Go to site main page,
China Resources main page

Content created: 121124, File last modified: 151221
Go to Introduction, next file

topgraphic

Glossary

Names of Dramatis Personae & Other Terms

This page is intended as a reference for use with “A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms.” Since there is considerable variation in the ways in which Indian terms have been rendered into Chinese, this page does not always agree with the glossary provided for use with “The Life of the Buddha As Seen From China” (link).

Page Outline:

  1. Buddhist Monks
  2. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, Devas
  3. Disciples, Supporters, & Enemies of the Buddha
  4. Miscellaneous Buddhist Terms

Click anywhere below this line to close this window.


1. Buddhist Monks

Fǎxiǎn 法显
A monk who set out from the city of Cháng’ān 长安 (modern Xī’ān 西安 in Shǎanxī 陕西 Province) to India in quest of vinaya (discipline) texts.
Bǎoyún 宝云
A monk and noted translator of scriptures who joins Fǎxiǎn’s group in chapter 1 as it passes through in Gānsù 甘肃 province. (He leaves again in chapter 12.)
Dàozhěng 道整
One of Fǎxiǎn’s initial companions. (In chapter 36 he resolves never to leave India.)
Huìdá 慧达
A monk who joins Fǎxiǎn’s group somewhere near the southwestern edge of the Gobi Desert in chapter 3.
Huìjiǎn 慧简
A monk who joins Fǎxiǎn’s group in chapter 1 as it passes through in Gānsù 甘肃 province
Huìjǐng 慧景
One of Fǎxiǎn’s initial companions. (He dies in chapter 14.)
Huìwéi 慧嵬
One of Fǎxiǎn’s initial companions. (He dies in chapter 14.)
Huìyīng 慧应
One of Fǎxiǎn’s initial companions. (He dies in chapter 12.)
Sēngjǐng 僧景
A monk who joins Fǎxiǎn’s group in chapter 1 as it passes through in Gānsù 甘肃 province. (He leaves again in chapter 12.)
Sēngshào 僧绍
A monk who joins Fǎxiǎn’s group in chapter 1 as it passes through in Gānsù 甘肃 province. (He leaves again in chapter 4.)
Zhìyán 智严
A monk who joins Fǎxiǎn’s group in chapter 1 as it passes through in Gānsù 甘肃 province.


Click here to return to top.
Click anywhere to close window.


2. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, Devas

Sakyamuni Buddha [Shījiāmóuní Fó 释迦牟尼佛]
The historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who probably lived to about the age of eighty somewhere between about 600 and about 500 BC. In this text he is sometimes referred to as the Buddha [Fó ], sometimes by a name, and occasionally by the term bodhisattva [ Púsà 菩萨]. He is regarded as the fourth tathagata, q.v.
Avalokitesvara [Guānshìyīn 观世音]
A bodhisattva particularly associated with compassion.
Dipamkara (“Lamplighter”) Buddha [Dìngguāng Fó 定光佛 or Rándēng Fó 燃灯佛]
The immediate predecessor of Sakyamuni Buddha in the succession of teaching buddhas.
Guānshìyīn
See Avalokitesvara.
Manjusri [Wénshū-shīlì 文殊师利]
A bodhisattva often worshiped with the Buddha]
Mara [Mówáng 魔王]
The lord of the devas or demons and an enemy of the Buddha.
Mara Pisuna (“Mara of the Lusts”) [Bōxún 波旬]
A deva and an enemy of Buddhism.
Muchilinda [Wénlín 文鳞]
A king among the nagas (snakes) who encircled the meditating Buddha and protected him for seven days.
Sakra [Tiāndì Shì 天帝释]
Ruler of the devas (q.v.), opposed to the Buddha


Click here to return to top.
Click anywhere to close window.


3. Disciples, Supporters, & Enemies of the Buddha

Ambapali [Ānpóluó 庵婆罗]
A woman of mixed character during many reincarnations who was won over by the Buddha and became one of his disciples.
Ananda [Ēnántǎ 阿难塔]
A disciple of the Buddha and his favorite companion.
Anuruddha [Ēnàlǜ 阿那律]
A cousin and disciple of the Buddha
Asoka [Ēyù wáng 阿育王]
Indian king and ardent supporter of Buddhism.
Devadatta [Diàodá 调达]
Cousin and rival of the Buddha who often sought to harm him during his time on earth.. (In the biography on this website, he is called Típó-dáduō 提婆达多.)
Kasyapa [Dàjiāyè 大迦叶]
A disciple of the Buddha.
Maha-kasyapa [Dàjiāyè 大迦叶]
A disciple of the Buddha.
Maha-prajapati [Dà’àidào 大爱道]
The Buddha’s wet nurse and his first female convert]
Maudgalyayana [Mùlián 目连]
a disciple of the Buddha, renowned for his filial piety.
Shariputtra [Shèlìfú 舍利弗 or Zhìhuì 智慧]
A disciple of the Buddha, renowned for his wisdom.
Subhadra [Xūbá 须跋]
The last of the Buddha’s converts before his peri-nirvana, q.v.
Upali [Yōubōlí 优波离]
A low-caste disciple of the Buddha
Upasena [Ànbì 頞鞞]
A disciple of the Buddha.
Utpala [Yōubōluó 优钵罗]
A disciple of the Buddha.


Click here to return to top.
Click anywhere to close window.


4. Miscellaneous Buddhist Terms

abhidharma [ēpítán 阿毗昙]
Part of the Buddhist canon
anagamin [ēnàhán 阿那含]
The third class of sainthood, likely to be reborn as devas rather than people; lower than arhat, but higher than a srotapanna, q.v.
arhat [luóhàn 罗汉 or ēluóhàn 阿罗汉 ]
(1) A disciple of the Buddha. (2) The highest class of Buddhist “saint,” likely to be reborn to become a bodhisattva.
arhats [luóhàn 罗汉]
Disciples of the Buddha.
bhikshu [bǐqiū 比丘]
a male religious mendicant
bhikshuni [bǐqiūní 比丘尼]
A female mendicant.
bodhisattva [púsà 菩萨]
An enlightened person who needs to pass through only one more incarnation to become a buddha. Many believers explain that a bodhisattva defers full entry into nirvana in order to share great religious merit with struggling humanity.
Chandalas [zhāntúluó 旃荼罗]
The caste of untouchables in ancient India.
deva [típó 提婆]
Any of the gods of Hinduism, some of them seen as envious of the Buddha and opposed to his saving mission.
gatha [jì ]
Stanza, the shortest unit of a Buddhist scripture.
Hinayana (“Lesser Vehicle”) [Xiǎochéng 小乘]
Southern schools of Buddhism, such as those found in Sri Lanka and in Southeast Asia. (Today normally called Theravada because the term Hinayana is deemed demeaning.)
A Chinese unit of distance, sometimes called a “Chinese mile,” equal to about a third of an English mile, now defined as 0.5 km.
lokajyechtha (“world-honoured one”) [shìzūn 世尊]
A title applied to any buddha.
Mahasanghika (“Great Assembly”) rules [Móhē Sēnchí Zhònglǜ 摩诃僧祇众律]
A portion of the Vinaya (q.v.) containing the rules observed in the first Great Council, while the Buddha was still in the world.
Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”) [Dàchéng 大乘]
Northern schools of Buddhism, such as those found in Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan
Maitreya [Mílè 弥勒]
The buddha of the future, successor to Shakyamuni, normally referred to by the title buddha, but sometimes by the title bodhisattva.


Click here to return to top.
Click anywhere to close window.

naga [lóng ]
a broad term for large snakes, especially boas and cobras. In Buddhism they may be enemies of humans or benevolent water divinities. In southern Buddhist sculpture a pious, often multi-headed naga is represented as a guardian of the meditating Buddha.
nirvana [níhuán 泥洹 or nièpán 涅槃]
A state of liberation from the cycles of birth and death and from the misunderstandings that lead to human misery.
pancha parishad [wǔ nián dàhuì 五年大会]
a great Buddhist assembly held at five year intervals assembly.
paramita [bōluómìduō 波罗蜜多 or Liùdù 六度]
one of the six of passing to nirvana, most importantly the sixth, the Prajna-paramita [Bānruò-bōluómì 般若波罗蜜多], basis of the brief and frequently translated Heart Sutra.
pari-nirvana [bān níhuán 般泥洹]
The physical death of a person who has already attained nirvana.
patra (“tree of reflection”) [bèiduō shù 梖多树] or bo (bodhi “wisdom”) tree [pútí shù 菩提树]
A type tree under which the Buddha sat in meditation when he attained enlightenment. It is said that past buddhas have attained, and all to come must attain, to perfect wisdom beneath such a tree. Legge describes this as a kind of evergreen palm (borassus flabellifera), but most authors refer to it as a kind of fig.
pratyeka buddhas [pìzhī fó 辟支佛]
A euphemistic term for religious hermits.
sangharama [sēng qiélán 僧伽蓝]
a monastery
Sanskrit [Fànyǔ 梵语 or Fànwén 梵文]
A language of ancient India in which Hindu scriptures are written. One dialect of it, Pali, is the language of many Indian Buddhist scriptures.
sraman or sramana (Sanskrit: śramana, Pali: samana) [shāmén 沙门]
A monk who has left his family, whether or not he is a Buddhist.
(The Chinese transcription shāmén 沙门 unfortunately is also used as the modern anthropological Chinese term for a shaman, an unrelated type of religious practitioner.)
srotapanna [xūtuòhuán 须陀洹]
The first and lowest of four classes of sainthood.
sutra [jīng ]
A kind of scripture containing teachings of the Buddha. Part of the Buddhist canon.
(1) stupa. (2) pagoda.
tathagata (“rightful buddha”) [rúlái 如来]
a title given to buddhas. The Sakyamuni Buddha is considered to be the fourth tathagata [rúlái 如来 or “rightful buddha”] of the present or Maha-bhadra period (kalpa). The other three were: (1) Krakuchandra (Jūlóuqín Fó 拘楼秦佛), “he who readily solves all doubts”; (2) Kanakamuni (Jūnàshè-móuní Fó 拘那舍牟尼佛), “body radiant with the color of pure gold”; (3) Kasyapa (Jiāyè Fó 迦叶佛), “swallower of light”.
Three Precious Ones [sānbǎo 三宝]
the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Sangha (the Buddhist clergy).
Traiyatrimsas Heaven [Dāolì Tiān 忉利天]
The heaven of the beings of the ancient Indian scriptures. Often confounded with the Tushita Heaven in Chinese Buddhism.
Tushita Heaven [Dōulǜ Tiān 兜率天]
A celestial realm where bodhisattvas are reborn before their appearance on earth.
vihara [jīngshě 精舍]
(1) A wood or park used by Buddhists as a dwelling place. (2) A monastery and its grounds.
vinaya [jièlǜ 戒律 or lǜ ]
Books of discipline in the Chinese Buddhist Canon. It includes the Mahasanghika, q.v. Fǎxiǎn’s mission was largely to find copies of such materials and bring them home in hope of bettering the activities of Buddhist clerics in China.
yojana [yóuyán 由延]
An ancient Indian unit of distance, equal to about three miles.
zhǒu “elbow”
An ancient unit of measure based on the length of the forearm. Legge reckons it at 3/5 of an English cubit, the difference presumably accounted for by the inclusion in the English cubit of the hand itself as well as the forearm.

 


Return to top.