Japanese Works : Hannya Shingyō Chūkai

Japanese Works

<p style='text-align: justify;'><i>Hannya Shingyō Chūkai</i> is a Japanese edition of the best-known Buddhist scripture, the <i>Heart Sutra</i> (Japanese: Hannya Shingyō 『般若心経』). A Chinese translation of the Sanskrit Buddhist scripture Prajñāpāramitā-hdaya-sūtra, it was annotated in Chinese and Sino-Japanese by a Japanese monk. Further annotations were added by a later Japanese reader.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The earliest translation of this sutra was by Kumārajīva 鳩摩羅什 (344-413), a Buddhist monk from the Kingdom of Kucha. It was also translated by Hsüan-tsang 玄奘 (602-664). Besides these two translations, there are another five known translations of this same scripture. The Cambridge copy was based on the Hsüan-tsang translation and published with annotations. </p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> <i>The Heart Sutra</i> only has 262 Chinese characters in total; it is much shorter than other Buddhist scriptures. The text records the conversation between Avalokiteśvara (Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Sāriputta (a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha) about śūnyatā, the Buddhist concept of emptiness. It is also the digest of the six-hundred volume <i>The Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra</i> (Japanese: Daihannyagyō 『大般若経』), and it shows the idealistic thought of Mahāyāna Buddhism. This Cambridge copy was annotated from the Zen school point of view. </p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> This work was based on <i>Commentaries on the Heart Sutra</i> (Shingyō Chūso 『心経注疏』), an annotated version of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> by a T’ang Dynasty Zen school monk Nanyang Huizhong 南陽慧忠 (675-775) . Using Huizhong’s work, a Japanese Zen school monk Koō Enni 虚応円耳 (1559-1619) published this book. Among the countless editions of the Heart Sutra, Huizhong’s work is the oldest one that interprets the Heart Sutra from the Zen school point of view. Cherished in Japan, it was even published as a Five Mountains Edition (五山版, Gozan-ban) in 1364 (Jōji 3). </p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> This Cambridge copy is an old movable type edition (kokatsuji-ban 古活字版). This kind of printing technology was only in use from the end of the 16th century to the middle of the 17th century. This book has 18 folded sheets (chō 丁) and 36 pages with no pages missing. The title <i>Shingyō Chūshaku: Zen</i> 『心経注釈 全』 (The Complete Annotated Heart Sutra) has been written directly on the upper left of the front cover, but the inside cover shows the alternative title <i>Hannya Shingyō Chūkai</i> 『般若心経注解』 (Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra). The beginning of the text reads "Shamon Enni Shū" 沙門円耳集, indicating that this book was edited by Enni himself. An afterword by Enni, dated 1606 (Keichō 11), appears on the last page of the book. The colophon indicates that this book was issued in 1609 (Keichō 14) by the publisher Shōjin 正真. There are no gridlines (kyōkaku 匡郭) on any of the pages. The text from the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is printed with large, bold characters, 5 lines to a page and with 17 letters in each line. Annotations by Enni are shown in smaller letters, 10 lines to a page and with 17 letters in each line. From the first page to the ninth page, a previous reader has added guiding marks (kunten 訓点) used to render Chinese text into Japanese. </p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> There are no ownership seals in this book, except for the seal of the University Library. </p>

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