The Amituo jing shu 阿弥陀経疏 is a commentary on Kumārajīva’s (Chi. Jiumoluoshi 鳩摩羅什) translation of the Smaller Sukhāvatīvyūhasūtra (Chi. Amituo jing 阿弥陀経). The Taishō canon (cf. T no. 1757), alongside a few traditional catalogues, attributes the text to the Faxiang patriarch Ji 基 (632–682), but its authorship has been questioned since ancient times. My own examination of the extant recensions and historical sources also leads me to forcefully question Ji’s authorship. This paper examines two relevant textual witnesses which have been recently identified.
The first is the so-called “white paper manuscript” found at the Haein sa 海印寺 in 2005. The Haein sa manuscript contains 477 lines and is divided into 2 parts. Its latter part reproduces a fragment from the Amituo jing shu, attributing the commentary to Xingzhen 行真, a 8th century monk based at the Xuanfa si 玄法寺 in Chang’an. The fact that the Amituo jing shu is recorded in Ŭich’ŏn’s 義天 catalog (1090) suggests that the “white paper manuscript” may have been written prior to the Koryŏ dynasty.
Another important textual witness is the Amituo jing yishu 阿弥陀経義疏 found at the Shinpukuji 真福寺. This text is attributed to Sengzhao 僧肇 (384–414), the famous scholar-monk who studied under Kumārajīva. Its content, however, is identical with the Haein sa manuscript. I have compared the Shinpukuji manuscript with quotations from the Amituo jing yishu found in the Hōjisan shiki 法事讃私記, a work by Ryōchū 良忠 (1199–1287). The latter likewise identifies Sengzhao as the author of the Amituo jing yishu. It is, however, very unlikely that Sengzhao is the real author of the Amituo jing yishu. The attribution of the commentary to Xingzhen, as recorded in the Haein sa manuscript, becomes, therefore, the most important clue when discussing the authorship of the Amituo jing shu.