Re: [INDOLOGY] Vimuttimagga--yogin/yogāvacara

Dan Lusthaus prajnapti at
Sat Feb 23 01:15:37 UTC 2019

Dear Stuart,

The term used in Chinese is 坐禪人 = zuochan ren = a meditator, lit. “person sitting in samādhi.”

Broken down
坐 zuo = “sitting”
禪 chan = samādhi, meditation
人 ren = person

The term appears 311 times in the Vimuttimagga.

This is an early 6th c translation, and later zuochan became the term for “sitting in Chan/Zen.”

As for being unequivocal about the Indic original of that term in this text, that is difficult. 

First, the translator, 僧伽婆羅, whose name is variously transcribed as *Saṃghabhara or *Saṃghavara or *Saṃghavarman, and is translated into Chinese as Zhongkai 衆鎧 ( ‘Armor of the Saṃgha’ ), also translated Mahāyāna materials, such as The Prajñāpāramitā as Taught by Mañjuśrī, (T.233) which is a translation of the Śaptaśatikā prajñāpāramitā ( ‘Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines’); the Jñānālokālaṃkāra-sūtra (T. 358); Mahāyāna Ratnamegha sutra (T. 659), and so on, so one may question whether the original of the “Vimuttimagga” was in Pali rather than Sanskrit or some related Indic language. Some East Asian scholarship has taken to rendering its Indian title as Vimuktimārga.

Second, different translators used different equivalents for Indic terms. Zuochan ren *could* represent yogi, yogāvacara, yogācāra, yogācārya, etc., or something else. In the broadest sense, zuochan ren should be understood as “a serious practitioner.”

Hope that helps.


> On Feb 22, 2019, at 3:52 PM, Stuart Ray Sarbacker via INDOLOGY <indology at> wrote:
> Greetings,
> In looking at two variant studies of Upatissa’s Vimuttimagga, I’ve noticed that in one (Ehara/Thera/Thera, 1961) that the term “yogin” is frequently utilized, whereas in the other (Bapat, 1931) the (equivalent?) term used is “yogāvacara.” Given that the terminology of the Vimuttimagga is being re-translated into Pāli from Chinese, I’m wondering if anyone can provide clarification as to (1) what Chinese term is being translated as such; and (2) what would be a more accurate translation (if there is one) of that term, and why.
> Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!
> Best Wishes,
> Stuart
> ___
> Stuart Ray Sarbacker
> Associate Professor
> School of History, Philosophy, and Religion
> Oregon State University
> <>
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