The Four Categories of Literature
Anthologies and Collected Works
Song gaosengzhuan 宋高僧傳 "Biographies of eminent monks compiled during the Song period", original title Da-Song gaoseng zhuan 大宋高僧傳 and also called Gao Song seng zhuan 高宋僧傳 or shortly Songzhuan 宋傳, is a collection of biographies of Buddhist monks mainly from the Tang period 唐 (618-907) compiled by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) monk Zanning 贊寧 (919-1001). Zanning was an important monk at the Song court in Kaifeng 開封 (modern Kaifeng, Henan), where he served as a personal cleric of Emperor Taizong 宋太宗 (r. 976-997). Zanning was also an important Buddhist writer and historian.
The 30 juan "scrolls" long Song gaosengzhuan was finished in 988 and presented to the throne as a kind of official collection. It was revised in 996. The structure of the chapters is identical to the Xu gaosengzhuan 續高僧傳 by the Tang period monk Daoxuan 道宣. At the end of each chapter, Zanning added some personal comments and deliberations. The book includes the biographies of 531 persons, with an appendix of 126 persons, from the Tang to the Five Dynasties 五代 (907-960) and the early Song periods. The Song gaosengzhuan is an important source for the history of Buddhism during the Tang period and adds information that is not included in the official dynastic histories, that traditionally are very reserved towards the history of Buddhism in China. Especially noteworthy are the informations about the organisation of the translation of texts of the Tantric Schools (mizong 密宗) that came to China during the Tang period, as well as the rise of the Chan School 禪宗 (in the West better known was Zen) and its various contending branches.
The oldest print of the Song gaosengzhuan was made produced the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by the Chan Monastery in Qisha 磧砂 (modern Wuxian 吳縣, Jiangsu) as part of the Qisha Tripitaka 磧砂版大藏經. Some other old prints were found in 1931 in the Wolong 卧龍寺 and the Kaiyuan 開元寺 monasteries in Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi. In 1987 the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 published the Song gaosengzhuan a spart of the collectaneum Zhongguo fojiao dianji xuankan 中國佛教典籍選刊. The most important modern edition has been published in 1991 by the Shanghai guji press 上海古籍出版社 as part of the the Gaosengzhuan heji 高僧傳合集. The Song gaosengzhuan is included in the Buddhist Canon Taishō Tripitaka 大正新脩大藏經 (T 2061). Unlike the other Gaoseng collections, the Song gaosengzhuan is included in the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書.
1.-4. 譯經 Yijing Translators
5.-15. 義解 Yijie Commentators
16.-20. 習禪 Xichan Professionals in meditation (from the Chan/Zen School 禪宗, the Tiantai School 天臺宗, and the Three Stages School 三階教)
21.-22. 明律 Minglü Experts in the vinaya
23.-24. 護法 Hufa Protectors of the dharma
25.-26. 感通 Gantong Sensitivity
27. 遺身 Yishen Those leaving behind their body
28. 讀誦 Dujing/song Specialists preaching the sutras
29. 興福 Xingfu Monks arousing happiness and fortune
30. 雜科 Zake Miscellanous professionals
Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (ed 1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 2257.
March 17, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
Chinese Literature over time