The Story of the Dragon Princess in the Zheng fa hua jing by Zhu Fahu
The story of the Dragon Princess 龍女, which appears in the “Devadatta 提婆達多” chapter of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra that corresponds to Chapter 12 of its Chinese version by Kumārajīva, is wellknown as depicting an eight-year-old daughter of the nāga (dragon) king Sāgara who, never swerving from the path of enlightenment, manifests herself as a male bodhisattva to attain Buddhahood. Of this story there are four Chinese translations: the Sa tan fen tuo li jing 薩曇分陀利經by an unknown translator, the Zheng fa hua jing 正法華經by Zhu Fahu 竺法護(*Dharmarakṣa), the Miao fa lian hua jing 妙法蓮華經by Kumārajīva, and the Tian pin miao fa lian hua jing 添品妙法蓮華經by Jñānagupta and Dharmagupta. The Chinese translation of the story by 法意(*Dharmamati) was later incorporated into the Miao fa lian hua jing 妙法蓮華經.
The present paper aims at providing a Japanese translation of the Chinese version of the story in the Zheng fa hua jing 正法華經by Zhu Fahu. Zhu Fahu, who translated the sūtra into Chinese in 286 CE, was the first to introduce the One Vehicle doctrine into China. It is commonly accepted that the Zheng fa hua jing 正法華經is difficult to read and understand because at the time when Zhu Fahu undertook to make a Chinese translation of the sūtra Chinese Buddhist terms had not been established.
Biographies of Zhu Fahu and historical materials referring to him comment that his translation is plain and artless in comparison to Kumārajīva’s. Kawano 2007 has already pointed out that Zhu Fahu’s translation has the following characteristics:
1. The same word or phrase is differently rendered;
2. Phrases consisting of four characters tend to be used;
3. Words are coined with synonyms;
4. Supplementary expressions are used;
5. A one-to-one correspondence between Sanskrit words and their nonliteral translations;
6. Unintelligible doctrinal passages are not translated.
In addition to these, we may point out that inversion is in frequent use (7). Instances pertaining to the characteristics found in the story in the Zheng fa hua jing 正法華經are as follows: