DEŚANĀ, Khotanese term with two meanings: “showing” (< Skt. deśayati “shows”), that is, “preaching” the law, and “profession” of faith or “confession” of sins (Bailey, 1962, p. 18; cf. Edgerton, s.v.). In the second meaning deśanā also refers to a particular genre of Khotanese religious text (Emmerick, 1992, p. 37).

Two texts from this group are known to have been translated from Sanskrit originals: the Bhadracaryādeśanā and the Deśanā-parivarta (chapter of confession), which Johannes Nobel (p. xlvii) considered the nucleus of the Suvarṇabhā-sottamasūtra (Sutra of golden light), to which other chapters were gradually added. Together the Khotanese versions of these two texts form the main part of manuscript P 3513 (fols. 43-58, 59-75, respectively) in the Pelliot collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, preceding another deśanā text (fols. 76-84; see below). According to P. O. Skjærvø (forthcoming), the text of the Deśanā-parivarta in P 3513, one of the earliest published Late Khotanese Buddhist texts (Pelliot), has occasionally been badly distorted to suit the meter. Other deśanā texts appear to have been composed in Khotan, including two attributed to the prince Tcūṃ-ttehi: (Hamilton, p. 48; Kumamoto, p. 231; Takata, in Emmerick and Skjærvø, p. 49). One of them, on fols. 76–84, was published and translated by H. W. Bailey (1951, pp. 62-66; 1962); a variant of the beginning is in P 3510, fols. 9-10, from the same collection (Bailey, 1951, p. 53). The other text by Tcūṃ-ttehi: is found on fols. 1-8 of P 3510 (Bailey, 1951, pp. 47-52) and has been translated by Ronald Emmerick (1980). Both these texts are written in verse in the first-person singular. There is a similar text in the first-person singular, stressing the speaker’s faith in the Amitābha Buddha (Khot. Armyāya baʾysä) and Sukhāvatī (suhāva; Ethnographic Museum, Stock-holm, Hedin ms. 23; Bailey, 1945-63, IV, pp. 36-37,129-35); the beginning is lost, but the end is preserved.

The Karmāṃ Deśanā (Emmerick, 1977; idem, 1992, p. 38), of which three variants exist (Bailey, 1951, pp. 66-71), differs from those already mentioned in that only the first few verses are in the first person; the remainder is a series of doctrinal discussions about karma “act.” In this text the word deśanā is used in the first meaning given above. Mark Dresden has catalogued the “Invocation of Prince Tcū-syau” (Bailey, 1951, pp. 146-48; cf. Kumamoto, p. 232) as deśanā, though it, along with two other texts (Bailey, 1945-63, V, pp. 249-55) identified as deśanā by Shūyo Takubo, should be classified as namo texts (Emmerick, 1992, p. 37), usually long lists of the Buddhas and other deities to whom homage is paid (see, e.g., Bailey, 1951, pp. 91-93, 100-04; idem, 1945-63, III, pp. 30-31, 50-52, 53-54, 55-57, 97-98, 98-99, 112-16, 117). They belong to the same genre of Buddhanāmasūtras as the Bhadrakalpikasūtra but were probably composed in Khotan, rather than translated.



J. P. Asmussen, The Khotanese Bhadracaryādeśanā, Copenhagen, 1961.

H. W. Bailey, Khotanese Texts, 5 vols., Cambridge, 1945-63.

Idem, Khotanese Buddhist Texts, London, 1951.

Idem, “The Profession of Prince Tcūṃ-ttehi:,” in E. Bender, ed., Indological Studies in Honor of W. Norman Brown, New Haven, Conn., 1962, pp. 18-22.

M. J. Dresden, “Khotanese (Saka) Manuscripts. A Provisional Handlist,” Varia 1976, Acta Iranica 12, Tehran and Liège, 1977, pp. 27-85.

F. Edgerton, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary, 2 vols., New Haven, Conn., 1953.

R. E. Emmerick, “The Confession of Acts,” Varia 1976, Acta Iranica 12, Tehran and Liège, 1977, pp. 87-115.

Idem, “The Verses of Prince Tcūṃ-ttehi:,” Stud. Ir. 9/2, 1980, pp. 185-93.

Idem, A Guide to the Literature of Khotan, 2nd ed., Tokyo, 1992.

Idem and P. O. Skjærvø, Studies in the Vocabulary of Khotanese II, Vienna, 1987.

J. Hamilton, “Sur la chronologie khotanaise au IXe-Xe siècle,” in M. Soymié, ed., Contributions aux études de Touen-houang III, Paris, 1984, pp. 47-53.

H. Kumamoto, “Some Problems of the Khotanese Documents,” in R. Schmitt and P. O. Skjærvø, eds., Studia Grammatica Iranica. Festschrift für Helmut Humbach, Munich, 1986, pp. 227-44.

J. Nobel, Suvarṇabhāsottamasūtra. Das Goldglanz-sūtra. Ein Sanskrittext des Mahāyāna-Buddhismus, Leipzig, 1937.

P. Pelliot, “Un fragment du Suvarṇabhāsasūtra en iranien oriental,” MSL 18, 1913, pp. 89-125.

P. O. Skjærvø, The Khotanese Suvarṇabhāsottama-sūtra, Habil. thesis, Mainz 1983.

T. Takata, “Tcūm-ttehi:,” in R. E. Emmerick and P. O. Skjærvø, Studies in the Vocabulary of Khotanese II, Vienna, 1987, pp. 49-50.

S. Takubo, Tonkō-Shutsudo Utengo Himitsu Kyōten-shū-no Kenkyū (Studies on esoteric sutras in Khotanese found in Dunhuang), Tokyo, 1975.

(Hiroshi Kumamoto)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 22, 2011

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Vol. VII, Fasc. 3, pp. 320-321