DĪRGHANAKHA-SŪTRA, a Buddhist text in which the Buddha expounds the merits of observing the eight commandments to a parivrājaka named Dīrghanakha. It was translated into Chinese by I-tsing early in the 8th century (Taishō Tripiṭaka XIV, no. 584) and the complete Sogdian version translated from the Chinese is extant. Its title is rendered in Sogdian as pwty prβʾyrtk βrznʾxʾn δynδʾry wpʾrs pwstk “Sūtra spoken by Buddha at the question of a religious man (named) Long-nailed” (cf. Sk. title Dīrghanakha-parivrājaka-paripṛcchā-sūtra reconstructed from the Chinese by Nanjio, no. 734).

The Sogdian version, which was the first Buddhist Sogdian text to be published, was first studied by Robert Gauthiot. His edition was extensively commented upon by Friedrich Weller and later revised by Émile Benveniste (pp. 74-81, 200-01; on which see Henning, pp. 730-31, 735).

The scroll containing the Dīrghanakha-sūtra discovered at Tun-huang (ms. Pelliot sogdien 5 [P5]) has recently been shown by Yutaka Yoshida, the present author, to be from the same manuscript as Pelliot sogdien 17 ([P17]; Benveniste, pp. 145-47, 231). The original scroll, which was dismembered into two parts with a loss of several dozen lines in between was composed of two sections, namely Dīrghanakha-sūtra (P5, 1-88) and a formula for receiving the eight commandments (P5, 89-125 and P17), the title of the whole text being βrz nʾxʾn δynδʾr ZY ʾštʾ škšʾpt pwstk “Sūtra of the religious Dīrghanakha and the eight commandments” (P17, 42).

The text of the second section was revised by Yoshida, who, referring to its five subsections, compares it with the Tun-huang Chinese manuscripts of similar content. The five subsections are: 1. invitations of deities as witnesses to the confession of sins (P5, 90-105); 2. a confession of sins (P5, 105-25); 3. presumably a triśaraṇa (the three-hold refuge formula of the Buddhists) lost in a lacuna; 4. reception of the eight commandments (P17, 1-33); and 5. the expression of the wish to obtain Buddhahood (P17, 34-41). Yoshida suggests that the Sogdian text seems more likely to be adapted than translated from such Chinese texts (for the Chinese texts, see Yoshida, p. 170, n. 4).



É. Benveniste, Textes sogdiens, Paris, 1940.

R. Gauthiot, “Le sūtra du religieux ongles-longs,” MSL 17, 1911-12, pp. 357-67.

W. B. Henning, “The Sogdian Texts of Paris,” BSOAS 11, 1946, pp. 713-40.

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

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

F. Weller, “Bemerkungen zum soghdischen Dīrghanakha-sūtra,” Asia Major 10, 1935, pp. 221-28.

Y. Yoshida, “On the Sogdian Formula for Receiving the Eight Commandments,” Orient 20, 1984, pp. 157-72.

(Yutaka Yoshida)

Originally Published: December 15, 1995

Last Updated: November 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 4, p. 424