My understanding is that Shindoku is the Japanese reading of the Chinese characters. Someone explained it to me as follows: The symbol equal sign =
is universal; it means the same thing in all cultures; but in the US we call it "the equal sign," and in Spanish speaking countries it would be called something else, etc. So, I "get" that part. But it's still a little confusing.
I guess the next question is, why exactly did Shindoku originate? Why not just fully translate the sutra into Japanese, and just read it in Japanese? I am aware that some groups do indeed do that. But why is Shindoku even, well, in existence if the other option is there?
Another question: I've heard that "Shindoku" really isn't a language at all, and that the words themselves virtually mean nothing, as the "Japanese pronunciation of Chinese characters" is not, strictly speaking, even a language per se. I mean, the sounds
mean nothing in the way that spoken language means something. And yet ... there are places in the Shindoku readings that sound a lot like the Chinese words themselves and that appear that they may actually BE understandable. For example, "Shoman" seems to be understandable to some people, and "Shari-hotsu" seems so close to "Shariputra," who was a disciple of Buddha, correct?
Also, a question about the age of the Chinese characters. I was once told that the Chinese characters used in the Kamurajiva translation, and published in the various handbooks, are archaic and not in use anymore. And yet one day I handed an SGI service book to a Chinese friend of mine; he looked at it and translated it verbatim; he said to me, "Oh, this is saying that the wisdom of the Buddhas is understandable only between Buddhas...."
Any responses appreciated. Thanks.