• A sub-project of the Early Tantra project
The importance of the Mañjuśriyamūlakalpa, aka. Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa — traditionally regarded as belonging to the kriyā class of tantras — within the history of Buddhist esotericism has long been known (through the studies of Przyluski, Lalou, Macdonald and others). However the Sanskrit text that has been available so far is merely a transcription in book-form of a single manuscript, and the editor has made no attempt to solve the many problems regarding the difficult language of the text and the corruptions of the manuscript.
The importance of an ancient Nepalese palm-leaf manuscript has been pointed out by Mitsutoshi Moriguchi, but the manuscript itself has yet to be published. It is planned to produce a volume in which the text of the Nepalese manuscript will be made available in a diplomatic transcription, together with an introductory study of the significance of this recension as compared with the published version of the Sanskrit, and also with the Tibetan and Chinese translations. The volume will additionally offer a comparison of the system of this tantra with early Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava tantric traditions.
The Nepalese palm-leaf manuscript mentioned above, which belongs to the NGMPP collection of microfilmed codices, has turned out to be an anthology created by its scribe. Moreover, it can be shown that the last third of the manuscript contains long extracts from another Buddhist text. Therefore, the last part — though interesting in itself — can be ignored in producing the diplomatic transcription mentioned above.
The textual witness which had been utilized in the first edition of the text was for many decades unavailable to scholars who carried out research on the Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa. It has, however, recently become available to the members of the Early Tantra project in the form of high-quality photographs. These new materials are of great importance, for a first examination of the manuscript shows that the original editor has grossly underestimated its age and has not always recorded its readings faithfully.
Neither of the two manuscripts is dependent on the other. The new developments and findings regarding the textual witnesses make it possible and advisable to include in the planned volume — in addition to the parts mentioned above — a critical edition of some of those chapters which are covered by both valuable manuscripts.
Finally, it should be noted that the textual witnesses contain strong evidence for the assumption that Mañjuśriyamūlakalpa rather than Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa is the original title of the text.
Research Staff: Dr. Martin Delhey