QUERY> Garbhāvākrāntisūtra

Gurmeet Kaur's picture

Dear friends,

I am a Doctoral Candidate in the discipline of Women's Studies and Development at Panjab University, India. Besides this, I am pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Buddhist Studies. For my dissertation work, I am looking for the Garbhāvākrāntisūtra. Does anyone have knowledge of or access to this sūtra? Existing publications and previous research efforts would be helpful. With thanks in advance,

Gurmeet Kaur

Panjab University

Chandigarh, India.

I'd recommend Amy Paris Langenberg's excellent Birth in Buddhism: The Suffering Fetus and Female Freedom (Routledge, 2017).

Kristin Scheible
Reed College

Hi Gurmeet,

Here is the bibliographic information for Robert Kritzer's monograph from IIBS on the Garbhāvakrāntisūtra:

Kritzer, Robert. Garbhāvakrāntisūtra: The Sūtra on Entry into the Womb.
Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2013.

If you have any questions about this source you can email me at adam.krug@colorado.edu.

Best, Adam

You may find several of my publications on my Academia.edu page.

The relevant ones mostly have Garbhāvakrāntisūtra in the title.

If you can't access the page or have other problems, please contact me at kritzer@notredame.ac.jp

Rob Kritzer

Dear Gurmeet,

Robert Kritzer has a chapter devoted to the sutra in:

Kritzer, Robert. “Life in the Womb: Conception and Gestation in Buddhist Scripture and Classical Indian Literature.” In Sasson, Vanessa R. and Jane Marie Law, eds. Imagining the Fetus: The Unborn in Myth, Religion, and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Stay Safe

George Klonos

Thank you everyone for their replies. I have gone through all the sources mentioned. They are of great help, I am still looking for the Garbhāvākrāntisūtra version in any of the three original languages - Sanksrit, Tibetan or Pali.

Thank you again and in advance.

Dear Gurmeet,

For the Pali version of a Gabbhāvakkantipañha in the Milindapañha: 

https://suttacentral.net/mil5.1.6/pli/ms 

(this section was too prurient for the delicate sensibilities of T.W. Rhys-Davids, so he didn’t translate it)

There is a short section of Dīgha-nikāya 28, Sampasādanīyasutta, discussing Gabbhāvakkantidesanā, and a paragraph in DN 33, Saṅgītisutta, listing the four types of entering the womb — this latter played a role in later debates about whether or not an intermediate state between death and birth existed.

The Garbhāvakrānti sūtra appears in the Mūlasarvāstivāda vinaya and in the Mahāratnakūṭa sūtra.

The earliest Chinese translation of the Garbhāvakrāntinirdeśa is T 317 佛說胞胎經, translated by Zhu Fahu (*Dharmarakṣa) somewhere around 281-303 CE.

The Chinese translation of the Mahāratnakūṭa sūtra contains two Garbhāvakrānti-nirdeṣa-s.

Nanda-garbhāvakrānti-nirdeśa 佛說入胎藏會 / 佛爲難陀說出家入胎經, T 310 (14), i.e., the 14th sūtra of the Mahāratnakūṭa, (fascicles 56-57), translated by Yijing in 710.

And the 13th sūtra of the Mahāratnakūṭa sūtra: T 310 (13),  (fascicle 55)  佛為阿難說處胎會 Ananda-garbhāvakrānti-nirdeśa, translated by Bodhiruci.

The latter version was translated from Chinese into Tibetan by 'Gos Chos-grub (Facheng 法成):

Ārya-āyuṣman-nanda-garbhāvakrānti-nirdeśa, i.e., འཕགས་པ་ཚེ་དང་ལྡན་པ་དགའ་བོ་ལ་མངལ་དུ་འཇུག་པ་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ། ('phags pa tshe dang ldan pa dga' bo la mngal du 'jug pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo), and is found in these canonical collections:

Derge (sde dge):(D 58) dkon brtsegs, ga 237a1-248a7 (vol. 41)   |  View Source in TBRC

Peking (pe cin):(Q 760(13)) dkon brtsegs, wi 234a3-248a3 (vol. 23, p.95)

Narthang (snar thang):(N 44) dkon brtsegs, ga 408a1-426b6 (vol. 37)   |  View Source in TBRC

Cone (co ne):(C 1029(14)) dkon brtsegs, ga 280b7-294a3 (vol. 85)

Lhasa (lha sa):(H 57) dkon brtsegs, ga 380b5-399b2 (vol. 37)   |  ACIP etext   

Li-tang (li thang):(J 313) dkon brtsegs, ga 288b6-302a5 (vol. 80)

Urga (u rga):(U 58) dkon brtsegs, ga 262a1-273b1 (vol. 41)

This is the one treated in Amy Langenberg’s dissertation: The Mahāyāna sūtra called ″To Ārya Nanda about Entering the Womb″; Columbia University, 2008.

Another Tibetan version,  འཕགས་པ་དགའ་བོ་ལ་མངལ་ན་གནས་པ་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ། ('phags pa dga' bo la mngal na gnas pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo), i.e., the Ārya-ānanda-garbhāvakrānti-nirdeśa, can be found in these canonical editions:

Derge (sde dge):(D 57) dkon brtsegs, ga 205b1-236b7 (vol. 41)   |  View Source in TBRC

Peking (pe cin):(Q 760(14)) dkon brtsegs, wi 248a3-282b4 (vol. 23, p.101)

Narthang (snar thang):(N 45) dkon brtsegs, ga 426b6-477a6 (vol. 37)   |  View Source in TBRC

Cone (co ne):(C 1029(13)) dkon brtsegs, ga 244a4-280b7 (vol. 85)

Lhasa (lha sa):(H 58) dkon brtsegs, ga 399b2-448a5 (vol. 37)   |  ACIP etext   

Li-tang (li thang):(J 312) dkon brtsegs, ga 252a6-288b6 (vol. 80)

Urga (u rga):(U 57) dkon brtsegs, ga 230b1-262a1 (vol. 41)

I would reiterate the recommendation to look at Robert Kritzer's materials, such a “Tibetan Texts of Garbhāvakrāntisūtra: Differences and Borrowings,” ARIRIAB XV (2012), 131-145, which discusses the above mentioned versions, and his monograph: Robert Kritzer, Garbhāvakrāntisūtra: The Sūtra on Entry into the Womb. Studia Philologica Buddhica, Monograph Series XXXI. Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2014 (438 pages)

Good luck with your research. Just curious -- since this has already been studied and translated, what new insight are you planning to bring to the subject?

Dan Lusthaus

Dear Prof. Lusthaus,

Wow. Thank you. The list is of tremendous help to me. Since we know Garbhāvakrāntisūtra has already been studied by Prof. Kritzer and other scholars, I will try to look at it from a feminist standpoint under the larger theme of Buddhist Ethics. Thank you once again.

You may be interested in my discussion of various Theravada passages on life in the womb in: ‘Coming to be and Passing away: Buddhist Reflections on Embryonic Life, Dying and Organ Donation’, Buddhist Studies Review, vol.18, no.2, 2001, pp.183–215: https://www.academia.edu/24976863/Coming_to_Be_and_Passing_Away_Buddhist...

Peter Harvey

Dear Gurmeet Kuar,

Dan Lusthaus wrote:

"There is a short section of Dīgha-nikāya 28, Sampasādanīyasutta, discussing Gabbhāvakkantidesanā, and a paragraph in DN 33, Saṅgītisutta, listing the four types of entering the womb — this latter played a role in later debates about whether or not an intermediate state between death and birth existed."

The passage on garbhāvakrānti he refers to in the Sampasādanīyasutta may be found here: DN III 103.3–19. You might also be interested in examining the two Chinese translations of this text, which contain similar passages: T 1 77a11–17 (Dharmaguptaka), and T 18 257b22–27 (Mūlasarvāstivāda). This passage is also witnessed in the (Mūla-)Sarvāstivāda Prasādanīyasūtra of the Sanskrit Dīrghāgama manuscript found in the Gilgit area. My edition and translation (along with the above mentioned parallels) will be available via Wisdom Publications later this year (or perhaps early next year). If that's too long of a wait I am happy to share these passages if you contact me off list. You might also like to check the Sanskrit Saṅgītisūtra edited by Valentina Stache-Rosen to see if this passage also occurs there:

Stache-Rosen, Valentina (Nach Vorarbeiten von Kusum Mittal). 1968. Dogmatische Begriffsreihen im älteren Buddhismus I und II. Das Saṅgītisūtra und sein Kommentar Saṅgītiparyāya. STT 9, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

With kind regards,
Charles DiSimone