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Scripture for Humane Kings

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Scripture for Humane Kings or Sutra for Humane Kings Chinese title: Renwang jing. The Scripture for Humane Kings is one of the more influential of the East Asian Buddhist apocryphal scriptures—texts that although purported by their unknown authors to be translations of Indian works, were actually composed in China and Korea. Although its full title indicates that it is a "transcendent wisdom" (prajñāpāramitā) text, it is better characterized as a blend of transcendent wisdom 般若, Yogācāra 唯識, and tathāgatagarbha 如來藏 teachings.

This scripture is unusual in the fact that its target audience, rather than being either lay practitioners or the community of monks and nuns, is the rulership. Thus, for example, where the interlocutors in most scriptures are arhats or bodhisattvas, the discussants in this text are the kings of the sixteen ancient regions of India. The foregrounded teachings, rather than being meditation and wisdom, are "humaneness" 仁 and "forbearance" 忍, these being the most applicable religious values for the governance of a Buddhist state.

Another distinctive characteristic of this scripture is that a second "translation" was carried out a few centuries after the appearance of the original version, by the monk Pukong (不空 Amoghavajra), one of the most important figures in the Chinese Esoteric tradition. But this new version was actually just a rewrite, since there was no original Sanskrit version. This second version of the text (仁王護國般若波羅蜜經, T 246.8.834-845) while based mostly on the original version (仁王般若波羅蜜經, T 245.8.825-834), the translation of which was attributed to Kumārajīva, contains new sections that include teachings on mandala, mantra, and dhāraṇī.

In the same way that such other apocryphal works, such as the Scripture of Brahma's Net, came to hold a special authoritative position in the subsequent development of Buddhism in Korea and Japan, as well as China, the Scripture for Humane Kings became the standard model text in these East Asian countries for Buddhist-based state protection and statecraft.

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