Ratnadārikā Sūtra — Buddha's 32 marks actually 34

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Zhen Li
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Ratnadārikā Sūtra — Buddha's 32 marks actually 34

Post by Zhen Li »

Hi there everyone.

I'm almost finished a translation of the Ratnadārikā Sūtra (or "Section" of the Mahāsaṃnipāta) and it seems like I can't figure out where the numbering should go for the 32 marks. Isn't it that there are 34 marks listed here? I added a number after each mark.

佛告寶女:「如來成就無量功德,是故得成三十二相。我今於是無量事中,當略說之。如來至心護持淨戒,得足下平相 (1);修行種種惠施業故,得千輻輪相 (2);不欺一切諸眾生故,得足跟𦟛相 (3);護正法故,得指纖長相 (4);不壞他眾故,得網縵相 (5);妙服奉施故,得手足軟相 (6);淨飲食施故,得七處滿相 (7);喜聞佛法故,得鹿王𨄔相 (8);覆藏他過故,得陰藏相 (9);修善法故,得上身如師子相 (10);常以善法化眾生故,得缺骨平滿相 (11);救護怖畏故,得臂肘𦟛相 (12);見他事業樂佐助故,得手摩膝相 (13);常修十善故,得清淨身相 (14);常施病藥故,得所食之物至喉悉現相 (15);常發莊嚴修善法故,得師子頰相 (16);於諸眾生其心平等故,得四十齒相 (17);和合諍訟故,得齒密相 (18);珍寶施故,得齒齊相 (19);身口意淨故,得二牙白相 (20);護口四過故,得廣長舌相 (21);成就無量功德故,得味中上味相 (22);於眾生中常柔軟語故,得梵音相 (23);修集慈心故,得紺色目相 (24);至心求於無上菩提故,得牛王𥇒相 (25);讚歎他人所有功德故,得白毫相 (26);恭敬父母師長和上故,得肉髻相 (27);樂說深法故,得身柔軟相 (28);施敷具故[, ]得金光相 (29);遠離聚說世間事故,得一一孔一毛生相 (30);樂受善友師長教勅故,得身毛上靡相 (31);不以惡事加眾生故,得髮色金精相 (32);常勸眾生修三昧故,得身圓滿如尼拘陀相 (33);生生之處作佛像故,得那羅延力相 (34)。寶女!菩薩摩訶薩成就如是無量功德,獲得如是三十二相。」

Is it an error in transmisison/translation or should some of the marks be collected together?

Maybe someone with access to the Tibetan could give us a hint about what they have there.
:thanks:
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Re: Ratnadārikā Sūtra — Buddha's 32 marks actually 34

Post by Manjidharma »

Hello. First I want to say thank you for working on translating the Mahāsaṃnipāta. I bought both of your other two translations from Lulu, and I'm really excited to see you finish this one.

I didn't think I could help with this issue, but I happened to be reading the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra that's on WisdomLib, and there is this place where the author is describing some of these marks, except he's randomly mixing some of the 80 minor marks in with the major. He mentions the uṣṇīṣa on his head, immediately followed by a "mark of the cranium, the height of which cannot be seen". There is an appendix to this, that states: "We know that the 80 anuvyañjanas are supplementary to the 32 lakṣaṇas. In fact, the anavalokitamūrdhitā is a property of the 32nd lakṣaṇa of the Buddha, the cranial protuberance. This is what the Bodh. bhūmi says, p. 381: “The two make up a single mark of the Great Man; there is no difference between them.”

You can read it here:
https://www.wisdomlib.org/buddhism/book ... 25647.html

So I was wondering if it may be a similar issue, and that several do need to be merged. Way back at the beginning of this śāstra, the author listed out the 32 major marks:
https://www.wisdomlib.org/buddhism/book ... 25075.html

I honestly never expected any list of these marks to actually be consistent, but I tried to see if I could line them up, and surprisingly, most of them line up relatively easily, though the order isn't the same. I am trying to learn Classical Chinese, but a lot of this is still way above my abilities, so I can't match everything, but a few things that stand out:

-In the śāstra there is: 22. forty teeth; 23. close teeth; 24. white teeth.
-If I understand the Chinese, the Ratnadārikā has: 17. forty teeth; 18. close teeth; 19. even teeth; 20. two white fangs.
So I think maybe two of those should be merged.

Also the last one, 34. he gains the power of Nārāyaṇa, doesn't seem to appear in the śāstra's list at all, but ironically in the later haphazard list, the author concludes by saying "Moreover...the physical strength of the body of the Buddha surpasses ten myriads of white gandhahastins" with a footnote that says "The Buddha has the physical strength of Nārāyana, equal to myriads of white elephants in rut." So I'm thinking maybe that last one shouldn't be numbered, but is just an additional statement.

Again, I'm certainly not sure of any of this, but I'm sure you could do a better job than me at comparing these lists, or better yet find this list in the actual Chinese 大智度論.
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Re: Ratnadārikā Sūtra — Buddha's 32 marks actually 34

Post by Zhen Li »

Manjidharma wrote: Mon Oct 10, 2022 6:34 pm Hello. First I want to say thank you for working on translating the Mahāsaṃnipāta. I bought both of your other two translations from Lulu, and I'm really excited to see you finish this one.
Thank you Manjidharma. I should state again (as I think I might have mentioned in the intros to those) that I am doing this as an amateur in a way, although I also consider sūtra translation to be my vocation in that I would rather spend my life doing it rather than a day job.

Anyway, so far, Dharmakṣema's Buddhist Chinese has been excellent and almost without any ambiguities. It is truly a pleasure to read and translate his work. But the product is still something that I hope can be revised with suggestions from readers and not considered a final product. I think it is best to put forth as best a preliminary translation of as much of the tripiṭaka as we can and then go into the weeds more when we are revising (like we might do with the Vajracchedikā at this point).
Manjidharma wrote: Mon Oct 10, 2022 6:34 pm -In the śāstra there is: 22. forty teeth; 23. close teeth; 24. white teeth.
-If I understand the Chinese, the Ratnadārikā has: 17. forty teeth; 18. close teeth; 19. even teeth; 20. two white fangs.
So I think maybe two of those should be merged.

Also the last one, 34. he gains the power of Nārāyaṇa, doesn't seem to appear in the śāstra's list at all, but ironically in the later haphazard list, the author concludes by saying "Moreover...the physical strength of the body of the Buddha surpasses ten myriads of white gandhahastins" with a footnote that says "The Buddha has the physical strength of Nārāyana, equal to myriads of white elephants in rut." So I'm thinking maybe that last one shouldn't be numbered, but is just an additional statement.
Right, these are all good points. I am inclined towards merging the teeth. At the moment I am just listing the last two as 33 and 34 in square brackets.

I think the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśastra version looks like its coming from a bit too much of a different direction with these, maybe a different recension of the list developed in different regions. It should have occurred to me to check Dharmarakṣa's (DR) Ratnadarikā, which is definitely more akin to what we see in Dharmakṣema (DK), which I annotated lightly.
[0468c27] 佛告寶女:「吾往古世行無量德合集眾行,如來由是逮得三十有二大人之相遍布于體。今粗舉要。如來之相足安平立大人之相者,乃往古世堅固勸助而不退轉,未曾覆蔽他人功故 [1 flat feet]。如來手足而有法輪大人相者,乃往古世興設若干種種施故 [2 Dharma wheel on hands and feet。如來至真指纖長好大人相者,乃往古世則說經義救護眾生令無患故 [3 even, long, beautiful fingers]。如來手足生網幔理大人相者,乃往古世未曾破壞他人眷屬故 [4 webbed fingers and feet]。如來手足柔軟微妙大人相者,乃往古世而以惠施,若干種衣細軟服故 [5 flexible and subtle hands]。如來而有七合充滿大人相者,乃往古世廣設眾施,供諸乏故 [6 fullness in seven places]。如來之膝平正無節,[蹲-酋+(十/田/ㄙ)]腸如鹿大人相者,乃往古世奉受經典不違失故 [7 deerlike thighs]。如來之身其陰馬藏大人相者,乃往古世謹慎己身遠欲法故 [8 withdrawn male organ]。如來之身頰車充滿,猶如師子大人相者,乃往古世廣修淨業修行備故 [9 upper body like a lion]。如來至真常於胸前自然卍字大人相者,乃往古世蠲除穢濁不善行故 [10 swastika on his chest]。如來肢體具足成就大人相者,乃往古世施以無畏安慰人故 [11 perfectly proportioned limbs]。如來手臂長出於膝大人相者,乃往古世人有所作,佐助勸故 [12 arms reach his knees]。如來身淨而無瑕玼大人相者,乃往古世奉行十善無厭足故 [13 body is pure and without stain]。如來腦戶充滿弘備大人相者,乃往古世其有病者,若干種藥瞻視療故 [14 mouth filled ... not so clear but I think it is the mark where he tastes food fully]。如來師子步大人相者,乃往古世殖眾德本具足備故 [15 lion's gait]。如來四十齒白大人相者,乃往古世志性等仁於眾生故 [16 40 white teeth]。如來牙齒無有間疏大人相者,乃往古世設人諍鬪令合和故 [17 teeth without spaces]。如來頷牙大人相者,乃往古世則以微妙可意之物而興施故 [18 cheek teeth (canine?)]。如來清白美好髮眉大人相者,乃往古世善自護己身口心故 [19 clear, beautiful hair and eyebrows]。如來廣長舌大人相者,乃往古世所言至誠護口之過故 [20 long broad tongue]。如來舋舋大人相者,以無量福供養究竟心行仁和,與眾生願使得覆蓋 [21 splits?, might be the mark of three kinds of taste]。如來梵聲哀鸞之音大人相者,乃往古世言語柔和,與眾人言護口節辭,無央數人聞其所語無不悅故 [22 Brahmā-like voice]。如來瞳子紺青色大人相者,乃往古世常以慈目察眾人故 [23 deep blue eyes]。如來之眼如月初生大人相者,乃往古世無麁暴志,心性和順故 [24 eyes like a new moon (first time I heard this one)]。如來眉間白毫大人相者,乃往古世咨嗟歌誦閑居之德眾人行故 [25 ūrṇā]。如來頂上肉髻自然大人相者,乃往古世敬奉賢聖禮尊長故 [26 naturally proportioned uṣṇīṣa]。如來肌體柔軟妙好大人相者,乃往古世心念念集法品藏故 [27 flexible and subtle body] 。如來身形紫磨金色大人相者,乃往古世多施衣服臥具床故 [28 purplish-gold body]。如來之體一一毛生大人相者,乃往古世離於集會眾閙之故 [29 one hair per pore]。如來之毛上向右旋大人相者,乃往古世尊敬於師,受善友教稽首從故 [30 hairs turn to the right]。如來頭髮紺青色大人相者,乃往古世愍傷群黎,不以刀杖而加害故 [31 purplish blue hair]。如來之身平正方圓,無有阿曲大人相者,乃往古世己身眾生勸化安之令定意故 [32 even and round body]。如來之脊如大鉤鎖,普有威曜巍巍之德大人相者,乃往古世為諸正覺,興立形像繕修壞寺,其離散者勸使和合施無畏懼,其諍訟者化令相順故 [[33] a back like a great hook and chain? maybe this is some reference to Nārāyaṇa—as you suggest, this might be best to consider an additional comment]。女欲知之吾往世時,行於無量不可計會眾德之本,如來宿世奉行如斯,乃能致此三十有二大人之相。」
Reading through it, I am thankful I am focusing on DK's translation since that's pretty puzzling in many places.

Differences from DR in DK:
#3 = long heels
#11 (in the #10 position for Dharmarakṣa) = being evenly filled in his boneless parts. DK has no Swastika mark.
#16 (in the #15 position for DR) = jaws of a lion, clearly lion's gait doesn't belong there.
#19 (after close teeth) = straight teeth
No DR's "clear, beautiful hair and eyebrows"
No DR's "eyes like a new moon"
#25 (after blue eyes) = gait of an ox king
#31 hair point upwards rather than to the right
No DR's purplish blue hair, rather the mark of a golden colour (actually, DR's 28 is a purplish gold radiance in DK).

In light of this, I think I would incline towards counting straight teeth as going with close teeth and Nārāyaṇa as an additional comment. But this is far from settled, and every list has some differences.

Thank you for your help and interest.
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Re: Ratnadārikā Sūtra — Buddha's 32 marks actually 34

Post by Manjidharma »

Wow, DR's Chinese is a lot harder to decipher!

I initially never expected any list to be the same. I was surprised how similar it seemed when I tried to compare with one I had recently read, but seeing that DR list I have to conclude my initial instinct was right. Still it is strange that neither translator seemed to be able to count to 32 (lol).

Anyways, your humility is admirable, but the "professionals" haven't gotten this translated in several thousand years. So amateur or not, you're doing a great service by translating these texts. Besides, old Chinese writing is so open to interpretation that no translation is ever going to be definitive. It is not uncommon that I see parts of translations, by professionals, that I think are just plain wrong (in actuality, it's probably me that's mistaken most times, but it can't be every time).

I would love to live to see the entire Chinese canon translated, even if imperfect, and I hope to be able to help out someday.
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Re: Ratnadārikā Sūtra — Buddha's 32 marks actually 34

Post by Zhen Li »

I think translating the whole canon (at least if we just focus on the sutras) is possible. There is a great pace with the Agamas (Taisho 1 and 2) at the moment, thanks largely to Dharma Wheel's own Charles Patton.

There is also a lot of overlap. There are multiple versions of some sutras in the canon, and sometimes they don't need to be translated because, as with DR, they may cause more problems than solutions. However, when going over the canon if we get one version of each unique sutra we can probably consider the others "provisionally" done, and then it would be worth doing critical translations that cross-reference the other versions in later revisions.

For instance, with the Tathāgataguhya, I prioritised the Song Dynasty version because it was so clear but cross-referenced all variants in the Ratnakūṭa version. This is quite time-consuming, and I don't necessarily think it needs to be prioritised for the first round of translation, but something that an academic translation should aim to do (but actually, we rarely see that with, for instance, BDK translations, which are supposed to be done by scholars). For the Ajātaśatrukaukṛtyavinodana, the texts were so similar in many ways but different in wording that it would have been so tedious to wheedle out every variant. For the Mahāsaṃnipāta, DK's translation is usually so clear that I never felt tempted to check elsewhere, so I am trying to keep a decent pace.

If you are interested in participating in the Mahāsaṃnipāta translation at some point, please let me know. There are a couple of other people who have contributed translations. It is so long, so it is better to work on it as a team.
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