APPENDIX A: THE TEXT
The biographical collection, the Lives of the Nuns,
one of a number of Chinese Buddhist biographical writings, is unique not only
because it is devoted to women but also because it covers the time of the
founding of the Buddhist assembly for women. Several other collections survive
from the same period, but these are all devoted to the lives of monks.
The most important complete biographic documents in
addition to the Lives is Shih Hui-chiao's
Kao seng chuan (Lives of eminent monks) consisting of
257 major biographies and a number of subbiographies completed "around
Another collection, much smaller, is found in the last
three chüan of Shih Seng-yu's
Ch'u san-tsang chi chi (Collected notes on the
translation of the Buddhist scriptures into Chinese).
A third collection, by Shih Pao-ch'ang, the compiler
of the Lives of the Nuns, was a collection of monks'
biographies titled the Ming seng chuan (Lives of famous
monks) (hereafter MSC).
This work is now lost, except for the table of contents and a few
extracts made by the Japanese monk Shūshō in the year 1235.
Coincidentally, one extract is also found nearly word for word in the
Lives in the biography of the Nun Feng (no. 55). This
strengthens the assumption that Pao-ch'ang is truly the compiler of the
Lives because his name is not associated with the
Lives in any extant Chinese bibliographic catalogue,
non-Buddhist, until the T'ang dynasty (618-907) catalogue K'ai-yüan shih chiao lu (The T'ang k'ai-yüan reign period collection of Buddhist
and the K'ai-yüan shih chiao lu
lüeh ch'u (The condensed T'ang k'ai-yüan
reign period catalogue of Buddhist writings).
the attribution of the Lives to Pao-ch'ang first appears
in a T'ang-dynasty catalogue, we need not suspect that the Lives is an orphan text to which a name has been arbitrarily
Nevertheless, in the T'ang-dynasty encyclopedia,
Fa yüan chu lin (The forest of pearls in the garden
of the law) (hereafter FYCL),
the Lives is not
to be found in the FYCL list of nine titles attributed
does not quote from the Lives, nor does it quote from
Pao-ch'ang's MSC. The Li tai san pao
chi (LTSPC) lists only the first eight of the nine titles given in the
FYCL. Of the eight, only the
MSC is undated. Elsewhere in the LTSPC, however, a date of 519 is given to the
Therefore, the Lives was most likely compiled between
516 and 519, despite the late attribution of the date.
It is a curious detail that the Lives is not quoted in the major encyclopedic collections,
whether Buddhist or not, from which are taken the surviving fragments of lost
works such as the Ming hsiang chi (Records of mysterious
omens) (hereafter MHC). The collections thus do not
quote from the Lives, although they quote the sources of
many of the Lives. These major collections were compiled
in the north, and probably the Lives circulated only in
the limited area of the south where it was originally compiled. The T'ang
dynasty, consolidating the rulership of the entire country, which had been
unified under the Sui dynasty (581-618), brought easier travel and concourse
than was possible during the chaotic and warring disunion of the Northern and
Southern dynasties. Only then could the Lives became
more widespread and thus finally appear in the T'ang catalogues of scriptures
with their attribution to Pao-ch'ang.
The text of the Lives as it
now stands is part of the Chinese Buddhist canon, the Ta
tsang ching (Great storehouse of scriptures), in the Taishō edition (T.) (vol. 50,
no. 2063), which is the basic text for our translation. The Lives, with the exeption of one biography, also appears in
the Ku chin t'u shu chi ch'eng (Complete collection of
books and records ancient and modern) (hereafter KCTSCC), vol. 506, a Ch'ing-dynasty (1636-1911)
encyclopedia. The text of the Lives in KCTSCC corresponds to the Ming-dynasty (1368-1644) edition
of the Buddhist canon as given in the Taishō
One other of Pao-ch'ang's works to survive, the
Ching lü yi hsiang (Different manifestations of the
scriptures and the law) (T. 53, no. 2121), is the first
title of the nine mentioned above in the FYCL.