The King of Samādhis Sūtra
Degé Kangyur, vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 1.b–170.b
Translated by Peter Alan Roberts
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
First published 2018
Current version v 1.45.25 (2022)
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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.
Translated from the Tibetan, with reference to Sanskrit editions, by Peter Alan Roberts. The Chinese consultant was Ling-Lung Chen. Edited by Emily Bower and Ben Gleason.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous donation of an anonymous donor, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
Then the Bhagavān said to the youth Candraprabha,1161 “Young man, bodhisattva mahāsattvas who wish for this samādhi, and wish to attain quickly the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood, should abide in the absence of attributes and be dedicated to making vast offerings to a present tathāgata or to the stūpa of a tathāgata who has passed into nirvāṇa.
“Young man, those bodhisattva mahāsattvas should develop an aspiration focused upon all beings as they wish for this samādhi. And, wishing to attain quickly the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood, they should abide in the absence of attributes, without aspiration for the ripening of karma, and use even their own body and life to perform vast actions of making offerings to a present tathāgata or to the stūpa of a tathāgata who has passed into nirvāṇa.
“With their mind and attention focused on compassion; with a loud, clear voice, elevated and pleasant; and with especially noble vocabulary and a continuity of words they should teach extensively to others, propagate, and explain the samādhi, the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena. Why is that? Because, young man, this king of samādhis, the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena, is the basis and root of the entire Dharma.
“Young man, when bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have great compassion [F.116.b] and diligently rely on methods are dedicated to making vast offerings to a present tathāgata or to the stūpa of a tathāgata who has passed into nirvāṇa, they should teach extensively to others this king of samādhis, the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena.
“At that time, young man, those bodhisattva mahāsattvas should abide in the doorways to liberation that are emptiness, the absence of attributes, and the absence of aspiration, and should not apprehend any phenomenon whatsoever. The bodhisattva mahāsattvas who abide in the practice of the samādhi that is free of apprehending will abide in all aspirations. Young man, the bodhisattva mahāsattvas who abide in all aspirations will fulfill all the aspirations of all beings, will quickly attain this samādhi, and will quickly attain the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood.1162
“Young man, you should understand this through the following teaching.
“Young man, in the past, uncountable, vast, immeasurable, inconceivable, innumerable countless eons ago,1163 at that time and in those days, there appeared in the world the Bhagavān, the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened Buddha Ghoṣadatta, who was perfect in wisdom and conduct, a sugata, a knower of the world, an unsurpassable guide who tamed beings, a teacher of devas and humans, a buddha, and a bhagavān.
“Young man, the Tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened Buddha Ghoṣadatta established countless, innumerable beings in the cessation of defilements, in arhatship, and having established them in that state, he passed into nirvāṇa. He also established countless, innumerable beings in irreversible progress toward the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood and then passed into nirvāṇa. [F.117.a]
“Young man, at that time and in those days,1164 in Jambudvīpa there was a king named Śrīghoṣa. In order to make offerings to the Tathāgata who had passed into nirvāṇa he built eighty-four quintillion stūpas that contained the relics of the Tathāgata and he presented eighty-four quintillion lights to each of those stūpas. In the same way he offered eighty-four quintillion musical instruments, percussion instruments, flowers, incense offerings, perfumes, garlands, ointments, powders, robes, parasols, banners, and flags to each of those stūpas.
“Young man, in that way King Śrīghoṣa made offerings to the stūpas that contained the relics of the Tathāgata. Then he gathered eighty quintillion bodhisattvas and dedicated himself to making offerings of all the most pleasing necessities to those bodhisattvas.
“Every one of all those bodhisattva mahāsattvas was a dharmabhāṇaka. They had uninterrupted eloquence, the attainment of samādhi, and the attainment of unimpeded retention. They were teachers of the pure Dharma, and had attained the perfection of the supreme powers of a bodhisattva.
“Young man, at that time, within that assembly there was a bodhisattva mahāsattva1165 named Kṣemadatta. He was a young boy with black hair, in the first stage of youth. He had become a youth who did not indulge in desires, but was a young celibate, who had been keeping the vow for a year.
“Young man, at that time, King Śrīghoṣa made a request to that great assembly of bodhisattvas. He made a request to those bodhisattva mahāsattvas that he might, combining the six perfections, accomplish the great retention of the bodhisattva piṭaka, skill in methods, and unimpeded power and guidance. [F.117.b] That evening he lit a quintillion lights before the stūpas that contained the relics of the Tathāgata. He also swept clean the circumambulation walkway, moistened and washed it, scattered flowers upon it, and arranged various seats. King Śrīghoṣa then came there accompanied by his harem and the people of the villages, towns, and regions. Holding musical instruments, percussion instruments, cymbals, flowers, incense, perfumes, garlands, ointments, powders, robes, parasols, banners, and flags, they made offerings to the stūpa, which contained the relics of the Tathāgata. Afterwards, in order to hear the Dharma, accompanied by his harem of queens, he ascended to the roof of the palace. Gatherings of devas and humans also assembled in order to hear the Dharma.
“The bodhisattva Kṣemadatta saw them and the lights from the numerous quintillions of offered lamps that shone as one pervading radiance. Knowing that many devas and humans had assembled in order to hear the Dharma, he thought, ‘I have entered the Mahāyāna, and because I now long for this samādhi I shall make an offering to the Tathāgata. It will be such an offering to the Tathāgata that it will amaze the worlds of devas, humans, and asuras, and bring them joy, delight, pleasure, and happiness, and they will obtain the light of the Dharma. I shall make an offering that will surpass all the offerings made to the Tathāgata by King Śrīghoṣa and amaze King Śrīghoṣa, his harem of queens, and his attendants, and bring them joy, delight, pleasure, and happiness.’ [F.118.a]
“The bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta was joyful and happy, and knowing that the great assembly of people had gathered to hear the Dharma, that evening he sat in front of the Tathāgata’s stūpa, bound his right hand in cotton, and immersed it in sesame oil. Having immersed it in sesame oil he set it alight.
“At this point the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta developed the supreme intention. He developed the supreme intention for the highest, complete enlightenment and, seeking complete enlightenment, although his right hand was burning brightly, his mind and the expression of his face remained unchanged.
“Young man, as the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta’s right hand burned brightly, and was transformed into a single flame, at that time this great earth shook. The light from his burning right hand made that of the many quintillions of offering lamps seem dark, and its great illumination spread in all directions, its radiance illuminating and pervading every direction.
“He became joyful and happy, and with a gentle and pleasing voice, a uniquely superior vocabulary, and a continuity of words and letters, he taught1166 the samādhi, the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena so that the entire assembly understood it in detail.
“The one thousand two hundred Trāyastriṃśa devas assembled there to listen to the Dharma were made joyous and happy and made various divine offerings. The apsarases engaged in singing divine songs.1167
“King Śrīghoṣa, who was keeping the eight poṣadha vows, was in the middle of his harem of queens, with his court before him, seated on the roof of his palace. He saw that the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta’s hand was burning and outshining all other lights, [F.118.b] creating a brightness that transcended the lights of devas and the lights of humans.
“He thought, ‘This bodhisattva mahāsattva has attained great higher cognition,’ and felt intense joy, faith, veneration, and reverence for the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta. Supported by his great accumulation of merit and roots of merit he leapt from the roof of the palace, together with his harem of eighty queens. He leapt because of his joy on having seen the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta.
“Because of the roots of merit that were produced by his veneration, he and his retinue were caught by devas, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kinnaras, and mahoragas. After they had been caught by devas, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kinnaras, and mahoragas, King Śrīghoṣa and his retinue, even though they had jumped from a building that was a hundred thousand cubits high, were physically unharmed, mentally unharmed, and were not unnerved.
“King Śrīghoṣa extended both his hands, and together with the great assembly of people saw the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta’s hand on fire and burning brightly. All of them cried out loudly and wailed. Then the king, together with the great assembly of people, weeping and shedding tears, came before the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta.
“Young man, the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta saw King Śrīghoṣa, and having seen him asked, ‘Great king, why are you and this great assembly of people here before me crying out loudly, wailing, sorrowful, and weeping?’ [F.119.a]
“King Śrīghoṣa spoke these verses to the bodhisattva mahāsattva Kṣemadatta:
Conclusion of the thirty-fourth chapter, “Kṣemadatta.”1178
The Indian preceptor Śrīlendrabodhi, and the chief editor Lotsawa Bandé Dharmatāśīla, translated and revised this work. It was later modified and finalized in terms of the new translation.
|BHS||Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit.|
|Chinese||Sixth century Chinese translation by Narendrayaśas (see introduction, i.7).|
|Commentary||Mañjuśrīkīrti (see bibliography).|
|Gilgit||Sixth to seventh century Sanskrit manuscript (see introduction i.9 and bibliography under Dutt).|
|Hodgson||Later Nepalese Sanskrit manuscript (see introduction i.9 and bibliography under Dutt).|
|Matsunami||Matsunami’s Sanskrit edition (see bibliography).|
|Shastri||Later Nepalese Sanskrit manuscript (see introduction i.9 and bibliography under Dutt).|
|Vaidya||Vaidya’s Sanskrit edition (see bibliography).|
Tibetan Editions of the Samādhirājasūtra
chos thams cad kyi rang bzhin mnyam pa nyid rnam spros pa ting nge ’dzin gyi rgyal po’i mdo (Sarvadharmasvabhāvasamatāvipañcitasamādhirājasūtra). Toh 127, Degé Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 1.a–175.b.
———. bka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–2009, vol. 55, pp. 3–411.
———. Lhasa Kangyur (lha sa bka’ ’gyur) vol. 55 (mdo sde, ta), folios 1.b–269.b.
———. Narthang Kangyur (snar thang bka’ ’gyur) vol. 55 (mdo sde, ta), folios 1.b–273.b.
———. Shelkar Drima Kangyur (shel mkhar bris ma bka’ ’gyur) vol. 54 (mdo sde, ja), folios 157.a–436.a.
———. Stok Palace Kangyur (stog pho brang bris ma bka’ ’gyur) vol. 58 (mdo sde, ja), folios 145.a–405.a.
———. Urga Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), 1.b–170.a.
Sanskrit Editions of the Samādhirājasūtra
Dutt, Nalinaksha. Gilgit Manuscripts Vol. II, part I. Calcutta: J. C. Sarkhel, 1941. [This Sanskrit edition in three volumes is based on the Gilgit manuscript but also includes and represents the two Nepalese manuscripts of Hodgson and Shastri, see Introduction i.9 and n.4.
———. Gilgit Manuscripts Vol. II, part II. Calcutta: J. C. Sarkhel, 1953.
———. Gilgit Manuscripts Vol. II, part III. Calcutta: J. C. Sarkhel, 1954.
Matsunami, Seiren (ed.). “Bonbun Gattō Zanma kyō.”.in TDKK [Memoirs of Taisho University, Department of Buddhism and Literature] vol. 60 (1975), pp. 188–244.
———. “Bonbun Gattō Zanma kyō.” in TDKK [Memoirs of Taisho University, Department of Buddhism and Literature] vol. 61 (1975), 761–796.
Vaidya, P. L., ed. Samādhirājsūtra. Darbhanga, India: The Mithila Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Sanskrit Learning, 1961.
Other canonical references
da ltar gyi sangs rgyas mngon sum du bzhugs pa’i ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo (Pratyutpanna-buddha-samukhāsthita-samādhi-sūtra) [The Sūtra, The Samādhi of Being in the Presence of the Buddhas of the Present]. Toh 133, Degé Kangyur vol. 56 (mdo sde, na), folios 1.a–70.b.
dam pa’i chos pad ma dkar po’i mdo (Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the White Lotus of the Good Dharma]. Toh 113, Degé Kangyur vol. 67 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1.a–180.b. English translation in Roberts 2018.
de bzhin gshegs pa’i ye shes kyi phyag rgya’i ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo (Tathāgata-jñāna-mudrā-samādhi-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the Samādhi of the Seal of the Wisdom of the Tathāgatas]. Toh 131, Degé Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 230.b–253.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2020b.
dge ba’i rtsa ba yongs su ’dzin pa’i mdo (Kuśala-mūla-saparigraha-sūtra) [The Sūtra of Possessing the Roots of Goodness]. Toh 101, Degé Kangyur vol. 48 (mdo sde, nga), folios 1.a–227.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2020c.
de bzhin gshegs pa thams cad kyi sku gsung thugs kyi gsang chen gsang ba ’dus pa zhe bya ba brtag pa’i rgyal po chen po (Sarva-tathāgata-kāyavākcitta-rahasyo guhyasamāja-nāma-mahā-kalparāja) [The Great King Entitled the Union of the Great Secrets: the Secret of the Body, Speech, and Mind of all the Tathāgatas]. Also known as the Tathāgataguhyaka Sūtra [The Sūtra of the Secret of the Tathāgatas] and the Guhysamaja-tantra. Toh 442, Degé Kangyur vol. 81 (rgyud, ca), folios 90.a–157.b.
gser ’od dam pa mdo sde’i dbang po’i rgyal po’i mdo (Suvarṇa-prabhāsottama-sūtrendrarāja-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the King Who Is the Lord of Sūtras: The Supreme Golden Light]. Toh 556, Degé Kangyur vol. 89 (rgyud, pa), folios 151.b–273.a.
lang kar gshegs pa’i mdo (Laṅkāvatāra-sūtra) [Entry into Laṅka Sūtra]. Toh 107, Degé Kangyur vol. 49 (mdo sde, ca), folios 56.a–191.b.
sangs rgyas rjes su dran pa (Buddhānusmṛti) [Being Mindful of the Buddha]. Toh 279, Degé Kangyur vol. 68 (mdo sde, ya), folios 55.a-55.b.
rab tu zhi ba rnam par nges pa’i cho ’phrul gyi ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo (Praśanta-viniścaya-prāthihārya-samādhi-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the Absorption of the Miraculous Ascertainment of Peace]. Toh 129, Degé Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 174.b–210.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2020.
rgya cher rol pa’i mdo (Lalitavistara-sūtra) [The Play in Full]. Toh 95, Degé Kangyur vol. 46 (mdo sde, kha), folios 1.b–216.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2013.
sa bcu pa’i mdo (Daśabhūmika-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the Ten Bhūmis]. Chapter 31 of the Avataṃsaka, Toh 44. Degé Kangyur vol. 36 (phal chen, kha), folios 166.a–283.a. English translation in Roberts 2021b.
sdong po bkod pa (Gaṇḍavyūha) [The Stem Array]. Chapter 45 of the Avataṃsaka, Toh 44-45. Degé Kangyur vols. 37 and 38 (phal chen, ga-a), folios ga 274.b–363.a. English Translation in Roberts 2021a.
shes rab pha rol tu phyin pa brgyad stong pa (Aṣṭa-sāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra) [The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines]. Toh 12, Degé Kangyur vol. 33 (brgyad stong pa, ka), folios 1.b–286.a.
’od dpag med kyi bkod pa’i mdo (Amitābhavyūhasūtra) [The Array of Amitābha]. Also known as The Longer Sukhāvatīsūtra. Toh 49, Degé Kangyur vol. 39 (dkon brtsegs, ka), folios 237.b-270.a.
’od zer kun du bkye pa’i bstan pa’i mdo (Raśmisamantamuktanirdeśasūtra) [The Teaching on the Effulgence of Light]. Toh 55, Degé Kangur vol. 40 (dkon brtsegs, kha), folios 195.a–255.b.
tshong dpon bzang skyong gyis zhus pa’i mdo (Bhadrapāla-śreṣṭhi-paripṛccha-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant]. Toh 83, Degé Kangyur vol. 44 (dkon brtsegs, cha), folios 71.a–94.b.
yang dag par spyod pa’i tshul nam mkha’i mdog gis ’dul ba’i bzod pa’i mdo (Saṃyagacārya-vṛtta-gagana-varṇa-vinaya-kṣānti-sūtra) [The Sūtra on Patience with the Discipline Through Practicing in a Way that is Like The Colour of the Sky]. Toh 263, Degé Kangyur vol. 67 (mdo sde ’a), folios 90.a–209.b.
Candrakīrti. dbu ma la ’jug pa (Madhyamakāvatāra) [Entering the Middle Way]. Toh 3861, Degé Tengyur vol. 102 (dbu ma ’a), folios 201.b–219.a.
———. dbu ma rtsa ba’i ’grel pa tshig gsal ba (Mūlamadhyamakavṛttiprasannapadā) [Clear Words: A Commentary on the Root Middle Way]. Toh 3860, Degé Tengyur vol. 102 (dbu ma, ’a), folios 1.a–200.a.
Dārika. ’khor lo sdom pa’i dkyil ’khor gyi cho ga de kho na nyid la ’jug pa (Cakrasaṁvaramaṇḍalavidhitattvāvatāra) [Entering the Truth: A Maṇḍala Rite of Cakrasamvara]. Toh 1430, Degé Tengyur vol. 20 (rgyud ’grel, wa), folios 203.b–219.b.
Kamalaśīla. sgom pa’i rim pa (Bhāvanākrama) [Stages of Meditation]. Toh 3915, 3916, and 3917, Degé Tengyur vol. 110 (dbu ma, ki), folios 22.a–41.b, 41.a–55.b, and 55.b–68.b.
Mañjuśrīkīrti. ’phags pa chos thams cad kyi rang bzhin mnyam pa nyid rnam spros pa ting nge ’dzin gyi rgyal po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo’i ’grel pa grags pa’i phreng ba zhes bya ba (Ārya-sarva-dharma-svabhāva-samatā-vipañcita-samādhi-rāja-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra-ṭika-kīrti-mālā-nāma) [The Garland of Fame: A Commentary on The Mahāyāna Sūtra Entitled The King of Samādhis: The Revealed Equality of the Nature of All Phenomena]. Toh 4010, Degé Tengyur vol. 117 (mdo ’grel, nyi), folios 1.b–163.b.
———. Idem, in bstan ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Tengyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 120 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 1994–2008, vol. 117 (mdo ’grel, nyi), 752–1181.
Prajñākaramati. byang chub kyi spyod pa la ’jug pa’i dka’ ’grel (Bodhisattvacaryāvatārapañjikā) [Commentary on Difficult Points in Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas]. Toh 3872, Degé Tengyur vol. 105 (dbu ma, la), folios 41.b–288.a.
Śāntideva. byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ’jug pa (Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra) [Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas]. Toh 3871, Degé Tengyur vol. 105 (dbu ma, la), folios 1.a–40.a.
———. bslab pa kun las btus pa (Śikṣasamuccaya) [Compendium of Training]. Toh 3939, Degé Tengyur vol. 111 (dbu ma, khi), folios 3.a–194.b.
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Rinchen Palzang (rin chen dpal bzang). mtshur phu dgon gyi dkar chag kun gsal me long. Beijing: mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1995.
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Dharmachakra Translation Committee, trans. (2013). The Play in Full (Lalitavistara, Toh 95). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
———, trans. (2020a). The Absorption of the Miraculous Ascertainment of Peace (Praśāntaviniścayaprātihāryasamādhi, Toh 129). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
———, trans. (2020b). The Absorption of the Thus-Gone One’s Wisdom Seal (Tathāgatajñānamudrāsamādhi, Toh 131). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
———, trans. (2020c). Upholding the Roots of Virtue (Kuśalamūlasaṃparigraha, Toh 101). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
———, trans. (2022). The Teaching on the Effulgence of Light (Raśmisamantamuktanirdeśa, Toh 55). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
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———, trans. (2021b). The Ten Bhūmis (Daśabhūmika, Toh 44-31). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
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