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The Pali is transliterated as IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | Mobile (āīūŋńñţđņļ) | Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l) ]


Chinese Versions

Courtesy of Rod Bucknell and Jou Smith

Text of DA24 = T01 p0102c (=DN11):

DA24 = T01 p0102c (=DN11)

Text of MA78 = T01 p0548b(=MN49):

MA78 = T01 p0548b(=MN49)

Where the Pali has viññāṇaanaɱ anidassanaɱ anantaɱ sabbatopabhaɱ,

DA has: consciousness (which is) without shape/form, without limit, self-radiant.
That is, it is literally equivalent to the Pali.


MA, however, has: (There being) consciousness of unlimited scope, consequently (there is) unlimited knowing, unlimited vision, unlimited discrimination. My translation is a little unsure. However, there is not doubt that MA mentions only the second of the three attributes given in DA, namely limitlessness.


I don't know what one should make of this. It is typical for DA to agree with the Pali more closely than other Chinese versions. This is because the Dharmaguptakas (DA) split from the Pali tradition later than did the Sarvaastivaadins (MA, SA) and much later than the Mahaasanghikas (EA).

I find the idea of shapeless (or attributeless, or invisible) consciousness a little hard to fathom. But I see that PED gives one of the meanings of nidassana as "comparison". Could anidassana mean "without comparison", i.e. "incomparable"? That would make more sense, I feel.

According to Pande (Studies ṇ , pp 91-93), DN11 is of late derivation. It appears to be a composite of at least two earlier suttas, the point of junction being on p 215, after the sentence "And I, Kevaddha, have experienced these three miracles by my own super-knowledge." (The rest of the sutta is on a totally different topic and actually contradicts the first half by advocating supernormal powers.)

MN 49 is also under suspicion of being late, not only because of its supernatural scenario, but also because it ends with a reference to itself as a sutta and an explanation of its title.

Whether the Chinese equivalent of vinynyaa.nam. anindassanam. seen in DA is present also in other Chinese texts would be hard to establish.

JS: once we have the particular Chinese phrase we are interested in, it is not so difficult to do a search of the Chinese Aagamas. I found no other ref. in the Aagamas for "invisible consciousness", but I found three other references to measureless consciousness, but they would seem not to have Paali equivalents.




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