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: 55
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 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 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 113Published

The White Lotus of the Good Dharma



དམ་པའི་ཆོས་པད་མ་དཀར་པོའི་མདོ། · 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 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 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



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 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 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།
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 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 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 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 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 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

  • 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 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

  • mi rtag pa nyid kyi mdo
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 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 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 entitled “The Blue-Clad Blessed Vajrapāṇi”
  • Bhagavannīlāmbara­dhara­vajra­pāṇi­tantra­nāma
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 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 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

Upholding the Great Secret Mantra



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

Summary

Upholding the Great 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 of Upholding the Great Secret Mantra
  • Mahā­mantrānudhāraṇi­sūtra
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 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

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