Translated Texts


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

Published: 107
Text
Toh 1-1Published

The Chapter on Going Forth



རབ་ཏུ་འབྱུང་བའི་གཞི། · rab tu ’byung ba’i gzhi
Pravrajyāvastu

Summary

“The Chapter on Going Forth” is the first of seventeen chapters in The Chapters on Monastic Discipline, a four-volume work which 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 Buddha Śākyamuni’s informal invitation to “Come, join me,” 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 reliable monks 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.

Title variants

  • འདུལ་བ་གཞི་ལས། རབ་ཏུ་འབྱུང་བའི་གཞི།
  • ’dul ba gzhi las/ rab tu ’byung ba’i gzhi
  • “The Chapter on Going Forth” from The Chapters on Monastic Discipline
  • Vinayavastu Pravrajyāvastu
  • 「律儀根本」之《出家根本》
Toh 11Published

The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom in Ten Thousand Lines



ཤེས་ཕྱིན་ཁྲི་པ། · shes phyin khri pa
Daśa­sāhasrikā­prajñā­pāramitā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པ་ཁྲི་པ་ཤེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­daśa­sāhasrikā­prajñā­pāramitā­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
  • 般若波羅密多萬頌
Toh 52Published

The Teaching on the Indivisible Nature of the Realm of Phenomena



ཆོས་ཀྱི་དབྱིངས་ཀྱི་རང་བཞིན་དབྱེར་མེད་པ་བསྟན་པ། · chos dbyings rang bzhin dbyer med bstan pa’i mdo
Dharmadhātu­prakṛtyasambheda­nirdeśa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཆོས་ཀྱི་དབྱིངས་ཀྱི་རང་བཞིན་དབྱེར་མེད་པ་བསྟན་པཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­dharmadhātu­prakṛtyasambheda­nirdeśa­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
Toh 61Published

The Questions of Pūrṇa



གང་པོས་ཞུས་པ། · gang pos zhus pa
Pūrṇaparipṛcchā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa gang pos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • འཕགས་པ་གང་གང་པོས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • Āryapūrṇaparipṛcchānāmamahāyānasūtra
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Pūrṇa”
  • 富樓那所問經
  • (大正藏:大寶積經富樓那會第十七)
Toh 70Published

The Sūtra of the Question of Subāhu



ལག་བཟངས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · lag bzangs kyis zhus pa’i mdo
Subāhu­pari­pṛcchā­sūtra

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ལག་བཟངས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­subāhu­pari­pṛcchā­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 83Published

The Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant



ཚོང་དཔོན་བཟང་སྐྱོང་གིས་ཞུས་པ། · tshong dpon bzang skyong gis zhus pa
Bhadra­pāla­śreṣṭhi­paripṛcchā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཚོང་དཔོན་བཟང་སྐྱོང་གིས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­bhadra­pāla­śreṣṭhi­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 85Published

The Question of Maitreya



བྱམས་པས་ཞུས་པ། · byams pas zhus pa
Maitreya­paripṛcchā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་བྱམས་པས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa byams pas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Question of Maitreya”
  • Ārya­maitreya­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 86Published

The Question of Maitreya on the Eight Qualities



བྱམས་པས་ཆོས་བརྒྱད་ཞུས་པ། · byams pas chos brgyad zhus pa
Maitreya­paripṛcchā­dharmāṣṭa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་བྱམས་པས་ཆོས་བརྒྱད་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­maitreya­paripṛcchā­dharmāṣṭa­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 95Published

The Play in Full



རྒྱ་ཆེར་རོལ་པ། · rgya cher rol pa
Lalita­vistara

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་རྒྱ་ཆེར་རོལ་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa rgya cher rol pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Play in Full”
  • Ārya­lalita­vistara­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
  • 廣大遊戲經 (方廣大莊嚴經)
Toh 96Published

The Miraculous Play of Mañjuśrī



འཇམ་དཔལ་རྣམ་པར་རོལ་པ། · ’jam dpal rnam par rol pa
Mañjuśrī­vikrīḍita

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Miraculous Play of Mañjuśrī”
  • Ārya­mañjuśrī­vikrīḍita­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • འཕགས་པ་འཇམ་དཔལ་རྣམ་པར་རོལ་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa ’jam dpal rnam par rol pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
Toh 99Published

The Precious Discourse on the Blessed One’s Extensive Wisdom That Leads to Infinite Certainty



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
Niṣṭhā­gata­bhagavajjñāna­vaipulya­sūtra­ratnānanta

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཀྱི་ཡེ་ཤེས་རྒྱས་པའི་མདོ་སྡེ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་མཐའ་ཡས་པ་མཐར་ཕྱིན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­niṣṭhā­gata­bhagavajjñāna­vaipulya­sūtra­ratnānanta­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • 薄伽梵智慧顯現無盡經藏
Toh 100Published

The Ornament of the Light of Awareness that Enters the Domain of All Buddhas



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
Sarva­buddha­viṣayāvatāra­jñānālokālaṃkāra

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་ཡུལ་ལ་འཇུག་པའི་ཡེ་ཤེས་སྣང་བའི་རྒྱན་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­sarva­buddha­viṣayāvatāra­jñānālokālaṃkāra­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 101Published

Upholding the Roots of Virtue



དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་ཡོངས་སུ་འཛིན་པ། · dge ba’i rtsa ba yongs su ’dzin pa
Kuśala­mūla­saṃparigraha

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa dge ba’i rtsa ba yongs su ’dzin pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • འཕགས་པ་དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་ཡོངས་སུ་འཛིན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • Ārya­kuśala­mūla­samparigraha­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Upholding the Roots of Virtue”
  • dge ba’i rtsa ba yongs su ’dzin pa/
  • Kuśala­mūla­samparigraha­sūtra
  • 總持善根經 (佛說華手經)
Toh 103Published

The Teaching by the Child Inconceivable Radiance



ཁྱེའུ་སྣང་བ་བསམ་གྱིས་མི་ཁྱབ་པས་བསྟན་པ། · khye’u snang ba bsam gyis mi khyab pas bstan pa
Acintya­prabhāsa­nirdeśa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཁྱེའུ་སྣང་བ་བསམ་གྱིས་མི་ཁྱབ་པས་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་གྲངས།
  • ’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”
  • Āryācintya­prabhāsa­nirdeśa­nāma­dharma­paryāya
Toh 113Published

The White Lotus of the Good Dharma



དམ་པའི་ཆོས་པད་མ་དཀར་པོ། · dam pa’i chos pad ma dkar po
Saddharma­puṇḍarīka

Summary

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 out from 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.

Title variants

  • དམ་པའི་ཆོས་པད་མ་དཀར་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • 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”
  • Saddharma­puṇḍarīka­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • 妙法蓮華經
Toh 114 / 527Published

The King of the Array of All Dharma Qualities



ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་ཡོན་ཏན་བཀོད་པའི་རྒྱལ་པོ། · chos thams cad kyi yon tan bkod pa’i rgyal po
Sarva­dharma­guṇa­vyūha­rāja

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་ཡོན་ཏན་བཀོད་པའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­sarva­dharma­guṇavyūharāja­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • Sarva­dharma­guṇa­vyūha­rājasūtra
  • chos kyi yon tan bkod pa’i rgyal po’i mdo/
Toh 115Published

The Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī



བདེ་བ་ཅན་གྱི་བཀོད་པ། · bde ba can gyi bkod pa
Sukhāvatī­vyūha

Summary

In the Jeta Grove of Śrāvastī, Buddha Śākyamuni, surrounded by a large audience, presents to his disciple Śāriputra a detailed description of the realm of Sukhāvatī, a delightful, enlightened abode, free of suffering. Its inhabitants are described as mature beings in an environment where everything enhances their spiritual inclinations. The principal buddha of Sukhāvatī is addressed as Amitāyus (Limitless Life) as well as Amitābha (Limitless Light).

Buddha Śākyamuni further explains how virtuous people who focus single-mindedly on Buddha Amitābha will obtain a rebirth in Sukhāvatī in their next life, and he urges all to develop faith in this teaching. In support, he cites the similar way in which the various buddhas of the six directions exhort their followers to develop confidence in this teaching on Sukhāvatī.

The sūtra ends with a short dialogue between Śāriputra and Buddha Śākyamuni that highlights the difficulty of enlightened activity in a degenerate age.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་བདེ་བ་ཅན་གྱི་བཀོད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa bde ba can gyi bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī”
  • Ārya­sukhāvatī­vyūha­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 116Published

The Basket’s Display



ཟ་མ་ཏོག་བཀོད་པ། · za ma tog bkod pa
Kāraṇḍa­vyūha

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཟ་མ་ཏོག་བཀོད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa za ma tog bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Basket’s Display”
  • Ārya­kāraṇḍa­vyūha­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • 大乘莊嚴寶王經
Toh 122Published

The Sūtra on Wisdom at the Hour of Death



འདའ་ཀ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་མདོ། · ’da’ ka ye shes kyi mdo
Atyaya­jñāna­sūtra

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་འདའ་ཀ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Āryātyaya­jñāna­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 127Published

The King of Samādhis Sūtra



ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་གྱི་རྒྱལ་པོའི་མདོ། · ting nge ’dzin gyi rgyal po’i mdo
Samādhi­rāja­sūtra

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་རང་བཞིན་མཉམ་པ་ཉིད་རྣམ་པར་སྤྲོས་པ་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་གྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­sarva­dharma­svabhāva­samatāvipañcita­samādhi­rāja­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
  • 三摩地王經
Toh 130Published

The Illusory Absorption



སྒྱུ་མ་ལྟ་བུའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན། · sgyu ma lta bu’i ting nge ’dzin
Māyopama­samādhi

Summary

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 Mahā­sthāmprāpta, 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 Mahā­sthāmprāpta.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སྒྱུ་མ་ལྟ་བུའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་ཅེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­māyopama­samadhi­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 131Published

The Absorption of the Thus-Gone One’s Wisdom Seal



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
Tathāgata­jñāna­mudrā­samādhi

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’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
  • Ārya­tathāgata­jñāna­mudrā­samādhi­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Absorption of the Thus-Gone One’s Wisdom Seal”
Toh 134Published

The Absorption That Encapsulates All Merit



བསོད་ནམས་ཐམས་ཅད་བསྡུས་པའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན། · bsod nams thams cad bsdus pa’i ting nge ’dzin
Sarvapuṇya­samuccaya­samādhi

Summary

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).

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་བསོད་ནམས་ཐམས་ཅད་བསྡུས་པའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་ཅེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­sarva­puṇya­samuccaya­samādhi­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
  • 集一切福德三昧經
Toh 138Published

The Ratnaketu Dhāraṇī



རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཏོག་གི་གཟུངས། · rin po che tog gi gzungs
Ratna­ketu­dhāraṇī

Summary

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, likely 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. As is common with Mahāyāna sūtras, the main narratives are frequently interwoven with Dharma instructions and interspersed with magical events. The text 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 magical formulae that are meant to ensure the survival of the Buddha’s teachings and the prosperity of its practitioners.

Title variants

  • Ārya­mahā­sannipāta­ratna­ketu­dhāraṇī­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • ’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
  • འཕགས་པ་འདུས་པ་ཆེན་པོ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཏོག་གི་གཟུངས་ཤེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • 大集寶幢陀羅尼經
  • (大正藏:寳星陀羅尼經)
Toh 142Published

The Dhāraṇī “Entering into Nonconceptuality”



རྣམ་པར་མི་རྟོག་པར་འཇུག་པའི་གཟུངས། · rnam par mi rtog par ’jug pa’i gzungs
Avikalpapraveśadhāraṇī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa rnam par mi rtog par ’jug pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
  • Āryāvikalpapraveśanāmadhāraṇī
  • The Noble Dhāraṇī “Entering into Nonconceptuality”
  • rnam par mi rtog par ’jug pa’i gzungs/
  • འཕགས་པ་རྣམ་པར་མི་རྟོག་པར་འཇུག་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས།
  • Avikalpapraveśadhāraṇī
Toh 150Published

The Inquiry of Avalokiteśvara on the Seven Qualities



སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་དབང་ཕྱུག་གིས་ཞུས་པ་ཆོས་བདུན་པ། · spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug gis zhus pa chos bdun pa
Avalokiteśvara­paripṛcchā­sapta­dharmaka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་དབང་ཕྱུག་གིས་ཞུས་པ་ཆོས་བདུན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Āryāvalokiteśvara­paripṛcchā­sapta­dharmaka­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 155Published

The Questions of the Nāga King Sāgara (3)



ཀླུའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རྒྱ་མཚོས་ཞུས་པ། · klu’i rgyal po rgya mtshos zhus pa
Sāgara­nāga­rāja­paripṛcchā

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཀླུའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རྒྱ་མཚོས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­sāgara­nāga­rāja­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahā­yana­sūtra
Toh 157Published

The Questions of the Kiṃnara King Druma



མི་འམ་ཅིའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་སྡོང་པོས་ཞུས་པ། · mi ’am ci’i rgyal po sdong pos zhus pa
Drumakinnararājaparipṛcchā

Summary

The Questions of the Kiṃnara King Druma, initiated by the questions of the bodhisattva Divyamauli, consists of a series of teachings by the kiṃnara 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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa mi ’am ci’i rgyal po sdong pos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • འཕགས་པ་མི་འམ་ཅིའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་སྡོང་པོས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • Āryadrumakinnararāja­paripṛcchā­nāmamahāyānasūtra
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of the Kiṃnara King Druma”
  • 大樹緊那羅王所問經
Toh 163Published

The Questions of Ratnajālin



རིན་ཆེན་དྲ་བ་ཅན་གྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · rin chen dra ba can gyis zhus pa/
Ratnajāliparipṛcchā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་རིན་ཆེན་དྲ་བ་ཅན་གྱིས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Āryaratnajāliparipṛcchānāmamahāyānasūtra
Toh 164Published

The Questions of Ratnacandra



རིན་ཆེན་ཟླ་བས་ཞུས་པ། · rin chen zla bas zhus pa
Ratnacandraparipṛcchā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་རིན་ཆེན་ཟླ་བས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa rin chen zla bas zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • Āryaratnacandra­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Questions of Ratnacandra”
  • rin chen zla bas zhus pa’i mdo/
  • Ratnacandraparipṛcchā
Toh 165Published

The Question of Kṣemaṅkara



བདེ་བྱེད་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ། · bde byed kyis zhus pa/
Kṣemaṅkara­paripṛcchā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa bde byed kyis zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • འཕགས་པ་བདེ་བྱེད་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • Ārya­kṣemaṅkara­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Question of Kṣemaṅkara”
  • bde byed kyis zhus pa’i mdo/
  • Kṣemaṅkara­paripṛcchā­sutra
Toh 171Published

The Questions of an Old Lady



བགྲེས་མོས་ཞུས་པ། · bgres mos zhus pa
Mahallikā­paripṛcchā

Summary

This sūtra contains teachings given by the Buddha to a 120-year-old woman in the city of Vaiśalī. Upon meeting the Buddha, she asks him questions concerning the four stages of life, the aggregates, the elements and the faculties. In response, the Buddha gives her a profound teaching on emptiness, using beautifully crafted examples to illustrate his point.

After hearing these teachings her doubts are dispelled and she is freed from clinging to the perception of a self. Ānanda asks the Buddha why he has given such profound teachings to this woman. The Buddha reveals that the woman has been his mother five hundred times in previous lifetimes and that he had generated the root of virtue for her to become enlightened. Because of her own strong aspirations, after dying, she would be born in the buddha field of Sukhāvatī; and after sixty-eight thousand eons she would finally become the buddha Bodhyaṅga­puṣpa­kara.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་བགྲེས་མོས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­mahallikā­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 174Published

The Inquiry of Lokadhara



འཇིག་རྟེན་འཛིན་གྱིས་ཡོངས་སུ་དྲིས་པ། · ’jig rten ’dzin gyis yongs su dris pa
Lokadharaparipṛcchā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa ’jig rten ’dzin gyis yongs su dris pa zhes bya ba’i mdo
  • Āryalokadharaparipṛcchānāmasūtra
  • The Noble Sūtra “The Inquiry of Lokadhara”
  • 持世所問經 · (大正藏:持世經)
  • འཕགས་པ་འཇིག་རྟེན་འཛིན་གྱིས་ཡོངས་སུ་དྲིས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་མདོ།
Toh 176Published

The Teaching of Vimalakīrti



དྲི་མེད་གྲགས་པས་བསྟན་པ། · dri med grags pas bstan pa
Vimala­kīrti­nirdeśa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་དྲི་མ་མེད་པར་གྲགས་པས་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­vimala­kīrti­nirdeśa­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 178Published

The Teaching on the Aids to Enlightenment



བྱང་ཆུབ་ཀྱི་ཕྱོགས་བསྟན་པ། · byang chub kyi phyogs bstan pa
Bodhipakṣanirdeśa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་བྱང་ཆུབ་ཀྱི་ཕྱོགས་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa byang chub kyi phyogs bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • Āryabodhipakṣanirdeśanāmamahāyānasūtra
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching on the Aids to Enlightenment”
  • 佛說大乘善見變化文殊師利問法經
Toh 179Published

Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths



ཀུན་རྫོབ་དང་དོན་དམ་པའི་བདེན་པ་བསྟན་པ། · kun rdzob dang don dam pa’i bden pa bstan pa
Saṃvṛti­paramārtha­satya­nirdeśa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཀུན་རྫོབ་དང་དོན་དམ་པའི་བདེན་པ་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­saṃvṛti­paramārtha­satya­nirdeśa­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 182Published

The Perfection of Generosity



སྦྱིན་པའི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པ། · sbyin pa’i pha rol tu phyin pa
Dāna­pāramitā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སྦྱིན་པའི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­dāna­pāramitā­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • ’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
Toh 184Published

Teaching the Practice of a Bodhisattva



བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་སྤྱོད་པ་བསྟན་པ། · byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa bstan pa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • bodhisattva­caryānirdeśa­sūtra
  • 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
  • Āryabodhisattva­caryānirdeśa­nāmamahāyānasūtra
  • འཕགས་པ་བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་སྤྱོད་པ་བསྟན་པ་ཤེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
Toh 186Published

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
Buddha­balādhāna­prātihārya­vikurvāṇa­nirdeśa

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྟོབས་སྐྱེད་པའི་ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་རྣམ་པར་འཕྲུལ་པ་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­buddha­balādhāna­prātihārya­vikurvāṇa­nirdeśa­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 193 / 739Published

The Prophecy of Śrī Mahādevī



ལྷ་མོ་ཆེན་མོ་དཔལ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ། · lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa
Śrī­mahā­devī­vyākaraṇa

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ལྷ་མོ་ཆེན་མོ་དཔལ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ།
  • ’phags pa lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa
  • The Noble Prophecy of Śrī Mahādevī
  • Ārya­śrī­mahā­devī­vyākaraṇa
Toh 194Published

The Sūtra of the Inquiry of Jayamati



རྒྱལ་བའི་བློ་གྲོས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ། · rgyal ba’i blo gros kyis zhus pa’i mdo
Jaya­mati­paripṛcchā­sūtra

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་རྒྱལ་བའི་བློ་གྲོས་ཀྱིས་ཞུས་པ་ཞེ་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­jayamati­paripṛcchā­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 197Published

The Nectar of Speech



བདུད་རྩི་བརྗོད་པ། · bdud rtsi brjod pa
Amṛtavyāharaṇa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa bdud rtsi brjod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • འཕགས་པ་བདུད་རྩི་བརྗོད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Nectar of Speech”
  • Āryāmṛtavyāharaṇanāmamahāyānasūtra
  • Ambrosial Speech
  • Amṛtavyāharaṇa
Toh 207Published

The Strength of the Elephant



གླང་པོའི་རྩལ། · glang po’i rtsal
Hastikakṣya

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • glang po’i rtsal zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • གླང་པོའི་རྩལ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • Hasti­kakṣya­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
  • The Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Strength of the Elephant”
Toh 210Published

The Rice Seedling



སཱ་ལུའི་ལྗང་པ། · sA lu’i ljang pa
Śālistamba

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སཱ་ལུའི་ལྗང་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa sA lu’i ljang pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Rice Seedling”
  • Ārya­śāli­stamba­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
Toh 211Published

Teaching the Fundamental Exposition and Detailed Analysis of Dependent Arising



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
Pratītyasamutpādādivibhaṅganirdeśa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba dang po dang rnam par dbye ba bstan pa zhes bya ba’i mdo
  • རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བ་དང་པོ་དང་རྣམ་པར་དབྱེ་བ་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་མདོ།
  • Pratītyasamutpādādivibhaṅganirdeśanāmasūtra
  • The Sūtra “Teaching the Fundamental Exposition and Detailed Analysis of Dependent Arising”
Toh 212 / 520 / 980Published

The Sūtra on Dependent Arising



རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བའི་མདོ། · rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba’i mdo
Pratītya­samutpāda­sūtra

Summary

While the Buddha is residing in the Realm of the Thirty-Three Gods with a retinue of deities, great hearers, and bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara asks the Buddha how beings can gain merit from building a stūpa. The Buddha responds by stating the Buddhist creed on dependent arising:

The Buddha then explains that this dependent arising is the dharmakāya, and that whoever sees dependent arising sees the Buddha. He concludes the sūtra by saying that one should place these verses inside stūpas to attain the merit of Brahmā.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra on Dependent Arising
  • Ārya­pratītya­samutpāda­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 218Published

Purification of Karmic Obscurations



ལས་ཀྱི་སྒྲིབ་པ་རྣམ་པར་དག་པ། · las kyi sgrib pa rnam par dag pa
Karmāvaraṇa­viśuddhi

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ལས་ཀྱི་སྒྲིབ་པ་རྣམ་པར་དག་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­karmāvaraṇa­viśuddhi­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 231Published

The Jewel Cloud



དཀོན་མཆོག་སྤྲིན། · dkon mchog sprin
Ratnamegha

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་དཀོན་མཆོག་སྤྲིན་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa dkon mchog sprin ces bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Jewel Cloud”
  • Āryaratnameghanāmamahāyānasūtra
  • 寶雲經
  • (大正藏:佛說除蓋障菩薩所問經)
Toh 244Published

Proper Dharma Conduct



ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཚུལ། · chos kyi tshul
Dharmanaya

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཚུལ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa chos kyi tshul zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Proper Dharma Conduct”
  • Ārya­dharma­naya­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
Toh 245Published

The Sections of Dharma



ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཕུང་པོ། · chos kyi phung po
Dharmaskandha

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཕུང་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa chos kyi phung po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “The Sections of Dharma”
  • Āryadharmaskandhanāmamahāyānasūtra
Toh 247Published

Distinguishing Phenomena and What Is Meaningful



ཆོས་དང་དོན་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ། · chos dang don rnam par ’byed pa
Dharmārtha­vibhaṅga

Summary

There are two main themes in Distinguishing Phenomena and What Is Meaningful. One is in the narrative structure: 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, 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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa chos dang don rnam par ’byed pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • Āryadharmārtha­vibhaṅga­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • འཕགས་པ་ཆོས་དང་དོན་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra “Distinguishing Phenomena and What Is Meaningful”
  • don dang chos rnam par ’byed pa/
  • Dharmārtha­vibhaṅga
Toh 249Published

The Sūtra Teaching the Four Factors



ཆོས་བཞི་བསྟན་པའི་མདོ། · chos bzhi bstan pa’i mdo
Catur­dharma­nirdeśa­sūtra

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa chos bzhi bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • Ārya­catur­dharma­nirdeśa­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • འཕགས་པ་ཆོས་བཞི་བསྟན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Teaching the Four Factors”
Toh 260Published

The Ākāśagarbha Sūtra



ནམ་མཁའི་སྙིང་པོའི་མདོ། · nam mkha’i snying po’i mdo
Ākāśa­garbha­sūtra

Summary

While the Buddha is dwelling on Khalatika Mountain with his retinue, an amazing display of light appears, brought about by the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha’s liberating activities. As he joins the gathering, Ākāśagarbha manifests another extraordinary display, and the Buddha, praising his inconceivable accomplishments and activities, explains how to invoke his blessings. He sets out the fundamental transgressions of rulers, ministers, śrāvakas, and beginner bodhisattvas, and, after explaining in detail how to conduct the rituals of purification, encourages those who have committed such transgressions to turn to Ākāśagarbha. When people pray to Ākāśagarbha, 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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ནམ་མཁའི་སྙིང་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa nam mkha’i snying po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Ākāśa­garbha Sūtra
  • Āryākāśa­garbha­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 267Published

Calling Witness with a Hundred Prostrations



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

Summary

Calling Witness with a Hundred Prostrations is widely known as the first sūtra to arrive in Tibet, long before Tibet became a Buddhist nation, during the reign of the Tibetan King Lha Thothori Nyentsen. 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.

Title variants

  • དཔང་སྐོང་ཕྱག་བརྒྱ་པ།
  • dpang skong phyag brgya pa
Toh 270 / 512 / 852Published

The Seven Buddhas



སངས་རྒྱས་བདུན་པ། · sangs rgyas bdun pa
Saptabuddhaka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas bdun pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་བདུན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Seven Buddhas”
  • Ārya­sapta­buddhaka­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
Toh 271Published

The Eight Buddhas



སངས་རྒྱས་བརྒྱད་པ། · sangs rgyas brgyad pa
Aṣṭabuddhaka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་བརྒྱད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas brgyad pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Eight Buddhas”
  • Āryāṣṭa­buddhaka­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
Toh 273 / 511 / 853Published

The Twelve Buddhas



སངས་རྒྱས་བཅུ་གཉིས་པ། · sangs rgyas bcu gnyis pa
Dvādaśa­buddhaka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་བཅུ་གཉིས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas bcu gnyis pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Twelve Buddhas”
  • Ārya­dvādaśa­buddhaka­nāma­mahāyānasūtra
Toh 282Published

The Sūtra on the Threefold Training



བསླབ་པ་གསུམ་གྱི་མདོ། · bslab pa gsum gyi mdo
Śikṣātrayasūtra

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • བསླབ་པ་གསུམ་གྱི་མདོ།
  • bslab pa gsum gyi mdo
Toh 283Published

The Sūtra on the Three Bodies



སྐུ་གསུམ་པའི་མདོ། · sku gsum pa’i mdo
Trikāya­sūtra

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སྐུ་གསུམ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa sku gsum zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble ‌Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Three Bodies”
  • Ārya­trikāya­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 285Published

The Dedication “Fulfilling All Aspirations”



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

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’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”
  • འཕགས་པ་བསམ་པ་ཐམས་ཅད་ཡོངས་སུ་རྫོགས་པར་བྱེད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་ཡོངས་སུ་བསྔོ་བ།
Toh 286Published

The Dedication “Protecting All Beings”



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/

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa ’gro ba thams cad yongs su skyob par byed pa zhes bya ba’i yongs su bsngo ba
  • འཕགས་པ་འགྲོ་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་ཡོངས་སུ་སྐྱོབ་པར་བྱེད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་ཡོངས་སུ་བསྔོ་བ།
  • The Noble Dedication “Protecting All Beings”
Toh 298Published

The Gaṇḍī Sūtra



གཎ་ཌཱིའི་མདོ། · gaN DI’i mdo
Gaṇḍīsūtra

Summary

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.

Toh 300Published

The Sūtra on Reliance upon a Virtuous Spiritual Friend



དགེ་བའི་བཤེས་གཉེན་བསྟེན་པའི་མདོ། · dge ba’i bshes gnyen bsten pa’i mdo
Kalyāṇa­mitra­sevana­sūtra

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་དགེ་བའི་བཤེས་གཉེན་བསྟེན་པའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa dge ba’i bshes gnyen bsten pa’i mdo
  • The Noble Sūtra on Reliance upon a Virtuous Spiritual Friend
  • Ārya­kalyāṇa­mitra­sevana­sūtra
Toh 308Published

Questions Regarding Death and Transmigration



ཚེ་འཕོ་བ་ཇི་ལྟར་འགྱུར་བ་ཞུས་པ། · tshe ’pho ba ji ltar ’gyur ba zhus pa
Āyuṣpatti­yathākāra­paripṛcchā

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ཚེ་འཕོ་བ་ཇི་ལྟར་འགྱུར་བ་ཞུས་པའི་མདོ།
  • tshe ’pho ba ji ltar ’gyur ba zhus pa’i mdo
  • The Sūtra of Questions Regarding Death and Transmigration
  • Āyuṣpatti­yathākāra­paripṛcchā­sūtra
  • འཆི་འཕོ་བ་ཇི་ལྟར་འགྱུར་བ་བསྟན་པ།
  • འཆི་འཕོ་བ་ཇི་ལྟར་འགྱུར་བ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ།
  • ’chi ’pho ba ji ltar ’gyur ba’i bstan pa
  • ’chi ’pho ba ji ltar ’gyur ba’i lung bstan pa
Toh 309Published

The Sūtra on Impermanence



མི་རྟག་པ་ཉིད་ཀྱི་མདོ། · mi rtag pa nyid kyi mdo
Anityatāsūtra

Summary

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

Title variants

  • མི་རྟག་པ་ཉིད་ཀྱི་མདོ།
  • mi rtag pa nyid kyi mdo
Toh 312 / 628 / 1093Published

The Mahāsūtra “On Entering the City of Vaiśālī”



ཡངས་པའི་གྲོང་ཁྱེར་དུ་འཇུག་པའི་མདོ་ཆེན་པོ། · yangs pa’i grong khyer du ’jug pa’i mdo chen po
Vaiśālī­praveśa­mahā­sūtra

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa yangs pa’i grong khyer du ’jug pa’i mdo chen po
  • འཕགས་པ་ཡངས་པའི་གྲོང་ཁྱེར་དུ་འཇུག་པའི་མདོ་ཆེན་པོ།
  • The Noble Mahāsūtra “On Entering the City of Vaiśālī”
  • Ārya­vaiśālī­praveśa­mahā­sūtra
Toh 325Published

The Verses of Nāga King Drum



ཀླུའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་རྔ་སྒྲའི་ཚིགས་སུ་བཅད་པ། · klu’i rgyal po rnga sgra’i tshigs su bcad pa
Nāgarājabherīgāthā

Summary

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.

Toh 337Published

The Sūtra of the Wheel of Dharma



ཆོས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོའི་མདོ། · chos kyi ’khor lo’i mdo
Dharmacakrasūtra

Summary

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

Title variants

  • ཆོས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོའི་མདོ།
  • chos kyi ’khor lo’i mdo
Toh 340Published

The Hundred Deeds



ལས་བརྒྱ་པ། · las brgya pa
Karmaśataka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • las brgya tham pa
  • 百业经
  • Karmaśataka
  • The Hundred Deeds
  • ལས་བརྒྱ་ཐམ་པ།
Toh 361Published

Summary of Empowerment



དབང་མདོར་བསྟན་པ། · dbang mdor bstan pa
Sekoddeśa

Summary

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 mudrāskarmamudrā, 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.

Title variants

  • [Note: a section of the (lost) Kālacakra Mūlatantra]
Toh 381Published

Emergence from Sampuṭa



ཡང་དག་པར་སྦྱོར་བ། · yang dag par sbyor ba
Sampuṭodbhavaḥ

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ཡང་དག་པར་སྦྱོར་བ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་རྒྱུད་ཆེན་པོ།
  • yang dag par sbyor ba zhes bya ba’i rgyud chen po
  • The Foundation of All Tantras, the Great Sovereign Compendium “Emergence from Sampuṭa”
  • Saṃpuṭodbhava­sarva­tantra­nidāna­mahā­kalpa­rājaḥ
  • 大續「正相合」
Toh 384Published

The Glorious King of Tantras That Resolves All Secrets



དཔལ་གསང་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་གཅོད་པའི་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ། · dpal gsang ba thams cad gcod pa’i rgyud kyi rgyal po
Śrī­guhya­sarvacchinda­tantra­rāja

Summary

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

Title variants

  • གསང་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་གཅོད་པའི་རྒྱུད།
  • gsang ba thams cad gcod pa’i rgyud
  • The Tantra That Resolves All Secrets
  • Guhya­sarvacchinda­tantra
Toh 425Published

The ​Mahā­māyā Tantra



སྒྱུ་འཕྲུལ་ཆེན་མོའི་རྒྱུད། · sgyu ’phrul chen mo’i rgyud
Mahā­māyā­tantra

Summary

The Mahāmāyātantra, named after its principal deity Mahāmāyā, is a tantra of the 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.

Title variants

  • དཔལ་སྒྱུ་འཕྲུལ་ཆེན་མོའི་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ།
  • dpal sgyu ’phrul chen mo’i rgyud kyi rgyal po
  • The King of Tantras, the Glorious ‌Mahāmāyā
  • Śrī­mahā­māyā­tantra­rāja­nāma
Toh 431Published

The Tantra of Caṇḍa­mahā­roṣaṇa



ཁྲོ་བོ་ཆེན་པོའི་རྒྱུད། · khro bo chen po’i rgyud
Caṇḍa­mahā­roṣaṇa­tantram

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • དཔལ་གཏུམ་པོ་ཁྲོ་བོ་ཆེན་པོའི་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ་དཔའ་བོ་གཅིག་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ།
  • 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”
  • Ekalla­vīrākhya­śrī­caṇḍa­mahā­roṣaṇa­tantram
  • 大忿怒續
Toh 437Published

The Practice Manual of Noble ​Tārā​ Kurukullā​



འཕགས་མ་སྒྲོལ་མ་ཀུ་རུ་ཀུལླེའི་རྟོག་པ། · ’phags ma sgrol ma ku ru kul+le’i rtog pa
Ārya­tārā­kurukullā­kalpa

Summary

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

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.

Title variants

  • ཀུ་རུ་ཀུལླེའི་རྟོག་པ།
  • ku ru kul+le’i rtog pa
  • The Practice Manual of Kurukullā
  • Kurukullā­kalpa
Toh 438Published

Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage



སྒྲོལ་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ཉི་ཤུ་རྩ་གཅིག་གིས་བསྟོད་པ། · sgrol ma la phyag ’tshal nyi shu rtsa gcig gis bstod pa
Namastāraikaviṃśati­stotra

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • sgrol ma la phyag ’tshal nyi shu rtsa gcig gis bstod pa phan yon dang bcas pa
  • སྒྲོལ་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ཉི་ཤུ་རྩ་གཅིག་གིས་བསྟོད་པ་ཕན་ཡོན་དང་བཅས་པ།
  • Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage and Their Benefits
  • Namastāraikaviṃśati­stotra­guṇa­hitasahita
  • Chinese Title
  • Tārā­namaskāraikaviṃśati­stotra
Toh 498Published

The Tantra of the Blue-Clad Blessed Vajrapāṇi



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
Bhagavannīlāmbara­dhara­vajra­pāṇi­tantra

Summary

In the Kangyur and Tengyur collections there are more than forty titles centered on the form of Vajrapāṇi known as the “Blue-Clad One,” a measure of this figure’s great popularity in both India and Tibet. This text, 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.

Title variants

  • བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཕྱག་ན་རྡོ་རྗེ་གོས་སྔོན་པོ་ཅན་གྱི་རྒྱུད་ཅེས་བྱ་བ།
  • bcom ldan ’das phyag na rdo rje gos sngon po can gyi rgyud ces bya ba
  • The Tantra of the Blue-Clad Blessed Vajrapāṇi
  • Bhagavannīlāmbara­dhara­vajra­pāṇi­tantra­nāma
Toh 511 / 273 / 853Published

The Twelve Buddhas



སངས་རྒྱས་བཅུ་གཉིས་པ། · sangs rgyas bcu gnyis pa
Dvādaśa­buddhaka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་བཅུ་གཉིས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas bcu gnyis pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Twelve Buddhas”
  • Ārya­dvādaśa­buddhaka­nāma­mahāyānasūtra
Toh 512 / 270 / 852Published

The Seven Buddhas



སངས་རྒྱས་བདུན་པ། · sangs rgyas bdun pa
Saptabuddhaka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas bdun pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་བདུན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Seven Buddhas”
  • Ārya­sapta­buddhaka­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
Toh 514 / 854Published

The Discourse of the Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence



སངས་རྒྱས་སྙིང་པོའི་གཟུངས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་གྲངས། · sangs rgyas snying po’i gzungs kyi chos kyi rnam grangs
Buddha­hṛdaya­dhāraṇī­dharma­paryāya

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྙིང་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་གྲངས།
  • ’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
  • Ārya­buddha­hṛdaya­nāma­dhāraṇī­dharma­paryāya
Toh 515 / 855Published

The Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence



སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྙིང་པོའི་གཟུངས། · sangs rgyas kyi snying po’i gzungs
Buddha­hṛdaya­dhāraṇī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas kyi snying po zhes bya ba’i gzungs
  • Ārya­buddha­hṛdaya­nāma­dhāraṇī
  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྙིང་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས།
  • The Noble Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence
Toh 520 / 212 / 980Published

The Sūtra on Dependent Arising



རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བའི་མདོ། · rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba’i mdo
Pratītya­samutpāda­sūtra

Summary

While the Buddha is residing in the Realm of the Thirty-Three Gods with a retinue of deities, great hearers, and bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara asks the Buddha how beings can gain merit from building a stūpa. The Buddha responds by stating the Buddhist creed on dependent arising:

The Buddha then explains that this dependent arising is the dharmakāya, and that whoever sees dependent arising sees the Buddha. He concludes the sūtra by saying that one should place these verses inside stūpas to attain the merit of Brahmā.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra on Dependent Arising
  • Ārya­pratītya­samutpāda­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 522 / 848Published

The Dhāraṇī of the Tathāgata Jñānolka



ཡེ་ཤེས་ཏ་ལ་ལའི་གཟུངས། · ye shes ta la la’i gzungs
Jñānolka­dhāraṇī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa ye shes ta la la zhes bya’i gzungs ’gro ba thams cad yongs su sbyong ba
  • Ārya­jñānolka­nāma­dhāraṇī­sarva­gatipariśodhanī
  • The Noble Dhāraṇī of the Tathāgata Jñānolka that Purifies All Rebirths
  • འཕགས་པ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཏ་ལ་ལ་ཞེས་བྱའི་གཟུངས་འགྲོ་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་ཡོངས་སུ་སྦྱོང་བ།
Toh 527 / 114Published

The King of the Array of All Dharma Qualities



ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་ཡོན་ཏན་བཀོད་པའི་རྒྱལ་པོ། · chos thams cad kyi yon tan bkod pa’i rgyal po
Sarva­dharma­guṇa­vyūha­rāja

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་ཡོན་ཏན་བཀོད་པའི་རྒྱལ་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’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”
  • Ārya­sarva­dharma­guṇavyūharāja­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
  • Sarva­dharma­guṇa­vyūha­rājasūtra
  • chos kyi yon tan bkod pa’i rgyal po’i mdo/
Toh 543Published

The Root Manual of the Rites of Mañjuśrī



འཇམ་དཔལ་གྱི་རྩ་བའི་རྒྱུད། · ’jam dpal gyi rtsa ba’i rgyud
Mañjuśrī­mūla­kalpa

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་འཇམ་དཔལ་གྱི་རྩ་བའི་རྒྱུད།
  • ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyi rtsa ba’i rgyud
  • The Noble Root Manual of the Rites of Mañjuśrī
  • Ārya­mañjuśrī­mūla­kalpa
  • ’jam dpal rtsa rgyud
  • Mañjuśrī­mūla­tantra
  • The Root Tantra of Mañjuśrī
  • ’phags pa ’jam dpal gyi rtsa ba’i rgyud
  • Ārya­mañjuśrī­mūla­tantra
  • Ārya­mañjuśriya­mūla­kalpa
  • 大方廣菩薩文殊師利根本儀軌經
Toh 544Published

The Tantra of Siddhaikavīra



དཔའ་བོ་གཅིག་པུ་གྲུབ་པའི་རྒྱུད། · dpa’ bo gcig pu grub pa’i rgyud
Siddhaika­vīra­tantram

Summary

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

Title variants

  • དཔའ་བོ་གཅིག་པུ་གྲུབ་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ་ཆེན་པོ།
  • dpa’ bo gcig pu grub pa zhes bya ba’i rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po
  • The Great Sovereign Tantra of Siddhaikavīra
  • Siddhaika­vīra­mahā­tantra­rājaḥ
Toh 558Published

Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm



སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པ། · stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa
Mahā­sāhasra­pramardanī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་མདོ།
  • stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa zhes bya ba’i mdo
  • The Sūtra “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm”
  • Mahā­sāhasra­pramardanī­nāma­sūtra
Toh 563Published

Great Upholder of the Secret Mantra



གསང་སྔགས་ཆེན་པོ་རྗེས་སུ་འཛིན་པ། · gsang sngags chen po rjes su ’dzin pa
Mahā­mantrānudhāriṇī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • གསང་སྔགས་ཆེན་པོ་རྗེས་སུ་འཛིན་པའི་མདོ།
  • gsang sngags chen po rjes su ’dzin pa’i mdo
  • The Sūtra “Great Upholder of the Secret Mantra”
  • Mahā­mantrānudhāriṇī­sūtra
Toh 628 / 312 / 1093Published

The Mahāsūtra “On Entering the City of Vaiśālī”



ཡངས་པའི་གྲོང་ཁྱེར་དུ་འཇུག་པའི་མདོ་ཆེན་པོ། · yangs pa’i grong khyer du ’jug pa’i mdo chen po
Vaiśālī­praveśa­mahā­sūtra

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa yangs pa’i grong khyer du ’jug pa’i mdo chen po
  • འཕགས་པ་ཡངས་པའི་གྲོང་ཁྱེར་དུ་འཇུག་པའི་མདོ་ཆེན་པོ།
  • The Noble Mahāsūtra “On Entering the City of Vaiśālī”
  • Ārya­vaiśālī­praveśa­mahā­sūtra
Toh 679 / 851Published

The Dhāraṇī Praising the Qualities of the Immeasurable One



ཡོན་ཏན་བསྔགས་པ་དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པའི་གཟུངས། · yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa’i gzungs
Aparimita­guṇānuśāṁsa­dhāraṇī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
  • འཕགས་པ་ཡོན་ཏན་བསྔགས་པ་དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས།
  • Āryāparimita­guṇānuśāṁsa­nāma­dhāraṇī
  • Noble Dhāraṇī Praising the Qualities of the Immeasurable One
Toh 731Published

Tārā Who Protects from the Eight Dangers



སྒྲོལ་མ་འཇིགས་པ་བརྒྱད་ལས་སྐྱོབ་པ། · sgrol ma ’jigs pa brgyad las skyob pa
*Tārāṣṭa­ghora­tāraṇī

Summary

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 an incantation (dhāraṇī) that will help them to achieve this goal. The gods then commend Tārā for her instruction, praise her qualities, and request her divine protection. Finally, the Buddha enjoins his audience to read and practice Tārā’s teaching and share it with others.

Title variants

  • ’phags ma sgrol ma ’jigs pa brgyad las skyob pa’i mdo
  • The Noble Sūtra “Tārā Who Protects from the Eight Dangers”
  • *Ārya­tārāṣṭa­ghora­tāraṇī­sūtra
  • འཕགས་མ་སྒྲོལ་མ་འཇིགས་པ་བརྒྱད་ལས་སྐྱོབ་པའི་མདོ།
Toh 736 / 995Published

The Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī



རི་ཁྲོད་ལོ་མ་གྱོན་མའི་གཟུངས། · ri khrod lo ma gyon ma’i gzungs
Parṇa­śavarī­dhāraṇī

Summary

The Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī is a short incantation 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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་མ་རི་ཁྲོད་ལོ་མ་གྱོན་མ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས།
  • ’phags ma ri khrod lo ma gyon ma zhes bya ba’i gzungs
  • The Noble Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī
  • Ārya­parṇa­śavarī­nāma­dhāraṇī
  • ri khrod lo ma gyon ma’i gzungs/
  • parṇa­śabarī­dhāraṇī
  • ’phags ma ri khrod lo ma gyon pa’i gzungs/
  • ārya­parṇa­śabari­dhāraṇī
Toh 739 / 193Published

The Prophecy of Śrī Mahādevī



ལྷ་མོ་ཆེན་མོ་དཔལ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ། · lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa
Śrī­mahā­devī­vyākaraṇa

Summary

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

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་ལྷ་མོ་ཆེན་མོ་དཔལ་ལུང་བསྟན་པ།
  • ’phags pa lha mo chen mo dpal lung bstan pa
  • The Noble Prophecy of Śrī Mahādevī
  • Ārya­śrī­mahā­devī­vyākaraṇa
Toh 747Published

The Bhūta­ḍāmara Tantra



འབྱུང་པོ་འདུལ་བའི་རྒྱུད། · ’byung po ’dul ba’i rgyud
Bhūta­ḍāmara­tantram

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འབྱུང་པོ་འདུལ་བ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ་ཆེན་པོ།
  • ’byung po ’dul ba zhes bya ba’i rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po
  • The Great Sovereign Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra
  • Bhūta­ḍāmara­mahā­tantra­rājaḥ
  • bhūta­ḍāmara­mahā­tantra­rāja­nāma
Toh 813 / 1098Published

The Aspiration Prayer from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm”



སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པའི་སྨོན་ལམ། · stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa’i smon lam

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པ་ལས་གསུངས་པའི་སྨོན་ལམ།
  • 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”
Toh 846Published

The Threefold Invocation Ritual



སྤྱན་འདྲེན་རྒྱུད་གསུམ་པ། · spyan ’dren rgyud gsum pa/

Summary

The Threefold Invocation Ritual invokes all the deities of the threefold world that have “entered the path of compassion” and are “held by the hook of the vidyāmantra” to gather, pay heed to the person reciting this text (or the person for whom it is recited), and bear witness to the proclamation of that person’s commitment to the Buddhist teachings. A profound aspiration to practice ten aspects of a bodhisattva’s activity is then followed by a dedication and a prayer for the teachings.

Toh 846aPublished

The Threefold Ritual



རྒྱུད་གསུམ་པ། · rgyud gsum pa/

Summary

The Threefold Ritual contains a short liturgy for invoking the pantheon of worldly deities, inviting these beings to seize the rare opportunity to listen to the Dharma, and proclaiming the aspiration that all the worldly beings that have gathered to hear the Dharma receive their share of the merit one has generated.

Toh 848 / 522Published

The Dhāraṇī of the Tathāgata Jñānolka



ཡེ་ཤེས་ཏ་ལ་ལའི་གཟུངས། · ye shes ta la la’i gzungs
Jñānolka­dhāraṇī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa ye shes ta la la zhes bya’i gzungs ’gro ba thams cad yongs su sbyong ba
  • Ārya­jñānolka­nāma­dhāraṇī­sarva­gatipariśodhanī
  • The Noble Dhāraṇī of the Tathāgata Jñānolka that Purifies All Rebirths
  • འཕགས་པ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཏ་ལ་ལ་ཞེས་བྱའི་གཟུངས་འགྲོ་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་ཡོངས་སུ་སྦྱོང་བ།
Toh 851 / 679Published

The Dhāraṇī Praising the Qualities of the Immeasurable One



ཡོན་ཏན་བསྔགས་པ་དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པའི་གཟུངས། · yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa’i gzungs
Aparimita­guṇānuśāṁsa­dhāraṇī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa zhes bya ba’i gzungs
  • འཕགས་པ་ཡོན་ཏན་བསྔགས་པ་དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས།
  • Āryāparimita­guṇānuśāṁsa­nāma­dhāraṇī
  • Noble Dhāraṇī Praising the Qualities of the Immeasurable One
Toh 852 / 270 / 512Published

The Seven Buddhas



སངས་རྒྱས་བདུན་པ། · sangs rgyas bdun pa
Saptabuddhaka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas bdun pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་བདུན་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Seven Buddhas”
  • Ārya­sapta­buddhaka­nāma­mahāyāna­sūtra
Toh 853 / 273 / 511Published

The Twelve Buddhas



སངས་རྒྱས་བཅུ་གཉིས་པ། · sangs rgyas bcu gnyis pa
Dvādaśa­buddhaka

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་བཅུ་གཉིས་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas bcu gnyis pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Twelve Buddhas”
  • Ārya­dvādaśa­buddhaka­nāma­mahāyānasūtra
Toh 854 / 514Published

The Discourse of the Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence



སངས་རྒྱས་སྙིང་པོའི་གཟུངས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་གྲངས། · sangs rgyas snying po’i gzungs kyi chos kyi rnam grangs
Buddha­hṛdaya­dhāraṇī­dharma­paryāya

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྙིང་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་གྲངས།
  • ’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
  • Ārya­buddha­hṛdaya­nāma­dhāraṇī­dharma­paryāya
Toh 855 / 515Published

The Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence



སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྙིང་པོའི་གཟུངས། · sangs rgyas kyi snying po’i gzungs
Buddha­hṛdaya­dhāraṇī

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa sangs rgyas kyi snying po zhes bya ba’i gzungs
  • Ārya­buddha­hṛdaya­nāma­dhāraṇī
  • འཕགས་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྙིང་པོ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས།
  • The Noble Dhāraṇī of the Buddha’s Essence
Toh 980 / 212 / 520Published

The Sūtra on Dependent Arising



རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བའི་མདོ། · rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba’i mdo
Pratītya­samutpāda­sūtra

Summary

While the Buddha is residing in the Realm of the Thirty-Three Gods with a retinue of deities, great hearers, and bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara asks the Buddha how beings can gain merit from building a stūpa. The Buddha responds by stating the Buddhist creed on dependent arising:

The Buddha then explains that this dependent arising is the dharmakāya, and that whoever sees dependent arising sees the Buddha. He concludes the sūtra by saying that one should place these verses inside stūpas to attain the merit of Brahmā.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་པ་རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེལ་བར་འབྱུང་བ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ།
  • ’phags pa rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
  • The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra on Dependent Arising
  • Ārya­pratītya­samutpāda­nāma­mahā­yāna­sūtra
Toh 995 / 736Published

The Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī



རི་ཁྲོད་ལོ་མ་གྱོན་མའི་གཟུངས། · ri khrod lo ma gyon ma’i gzungs
Parṇa­śavarī­dhāraṇī

Summary

The Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī is a short incantation 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.

Title variants

  • འཕགས་མ་རི་ཁྲོད་ལོ་མ་གྱོན་མ་ཞེས་བྱ་བའི་གཟུངས།
  • ’phags ma ri khrod lo ma gyon ma zhes bya ba’i gzungs
  • The Noble Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī
  • Ārya­parṇa­śavarī­nāma­dhāraṇī
  • ri khrod lo ma gyon ma’i gzungs/
  • parṇa­śabarī­dhāraṇī
  • ’phags ma ri khrod lo ma gyon pa’i gzungs/
  • ārya­parṇa­śabari­dhāraṇī
Toh 1093 / 312 / 628Published

The Mahāsūtra “On Entering the City of Vaiśālī”



ཡངས་པའི་གྲོང་ཁྱེར་དུ་འཇུག་པའི་མདོ་ཆེན་པོ། · yangs pa’i grong khyer du ’jug pa’i mdo chen po
Vaiśālī­praveśa­mahā­sūtra

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • ’phags pa yangs pa’i grong khyer du ’jug pa’i mdo chen po
  • འཕགས་པ་ཡངས་པའི་གྲོང་ཁྱེར་དུ་འཇུག་པའི་མདོ་ཆེན་པོ།
  • The Noble Mahāsūtra “On Entering the City of Vaiśālī”
  • Ārya­vaiśālī­praveśa­mahā­sūtra
Toh 1098 / 813Published

The Aspiration Prayer from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm”



སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པའི་སྨོན་ལམ། · stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa’i smon lam

Summary

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.

Title variants

  • སྟོང་ཆེན་མོ་རབ་ཏུ་འཇོམས་པ་ལས་གསུངས་པའི་སྨོན་ལམ།
  • 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”

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