Xiuyao jing 宿曜經 Summary

Sutra on Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva and the Sages' Teaching on Auspicious and Inauspicious Times, Good and Evil Constellations and Planets 文殊師利菩薩及諸仙所說吉凶時日善惡宿曜經. 


2 fasc., T 1299; K 1367. Abbreviated and better known as Xiuyao jing 宿曜經. An astrology manual attributed to Mañjuśrī 文殊 and primarily but not exclusively comprised of Indian materials. It displays Chinese influences, particularly in its choice of vocabulary. Although it is listed as a translation by Amoghavajra 不空 (705–774), it is a compilation of astrological lore and methods of little immediate relation to Buddhist doctrine and with no known parallel in Sanskrit or Tibetan. Some of the contents are ethically non-Buddhist in that they sanction alcohol and violence, indicating ultimately heterodox sources. It was compiled in a period of great interest in Buddhist tantra where an astrological schedule became necessary, especially for drawing a maṇḍala 曼荼羅. The Mahāvairocana-sūtra 大日經 (T 848; translated in 724) in the second chapter insists this is to be done on an auspicious day 良日, the immediate definition of which was only briefly covered in the commentary Dari jing shu 大日經疏 (T 1796) by Yixing 一行 (683–727).


According to the preface, the first version was compiled with the assistance of Shi Yao 史瑤 and completed in 759, though it was problematic for Chinese readership and was subsequently revised under Yang Jingfeng 景風 in 764 (see fasc. 29 of the Xin Tang shu 新唐書 for mention of him in calendar reforms). Yano (1986/2013) has identified the upper fasc. 上卷 as being Yang Jingfeng's version and the lower fasc. 下卷 as the older version, though Zenba (1968) suggested the lower fasc. is appended supplementary notes. Zenba's position is incorrect because a note in the Datang Zhenyuan xu kaiyuan shijiao lu 大唐貞元續開元釋教錄 (T 2156; fasc. 1) and the original preface to the text preserved in Japan confirm Yano's conclusion.


There are two primary textual lineages of the text, being either mainland editions or Japanese manuscripts. The mainland versions show significant differences from the Japanese versions. The latter are probably closer to the original Tang version brought back by Kūkai 空海 in 806 who promoted it in Japan (it was also brought back by Tendai monks Ennin 圓仁 in 847 and Enchin 圓珍 in 858). Dōshisha University has a handwritten manuscript of the Japanese version from 1322 (148.8 | F9632; .pdf scan available on website). The existence of multiple versions was also recognized in the Edo period by Kakushō 覺勝 at Kōyasan 高野山 who compared multiple versions available to him from which he compiled as an authoritative edition published in 1736 entitled Sukuyō yōketsu 宿曜要訣. This was printed in modern typeset by Wakita Bunshō 脇田文紹 in 1897 as the Sukuyo-kyō shukusatsu 宿曜經縮刷. This version was included in the Shukuyōgyō uranai shinden 宿曜經占真傳, a compilation with modern commentary by Wakahara Yukitsune 若原敬經 (1854–1926) published in 1908, which has it running parallel to the mainland version for comparison. The Taishō version (T 1299) is based on the Korean canon's version with reference to the Ming edition. The text is listed with a variant title as Wenshu Pusa suoshuo xiuyao jing 文殊菩薩所說宿曜經 (1 fasc.) in the Chongwen zongmu 崇文總目 (fasc. 4) from 1041.


The Xiuyao jing was a secondary text in the Japanese Sukuyōdō 宿曜道 tradition between the tenth and fourteenth centuries, but is widely cited in extant Japanese Mikkyō 密教 literature. Kūkai was the first to insist on its introduction in Japan (see Kōya Daishi go kōden 高野大師御廣傳 and Kōbō Daishi go den 弘法大師御傳 in Zoku gunshoruijū 續群書類從 8) and answered questions regarding its implementation (see Hino'o kuketsu 檜尾口訣 T 2465). Ennin likewise took an interest in the text (see Jikaku Daishi den 慈覺大師傳 in Zoku gunshoruijū 8). These points highlight the significance of the text in both early Shingon 真言 and Tendai 天台 (see Yamashita 1990).


In the twentieth century there was a widespread revival of the text and its practice in Japan where a form of popular astrology based on its contents emerged, especially following the post-war 'occult boom', though such popular interpretations of the text are unscholarly (examples include Komine 1982, Haneda 2011, Uezumi 2014).


Chapter Summaries (based on Japanese version). Upper fasc. 上卷:


Chapter one defines a basic geocentric Mt.Sumeru 須彌 oriented cosmology and the layout of the ecliptic defined by twenty-eight nakṣatra-s (the text however primarily uses the twenty-seven model; see 二十八宿) and twelve zodiac houses 十二宮 plus their spatial relations to one another. The diameters of the seven planets 七曜 and their associations with the zodiacs are provided. The zodiacs are in the order of Leo 師子, Virgo , Libra , Scorpio , Sagittarius , Capricorn 磨竭, Aquarius , Pisces , Aries , Taurus , Gemini 夫妻, and Cancer . This is the ancient Indian model, differing from the text's lower fasc. which starts from Aries (the Hellenistic model), perhaps indicating multiple sources available to Amoghavajra. Predictions about individuals born under the respective signs are given. The Indian month of thirty days is defined and Yang Jingfeng's running commentary explains how it differs from the Chinese system, in particular the śukla-pakṣa 白博叉 and kṛṣṇa-pakṣa 黑博叉 (waxing and waning periods of fifteen days each), and that the Indian month begins on lunar 15 or the full moon 望月 (the pūrṇimānta method), in contrast to lunar 1 or the new moon 朔月 (the amānta method) as in China. Two circular tables are provided to visualize these differences as well as a graph (月宿傍通暦) for converting lunar days to nakṣatra days (the Japanese version excludes Abhijit for twenty-seven nakṣatra-s, whereas the Taishō uses twenty-eight). It recognizes that the moon will not necessarily precisely lodge in its assigned nakṣatra according to this schedule and likens it to a cow and calf where east is 'ahead' and west is 'behind' 東為前西爲後 (this is also mentioned in the first fasc. of the Mātaṅgī-sūtra 摩登伽經 T 1300 as well as in its Sanskrit version the Śārdūlakarṇāvadāna; see Zenba 1952):


前合 – the cow following: the nakṣatra ahead with the moon behind (*Ṛṣabhānusāri-yoga)

隨合 – the calf following: the moon ahead with the nakṣatra behind (*Vatsānusārī-yoga).

並合 – the pair together: the moon in the assigned nakṣatra (*Yuganaddha-yoga).


Chapter two details the twenty-eight nakṣatra-s 二十八宿. It lists their respective shapes and associated deities (with a few exceptions these are the same as in the Nakṣatrakalpa of the Atharvavedapariśiṣṭā), gotra-s and foods. It further details prescribed and proscribed activities as well as the consequences of cutting cloth under each nakṣatra. Predictions about the individual's personality and fate are given for each. Similarly, such details are given for groups of nakṣatra-s. Differences in the stars comprising each in comparison to the Chinese xiu 宿 are noted. In the Japanese version, Abhijit is appended at the end of the list of nakṣatra-s, not in its standard position between Uttarāṣāḍhā 斗宿 and Śravaṇa 女宿, whereas in the Taishō it is in this position, indicating editorial revision in the mainland version.


Chapter three details a method of 'three sets of nine' 三九之法, a method of electional astrology calibrated to the individual where the twenty-seven nakṣatra-s are divided into three sets. The individual's birth nakṣatra is assigned under 'life' , and the following nakṣatra-s assigned under 'prosperity' , 'decay' , 'security' , 'danger' , 'completion' , 'destruction' , 'friend' and 'family' (命榮衰安危成壞友親). The first nakṣatra of the second set is assigned under 'karma' and the following the same eight as before (業榮衰安危成壞友親). The first nakṣatra of the third set is assigned under womb '' and the following the same eight as before (胎榮衰安危成壞友親). Prescriptions and proscriptions are given for when the moon lodges in each and these would only apply to the individual in question. The planets are said to cause havoc when invading the 'life' and 'womb' assignments. A note directs one to consult the Indian calendar 天竺暦術, which indicates awareness of far more complex astrology requiring knowledge of planetary positions. Such a need was only widely fulfilled following the spread of the Futian li 符天曆 in the ninth century. In the modern popular version, the individual's compatibility with others based on their birth nakṣatra-s is determined using this model of 'three sets of nine', but this method is described only in the Taishō version.


Chapter four details the seven planets (including their names in Sogdian, Persian and Sanskrit, see七曜) and the seven day week in the modern ordering (日月火水木金土). Proscriptions and prescriptions for each day are given plus predictions about individuals born on them. A prediction is made if a given weekday falls on lunar 5/5.


Chapter five details various secret methods:


-Three types of special weekday-nakṣatra convergences (see 金剛峯日, 甘露日, 羅刹日).


- A list of directions and lunar days in which Venus' 太白 is stationed which one is advised to avoid.


- Details of the 'six harms' 六害, which are six assignments relative to one's birth nakṣatra: 'life' 命宿, 'affairs' 事宿, 'intention' 意宿, 'gathering' 聚宿, 'common' 同宿, and 'overcoming' 克宿. The seven planets transiting through these have various positive and negative effects. This is used in conjunction with the 'three sets of nine' method 三九法 in chapter three.


- Description of the nakṣatra-puruṣa, which is similar to the one described and illustrated in the Qiyao rangzai jue 七曜攘災決 (T 1308), but different from the Bṛihat-saṃhitā of Varāhamihira (chap. 105). Parts of the body are associated with nakṣatra-s. If someone does not know their birth nakṣatra, this will be determined by the astrologer who touches a part of their body.


Chapter six defines the thirty-day Indian month comprised of a śukla-pakṣa 白月 (waxing period) and kṛṣṇa-pakṣa 黒月 (waning period) converted into lunar days together with a hemerology 撰日法 for selecting auspicious days. On specific days certain Indian deities descend.


The seventh section is expressly not taught by Mañjuśrī and thus is called a section . It is not included in the Taishō. It is a complex formula for calculating weekdays 算曜直, citing a translation by the Indo-Tang Gautama family 瞿曇氏 (see 瞿曇悉達). For a study of the mathematics therein see Yano (1986/2014).


Lower fasc. 下卷:


The lower fasc. does not have chapters and is arranged by subject. Most of the content has its parallels in the upper fasc. The lower fasc. is much more Indian in characteristic and comments on misunderstandings of the Chinese, whereas the upper fasc. was clearly more adapted for Chinese readership. The Taishō version includes two different tables, but the Japanese version has only one (omitted in the Wakita edition, see the Dōshisha manuscript).




Dōshisha manuscript:


http://library.doshisha.ac.jp/ir/pdf/2012_001_001.pdf (上卷)


http://library.doshisha.ac.jp/ir/pdf/2012_001_002.pdf (下卷)


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