A Study of the Dunhuang Manuscript Karma Stories of Monk Huiyuan in the Jingyin Temple of the Sui Dynasty
ZHENG Acai;Institute of Chinese Popular Culture,Sichuan University;
Karma stories of great monks mainly record the miraculous events performed by monks to highlight their personal religious practice and experiences and to provide reference for common practitioners. These karma stories are characterized by a combination of Buddhist, historical, and literary elements; being of a narrative nature, these legendary and miraculous events are very popular methods for preaching Buddhism. Based on revised texts of Karma Stories of Monk Huiyuan in the Jingyin Temple of the Sui Dynasty from Dunhuang manuscripts P.2680, P.3570, and P.3727, this paper analyzes narrative episodes, compares them with the Biography of Huiyuan in the Supplementary Biographies of Eminent Monks, and demonstrates differences and similarities in length and narration, as well as various properties of style. Further included is an analysis of the documentary characteristics of the collections of various records of karma stories of eminent monks embedded in original Dunhuang transcripts.The author considers that the monks at that time would have to have drawn fromrecorded miracles performed by eminent monks as established in Biographies of Eminent Monks to then rewrite the "records of karma stories"for use in public preaching and ceremonial occasions.