BHAIṢAJYAGURUVAIḌŪRYAPRABHARĀJASŪTRA, the name of a Buddhist Mahayanist text of which a number of fragments in Old Khotanese and Sogdian are extant. It is one of the earliest Mahayanist texts, dating perhaps from the third century a.d. It may have originated in Central Asia, but only fragments of versions in Central Asian languages are extant. The work has four main themes: the twelve vows of Bhaiṣajyaguru, the Buddha of healing; the blessings obtained by those who hear, recite, etc., the Buddha’s name; the way to worship Bhaiṣajyaguru; the twelve yakṣa generals.

The Khotanese fragments have been published in transcription by H. W. Bailey: no. 53 in KT III, pp. 124-­25, Hedin 27 in KT IV, p. 39, nos. 181-83 in KT V, pp. 87-89, no. 273 in KT V, p. 147, no. 310 in KT V, p. 163, IO 151.15 in BSOAS 36/2, 1973, pp. 226-27. A further fragment (Iledong 015) was published in facsim­ile in R. E. Emmerick, “A Khotanese Version of the Sūtra of the Lord of Healing,” pp. 225-32 in Buddhism and Its Relation to Other Religions. Essays in Honour of Dr. Shozen Kumoi on His Seventieth Birthday, Kyoto, 1985. Nos. 181-83 in KT V were transcribed and translated by E. Leumann in Buddhistische Literatur, nordarisch und deutsch. I. Teil. Nebenstücke, Leipzig, 1920, pp. 104-10. No. 53 in KT III was transcribed and translated by R. E. Emmerick, 1985. These fragments do not appear to represent a close rendering of any known version and may represent an independent Central Asian tradition.

Two fragments of Sogdian versions of this sūtra are extant. The published fragment transcribed and translated by É. Benveniste in his Textes sogdiens, Paris, 1940, pp. 82-92, was shown by him to correspond closely to the Chinese translation of Hsüan-tsang (a.d. 650). According to D. Utz, A Survey of Buddhist Sogdian Studies, Tokyo, 1978, p. 13, an unpublished fragment with the signature Tia = 10402 may be a rendering of a Chinese version differing from any of the four extant ones.

Several Gilgit manuscripts contain the Sanskrit text of part or all of the sūtra. On the edition of the Sanskrit text published by N. Dult in Gilgit Manuscripts I, Srinagar, 1939, pp. 1-32, see the critical remarks by G. Schopen in IIJ 19, 1977, pp. 208-10. On the four extant Chinese versions see P. Pelliot, “Le Bhaiṣajyaguru,” Bulletin de l’Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1903, pp. 33-37. A Tibetan version dating from the ninth century is contained in the Kanjur (Peking edition, vol. 6, no. 136, pp. 135-39).

Bibliography: H. W. Bailey, Khotanese Texts (KT) I-V, Cambridge, 1945-63. R. Birnbaum, The Healing Buddha, London, 1980. R. E. Emmerick, A Guide to the Literature of Khotan, Tokyo, 1979, p. 20. W. Liebenthal, The Sūtra of the Lord of Healing, Peiping, 1936.

(Ronald E. Emmerick)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

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