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Etienne Lamotte

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Etienne Lamotte

Étienne Paul Marie Lamotte (1903–1983) was a Belgian priest and Professor of Greek at the Catholic University of Louvain, but was better known as an Indologist and the greatest authority on Buddhism in the West in his time. He studied under his pioneering compatriot Louis de La Vallée-Poussin and was one of the few scholars familiar with all the main Buddhist languages: Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan. In 1953, he was awarded the Francqui Prize in Human Science.

The Translation of Da zhi du lun

He is also known for his French translation of the Da zhi du lun (Chinese: 大智度論, Sanskrit: Mahāprajñāpāramitā Upadeśa ), a text attributed to Nāgārjuna. Lamotte felt that the text was most likely composed by an Indian bhikkhu from the Sarvastivada tradition, who later became a convert to Mahayana Buddhism. Lamotte's translation was published in five volumes but unfortunately remains incomplete, since his death put an end to his efforts.

Other works

In addition to the Da zhi du lun, Lamotte also composed several other important translations from Mahayana sutras, including the Suramgamasamadhi sutra, and the Vimalakirti sutra.


  • Le traité de la grande vertu de sagesse de Nāgārjuna (Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra) vol. 1 (1944)
  • Le traité de la grande vertu de sagesse de Nāgārjuna (Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra) vol. 2 (1949)
  • Histoire du bouddhisme indien (1958) trans. into English as The History of Indian Buddhism 1988.
  • The Spirit of Ancient Buddhism (1961)
  • The Teaching of Vimalakirti (Vimalakīrtinirdeśa) (1962) (Pali Text Soc. trans. 1986)
  • Le traité de la grande vertu de sagesse de Nāgārjuna (Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra) vol. 3 (1970)
  • Le traité de la grande vertu de sagesse de Nāgārjuna (Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra) vol. 4 (1976)
  • Le traité de la grande vertu de sagesse de Nāgārjuna (Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra) vol. 5 (1980)
  • Karmasiddhi Prakarana, English trans. Leo M. Pruden 1988.
  • Suramgamasamadhisutra, the Concentration of Heroic Progress Curzon Press 1998

See also


  • Heinz Bechert, In Memoriam Etienne Lamotte (1903-1983), Numen, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jul., 1985), pp. 119-129.
  • André Bareau: Etienne Lamotte 1903-1983, T'oung Pao, Second Series, Vol. 69, No. 1/3 (1983), pp. i-ii.

External links

Manuscript English translations of the five volumes of the Da Zhidu Lun available from:

  • Buddhist Texts Translated by Gelongma Karma Migme Chodron

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