Click here return to the Hualin main page.

Click here return to the Hualin E-Journal Vol 2.1 Table of Contents page.


Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 2.1 (2019): 229–279;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Faxian)

Download full text PDF


Was the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra 大般涅槃經 T7 Translated by ‘Faxian’?: An Exercise in the Computer-Assisted Assessment of Attributions in the Chinese Buddhist Canon

Michael RADICH
University of Heidelberg

Abstract: In the Taishō canon, the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra 大般涅槃經 T no. 7 is attributed to Faxian 法顯. However, on the basis of an examination of reports in the catalogues about various Chinese versions of the ‘mainstream’ Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, Iwamatsu Asao 岩松浅夫 once questioned whether Faxian ever translated any such text. Iwamatsu argued further, on the basis of unspecified features of translation terminology and phraseology, that T no. 7 should instead be reascribed to Guṇabhadra 求那跋陀羅. This paper will examine the problem of the attribution of T no. 7 on the basis of a detailed examination of its language.

Keywords: Faxian, Guṇabhadra, Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, Chinese Buddhist canonical ascriptions, computational philology


About the Author: Michael Radich took up his post at VUW in 2005, and received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2007. In 2009, he spent three months at Kyōto University as a visiting scholar, at the invitation of Professor Shingū Kazushige. His first monograph, published in 2011, treats the history of the Buddhist story of the sins and redemption of King Ajātaśatru, as it changed across two thousand years of Buddhist history in India, China and Japan. In the winter term of 2013- 2014, he was the Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Hamburg University Numata Center for Buddhist Studies. Dr Radich also spent the entirety of 2015 in Hamburg, this time on a Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, hosted by Prof. Dr. Michael Zimmermann.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.