The Śūraṅgama Sūtra，楞严经 is a
Mahāyāna Buddhist sūtra, and has been especially influential in the Chán school
of Chinese Buddhism.
An original Sanskrit version of Śūraṅgama Sūtra has not been found yet, and nobody knows its full Sanskrit name. The complete title preserved in Chinese version is 大佛頂如來密因修證了義諸菩薩萬行首楞嚴經 and may be translated as:
The Sūtra on the Śūraṅgama Mantra Spoken from above the Crown of the Great Buddha's Head, and on the Hidden Basis of the Tathagata's Myriad Bodhisattva Practices Leading to Their Verification of the Ultimate Truth.
In Chinese Buddhism, it could be shorted as Chinese: 首楞嚴經 or Chinese: 楞嚴經. That name is similar with Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra (traditional Chinese: 首楞嚴三昧經) in Chinese, so Joseph Edkins translated it to Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra in an English version. Then Charles Luk translated it to Śūraṅgama Sūtra. Śūraṅgama roughly means "indestructible." The word is composed of Śūraṅ (great, absolutely), with Gama (durable, solid).
The first catalog giving an account of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra was Zhi-sheng (Chinese: 智昇), a monk of the Tang Dynasty. Zhi-sheng said this book was brought back from Guangxi to Luoyang during the Kaiyuan era. He gave two different accounts in two different books, which were published in 730 CE.
1.According to the first account, in his book Buddhist texts catalogue of Kaiyuan era(Chinese: 開元釋教錄), the Śūraṅgama Sūtra was translated about in 713 CE by a monk Huai-Di (Chinese: 懷迪) with an unnamed Indian monk.
2.According to the second account, in his later book The story
about this translation of Buddhist scriptures mural (續古今譯經圖記), the Śūraṅgama
Sūtra was translated in May 705 CE by Śramaṇa Pāramiti from Central India, who
came to China and brought the text to the province of Guangzhou. The text was
then polished and edited by Empress Wu Zetian's former minister, court
regulator, and state censor Fang Rong(Chinese: 房融) of Qingho. The translation
was reviewed by Śramaṇa Meghaśikha from Oḍḍiyāna, and certified by Śramaṇa
Huai-di(Chinese: 懷迪) of Nanlou Monastery (南樓寺) on Mount Luofu (羅浮山).
Zhi-sheng didn't explain why he wrote two different record, but at the end of The story about this translation of Buddhist scriptures mural (續古今譯經圖記) he left a small comment, recommending readers the record at Buddish Book catalogue of Kaiyuan era is better than The story about this translation of Buddhist scriptures mural (續古今譯經圖記).
Dispute about this text arose in 8th century in Japan, so Emperor Kōnin sent a monk to china, asking whether this book is forgery or not. His Chinese teacher told him that this is was forged by Fang Yong.[h] Zhu Xi, a 12th-century Neo-confucian who was opposed to Buddhism, believed that it was created during the Tang Dynasty in China, and did not come from India. The same point of view was defended by the reformist Liang Qichao[i]. Lü Cheng(Chinese: 呂澂) wrote an essay attempting to prove this book is apocryphal, named "One hundred reasons about why Shurangama Sutra is apocryphal" (Chinese: 楞嚴百偽).
Hurvitz claims that the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is "a Chinese forgery"[unreliable source?] but gives no reason, and Faure declares it to be "apocryphal" also without a rationale. Ron Epstein gives an overview of the arguments for Indian or Chinese origin, and concludes:
The Sutra is probably a compilation of Indic materials that may have had a long literary history [...] One of the difficulties with the theory that the Sutra is apocryphal is that it would be difficult to find an author who could plausibly be held accountable for both structure and language and who would also be familiar with the doctrinal intricacies that the Sutra presents. Therefore, it seems likely that the origin of the great bulk of material in the Sutra is Indic, though it is obvious that the text was edited in China. However, a great deal of further, systematic research will be necessary to bring to light the all the details of the text's rather complicated construction.
A number of scholars have associated the Śūraṅgama Sūtra with the Buddhist tradition at Nālandā. Epstein also notes that the general doctrinal position of the sūtra does indeed correspond to what is known about the Buddhist teachings at Nālandā during this period.
The Surangama Sutra has been translated from Chinese into Tibetan under the command of the Qianlong Emperor. The Changkya Khutukhtu supervised the translation of the Surangama Sutra from Chinese to Manchu language. The text was also translated into Mongolian and Tibetan.
There are two English translations:
Charles Luk, 1967, Shurangama Sutra
Buddhist Translation Society, 2009, with a commentary by Hsüan Hua
The Śūraṅgama Sūtra contains teachings from Yogācāra,
Tathāgatagarbha, and Esoteric Buddhism. It makes use of Buddhist Logic, with its
methods of syllogism and the fourfold negation (Skt. catuṣkoṭi), first
popularized by Nāgārjuna.
Some of the main themes of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra are the worthlessness of the Dharma when unaccompanied by samādhi power, and the importance of moral precepts as a foundation for the Buddhist practice. Also stressed is the theme of how one effectively combats delusions that may arise during meditation.
Ron Epstein and David Rounds have suggested that the major themes of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra reflect the strains upon Indian Buddhism during the time of its creation. They cite the resurgence of tribal influences, and the crumbling social supports for monastic Buddhist institutions. This era also saw the emergence of Hindu tantrism and the beginnings of Esoteric Buddhism and the siddha traditions. They propose that moral challenges and general confusion about Buddhism are said to have then given rise to the themes of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, such as clear understanding of principles, moral discipline, essential Buddhist cosmology, development of samādhi, and how to avoid falling into various delusions in meditation.
The Śūraṅgama Sūtra teaches about the Śūraṅgama Samādhi, which is associated with complete enlightenment and Buddhahood. This samādhi is also featured extensively in the Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra, another Mahāyāna text. It is equally praised in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, where it is explained by the Buddha that this samādhi is the essence of the nature of the Buddha and is indeed the "mother of all Buddhas." The Buddha also comments that the Śūraṅgama Samādhi additionally goes under several other names, specifically Prajñāpāramitā ("Perfection of Wisdom"), the Vajra Samādhi ("Diamond Samadhi"), the Siṃhanāda Samādhi ("Lion's Roar Samādhi"), and the Buddhasvabhava ("Buddha-nature").
In addition to the sūtra's contents, the Sanskrit ritual speech contained in it is known in Chinese as the Léngyán Zhòu (楞严咒), or Śūraṅgama Mantra. It is well-known and popularly chanted in East Asian Buddhism. In Sanskrit, the dhāraṇī is known as the "Sitātapatra Uṣṇīṣa Dhāraṇī" (Ch. 大白傘蓋陀羅尼). This is sometimes simplified in English to "White Canopy Dhāraṇī" or "White Parasol Dhāraṇī." In Tibetan traditions, the English is instead sometimes rendered as the "White Umbrella Mantra." The dhāraṇī is extant in three other translations found in the Chinese Buddhist canon, and is also preserved in Sanskrit and Tibetan.
According to Venerable Hsuan Hua, the dharani contains five major divisions, which "control the vast demon armies of the five directions":
1.In the East is the Vajra Division, hosted by Akṣobhya Buddha;
2.In the south, the Jewel-creating Division, hosted by Ratnasaṃbhava Buddha;
3.In the center, the Buddha Division, hosted by Vairocana Buddha;
4.In the West, the Lotus Division, hosted by Amitābha Buddha;
5.In the North, the Karma Division, hosted by Amoghasiddhi Buddha.
The expedients to Samadhi
Maha-stamaprapta Bodhisattva's preachment on being mindful of the Buddha
Avalokitesvara's Dharma-Gate -- Enlightened through the gateway of ear
The four clear and decisive instructions on purity
In-depth explanation on causes and retributions
The skandha-demons of fifty classes
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