From the Jacket
The Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala, or Sri-mala-sutra, became the Mahayana scripture preeminent for teaching that all sentient beings have the potentiality of Buddhahood. It was an inspiration for both the Lankavatara-sutra and the Chinese classic Awakening of Faith. The translators present evidence that it was composed in the Andhra region of South India in the third century A.D. Thereafter it had remarkable success in China, and through Korea entered into the beginnings of Buddhism in Japan, where it has been important up to the present time. This, the first complete rendering of the scripture into a western language, utilizes all the known Sanskrit fragments, the Tibetan, the two Chinese versions and the Japanese renditions, Chinese and Japanese commentaries, and various studies in Japanese.
Alex Wayman was Professor of Sanskrit at Columbia University. Hideko Wayman is a graduate of Tsuda College, Tokyo, in her native Japan and has an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Extensively annotated edition of the first Buddhist scripture to maintain that all sentient beings have the potentiality of Buddhahood. "This book reflects an extraordinary linguistic and philosophical capacity resulting in a faultless piece of scholarship"
The Mahayana Buddhist scripture Srimalasimhanada-sutra is here translated from Tibetan, Sino-Japanese, and Sanskrit quotations. The translators, Alex and Hideko Wayman, have not taken any version as the basic one, but used all these versions to produce an English edition that hopefully recreates the meaning of the original. Wm. Theodore the Bary wrote a generous foreword to the first publication in 1974 when it was included among the Translations from the Oriental Classics, saying:
"Considering the popularity and importance of the Sri-Malasutra in Mahayana Buddhism, both in the Far East and in India, it is remarkable that o translation of it has appeared in a Western language. No doubt this task awaited the rather special combination of talents represented by Professor and Mrs. Wayman, who together have been able to deal with the many languages involved in its proper study. We are fortunate that the Waymans have persisted in this long and arduous project and have thereby achieved a milestone in Western study of the basic scriptures of Buddhism."
The scripture is initially noteworthy for its forceful and eloquent portrayal of "Embrace of the Illustrious Doctrine". And later particularly for its exposition of the tathagatagarbha theory (the potentiality of Buddhahood in sentient beings), for which it is the chief scripture. It is an important source for the "One Vehicle" (ekayana) doctrine, and probably unparalleled in its teaching of the lay Bodhisattva path. Among the important tenets of this scripture is its manner of differentiating the Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas from the Tathagatas by asserting that those first two have still not eliminated the nescience entrenchment (avidya-vasa-bhumi) even though having temporarily stopped flux (asrava). The scripture announces the remarkable doctrine that the Arhats, Pratyeka-buddhas, and Bodhisattvas who have attained power to be on the last three Obdhisattva stages, have respectively three bodies made of mind (manomaya-kaya) by which, and by the nescience entrenchment, they are eventually reborn.
There is the striking feature of having a queen named Srimala as the interlocutor, contrasting with other Mahayana scriptures where either well-known disciples such as Sariputra, or bodhisattvas such as Manjusri, are employed as interlocutors. The translators accepted this feature as the scripture's way of honoring certain queens in the Andhra region of South India who in the third century A.D. were supporting the Buddhist establishments there. Mr. Wayman also insisted that this scripture is an outcome of the Mahasamghika sect of Buddhism, by dint of their scripture called Mahavastu dovetailing in certain ways with the chapters of the Srimala scripture. Since few of the Mahayana scriptures have determined places of composition, and it is also striking to claim that a Mahayana scripture was composed by a so-called 'Hinayana' (lesser vehicle) sect, the rather cool reception to these theories was reasonably expected, especially on the part of modern authorities of the Tathagatagarbha literature who had not mentioned or realized such a possible background for the texts of their interest. But a confirmation was soon to come from a Buddhist art historian named Elizabeth S. Rosen. In an article "Buddhist architecture and lay patronage at Nagarjunakonda." Published in The Stupa: its Religious, Historical and Architectural Significance (Wiesbaden, 1980), this author points out an inscription at Nagarjuna-konda on a monument of the Aparamahavinaseliyas, a branch of the later Mahasamghikas. Here the chief donatrix, Queen Camtisiri, is described in words as though echoing the scriptural Srimala's eighth vow, as translated herein. Mr. Wayman also gathered together the doctrinal evidence for the Mahasamghika connection with the Tathagatagarbha theory of the Srimala scripture in an article, "The Mahasamghika the Tathagatagarbha (Buddhist Doctrinal History, Study 1), The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 1:1, 1978.
Besides reaffirming those decisions about the background of this scripture, it is well to point out a certain passage of the translation for which present knowledge may suggest a decided improvement. This is an important passage in the translation at p. 106. Mr. Wayman began to notice this when studying commentaries on the Guhyagarbhatantra that set forth three meanings of the term garbha. Also, the Indian lexicons give definitions for garbha, namely, the meanings 'womb' (kuksi), 'embryo' (bhruna) and (from Hemacandra) 'center' (madhyama). The passage in question mentions the word garbha four times, immediately preceded by four statements about attitudes that prevent one from realizing those four kinds of garbha. In the originally published translation, preserved on that page, the term garbha was rendered each time as 'embryo', no more correct than if one were to render it each time as 'matrix' or as 'womb'. By re-ordering the eight statements to respectively combine them, we arrive at this form: "Lord, this Tathagatagarbha is the Illustrious Dharmadhatu-womb, neither self nor sentient being, nor soul, nor personality. Is the Dharmakaya-embryo, not the domain of beings who fall into the belief in a real personality. Is the supramundane dharma-center, not the domain of beings who adhere to wayward views. Is the intrinsically-pure dharma-center, not the domain of beings who deviate from voidness." The Asian renderings did not help much, because the Chinese regularly takes garbha as 'womb', while Tibetan snin po aggress with the 'center' interpretation. The point is that the Dharmadhatu is a realm or place which remains whether a Tathagata, or any sentient being, arises or not. The Dharmakaya is not witnessed by persons who imagine it by form or sound. The supramundane dharma-center can be construed as dependent origination (pratitya-samutpada), which avoids the extremes of "It exists" and "It does not exist"-the wayward views. That 'center', when regarded as intrinsically pure, is identified with voidness (sunyata), since 'pure' dharmadhatu. Is 'void' dharmadhatu.
The scripture here translated Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala may well have been the most successful Mahayana scripture composed in the Andhra region of India, where the unknown composer sought to expose Buddhism in its profundity and to justify unstinting devotion while the remarkable art centres of Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda (as it would be later called) flourished apace. The scripture moved to 'China where devout and learned Buddhist monks poured over every one of its words and made many commentaries on it during the great T'ang Dynasty, mentioning it along-side of such famous scriptures as the Saddharmapundarika and the Vimalakirti. Moving to Korea and then to Japan, it was an important scripture at the early stage of Japanese Buddhism. According to the legend, Shotoku Taishi had lectured on the Sri-mala-sutra to the Empress Suiko and had composed a commentary on the sutra in the period A.D. 609-611. A later cult even believed that Prince Shotoku was an incarnation of Queen Srimala. During the Kamakura period in 1253 the painter Gyoson painted the Shoko mandara, which depicts Shotoku's previous life, after-life, and his retinue; it is a National Treasure preserved at the Horyuji. Queen Srimala is shown in the upper right-hand corner; this portion, used for the dust jacket in the present edition, was a frontispiece in the original printing.
The Buddhist Traditions series thus includes a scripture which truly had an impact.
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