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Reading: Annotated English Translation of Kumārajīva's Xiaǒpǐn Prajnāpāramitā Sūtra


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Annotated English Translation of Kumārajīva's Xiaǒpǐn Prajnāpāramitā Sūtra


Huifeng Shi

Fo Guang University, TW
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Kumārajīva’s early 5th century translation entitled the Xiaŏpĭn Bānruò­bōluómì Jīng (小品般若波羅蜜經), i.e. the Small Section Prajñā­pāramitā Sūtra, is the fourth of seven Chinese translations of the early Mahāyāna text commonly known by its Sanskrit name the Aṣṭa­sāhasrikā, or in English the Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines.  While this text has generated great interest among scholars of Budhism, many have relied on the Sanskrit recensions, which are considerably later than the Xiaŏpĭn, representing an earlier source.  Even within the text as a whole, the first two chapters (of the Sanskrit) have been a focus of numerous philological attempts to ascertain a possible ur-text.  As such, the translation here is of the corresponding Chinese content of the Xiaŏpĭn, namely chapters one, two, and the start of chapter three.  Before the translation proper, the Introduction discusses the source and its editions, provides an overview of the doctrinal content of these two chapters, and discusses the voice and policy of our translation.  The English translation is not an attempt to return to its now unknown Sanskrit original, nor by reading it through later Chinese traditions, but as close as we can understand to Kumārajīva’s own under­standing and trans­lation technique.  The entire English translation is critically annotated, marking significant points of interest both internally within the text, but also externally when compared to the other Chinese translations and later Sanskrit recensions.
How to Cite: Shi, H., 2018. Annotated English Translation of Kumārajīva's Xiaǒpǐn Prajnāpāramitā Sūtra. Asian Literature and Translation, 4(1), pp.187–238. DOI:
Published on 09 Mar 2018.
Peer Reviewed


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