In recent years, scholars have discussed the question of the sectarian affiliation of the Dharmapada source text used for the translation of the T210 Faju Jing. Scholars such as Yin Shun, Huang Chanhua, and Charles Willemen argue that the earliest section, namely the core 26 chapters, are based on the Pali Dhammapada. Lu Cheng on the other hand believed that it belonged to the Mahīśāsaka school. Bhikkhu Dhammajoti showed how a number of the verses do not have any parallels in the Pali version, and that the translation reveals that the language of the original text was probably neither Pali nor Sanskrit. Qu Dacheng argued that “the early translation belongs to the Tāmraparṇīya, Dharmaguptaka, or Mahīśāsaka school. […] The whole text belongs to the Tāmraparṇīya school joined with the Sarvāstivāda.”
Yet, in his preface Zhi Qian tells us that the translation went through three phases: early translation, subsequent translation, and compilation. For this reason, the questions of the sectarian affiliation and language of the source text, together with duplicate verses and genealogical issues among different versions of the Dharmapadas, cannot be adequately addressed without clearly distinguishing the contents belonging to the early translation and those belonging to the subsequent translation phase. It is therefore necessary to first devise a method or methods for identifying the contents of these two parts of this text.In this article I shall propose five principles for this work: comparing chapter divisions to the Pali and Sanskrit versions; comparing translation word use and word interpretation to the Pali and Sanskrit; considering mistranslated verses; considering duplicate verses; looking at the verses appended to each of the 26 core chapters. My wish with this framework is to foster interest in this work of developing methodologies for this type of textual analysis.
early translated verses, later translated verses, mistranslated verses, Faju Jing, chapter division