Progress on our 25 year goal to translate the Kangyur
Once the Kangyur is complete, the remaining 75 years of our project will be dedicated to the translation and online publication of the 161,800 pages of the Tengyur.
Progress on our 100 year goal to translate the Kangyur and Tengyur
རབ་ཏུ་འབྱུང་བའི་གཞི། · rab tu ’byung ba’i gzhi
“The Chapter on Going Forth” is the first of seventeen chapters in The Chapters on Monastic Discipline, a four-volume work that outlines the statutes and procedures that govern life in a Buddhist monastic community. This first chapter traces the development of the rite by which postulants were admitted into the monastic order, from the Buddha Śākyamuni’s informal invitation to “Come, monk,” to the more elaborate “Present Day Rite.” Along the way, the posts of preceptor and instructor are introduced, their responsibilities defined, and a dichotomy between elders and immature novices described. While the heart of the chapter is a transcript of the “Present Day Rite,” the text is interwoven with numerous narrative asides, depicting the spiritual ferment of the north Indian region of Magadha during the Buddha’s lifetime, the follies of untrained and unsupervised apprentices, and the need for a formal system of tutelage.
- “The Chapter on Going Forth” from The Chapters on Monastic Discipline
- Vinayavastu Pravrajyāvastu
- ’dul ba gzhi las/ rab tu ’byung ba’i gzhi
- འདུལ་བ་གཞི་ལས། རབ་ཏུ་འབྱུང་བའི་གཞི།
སྨན་གྱི་གཞི། · sman gyi gzhi
The Bhaiṣajyavastu, “The Chapter on Medicines,” is a part of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, the corpus of monastic law of one of the most influential Buddhist schools in India. This chapter deals with monastic regulations about medicines. At the same time, it also includes various elements not restricted to such rules: stories of the Buddha and his disciples, a lengthy story of the Buddha’s journey for the purpose of quelling an epidemic and converting a nāga, a number of stories of the Buddha’s former lives narrated by the Buddha himself, and a series of verses recited by the Buddha and his disciples about their former lives. Thus, this chapter preserves not only interesting information about medical knowledge shared by ancient Indian Buddhist monastics but also an abundance of Buddhist narrative literature.
- “The Chapter on Medicines” from The Chapters on Monastic Discipline
- ’dul ba gzhi las/ sman gyi gzhi
- འདུལ་བ་གཞི་ལས། སྨན་གྱི་གཞི།
- Vinayavastuni Bhaiṣajyavastu
ཤེས་ཕྱིན་ཁྲི་པ། · shes phyin khri pa
While dwelling at Vulture Peak near Rājagṛha, the Buddha sets in motion the sūtras that are the most extensive of all—the sūtras on the Prajñāpāramitā, or “Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.” Committed to writing around the start of the first millennium, these sūtras were expanded and contracted in the centuries that followed, eventually amounting to twenty-three volumes in the Tibetan Kangyur. Among them, The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom in Ten Thousand Lines is a compact and coherent restatement of the longer versions, uniquely extant in Tibetan translation, without specific commentaries, and rarely studied. While the structure generally follows that of the longer versions, chapters 1–2 conveniently summarize all three hundred and sixty-seven categories of phenomena, causal and fruitional attributes which the sūtra examines in the light of wisdom or discriminative awareness. Chapter 31 and the final chapter 33 conclude with an appraisal of irreversible bodhisattvas, the pitfalls of rejecting this teaching, and the blessings that accrue from committing it to writing.
- ’phags pa shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa khri pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom in Ten Thousand Lines”
+ Toh 531 / 21
The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom, the Blessed Mother
བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་མ་ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པའི་སྙིང་པོ། · bcom ldan ’das ma shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i snying po
In this famous scripture, known popularly as The Heart Sūtra, the Buddha Śākyamuni inspires his senior monk Śāriputra to request instructions from the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara on the way to practice the perfection of wisdom. Avalokiteśvara then describes how an aspiring practitioner of the perfection of wisdom must first understand how all phenomena lack an intrinsic nature, which amounts to the realization of emptiness. Next, Avalokiteśvara reveals a brief mantra that the practitioner can recite as a method for engendering this understanding experientially. Following Avalokiteśvara’s teaching, the Buddha offers his endorsement and confirms that this is the foremost way to practice the perfection of wisdom.
- The Heart Sūtra
- The Heart of the Illustrious Perfection of Wisdom
- The Essence of the Perfection of Wisdom
- shes rab kyi snying po
ས་བཅུ་པ། · sa bcu pa
After his attainment of buddhahood, the Buddha Śākyamuni is present in many locations simultaneously. The Ten Bhūmis takes place two weeks after his enlightenment, while he is sitting silently in meditation in the central palace in the highest paradise of the desire realm. Countless bodhisattvas have assembled there. Through the power of the Buddha, the bodhisattva Vajragarbha enters samādhi and is blessed by countless buddhas, also named Vajragarbha, to give a Dharma teaching to the bodhisattvas. In response to the questions of the bodhisattva Vimukticandra, Vajragarbha describes successively the ten bhūmis of a bodhisattva. Countless bodhisattvas arrive and report that this same event is occurring simultaneously in the highest paradises of all other worlds. The Buddha is pleased by Vajragarbha’s teaching.
- shin tu rgyas pa chen po’i mdo sangs rgyas phal po che zhes bya ba las sa bcu pa’i le’u
- The Ten Bhūmis Chapter from the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra “A Multitude of Buddhas”
- Buddhāvataṃsakanāmamahāvaipulyasūtrāt daśabhūmikaḥ paṭalaḥ
- ’phags pa byang chub sems dpa’i sa bcu/
ཚེའི་ཚད་ཀྱི་ལེའུ། · tshe’i tshad kyi le’u
The bodhisattva King of Mind gives a teaching to an assembly of bodhisattvas on the relativity of time among different buddhafields. Eleven buddhafields are enumerated, with an eon in the first being equivalent to a day in the following buddhafield, where an eon is, in turn, the equivalent of a day in the next, and so forth.
- “The Scale of Life,” Chapter 37 of the Extensive Sūtra “The Ornaments of the Buddhas”
- shin tu rgyas pa chen po’i mdo sangs rgyas phal po che zhes bya ba las tshe’i tshad kyi le’u ste sum cu bdun pa
- tshe tshad le’u/
སྡོང་པོས་བརྒྱན་པ། · sdong pos brgyan pa
In this lengthy final chapter of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra, while the Buddha Śākyamuni is in meditation in Śrāvastī, Mañjuśrī leaves for South India, where he meets the young layman Sudhana and instructs him to go to a certain kalyāṇamitra or “good friend,” who then directs Sudhana to another such friend. In this way, Sudhana successively meets and receives teachings from fifty male and female, child and adult, human and divine, and monastic and lay kalyāṇamitras, including night goddesses surrounding the Buddha and the Buddha’s wife and mother. The final three in the succession of kalyāṇamitras are the three bodhisattvas Maitreya, Mañjuśrī, and Samantabhadra. Samantabhadra’s recitation of the Samantabhadracaryāpraṇidhāna (“The Prayer for Completely Good Conduct”) concludes the sūtra.
- shin tu rgyas pa chen po’i mdo sangs rgyas phal po che zhes bya ba las sdong pos brgyan pa’i le’u ste bzhi bcu rtsa lnga pa’o
- “The Stem Array” Chapter from the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra “A Multitude of Buddhas”
- Buddhāvataṃsakanāmamahāvaipulyasūtrāt gaṇḍavyūhasūtraḥ paṭalaḥ
- ’phags pa sdong po bkod pa’i mdo/
སྒོ་མཐའ་ཡས་པ་རྣམ་པར་སྦྱོང་བ་བསྟན་པའི་ལེའུ། · sgo mtha’ yas pa rnam par sbyong ba bstan pa’i le’u
The Chapter Teaching the Purification of Boundless Gateways consists of an extended discourse presented by the Buddha to his bodhisattva disciple Anantavyūha. The instruction consists of a so-called dhāraṇī gateway, a teaching that involves a series of dhāraṇī spells, which are interspersed throughout. The teaching is generally concerned with well-known Mahāyāna Buddhist themes, ranging from the lack of inherent identity to the qualities of complete awakening, but these topics are here presented within a larger exegesis on the meaning of the dhāraṇī gateway.
- ’phags pa sgo mtha’ yas pa rnam par sbyong ba bstan pa’i le’u zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Chapter Teaching the Purification of Boundless Gateways”
- 指示淨化無量門經 (大寳積經無邊莊嚴會)
གོ་ཆའི་བཀོད་པ་བསྟན་པ། · go cha’i bkod pa bstan pa
The Teaching of the Armor Array describes a dialog between the Buddha Śākyamuni and the bodhisattva Anantamati. The sūtra is primarily concerned with the great armor, a quality related to the perfection of insight. As such, it is no conventional sort of armor. Rather, donning it involves giving up all grasping at phenomena, and engaging diligently on the path, with insight into the nature of phenomena. The Buddha and Anantamati also discuss the nature of the Great Vehicle and the great path, all the while emphasizing their emptiness and lack of marks.
- ’phags pa go cha’i bkod pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Teaching of the Armor Array”
ཆོས་ཀྱི་དབྱིངས་ཀྱི་རང་བཞིན་དབྱེར་མེད་པ་བསྟན་པ། · chos dbyings rang bzhin dbyer med bstan pa’i mdo
While the Buddha is in the Jeta Grove, he asks Mañjuśrī to teach on the nature of reality. Mañjuśrī’s account upsets some of the monks present in the gathering, who subsequently leave. Nevertheless, by means of an emanation, Mañjuśrī skillfully teaches the distraught monks, who return to the Jeta Grove to express their gratitude. The monks explain that their obstacle has been a conceited sense of attainment, of which they are now free. At the request of the god Ratnavara, Mañjuśrī then teaches on nonduality and the nature of the bodhisattva. Next, the Buddha prophesies the future awakening of Ratnavara and other bodhisattvas present in the gathering. However, the prophecies cause Pāpīyān, king of the māras, to appear with his army. In a dramatic course of events, Mañjuśrī uses his transformative power on both Pāpīyān and the Buddha’s pious attendant, Śāradvatīputra, forcing both of them to appear in the form of the Buddha himself. He then makes Pāpīyān and Śāradvatīputra teach the profound Dharma with the perfect mastery of buddhahood. Numerous bodhisattvas appear from the four directions, pledging to practice and uphold the sūtra’s teaching. The Buddha grants his blessing for the continuous transmission of the sūtra among bodhisattvas in the future.
- ’phags pa chos kyi dbyings kyi rang bzhin dbyer med pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching on the Indivisible Nature of the Realm of Phenomena”
ཀུན་ནས་སྒོའི་ལེའུ། · kun nas sgo’i le’u/
In The Exposition on the Universal Gateway, the bodhisattva Amalagarbha arrives in this world from a distant pure land to request teachings from the buddha Śākyamuni. The Buddha proceeds to explain to all assembled bodhisattvas, monks, and lay devotees the manner in which the five aggregates are equal to meditative absorption. He also explains how the various classes of beings and all other phenomena are absorption as well. In conclusion, he lists the names of various absorptions and the benefits one obtains upon attaining these states.
- ’phags pa kun nas sgo’i le’u zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Exposition on the Universal Gateway”
ཚེ་དང་ལྡན་པ་དགའ་བོ་ལ་མངལ་དུ་འཇུག་པ་བསྟན་པ། · tshe dang ldan pa dga’ bo la mngal du ’jug pa bstan pa
In The Teaching to Venerable Nanda on Entry into the Womb, the Buddha gives a detailed account to his half-brother Nanda of the thirty-eight weeks of human gestation. The sūtra explains conception in terms of how the antarābhava (the being in the state between death in one life and birth in the next) enters the womb, and details the physical composition of the embryo, the suffering of the newborn being, and the miseries experienced over the course of a lifetime. Including as it does the most comprehensive ancient Indian account of gestation, it was an important source for embryology in Tibetan medicine.
- ’phags pa tshe dang ldan pa dga’ bo la mngal du ’jug pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Teaching to Venerable Nanda on Entry into the Womb”
འཇམ་དཔལ་གྱི་སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་ཞིང་གི་ཡོན་ཏན་བཀོད་པ། · ’jam dpal gyi sangs rgyas kyi zhing gi yon tan bkod pa
In this sūtra, the Buddha Śākyamuni explains the connection between the bodhisattvas’ aspirations and the virtues of their future buddha realms. He describes the various qualities that help bodhisattvas bring their aspirations to fulfillment. After bodhisattvas arrive from all directions to hear his teachings on the virtues of the buddha realms, the Buddha Śākyamuni recounts the story of how Mañjuśrī first engendered the mind set on awakening. Finally, the Buddha reveals the extraordinary nature of Mañjuśrī’s bodhisattva aspirations, and how they will contribute to the exceptional qualities of his future buddha realm.
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyi sangs rgyas kyi zhing gi yon tan bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Array of Virtues of Mañjuśrī’s Buddha Realm”
- 文殊佛剎功德莊嚴經 (大寶積經文殊師利授記會第十五)
གང་པོས་ཞུས་པ། · gang pos zhus pa
In Veṇuvana, outside Rājagṛha, Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra asks the Buddha about the conduct of bodhisattvas practicing on the path to awakening. The Buddha replies by describing the attitudes that bodhisattvas must possess as well as their benefits. Then, at the request of Maudgalyāyana, the Buddha recounts several of his past lives in which he himself practiced bodhisattva conduct. At the end of the teaching, the Buddha instructs the assembly about how to deal with specific objections to his teachings that outsiders might raise after he himself has passed into nirvāṇa.
- ’phags pa gang pos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Pūrṇa”
ཡུལ་འཁོར་སྐྱོང་གིས་ཞུས་པ། · yul ’khor skyong gis zhus pa
The newly ordained monk Rāṣṭrapāla questions the Buddha about the proper conduct of a bodhisattva. The Buddha proceeds to explain its features in detail, giving as examples his own conduct in his multiple past lives. He tells the story of his past life as prince Puṇyaraśmi, who abandoned pleasure, a kingdom, and riches to follow the bodhisattva path to enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings.
- ’phags pa yul ’khor skyong gis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla”
འདུལ་བ་རྣམ་པར་གཏན་ལ་དབབ་པ་ཉེ་བར་འཁོར་གྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · ’dul ba rnam par gtan la dbab pa nye bar ’khor gyis zhus pa
Ascertaining the Vinaya: Upāli’s Questions is a sūtra focused on the relationship between and integration of the prātimokṣa vows of monastic discipline and the conduct of a bodhisattva who follows the Mahāyāna tradition. The sūtra’s two main interlocutors, Śāriputra and Upāli, query the Buddha about the relationship between these two levels of commitments, eliciting a teaching on the different orientations held by the followers of different Buddhist vehicles and how their different views affect the application of their vows. Ascertaining the Vinaya is a particularly valuable sūtra for its inclusion of a unique form of the confessional “Three Sections” rite, making it one of the few extant canonical sources to describe it at length.
- ’phags pa ’dul ba rnam par gtan la dbab pa nye bar ’khor gyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Ascertaining the Vinaya: Upāli’s Questions”
- Subjugating All Beings
ལྷག་བསམ་སྐུལ་བ། · lhag bsam skul ba
Inspiring Determination is directed at reforming the conduct of sixty bodhisattvas who have lost their sense of purpose and confidence in their ability to practice the Dharma. The bodhisattva Maitreya leads them to seek counsel from the Buddha, who explains the causes these bodhisattvas created in former lives that resulted in their current circumstance. They make a commitment to change their ways, which pleases the Buddha, and this leads him to engage in a dialog with the bodhisattva Maitreya on how bodhisattvas, including those in the future age of final degeneration, the final half-millennium, should avoid faults and uphold conduct that accords with the Dharma.
- ’phags pa lhag pa’i bsam pa bskul ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Inspiring Determination”
ལག་བཟངས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · lag bzangs kyis zhus pa’i mdo
In this scripture Śākyamuni Buddha describes how a bodhisattva should ideally train in the six perfections. In the Veṇuvana near Rājagṛha, the Buddha teaches this sūtra in response to a single question put to him by the bodhisattva Subāhu: what are the qualities a bodhisattva should have in order to progress to perfect awakening? The Buddha responds by first listing the six perfections of generosity, ethical discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, and insight, and then expounding in greater detail on each perfection in turn.
- ’phags pa lag bzangs kyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Question of Subāhu”
དེས་པས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · des pas zhus pa’i mdo
Surata’s Questions follows Surata, a seemingly poor vagabond endowed with a wealth of ethical virtue. The juxtaposition of Surata’s poverty with the abundance of his moral merits forms a central theme of the sūtra. After being tested by the god Śakra, Surata finds a precious gem that he decides to give to the poorest person in the city. The narrative’s irony ensues when Surata decides that King Prasenajit should receive the gem, since his ethical depravity vitiates his material wealth. The shock of Surata’s decision occasions a valuable lesson on true wealth lying in moral integrity, to which the Buddha himself attests upon his arrival midway through the sūtra. The sūtra concludes with King Prasenajit’s recognition of the error of his ways and the Buddha’s prophecy of Surata’s coming awakening.
- ’phags pa des pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Surata’s Questions”
ཡོན་ཏན་རིན་ཆེན་མེ་ཏོག་ཀུན་ཏུ་རྒྱས་པས་ཞུས་པ། · yon tan rin chen me tog kun tu rgyas pas zhus pa
In The Questions of Guṇaratnasaṅkusumita, the sūtra’s interlocutor, Guṇaratnasaṅkusumita, asks the Buddha Śākyamuni whether there might be other buddhas in other realms whose names carry the power to produce awakening. The Buddha responds that there are, in fact, buddhas whose names are so efficacious that simply by remembering them, the disciple will be awakened. The Buddha then names the buddhas of the ten directions, their worlds and eons, and the specific effects that knowing each of their names will have on disciples with faith.
- ’phags pa yon tan rin chen me tog kun tu rgyas pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Guṇaratnasaṅkusumita”
ཚོང་དཔོན་བཟང་སྐྱོང་གིས་ཞུས་པ། · tshong dpon bzang skyong gis zhus pa
In The Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant, the Buddha’s principal interlocutor 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.
- ’phags pa tshong dpon bzang skyong gis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant”
བུ་མོ་རྣམ་དག་དད་པས་ཞུས་པ། · bu mo rnam dag dad pas zhus pa
Vimalaśraddhā, the daughter of King Prasenajit, comes to see the Buddha in Jetavana, together with a retinue of five hundred women. She pays homage to the Buddha and asks him to explain the conduct of bodhisattvas. The Buddha responds by presenting twelve sets of eight qualities that bodhisattvas should cultivate. Vimalaśraddhā and her five hundred companions, having developed the mind set on awakening, join the ranks of the bodhisattvas, and the Buddha prophesies her future attainment of awakening.
- bu mo rnam dag dang bas zhus pa’i mdo
- ’phags pa bu mo rnam dag dad pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Questions of the Girl Vimalaśraddhā”
བྱམས་པས་ཞུས་པ། · byams pas zhus pa
In The Question of Maitreya, 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.
- ’phags pa byams pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Question of Maitreya”
བྱམས་པས་ཆོས་བརྒྱད་ཞུས་པ། · byams pas chos brgyad zhus pa
In The Question of Maitreya on the Eight Qualities, Maitreya asks the Buddha what qualities bodhisattvas need 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.
- ’phags pa byams pas chos brgyad zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Question of Maitreya on the Eight Qualities”
བསྐལ་པ་བཟང་པོ། · bskal pa bzang po
While resting in a park outside the city of Vaiśālī, the Buddha is approached by the bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja, who requests meditation instruction. The Buddha proceeds to give a teaching on a meditative absorption called elucidating the way of all phenomena and subsequently delivers an elaborate discourse on the six perfections. Prāmodyarāja then learns that all the future buddhas of the Good Eon are now present in the Blessed One’s audience of bodhisattvas. Responding to Prāmodyarāja’s request to reveal the names under which these present bodhisattvas will be known as buddhas in the future, the Buddha first lists these names, and then goes on to describe the circumstances surrounding their birth, awakening, and teaching in the world. In the sūtra’s final section, we learn how each of these great bodhisattvas who are on the path to buddhahood first developed the mind of awakening.
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Good Eon”
- ’phags pa bskal pa bzang po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
རྒྱ་ཆེར་རོལ་པ། · rgya cher rol pa
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.
- ’phags pa rgya cher rol pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Play in Full”
- 廣大遊戲經 (方廣大莊嚴經)
འཇམ་དཔལ་རྣམ་པར་རོལ་པ། · ’jam dpal rnam par rol pa
The Miraculous Play of Mañjuśrī presents a series of profound teachings within a rich narrative structure involving a beautiful courtesan’s daughter, Suvarṇottamaprabhāśrī. A banker’s son has purchased her favors, but while they are riding together toward a pleasure garden the girl’s attention is captivated instead by the radiantly attractive Mañjuśrī, who gives her instructions related to the meaning of the mind set on awakening. She then expresses her new understanding in a dialogue with Mañjuśrī, in the presence of King Ajātaśatru, his retinue, and the citizens of Rājagṛha. Meanwhile the banker’s son, with the help of Mañjuśrī and Śakra, experiences his own realization and receives teaching from the Buddha himself. The sūtra deals with well-known Mahāyāna themes, but places special emphasis on the emptiness and sameness of all phenomena.
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Miraculous Play of Mañjuśrī”
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal rnam par rol pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
འཇམ་དཔལ་རྣམ་པར་འཕྲུལ་པའི་ལེའུ། · ’jam dpal rnam par ’phrul pa’i le’u
In The Chapter on Mañjuśrī’s Magical Display, the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī answers a series of questions posed by the god Great Light concerning the appropriate conduct for bodhisattvas and the potential pitfalls and obstacles presented to bodhisattvas by Māra. Midway through the sūtra, the demon Māra himself appears and, after being captured and converted by Mañjuśrī, he begins to teach the Buddha’s Dharma to the audience. After revealing that Māra was never truly bound by anything other than his own perception, Mañjuśrī resumes his teaching for the remainder of the sūtra.
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Chapter on Mañjuśrī’s Magical Display”
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal rnam par ’phrul pa’i le’u zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཀྱི་ཡེ་ཤེས་རྒྱས་པའི་མདོ་སྡེ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་མཐའ་ཡས་པ་མཐར་ཕྱིན་པ། · bcom ldan ’das kyi ye shes rgyas pa’i mdo sde rin po che mtha’ yas pa mthar phyin pa
The Buddha’s disciple, the monk Pūrṇa, oversees the construction of a temple dedicated to the Buddha in a distant southern city. When the master builder suggests that the building may be used by others in the Buddha’s absence, Pūrṇa argues that no one but an omniscient buddha may rightly take up residence there. Enumerating the kinds of knowledge that are unique to a buddha’s perfect awakening, Pūrṇa then delivers a lengthy exposition that also relates each of these qualities to the knowledge of the four truths. Following Pūrṇa’s teaching, the master builder invites the Buddha and his followers from afar to the inauguration of the newly built structure. They arrive, flying through the sky. After the inauguration, the Buddha pauses with his monks on the shores of the ocean, where he receives the worship of numerous nāga kings, teaches and inspires them, and predicts their awakening. At Maudgalyāyana’s request, the Buddha then recounts each of the specific events in his past lives that ultimately led to the unfolding of each of his particular kinds of knowledge.
This long sūtra thus serves as a detailed guide to the different aspects of the Buddha’s awakened wisdom, particularly those that, in many accounts of the qualities of buddhahood, are known as the ten powers or strengths.
- ’phags pa bcom ldan ’das kyi ye shes rgyas pa’i mdo sde rin po che mtha’ yas pa mthar phyin pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Precious Discourse on the Blessed One’s Extensive Wisdom That Leads to Infinite Certainty”
སངས་རྒྱས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་ཡུལ་ལ་འཇུག་པའི་ཡེ་ཤེས་སྣང་བའི་རྒྱན། · sangs rgyas thams cad kyi yul la ’jug pa’i ye shes snang ba’i rgyan
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.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas thams cad kyi yul la ’jug pa’i ye shes snang ba’i rgyan zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Ornament of the Light of Awareness that Enters the Domain of All Buddhas”
དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་ཡོངས་སུ་འཛིན་པ། · dge ba’i rtsa ba yongs su ’dzin pa
This sūtra, one of the longest scriptures in the General Sūtra section of the Kangyur, outlines the path of the Great Vehicle as it is journeyed by bodhisattvas in pursuit of awakening. The teaching, which is delivered by the Buddha Śākyamuni to a host of bodhisattvas from faraway worlds as well as a selection of his closest hearer students, such as Śāradvatīputra and Ānanda, elucidates in particular the practice of engendering and strengthening the mind of awakening, as well as the practice of bodhisattva conduct for the sake of all other beings.
- ’phags pa dge ba’i rtsa ba yongs su ’dzin pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Upholding the Roots of Virtue”
- dge ba’i rtsa ba yongs su ’dzin pa/
- 總持善根經 (佛說華手經)
ཁྱེའུ་སྣང་བ་བསམ་གྱིས་མི་ཁྱབ་པས་བསྟན་པ། · khye’u snang ba bsam gyis mi khyab pas bstan pa
This sūtra is a story in which the spiritual realization of the child Inconceivable Radiance is revealed through a dialogue with the Buddha Śākyamuni. The Buddha furthermore recounts events from the child’s past lives to illustrate how actions committed in one life will determine one’s future circumstances. The teaching concludes with the Buddha prophesying how the child Inconceivable Radiance will eventually fully awaken in the future.
- ’phags pa khye’u snang ba bsam gyis mi khyab pas bstan pa zhes bya ba’i chos kyi rnam grangs
- The Noble Account of Dharma “The Teaching by the Child Inconceivable Radiance”
Expounding the Qualities of the Thus-Gone Ones’ Buddhafields
སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་ཞིང་གི་ཡོན་ཏན་བརྗོད་པའི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་གྲངས། · sangs rgyas kyi zhing gi yon tan brjod pa’i chos kyi rnam grangs
While the Buddha is staying in the kingdom of Magadha with an immense assembly of bodhisattvas, the bodhisattva Acintyaprabharāja gives a teaching on the relativity of time between different buddhafields. Eleven buddhafields are enumerated, with an eon in the first being equivalent to a day in the following buddhafield, where an eon is, in turn, the equivalent of a day in the next, and so forth.
- The Noble Dharma Discourse: Expounding the Qualities of the Thus-Gone Ones’ Buddhafields
- Āryatathāgatānām buddhakṣetraguṇoktadharmaparyāya
- ’phags pa de bzhin gshegs pa rnams kyi sangs rgyas kyi zhing gi yon tan brjod pa’i chos kyi rnam grangs
དགོངས་པ་ངེས་འགྲེལ། · dgongs pa nges ’grel
In Unraveling the Intent, the Buddha gives a systematic overview of his three great cycles of teachings, which he refers to in this text as the “three Dharma wheels” (tridharmacakra). In the process of delineating the meaning of these doctrines, the Buddha unravels several difficult points regarding the ultimate and relative truths, the nature of reality, and the contemplative methods conducive to the attainment of complete and perfect awakening, and he also explains what his intent was when he imparted teachings belonging to each of the three Dharma wheels. In unambiguous terms, the third wheel is proclaimed to be of definitive meaning. Through a series of dialogues with hearers and bodhisattvas, the Buddha thus offers a complete and systematic teaching on the Great Vehicle, which he refers to here as the Single Vehicle.
- ’phags pa dgongs pa nges par ’grel pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Sūtra of the Great Vehicle “Unraveling the Intent”
- dgongs pa nges par ’grel pa/
དམ་པའི་ཆོས་པད་མ་དཀར་པོ། · dam pa’i chos pad ma dkar po
The White Lotus of the Good Dharma, popularly known as the Lotus Sūtra, is taught by Buddha Śākyamuni on Vulture Peak to an audience that includes bodhisattvas from countless realms, as well as bodhisattvas who emerge from under the ground, from the space below this world. Buddha Prabhūtaratna, who has long since passed into nirvāṇa, appears within a floating stūpa to hear the sūtra, and Śākyamuni enters the stūpa and sits beside him. The Lotus Sūtra is celebrated, particularly in East Asia, for its presentation of crucial elements of the Mahāyāna tradition, such as the doctrine that there is only one yāna, or “vehicle”; the distinction between expedient and definite teachings; and the notion that the Buddha’s life, enlightenment, and parinirvāṇa were simply manifestations of his transcendent buddhahood, while he continues to teach eternally. A recurring theme in the sūtra is its own significance in teaching these points during past and future eons, with many passages in which the Buddha and bodhisattvas such as Samantabhadra describe the great benefits that come from devotion to it, the history of its past devotees, and how it is the Buddha’s ultimate teaching, supreme over all other sūtras.
- dam pa’i chos pad ma dkar po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Mahāyāna Sūtra “The White Lotus of the Good Dharma”
+ Toh 527 / 114
ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་ཡོན་ཏན་བཀོད་པའི་རྒྱལ་པོ། · chos thams cad kyi yon tan bkod pa’i rgyal po
The events recounted in The King of the Array of All Dharma Qualities take place outside Rājagṛha, where the Buddha is residing in the Bamboo Grove together with a great assembly of monks, bodhisattvas, and other human and non-human beings. At the request of the bodhisattvas Vajrapāṇi and Avalokiteśvara, the Buddha teaches his audience on a selection of brief but disparate topics belonging to the general Mahāyāna tradition: how to search for a spiritual friend and live in solitude, the benefits of venerating Avalokiteśvara’s name, the obstacles that Māra may create for practitioners, and warnings on how easy it is to lose one’s determination to be free from saṃsāra. The sūtra also includes two dhāraṇīs that the Buddha and Vajrapāṇi teach in turn, along with details of their benefits and Vajrapāṇi’s ritual recitation instructions. Throughout the text, the Buddha repeatedly insists on the importance and benefits of venerating and propagating this teaching as well as those who teach it.
- ’phags pa chos thams cad kyi yon tan bkod pa’i rgyal po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The King of the Array of All Dharma Qualities”
- chos kyi yon tan bkod pa’i rgyal po’i mdo/
བདེ་བ་ཅན་གྱི་བཀོད་པ། · bde ba can gyi bkod pa
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.
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī”
- ’phags pa bde ba can gyi bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The “shorter” Sukhāvatīvyūha (cf. the “longer,” Toh 49)
ཟ་མ་ཏོག་བཀོད་པ། · za ma tog bkod pa
The Basket’s Display (Kāraṇḍavyūha) is the source of the most prevalent mantra of Tibetan Buddhism: oṁ maṇipadme hūṁ. 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.
- ’phags pa za ma tog bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Basket’s Display”
རིན་པོ་ཆེའི་མཐའ། · rin po che’i mtha’
While residing at Vulture Peak Mountain with a large community of monks, the Buddha is visited by the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. The sūtra unfolds as a series of exchanges between the Buddha, Mañjuśrī, and the monk Śāriputra, elucidating a profound vision of reality as undifferentiated, nondual, and all-pervasive.
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Infinite Jewels”
- ’phags pa rin po che’i mtha’ zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- rin po che’i mtha’i mdo/
འདའ་ཀ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་མདོ། · ’da’ ka ye shes kyi mdo
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.
- ’phags pa ’da’ ka ye shes zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Wisdom at the Hour of Death”
དཀོན་མཆོག་འབྱུང་གནས། · dkon mchog ’byung gnas
In this sūtra the Buddha Śākyamuni recounts how the thus-gone Sarvārthasiddha purified the buddha realms in his domain. In his explanation, the Buddha Śākyamuni emphasizes the view of the Great Vehicle, which he explains as the fundamental basis for all bodhisattvas who aspire to attain liberation. The attendant topics taught by the Buddha are the six perfections of generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, and wisdom. The Buddha explains each of these six perfections in three distinct ways as he recounts the past lives of the buddha Sarvārthasiddha. First, he describes how Sarvārthasiddha learned the practices that purify buddha realms, namely the six perfections. Next, he explains how to seal these six virtuous practices with the correct view so that they become perfections. Finally, he recounts how Sarvārthasiddha, as a bodhisattva, received instructions for enhancing the potency of the perfections.
- ’phags pa dkon mchog ’byung gnas zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Jewel Mine”
གསེར་གྱི་མདོ། · gser gyi mdo
In this very brief sūtra, Venerable Ānanda asks the Buddha about the nature of the mind of awakening, the aspiration to attain the awakening of a buddha for the benefit of all beings. The Buddha explains that the mind of awakening is like gold because it is pure. He also teaches the analogy that just as a smith shapes gold into various forms, yet the nature of the gold itself does not change, so too the mind of awakening manifests in various unique ways, yet the nature of the mind of awakening itself does not change.
- ’phags pa gser gyi mdo zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Gold Sūtra”
ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་གྱི་རྒྱལ་པོའི་མདོ། · ting nge ’dzin gyi rgyal po’i mdo
This sūtra, much quoted in later Buddhist writings for its profound statements especially on the nature of emptiness, relates a long teaching given by the Buddha mainly in response to questions put by a young layman, Candraprabha. The samādhi that is the subject of the sūtra, in spite of its name, primarily consists of various aspects of conduct, motivation, and the understanding of emptiness; it is also a way of referring to the sūtra itself. The teaching given in the sūtra is the instruction to be dedicated to the possession and promulgation of the samādhi, and to the necessary conduct of a bodhisattva, which is exemplified by a number of accounts from the Buddha’s previous lives. Most of the teaching takes place on Vulture Peak Mountain, with an interlude recounting the Buddha’s invitation and visit to Candraprabha’s home in Rājagṛha, where he continues to teach Candraprabha before returning to Vulture Peak Mountain. In one subsequent chapter the Buddha responds to a request by Ānanda, and the text concludes with a commitment by Ānanda to maintain this teaching in the future.
- ’phags pa chos thams cad kyi rang bzhin mnyam pa nyid rnam par spros pa ting nge ’dzin gyi rgyal po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The King of Samādhis, the Revealed Equality of the Nature of All Phenomena”
རབ་ཏུ་ཞི་བ་རྣམ་པར་ངེས་པའི་ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་གྱི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན། · rab tu zhi ba rnam par nges pa’i cho ’phrul gyi ting nge ’dzin
In this sūtra the Buddha Śākyamuni teaches how bodhisattvas proceed to awakening, without ever regressing, by relying on an absorption known as the miraculous ascertainment of peace. He lists the very numerous features of this absorption, describes how to train in it, and explains how through this training bodhisattvas develop all the qualities of buddhahood. The “peace” of the absorption comes from the relinquishment of misconceptions and indeed of all concepts whatsoever, and the sūtra provides a profound and detailed survey of how all the abilities, attainments, and other qualities of the bodhisattva’s path arise as the bodhisattva’s understanding and realization of what is meant by the Thus-Gone One unfold.
- ’phags pa rab tu zhi ba rnam par nges pa’i cho ’phrul gyi ting nge ’dzin zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Absorption of the Miraculous Ascertainment of Peace”
སྒྱུ་མ་ལྟ་བུའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན། · sgyu ma lta bu’i ting nge ’dzin
In this sūtra 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 Mahāsthāmaprāpta, who live in Sukhāvatī, the distant realm of Buddha Amitābha. 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 Mahāsthāmaprāpta.
- ’phags pa sgyu ma lta bu’i ting nge ’dzin ces bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Illusory Absorption”
དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་ཕྱག་རྒྱའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན། · de bzhin gshegs pa’i ye shes kyi phyag rgya’i ting nge ’dzin
In The Absorption of the Thus-Gone One’s Wisdom Seal, a vast number of bodhisattvas request the Buddha Śākyamuni to teach them about his state of meditative absorption. In his responses to various interlocutors, including the bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī and Maitreya, the Buddha expounds on this profound state, exhorting them to accomplish it themselves. The sūtra also describes the qualities of bodhisattvas and their stages of development.
- ’phags pa de bzhin gshegs pa’i ye shes kyi phyag rgya’i ting nge ’dzin ces bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Absorption of the Thus-Gone One’s Wisdom Seal”
བསོད་ནམས་ཐམས་ཅད་བསྡུས་པའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན། · bsod nams thams cad bsdus pa’i ting nge ’dzin
The Absorption That Encapsulates All Merit 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 (bodhicitta).
- ’phags pa bsod nams thams cad bsdus pa’i ting nge ’dzin ces bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Absorption That Encapsulates All Merit”
རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཏོག་གི་གཟུངས། · rin po che tog gi gzungs
The Ratnaketu Dhāraṇī is one of the core texts of the Mahāsannipāta collection of Mahāyāna sūtras that dates back to the formative period of Mahāyāna Buddhism, from the first to the third century ᴄᴇ. Its rich and varied narratives, probably redacted from at least two independent works, recount significant events from the lives, past and present, of the Buddha Śākyamuni and some of his main followers and opponents, both human and nonhuman. At the center of these narratives is the climactic episode from the Buddha’s life when Māra, the personification of spiritual death, sets out to destroy the Buddha and his Dharma. The mythic confrontation between these paragons of light and darkness, and the Buddha’s eventual victory, are related in vivid detail. The main narratives are interwoven with Dharma instructions and interspersed with miraculous events. The text also exemplifies two distinctive sūtra genres, “prophecies” (vyākaraṇa) and “incantations” (dhāraṇī), as it includes, respectively, prophecies of the future attainment of buddhahood by some of the Buddha’s followers and the potent phrases that embody the Buddha’s teachings and are meant to ensure their survival and the thriving of its practitioners.
- ’phags pa ’dus pa chen po rin po che tog gi gzungs shes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Ratnaketu Dhāraṇī” from the Great Collection
རྡོ་རྗེ་སྙིང་པོའི་གཟུངས། · rdo rje snying po’i gzungs
In The Dhāraṇī of the Vajra Quintessence, the bodhisattva of wisdom Mañjuśrī asks the Buddha to propound a teaching on the highest wisdom that questions foundational Buddhist concepts and categories from an ultimate standpoint without denying their conventional efficacy. The Buddha begins by teaching, in a paradoxical tone that defines the entire discourse, that although there is neither awakening nor buddha qualities, bodhisattvas nonetheless aspire for buddhahood. This is followed by a lengthy series of similar paradoxes that examine basic Buddhist distinctions between the worlds of buddhas and sentient beings while pointing to the common ground underlying them. One key doctrinal point is that the qualities of ordinary people are neither distinct from, nor to be conflated with, the qualities of buddhas. When asked why this is so, the Buddha explains that the dhāraṇī of the vajra quintessence is nonconceptual and immanent in all things, from emotional defilements up to the realization of buddhahood. Since all phenomena are equally empty of intrinsic essence, they are already intrinsically pure and beyond bondage or liberation.
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Dhāraṇī of the Vajra Quintessence”
- ’phags pa rdo rje snying po’i gzungs zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- rdo rje’i snying po’i gzungs kyi mdo/
+ Toh 526 / 141 / 916
+ Toh 916 / 141 / 526
སྒོ་དྲུག་པའི་གཟུངས། · sgo drug pa’i gzungs
While the Buddha is abiding in the space above the Śuddhāvāsa realm with a retinue of bodhisattvas, he urges them to uphold The Dhāraṇī of the Six Gates and presents these gates as six aspirations that vanquish the causes of saṃsāric experience. He then presents the dhāraṇī itself to his listeners and instructs them to recite it three times each day and three times each night. Finally, he indicates the benefits that come from this practice, and the assembly praises the Buddha’s words. This is followed by a short dedication marking the conclusion of the text.
- The Noble Dhāraṇī of the Six Gates
- ’phags pa sgo drug pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
རྣམ་པར་མི་རྟོག་པར་འཇུག་པའི་གཟུངས། · rnam par mi rtog par ’jug pa’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī “Entering into Nonconceptuality” is a short Mahāyāna sūtra that came to be particularly influential in Yogācāra circles. The central theme of the sūtra is the attainment of the nonconceptual realm, reached through the practice of relinquishing all conceptual signs by not directing the mind toward them. The sūtra presents the progressive stages through which bodhisattvas can abandon increasingly subtle conceptual signs and eliminate the erroneous ideas that lead to the objectification of phenomena.
- ’phags pa rnam par mi rtog par ’jug pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- The Noble Dhāraṇī “Entering into Nonconceptuality”
- rnam par mi rtog par ’jug pa’i gzungs/
ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོ་ལ་དད་པ་རབ་ཏུ་སྒོམ་པ། · theg pa chen po la dad pa rab tu sgom pa
In Cultivating Trust in the Great Vehicle, the Buddha Śākyamuni gives a discourse on the nature of trust (dad pa, prasāda) according to the Great Vehicle. The teaching is requested by a bodhisattva known as Great Skillful Trust, who requests the Buddha to answer four questions concerning the nature of trust in the Great Vehicle: (1) What are the characteristics of trust? (2) How is trust developed? (3) What are the different types of trust? (4) What are the benefits of having trust? Over the course of the sūtra, the Buddha answers all four questions, each in a separate chapter.
- ’phags pa theg pa chen po la dad pa rab tu sgom pa ces bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Cultivating Trust in the Great Vehicle”
+ Toh 847 / 145
དཀོན་མཆོག་ཏ་ལ་ལའི་གཟུངས། · dkon mchog ta la la’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī of the Jewel Torch starts with a profound conversation between the Buddha and the bodhisattvas Samantabhadra and Mañjuśrī on the nature of the dharmadhātu, buddhahood, and emptiness. The bodhisattva Dharmamati then enters the meditative absorption called the infinite application of the bodhisattva’s jewel torch and, at the behest of the millions of buddhas who have blessed him, emerges from it to teach how bodhisattvas arise from the presence of a tathāgata and progress to the state of omniscience. Following Dharmamati’s detailed exposition of the “ten categories” or progressive stages of a bodhisattva, the Buddha briefly teaches the mantra of the dhāraṇī and then, for most of the remainder of the text, encourages bodhisattvas in a long versified passage in which he recounts teachings by a bodhisattva called Bhadraśrī on the qualities of bodhisattvas and buddhas. Some verses from this passage on the virtues of faith have been widely quoted in both India and Tibet.
- ’phags pa dkon mchog ta la la’i gzungs zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Dhāraṇī of the Jewel Torch”
- dkon mchog sgron me’i mdo
- dkon mchog sgron ma’i mdo
དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་སྙིང་རྗེ་ཆེན་པོ་ངེས་པར་བསྟན་པ། · de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying rje chen po nges par bstan pa/
The Teaching on the Great Compassion of the Tathāgata opens with the Buddha presiding over a large congregation of disciples at Vulture Peak. Entering a special state of meditative absorption, he magically displays a pavilion in the sky, attracting a vast audience of divine and human Dharma followers. At the request of the bodhisattva Dhāraṇīśvararāja, the Buddha gives a discourse on the qualities of bodhisattvas, which are specified as bodhisattva ornaments, illuminations, compassion, and activities. He also teaches about the compassionate awakening of tathāgatas and the scope of a tathāgata’s activities. At the request of a bodhisattva named Siṃhaketu, Dhāraṇīśvararāja then gives a discourse on eight dhāraṇīs, following which the Buddha explains the sources and functions of a dhāraṇī known as the jewel lamp. As the text concludes, various deities and Dharma protectors praise the sūtra’s qualities and vow to preserve and protect it in the future, and the Buddha entrusts the sūtra and its propagation to Dhāraṇīśvararāja. The sūtra is a particularly rich source of detail on the qualities of bodhisattvas and buddhas.
- ’phags pa de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying rje chen po nges par bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Teaching on the Great Compassion of the Tathāgata”
- The Sūtra of Dhāraṇīśvararāja
- The Questions of Dhāraṇīśvararāja
- gzungs kyi rgyal po’i mdo
- gzungs kyi dbang phyug rgyal po’i mdo
- dbang phyug rgyal pos zhus pa
བྱམས་པས་ཞུས་པ། · byams pas zhus pa/
The bodhisattva Maitreya approaches the Buddha on Vulture Peak Mountain and asks him to explain the karmic results of teaching the Dharma. The Buddha responds by comparing the merit gained by a person who makes an unfathomably enormous material offering to the buddhas, to the merit gained by another person who teaches a single verse of Dharma, declaring that the merit of the latter is far superior.
- ’phags pa byams pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Question of Maitreya”
སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་དབང་ཕྱུག་གིས་ཞུས་པ་ཆོས་བདུན་པ། · spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug gis zhus pa chos bdun pa
The sūtra is introduced with the Buddha residing on Vulture Peak Mountain in Rājagṛha, together with a great monastic assembly of 1,250 monks and a multitude of bodhisattva mahāsattvas. The Buddha is approached and asked by the bodhisattva mahāsattva 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 qualities that should be practiced by such a bodhisattva, emphasizing mental purity and cognitive detachment from conceptuality.
- ’phags pa spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug gis zhus pa chos bdun pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Inquiry of Avalokiteśvara on the Seven Qualities”
སྤོབས་པའི་བློ་གྲོས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · spobs pa’i blo gros kyis zhus pa
The subject matter of this sūtra is indicated by the alternative title suggested by the Buddha himself in its conclusion: The Teaching That Clarifies Karma. In the opening section, the merchant Pratibhānamati, concerned about the state of society and what will become of the saṅgha in times to come, requests the Buddha Śākyamuni for a teaching that offers moral guidance to future beings. With the Buddha’s encouragement, he asks what actions lead to rebirth in ten different human and non-human states. The Buddha answers with descriptions of the actions associated with each of these states and the effects they will bring. Pratibhānamati then invites the Buddha to his home in Śrāvastī. Two beggars arrive there, and on account of their opposing aspirations and conduct in the presence of the Buddha and retinue, one soon becomes a king while the other is killed in an accident. The sūtra concludes as the Buddha, invited to the newly anointed king’s land, explains the karmic reasons for his unexpected fortune.
- ’phags pa spobs pa’i blo gros kyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
བློ་གྲོས་རྒྱ་མཚོས་ཞུས་པ། · blo gros rgya mtshos zhus pa
Heralded by a miraculous flood, the celestial bodhisattva Sāgaramati arrives in Rājagṛha to engage in a Dharma discussion with Buddha Śākyamuni. He discusses an absorption called “The Pristine and Immaculate Seal” and many other subjects relevant to bodhisattvas who are in the process of developing the mind of awakening and practicing the bodhisattva path. The sūtra strongly advises that bodhisattvas not shy away from the afflictive emotions of beings—no matter how unpleasant they may be—and that insight into these emotions is critical for a bodhisattva’s compassionate activity. The sūtra deals with the preeminence of wisdom and non-grasping on the path. In the end, as a teaching on how to deal with māras, the sūtra illuminates the many pitfalls possible on the path of the Great Vehicle.
- ’phags pa blo gros rgya mtshos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Sāgaramati”
- blo gros rgya mtshos zhus pa’i mdo/
ཀླུའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རྒྱ་མཚོས་ཞུས་པ། · klu’i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa
The Questions of the Nāga King Sāgara begins with a miracle that portends the coming of the Nāga King Sāgara to Vulture Peak Mountain in Rājagṛha. The nāga king engages in a lengthy dialogue with the Buddha on various topics pertaining to the distinction between relative and ultimate reality, all of which emphasize the primacy of insight into emptiness. The Buddha thereafter journeys to King Sāgara’s palace in the ocean and reveals details of the king’s past lives in order to introduce the inexhaustible casket dhāraṇī. In the nāga king’s palace in the ocean, he gives teachings on various topics and acts as peacemaker, addressing the ongoing conflicts between the gods and asuras and between the nāgas and garuḍas. Upon returning to Vulture Peak, the Buddha engages in dialogue with King Ajātaśatru and provides Nāga King Sāgara’s prophecy.
- ’phags pa klu’i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
ཀླུའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རྒྱ་མཚོས་ཞུས་པ། · klu’i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa
The Questions of the Nāga King Sāgara presents a discourse given by the Buddha Śākyamuni on the importance of considering the effects caused by actions. At the start of his teaching, the Buddha remarks how the variety of forms that exist, and in fact all phenomena, come about as the result of virtuous and nonvirtuous actions. By understanding this law of cause and effect and by taking great care to engage in virtue, one will avoid rebirth in the lower realms and enter the path to perfect awakening. In the rest of his discourse he explains in great detail the advantages of engaging in each of the ten virtues and the problems associated with not engaging in them.
- ’phags pa klu’i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of the Nāga King Sāgara”
ཀླུའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རྒྱ་མཚོས་ཞུས་པ། · klu’i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa
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.
- ’phags pa klu’i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Questions of the Nāga King Sāgara”
མི་འམ་ཅིའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་སྡོང་པོས་ཞུས་པ། · mi ’am ci’i rgyal po sdong pos zhus pa
The Questions of the Kinnara King Druma, initiated by the questions of the bodhisattva Divyamauli, consists of a series of teachings by the kinnara king Druma, given within a rich narrative framework in which music plays a central role in teaching the Dharma. This sūtra presents a variety of well-known Great Vehicle Buddhist themes, but special attention is given to the six bodhisattva perfections and the perfection of skillful means, as well as to the doctrine of emptiness that is discussed throughout the text.
- ’phags pa mi ’am ci’i rgyal po sdong pos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of the Kinnara King Druma”
ཚངས་པས་བྱིན་གྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · tshangs pas byin gyis zhus pa
The Questions of Brahmadatta begins with the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin departing from the Jeta Grove of Śrāvastī, where the Buddha is residing. Together with more than five hundred bodhisattvas, he travels to the region of Pañcāla, where King Brahmadatta requests Amoghadarśin to impart teachings to him and his citizens. The bodhisattva discusses the attributes and correct practices of a king who is a protector of the Dharma. The king requests that the bodhisattva remain in his kingdom to observe the summer vows in retreat. Sixty wicked monks already residing there treat Amoghadarśin poorly, and after three months he leaves Pañcāla and returns to the Jeta Grove.
King Brahmadatta later goes to see the Buddha, who explains to the king how the wicked monks behaved and the negative consequences of such actions. The Buddha then goes on to explain what a monk and others who wish to attain awakening should strive for, namely, to rid themselves of pride, anger, and jealousy. Upon hearing these instructions, King Brahmadatta expels the sixty wicked monks from his kingdom. Many beings then generate the mind of awakening, and King Brahmadatta is irreversibly set on the path of complete awakening. The Buddha smiles and radiates multicolored lights throughout the whole world. Finally, the king apologizes to Amoghadarśin and the bodhisattva forgives him.
- ’phags pa tshangs pas byin gyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Questions of Brahmadatta”
ཚངས་པ་ཁྱད་པར་སེམས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · tshangs pa khyad par sems kyis zhus pa
In this sūtra, the Buddha Śākyamuni and a number of the bodhisattvas, elders, and gods in his assembly engage in a lively exchange clarifying many key points of the Dharma from the perspective of the Mahāyāna, including the four truths, the origin of saṃsāra, and the identity of the buddhas, while praising the qualities of the paragons of the Mahāyāna, the bodhisattvas.
- ’phags pa tshangs pa khyad par sems kyis zhus pa zhes bya theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Brahmaviśeṣacintin”
དཔལ་དབྱིག་གྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · dpal dbyig gyis zhus pa
The Buddha is approached by the young merchant Śrīvasu, who requests instruction on how to live his life as a novice bodhisattva. The Buddha is pleased and offers some pithy advice regarding the bodhisattva path that encapsulates the main altruistic aims and practices of the Great Vehicle. He states that foremost among the bodhisattva’s daily practices are taking refuge in the Three Jewels, practicing the six perfections, and dedicating all resulting merit to the attainment of awakening for oneself and others.
- ’phags pa dpal dbyig gyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Śrīvasu”
རིན་ཆེན་དྲ་བ་ཅན་གྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · rin chen dra ba can gyis zhus pa/
Prompted by a dream, the young Licchavi boy Ratnajālin invites the Buddha to the city of Vaiśālī. When the Buddha arrives Ratnajālin asks whether there are other buddhas whose names, when heard, bring benefit to bodhisattvas. The Buddha replies that there are, and he proceeds to describe the power of the names of buddhas in the four cardinal directions as well as above and below. Once Ratnajālin has understood the teaching on the power of the names of these thus-gone ones, the Buddha provides encouragement for the future propagation of this discourse.
- ’phags pa rin chen dra ba can gyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Ratnajālin”
རིན་ཆེན་ཟླ་བས་ཞུས་པ། · rin chen zla bas zhus pa
The Questions of Ratnacandra is a sūtra in which Ratnacandra, a prince from the country of Magadha, requests the Buddha Śākyamuni to reveal the names of the ten buddhas who dwell in the ten directions. Prince Ratnacandra has been told that hearing the names of these ten buddhas ensures that one will attain awakening at some point in the future. The Buddha confirms this and discloses their names, as well as details of their respective buddha realms, such as the names of these realms and their many unique qualities.
- ’phags pa rin chen zla bas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Ratnacandra”
- rin chen zla bas zhus pa’i mdo/
བདེ་བྱེད་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · bde byed kyis zhus pa/
The Question of Kṣemaṅkara contains a teaching given by Buddha Śākyamuni to the Śākya youth Kṣemaṅkara, in response to a question he poses about the qualities of bodhisattvas and how to develop such qualities. The Buddha teaches him about bodhisattvas’ qualities, first in prose and later reiterated in verse, and then equates the teaching of this sūtra with the perfection of insight, stating that even if one practices the first five perfections for many eons, one will not make much progress without knowing what is taught in this sūtra.
- ’phags pa bde byed kyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Question of Kṣemaṅkara”
- bde byed kyis zhus pa’i mdo/
བགྲེས་མོས་ཞུས་པ། · bgres mos zhus pa
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 dying, she would be born in the buddha field of Sukhāvatī; and after sixty-eight thousand eons she would finally become the buddha Bodhyaṅgapuṣpakara.
- ’phags pa bgres mos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Questions of an Old Lady”
འཇམ་དཔལ་གྱིས་དྲིས་པ། · ’jam dpal gyis dris pa
The bodhisattva Mañjuśrī approaches the Buddha and asks about the extent of the merit represented by the Buddha’s “Dharma conch,” which here seems to mean the Buddha’s voice. The Buddha proceeds to illustrate the vastness of this merit by means of a cosmic multiplication—sequentially compounding the merit of all beings in a certain realm if they each possessed the merit of a cakravartin, a brahmā god, a bodhisattva, and so forth, each having more merit than the previous one. The expansion continues through a list of the eighty designs marking the body of a buddha and the thirty-two signs of a great being, which, multiplied inconceivably, are said to be equal in merit to the Dharma conch. The Buddha then explains how the voice, body, and light of the Buddha are made known throughout countless realms and take on numberless manifestations to tame beings.
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyis dris pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Question of Mañjuśrī”
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyis zhus pa’i mdo
བདག་མེད་པ་དྲིས་པ། · bdag med pa dris pa
Questions on Selflessness consists of a dialogue between a group of followers of the Mahāyāna tradition and a group of tīrthikas, who pose several questions on the doctrine of selflessness. In the exchange that follows, the Mahāyāna proponents elucidate this and other key Buddhist doctrines, such as the distinction between relative and ultimate reality, the origin of suffering, the emptiness and illusoriness of all phenomena, and the path to awakening.
- ’phags pa bdag med pa dris pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Questions on Selflessness”
འཇིག་རྟེན་འཛིན་གྱིས་ཡོངས་སུ་དྲིས་པ། · ’jig rten ’dzin gyis yongs su dris pa
In The Inquiry of Lokadhara, the bodhisattva Lokadhara asks the Buddha to explain the proper way for bodhisattvas to discern the characteristics of phenomena and employ that knowledge to attain awakening. In reply, the Buddha teaches at length how to understand the lack of inherent existence of phenomena. As part of the teaching, the Buddha explains in detail the nonexistence of the aggregates, the elements, the sense sources, dependently originated phenomena, the four applications of mindfulness, the five powers, the eightfold path of the noble ones, and mundane and transcendent phenomena, as well as conditioned and unconditioned phenomena.
- ’phags pa ’jig rten ’dzin gyis yongs su dris pa zhes bya ba’i mdo
- The Noble Sūtra “The Inquiry of Lokadhara”
- 持世所問經 · (大正藏：持世經)
བློ་གྲོས་མི་ཟད་པས་བསྟན་པ། · blo gros mi zad pas bstan pa
The bodhisatva? Akṣayamati arrives in our world from the buddha field of the buddha Samantabhadra. In response to Śāriputra’s questions, Akṣayamati gives a discourse on the subject of imperishability. In all, Akṣayamati explains that there are eighty different aspects of the Dharma that are imperishable. When he has given this explanation, the Buddha praises it and declares it worthy of being spread by the countless bodhisatvas gathered there to listen.
- ’phags pa blo gros mi zad pas bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching of Akṣayamati”
- 總持善根經 (佛說華手經)
དྲི་མེད་གྲགས་པས་བསྟན་པ། · dri med grags pas bstan pa
While the Buddha is teaching outside the city of Vaiśālī, a notable householder in the city—the great bodhisattva Vimalakīrti—apparently falls sick. The Buddha asks his disciple and bodhisattva disciples to call on Vimalakīrti, but each of them relates previous encounters that have rendered them reluctant to face his penetrating scrutiny of their attitudes and activities. Only Mañjuśrī has the courage to pay him a visit, and in the conversations that ensue between Vimalakīrti, Mañjuśrī, and several other interlocutors, Vimalakīrti sets out an uncompromising and profound view of the Buddha’s teaching and the bodhisattva path, illustrated by various miraculous displays. Its masterful narrative structure, dramatic and sometimes humorous dialogue, and highly evolved presentation of teachings have made this sūtra one of the favorites of Mahāyāna literature.
- ’phags pa dri ma med par grags pas bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching of Vimalakīrti”
འཇམ་དཔལ་གྱིས་བསྟན་པ། · ’jam dpal gyis bstan pa
The bodhisattva Mañjuśrī approaches the Buddha, who is teaching the Dharma in Śrāvastī, and offers him the shade of a jeweled parasol. The god Susīma, who is in the audience, asks Mañjuśrī whether he is satisfied with his offering, to which Mañjuśrī replies that those who seek enlightenment should never be content with making offerings to the Buddha. Susīma then asks what purpose one should keep in mind when making offerings to the Buddha. In response, Mañjuśrī lists a set of four purposes.
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyis bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Mañjuśrī’s Teaching”
བྱང་ཆུབ་ཀྱི་ཕྱོགས་བསྟན་པ། · byang chub kyi phyogs bstan pa
In response to a series of queries from Mañjuśrī, Buddha Śākyamuni first exposes the error that prevents sentient beings in general from transcending saṃsāra, and then focuses more particularly on errors that result from understanding the four truths of the noble ones based on conceptual notions of phenomena. He then goes on to explain how someone wishing to attain liberation should skillfully view the following five sets of qualities: (1) the four truths, (2) the four applications of mindfulness, (3) the eightfold path, (4) the five faculties, and (5) the seven branches of enlightenment.
- ’phags pa byang chub kyi phyogs bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching on the Aids to Enlightenment”
ཀུན་རྫོབ་དང་དོན་དམ་པའི་བདེན་པ་བསྟན་པ། · kun rdzob dang don dam pa’i bden pa bstan pa
In Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths, the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī is summoned by Buddha Śākyamuni 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. The general theme of Mañjuśrī’s discourse is centered on the particular circumstances in Ratnaketu’s buddha realm, but the message is equally applicable to the experiences of beings here in this world.
- ’phags pa kun rdzob dang don dam pa’i bden pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths”
ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་འབྱུང་བ་མེད་པར་བསྟན་པ། · chos thams cad ’byung ba med par bstan pa
While the Buddha is residing on Vulture Peak Mountain, the bodhisattva Siṃhavikrāntagāmin asks him a series of questions about emptiness and the nondual view in which the dichotomy between subject and object has been left behind. The Buddha responds with a discourse in verse identifying the nature of phenomena as the single principle of emptiness. Later, he teaches the bodhisattva about the dangers of judging the behavior of other bodhisattvas, and the dangers of making any imputations about phenomena at all—explaining that both stem from ill-founded preconceptions that are transcended with spiritual awakening. In an ensuing discussion with Mañjuśrī, the Buddha further connects many standard Buddhist concepts and categories to the nondual view that all phenomena are unborn and without intrinsic nature. Lastly, a god is instructed in the knowledge that overcomes the duality of various opposites, and Mañjuśrī concludes the sūtra by revealing the circumstances of his time as a beginning bodhisattva.
- ’phags pa chos thams cad ’byung ba med par bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Teaching How All Phenomena Are without Origin”
ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པ་ལྔ་བསྟན་པ། · pha rol tu phyin pa lnga bstan pa
Teaching the Five Perfections is a compilation of five short sūtras that each present the practice of one of the five perfections in which bodhisattvas train on the path of the Great Vehicle: generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, and concentration. These five perfections embody the skillful methods of the bodhisattva path, and, as these sūtras show, they should always be combined with an understanding of the state of omniscience, the sixth perfection of insight that is supposed to permeate the practice of the first five perfections. The teachings are delivered by the Buddha as well as two of his close disciples, Śāradvatīputra and Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra, who both teach the five perfections inspired by the Buddha’s blessing.
- phar phyin lnga bstan pa’i mdo
- ’phags pa pha rol tu phyin pa lnga bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- 佛說五波羅蜜多經 (大般若波羅密多經第十一分至第十五分)
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Teaching the Five Perfections”
སྦྱིན་པའི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པ། · sbyin pa’i pha rol tu phyin pa
In this sūtra a bodhisattva asks the Buddha how bodhisattvas should exert themselves after having given rise to the mind set on awakening. The Buddha replies by describing the ten virtuous actions and the motivation that bodhisattvas should engender when they engage in those practices. Next, after explaining how they should exert themselves in the ten perfections, the Buddha presents a detailed explanation of the perfection of generosity, focusing on the compassionate motivation that bodhisattvas cultivate while practicing it. A particular feature of this sūtra is how it details the significance of making different kinds of offering, in terms of the spiritual attainments, qualities of awakening, and other benefits that will result.
- ’phags pa sbyin pa’i pha rol tu phyin pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Perfection of Generosity”
- ’phags pa sbyin pa’i pha rol tu phyin pa bstan pa
- sangs rgyas kyi chos thams cad kyi rgyan dang / spud pa dang / lhab lhub bkod pa
སྦྱིན་པའི་ཕན་ཡོན་བསྟན་པ། · sbyin pa’i phan yon bstan pa
This short discourse was taught to an audience of monks in Śrāvastī, in the Jetavana. The Buddha details thirty-seven ways in which the wise give gifts, how those gifts are properly given, and the positive results that ripen from giving such gifts. The Buddha makes clear that the result that ripens is similar to the gift that was given or the manner in which the gift was given.
- ’phags pa sbyin pa’i phan yon bstan pa
- The Noble “Teaching the Benefits of Generosity”
བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་སྤྱོད་པ་བསྟན་པ། · byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa bstan pa
This sūtra takes place in the city of Vaiśālī, where the Buddha Śākyamuni and his retinue of monks have gone to gather alms. When the Buddha enters Vaiśālī a number of miracles occur in the city, and these draw the attention of a three-year-old boy named Ratnadatta. As the child encounters the Buddha, a dialogue ensues with the monks Maudgalyāyana and Śāriputra and the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, in which the boy delivers a teaching on the practice of bodhisattvas and a critique of those who fail to take up such practices.
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Teaching the Practice of a Bodhisattva”
- ’phags pa byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa bstan pa shes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་ཡོན་ཏན་དང་ཡེ་ཤེས་བསམ་གྱིས་མི་ཁྱབ་པའི་ཡུལ་ལ་འཇུག་པ་བསྟན་པ། · de bzhin gshegs pa’i yon tan dang ye shes bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i yul la ’jug pa bstan pa
In the Introduction to the Domain of the Inconceivable Qualities and Wisdom of the Tathāgatas, the bodhisattva Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin expounds at length on how the awakened activity of the buddhas spontaneously unfolds in a limitless variety of ways to benefit beings, in all their diversity, throughout the universe. He also describes the inestimable benefits a bodhisattva derives from following a virtuous spiritual friend.
- ’phags pa de bzhin gshegs pa’i yon tan dang ye shes bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i yul la ’jug pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Introduction to the Domain of the Inconceivable Qualities and Wisdom of the Tathāgatas”
The Teaching on the Extraordinary Transformation that is the Miracle of Attaining the Buddha’s Powers
སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྟོབས་སྐྱེད་པའི་ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་རྣམ་པར་འཕྲུལ་པ་བསྟན་པ། · sangs rgyas kyi stobs skyed pa’i cho ’phrul rnam par ’phrul pa bstan pa
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.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas kyi stobs skyed pa’i cho ’phrul rnam par ’phrul pa bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Sūtra of the Great Vehicle “The Teaching on the Extraordinary Transformation that is the Miracle of Attaining the Buddha’s Powers”
བུད་མེད་འགྱུར་བ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ། · bud med ’gyur ba lung bstan pa
In this sūtra, Subhūti, one of the Buddha’s close disciples, enters into a discussion with several individuals in the course of his alms rounds. His primary interlocutor is a laywoman who reveals herself to be a bodhisattva great being named Strīvivarta; her teachings are profound and challenging, consistently pointing in the direction of ultimate truth. The sūtra culminates in the Buddha prophesying Strīvivarta’s future awakening.
- ’phags pa bud med ’gyur ba lung bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Prophecy Concerning Strīvivarta”
+ Toh 739 / 193
ལྷ་མོ་ཆེན་མོ་དཔལ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ། · lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa
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.
- ’phags pa lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa
- The Noble Prophecy of Śrī Mahādevī
རྒྱལ་བའི་བློ་གྲོས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa’i mdo
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.
- ’phags pa rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Inquiry of Jayamati”
སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་ཀྱི་མདོ། · spyan ras gzigs kyi mdo
The Avalokinī Sūtra takes place in the city of Rājagṛha, where the Buddha teaches on the benefits that result from honoring the stūpas of awakened beings. The major part of this teaching consists in the Buddha detailing the many positive rewards obtained by those who worship the buddhas’ stūpas with offerings, such as flowers, incense, and lamps.
- ’phags pa spyan ras gzigs zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra: Avalokinī
འཇམ་དཔལ་གནས་པ། · ’jam dpal gnas pa
The Dwelling Place of Mañjuśrī first presents a dialogue between Mañjuśrī and Śāriputra regarding the activity of “dwelling” (vihāra) during meditation, the nature of dharmas, and the “true nature” (tathatā). This opens into a conversation between Mañjuśrī and a large gathering of monks whereby Mañjuśrī corrects the monks’ misinterpretations. Mañjuśrī then instructs Śāriputra on the enduring and indestructible nature of the realm of sentient beings and the realm of reality. Finally, the power of Mañjuśrī’s teaching is explained and reiterated by the Buddha.
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal gnas pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Dwelling Place of Mañjuśrī”
བདུད་རྩི་བརྗོད་པ། · bdud rtsi brjod pa
In this sūtra, in answer to a question put by Maitreya, the Buddha Śākyamuni teaches five qualities that bodhisattvas should have in order to live a long life free of obstacles and attain awakening quickly: (1) giving the Dharma; (2) giving freedom from fear; (3) practicing great loving kindness, great compassion, great joy, and great equanimity; (4) repairing dilapidated stūpas; and (5) causing all beings to aspire to the mind of awakening. Maitreya praises the benefits of this teaching and vows to teach it himself in future degenerate times. Both Maitreya and the Buddha emphasize the positive effects on beings and the environment that upholding, preserving, and teaching The Nectar of Speech will bring about.
- ’phags pa bdud rtsi brjod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Nectar of Speech”
- Ambrosial Speech
བྱམས་པ་འཇུག་པ། · byams pa ’jug pa
In Maitreya’s Setting Out, the Buddha Śākyamuni first narrates events from a past life of the bodhisattva Maitreya in which he was born as a king and for the first time gave rise to the mind set on awakening. Later, the Buddha recounts another past life of Maitreya—this time as a monk—and explains why he is known today as the bodhisattva Maitreya. These two narratives are interspersed with a series of Dharma teachings emphasizing the unborn nature of phenomena and the need to develop the view that transcends all reference points.
- ’phags pa byams pa ’jug pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- byams pa ’jug pa
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Maitreya’s Setting Out”
བྱམས་པ་དགའ་ལྡན་གནམ་དུ་སྐྱེ་བ་བླངས་པའི་མདོ། · byams pa dga’ ldan gnam du skye ba blangs pa’i mdo
This discourse takes place during the early evening in Śrāvastī and features the Buddha and his retinue. Among them are Maitreya (then known as Ajita) and Upāli, who asks about Ajita’s future awakening as Maitreya. The Buddha answers that he will be reborn in the Heaven of Joy. He proceeds to describe its wondrous qualities and the causes of being reborn there. At the conclusion of the discourse, all those present in the retinue rejoice and make aspirations to be reborn in the Heaven of Joy.
- The Noble Sūtra “The Bodhisattva Maitreya’s Birth in the Heaven of Joy”
- ’phags pa byang chub sems dpa’ byams pa dga’ ldan gnam du skye ba blangs pa’i mdo
དད་པའི་སྟོབས་བསྐྱེད་པ་ལ་འཇུག་པའི་ཕྱག་རྒྱ། · dad pa’i stobs bskyed pa la ’jug pa’i phyag rgya
The Seal of Engagement in Awakening the Power of Faith is made up of two lengthy orations—one by the Buddha, and one by the bodhisattva Samantabhadra—delivered in response to questions by the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. The Buddha’s teaching consists of numerous sets of five principles related to bodhisattva practice, each item of which is subsequently defined. These come together to teach Mañjuśrī how bodhisattvas can be inspired and thereby prepare themselves for the first bodhisattva level. In the latter part of the sūtra Samantabhadra teaches on the topic of buddha activity with a rich account of the expansive ways in which buddhas act to benefit beings.
- ’phags pa dad pa’i stobs bskyed pa la ’jug pa’i phyag rgya zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Seal of Engagement in Awakening the Power of Faith”
ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཕྱག་རྒྱ། · chos kyi phyag rgya
In this short sūtra, the Buddha addresses the nature of monastic ordination according to the perspective of the Great Vehicle and how going forth from the life of a householder can be said to have the qualities of being noble and supramundane. Following the Buddha’s teaching, the two prominent monks Śāriputra and Subhūti engage in a brief discussion on this same topic.
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Seal of Dharma”
- ’phags pa chos kyi phyag rgya zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
གླང་པོའི་རྩལ། · glang po’i rtsal
This sūtra contains a Dharma discourse on the profound insight into the emptiness of all phenomena, also known as transcendent insight. Following a short teaching in verse by Śāriputra, the Buddha delivers the primary discourse at the behest of Ānanda and Mañjuśrī amid a vast assembly of monks, bodhisattvas, and lay devotees. He specifically addresses hearers and so-called “outcast bodhisattvas” who have not realized transcendent insight and who thus remain attached to phenomenal appearances. Responding to a series of questions posed by Mañjuśrī and Śāriputra, the Buddha explains that all phenomena are as empty as space, with nothing to be either affirmed or rejected. Yet that very emptiness is what makes everything possible, including the bodhisattvas’ altruistic activities.
- glang po’i rtsal zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Strength of the Elephant”
སཱ་ལུའི་ལྗང་པ། · sA lu’i ljang pa
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.
- ’phags pa sA lu’i ljang pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Rice Seedling”
རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བ་དང་པོ་དང་རྣམ་པར་དབྱེ་བ་བསྟན་པ། · rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba dang po dang rnam par dbye ba bstan pa
In the Jeta Grove outside Śrāvastī, monks have gathered to listen to the Buddha as he presents the foundational doctrine of dependent arising. The Buddha first gives the definition of dependent arising and then teaches the twelve factors that form the causal chain of existence in saṃsāra as well as the defining characteristics of these twelve factors.
- rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba dang po dang rnam par dbye ba bstan pa zhes bya ba’i mdo
- The Sūtra “Teaching the Fundamental Exposition and Detailed Analysis of Dependent Arising”
+ Toh 520 / 212 / 980
+ Toh 980 / 212 / 520
རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བའི་མདོ། · rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba’i mdo
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:
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.
- ’phags pa rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra on Dependent Arising
དཔལ་སྦས་ཀྱི་མདོ། · dpal sbas kyi mdo
The Śrīgupta Sūtra tells the story of a plot against the life of Śākyamuni Buddha. At his guru’s instigation, a wealthy young Jain named Śrīgupta invites the Buddha to the midday meal at his house in Rājagṛha, where he has secretly prepared a fire trap and a poisoned meal. The Buddha is aware of these plans, but instead of simply avoiding the trap he accepts the invitation and uses the occasion to demonstrate his invulnerability to such harms, due to his realization and the power of his past deeds. He tells three stories from his previous lives as a pheasant chick, a hare, and the peacock king Suvarṇāvabhāsa—lives in which he similarly overcame fire and poison. After Śrīgupta’s attempts fail, Śākyamuni recounts yet another of his former lives in which Śrīgupta, this time as a brahmin teacher, similarly attempted to trap him in a pit of fire. Ashamed of his actions, Śrīgupta apologizes for his mistakes, takes refuge, and receives the vows of a lay devotee in the Buddha’s community.
- ’phags pa dpal sbas zhes bya ba’i mdo
- The Noble Śrīgupta Sūtra
ལས་ཀྱི་སྒྲིབ་པ་རྣམ་པར་དག་པ། · las kyi sgrib pa rnam par dag pa
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.”
- ’phags pa las kyi sgrib pa rnam par dag pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Purification of Karmic Obscurations”
གསུམ་ལ་སྐྱབས་སུ་འགྲོ་བ། · gsum la skyabs su ’gro ba
In Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels, the venerable Śāriputra wonders how much merit accrues to someone who takes refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha. He therefore seeks out the Buddha Śākyamuni and requests a teaching on this topic. The Buddha proceeds to describe how even vast offerings, performed in miraculous ways, would not constitute a fraction of the merit gained by someone who takes refuge in the Three Jewels.
- ’phags pa gsum la skyabs su ’gro ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels”
སྲིད་པ་འཕོ་བའི་མདོ། · srid pa ’pho ba’i mdo
King Śreṇya Bimbisāra of Magadha approaches the Buddha and asks him how a past action can appear before the mind at the moment of death. The Buddha presents the analogy of a sleeping person who dreams of a beautiful woman and on waking foolishly longs to find her. He cites this as an example of how an action of the distant past, which has arisen from perception and subsequent afflictive emotions and then ceased, appears to the mind on the brink of death. The Buddha goes on to explain how one transitions from the final moment of one life to the first moment of the next, according to the ripening of those actions, without any phenomena actually being transferred from one life to another. The Buddha concludes with a set of seven verses that offer a succinct teaching on emptiness, focusing on the two truths and the fictitious nature of names.
- ’phags pa srid pa ’pho ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Transmigration Through Existences”
དཀོན་མཆོག་སྤྲིན། · dkon mchog sprin
On Gayāśīrṣa Hill, Buddha Śākyamuni is visited by a great gathering of bodhisattvas who have traveled miraculously there from a distant world, to venerate him as one who has vowed to liberate beings in a world much more afflicted than their own. The visiting bodhisattvas are led by Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin, who asks the Buddha a series of searching questions. In response, the Buddha gives a detailed and systematic account of the practices, qualities, and nature of bodhisattvas, the stages of their path, their realization, and their activities. Many of the topics are structured into sets of ten aspects, expounded with reasoned explanations and illustrated with parables and analogies. This sūtra is said to have been one of the very first scriptures translated into Tibetan. Its doctrinal richness, profundity, and clarity are justly celebrated, and some of its key statements on meditation, the realization of emptiness, and the fundamental nature of the mind have been widely quoted in the Indian treatises and Tibetan commentarial literature.
- ’phags pa dkon mchog sprin ces bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Jewel Cloud”
ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཚུལ། · chos kyi tshul
Proper Dharma Conduct takes place in the Jeta Grove at Śrāvastī. Knowing that many bodhisattvas are wondering about proper Dharma conduct, the Buddha Śākyamuni gives a teaching on this topic to a great number of bodhisattvas. The teaching follows a format in which the Buddha first makes a short cryptic statement that seems to go against the conventions of proper behavior for bodhisattvas. The bodhisattvas then inquire as to the meaning of this statement, and the Buddha proceeds to explain how to interpret the initial statement in order to decipher the underlying meaning. Because of his teaching, many gods and bodhisattvas are able to make great progress on the path.
- ’phags pa chos kyi tshul zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Proper Dharma Conduct”
ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཕུང་པོ། · chos kyi phung po
In this sūtra some of Buddha Śākyamuni’s senior disciples request a teaching on the nature of “the sections of Dharma.” The Buddha responds by first delivering a teaching on the absence of birth with regard to phenomena, as an antidote to the poison of desire. On that basis, the Buddha then presents a longer explanation of the repulsiveness of the human body, and of the female body in particular.
- ’phags pa chos kyi phung po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Sections of Dharma”
དོན་དམ་པའི་ཆོས་ཀྱིས་རྣམ་པར་རྒྱལ་བ། · don dam pa’i chos kyis rnam par rgyal ba
Victory of the Ultimate Dharma presents the Buddha’s answers to questions posed by a non-Buddhist seer named Ulka concerning the origin of life, the end of the universe, and the nature of the soul. These questions are posed following a miraculous display by the Buddha, in which countless living beings are emitted from the Buddha in the form of rays of light. Although this miraculous display awes the bodhisattvas and gods who are present, Ulka is not swayed by these powers, arguing that non-Buddhist gods such as Nārāyaṇa and Maheśvara are also able to perform such feats. In answering his questions, the Buddha articulates core teachings of Buddhism such as impermanence, karma, and emptiness.
- don dam pa’i chos kyi rnam par rgyal ba’i mdo
- ’phags pa don dam pa’i chos kyi rnam par rgyal ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
ཆོས་དང་དོན་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ། · chos dang don rnam par ’byed pa
There are two main themes in Distinguishing Phenomena and What Is Meaningful. One is in the narrative structure: The Buddha Śākyamuni tells how, countless eons ago, in a world called Flower Origin, a buddha named Arisen from Flowers gave instructions to a royal family, and prophesied the awakening of the prince Ratnākara. Arisen from Flowers, the Buddha Śākyamuni then relates, has since become the buddha Amitābha, and the prince Ratnākara the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. The other theme is doctrinal, and lies in the content of the teaching given by Arisen from Flowers: it explains the four mistakes made by ordinary beings in the way they perceive the five aggregates, and how bodhisattvas teach them how to clear away these misconceptions, so that they may be free of the sufferings that result.
- ’phags pa chos dang don rnam par ’byed pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Distinguishing Phenomena and What Is Meaningful”
- don dang chos rnam par ’byed pa/
ཆོས་བཞི་བསྟན་པའི་མདོ། · chos bzhi bstan pa’i mdo
While Buddha Śākyamuni is residing in the Sudharmā assembly hall in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three, he explains to the great bodhisattva Maitreya four factors that make it possible to overcome the effects of any negative deeds one has committed. These four are: the action of repentance, which involves feeling remorse; antidotal action, which is to practice virtue as a remedy to non-virtue; the power of restraint, which involves vowing not to repeat a negative act; and the power of support, which means taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha, and never forsaking the mind of awakening. The Buddha concludes by recommending that bodhisattvas regularly recite this sūtra and reflect on its meaning as an antidote to any further wrongdoing.
- ’phags pa chos bzhi bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Teaching the Four Factors”
བཞི་པ་སྒྲུབ་པ། · bzhi pa sgrub pa
The Fourfold Accomplishment revolves around a dialogue between the god Śrībhadra and the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī that takes place in the Jeta Grove at Śrāvastī. At Śrībhadra’s request, Mañjuśrī recalls a teaching that he previously gave to Brahmā Śikhin on the practices of a bodhisattva. The teaching takes the form of a sequence of topics, each of which has four components.
- ’phags pa bzhi pa sgrub pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- bzhi pa sgrub pa’i mdo/
ནམ་མཁའི་སྙིང་པོའི་མདོ། · nam mkha’i snying po’i mdo
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, Ākāśagarbha 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.
- ’phags pa nam mkha’i snying po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Ākāśagarbha Sūtra
མེ་ཏོག་གི་ཚོགས། · me tog gi tshogs
Bouquet of Flowers is a Great Vehicle sūtra in which the Buddha describes a vast array of wondrous, far-off world systems each inhabited by buddhas who teach the Dharma there. Hearing those buddhas’ names, the Buddha teaches, brings a wide range of benefits, all of which are ultimately directed toward attaining unexcelled, perfect and complete awakening. In this sūtra, the Buddha’s main interlocutor is Śāriputra, but he also interacts with Ajita and Mahākāśyapa.
- ’phags pa me tog gi tshogs zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Bouquet of Flowers”
དཔང་སྐོང་ཕྱག་བརྒྱ་པ། · dpang skong phyag brgya pa
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. 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 making offerings to them, confessing and purifying nonvirtue, and making the 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 a passage 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.
- dpang skong phyag brgya pa
The Sūtra of King of the Inconceivable
བསམ་གྱིས་མི་ཁྱབ་པའི་རྒྱལ་པོའི་མདོ། · bsam gyis mi khyab pa'i rgyal po'i mdo/
While the Buddha is staying in the kingdom of Magadha with an assembly of countless bodhisattvas, the bodhisattva King of the Inconceivable gives a teaching on the relativity of time between different buddhafields. Eleven buddhafields are enumerated, with an eon in the first being equivalent to a day in the following buddhafield, where an eon is, in turn, the equivalent of a day in the next, and so forth.
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra "The Sūtra of King of the Inconceivable"
- ’phags pa bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i rgyal po’i mdo zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
+ Toh 512 / 270 / 852
+ Toh 852 / 270 / 512
སངས་རྒྱས་བདུན་པ། · sangs rgyas bdun pa
The Seven Buddhas opens with the Buddha Śākyamuni residing in an alpine forest on Mount Kailāsa with a saṅgha of monks and bodhisattvas. The Buddha notices that a monk in the forest has been possessed by a spirit, which prompts the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha to request that the Buddha teach a spell to cure diseases and exorcise demonic spirits. The Buddha then emanates as the set of “seven successive buddhas,” each of whom transmits a dhāraṇī to Ākāśagarbha. Each of the seven buddhas then provides ritual instructions for using the dhāraṇī.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas bdun pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Seven Buddhas”
སངས་རྒྱས་བརྒྱད་པ། · sangs rgyas brgyad pa
While the Buddha is dwelling together with a great saṅgha of monks in Śrāvastī, at the garden of Anāthapiṇḍada in the Jeta Grove, the whole universe suddenly begins to shake. The sounds of innumerable cymbals are heard without their being played, and flowers fall, covering the entire Jeta Grove. The world becomes filled with golden light and golden lotuses appear, each lotus supporting a lion throne upon which appears the shining form of a buddha. Venerable Śāriputra arises from his seat, pays homage, and asks the Buddha about the causes and conditions for these thus-gone ones to appear. The Buddha then proceeds to describe in detail these buddhas, as well as their various realms and how beings can take birth in them.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas brgyad pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Eight Buddhas”
+ Toh 511 / 273 / 853
+ Toh 853 / 273 / 511
སངས་རྒྱས་བཅུ་གཉིས་པ། · sangs rgyas bcu gnyis pa
The Twelve Buddhas opens at Rājagṛha with a dialogue between the Buddha Śākyamuni and the bodhisattva Maitreya about the eastern buddhafield of a buddha whose abbreviated name is King of Jewels. This buddha prophesies that when he passes into complete nirvāṇa, the bodhisattva Incomparable will take his place as a buddha whose abbreviated name is Victory Banner King. Śākyamuni then provides the names of the remaining ten tathāgatas, locating them in the ten directions surrounding Victory Banner King’s buddhafield Full of Pearls. After listing the full set of names of these twelve buddhas and their directional relationship to Victory Banner King, the Buddha Śākyamuni provides an accompanying mantra-dhāraṇī and closes with a set of thirty-seven verses outlining the benefits of remembering the names of these buddhas.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas bcu gnyis pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Twelve Buddhas”
སངས་རྒྱས་མི་སྤང་བ། · sangs rgyas mi spang ba
This discourse takes place while the Buddha Śākyamuni is on Vulture Peak Mountain with a large community of monks, along with numerous bodhisattvas. Ten of the bodhisattvas present in the retinue have become discouraged after failing to attain dhāraṇī despite exerting themselves for seven years. The bodhisattva Undaunted therefore requests the Buddha to bestow upon them an instruction that will enable them to generate wisdom. In response, the Buddha reveals the cause of their inability to attain dhāraṇī—a specific negative act they performed in the past—and he goes on to explain the importance of respecting Dharma teachers and reveal how these ten bodhisattvas can purify their karmic obscurations.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas mi spang ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Not Forsaking the Buddha”
The Eight Auspicious Ones
བཀྲ་ཤིས་བརྒྱད་པ། · bkra shis brgyad pa
While the Buddha is dwelling in Vaiśālī at Āmrapālī’s grove, a Licchavi youth named Superior Skill requests him to reveal those buddhas presently dwelling in fulfillment of their former aspirations, such that venerating them and remembering their names can dispel fear and harm. The Buddha responds by listing the names of eight buddhas and the names of their buddha realms. He instructs Superior Skill to remember these buddhas’ names and to contemplate them regularly to develop their good qualities himself and ensure success before beginning any activity. After Superior Skill departs, Śakra, lord of the gods, declares that he has taken up this practice as well. The Buddha exhorts Śakra to proclaim this discourse before engaging in battles with the asuras to ensure his victory, and then enumerates the good qualities of those who proclaim this discourse.
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Eight Auspicious Ones”
- ’phags pa bkra shis brgyad pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
བསླབ་པ་གསུམ་གྱི་མདོ། · bslab pa gsum gyi mdo
In The Sūtra on the Threefold Training, 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.
- bslab pa gsum gyi mdo
སྐུ་གསུམ་པའི་མདོ། · sku gsum pa’i mdo
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.
- ’phags pa sku gsum zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Three Bodies”
བསམ་པ་ཐམས་ཅད་ཡོངས་སུ་རྫོགས་པའི་ཡོངས་སུ་བསྔོ་བ། · bsam pa thams cad yongs su rdzogs pa’i yongs su bsngo ba
This text is a prayer of dedication, and is meant to be recited. Its structure partly reflects the liturgy of “seven branches” or “seven limbs,” a set of practices that serves as the basic structure of many Mahāyāna Buddhist prayers and rituals. In this instance, however, the text consists of two sections: the first is a detailed prayer of confession, and the second a prayer of rejoicing, requesting that the wheel of the Dharma be turned, beseeching the buddhas not to pass into nirvāṇa, and extensively dedicating the merit.
- ’phags pa bsam pa thams cad yongs su rdzogs par byed pa zhes bya ba’i yongs su bsngo ba
- The Noble Dedication “Fulfilling All Aspirations”
འགྲོ་བ་ཡོངས་སུ་སྐྱོབ་པར་བྱེད་པའི་ཡོངས་སུ་བསྔོ་བ། · ’gro ba yongs su skyob par byed pa’i yongs su bsngo ba/
This text is a prayer of dedication that strongly resonates with the later Tibetan literature of mind training (blo sbyong). In addition to the classic element of dedication of merit to all beings, a substantial part of the text comprises a passage that enumerates the many faults, shortcomings, and afflictions that burden sentient beings, as well as the many possible attainments that they consequently may not have realized, and culminates in the wish that everything negative that would otherwise ripen for sentient beings may ripen instead for the reciter, so that all sentient beings may thus be liberated and purified.
- ’phags pa ’gro ba thams cad yongs su skyob par byed pa zhes bya ba’i yongs su bsngo ba
- The Noble Dedication “Protecting All Beings”
དམ་པའི་ཆོས་དྲན་པ་ཉེ་བར་གཞག་པ། · dam pa’i chos dran pa nye bar gzhag pa
While on the way to Rājagṛha to collect alms, a group of newly ordained monks are approached by some non-Buddhists, who suggest that their doctrine is identical to that of the Buddha, since everyone agrees that misdeeds of body, speech, and mind are to be given up. The monks do not know how to reply, and when they later return to the brahmin town of Nālati, where the Buddha is residing, Śāradvatīputra therefore encourages them to seek clarification from the Blessed One himself. In response to the monks’ request, the Buddha delivers a comprehensive discourse on the effects of virtuous and unvirtuous actions, explaining these matters from the perspective of an adept practitioner of his teachings, who sees and understands all this through a process of personal discovery. As the teaching progresses, the Buddha presents an epic tour of the realm of desire—from the Hell of Ultimate Torment to the Heaven Free from Strife—all the while introducing the specific human actions and attitudes that cause the experience of such worlds and outlining the ways to remedy and transcend them. In the final section of the sūtra, which is presented as an individual scripture on its own, the focus is on mindfulness of the body and the ripening of karmic actions that is experienced among humans in particular.
- ’phags pa dam pa’i chos dran pa nye bar gzhag pa
- The Noble Application of Mindfulness of the Sacred Dharma
- dam chos dran pa nyer bzhag
གཎ་ཌཱིའི་མདོ། · gaN DI’i mdo
While the Buddha is dwelling in the Bamboo Grove monastery near Rājagṛha, together with a thousand monks and a host of bodhisattvas, King Prasenajit arises from his seat, bows at the Buddha’s feet, and asks him how to uphold the Dharma in his kingdom during times of conflict. In reply the Buddha instructs the king about the gaṇḍī, a wooden ritual instrument, and tells him how the sound of this instrument, used for Dharma practice in a temple or monastery, quells conflict and strife for all who hear it. He describes how to make, consecrate, and sound the gaṇḍī. He explains that the gaṇḍī symbolizes the Perfection of Insight and describes in detail the many benefits it confers.
དགེ་བའི་བཤེས་གཉེན་བསྟེན་པའི་མདོ། · dge ba’i bshes gnyen bsten pa’i mdo
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.
- ’phags pa dge ba’i bshes gnyen bsten pa’i mdo
- The Noble Sūtra on Reliance upon a Virtuous Spiritual Friend
ཚུལ་ཁྲིམས་ཡང་དག་པར་ལྡན་པའི་མདོ། · tshul khrims yang dag par ldan pa’i mdo
At Prince Jeta’s Grove in Śrāvastī, the Buddha teaches his saṅgha about the benefits of having moral discipline and the importance of guarding it. It is difficult, he says, to obtain a human life and encounter the teachings of a buddha, let alone to then take monastic vows and maintain moral discipline. But unlike just losing that one human life, which comes and then inevitably is gone, the consequences of failing in moral discipline are grave and experienced over billions of lifetimes. The Buddha continues in verse, praising moral discipline and its necessity as a foundation for engaging in the Dharma and attaining nirvāṇa. He concludes his discourse with a reflection on the folly of pursuing fleeting worldly enjoyments.
- tshul khrims yang dag ldan pa’i mdo/
ཚེའི་མཐའ། · tshe’i mtha’
The Sūtra on the Limits of Life presents a detailed and systematic account of the lifespans of different beings that inhabit the universe, progressing from the lower to the higher realms of existence as outlined in early Buddhist cosmology. The Buddha describes the lifespans of beings in terms of the relationship or proportion between the lifespans of the devas of the form realm and the lifespans in the eight major hot hells, the latter being significantly longer than the former.
- tshe’i mtha’i mdo
- The Sūtra on the Limits of Life
ཚེ་འཕོ་བ་ཇི་ལྟར་འགྱུར་བ་ཞུས་པ། · tshe ’pho ba ji ltar ’gyur ba zhus pa
Questions Regarding Death and Transmigration contains explanations of Buddhist views on the nature of life and death, and a number of philosophical arguments against non-Buddhist conceptions, notably some based broadly on the Vedas. The sūtra is set in the town of Kapilavastu at the time of the funeral of a young man of the Śākya clan. King Śuddhodana wonders about the validity of the ritual offerings being made for the deceased by the family and asks the Buddha seven questions about current beliefs on death and the afterlife. The Buddha answers each of the questions in turn. After two interlocutors interrupt to test the Buddha’s omniscience, the discourse continues to present the Buddhist account of death and rebirth using a set of eight analogies, each of which complements the others in a detailed explanation.
- tshe ’pho ba ji ltar ’gyur ba zhus pa’i mdo
- The Sūtra of Questions Regarding Death and Transmigration
- ’chi ’pho ba ji ltar ’gyur ba’i bstan pa
- ’chi ’pho ba ji ltar ’gyur ba’i lung bstan pa
མི་རྟག་པ་ཉིད་ཀྱི་མདོ། · mi rtag pa nyid kyi mdo
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, and indirectly urging his disciples to practice the path of liberation.
- mi rtag pa nyid kyi mdo
+ Toh 628 / 312 / 1093
+ Toh 1093 / 312 / 628
ཡངས་པའི་གྲོང་ཁྱེར་དུ་འཇུག་པའི་མདོ་ཆེན་པོ། · yangs pa’i grong khyer du ’jug pa’i mdo chen po
Invited to visit the city of Vaiśālī, which has been ravaged by a terrible epidemic, the Buddha instructs Ānanda to stand at the city’s gate and recite a proclamation, a long mantra, and some verses that powerfully evoke spiritual well-being. Ānanda does so, and the epidemic comes to an end. One of the mahāsūtras related to the literature of the Vinaya, this text, like other accounts of the incident, has traditionally been recited during times of personal or collective illness, bereavement, and other difficulties.
- ’phags pa yangs pa’i grong khyer du ’jug pa’i mdo chen po
- The Noble Mahāsūtra “On Entering the City of Vaiśālī”
+ Toh 617 / 313 / 974
+ Toh 974 / 313 / 617
མཚན་མོ་བཟང་པོ། · mtshan mo bzang po
In Auspicious Night, the deity Candana appears before a monk in Rājagṛha and asks if he knows of the Buddha’s teaching called Auspicious Night. Since the monk has never heard of it, the deity encourages the monk to ask the Buddha himself, who is staying nearby. At the monk’s request, the Buddha teaches him how to continuously remain in a contemplative state by following these guidelines: do not follow after the past, do not be anxious about the future, and do not be led astray or become distracted by presently arisen states. The Buddha then teaches several mantras and incantations for the welfare of all sentient beings and explains the apotropaic and salvific benefits of the instructions.
- ’phags pa mtshan mo bzang po zhes bya ba’i mdo
- mtshan mo bzang po’i mdo/
མུན་གྱི་ནགས་ཚལ་གྱི་སྒོ། · mun gyi nags tshal gyi sgo
Entry into the Gloomy Forest tells the story of the eminent brahmin Pradarśa, who is converted to Buddhism upon receiving teachings from the Buddha and goes on to establish a Buddhist community in the Gloomy Forest. The text describes the exceptional circumstances of Pradarśa’s birth, his going forth as a monk, and the miraculous founding of the monastic community in the Gloomy Forest. This is followed by the Buddha’s account of the deeds and aspirations undertaken by Pradarśa in his previous lives that have resulted in the auspicious circumstances of his present life.
- The Sūtra “Entry into the Gloomy Forest”
- mun gyi nags tshal gyi sgo zhes bya ba’i mdo
ཕ་མའི་མདོ། · pha ma’i mdo
This short discourse was taught to an audience of monks in the Jeta Grove in Śrāvastī. In it, the Buddha explains, by means of similes, the importance of venerating and attending to one’s father and mother. The Buddha concludes by stating that those who venerate their father and mother are wise, for in this life they will not be disparaged, and in the next life they will be reborn in the higher realms.
དོན་རྣམ་པར་ངེས་པ། · don rnam par nges pa
The sūtra Distinctly Ascertaining the Meanings begins with an introductory section, offering the context of the teachings. An explanation of twenty-seven topics is then presented by the Buddha, starting with the five aggregates and ending with the eighty minor marks of a great person. The Buddha then concludes by exhorting the bhikṣus to meditate in solitude and avoid negligence.
- don rnam par nges pa zhes bya ba’i chos kyi rnam grangs
- The Dharma Instruction “Distinctly Ascertaining the Meanings”
དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་གཟུགས་བརྙན་བཞག་པའི་ཕན་ཡོན་ཡང་དག་པར་བརྗོད་པ། · de bzhin gshegs pa’i gzugs brnyan bzhag pa’i phan yon yang dag par brjod pa
In this sūtra, the Buddha Śākyamuni tells a group of monks how they should respond when asked about the karmic benefits accrued by patrons who create representations of the Buddha. He explains five kinds of benefits that such virtuous deeds bring.
- The Noble Dharma Discourse “Describing the Benefits of Producing Representations of the Thus-Gone One”
- ’phags pa de bzhin gshegs pa’i gzugs brnyan bzhag pa’i phan yon yang dag par brjod pa zhes bya ba’i chos kyi rnam grangs
ཀླུའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རྔ་སྒྲའི་ཚིགས་སུ་བཅད་པ། · klu’i rgyal po rnga sgra’i tshigs su bcad pa
The Verses of Nāga King Drum contains the Buddha’s narration of a tale from one of his past lives as the nāga king Drum. While traveling with his younger brother Tambour, they come under verbal attack by another nāga named Drumbeat. Tambour’s anger at their mistreatment and desire for retaliation prompts Drum to counsel Tambour on the virtues of patience and nonviolence in the face of aggression and abusiveness. Through a series of didactic aphorisms, he advises his brother to meet disrespect and persecution with serenity, patience, compassion, and insight, in order to accomplish what is best for oneself and others. The Buddha now recounts King Drum’s wise counsel as a helpful instruction for his own followers.
The Sūtra of Nanda’s Going Forth
དགའ་བོ་རབ་ཏུ་བྱུང་བའི་མདོ། · dga’ bo rab tu byung ba’i mdo
In this sūtra, the Buddha Śākyamuni, accompanied by Ānanda, visits the house of Nanda during his stay in Banyan Grove near Kapilavastu. A discourse ensues in which the Buddha explains to Nanda the importance and benefits of going forth as a monk. Nanda expresses hesitation about going forth, so the Buddha explains by means of analogies how fortunate Nanda is to have obtained an auspicious human birth, to have met the Buddha, and to have the opportunity to become a monk. Nanda is deeply impressed by the Buddha’s teaching and decides to renounce worldly life and go forth.
འཁར་གསིལ་གྱི་མདོ། · ’khar gsil gyi mdo
In this short sūtra, the Buddha first instructs the monks to carry the ringing staff and then provides a brief introduction to its significance. In response to Venerable Mahākāśyapa’s queries, the Buddha gives a more detailed explanation of the attributes of the staff and the benefits that can be derived from holding it. In the course of his exposition, he also elucidates the rich symbolism of its parts, such as the four prongs and the twelve rings. Finally, the Buddha explains that while the ringing staff is carried by all buddhas of the past, present, and future, the number of prongs on the staff might vary.
- ’phags pa ’khar gsil gyi mdo
- The Noble Sūtra on the Ringing Staff
འཁར་གསིལ་འཆང་བའི་ཀུན་སྤྱོད་པའི་ཆོ་ག · ’khar gsil ’chang ba’i kun spyod pa’i cho ga
The Rite for the Protocols Associated with Carrying the Ringing Staff is a short text that deals with the practical matters relating to the use of the mendicant’s staff known in Sanskrit as a khakkhara, or “rattling staff.” It begins with a simple ritual during which a Buddhist monk ceremoniously takes up the ringing staff in front of his monastic teacher. The text then provides a list of twenty-five rules governing the proper use of the staff. The rules stipulate how a Buddhist monk should or should not handle it in his daily life, especially when he goes on alms rounds and when he travels.
ཆོས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོའི་མདོ། · chos kyi ’khor lo’i mdo
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.
- chos kyi ’khor lo’i mdo
ལས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་པར་འགྱུར་བ། · las kyi rnam par ’gyur ba
In Exposition of Karma the Buddha is staying in Prince Jeta’s Grove in Śrāvastī, where he is visited by the brahmin youth Śuka, who asks the Blessed One to explain the reason why living beings appear so diversely. The Buddha answers Śuka’s question with a discourse on various categories of actions as well as rebirth and the actions leading to it. The discourse presents fifty-one categories of actions, followed by explanations of the negative consequences of transgressing the five precepts observed by all Buddhists, the advantages gained through caitya worship, and the meritorious results of specific acts of generosity.
- las kyi rnam par ’gyur ba zhes bya ba’i chos kyi gzhung/ bam po gcig go
- The Dharma Scripture “Exposition of Karma” in one fascicle
- las rnam par ’gyur ba chos kyi gzhung /
- ལས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་པར་འགྱུར་བ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་གཞུང་། བམ་པོ་གཅིག་གོ།
ལས་བརྒྱ་པ། · las brgya pa
The sūtra The Hundred Deeds, whose title could also be translated as The Hundred Karmas, is a collection of stories known as avadāna—a narrative genre widely represented in the Sanskrit Buddhist literature and its derivatives—comprising more than 120 individual texts. It includes narratives of Buddha Śākyamuni’s notable deeds and foundational teachings, the stories of other well-known Buddhist figures, and a variety of other tales featuring people from all walks of ancient Indian life and beings from all six realms of existence. The texts sometimes include stretches of verse. In the majority of the stories the Buddha’s purpose in recounting the past lives of one or more individuals is to make definitive statements about the karmic ripening of actions across multiple lifetimes, and the sūtra is perhaps the best known of the many works in the Kangyur on this theme.
- las brgya tham pa
- The Hundred Deeds
ཀུན་ཏུ་རྒྱུ་བ་སེན་རིངས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · kun tu rgyu ba sen rings kyis zhus pa
As the Buddha teaches the Dharma to the fourfold saṅgha on Vulture Peak Mountain, the brahmin and wandering mendicant Dīrghanakha 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 uṣṇīṣa on his crown. The Buddha responds to each question with the cause for each attribute, roughly summing up the eight poṣadha vows and the ways he observed them in the past. Dīrghanakha drops his staff and bows to the Buddha, pledging to take refuge in the Three Jewels and maintain the eight poṣadha vows.
- kun tu rgyu ba sen rings kyis zhus pa zhes bya ba’i mdo
- The Sūtra “The Questions of Dīrghanakha the Wandering Mendicant”
- kun tu rgyu ba sen rings kyis zhus pa’i mdo/
བསོད་ནམས་ཀྱི་སྟོབས་ཀྱི་རྟོགས་པ་བརྗོད་པ། · bsod nams kyi stobs kyi rtogs pa brjod pa
In Śrāvastī, at Prince Jeta’s Grove, several elder monks in the Buddha’s assembly cannot agree on which human quality is most valuable and beneficial: beauty, diligence, artistry, or insight. They ask the Buddha, who replies that merit, which gives rise to all the qualities they have noted, is of most benefit to beings. To illustrate this point, he tells the story of a past life in which he was born as Puṇyabala, with four older brothers who were each named after their most prized quality: Rūpabala, Vīryavanta, Śilpavanta, and Prajñāvanta. In an ensuing contest to determine which quality produces the best outcomes in real life, Puṇyabala wins, and through his merit is granted dominion over much of the world. The Buddha then goes on to tell the story of his even earlier lifetime as Dyūtajaya, during which he developed the intention to attain buddhahood through the accumulation of merit.
དཔལ་གྱི་སྡེའི་རྟོགས་པ་བརྗོད་པ། · dpal gyi sde’i rtogs pa brjod pa
In this discourse, the Buddha Śākyamuni describes his past life as King Śrīsena of Ariṣṭa, a bodhisattva renowned for his unstinting generosity and spiritual resolve. In that life, a sage orders his disciple to ask King Śrīsena for his beautiful wife, Jayaprabhā. Out of compassion, King Śrīsena gives his wife to the disciple. Śakra, lord of the gods, then claims that King Śrīsena is also able to give away his own body. The other gods have doubts about this, so to prove his point, Śakra disguises himself as an old brahmin whose lower body has been eaten by a tiger, and then asks King Śrīsena to gift him his own lower body. With altruistic motivation, King Śrīsena agrees to the request and orders carpenters to saw him in half. He offers the bottom half to the brahmin, whose body is magically made whole again. King Śrīsena claims he has felt no regrets and by the power of his words, his own body is restored. During this ordeal, Śakra has kept the king alive and carefully monitored his reactions. Observing nothing but pure altruism, Śakra then confirms that the king is a true bodhisattva who is capable of the highest acts of generosity. With this past life story, the Buddha illustrates the kinds of personal sacrifice a bodhisattva will make to attain awakening, even when these go against the protestations of those closest to him.
གླང་རུ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ། · glang ru lung bstan pa
In this scripture the Buddha Śākyamuni travels miraculously from Rājagṛha with a large retinue of bodhisattvas, hearers, gods, and other beings to the Central Asian region of Khotan, which in this discourse has not yet been established as a kingdom but is covered by a great lake. Once there, the Buddha foretells how this will be the site of a future land called Virtue, which will contain a blessed stūpa called Gomasalaganda. The Buddha proceeds to explain to his retinue the excellent qualities of this land, foretelling many future events, and instructing his disciples how to guard and protect the land for the sake of beings at that time. At the end of his teaching, the Buddha asks the hearer Śāriputra and the divine king Vaiśravaṇa to drain the lake, thus diverting the water and rendering the land ready for future habitation.
- ’phags pa glang ru lung bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Prophecy on Mount Gośṛṅga”
Warning: Readers are reminded that according to Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition there are restrictions and commitments concerning tantra. Practitioners who are not sure if they should read this translation are advised to consult the authorities of their lineage. The responsibility for reading this text or sharing it with others who may or may not fulfill the requirements lies in the hands of readers.
དབང་མདོར་བསྟན་པ། · dbang mdor bstan pa
The Summary of Empowerment is considered to be the only extant portion of the root text of the Kālacakratantra. According to the Buddhist tantric tradition, the Sekkodeśa was transmitted by the Buddha in his emanation as Kālacakra, to Sucandra, the first king of Śambhala. The text’s 174 verses cover a wide range of topics. After a short introduction to the eleven empowerments that constitute a gradual purification of the aggregates, body, speech, mind, and wisdom, the treatise turns to the so-called “sixfold yoga.” It begins by teaching meditation on emptiness via the contemplation of various signs, such as smoke or fireflies. Following the description of the control of winds and drops within the body’s channels and cakras, along with the signs of death and methods of cheating death, the text goes on to describe the three mudrās—karmamudrā, jñānamudrā, and mahāmudrā. After a concise criticism of cause and effect, the text concludes by describing six kinds of supernatural beings closely related to the Kālacakratantra, along with their respective families.
- [Note: a section of the (lost) Kālacakra Mūlatantra]
Warning: Readers are reminded that according to Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition there are restrictions and commitments concerning tantra. Practitioners who are not sure if they should read this translation are advised to consult the authorities of their lineage. The responsibility for reading this text or sharing it with others who may or may not fulfill the requirements lies in the hands of readers.
ཡང་དག་པར་སྦྱོར་བ། · yang dag par sbyor ba
The tantra Emergence from Sampuṭa is an all-inclusive compendium of Buddhist theory and practice as taught in the two higher divisions of the Yoga class of tantras, the “higher” (uttara) and the “highest” (niruttara), or, following the popular Tibetan classification, the Father and the Mother tantras. Dating probably to the end of the tenth century, the bulk of the tantra consists of a variety of earlier material, stretching back in time and in the doxographical hierarchy to the Guhyasamāja, a text traditionally regarded as the first tantra in the Father group. Drawing from about sixteen well-known and important works, including the most seminal of the Father and Mother tantras, it serves as a digest of this entire group, treating virtually every aspect of advanced tantric theory and practice. It has thus always occupied a prominent position among canonical works of its class, remaining to this day a rich source of quotations for Tibetan exegetes.
- yang dag par sbyor ba zhes bya ba’i rgyud chen po
- The Foundation of All Tantras, the Great Sovereign Compendium “Emergence from Sampuṭa”
Warning: Readers are reminded that according to Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition there are restrictions and commitments concerning tantra. Practitioners who are not sure if they should read this translation are advised to consult the authorities of their lineage. The responsibility for reading this text or sharing it with others who may or may not fulfill the requirements lies in the hands of readers.
དཔལ་གསང་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་གཅོད་པའི་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ། · dpal gsang ba thams cad gcod pa’i rgyud kyi rgyal po
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.
- gsang ba thams cad gcod pa’i rgyud
- The Tantra That Resolves All Secrets
ནམ་མཁའ་དང་མཉམ་པ། · nam mkha’ dang mnyam pa
Equal to the Sky belongs to a series of texts known as the rali tantras, which are primarily associated with the Cakrasaṃvara system but incorporate themes that are also prominent in the Hevajra and Kālacakra systems. The tantra presents a discourse in which the Buddha addresses three types of ḍākinī, explains their true natures, and correlates them with the practitioner’s physical and subtle body. A primary concern of this text is to explain advanced yogic practices performed during the completion stage (Skt. utpannakrama/niṣpannakrama; Tib. rdzogs rim) in the Yoginī Tantras, but it also treats a wide range of topics including astrology, sacred geography, and tantric hermeneutics. The result is a text which, while very dense and quite difficult to engage with, rewards the reader by bringing together an astonishingly vast range of topics concerning both the theory and practice of Buddhist tantra.
- The Glorious King of Tantras “Equal to the Sky”
- dpal nam mkha’ dang mnyam pa’i rgyud kyi rgyal po
- dpal nam mkha’ dang mnyam pa’i rgyud kyi rgyal po zhes bya ba/
- nam mkha’ dang mnyam pa’i rgyud/
སྒྱུ་འཕྲུལ་ཆེན་མོའི་རྒྱུད། · sgyu ’phrul chen mo’i rgyud
The Mahāmāyātantra, named after its principal deity Mahāmāyā, is a tantra of the Yoginītantra 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.
- dpal sgyu ’phrul chen mo’i rgyud kyi rgyal po
- The King of Tantras, the Glorious Mahāmāyā
ཁྲོ་བོ་ཆེན་པོའི་རྒྱུད། · khro bo chen po’i rgyud
Written around the tenth or the eleventh century ᴄᴇ, in the late Mantrayāna period, The Tantra of Caṇḍamahāroṣaṇa represents the flowering of the Yoginītantra 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.
- dpal gtum po khro bo chen po’i rgyud kyi rgyal po dpa’ bo gcig pa zhes bya ba
- The Glorious Caṇḍamahāroṣaṇa Tantra “The Sole Hero”
འཕགས་མ་སྒྲོལ་མ་ཀུ་རུ་ཀུལླེའི་རྟོག་པ། · ’phags ma sgrol ma ku ru kul+le’i rtog pa
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.
The text is a treasury of ritual practices connected with enthrallment and similar magical acts—practices which range from formal sādhana to traditional homa ritual, and to magical methods involving herbs, minerals, etc. The text’s varied contents are presented as a multi-layered blend of the apotropaic and the soteriological, as well as the practical and the philosophical, where these complementary opposites combine together into a genuinely spiritual Buddhist work.
- ku ru kul+le’i rtog pa
- The Practice Manual of Kurukullā
སྒྲོལ་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ཉི་ཤུ་རྩ་གཅིག་གིས་བསྟོད་པ། · sgrol ma la phyag ’tshal nyi shu rtsa gcig gis bstod pa
Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage is a liturgy that consists of twenty-seven verses of praise and reverence dedicated to the deity Tārā. The first twenty-one verses are at once a series of homages to the twenty-one forms of Tārā and a poetic description of her physical features, postures, and qualities. The remaining six verses describe how and when the praise should be recited and the benefits of its recitation.
- sgrol ma la phyag ’tshal nyi shu rtsa gcig gis bstod pa phan yon dang bcas pa
- Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage and Their Benefits
བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཕྱག་ན་རྡོ་རྗེ་གོས་སྔོན་པོ་ཅན་གྱི་རྒྱུད། · bcom ldan ’das phyag na rdo rje gos sngon po can gyi rgyud
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, The Tantra of the Blue-Clad Blessed Vajrapāṇi, 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.
- bcom ldan ’das phyag na rdo rje gos sngon po can gyi rgyud ces bya ba
- The Tantra of the Blue-Clad Blessed Vajrapāṇi
དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པ་བདུན་གྱི་སྔོན་གྱི་སྨོན་ལམ་གྱི་ཁྱད་པར་རྒྱས་པ། · de bzhin gshegs pa bdun gyi sngon gyi smon lam gyi khyad par rgyas pa
The Detailed Account of the Previous Aspirations of the Seven Thus-Gone Ones opens in Vaiśālī, where the Buddha Śākyamuni is seated with a saṅgha of eight thousand monks, thirty-six thousand bodhisattvas, and a large gathering of gods, spirit beings, and humans. As Śākyamuni concludes his teaching, the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī rises from his seat and requests that the Buddha give a Dharma teaching that will benefit all the human and nonhuman beings who are present in the assembly. Specifically, he asks Śākyamuni to teach them about the previous aspirations of seven buddhas, their buddhafields, and the benefits that those buddhas can bring to beings who live in the final five hundred years, when the holy Dharma is on the verge of disappearing. Śākyamuni agrees to this request and proceeds to give a detailed account of the previous aspirations of those seven buddhas to benefit beings who are veiled by karmic obscurations, tormented by illnesses, and plagued by mental anguish and suffering.
- The Noble Great Vehicle Discourse “The Detailed Account of the Previous Aspirations of the Seven Thus-Gone Ones”
- Āryasaptatathāgatapūrvapraṇidhānaviśeṣavistāranāma mahāyānasūtra
- ’phags pa de bzhin gshegs pa bdun gyi sngon gyi smon lam gyi khyad par rgyas pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- de bzhin gshegs pa bdun gyi sngon gyi smon lam gyi khyad par rgyas pa'i mdo/
- de bzhin gshegs pa dgra bcom pa yang dag par rdzogs pa’i sangs rgyas bdun gyi sngon gyi smon lam gyi khyad par rgyas pa
- The Detailed Account of the Previous Aspirations of the Seven Thus-Gone, Worthy, and Perfect Buddhas
- byang chub sems dpa’ lag na rdo rjes dam bcas pa
- The Bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi’s Vow
- las kyi sgrib pa thams cad rnam par sbyong re ba thams cad yongs su skong ba
- Purifying All Karmic Obscurations and Fulfilling All Hopes
- gnod sbyin gyi sde dpon chen po bcu gnyis kyis dam bcas pa
- The Vows of the Twelve Great Yakṣa Generals
བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་སྨན་གྱི་བླ་བཻ་ཌུརྱའི་འོད་གྱི་སྨོན་ལམ་གྱི་ཁྱད་པར་རྒྱས་པ། · bcom ldan ’das sman gyi bla bai Dur+ya’i ’od gyi smon lam gyi khyad par rgyas pa
The Detailed Account of the Previous Aspirations of the Blessed Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabha centers on the figure commonly known as the Medicine Buddha. The text opens in Vaiśālī, where the Buddha Śākyamuni is seated with a large retinue of human and divine beings. The bodhisattva Mañjuśrī asks Śākyamuni to teach the names and previous aspirations of the buddhas, along with the benefit that buddhas can bring during future times when the Dharma has nearly disappeared. The Buddha gives a teaching on the name and previous aspirations of the Buddha Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabha, and then details the benefits that arise from hearing and retaining this buddha’s name.
- ’phags pa bcom ldan ’das sman gyi bla bai Dur+ya’i ’od gyi smon lam gyi khyad par rgyas pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- Āryabhagavānbhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabhasya pūrvapraṇidhānaviśeṣavistāranāmamahāyānasūtra
- The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Detailed Account of the Previous Aspirations of the Blessed Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabha”
- sman mdo chung ba/
- The Shorter Medicine Buddha Sūtra
+ Toh 856 / 513
སངས་རྒྱས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་ཡན་ལག་དང་ལྡན་པའི་གཟུངས། · sangs rgyas thams cad kyi yan lag dang ldan pa’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī Endowed with the Attributes of All the Buddhas details a brief exchange between the Buddha and the four guardian kings of the world, that is, the four divine beings who rule over the cardinal directions in the Indian Buddhist tradition. Pursuant to a description of the fears that plague mankind, the Buddha declares that he will provide remedies for them. Invoking the presence of numberless buddhas in the limitless world systems described in Buddhist cosmology, the Buddha and the four kings provide several mantras of varying lengths meant for daily recitation, with the stated benefits not only of averting all manner of calamities—untimely death, illness, and injury chief among them—but of attracting the attention and blessings of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and ensuring good health and benefit for the practitioner and all beings.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas thams cad kyi yan lag dang ldan pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- The Noble Dhāraṇī “Endowed with the Attributes of All the Buddhas”
+ Toh 854 / 514
སངས་རྒྱས་སྙིང་པོའི་གཟུངས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་གྲངས། · sangs rgyas snying po’i gzungs kyi chos kyi rnam grangs
The Discourse of the Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence is a short work in which the Buddha Śākyamuni, addressing an immense gathering of bodhisattvas, teaches two dhāraṇīs to be recited as a complement to the practice of recollecting the Buddha, and then explains the beneficial results of reciting them. The significance of the teaching is marked by miraculous signs, and by the gods offering flowers and ornaments. The text also provides a set of correspondences between the eight ornaments offered by the gods and eight qualities that ornament bodhisattvas.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas kyi snying po zhes bya ba’i gzungs kyi chos kyi rnam grangs
- The Noble Discourse of the Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence
+ Toh 855 / 515
སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྙིང་པོའི་གཟུངས། · sangs rgyas kyi snying po’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence is structured as a dialogue between the Buddha and a retinue of gods from the Śuddhāvāsa realm. The dialogue revolves around the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa and the role that the gods of Śuddhāvāsa can play in continuing to guide beings in his absence until the next tathāgata appears in the world. The Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence is then introduced as the specific instruction that the gods of Śuddhāvāsa should preserve and propagate after Śākyamuni has departed. The Buddha then provides a list of benefits that members of the saṅgha can accrue by reciting this dhāraṇī.
- ’phags pa sangs rgyas kyi snying po zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- The Noble Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence
+ Toh 848 / 522
ཡེ་ཤེས་ཏ་ལ་ལའི་གཟུངས། · ye shes ta la la’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī of the Tathāgata Jñānolka opens with a description of a group of four tathāgatas and four bodhisattvas, who are seated in the celestial palace of the Sun and the Moon. The deities of the Sun and Moon return to their celestial palace from elsewhere and, seeing these tathāgatas and bodhisattvas, both wonder whether they might obtain a dhāraṇī that would allow them to dispel the darkness and shine a light upon all beings. The tathāgatas, perceiving the thoughts of the Sun and Moon, provide them with the first dhāraṇī in the text. The bodhisattva Samantabhadra then provides a second dhāraṇī and instructs the deities of the Sun and Moon to use it to free beings who are bound for rebirth in the lower realms—even those who have been born in the darkest depths of the Avīci hell.
- ’phags pa ye shes ta la la zhes bya’i gzungs ’gro ba thams cad yongs su sbyong ba
- The Noble Dhāraṇī of the Tathāgata Jñānolka that Purifies All Rebirths
འཇམ་དཔལ་གྱི་རྩ་བའི་རྒྱུད། · ’jam dpal gyi rtsa ba’i rgyud
The Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa is the largest and most important single text devoted to Mañjuśrī, the bodhisattva of wisdom. A revealed scripture, it is, by its own classification, both a Mahāyāna sūtra and a Mantrayāna kalpa (manual of rites). Because of its ritual content, it was later classified as a Kriyā tantra and assigned, based on the hierarchy of its deities, to the Tathāgata subdivision of this class. The Sanskrit text as we know it today was probably compiled throughout the eighth century ᴄᴇ and several centuries thereafter. What makes this text special is that, unlike most other Kriyā tantras, it not only describes the ritual procedures, but also explains them in terms of general Buddhist philosophy, Mahāyāna ethics, and the esoteric principles of the early Mantrayāna (later called Vajrayāna), with an emphasis on their soteriological aims.
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyi rtsa ba’i rgyud
- The Noble Root Manual of the Rites of Mañjuśrī
- ’jam dpal rtsa rgyud
- The Root Tantra of Mañjuśrī
- ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyi rtsa ba’i rgyud
དཔའ་བོ་གཅིག་པུ་གྲུབ་པའི་རྒྱུད། · dpa’ bo gcig pu grub pa’i rgyud
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.
- dpa’ bo gcig pu grub pa zhes bya ba’i rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po
- The Great Sovereign Tantra of Siddhaikavīra
སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པ། · stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa
Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm 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. Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm 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.
- stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa zhes bya ba’i mdo
- The Sūtra “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm”
གསང་སྔགས་ཆེན་པོ་རྗེས་སུ་འཛིན་པ། · gsang sngags chen po rjes su ’dzin pa
Great Upholder of the Secret Mantra 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.
- gsang sngags chen po rjes su ’dzin pa’i mdo
- The Sūtra “Great Upholder of the Secret Mantra”
ཚེ་དཔག་མེད་ཀྱི་སྙིང་པོ། · tshe dpag med kyi snying po
This extremely brief text provides a mantra of the Buddha Aparimitāyus, thus seeming to confirm its existence as a mantra on its own as well as being part of the dhāraṇī contained in the most widely used version of The Aparimitāyurjñāna Sūtra.
- tshe dpag med kyi yang snying
- ’phags pa tshe dpag med kyi snying po
+ Toh 849 / 674
ཚེ་དང་ཡེ་ཤེས་དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པའི་མདོ། · tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa’i mdo
The Buddha, while at the Jetavana monastery in Śrāvastī, tells Mañjuśrī of a buddha realm far above the world, in which lives the Buddha Aparimitāyurjñāna. He states that those who recite, write, hear, and so on, the praise of this buddha, or make offerings to this text, will have numerous benefits, including a long life and a good rebirth. As vast numbers of buddhas recite it, the mantra, or dhāraṇī, of this buddha is repeated numerous times. This is the best known of the two versions of this sūtra in the Kangyur.
- ’phags pa tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra of Aparimitāyurjñāna
ཚེ་དང་ཡེ་ཤེས་དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པའི་མདོ། · tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa’i mdo
The Buddha, while at the Jetavana monastery in Śrāvastī, tells Mañjuśrī of a buddha realm far above the world, in which lives the Buddha Aparimitāyurjñāna. He states that those who recite, write, hear, and so on, the praise of this buddha, or make offerings to this text, will have numerous benefits, including a long life and a good rebirth. As vast numbers of buddhas recite it, the mantra, or dhāraṇī, of this buddha is repeated numerous times. This is the lesser known of the two versions of this sūtra in the Kangyur, but possibly represents the earlier translation.
- ’phags pa tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
- The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra of Aparimitāyurjñāna
+ Toh 850 / 676
ཚེ་དང་ཡེ་ཤེས་དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པའི་སྙིང་པོའི་གཟུངས། · tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa’i snying po’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī “Essence of Immeasurable Longevity and Wisdom” opens at a pool by the Ganges, where the Buddha Śākyamuni is seated with five hundred monks and a great saṅgha of bodhisattvas. The Buddha begins with a short set of verses on the Buddha Aparimitāyus, who dwells in the realm of Sukhāvatī, telling the gathering that anyone who recites Aparimitāyus’ name will be reborn in that buddha’s realm. He then provides a unique description of Sukhāvatī, followed by instructions for two practices, related to the text’s dhāraṇī, that can grant rebirth in Sukhāvatī in the next life.
- ’phags pa tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa’i snying po zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- The Noble Dhāraṇī “Essence of Immeasurable Longevity and Wisdom”
- ’chi med rnga sgra’i rgyal po’i mdo
- ’chi med rnga sgra’i rgyal po’i gzungs
- rnga sgra’i rgyal po’i mdo
- The Sūtra [or Dhāraṇī] of [Amṛta-]Dundubhisvara-rāja
+ Toh 851 / 679
ཡོན་ཏན་བསྔགས་པ་དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པའི་གཟུངས། · yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī that Praises the Qualities of the Immeasurable One contains a short dhāraṇī mantra praising the tathāgata Amitābha and brief instructions on the benefits that result from its recitation.
- ’phags pa yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- Noble Dhāraṇī Praising the Qualities of the Immeasurable One
དོན་ཡོད་པའི་ཞགས་པའི་ཆོ་ག་ཞིབ་མོའི་རྒྱལ་པོ། · don yod pa’i zhags pa’i cho ga zhib mo’i rgyal po
The Amoghapāśakalparāja is an early Kriyātantra of the lotus family. Historically, it is the main and largest compendium and manual of rites dedicated to Amoghapāśa, one of Avalokiteśvara’s principal emanations, who is named after and distinguished by his “unfailing noose” (amoghapāśa). The text is primarily soteriological, with an emphasis on the general Mahāyāna values of compassion and loving kindness for all beings. It offers many interesting insights into early Buddhist ritual and the development of its terminology.
- The Noble Sovereign Ritual of Amoghapāśa
- ’phags pa don yod pa’i zhags pa’i cho ga zhib mo’i rgyal po
- don yod zhags pa’i cho ga zhib mo’i rgyal po
+ Toh 909 / 725
སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་ཡུམ་གི་གཟུངས། · spyan ras gzigs yum gyi gzungs
In this short sūtra, the bodhisattva Samantabhadra asks the Buddha to reveal The Mother of Avalokiteśvara, a powerful dhāraṇī that helps practitioners progress on the path to awakening. The Buddha grants his request and relates how he had himself received the dhāraṇī. Samantabhadra then speaks the dhāraṇī, after which the Buddha states its benefits.
- ’phags pa spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug gi yum zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- The Noble Dhāraṇī “The Mother of Avalokiteśvara”
+ Toh 1001 / 729
སྒྲོལ་མའི་གཟུངས། · sgrol ma’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī of Tārā is a short dhāraṇī that invokes the goddess Tārā, seeking her intervention in the face of obstacles and negative forces.
- ’phags ma sgrol ma’i gzungs
- The Noble Dhāraṇī of Tārā
+ Toh 1002 / 730
སྒྲོལ་མ་རང་གིས་དམ་བཅས་པའི་གཟུངས། · sgrol ma rang gis dam bcas pa’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī “Tārā’s Own Promise” is a short dhāraṇī invoking the goddess Tārā.
- ’phags ma sgrol ma rang gis dam bcas pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- The Noble Dhāraṇī “Tārā’s Own Promise”
སྒྲོལ་མ་འཇིགས་པ་བརྒྱད་ལས་སྐྱོབ་པ། · sgrol ma ’jigs pa brgyad las skyob pa
In this sūtra, the goddess Tārā warns the gods of the desire realm about the miseries of saṃsāra and offers a pithy Dharma teaching to free them from harm. Tārā begins by vividly portraying the various kinds of suffering endured by beings in each of the six realms of saṃsāra and then points out the futility of reciting mantras without maintaining pure conduct. She goes on to encourage the listeners to engage in virtue, which puts an end to saṃsāra, and she bestows on them a dhāraṇī that will help them to achieve this goal, a praise of her qualities, and a request for her divine protection that they should recite. Finally, she enjoins the audience to read and practice the teaching and share it with others.
- ’phags ma sgrol ma ’jigs pa brgyad las skyob pa’i mdo
- The Noble Sūtra “Tārā Who Protects from the Eight Dangers”
+ Toh 995 / 736
རི་ཁྲོད་ལོ་མ་གྱོན་མའི་གཟུངས། · ri khrod lo ma gyon ma’i gzungs
The Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī is a short dhāraṇī dedicated to the piśācī Parṇaśavarī, who is renowned in Buddhist lore for her power to cure disease, avert epidemics, pacify strife, and otherwise protect those who recite her dhāraṇī from any obstacles they may face.
- ’phags ma ri khrod lo ma gyon ma zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- The Noble Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī
- ri khrod lo ma gyon ma’i gzungs/
- ’phags ma ri khrod lo ma gyon pa’i gzungs/
འབྱུང་པོ་འདུལ་བའི་རྒྱུད། · ’byung po ’dul ba’i rgyud
The Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra is a Buddhist esoteric manual on magic and exorcism. The instructions on ritual practices that constitute its main subject matter are intended to give the practitioner mastery over worldly divinities and spirits. Since the ultimate controller of such beings is Vajrapāṇi in his form of Bhūtaḍāmara, the “Tamer of Spirits,” it is Vajrapāṇi himself who delivers this tantra in response to a request from Śiva. Notwithstanding this esoteric origin, this tantra was compiled anonymously around the seventh or eighth century ᴄᴇ, introducing for the first time the cult of its titular deity. Apart from a few short ritual manuals (sādhana), this tantra remains the only major work dedicated solely to Bhūtaḍāmara.
- ’byung po ’dul ba zhes bya ba’i rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po
- The Great Sovereign Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra
+ Toh 949 / 750
རྡོ་རྗེ་རྣམ་པར་འཇོམས་པ། · rdo rje rnam par ’joms pa
In this concise text, Vajrapāṇi, through the power and blessings of the Buddha and all bodhisattvas, proclaims a series of powerful dhāraṇī-mantras. The text concludes with verses on the benefits of the dhāraṇī and a simple ablution ritual.
- The Dhāraṇī “Vajra Conqueror”
- rdo rje rnam par ’joms pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
- rdo rjes rnam par ’joms pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
+ Toh 1098 / 813
སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པའི་སྨོན་ལམ། · stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa’i smon lam
This short text contains a set of verses spoken by the Buddha as he put an end to the epidemic of Vaiśālī, extracted from one of the two main accounts of that episode. The verses call for well-being, especially by invoking the qualities of the Three Jewels and a range of realized beings and eminent gods. The text comprises two passages from the parent work, and of these the first and longest corresponds closely to a well-known Pali text, the Ratana-sutta, widely recited for protection and blessings.
- stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa las gsungs pa’i smon lam
- The Aspiration Prayer from the Words Spoken in “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm”