DHŪTA-SŪTRA, name of a Buddhist Sogdian text discovered at Tun-huang (B. M. Or. 8212 [160]; facs. ed. in MacKenzie, pls. 37-66). The name of the sutra goes back to Hans Reichelt, who first studied it; the word δʾw-tʾ (< Skt. dhūta-) recurs several times in the text. Reichelt’s edition was extensively commented upon by Émile Benveniste and the most recent, revised edition was published by D. N. MacKenzie.

The text, written on a scroll, comprises 297 lines; although it lacks both the beginning and end, the contents suggest that what has survived is close to the end of a sutra. In the text the Buddha explains to the bodhisattvas Maker of Light (rwxšny-wnʾy) and Cittarājā (pʾzn xwtʾw = Chin. hsin wang) that all existence is one and the same without two saṃjñās (conceptions; ll. 64-65), and that what is lying and deceitful in the three worlds is all done from the mind and heart (ll. 142-43), which must, therefore, be trained with a discipline (dhūta) so that one may be able to attain true understanding.

That the Sogdian text was translated from Chinese is put beyond doubt by the word sry “head” employed in the rationalization of the name dhū(-ta) (ll. 270-77), since t’ou (t’o), the Chinese transcription of Skt. dhū(-ta), means “head, leader.” Demiéville (apud Benveniste, 1933b, pp. 239-41) proposes to identify it with an apocryphal Chinese sutra Fu wei hsin wang p’u sa shuo t’ou t’o ching “Dhūta-sūtra uttered by the Buddha for the Bodhisattva Cittarāja,” the beginning of which is known from a few Tun-huang Chinese MSS (S.2474 publ. in the Taishō Tripiṭaka LXXXV, no. 2886; Pelliot chinois 2052; for others see Tun huang i shu tsung mu so yin, Peking, 1962, p. 409). He also draws attention to the part (ll. 228-31) corresponding to another apocry-phon, Brahmajāla-sūtra (Taishō Tripiṭaka XXIV, no. 1484, p. 1008a).

The Sogdian text may perhaps be dated to the 8th or 9th century because: 1. The Chinese original Fu wei... is listed as an apocryphon in the Wu chou lu of 695 C.E. and is believed to have been composed in the Wu chou period (684-705; cf. Yabuki, p. 263). 2. The back of the Sogdian text was reused for writing several Chinese texts, one of which contains a title, “Military governor of Ho hsi [entitled] T’ai pao,” presumably referring to the ruler of Tun-huang Chang i ch’ao (r. 851-72).



É. Benveniste, “Notes sur les textes sogdiens bouddhiques du British Museum (= Notes I),” JRAS 7 1933a, esp. pp. 33-44.

Idem, “Notes sur le fragment sogdien du Buddhadhyānasamā-dhisāgarasūtra (= Notes II),” JA 223, 1933b, esp. pp. 239-41.

Idem, “Notes sogdiennes (= Notes VII),” JA 239, 1951, esp. pp. 123-24).

D. N. MacKenzie, The Buddhist Sogdian Texts of the British Library, Acta Iranica 10, Tehran and Liège, 1976, text, pp. 33-51, notes, pp. 40-48; reviewed by N. Sims-Williams, IIJ 20, 1978, pp. 256-60.

H. Reichelt, Die soghdischen Handschriftenreste des Britischen Museums I, Heidelberg, 1928, pp. 15-32.

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

K. Yabuki, Meisha yoin, Tokyo, 1932, pp. 263-66.

(Yutaka Yoshida)

Originally Published: December 15, 1995

Last Updated: November 22, 2011

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Vol. VII, Fasc. 4, p. 359