Filial Piety Sutra and Chinese Society

Principle investigator (PI): Dr. Guang Xing
End date: 2008 Oct
Fund source: Li Chong Yuet Ming Buddhist Studies Fund
Research Output:
“Buddhist and Confucian Attitudes toward Life: A Comparative Study”, in International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture, Vol. 23 (2014) 7-48. 〈《父母恩重經》與《父母恩難報經》研究〉《宗教研究》,北京中國人民大學,2014年,13-50頁。

There are two versions of the text on filial piety in the Taisho edition of Tripiṭaka: No. 684, the Fumuen Nanbao Jing《父母恩難報經》– (Sūtra on the Difficulties of Repaying Parents’ Kindness), allegedly translated by An Shigao in the second century, which, as my study shows below, is an authentic version—and No.2887, the Fumu Enzhong Jing父母恩重經– (Sūtra on the Great Kindness of Parents) taken from Dunhuang, but considered as apocryphal by all scholars. The authentic sūtra became oblivious in Chinese history after its translation while the apocryphal text has been widely circulated at the popular level in Chinese society up to the present day so much so that it has been expressed in different forms such as in mural paintings, popular literature, stone carving and much more. So, one might immediately ask the following questions: why should there be an apocryphal sūtra at all in the first place since there is a genuine one? What is the relationship between these two versions? Why did the apocryphal sūtra become widely circulated in Chinese society while the genuine one has been forgotten and existed in almost complete obscurity?

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