Does anyone know of a translation of T184? I am looking for a particular section of that sutra re. the earth-touching gesture and haven’t been able to find anything.
To be clear, I don’t need the whole sutra, just that section. It shouldn’t be much more than a paragraph or so in length.
There is a partial translation of T184 in Patricia Karetzky’s book The Life of the Buddha, but it doesn’t include the section I’m looking for. I’ve contacted her to see if she has the remainder of it but last I heard she was unwell and I haven’t heard anything from her since.
Bingenheimer’s Bibliography of European Language Translations is the best source I’ve found for quickly finding translations from the Chinese tradition. It looks like Karetzky published a book called The Life of the Buddha: Ancient Scriptural and Pictorial Traditions in 1992. That’s it for English. There’s also a Dutch translation.
I can only find a reference to the bodhisattva touching the earth in the verses near the end of the text (T184.471b8-9):
Then the bodhisattva with the power of wisdom
Reached out and placed his hand on the earth. “This knows me.” (?)
In response, the whole earth quaked and thundered;
Mara and his minions were confused and fell down.
Thanks very much @cdpatton! Is there anything in the prior sentences about responding to Māra by citing his previous good deeds in previous lives? There is what I took to be a paraphrase of the section in a PhD diss by Elizabeth Guthrie:
… the Buddha responds to Mara’s challenge by referring to his good deeds in his previous lives. Then, touching the earth with his hand, he said “She knows me!”
But your translation makes me wonder if hers wasn’t just a paraphrase.
Also, while we are on this topic, does anyone know any other passages like this that indicate an animistic or panpsychistic view of nature? As in, seeing natural phenomena like the earth etc as being alive.
Yes, that’s a paraphrase. This episode is found throughout the hagiographical stories about the Buddha’s enlightenment, from Jatakas to the Lalitavistara, I would imagine.
T184 is a fairly old text, translated during the later Han (1-2 centuries CE). It seems to only cover the story up to his enlightenment. The scene is set in prose with Mara and his army arriving and attempting to frighten the bodhisattva away from the bodhi tree. When this doesn’t work, Mara addressed him in verse, asking a series of incredulous questions. The bodhisattva responds and then touches the earth for it to bear witness. It’s a bit too long and archaic to translate off the cuff at the moment.
Yes, I’ve already located it in the Lalitavistara and a few other texts around the same time period.
Understood, and thanks. Can you verify at least that there is a “call to witness” the Bodhisattva’s prior good acts, as suggested in the above paraphrase by Guthrie? ("… the Buddha responds to Mara’s challenge by referring to his good deeds in his previous lives.") If not, no worries I’ll just assume she is correct.