Chapter 12 The Dunhuang Manuscript ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ and the Qin Composition ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ 敦煌〈悉曇章〉與琴曲〈悉曇章〉

In: Harmoniousness: Essays in Chinese Musicology
Jao Tsung-i
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The early genesis of musical compositions is often obscure, the more so the qin with its history of several thousand years. This paper takes important qin pieces whose titles and musical content express the flavour of Buddhist incantations and traces their origin from the very earliest days when Sanskrit texts first entered China to the subsequent dissemination of these documents and the role that the Song dynasty Chan Buddhist master Pu’an played in the process. The pivotal moment is the late Ming dynasty when the evolution of incantation into qin composition occurred, and mention of resultant incantatory elements present in the music is also made. An important undertone throughout is relish in the persistence of a pervasive underlying influence of Sanskrit-derived Buddhist text in Chinese culture.

The qin compositions ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ (‘Xitan zhang’ 悉曇章) and ‘Pu’an Mantra’ (‘Pu’an zhou’ 普安咒) are one and the same, an identical piece given two different names, the same piece developed along two different directions, and this is common knowledge among musicologists, so there is no need to belabour the point here. Recently, these two pieces have become the topic for dissertations by graduate students of music faculties, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, essays of this type have been written. Owing to supervisors empha- sising the analysis of musical structure, these essays have neglected the situation prior to the birth of the Chan Buddhist master Pu’an 普安[庵] (1115–1169) regarding the dissemination in Chinese territory of the manuscript ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’, the process by which it combined with literature and music, as well as the period before and after the appearance in 1592 (the twentieth year of the Wanli 萬曆 era [1573–1620]) of the earliest qin score in Sanjiao tongsheng 三教同聲; and thus the facts concerning how ‘Shitan zhenyan’ 釋談真言 emanated from Pu’an and became current have not received clear and correct exposition; the dissertations cite instead a large corpus of material that has no direct bearing on the subject,1 a case no less of scratching but not curing the itch, so here from the depths of my ignorance, I will attempt to make amends.

The Sanskrit origin of the words of the title ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ is ‘passages of literature’ (zhang ) belonging to ‘Siddhaṃ’ (xitan 悉曇). Yi Jing’s (義淨, 635–713) Nanhai ji gui neifa zhuan 南海寄歸内法傳 contains a detailed account that could rank as introductory teaching material for the study of Sanskrit in India.2 ‘Siddhaṃ’ means Sanskritic script written with its own special graphic shapes that are called ‘Siddhaṃ script’. Regarding the period when Siddhaṃ script entered China, recently, by applying the fruits of my own humble research in Zhong Yin wenhua guanxishi lunji yuwenpian, ‘Xitanxue xulun’ 中印文化關係史論集語文篇—悉曇學緒論, I have corrected the erroneous assumption of many years that the process began in the late Tang dynasty. In fact, in the Liu-Song Dynasty (420–479) ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ was already in circulation.3

Near Dongting 洞庭 lake in Hunan on a cliff face on the southern slope of Jun mountain to the east of the Dragon’s Mouth (Longkou 龍口) are two carved letters of incised Siddhaṃ script, namely, ‘an and ‘hong, which are auspicious characters frequently used in Tantric incantations.4 Investigation of the epoch when they were carved has suggested that this was the fifth century, earlier than the Sanskrit stone inscriptions of the Longmen 龍門 caves (see attached figure), which is proof of the early date that the Siddhaṃ script entered China and can serve as a supplement to the deficiencies of my own published work.

The Japanese monk Annen (安然, 841–c.901) in his Repository of Siddhaṃ Script (Shittanzō 悉曇藏) frequently quotes (Liu) Song dynasty Xie Lingyun’s (謝靈運, 385–433) spoken words; and to discuss books in Sanskrit and the Kharoṣṭi (Qulou 佉樓) language, Master Xie availed himself of the period when Hui Rui (慧叡, 355–439) was sojourning at Wuyixiang (烏衣巷 ‘Black Clothes Lane’) to learn Sanskrit from him.5 Across the breadth of Indian history, scripts used include Gupta (Jiduo 笈多), Siddhaṃ, and Ranjana (Lancha 蘭查), as well as the commonly employed Devanagari (Tianchengti 天城體). The scribal form of ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ is somewhat different from Devanagari and thus another mode of writing.

Siddhaṃ script evolved to become ‘Siddhaṃ literature’, and the lexical unit ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ was used in a title to indicate an essay in praise of someone, that is, works of literature called ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ and formed from a series of interconnected passages. Many types are preserved in the Dunhuang manuscripts, but in fact they belong mostly to two genres. My humble offering Fanxue ji 梵學集 discusses this almost to excess and cites the examples 1 and 2 given below.

1 ‘Chanmen xitan zhang’ 禪門悉曇章

Paris manuscript Pelliot.3099 (Paul Pelliot; 1878–1945) is in format a small booklet whose title reads: ‘Chanmen xitan zhang bing xu’ 禪門悉談章並序 and was at an early date included in Dazheng zang (大正藏; Taishō era: 1912–1926). P.3082 that carries the title ‘Zhuza zhenyan’ 諸雜真言 is in fact this text and is also called simply ‘True Words’. Both Britain and France have this item in their collections, and the British version is numbered S.4585; Paris has in total four redactions: other than the manuscripts mentioned above, the others are P.2204 and P.2212. In the Tang dynasty, transmission through copying was extremely widespread. On the London manuscript on which is written ‘“Siddhaṃ Chapter”, eight poems’ 《悉曇章》八首 are also the dates ‘twenty-eighth year of the Kaiyuan era’ (741) 開元二十八載 and ‘the fourth and fifth years of the Tianbao era’ 天寶四載、五載 (745 and 746) written above official documents. Presumably, the latter two were written during the Tianbao era (742–756) of the Tang dynasty emperor Xuanzong (唐玄宗, 685–762, r. 712–756).

The booklet P.3099 comes with a xu introduction the gist of which is:

Let all buddhas bring their hands together and listen with pious supplication. Today, I desire to lecture on ‘The Laṅkāvatāra Sutra of Great Vehicle Buddhism: “Siddhaṃ Chapter”’. Regarding ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’, at one time, the Great Vehicle scripture resided on Laṅkā mountain (in Sri Lanka), and the teachings were thus obtained by the monk Bodhidharma (here: Putidamo, d. 536). In the first year of the Song dynasty (420), he came from southern India and brought them to the Eastern Capital (Luoyang). After discussion, Guṇabhadra (here: Batuo, 394–468), Master of the Buddhist Canon, took it upon himself respectfully to make a translation. The Sutra consists of five juan in total, which are combined into one book…. in addition, at the Temple of Assembled Goodness on Song mountain, the monk Dinghui (fl. early Tang dynasty) also made a translation of ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ that opened wide the door to dissemination of Chan Buddhist learning, which did not impede the study of wisdom and was not constrained by the requirements of providing written text. (Subsequent text omitted)

諸佛子等合掌至心聽。我今欲說〈大乘楞伽悉(談)[曇]章〉。「悉 (談)[曇]章」者,昔大乘在楞伽山,因得菩提達摩和尚。宋家元年,從南天竺來至東都,跋陀三藏法師奉諮翻譯,其經總有五卷,合成一部。……又嵩山會善(寺)沙門定惠翻出「悉談[曇]章」,廣開禪門,不妨慧學,不著文字。(下略)6

This introduction mentions the monk Guṇabhadra (in Chinese in full: Qiunabatuoluo 求那跋陀羅) of the Liu Song dynasty epoch, who had in fact moved from the ancient state of Sri Lanka (Shizi Guo 師子國) to Guangzhou in the twelfth year of the Yuanjia 元嘉 era (435) and arrived in Song dynasty territory. It also touches on the Tang dynasty and the monk Dinghui of the Temple of Assembled Goodness. From these examples the flourishing condition of Siddhaṃ Sanskritic studies can be gauged. Shi Yancong (釋彥琮, 557–611) of the Sui dynasty had a deep understanding of Sanskrit and (as given in juan 2 of Xu gaoseng zhuan 續高僧傳 by Dao Xuan 道宣, 596–667) sought ‘from phonetic specimens of Siddhaṃ script to discover its most elegant linguistic theory,’ 悉曇聲例,尋其雅論, which is just one example of this scholarly tide. The Dunhuang edition of the Tongyun 通韻 gives:

Taking ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ once more, the first two characters of the title (‘xi’) (‘tan’) form the basis of the entire wealth of sounding voices (phonetics). They can cause all (enunciated) sounds to be born and can also receive the entire wealth of sounding voices (phonetics) from elsewhere. The Six Destinies achieved a sublime victory, and language assists all from the midst.


These remarks in a specific way draw attention to the sacred function that ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ had in assembling all voiced sounds (phonetically enun- ciated sounds).

2 ‘Suliu xitan zhang’ 俗流悉曇章

See the Beijing collection item ‘Bird’ (Beijing ‘Niaozi’ 北京鳥字), no. 64, which has an introduction that gives:

That which is the ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’, for the Three Lives and the Six Destinies, achieves the sublime victory of language. At the time of the Tang dynasty, the monk Dinghui of Song mountain produced a translation and exegetical notes that rendered them congruent with the language of the state of Qin (Chinese); Kumārajīva (343–413), Tongyun, and the harmonious vocalisation lu-liu-lu-lou are the highest authorities.


Regarding the Dinghui who translated and made exegesis of ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’, Dunhuang manuscript S.5809 has a fragmentary text whose title is: ‘Daxing shansi chanshi shamen Dinghui zan’ 大興善寺禪師沙門定惠讚 ([Shi] Yancong of the Sui dynasty had taken up residence there), and it is possible that this person was the same as the Dinghui of Song mountain.9 The Greater Prosperity Goodness Temple is in Xi’an10 and all through this period was a stronghold of Sanskrit studies.

From records that have newly emerged from Dunhuang, it can be disco- vered that in the epoch before the Southern Song dynasty, ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ had many functions. The Chan Buddhist Master Pu’an added his own usages to these and during the editorial process when he finalised his ‘Shitan zhen-yan’ also represented the new dhāraṇī (tuoluoni 陀羅尼) incantations with Sanskrit symbols, as using these for mantras of Buddhist practice was both a natural formulation of linguistic resources and a simple and straightforward proposition.

Chan Master Pu’an was originally from Yichun 宜春 in Jiangxi. In the fourth year of the Shaoxing 紹興 era (1134) in the following of the monk Shou Longxian (壽隆賢, fl. twelfth century), he left home and took orders for thirteen years. He entered Hunan, visiting the Chan Master Mu Anzhong (牧庵忠, fl. twelfth century) at Wei mountain, later living at the Temple of Moulding into Kindness (Cihua si 慈化寺). Both in Hakka areas of Fujian and in Taiwan are temples where offerings are still made to the ancestral master Pu’an. How Chan Master Pu’an acquired his knowledge of Sanskrit and the situation thereof remains unknown, but in the Ming dynasty, the widespread popularity and dissemination of ‘Shitan zhenyan’ ‘promoted by the ancestral master Pu’an’ 普庵祖師流通 was an incontrovertible fact.11

Previously, I had instigated printing and publication of Zhao Yiguang (趙宧光, 1559–1625) of Han mountain’s Xitan jingzhuan 悉曇經傳.12 In this book, pages 83–6, the ‘true words’ are printed using the Sanskritic Ranjana script in Siddhaṃ letters. Here, at the opening next to the first line are ten small characters that record ‘Shitan zhenyan’ 釋談真言 and ‘promoted by the ancestral master Pu’an’. 普庵祖師流通. These prove that Pu’an was merely the person who ‘promoted’ the dissemination of the incantations and not the individual who created them. In front of this passage, Zhao Yiguang includes ‘Ke Fanshu xitan zhenyan xiaoyin’ 刻梵書悉曇真言小引; it gives:

Regarding ‘Shitan zhenyan’, across the land its glorious words are recited, but none has sought to research their origins. The received wisdom of the scholarly community retains the mistaken belief that research back through the generations indicates that the ancestral master of the practice was Pu’an. Yet what purpose is there in using the Sanskrit incantations of a foreign land and then confusing their meanings in a most muddled way; this cannot but serve as an obstacle to understanding…. I, Fanfu (Zhao Yiguang’s soubriquet), therefore collated Shuowen changjian. From a wide range of sources, I collected phonetic lettering of the type found in Xitan jingzhuan, storing specimens not yet received into Buddhist teachings or alternatively took them out to be used…. by thinking laterally in an open-hearted manner, I was able to assemble a substantial Sanskrit lexicon. ‘Shitan zhenyan’ is in fact the text that is known in common parlance as ‘Pu’an Mantra’. Pu’an was of the Tang dynasty and practised in reciting the language of the Tang dynasty.

〈釋談真言〉,世誦華文,未究厥始。學地知識,誤以世法揣摹,謂普庵此方祖師,何事作彼土梵咒,妄解意義,不能無礙。……凡夫因緝 《說文長箋》。博采音聲字母,類同《悉曇經傳》,即藏教未收者,亦或取之。……將廣心目,遂得大梵品目。〈釋談真言〉即世俗所稱〈普庵咒〉者是也。菴係唐人,習誦唐語。13

The language of the Tang dynasty and Sanskrit can easily be muddled, so I followed the example of Western Eyes (a monk’s soubriquet; untraceable) and invited Ren Naogong (fl. late sixteenth–early seventeenth centuries), a monk of Yan mountain, to edit, read, supplement, and finalise the text. Following this, I immediately ordered Qiao Er (fl. late sixteenth–early seventeenth centuries) to trace and copy the large Sanskrit letters and cut the accompanying mantras so as to afford them a circulation equivalent to the alphabet found in the Avataṃsaka Sutra: the mantras found in the two scriptures have thus been fashioned with little difference between them. The alphabet of these mantras is the precursor to all forms of writing and the mother of the letters used for the twenty scriptures, and if these mantras can be recited, then the whole Buddhist canon can be recited, and meritworthy virtuousness as deep as the vastness of the seas accumulated, such as can only be imagined…. Mañjuśrī (a bodhisattva, ancient) lectures on alphabets, Pu’an disseminates the Buddha’s words; but there cannot be two dharmas (Buddhist truths); virtuous morality is not accorded to Pu’an, and with only the ears and eyes of a country on the periphery, he has merely heard and seen, always desiring to devalue and damage the sound of Buddha preaching on the Qieleng mountain (in Sri Lanka), so that the science of phonetics is returned to the Dark Ages, and who can take responsibility for this travesty! Here, by marking them out, these errors are all exposed and expunged.


… Ming dynasty, Wanli era, xinhai 辛亥 year (1611)


Wu prefecture, Han mountain, retold by the Buddhist believer (kulapati), Master Zhao Yiguang, soubriquet Fanfu.


Zhao tells of Pu’an disseminating the Buddha’s words (that is, Siddhaṃ script) and indicates that this is of equivalent value to Mañjuśrī’s ‘Wen zimu pin’ 問字母品 and that both ‘have phonetics as their teaching’. 以音聲爲教. His book’s section on the ‘alphabet mantra’ 字母總持 records the orthodox form of greater Sanskrit script and its transformed form. Pu’an’s ‘Shitan zhenyan’, written out once more in Ranjana script by Ren Naogong of Zhending 真定, takes ‘Pu’an zhenyan’ 普庵真言 already in vernacular transmission and furnishes them with a new editorial gloss and written format; regarding Ranjana script itself, Tongwen yuntong 同文韻統 (published in 1751), juan 1, can be consulted, which contains a ‘Table of Indian Alphabets’ (‘Tianzhu zimu pu’ 天竺字母譜). After the Yuan dynasty, this alphabetic form flourished widely, and in Tibetan areas is still the standard written medium and has not yet been replaced. For biographical details on Naogong, see Liu Xianting’s (劉獻廷, 1648–1695) Guangyang zaji 廣陽雜記 as well as the forward to my own Xitan jingzhuan.

This ‘Short Introduction’ (‘Xiaoyin’ 小引) by Zhao Yiguang gives Pu’an as someone of the Tang dynasty and indicates that he was of Chinese ethnicity and had at one time practised the recitation of Tang dynasty Chinese, which clearly states that Pu’an did not understand Sanskrit. It also draws attention to ‘a text that is known in common parlance as “Pu’an Mantra”,’ which gives the impression that Zhao already knew of a text in circulation in Buddhist temples called Pu’an (Spiritual) Incantations (Pu’an [Shen] Zhou 普庵(神)咒). As part of the monastic rule of Buddhist temples, the daily recitation of Pu’an Incantations was noted at an early date by Master Cloud Perching (Yunqi 雲棲), also called Zhu Hong (祩宏, 1535–1615), in the twenty-eighth year of the Wanli era (1600) in his Daily Recitations from all the Scriptures (Zhujing risong 諸經日誦). Later, they were received into Chanmen risong 禪門日誦 (author not known, published 1834) as items for the recitation practice of ordinary members of monastic fraternities.

Zhao Yiguang’s introduction was written in the xinhai year of the Wanli era, that is, the thirty-ninth year of the era (1611), after Zhu Hong’s Daily Recitations from all the Scriptures. In the latter text, the title is ‘Pu’an dade chanshi shitan zhang shenzhou’ 普安大德禪師釋談章神咒, which is very different from Zhao’s version ‘Shitan zhenyan’ 釋談真言. When Zhao writes ‘promoted by Pu’an’, this is closest to the truth.

As for the qin piece Shitan zhang 釋談章, at the start of the Ming dynasty, it is not yet seen in Shenqi mipu 神奇秘譜 by Zhu Quan (朱權, 1378–1448) and first appears in Zhang Dexin’s (張德新, fl. sixteenth century) Sanjiao tongsheng. Zhang finished the compilation of his anthology in the twentieth year of the Wanli era (1592), and it carries an introduction by ‘the Daoist who ploughs the furrow with iron’ 鐡耕道者 Zheng Bangfu (鄭邦福, fl. sixteenth century), which gives: ‘Zhang Bintong (fl. Ming dynasty) was cognizant of the lore of the qin, … looking at his notation of the qin piece Shitan zhang, if played according to the score, it is as if listening to the assembled monks in a Buddhist monastery where Sanskrit is employed all incanting together, and its expressive plane is thus completely unique.’ 張賓桐精琴理,…… 見其《釋談章譜》按而習之,如梵宮聞眾僧咒,心異之.17 This is the first notated specimen of Shitan zhang, though whether it is a composition of Zhang’s is not indicated. In addition, Chen Dabin (陳大斌, fl. late sixteenth–early seventeenth centuries) compiled Taiyin xisheng 太音希聲 (the title is a pun on Chen Dabin’s soubriquet Taixi 太希 and could be translated as Taixi’s Notes and Sounds), and among the qin pieces in it is Shitan zhang (here 釋譚章; the second character is different, though the meaning and pronunciation are the same) in the shang mode, and in explanation of its title is given:

Taixi says: ‘This piece is by Li Shuinan (fl. late sixteenth–early seventeenth centuries; Chen Dabin’s qin teacher). At first, there was no melody of this type, and it did not conform to the principles of modal theory. Then, because Lü Xizhou (fl. sixteenth century), soubriquet Xuanju from Chongde county, had a predilection for Buddhism and Daoism, Li Shuinan reconstructed the notes of the piece according to the principles of modal theory, but it was not circulated. I kept it safe with me privately for a long time. Ever since the wuyin year of the Wanli era when it was printed, it has achieved wide distribution.’

太希曰: 此曲乃李水南所作。始無此律,繼緣崇德希周呂選居好佛老,今水南按律構音,未傳於世。不佞受之久矣。自萬曆戊寅災梨,以廣 其傳。18

This entry is worthy of close attention. The wuyin year is the sixth year of the Wanli era (1578), and this was when Li Shuinan of Deqing 德清 took Pu’an’s ‘Shitan zhenyan’ and reconstructed it according to the principles of modal theory, notating it to become a qin composition; in the sixth year of the Wanli era, it had already been taken to be cut into plates for printing and had achieved circulation, and this was prior to Zhang Dexin. Here, let the important events concerning the qin composition Shitan zhang during the Wanli era be laid out in chronological order:

Wanli era, sixth year, wuyin 萬曆六年戊寅 (1578)

Li Shuinan 李水南

The qin notation of Shitan zhang comes into circulation, however, sadly, I have not seen a copy of this edition. 《譜釋譚章》琴曲行世,可惜未見傳本.

Wanli era, the twentieth year, renchen 萬曆二年壬辰 (1592)

Zhang Dexin 張德新

Practises Shitan zhang according to the score. 按習釋談章譜.

Wanli era, the twenty-eighth year, gengzi 萬曆二十八年庚子 (1600)

Zhu Hong edits and prints 祩宏編印

Daily Recitations from all the Scriptures in which is ‘Pu’an Mantra’. 諸經日誦,內有〈普庵咒〉.

Wanli era, the thirty-seventh year, jiyou 萬曆三十七年己酉 (1609)

Yang Lun edits 楊掄編 (Yang Lun, d. 1634)

(the qin anthology) Bo Ya xinfa 伯牙心法 (Bo Ya: 387–299 BCE) which is included in Shitan zhang. 〈伯牙心法〉,收入《釋談章》.

Wanli era, the thirty-ninth year, xinhai 萬曆三十九年辛亥 (1611)

Zhao Yiguang 趙宧光

‘Shitan zhenyan’, which had been thoroughly edited by Ren Nao(gong), is incised into printing plates and issued at the instigation of Zhao Yiguang. 趙宧光刻仁淖整理的〈釋談真言〉.

Li Shuinan was a native of Deqing in Zhejiang and together with Yang Lun belonged to the Zhejiang School of qin playing. No obstacle prevents us from concluding that transforming Shitan zhang into a notated qin composition emerged from a seminal creative act of the Zhejiang School.

At the head of Zhao Yiguang’s ‘Shitan zhenyan’ is written: ‘Nangmo, (that is, “Namaḥ” or “greetings”) ka ka ka;’ 曩謨(即南無)迦迦迦 (ka ka ka); up until the last ‘“shahe” (svāhā) (equivalent to the “amen” of Christian prayer), which is where the piece concludes.’ 莎訶 (svāhā) .19 This formula does not resemble that in Sanjiao tongsheng and other qin scores, where the first section is a ‘Buddhist opening’ (fotou 佛頭) by which the pantheon of Buddhas is invited to descend to earth and approach; at the end, salutations are offered to the luminaries: ‘Namaḥ, greetings to the ancestral master Pu’an Buddha,’ 南無普庵祖師菩薩, and ‘Namaḥ, greetings to Vajra-rāja, the million-fiery-headed Buddha.’ 南無百萬火首金剛王菩薩. If this score had come directly from Pu’an himself, calling himself ‘Namaḥ Buddha’ 南無菩薩 would not have been a reasonable act. After the ‘shahe’, in Sanjiao tongsheng, the end of each qin score is always furnished with a closing phrase that acts as a ‘Buddhist closing’ (fowei 佛尾), for example: ‘With the admixture of innumerable Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils and the million-fiery-headed Vajra-rāja, whether yesterday at the borderlands or today at the abode of Buddha, Pu’an has come there, a hundredfold with no taboos,’ 增入無數天龍八部,百萬火首金剛,昨日方隅,今日佛地,普庵到此,百無禁忌,20 or something similar. Pu’an Spiritual Incantations (Pu’an shenzhou) in Chanmen risong also has ‘Buddhist opening’ and ‘Buddhist closing’ sentences, the same as are found in the qin scores. Thus, this is evidently not a feature whose prototype is found in ‘Shitan zhenyan’.

Before or after the periods covered by the four books cited above, it can be deduced that prior to the qin scores being composed, Zhu Hong took these features and inserted them into his Daily Recitations. The ‘Shitan zhenyan’ that Zhao Yiguang received did not mention qin scores at all and thus ought to have been close to the True Words in their original state as promulgated and circulated by Pu’an Yang Lun’s Bo Ya xinfa is another comparatively early qin score, whose imprint dates to the thirty-seventh year of the Wanli era (1609); an explanation of its title is given:

Note: This composition consists of the Chan Master Pu’an’s incantatory words subsequently re-moulded by others according to the modes. Owing to the composite syllables comprising two, three, or four components that Sanskrit possesses and the script that supports them, in Chinese books, only qin scores retain them; therefore, (the pre-Southern Song dynasty text) Qiyin yunjian emanates from the Western regions and is in parallel to the seven qin strings, and this indicates their provenance.


The notion that Sanskrit phonetics reflect the qin is a little contrived, though regarding the wellspring of this composition as originally consisting of incantated words is precisely in accordance with fact. Master Zhao’s book is clear proof of this. When later qin scores that included ‘Siddhaṃ Chapter’ and ‘Pu’an Mantra’ (‘Pu’an zhou’) were issued by different schools of qin playing, their melodies had evolved and become more elaborate. The distinguished (modern) scholar Fan Libin’s 范李彬 thesis already discusses these in detail,22 so they are not dwelt on here.

Figure 12.a
Figure 12.a

‘Shitan zhenyan’ (Sanskrit in the Ranjani script)

Photo Authorized by Shin Wen Feng Print Company
Figure 12.b
Figure 12.b

‘Shitan zhenyan’ (Sanskrit in the Ranjani script)

Photo Authorized by Shin Wen Feng Print Company
Figure 12.c
Figure 12.c

‘Shitan zhenyan’ (Sanskrit in the Ranjani script)

Photo Authorized by Shin Wen Feng Print Company
Figure 12.d
Figure 12.d

‘Shitan zhenyan’ (Sanskrit in the Ranjani script)

Photo Authorized by Shin Wen Feng Print Company

The Chinese University of Hong Kong: Yang Chunwei, ‘Research into the “Pu’an Mantra”’ (‘“Pu’an zhou” yanjiu’), 83–95; Taiwan: Fan Libin, Musical Research into the ‘Pu’an Mantra’ (‘Pu’an zhou’ yinyue yanjiu).


See Wang Bangwei, Nanhai ji gui neifa zhuan Jiaozhu, 189.


Anthology of Ji Xianlin’s Scholarly Essays on Buddhism (Ji Xianlin fojiao xueshu lunwenji; Ji Xianlin: 1911–2009;), 370, gives: ‘Regarding the period when Siddhaṃ script entered China, Jao Tsung-i has already made a detailed and authoritative exploration of the issue.’ 悉曇傳入中國的時間,饒宗頤有詳細考證.


See my ‘Theories regarding the Character “Hong’ (‘Hong zi shuo’ 吽字說) in Fanxue ji, 277–88.


See my Cultural Journey (Wenhua zhi lü 文化之旅) in which is ‘Xie, the Sojourner, and Kharoṣṭi Writing’. ‘Xieke yu Lüchunshu’, 39–42.


Taishō, No. 2779, ‘Foshuo Lingjia jing chanmen xitan zhang bing xu’, 85: 536.


Liu Mingshu, ‘Sitanyin jiejinglu’, 86.


Dunhuang geci zongbian, 932.


See my Fanxue ji, 205. ‘Chanmen Xitan zhang zuozhe bian’ 禪門悉曇章作者辨.


The temple still exists and neighbours the Xi’an Music Conservatoire where this translator studied for several years in the 1990s.


Pu’an’s works include: Chan Master Pu’an Yinsu’s Record of Language (Pu’an Yinsu chanshi yulu 普菴印肅禪師語錄) in three juan. Wang Zhishi et al. eds. The Complete Works of Chan Master Pu’an (Pu’an Chanshi quanji).


Jao Tsung-i, Xitan jingzhuan.


Jao Tsung-I comp., Xitan jingzhuan: Zhao Yiguang ji qi Xitan jingzhuan, 81.


Jao Tsung-I comp., Xitan jingzhuan: Zhao Yiguang ji qi Xitan jingzhuan, 81–82.


Jao Tsung-I comp., Xitan jingzhuan: Zhao Yiguang ji qi Xitan jingzhuan, 82.


Jao Tsung-I comp., Xitan jingzhuan: Zhao Yiguang ji qi Xitan jingzhuan, 82.


Tianyi ge shumu Tianyi ge beimu, comp. Fan Bangdian et al., 3A.257.


Lidai guqin wenxian huibian Qinqu shiyi juan, comp. Ai guqin tuandui, B.1233.


Jao Tsung-I comp., Xitan jingzhuan: Zhao Yiguang ji qi Xitan jingzhuan, 83, 86.


Lidai guqin wenxian huibian Qinqu shiyi juan, comp. Ai guqin tuandui, B. 1429.


Yang Lun, Boya xinfa, 23a.


See Fan Libin’s thesis, tables 2–6, summary charts of guqin pieces, which lists thirty-one types.

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