently combined both traditions since the introduction speaks of 1,005 names and the rewards that will come to those who learn, recite them, etc. However, the only extant Khotanese manuscript that contains the names lists only 998 names and several of those are duplicated.

The Khotanese text is one of a group of texts contained in the India Office Library (British Library) manuscript Cḥ c. 001, which has been dated to a.d. 943. It was studied by S. Konow in a monograph entitled Saka Versions of the Bhadrakalpikāsūtra (Oslo, 1929) and again by Shūyo Takubo, Tonkō shutsudo utengo himitsu kyōtenshū no kenkyū (Studies on the Khotanese "Collection of the esoteric sutras" found in Tunhuang), Tokyo, 1975. The latter work contains an excellent facsimile of the whole manuscript. A transcription of the whole text is contained in Takubo’s work and also in Bailey, KBT, pp. 76-90. A manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (P 2949) contains part of the introduction only. For a transcription of it see Bailey, KBT, p. 75.

Manuscript Cḥ c. 001 also contains another long list of Buddha names in two copies. They are transcribed by Bailey, KBT, pp. 249-55. This list represents a tradition according to which there were billions of Buddhas in countless good aeons. Other versions of this tradition are found in Cḥ 00268 (KBT, pp. 100-04), P 2742 (KT III, pp. 55-57), P 3513.1-12 (KT III, pp. 112-16), S 2471 (KBT, pp. 91-93). Some of these manuscripts also include a second list of Buddhas that incorporates local Khotanese Buddha names not known to Indian tra­dition: Cḥ 00268 and S 2471 (variant P 2742). Manu­script Cḥ 00268 prefaces to such a list an allusion to the 1,005 Buddhas of the good aeon (lines 98-99 in Bailey, KBT, p. 103).

The Khotanese Bhadrakalpikasūtra does not correspond to the text bearing the same title in the Tibetan Kanjur nor to the Chinese Bhadrakalpikasūtra trans­lated by Dharmarakṣa (3rd-4th century a.d.) although it belongs to the same tradition. On the various lists and their relation to the Bhadrakalpikasūtra contained in the Kanjur see F. Weller, Tausend Buddhanamen des Bhad­rakalpa nach einer fünfsprachigen Polyglotte heraus­gegeben, Leipzig, 1928.



H. W. Bailey, Khotanese Buddhist Texts (KBT), London, 1951 (2nd ed., Cambridge, 1981).

Idem, Khotanese Texts (KT) III, Cambridge, 1956 (reprinted in Khotanese Texts I-III, Cambridge, 1969, 2nd ed., 1980).

R. E. Emmerick, A Guide to the Literature of Khotan, Tokyo, 1979, pp. 18-19.

(Ronald E. Emmerick)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

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Vol. IV, Fasc. 2, pp. 190-191