In the commentaries on the scriptures (mDo ’grel) in the Tibetan Tangyur, we can find two works that were translated from Chinese into Tibetan: the ’Phags pa dGongs pa zab mo nges par ’grel pa’i mdo rgya cher ’grel pa of Wen tshegs and the Dam pa’i chos puṇḍa rī ka’i ’grel pa of Sa’i rtsa lag. The former is a commentary on the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra of Woncheuk (圓測) (613-696), who came from Korea, and the latter is a commentary on the Lotus Sutra of Kuei-Chi (基) (632-682). Though both of them belong to the Chinese Fa-hsiang School (法相宗), their views on the teaching of mind-only are different, and the former is said to be criticized by successors of the latter. In this paper, I take up the latter to consider some problems in this Tibetan translation of a Chinese text.
The Dam pa’i chos puṇḍa rī ka’i ’grel pa is said to be an abridged translation of the Miao-fa-lian-hua-jing Xuan-zan (妙法蓮華経玄賛) and comes to an abrupt end in the eleventh Chapter. Comparing this Tibetan translation with its Chinese text, we can find the reasons it became a shorter version of the Chinese original: (1) the differences in chapters between the Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra and its Tibetan translation; for example, the lack of the chapter on Devadatta in the Tibetan translation or the position of the chapter on Transmission; (2) differences in the passages of the Tibetan translation of the Lotus Sutra from its Chinese translation; for example, numbers of verses or added verses in the Chinese translation; (3) Buddhist texts unknown in Tibet, namely the Ta-chih-tu-lun (大智度論), the Shih-erh-men-lun (十二 門論), the Shih-chu-p’i-p’o-sha-lun (十住毘婆沙論), etc.; (4) etymological explanations in the Chinese; for example, the title of the scripture; and (5) information known only in the Chinese tradition; for example, the differences between two Chinese translations, transmission of the scripture to China, or non-Buddhist works written in China.
The Tibetan translator consulted the Tibetan translation of the Lotus Sutra by Surendrabodhi and Ye shes sde, not the Chinese translation by Kumālajīva that Kuei-Chi depends on, when he translated citations of the scripture. This obviously led to the above-mentioned factors.
Therefore, he obviously acknowledged the differences between the two translations, and revised the citations from the scripture in consultation with its Tibetan translation. Thus, it seems that the abridgements occurred when he could not solve the problems stemming from these differences.