The Questions of Dirghanakha the Wandering Mendicant

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The Questions of Dirghanakha the Wandering Mendicant (Skt. Dīrghanakhaparivrājakaparipṛcchā; Tib. ཀུན་ཏུ་རྒྱུ་བ་སེན་རིངས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ།, Wyl. kun tu rgyu ba sen rings kyis zhus pa) — a sutra in which the Buddha teaches the Dharma to the fourfold sangha on Vulture Peak Mountain. The brahmin and wandering mendicant Dirghanakha approaches and questions the Buddha about his doctrine concerning the incontrovertible relationship between karma and its effects in the world. He then poses a series of ten questions regarding the karmic causes of certain attributes of the Buddha, from his vajra body to the raised ushnisha on his crown. The Buddha responds to each question with the cause for each attribute, roughly summing up the eight poshadha vows and the ways he observed them in the past. Dirghanakha drops his staff and bows to the Buddha, pledging to take refuge in the Three Jewels and maintain the eight poshadha vows.[1]


There was no known Sanskrit witness of The Questions of Dirghanakha the Wandering Mendicant available until recently, when a manuscript containing a collection of twenty sutras was found in the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Bhikṣuṇī Vinītā published a critical edition and English translation of this collection in the series Sanskrit Texts from the Autonomous Region (2010).

There is one translation of this sutra found in the Chinese Tripitaka. There is also a complete extant Sogdian version of this sutra, translated from the Chinese. The first study and (French) translation of this text was published by Robert Gauthiot in 1912 and later extensively commented on by Friedrich Weller (1934) and revised by Émile Benveniste (1940).

Tibetan Translation

The Tibetan translation of this sutra can be found in the General Sutra section of the Tibetan Dergé Kangyur, Toh 342. The text has been classified by Tibetan tradition as a sutra of the Shravakayana.


  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.