Hui san gui yi ji 会三帰一偈(SP II.42–45) of the Zheng fa hua jing 正法華經 by Zhu Fahu 竺法護
A set of verses of the "Skillful Means Chapter” of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra (SP II.42–45), known as 会三帰一偈, expounds the doctrine that the three vehicles are to be united into one. Of this set of verses three Chinese translations are available: by Zhu Fahu 竺法護 in the Zheng fa hua jing 正法華經, by Kumārajīva in the Miao fa lian hua jing 妙法蓮華經, and by Jñ ānagupta and Dharmagupta in the Tian pin miao fa lian hua jing 添品妙法蓮華經. The earliest translation is that by 竺法護.
Biographies of 竺法護 comment that his translation is more plain and artless than Kumārajīva’s. In the Chinese Buddhist tradition the translation of 竺法護 is not highly estimated. 竺法護 flourished in the Western Jin (西晋) period (263–314 CE). It is likely that he was deeply influenced by realism, a literal tendency predominant in his time. Whatever the case may be, however, it is important to note that in his time Buddhist terminology had not been fixed. This is the main reason that he was held low in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. He had to translate the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra by employing difficult words and phrases.
The present paper aims at making clear how 竺法護 tries to translate the verses in Sanskrit into Chinese. We may point out the following features in his translation:
1. Words are coined with synonyms;
2. Supplementary expression are used;
3. Inversion is in frequent use;
4. Buddhist terms are mistakenly interpreted;
5. A five-word rhythm and a four-word rhythm are mixed.
Instances pertaining to the features are as follows:
1. 覺了，造立，勸化，患厭(SP II.42, 46, 47, 48)
2. 隨人心行而為説法(SP II.43)
3. 行能具足(SP II.51)
4. 所言至誠，從始引喩(SP II.45)