This work is known by the analysis of Rajendralala Mitra from which it appears to be a Tantra of the worst class and probably late. Its proper title is said to be Śrîguhyasamaja. Watanabe states that the work catalogued by Nanjio under No. 1027 and translated into Chinese about 1000 A.D. is an expurgated version of it. The Śikshâsamuccaya cites the Tathâgata-guhya-sûtra several times.
Beal says, "There is a full account of this perilous visit of Fa-Hsien, and how he was attacked by tigers, in the 'History of the High Priests." But "the high priests" merely means distinguished monks, "eminent monks," as Mr. Nanjio exactly renders the adjectival character. Nor was Fa-Hsien "attacked by tigers" on the peak. No "tigers" appear in the Memoir.
For notices of the text see Nanjio, Nos. 399, 446, 1588. Fa-Hsien, Chap. Buddhica, 1901. The Sanskrit text seems to agree with the Chinese version. Mitra's abstracts, Nepal. Bud. Lit. pp. 95 and 101. Mitra, Nepalese Buddhist Lit. pp. 285 ff. Windisch, Die Komposition des Mahâvastu, 1909. For a learned discussion of this work see Lévi and Chavannes in J.A. 1916, Nos.
His writings however prove that the Buddhism of this period was not a corrupt superstition, but could inspire and nourish some of the most beautiful thoughts which the creed has produced. Köppen, Rel. des Buddha, I. 151. Nanjio, 1237. Hsüan Chuang calls him Ch'en-na. See Watters, II. 209. The latter is probably a corruption of Kshatriya.
Wetenschappen, Letterk., R. 4 D. VIII. pp. 312-9, Amsterdam, 1907, and De la Vallée Poussin's notice of this article in J.R.A.S. 1907, pp. 434-6. S.B.E. XLIX. Nanjio, Catalogue Nos. 1-20 and Rajendralala Mitra's Nepalese Buddhist Literature, pp. 177 ff. Versions are mentioned consisting of 125,000 verses, 100,000 verses, 25,000 verses, 10,000 verses and 8,000 verses respectively.
I have referred above, and also in the Introduction, to the Corean text of Fa-Hsien's narrative, which I received from Mr. Nanjio. It is on the whole so much superior to the better-known texts, that I determined to attempt to reproduce it at the end of the little volume, so far as our resources here in Oxford would permit. To do so has not been an easy task.
Bunyiu Nanjio, who sent to me from Japan a copy, the text of which is appended to the translation and notes, and of the nature of which some account is given in the Introduction, and towards the end of this Preface. It is for the Translation that I hold myself more especially responsible. Portions of it were written out three times, and the whole of it twice.
In the "History of The Twelve Japanese Sects," by Bunyiu Nanjio, M.A. Oxon., and in "Le Bouddhisme Japonais," by Ryauon Fujishima, we have the untrammelled utterances, of nine living lights of the religion of Shaka as it is held and taught in Dai Nippon.
It is in prose, so that the expression "verses" appears not to mean that the works are Gâthâs. A Khotanese version of the Vajracchedikâ is edited in Hoernle's Manuscript Remains by Sten Konow. See Nanjio, p. 390. See B.E.F.E.O. 1911, p. 453. Fragments of a shorter and apparently earlier recension of the Lotus have been discovered in E. Turkestan.