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Education The Faculty Graduate Schools Graduate School Theology and Religious Studies PhD Programme PhD ceremonies

The Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Commentary [T1775] by Sengzhao et alii and the Chinese conquest of Buddhism

PhD ceremony:Mr G. (Giacomo) Baggio
When:September 30, 2019
Start:14:30
Supervisor:prof. dr. C.K.M. (Kocku) von Stuckrad
Co-supervisors:S. (Stefania) Travagnin, dr. S. Zacchetti
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Theology and Religious Studies
The Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Commentary [T1775] by
Sengzhao et alii and the Chinese conquest of Buddhism

This thesis undertakes an in-depth analysis of the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Commentary (Zhu Weimojie jing 注維摩詰經 [T1775]), a collection of explanatory annotations on the Chinese version of the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa (406 AD) by the Kuchean translator Kumārajīva (344-413) and two of his Chinese “disciples”, namely Sengzhao 僧肇 (384-414) and Daosheng 道生 (ca 355-434). The text is analyzed and discussed from a number of different perspectives, each of those being articulated into one chapter and centered upon a specific concept. These are: 1. translation; 2. interpretation; 3. editing and transmission.

The first chapter provides a “genealogy” of the Buddhist translation activity in the city of Chang’an, focusing on the work of three translators, viz. Dharmarakṣa, Dao’an 道安 and Kumārajīva. On the basis of this historical data I then analyze the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Commentary as a typical “side-product” of Kumārajīva’s translation enterprise.

The second chapter focuses on interpretation. It examines the three major commentaries included in Zhu Weimojie jing also in the light of the cultural background and the life trajectory of each author. Along with the content of the commentaries, my analysis puts a special emphasis on the modes of trans-cultural reception of Buddhist ideas, something which also entails a discussion of the “formal features” of each work.

The third chapter focuses on the editing and transmission of the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Commentary. Here I collect and discuss the most relevant available evidence regarding the textual history of the Commentary from its composition up to its first printing.