Translated Texts


For quick and easy access, this list gathers into a single page the texts completed and published so far, as well as showing which sections of the Kangyur they are found in.

Translated: 39
Title
Toh  83

The Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant


in
ཚོང་དཔོན་བཟང་སྐྱོང་གིས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · tshong dpon bzang skyong gis zhus pa'i mdo/
bhadrapālaśreṣṭhiparipṛcchāsutra
Summary

The Buddha’s principal interlocutor in this sūtra is a wealthy merchant who asks him to explain what consciousness is, and what happens to it when one dies and is reborn. In his characterization of consciousness, the Buddha relies heavily on the use of analogies drawn from nature. The sūtra also reflects common cultural beliefs of ancient India, such as spirit possession. In addition, it presents graphic and vividly contrasting descriptions of rebirth in the realms of the gods for those who have lived meritorious lives and in the realms of hell for those who lack merit.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa tshong dpon bzang skyong gis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryabhadrapālaśreṣṭhi­paripṛcchā­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  85

The Question of Maitreya


in
བྱམས་པས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · byams pas zhus pa'i mdo/
maitreyaparipṛcchāparivartasūtra
Summary

The Bodhisattva Maitreya asks the Buddha what qualities a bodhisattva needs to attain enlightenment quickly. The Buddha outlines several sets of qualities, foremost among them the altruistic intention of perfect bodhicitta. The Buddha then recounts to Ānanda how, in a former life, Maitreya revered a previous Buddha and, wishing to become just like him, at once realized that all phenomena are unproduced. Ānanda asks why Maitreya did not become a buddha sooner, and in answer the Buddha compares Maitreya’s bodhisattva career with his own, listing further sets of qualities that differentiate them and recounting examples of the hardships he himself faced in previous lives. Maitreya, on the other hand, has followed the easy bodhisattva vehicle using its skillful means, such as the seven branch practice and the training in the six perfections; the aspirations he thus made are set out in the famous “Prayer of Maitreya” for which this sūtra is perhaps best known. The Buddha declares that Maitreya will become enlightened when sentient beings have fewer negative emotions, in contrast to the ignorant and turbulent beings he himself vowed to help.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa byams pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo/
  • 'phags pa byams pas zhus pa lung bstan pa/
  • āryamaitreyaparipṛcchā­nāmamahāyānasūtra
  • āryamaitreya­paripṛcchāparivarta­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  86

The Question of Maitreya on the Eight Qualities


in
བྱམས་པས་ཆོས་བརྒྱད་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · byams pas chos brgyad zhus pa'i mdo/
maitreyaparipṛcchādharmāṣṭa
Summary

Maitreya asks the Buddha what qualities a bodhisattva needs in order to be sure of completing the path to buddhahood. In response, the Buddha briefly lists eight qualities. Starting with the excellent intention to become enlightened, they include loving kindness, as well as realization of the perfection of wisdom, which the Buddha explains in terms of reflection on the twelve links of dependent origination.

Title variants
  • byams pas zhus pa'i mdo/
  • āryamaitreyaparipṛcchā­nāmamahāyānasūtra
  • 'phags pa byams pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • 'phags pa byams pas zhus pa chos brgyad pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryamaitreyaparipṛcchādharmāṣṭanāmamahāyānasūtra
  • 'phags pa byams pas chos brgyad zhus pa lung bstan pa (title in pre-title introduction)
  • maitreyaparipṛcchā­dharmāṣṭavyākaraṇa
  • The Noble Elucidation of Maitreya's Question on the Eight Qualities

Toh  95

The Play in Full


in
རྒྱ་ཆེར་རོལ་པ། · rgya cher rol pa/
lalitavistara
Summary

The Play in Full tells the story of how the Buddha manifested in this world and attained awakening as perceived from the perspective of the Great Vehicle. The sūtra, which is structured in twenty-seven chapters, first presents the events surrounding the Buddha’s birth, childhood, and adolescence in the royal palace of his father, king of the Śākya nation. It then recounts his escape from the palace and the years of hardship he faced in his quest for spiritual awakening. Finally the sūtra reveals his complete victory over the demon Māra, his attainment of awakening under the Bodhi tree, his first turning of the wheel of Dharma, and the formation of the very early Saṅgha.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa rgya cher rol pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryalalitavistara­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  100

The Ornament of the Light of Awareness


in
ཡེ་ཤེས་སྣང་བའི་རྒྱན་གྱི་མདོ། · ye shes snang ba'i rgyan gyi mdo/
sarvabuddhaviṣayāvatāra­jñānālokālaṃkārasūtra
Summary

The main topic of this sūtra is an explanation of how the Buddha and all things share the very same empty nature. Through a set of similes, the sūtra shows how an illusion-like Buddha may dispense appropriate teachings to sentient beings in accordance with their propensities. His activities are effortless since his realization is free from concepts. Thus, the Tathāgata’s non-conceptual awareness results in great compassion beyond any reference point.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa sangs rgyas thams cad kyi yul la 'jug pa'i ye shes snang ba'i rgyan ces bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo/
  • The Mahāyāna Sūtra, The Ornament of the Light of Awareness that Enters the Domain of All Buddhas
  • āryasarvabuddha­viṣayāvatāra­jñānālokālaṃkāra­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  115

The Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī


in
བདེ་བ་ཅན་གྱི་བཀོད་པའི་མདོ། · bde ba can gyi bkod pa'i mdo/
sukhāvatīvyūhasūtra
Summary

In the Jeta Grove of Śrāvastī, Buddha Śākyamuni, surrounded by a large audience, presents to his disciple Śāriputra a detailed description of the realm of Sukhāvatī, a delightful, enlightened abode, free of suffering. Its inhabitants are described as mature beings in an environment where everything enhances their spiritual inclinations. The principal buddha of Sukhāvatī is addressed as Amitāyus (Limitless Life) as well as Amitābha (Limitless Light). Buddha Śākyamuni further explains how virtuous people who focus single-mindedly on Buddha Amitābha will obtain a rebirth in Sukhāvatī in their next life, and he urges all to develop faith in this teaching. In support, he cites the similar way in which the various buddhas of the six directions exhort their followers to develop confidence in this teaching on Sukhāvatī. The sūtra ends with a short dialogue between Śāriputra and Buddha Śākyamuni that highlights the difficulty of enlightened activity in a degenerate age.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa bde ba can gyi bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryasukhavativyūhasūtra­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  116

The Basket's Display


in
ཟ་མ་ཏོག་བཀོད་པ། · za ma tog bkod pa/
kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra
Summary

The Basket’s Display (Kāraṇḍavyūha) is the source of the most prevalent mantra of Tibetan Buddhism: oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ. It marks a significant stage in the growing importance of Avalokiteśvara within Indian Buddhism in the early centuries of the first millennium. In a series of narratives within narratives, the sūtra describes Avalokiteśvara’s activities in various realms and the realms contained within the pores of his skin. It culminates in a description of the extreme rarity of his mantra, which, on the Buddha’s instructions, Bodhisattva Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin obtains from someone in Vārāṇasī who has broken his monastic vows. This sūtra provided a basis and source of quotations for the teachings and practices of the eleventh-century Maṇi Kabum, which itself served as a foundation for the rich tradition of Tibetan Avalokiteśvara practice.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa za ma tog bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryakāraṇḍavyūhanāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  122

Wisdom at the Hour of Death


in
འདའ་ཀ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་མདོ། · 'da' ka ye shes kyi mdo/
ātyayajñānasūtra
Summary

While the Buddha is residing in the Akaniṣṭha realm, the bodhisattva mahāsattva Ākāśagarbha asks him how to consider the mind of a bodhisattva who is about to die. The Buddha replies that when death comes a bodhisattva should develop the wisdom of the hour of death. He explains that a bodhisattva should cultivate a clear understanding of the non-existence of entities, great compassion, non-apprehension, non-attachment, and a clear understanding that, since wisdom is the realization of one’s own mind, the Buddha should not be sought elsewhere. After these points have been repeated in verse form, the assembly praises the Buddha’s words, concluding the sūtra.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa 'da' ka ye shes zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryātyayajñānamahāyānasūtra

Toh  130

The Illusory Absorption


in
སྒྱུ་མ་ལྟ་བུའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་གྱི་མདོ། · sgyu ma lta bu'i ting nge 'dzin gyi mdo/
māyopamasamādhisūtra
Summary

The Buddha Śākyamuni explains how to attain the absorption known as “the illusory absorption,” a meditative state so powerful that it enables awakening to be attained very quickly. He also teaches that this absorption has been mastered particularly well by two bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmprāpta, who live in Sukhāvatī, the distant realm of the Buddha Amitābha. The Buddha Śākyamuni summons these two bodhisattvas to this world and, when they arrive, recounts the story of how they first engendered the mind of awakening. Finally the Buddha reveals the circumstances surrounding the future awakening of Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmprāpta.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa sgyu ma lta bu'i ting nge 'dzin ces bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryamāyopamasamādhi­nāmamahāyānasūtra
  • avalokiteśvara­bodhisattva­mahāsthāmaprāpta­bodhisattva­vyākaraṇa

Toh  134

The Absorption That Encapsulates All Merit


in
བསོད་ནམས་ཐམས་ཅད་བསྡུས་པའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན། · bsod nams thams cad bsdus pa'i ting nge 'dzin/
sarvapuṇyasamuccayasamādhi
Summary

The sūtra tells the story of Vimalatejā, a strongman renowned for his physical prowess, who visits the Buddha in order to compare abilities and prove that he is the mightier of the two. He receives an unexpected, humbling riposte in the form of a teaching by the Buddha on the inconceivable magnitude of the powers of awakened beings, going well beyond mere physical strength. The discussions that then unfold—largely between the Buddha, Vimalatejā, and the bodhisattva Nārāyaṇa—touch on topics including the importance of creating merit, the centrality of learning and insight, and the question of whether renunciation entails monasticism. Above all, however, Vimalatejā is led to see that the entirety of the Great Vehicle path hinges on the practice that forms the name of the sūtra, which is nothing other than the mind of awakening (<i>bodhicitta</i>).

Title variants
  • 'phags pa bsod nams thams cad bsdus pa'i ting nge 'dzin zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo/
  • āryasarvapuṇyacasamuccaya­samādhi­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  150

The Inquiry of Avalokiteśvara on the Seven Qualities


in
སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་དབང་ཕྱུག་གིས་ཞུས་པ་ཆོས་བདུན་པའི་མདོ། · spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug gis zhus pa chos bdun pa'i mdo/
avalokiteśvara­paripṛcchā­saptadharmakasūtra
Summary

While the Buddha is on Vulture Peak Mountain in Rājagṛha with a great assembly of monks and bodhisattvas, he is asked by the great bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara about the qualities that should be cultivated by a bodhisattva who has just generated the altruistic mind set on attaining awakening. The Buddha briefly expounds seven such qualities, emphasizing mental purity and cognitive detachment from conceptuality.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug gis zhus pa chos bdun pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryāvalokiteśvaraparipṛcchā­saptadharmaka­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  155

The Sūtra of the Questions of the Nāga King Sāgara (3)


in
ཀླུའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རྒྱ་མཚོས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · klu'i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa'i mdo/
sāgaranāgarājaparipṛcchāsūtra
Summary

In this very short sūtra, the Buddha explains to a nāga king and an assembly of monks that reciting the four aphorisms of the Dharma is equivalent to recitation of all of the 84,000 articles of the Dharma. He urges them to make diligent efforts to engage in understanding the four aphorisms (also called the four seals), which are the defining philosophical tenets of the Buddhist doctrine: 1) all compounded phenomena are impermanent; 2) all contaminated phenomena are suffering; 3) all phenomena are without self; 4) nirvāṇa is peace.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa klu'i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryasāgaranāgarāja­paripṛcchā­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  171

The Sūtra of the Questions of an Old Lady


in
བགྲེས་མོས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · bgres mos zhus pa'i mdo/
mahallikāparipṛcchāsūtra
Summary

This sūtra contains teachings given by the Buddha to a 120-year-old woman in the city of Vaiśalī. Upon meeting the Buddha, she asks him questions concerning the four stages of life, the aggregates, the elements and the faculties. In response, the Buddha gives her a profound teaching on emptiness, using beautifully crafted examples to illustrate his point. After hearing these teachings, her doubts are dispelled and she is freed from clinging to the perception of a self. Ānanda asks the Buddha why he has given such profound teachings to this woman. The Buddha reveals that the woman has been his mother five hundred times in previous lifetimes and that he had generated the root of virtue for her to become enlightened. Because of her own strong aspirations, after her death she will be born in the buddhafield of Sukhāvatī; and after sixty-eight thousand eons, she will finally become the buddha Bodhyaṅgapuṣpakara.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa bgres mos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • mahallikāparipṛcchā­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  176

The Sūtra of the Teaching of Vimalakīrti


in
དྲི་མེད་གྲགས་པས་བསྟན་པའི་མདོ། · dri med grags pas bstan pa'i mdo/
vimalakīrtinirdeśasūtra
Title variants
  • 'phags pa dri ma med par grags pas bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryavimalakīrtinirdeśa­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  179

The Sūtra Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths


in
ཀུན་རྫོབ་དང་དོན་དམ་པའི་བདེན་པ་བསྟན་པའི་མདོ། · kun rdzob dang don dam pa'i bden pa bstan pa'i mdo/
saṃvṛtiparamārthasatya­nirdeśasūtra
Summary

In this sūtra, Mañjuśrī is summoned by the Buddha from a faraway buddha realm to teach in a way that demolishes all dualistic experience. As Mañjuśrī begins to teach, the main message of the sūtra unfolds as an explanation of the two truths.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa kun rdzob dang don dam pa'i bden pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryasaṃvṛti­paramārthasatya­nirdeśanāmamahāyānasūtra
  • satyadvayāvatārasūtra
  • bden pa gnyis la 'jug pa'i mdo/

Toh  186

The Teaching on the Extraordinary Transformation that is the Miracle of Attaining the Buddha’s Powers


in
ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་གྱི་ཡུལ་རྣམ་པར་འཕྲུལ་པ་བསྟན་པའི་མདོ། · cho 'phrul gyi yul rnam par 'phrul pa bstan pa'i mdo/
buddhabalādhānaprātihārya­vikurvāṇa­nirdeśasūtra
Summary

In this sūtra, the Buddha displays supernatural powers three times. First, he magically transports his entire audience and retinue to Vārāṇasī. Secondly, having incited Avalokiteśvara and Vajrapāṇi to use their own miraculous powers to gather there all the beings who must be led to awakening, he makes the whole world appear as a pure realm like Sukhāvatī. He explains that a tathāgata’s various powers are like a doctor’s skills, and teaches, with Mañjuśrī’s help in a series of dialogues with other protagonists, on how the tathāgatas manifest to beings, displaying his supernatural powers a third time by making many other buddhas appear all around him. The meaning of the Tathāgata’s miracles are gradually disclosed to the audience, as well as some other essential points including the merit to be gained by honoring the teachings.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa sangs rgyas kyi stobs skyed pa'i cho 'phrul gyi yul rnam par 'phrul pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryabuddha­balādhānaprātihārya­vikurvāṇa­nirdeśanāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  193 / 739

The Prophecy of Śrī Mahādevī


in
ལྷ་མོ་ཆེན་མོ་དཔལ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ། · lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa/
śrīmahādevīvyākaraṇa
Summary

This sūtra recounts an event that took place in the buddha realm of Sukhāvatī. The discourse commences with Buddha Śākyamuni relating to Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara the benefits of reciting the various names of Śrī Mahādevī. The Buddha describes how Śrī Mahādevī acquired virtue and other spiritual accomplishments through the practice of venerating numerous tathāgatas and gives an account of the prophecy in which her future enlightenment was foretold by all the buddhas she venerated. The Buddha then lists the one hundred and eight blessed names of Śrī Mahādevī to be recited by the faithful. The sūtra ends with Buddha Śākyamuni giving a dhāraṇī and a brief explanation on the benefits of reciting the names of Śrī Mahādevī, namely the eradication of all negative circumstances and the accumulation of merit and happiness.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa/
  • āryaśrīyamahādevīvyākaraṇa

Toh  194

The Sūtra of the Inquiry of Jayamati


in
རྒྱལ་བའི་བློ་གྲོས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · rgyal ba'i blo gros kyis zhus pa'i mdo/
jayamatiparipṛcchāsūtra
Summary

The sūtra is introduced with the Buddha residing in Anāthapiṇḍada’s grove in Jeta Wood in Śrāvastī together with a great assembly of monks and a great multitude of bodhisatvas. The Buddha then addresses the bodhisatva Jayamati, instructs him on nineteen moral prescriptions, and indicates the corresponding effects of practicing these prescriptions when they are cultivated.

Title variants
  • rgyal ba'i blo gros kyi mdo/
  • The Sūtra of Jayamati
  • jayamatisūtra
  • 'phags pa rgyal ba'i blo gros zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryajayamatināmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  210

The Rice Seedling Sūtra


in
སཱ་ལུའི་ལྗང་པའི་མདོ། · sA lu'i ljang pa'i mdo/
śālistambhasūtra
Summary

In this sūtra, at the request of venerable Śāriputra, the bodhisattva mahāsattva Maitreya elucidates a very brief teaching on dependent arising that the Buddha had given earlier that day while gazing at a rice seedling. The text discusses outer and inner causation and its conditions, describes in detail the twelvefold cycle by which inner dependent arising gives rise to successive lives, and explains how understanding the very nature of that process can lead to freedom from it.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa sA lu'i ljang pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryaśālistambhanāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  212 / 520 / 980

The Sūtra on Dependent Arising


in
རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བའི་མདོ། · rten cing 'brel bar 'byung ba'i mdo/
pratītyasamutpādasūtra
Summary

While the Buddha is residing in the Realm of the Thirty-Three Gods with a retinue of deities, great hearers, and bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara asks the Buddha how beings can gain merit from building a stūpa. The Buddha responds by stating the Buddhist creed on dependent arising: All phenomena that arise from causes, The Tathāgata has taught their cause, And that which is their cessation, Thus has proclaimed the Great Renunciant. The Buddha then explains that this dependent arising is the dharmakāya, and that whoever sees dependent arising sees the Buddha. He concludes the sūtra by saying that one should place these verses inside stūpas to attain the merit of Brahmā.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa rten cing 'brel bar 'byung ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • pratītyasamutpāda­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  218

Purification of Karmic Obscurations


in
ལས་ཀྱི་སྒྲིབ་པ་རྣམ་པར་དག་པ། · las kyi sgrib pa rnam par dag pa/
karmāvaraṇaviśuddhi
Summary

The Buddha is residing at Āmrapālī’s Grove, in Vaiśālī, when Mañjuśrī brings before him the monk Stainless Light, who had been seduced by a prostitute and feels strong remorse for having violated his vows. After the monk confesses his wrongdoing, the Buddha explains the lack of inherent nature of all phenomena and the luminous nature of mind, and the monk Stainless Light gives rise to the mind of enlightenment. At Mañjuśrī’s request, the Buddha then explains how bodhisattvas purify obscurations by generating an altruistic mind and realizing the empty nature of all phenomena. He asks Mañjuśrī about his own attainment of patient forbearance in seeing all phenomena as non-arising and recounts the tale of the monk Vīradatta, who, many eons in the past, had engaged in a sexual affair with a girl and even killed a jealous rival before feeling strong remorse. Despite these negative actions, once the empty, non-existent nature of all phenomena had been explained to him by the bodhisattva Liberator from Fear, he was able to generate bodhicitta and attain patient forbearance in seeing all phenomena as non-arising. The Buddha explains that even a person who had enjoyed pleasures and murdered someone would be able to attain patient forbearance in seeing all phenomena as non-arising through practicing this sūtra, which he calls “the Dharma mirror of all phenomena.”

Title variants
  • 'phags pa las kyi sgrib pa rnam par dag pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryakarmāvaraṇaviśuddhi­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  260

The Sūtra of Ākāśagarbha


in
ནམ་མཁའི་སྙིང་པོའི་མདོ། · nam mkha'i snying po'i mdo/
ākāśagarbhasūtra
Summary

While the Buddha is dwelling on Khalatika Mountain with his retinue, an amazing display of light appears, brought about by the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha’s liberating activities. As he joins the gathering, Ākāśagarbha manifests another extraordinary display, and the Buddha, praising his inconceivable accomplishments and activities, explains how to invoke his blessings. He sets out the fundamental transgressions of rulers, ministers, śrāvakas, and beginner bodhisattvas, and, after explaining in detail how to conduct the rituals of purification, encourages those who have committed such transgressions to turn to Ākāśagarbha. When people pray to Ākāśagarbha, he adapts his manifestations to suit their needs, appearing to them while they are awake, in their dreams, or at the time of their death. In this way, Ākāśagarbha gradually leads them all along the path, helping them to purify their negative deeds, relieve their sufferings, fulfill their wishes, and eventually attain perfect enlightenment.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa nam mkha'i snying po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • ārya ākāśagarbhanāmamahāyānasūtra
  • āryākāśagarbhanāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  267

Calling Witness with a Hundred Prostrations


in
དཔང་སྐོང་ཕྱག་བརྒྱ་པ། · dpang skong phyag brgya pa/
Summary

Calling Witness with a Hundred Prostrations is widely known as the first sūtra to arrive in Tibet, long before Tibet became a Buddhist nation, during the reign of the Tibetan King Lha Thothori Nyentsen (lha tho tho ri gnyan btsan). Written to be recited for personal practice, it opens with a hundred and eight prostrations and praises to the many buddhas of the ten directions and three times, to the twelve categories of scripture contained in the Tripiṭaka, to the bodhisattvas of the ten directions, and to the arhat disciples of the Buddha. After the making of offerings to them, the confession and purification of nonvirtue, and aspiration to perform virtuous actions in every life, the text includes recitations of the vows of refuge in the Three Jewels, and of generating the thought of enlightenment. The text concludes with rejoicing in the virtues of the holy ones, a request for the buddhas to bestow a prophecy to achieve enlightenment, and the aspiration to pass from this life in a state of pure Dharma.

Title variants
  • dpang skong phyag brgya pa zhes bya ba

Toh  282

The Sūtra on the Threefold Training


in
བསླབ་པ་གསུམ་གྱི་མདོ། · bslab pa gsum gyi mdo/
śikṣātrayasūtra
Summary

In this very short sūtra, the Buddha Śākyamuni briefly introduces the three elements or stages of the path, widely known as “the three trainings,” one by one in a specific order: discipline, meditative concentration, and wisdom. He teaches that training progressively in them constitutes the gradual path to awakening.

Title variants
  • śikṣātrayanāmasūtra

Toh  283

The Sūtra of the Three Bodies


in
སྐུ་གསུམ་པའི་མདོ། · sku gsum pa'i mdo/
trikāyasūtra
Summary

As the title suggests, this sūtra describes the three bodies of the Buddha. While the Buddha is dwelling on Vulture Peak in Rājgṛha, the Bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha asks whether the Tathāgata has a body, to which the Buddha replies that the Tathāgata has three bodies: a dharmakāya, a saṃbhogakāya, and a nirmāṇakāya. The Buddha goes on to describe what constitutes these three bodies and their associated meaning. The Buddha explains that the dharmakāya is like space, the saṃbhogakāya is like clouds, and the nirmāṇakāya is like rain. At the end of the Buddha’s elucidation, Kṣitigarbha expresses jubilation, and the Buddha declares that whoever upholds this Dharma teaching will obtain immeasurable merit.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa sku gsum zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo
  • āryatrikāyanāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  300

The Sūtra on Reliance Upon a Virtuous Spiritual Friend


in
དགེ་བའི་བཤེས་གཉེན་བསྟེན་པའི་མདོ། · dge ba'i bshes gnyen bsten pa'i mdo/
kalyāṇamitrasevanasūtra
Summary

Just prior to his passing away, Buddha Śākyamuni reminds his disciples of the importance of living with a qualified spiritual teacher. Ānanda, the Blessed One’s attendant, attempts to confirm his teacher’s statement, saying that a virtuous spiritual friend is indeed half of one’s spiritual life. Correcting his disciple’s understanding, the Buddha explains that a qualified guide is the whole of, rather than half of the holy life, and that by relying upon a spiritual friend, beings will be released from birth and attain liberation from all types of suffering.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa dge ba'i bshes gnyen bsten pa'i mdo
  • āryakalyāṇamitrasevanasūtra

Toh  309

The Sūtra on Impermanence


in
མི་རྟག་པ་ཉིད་ཀྱི་མདོ། · mi rtag pa nyid kyi mdo/
anityatāsūtra
Summary

In this brief sūtra, the Buddha reminds his followers of one of the principal characteristics of saṃsāric existence: the reality of impermanence. The four things cherished most in this world, the Buddha says—namely good health, youth, prosperity, and life—are all impermanent. He closes his teaching with a verse, asking how beings, afflicted as they are by impermanence, can take delight in anything desirable, indirectly urging his disciples to practice the path of liberation.


Toh  337

The Sūtra of the Wheel of Dharma


in
ཆོས་འཁོར་མདོ། · chos 'khor mdo/
dharmacakrasūtra
Summary

The Sūtra of the Wheel of Dharma contains the Buddha’s teaching to his five former spiritual companions on the four truths that he had discovered as part of his awakening: (1) suffering, (2) the origin of suffering, (3) the cessation of suffering, and (4) the path leading to the cessation of suffering. According to all the Buddhist traditions, this is the first teaching the Buddha gave to explain his awakened insight to others.

Title variants
  • chos kyi 'khor lo'i mdo

Toh  384

The King of Tantras That Resolves All Secrets


in
གསང་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་གཅོད་པའི་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ། · gsang ba thams cad gcod pa'i rgyud kyi rgyal po/
guhyasarvacchindatantrarāja
Summary

As its title suggests, this tantra is specifically concerned with the proper interpretation, or “resolution,” of the highly esoteric or “secret” imagery and practices associated with deity yoga in both its development and completion stages as described in the Yoginītantra class of tantras. The work is organized according to a dialogue between the Buddha and Vajragarbha—the lead interlocutor throughout many of the Yoginītantras—and the Buddha’s responses give particular attention to the specifications of the subtle body completion-stage yoga involving manipulations of the body’s subtle energy channels, winds and fluids in conjunction with either a real or imagined consort. The tantra sets its interpretation of these common Yoginītantra themes and imagery within the wider context of the four initiations prevalent in this class of tantras. In resolving the secrets connected with each initiation, the text elaborates the different levels of meaning connected with each initiation’s contemplative practices.

Title variants
  • dpal gsang ba thams cad gcod pa'i rgyud kyi rgyal po/
  • śrīguhyasarvacchindatantrarāja
  • gsang ba gcod pa'i rgyud/

Toh  425

The Mahāmāyā Tantra


in
སྒྱུ་འཕྲུལ་ཆེན་མོའི་རྒྱུད། · sgyu 'phrul chen mo'i rgyud/
mahāmāyātantra
Summary

The Mahāmāyātantra, named after its principal deity Mahāmāyā, is a tantra of the Yoginī class in which Mahāmāyā presides over a maṇḍala populated primarily by yoginīs and ḍākinīs. The practitioner engages the antinomian power of these beings through a threefold system of yoga involving the visualization of the maṇḍala deities, the recitation of their mantras, and the direct experience of absolute reality. As well as practices involving the manipulation of the body’s subtle energies, the Mahāmāyātantra incorporates the transgressive practices that are the hallmark of the earlier tantric systems such as the Guhyasamājatantra, specifically the ingestion of sexual fluids and other polluting substances. The tantra promises the grace of Mahāmāyā in the form of mundane and transcendent spiritual attainments to those who approach it with diligence and devotion.

Title variants
  • dpal sgyu 'phrul chen mo zhes bya ba rgyud kyi rgyal po/
  • śrīmahāmāyātantrarājanāma

Toh  431

The Tantra of Caṇḍamahāroṣaṇa, The Sole Hero


in
ཁྲོ་བོ་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ་དཔའ་བོ་གཅིག་པ། · khro bo rgyud kyi rgyal po dpa' bo gcig pa/
ekallavīrākhyaśrī­caṇḍamahāroṣaṇatantra
Summary

Written around the tenth or the eleventh century C.E., in the late Mantrayāṇa period, <i>The Tantra of Caṇḍamahāroṣaṇa</i> represents the flowering of the Yoginī tantra genre. The tantra offers instructions on how to attain the wisdom state of Buddha Caṇḍamahāroṣaṇa through the practice of the four joys. The tantra covers a range of practices and philosophical perspectives of late tantric Buddhism, including the development stage, the completion stage, the use of mantras, and a number of magical rites and rituals. The text is quite unique with its tribute to and apotheosis of women and, in this regard, probably has few parallels anywhere else in world literature. It is written in the spirit of great sincerity and devotion, and it is this very spirit that mitigates, and at the same time empowers, the text’s stark imagery and sometimes shocking practices. This text certainly calls for an open mind.

Title variants
  • dpal gtum po khro bo chen po'i rgyud kyi rgyal po dpa' bo gcig pa zhes bya ba/
  • ekallavīrākhyaśrī­caṇḍamahāroṣaṇatantrarājanāma

Toh  437

The Practice Manual of Kurukullā


in
ཀུ་རུ་ཀུལླེའི་རྟོག་པ། · ku ru kul+le'i rtog pa/
kurukullākalpa
Summary

The Practice Manual of Noble Tārā Kurukullā is the most comprehensive single work on the female Buddhist deity Kurukullā. It is also the only canonical scripture to focus on this deity. The text’s importance is therefore commensurate with the importance of the goddess herself, who is the chief Buddhist deity of magnetizing, in particular the magnetizing which takes the form of enthrallment.

Title variants
  • 'phags ma sgrol ma ku ru kul+le'i rtog pa/
  • āryatārākurukullākalpa

Toh  498

The Tantra of the Blue-clad Blessed Vajrapāṇi


in
ཕྱག་ན་རྡོ་རྗེ་གོས་སྔོན་པོ་ཅན་གྱི་རྒྱུད། · phyag na rdo rje gos sngon po can gyi rgyud/
bhagavānnīlāmbaradhara­vajrapāṇitantra
Summary

In the Kangyur and Tengyur collections there are more than forty titles centered on the form of Vajrapāṇi known as the “Blue-Clad One,” a measure of this figure’s great popularity in both India and Tibet. This text, <italic>The Tantra of the Blue-Clad Blessed Vajrapāṇi</italic>, is a scripture that belongs to the Conduct tantra (Caryātantra) class, the third of the four categories used by the Tibetans to organize their tantric canon. It introduces the practice of Blue-Clad Vajrapāṇi, while also providing the practitioner with a number of rituals directed at suppressing, subduing, or eliminating ritual targets.

Title variants
  • bcom ldan 'das phyag na rdo rje gos sngon po can gyi rgyud ces bya ba/
  • bhagavānnīlāmbaradhara­vajrapāṇitantranāma

Toh  520 / 212 / 980

The Sūtra of Dependent Arising


in
རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བའི་མདོ། · rten cing 'brel bar 'byung ba'i mdo/
pratītyasamutpādasūtra
Summary

While the Buddha is residing in the Realm of the Thirty-Three Gods with a retinue of deities, great hearers, and bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara asks the Buddha how beings can gain merit from building a stūpa. The Buddha responds by stating the Buddhist creed on dependent arising: All phenomena that arise from causes, The Tathāgata has taught their cause, And that which is their cessation, Thus has proclaimed the Great Renunciant. The Buddha then explains that this dependent arising is the dharmakāya, and that whoever sees dependent arising sees the Buddha. He concludes the sūtra by saying that one should place these verses inside stūpas to attain the merit of Brahmā.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa rten cing 'brel bar 'byung ba'i zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo/
  • āryapratītyasamutpada­nāmamahāyānasūtra

Toh  544

The Tantra of Siddhaikavīra


in
དཔའ་བོ་གཅིག་པུ་གྲུབ་པའི་རྒྱུད། · dpa' bo gcig pu grub pa'i rgyud/
siddhaikavīratantra
Summary

The Tantra of Siddhaikavīra is a tantra of ritual and magic. It is a relatively short text extant in numerous Sanskrit manuscripts and in Tibetan translation. Although its precise date is difficult to establish, it is arguably the first text to introduce into the Buddhist pantheon the deity Siddhaikavīra—a white, two-armed form of Mañjuśrī. The tantra is primarily structured around fifty-five mantras, which are collectively introduced by a statement promising all mundane and supramundane attainments, including the ten bodhisattva levels, to a devotee who employs the Siddhaikavīra and, presumably, other Mañjuśrī mantras. Such a devotee is said to become a wish-fulfilling gem, constantly engaged in benefitting beings. Most of the mantras have their own section that includes a description of the rituals for which the mantra is prescribed and a brief description of their effects. This being a tantra of the Kriyā class, the overwhelming majority of its mantras are meant for use in rites of prosperity and wellbeing.

Title variants
  • dpa' bo gcig pu grub pa zhes bya ba rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po/
  • dpa' bo gcig bu grub pa'i rgyud/
  • dpa' bo gcig bu grub pa zhes bya ba rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po/
  • siddhaikavīramahātantrarājanāma

Toh  558 / 1059

Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm


in
སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པའི་མདོ། · stong chen mo rab tu 'joms pa'i mdo/
mahāsāhasrapramardanīsūtra
Summary

<i>Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm</i> is one of five texts that together constitute the Pañcarakṣā scriptural collection, popular for centuries as an important facet of Mahāyāna-Vajrayāna Buddhism’s traditional approach to personal and communal misfortunes of all kinds. <i>Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm</i> primarily addresses illnesses caused by spirit entities thought to devour the vitality of humans and animals. The text describes them as belonging to four different subspecies, presided over by the four great kings, guardians of the world, who hold sovereignty over the spirit beings in the four cardinal directions. The text also includes ritual prescriptions for the monastic community to purify its consumption of alms tainted by the “five impure foods.” This refers generally to alms that contain meat, the consumption of which is expressly prohibited for successful implementation of the Pañcarakṣā’s dhāraṇī incantations.

Title variants
  • stong chen mo rab tu 'joms pa zhes bya ba'i mdo/
  • mahāsāhasrapramardanīnāmasūtra

Toh  563

Upholding the Great Secret Mantra


in
གསང་སྔགས་རྗེས་སུ་འཛིན་པའི་མདོ། · gsang sngags rjes su 'dzin pa'i mdo/
mahāmantrānudhāraṇīsūtra
Summary

<i>Upholding the Great Secret Mantra</i> is one of five texts that together constitute the Pañcarakṣā scriptural collection, popular for centuries as an important facet of Mahāyāna-Vajrayāna Buddhism’s traditional approach to personal and communal misfortunes of all kinds. It addresses a range of human ailments, as well as misfortunes such as robbery, natural disaster, and criminal punishment, thought to be brought on especially through the animosity of non-human spirit entities. The sūtra stipulates the invocation of these spirit entities, which it separates into hierarchically ordered groups and thus renders subordinate to the command of the Buddha and members of his saṅgha. The Buddha stipulates that just “upholding” or intoning their names and the mantra formula for each will quell the violent interventions of non-human entities and even hasten them to provide for the pragmatic needs of the saṅgha and its surrounding communities.

Title variants
  • gsang sngags chen po rjes su 'dzin pa'i mdo/
  • [Note: Degé has mahāmantrānudhāraṇīsūtra, Toh has mahāmantranudhārisūtra. Mahāmantrānusariṇī is also attested as the name of one of the five rakṣā. See F. Edgerton, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary. Reprint Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1985, s.v. rakṣā.]

Toh  739 / 193

The Prophecy of Śrī Mahādevī


in
ལྷ་མོ་ཆེན་མོ་དཔལ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ། · lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa/
śrīmahādevīvyākaraṇa
Summary

This sūtra recounts an event that took place in the buddha realm of Sukhāvatī. The discourse commences with Buddha Śākyamuni relating to Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara the benefits of reciting the various names of Śrī Mahādevī. The Buddha describes how Śrī Mahādevī acquired virtue and other spiritual accomplishments through the practice of venerating numerous tathāgatas and gives an account of the prophecy in which her future enlightenment was foretold by all the buddhas she venerated. The Buddha then lists the one hundred and eight blessed names of Śrī Mahādevī to be recited by the faithful. The sūtra ends with Buddha Śākyamuni giving a dhāraṇī and a brief explanation on the benefits of reciting the names of Śrī Mahādevī, namely the eradication of all negative circumstances and the accumulation of merit and happiness.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa/
  • āryaśrīmahādevīvyākaraṇa

Toh  980 (135) / 212 / 520

The Sūtra on the Great Dependent Arising


in
རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བའི་མདོ། · rten cing 'brel bar 'byung ba'i mdo/
pratītyasamutpādasūtra
Summary

While the Buddha is residing in the Realm of the Thirty-Three Gods with a retinue of deities, great hearers, and bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara asks the Buddha how beings can gain merit from building a stūpa. The Buddha responds by stating the Buddhist creed on dependent arising: All phenomena that arise from causes, The Tathāgata has taught their cause, And that which is their cessation, Thus has proclaimed the Great Renunciant. The Buddha then explains that this dependent arising is the dharmakāya, and that whoever sees dependent arising sees the Buddha. He concludes the sūtra by saying that one should place these verses inside stūpas to attain the merit of Brahmā.

Title variants
  • 'phags pa rten cing 'brel bar 'byung ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo/
  • āryapratītyasamutpāda­nāmamahāyānasūtra

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