The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
|Lotus Sutra Manuscripts
|‣A Long-term Perspective
1. The Central Asian manuscripts are fragments, or damaged or partial folios, which preserve the readings from the oldest prototype texts that are thought to have been rendered in Prakrit. Unfortunately, no complete text of them hasn’t been found so far.
The Gilgit manuscripts are not complete texts either. Yet, being thought to be
the archetype of the Nepalese manuscripts, they belong to a different lineage
than the Central Asian manuscripts.
The Nepalese manuscripts are divided into the two broad categories, i.e.,
palm-leaf manuscripts copied during the 11th and 12th centuries, and paper
manuscripts copied since the 17th century. Many of them are complete texts.
Considering these facts, we need to carry out the following procedures for editing a new critical edition of the Sanskrit Lotus Sutra. Most importantly, we should designate the text based on the Gilgit manuscripts as the original. Regarding the omissions and lost portions due to damage in the Gilgit manuscripts, relevant parallel texts from the Nepalese manuscripts, many of which are complete, should be supplemented. In order to determine the relevant parallels from the Nepalese manuscripts to cover the damaged portions and omissions in the Gilgit counterparts, the first preparatory steps are to Romanize and give careful considerations to the Nepalese manuscripts, and classify them into groups.
Fortunately, the task of the classifications of the Nepalese manuscripts has been accelerated in accordance with proceedings of the series’ publications. As to which group each text belongs, please see the prefaces and other relevant articles in the series’ publications covering romanized texts.