The Sutra of Golden Light: A Translation of Suvarnabhasottamasutra

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  • Book Name The Sutra of Golden Light: A Translation of Suvarnabhasottamasutra
  • Author R. E. Emmerick
  • Language, Pages English, 126 Pgs. (HB)
  • Last Updated 2022 / 08 / 16
  • ISBN 9788120840409,8120840402
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The Sutra of Golden Light: A Translation of Suvarnabhasottamasutra
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The present volume contains a literal translation of the Sanskrit text of the Suvarnabhasottamasutra. The translation is based on the elaborate critical edition of the Sanskrit text published by J.Nobel, Leipzig 1937 taking account of his subsequent improvements: the Nachtrag and Berichtigungen published with his edition, and various suggestions to be found in the critical apparatus to his 1944 edition of the Tibetan. The Tibetan has been compared carefully throughout. In cases where the Sanskrit text is missing, I have provided within brackets a literal rendering of the Tibetan translation, except in one instance where I have given a rendering of Dharmaksema's translation because the fragmentary Khotanese shows that Dharmaksema's translation may well reflect accurately the missing Sanskrit. The Sanskrit text as constituted by Nobel more than forty years ago clearly requires substantial revision. My original translation has evidently been helpful and encouraged further research. I shall be satisfied if this new edition, which alas has been made under great pressure of time and work, will similarly provide an impetus for continuing research. The present edition does not differ substantially from the previous one although some corrections and additions have been incorporated.
Preface

The present volume contains a literal translation of the Sanskrit text of the Suvarnabhasottama Sutra. The original edition of 1970 represented the first attempt to render the Sanskrit text into a modern European language.

The translation is based on the elaborate critical edition of the Sanskrit text published by J. Nobel, Leipzig 1937 taking account of his subsequent improvements: the Nachtrag and Berichtigungen published with his edition, and various suggestions to be found in the critical apparatus to his 1944 edition of the Tibetan.

In the preface to the first edition I wrote: `It is possible that it is because of Nobel's elaborate edition with its predominating critical apparatus that the Sanskrit text of the Suvarnabhasa has not previously been rendered into a modern European language. The words "verderbt", "dunkel", "unsicher" and the like are alarmingly frequent in his apparatus. Nevertheless, the textual corruptions have but rarely, if ever, obscured the meaning beyond discernment. Translation usually highlights textual difficulties, and I hope that by offering a translation I may succeed in attracting scholars to the task of solving them.

The hope expressed has not remained unfulfilled. I am grateful to reviewers and others who have taken up the challenge presented by this interesting text and I have endeavoured to take account of their suggestions. Reviews that have come to my notice arc: J.W. de Jong, Indo-Iranian Journal, XIV.1/2, 1972, 118-121; K.R. Norman, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1971, 197-198; F. Weller, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, 1974, 387-393.

The Tibetan has been compared carefully throughout. In cases where the Sanskrit text is missing I have provided within brackets a literal rendering of the Tibetan translation, except in one instance where I have given a rendering of Dharmaksema's translation because the fragmentary Khotanese shows that Dharmaksema's translation may well reflect accurately the missing Sanskrit.

My original translation was intended to serve as a working tool for my own research on the fragments of Khotanese versions of the Suvarnabhasottama Sutra. While working on the translation I was able to identify additional fragments and although I was aware that many more fragments remained to be discovered, I published as an appendix a preliminary list of those known at the time.

Although at the time of my original translation I compared the Khotanese versions wherever possible, it was clear as I mentioned in the original preface that they required further research and in many cases needed rereading in the light of my identifications.

When in 1975 P.O. Skjaerv visited me and asked whether I had any suggestions for a research subject suitable for a doctoral dissertation I at once proposed an edition of the Khotanese fragments of the Suvarnabhasottama Sutra. After he had done much preliminary work by himself, beginning in 1977 we read the whole text carefully together. In 1983 his edition was accepted at the University of Mainz as Habilitationsschrift. Unfortunately the edition still remains unpublished.

It has accordingly been possible to make much more use of the Khotanese material in preparing this new edition of the translation. However, I have tried to restrict the apparatus to a minimum so as not to detract from the readability of the translation. Hence reference is made to the Khotanese only when it contributes to the interpretation of the Sanskrit.

Prof. P.O. Skjaerv is also preparing a new edition of the Sanskrit text of the Suvarnabhasottama Sutra. It differs from that of Nobel mainly in the fact that he is able to make use of a Nepalese manuscript that was not available to Nobel. This is referred to here as MS. J. It is MS. No. 6 on p.163 of 'A descriptive catalogue of the Sanskrit manuscripts', Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko (The Oriental Library), 37,1979. I am most grateful to Prof. Skjaerv for making available to me a draft of this edition, which at present covers only those parts of the Sanskrit text for which corresponding Khotanese was known to him.

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