Translated into Chinese by the monk Yijing in 707 CE. 36 folding leaves. Large 8vo (324 x 203 mm.), orig. yellow-brown patterned wrappers, new stitching. Yujŏmsa [“The Elm Cliff Temple”] at Kŭmgangsan Mountain: Autumn 1869.
A very rare sutra edition (not in WorldCat), printed at the “Elm Cliff Temple” at Kŭmgangsan mountain in what is today North Korea.
The Bhaisajyagurusutra is ”an eponymous Mahayan sutra that recounts the qualities, vows, and Pure Land of the buddha Bhaisajyaguru — the Master of Healing, also known as the Medicine Buddha, or the Tathagata of Lapis-Lazuli Light. The scripture was most likely written in northern India during the early centuries of the Common Era…Bhaisajyaguru vowed that his name, if merely uttered, would cure diseases, free prisoners, secure food and clothing for the impoverished, and produce other similar benefits. He also vowed that his body would be as resplendent as lapis lazuli itself so that it might illuminate the world. This sutra describes methods by which one may gain Bhaisajyaguru’s favor.”–Buswell & Lopez, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 109.
We learn from the final page that our book was printed in the fall of 1869 (Tongzhi 8), at Yujŏm-sa, or “Elm Cliff Temple,” at Kŭmgangsan, Korea’s most famous mountain, which is located in present-day North Korea. The woodblocks were kept at the temple. Yujŏm-sa was one of the four major Buddhist temples at Kŭmgangsan. A major fire destroyed much of it in 1882. In the first half of the 20th century, it turned into a tourist destination but was completely destroyed during the Korean War and has not been rebuilt.
The sutra has a preface by Naŭn (“the lazy recluse”), a monk who is known to have been at Yujŏm-sa in the 1860s. The last page carries the name and title “Master of transformations bhiksuni Sangyŏp,” referring to a high-ranking Buddhist nun.
On the pillar of leaf 32, we find the text “bhiksuni [nun] Yŏnghye, for the previous generation,” probably indicating that Yŏnghye contributed financially toward the printing. There are 17 other nuns named in other pillars throughout the book, suggesting they all helped to finance the printing of our book.
The inside of the back cover carries a manuscript note “The great donor for the printing of the sutra | the woman of pure faith [i.e., a female lay believer] born in the kyemi year [i.e., 1823], surnamed Yang. [May] the flower of marvelous enlightenment protect [her] body.”
The translator, Yijing (635-713), “dreamed of following in the footsteps of the renowned pilgrims Faxian and Xuanzang. He eventually set out for India in 671 via the southern maritime route…After a thirty-year sojourn overseas, Yijing finally returned to China in 695 with some four hundred Sanskrit texts and three hundred grains of the Buddha’s relics. Yijing was warmly welcomed in the capital of Luoyang by Empress Wu Zetian, who appointed him to the monastery of Foshoujisi…[He] devoted the next decade or so to the translation of the scriptures that he had brought back with him from India.”–Buswell & Lopez, p. 1028.
Fine and fresh copy. Minor worming, mostly marginal. With thanks to Prof. Marten Soderblom Saarela of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan.
Item ID: 8467