Proto-Mahayana Features in the Agama Sutras?


Yes. Certainly it’s possible that Chu Fonian (Ven Dharmanandi?) believed 菩薩摩訶薩/púsà móhēsà was simply how one translates “bodhisattva” into Chinese and some of these are false positives for “proto-Mahāyāna features,” if I read what I think you say.

A more or less “bodhisattva-ised” adapted canon of “bodhisattva” EBTS, a canon of EBTs translated and explained from a Mahāyānika exegetical perspective through regular nested commentarial additions or interpolations, would be very interesting to read. It is very plausible one would have existed, given the way innovative bodhisattva scriptures develop themselves. Very interesting.

I think there are elderly Prākrit attestations of this reading to. Occam’s razor seems to suggest this to me at least this could be an earlier reading and the daśabhūmika exegetical tradition would be scholastic mid-Mahāyāna path mysticism. I believe Jan Nattier has a talk in which she theorizes there were originally only two bodhisattva stages, retrogradeable and non-retrogradeable. I will try to find the link to the lecture in a second.


It’s just a possibility. There’s no text critical evidence in Chinese editions in the Taisho notes to support emending the passages. It could have been the reciter or a copyist early on as well if it were spurious.

EA.27.5 is the more problematic sutra because it uses the term bodhisattva-mahasattva more often than not, which makes it less likely to be a typo. It would have been more intentional editing, but then why leave a couple bodhisattva’s without the mahasattva?

I would leave the passages as they are in an English translation as I’m loathe to correct a text simply because I suspect it may be an error. That’s one way we can end up reading a text the way we want instead of how the translator wrote it. Some typos are obvious, these are just a little suspicious because it seems inconsistent.


Edit: I thought I found more instances of mahāsattva but I did not, it was my mistake. Using quotation marks is vital.


It looks like that search is actually listing every occurrence of at least one of those characters.


Oh, I’ll fix it then. Silly me.