The Questions of Brahmadatta
Degé Kangyur, vol. 59 (mdo sde, ba), folios 10.b–22.b.
Translated by the Ratnaśrī Translation Group
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Questions of Brahmadatta begins with the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin departing from the Jeta Grove of Śrāvastī, where the Buddha is residing. Together with more than five hundred bodhisattvas, he travels to the region of Pañcāla, where King Brahmadatta requests Amoghadarśin to impart teachings to him and his citizens. The bodhisattva discusses the attributes and correct practices of a king who is a protector of the Dharma. The king requests that the bodhisattva remain in his kingdom to observe the summer vows in retreat. Sixty wicked monks already residing there treat Amoghadarśin poorly, and after three months he leaves Pañcāla and returns to the Jeta Grove.
King Brahmadatta later goes to see the Buddha, who explains to the king how the wicked monks behaved and the negative consequences of such actions. The Buddha then goes on to explain what a monk and others who wish to attain awakening should strive for, namely, to rid themselves of pride, anger, and jealousy. Upon hearing these instructions, King Brahmadatta expels the sixty wicked monks from his kingdom. Many beings then generate the mind of awakening, and King Brahmadatta is irreversibly set on the path of complete awakening. The Buddha smiles and radiates multicolored lights throughout the whole world. Finally, the king apologizes to Amoghadarśin and the bodhisattva forgives him.
This sūtra was translated by Khenpo Konchok Tamphel of the Ratnaśrī Translation Group. The translation was edited and introduced by Casey Kemp.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The Questions of Brahmadatta begins with the Buddha residing in the Jeta Grove, a park that had been offered to the Buddha and his monks by the wealthy lay disciple Anāthapiṇḍada. This park was located in Śrāvastī, one of the major cities in the ancient northern Indian kingdom of Kośala and a common setting for many Buddhist sūtras. Śrāvastī is said to be where the Buddha spent the majority of his rainy-season retreats, and many of his teachings were expounded there. While the Buddha is there with his disciples, the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin departs from the Jeta Grove together with a large retinue. Monks at this time were encouraged not only to stay in retreat but also to travel from town to town in order to educate communities about the Dharma.1 Amoghadarśin and his retinue eventually arrive at the ancient kingdom of Pañcāla. Pañcāla is listed among the sixteen great states of India during the time of the Buddha and is situated in the northwestern region between Kurū and Kośala, two other well-known Indian kingdoms.2 According to The Questions of Brahmadatta, during the time of the Buddha, Pañcāla was ruled by a king named Brahmadatta. In early Buddhist canonical sources, Brahmadatta is a common name for kings and princes of various Indian kingdoms and capitals including Benares (present-day Varanasi) and Northern Pañcāla (Uttara Pañcāla).3
When King Brahmadatta hears of Amoghadarśin’s arrival in Pañcāla, he decides to meet him to pay his respects. The bodhisattva imparts teachings on the five attributes of an anointed king of royal descent who is on the path to awakening. These five qualities are (1) possessing faith, (2) longing for the Dharma, (3) believing in the Dharma’s profundity, (4) fully upholding the teachings, and (5) making an effort to completely uphold the supreme Dharma. Amoghadarśin goes on to clarify in verse a king’s essential role as a protector of the Dharma. The king expresses humility by replying that he has all the shortcomings and none of the good qualities mentioned, confessing that he has harmed and killed others. The king and his subjects then vow to generate the mind of awakening by following the bodhisattva path, and they ask the bodhisattva to remain in Pañcāla during the rainy season retreat.
Amoghadarśin and his retinue agree to stay, and King Brahmadatta acts as their patron by providing all their material needs. However, sixty degenerate monks are already residing there. They possess negative attributes such as jealousy, pride, and resentment and do not follow the rules of the Vinaya, the Buddhist monastic code. Since they do not like the presence of Amoghadarśin and his monks, they make rude remarks and spread rumors about Amoghadarśin. Additionally, a minister of King Brahmadatta causes a rift between Amoghadarśin and the wicked monks and between the bodhisattva and King Brahmadatta. Although there is only brief mention of the minister, the sūtra repeatedly refers to the negative effect that wicked monks can have on a lay community, stating that the monks “spread such remarks by visiting the homes of brahmins and householders with little faith, who, as a result of listening, would be born and live as denizens of the great hells for eight hundred million eons.”
After three months, Amoghadarśin leaves Pañcāla and returns to the Jeta Grove, where the Buddha is residing. King Brahmadatta, hearing that Amoghadarśin had gone to the Buddha because the sixty degenerate monks had mistreated him, goes to see the Buddha. He tells the Buddha that he feels the bodhisattva had left too soon, whereupon the Buddha explains how the monks there had behaved. The Buddha then describes the causes for lacking effort, the characteristics of jealous people, and how to recognize those who have strayed from the path to awakening. The Buddha explains how to recognize degenerate monks and how other ordained individuals should treat such monks. He warns that the consequences of the increased number of wicked monks—that is, monks who do not follow the Vinaya correctly and do not have faith in the Dharma—could lead to the destruction of the Dharma. Throughout this sūtra, the Buddha encourages monks and those who wish to attain awakening to refrain from such negative behavior; he also alludes to a king’s responsibility to expel degenerate monks for the sake of the Dharma and the future lives of his own subjects. In accord with this advice, King Brahmadatta expels the sixty degenerate monks from his kingdom, and by doing so he becomes irreversibly set on the path to awakening. Finally, King Brahmadatta apologizes to Amoghadarśin and is forgiven.
There is to our knowledge no extant Sanskrit version of this sūtra, nor are there any translations into Chinese. According to the colophon to the Tibetan translation it was translated into Tibetan by the Indian preceptors Surendrabodhi and Prajñāvarman, along with the editor and translator Yeshé Dé. The text is also recorded in the Denkarma inventory of the Tibetan imperial translations, so it would have been translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan no later than the early ninth century, as the Denkarma is thought to have been compiled in 812 ᴄᴇ.4 Previously, this sūtra has received little attention in modern publications, and this is to our knowledge the first English translation of the text.5 This translation has been prepared based on the Tibetan translation in the Degé Kangyur in consultation with the Comparative Edition (Tib. dpe bsdur ma).
Homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas.
Thus did I hear at one time. The Blessed One was residing in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍada’s park in Śrāvastī, together with a great assembly of two hundred fifty thousand monks and a large number of bodhisattva great beings. All of these were bodhisattvas who were versed in extraordinary knowledge, had acquired extraordinary knowledge along with dhāraṇī, samādhi, and unimpeded dhāraṇī, and were skilled in the dhāraṇīs that accomplish the seal of infinite gateways.6 They dwelled in emptiness, they had the experience of signlessness, and they had aspirations that were not imputed. They all had reached the acceptance that phenomena are unarisen.
Then, the bodhisattva [F.11.a] Amoghadarśin, together with about five hundred bodhisattvas, prostrated at the feet of the Blessed One, circumambulated him, and departed. After traveling through several towns, they finally arrived in the region of Pañcāla. When King Brahmadatta learned of the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin’s arrival in his land, he felt pleased and happy, and he rejoiced. Overjoyed and content, he led a large following of people to the place where the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin was staying. When he arrived there, he prostrated by touching his head to the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin’s feet, then sat to one side. His many followers also prostrated by touching their heads to the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin’s feet, then sat to one side.
When he saw that King Brahmadatta and his assembled retinue and attendants were present, the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin said to him, “Great King, an anointed king of royal descent who possesses five attributes will continuously progress while traversing saṃsāra and will never take birth in unfavorable states.7 He will also meet and please thus-gone ones. When the blessed buddhas teach the Dharma, he will also master their allegorical speech. He will maintain uninterrupted mindfulness, look attractive, and not lack any sense faculty. The blessed buddhas will also speak to him with words of absolute truth; that is to say, they will demonstrate the four truths.
“What are these five attributes?
“Great King, an anointed king of royal descent possesses faith. He possesses a mind that is strong in faith and is without animosity. His faith is also demonstrated to be rooted in certainty. [F.11.b] His faith should furthermore be observed in ten ways. What are these ten? They are as follows: (1) He gives without deceit. (2) He gives away all possessions completely. (3) He has no excessive pride. (4) He has exceptional clarity. (5) He does not apprehend any fault in the teachings of the noble ones. (6) He does not investigate the best, intermediate, or lesser monks for mistakes. (7) He believes in emptiness. (8) His physical actions are pure. (9) His verbal actions are pure. (10) His mental activity is pure.
“Moreover, Great King, an anointed king of royal descent longs for the Dharma. He always yearns to behold the noble ones, and he insatiably seeks to hear the Dharma. Using his mind he carefully investigates the many things he has learned, and then fully realizes them through experience. Great King, a king should be understood to be endowed with the Dharma if he has ten qualities. What are these ten? They are as follows: (1) He is without concern for his body or life in his quest for the Dharma. (2) He possesses a mindset that is weary of saṃsāra. (3) He thinks that a householder’s life entails too many faults. (4) He has a mindset that is not concerned with material things. (5) He is critical toward the negative actions that stem from his previous karma, and he does not create future formations. (6) He possesses a mindset that discriminates between all that is attractive and all that is repulsive. (7) Mastering his intent, he perfects the conduct of a bodhisattva and does not privilege words. (8) He is steadfast in his commitments because he seeks wisdom. (9) He fosters awakening in his servants and retinue and completely matures them [F.12.a] continuously with the gift of the Dharma. (10) He also fulfills their material needs.
“Moreover, Great King, an anointed king of royal descent believes in accepting the profound Dharma and accomplishes the samādhi of emptiness. His interest in the profundity of the Dharma should also be understood in ten ways. What are these ten? They are as follows: (1) His actions accord with his words. (2) He completes all his virtuous Dharma activities with very strong devotion and rids himself of the formations of unpleasant actions. (3) He creates pleasing formations. (4) He does not unjustly suppress individuals who possess power and riches. (5) He provides others with pleasing gifts and eliminates all that is not pleasant. (6) Thinking that all phenomena are empty, he cultivates renunciation. (7) His view is free of contrivance, thus he neither believes in the singularity of the limit of reality nor holds concepts of its multiplicity. (8) He does not use his own qualities to belittle the qualities of others. (9) He does not form definite judgments. (10) He brings those who do not practice into alignment with the inconceivable realm of phenomena.
“Moreover, Great King, when an anointed king of royal descent clearly perceives the contamination that comes from the harm of living in this world, he upholds the teachings for the sake of accomplishing unsurpassed, complete, and perfect awakening. He perseveres [F.12.b] in generating the power of the six perfections and never tires of fully maturing sentient beings. Furthermore, the ways in which he upholds the teachings should be understood in ten ways. What are these ten? They are as follows: (1) He perseveres in attaining samādhi that is unimpeded by the eight worldly concerns. (2) He perseveres in seeking out the dhāraṇīs. (3) He is skilled in ascertaining so that he completely apprehends the supreme Dharma. (4) He never tires of providing various necessities to those who persevere, including clothes, food, bedding, cushions, and medicines to cure sickness. (5) He strives to encourage awakening. (6) He thinks excellent thoughts, speaks excellent words, and performs excellent deeds. (7) He is inclined towards renunciation. (8) He thinks that it is a mistake to delight in being a king. (9) He possesses a mindset that has no concern for any beautiful or pleasant forms. (10) At the very least he does not think that anything is accomplished by only craving kingship.
“Moreover, Great King, an anointed king of royal descent follows the Dharma in guarding, protecting, and shielding those who uphold, read, and teach unsurpassed, complete, and perfect awakening, which one fully accomplishes in a hundred billion trillion incalculable eons. He likewise punishes beings who are harmful to such individuals in order to completely protect the enjoyment of this resource of Dharma. His effort to completely uphold the supreme Dharma [F.13.a] should also be understood in ten ways. What are these ten? They are as follows: (1) He accomplishes it completely. (2) He regards it as absolutely invaluable. (3) He believes in the Dharma. (4) He always acts without confusion. (5) He desires wisdom and has trust in distinctions of enlightened qualities. (6) He acts as a messenger of the Thus-Gone One. (7) He is a suitable vessel for buddhahood. (8) He holds together the lineage of the Three Jewels. (9) He causes the supreme Dharma to blaze brightly. (10) He completely matures many people.
Thereafter, King Brahmadatta said the following to the bodhisattva great being Amoghadarśin: “Amoghadarśin, apparently I have all of the shortcomings [F.14.b] but none of the good qualities. Amoghadarśin, I am contaminated with harmful pollutants. Amoghadarśin, I am strongly addicted to unjust actions. I always intensely seek out wealth and gather attendants. Consequently, my thoughts arise due to a malevolent attitude that I am incapable of removing. Besides that, I have also thrashed others with sticks and struck them with weapons. Therefore, Amoghadarśin, I did not generate the mind of awakening. I generated a malevolent attitude toward others, even in my dreams. Amoghadarśin, I shall now generate with a sincere attitude the unsurpassed, complete, and perfect mind of awakening. Amoghadarśin, if I do not train in the precepts of bodhisattvas as they are delineated, it will amount to deceiving all the blessed buddhas who dwell in the world systems of the ten directions. In order to fully accomplish unsurpassed, complete, and perfect awakening, I shall act exactly as you have spoken.”
Thereafter eighty thousand beings, following after King Brahmadatta, generated the unsurpassed, complete, and perfect mind of awakening for the first time, and they also prayed to achieve the conduct of a bodhisattva as it was expounded. Twenty thousand beings acquired the pure eye of Dharma that is flawless and without defilements with respect to all phenomena.
Then, King Brahmadatta said the following to the bodhisattva great being Amoghadarśin: “Amoghadarśin, out of your love for me and for the benefit of the people gathered here, please consent to remain here at my place to observe the summer retreat.
“Amoghadarśin, we may not meet the conditions of being a vessel, [F.15.a] we may not meet the conditions of having the scope of experience, and we may not be people of equal status to the fortunate ones. Also, since we do not see the Thus-Gone One or listen to the Dharma continuously, our accumulation of the roots of virtue may not be so large, and we may not have matured many sentient beings. Nevertheless, your presence will benefit us.”
Then, the bodhisattva great being Amoghadarśin, along with some five hundred other bodhisattvas, accepted King Brahmadatta’s request out of love for him. King Brahmadatta prepared a variety of bedding, cushions, mats, clothing, and food for the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin and his retinue of five hundred bodhisattvas. He also made various Dharma offerings to the bodhisattva great being Amoghadarśin.
At that time, there were sixty monks staying in that place. All of them were lazy, limited in their studies, full of hostile intent, and resentful when others received offerings. They claimed to be bodhisattvas themselves, but were coarse, crude bodhisattvas. They indulged their senses; they were wild, proud, and vain; they talked nonsense and were deceitful like crows. They had no regard for their next lives and no fear of karma; they enjoyed foolish talk, slept excessively, and had desire for what is not the Dharma. Their physical, verbal, and mental actions were without any restraint; they were argumentative, resented those with ethical discipline, and took no interest at all in the knowledge of others.
They did not even like to see the teacher, let alone fellow practitioners of pure conduct. Thus, they denigrated the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin in a manner that was not in accord with the Dharma. [F.15.b] Moreover, they spread such remarks by visiting the homes of brahmins and householders with little faith, who, as a result of listening, would be born and live as denizens of the great hells for eight hundred million eons. The bodhisattva Amoghadarśin did not tell this to King Brahmadatta because of his compassion for those sentient beings.
At that time, King Brahmadatta had a court priest, a brahmin named Thorough Obscurer. He caused a rift between the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin and the monks who were there, and he made rude remarks that were at odds with the Dharma. He also secretly caused a rift between King Brahmadatta and the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin. He furthermore discouraged all those who had developed extraordinary joy in the Dharma and used every possible means to plant disdain for the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin in their minds. Even when he participated in Dharma discussions, he spoke in opposition to the Dharma, thereby carrying out by every means the activities of the crude bodhisattvas.
In this regard, bodhisattvas are crude when they possess four attributes. What are these four? They are as follows: (1) They are deceitful like a crow, talk nonsense, and do not accommodate other perspectives. (2) They praise themselves and criticizes others. (3) They are obsessed with this life and have negative thoughts. (4) They aggressively sow discord. Bodhisattvas are crude when they possess these four attributes.
The bodhisattva Amoghadarśin completed the summer retreat there in both comfort and suffering, and with happiness and sadness. Why was this so? Well, someone who dwells with a lazy person tends to suffer. Thus, the bodhisattva great being Amoghadarśin observed the summer retreat, and after the three months had passed, he [F.16.a] made and completed a Dharma robe. He then left, carrying his alms bowl and Dharma robe. After passing through several kingdoms, he finally arrived at the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍada’s park in Śrāvastī, where the Blessed One was residing. Arriving there, he touched the Blessed One’s feet with his head to pay homage and sat to one side.
King Brahmadatta later heard the news that the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin had gone directly to the Blessed One because the resident monks had mistreated him. King Brahmadatta, along with ten thousand others, thus left the region of Pañcāla for Kośala where the Blessed One was residing. Arriving there, he touched the Blessed One’s feet with his head to pay homage and sat to one side. After he sat down, King Brahmadatta said to the Blessed One, “Blessed One, the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin left my country too soon.”
The Blessed One replied, “Great King, the Thus-Gone One and the hearers of the Thus-Gone One do not share a dwelling with individuals who are jealous, make no effort whatsoever, are fond of gossip, engage in excessive foolish talk, are very poorly behaved, and do not practice. Great King, know that there are ten causes for a person's lack of effort. What are these ten? They are as follows: (1) sleeping excessively, (2) cultivating the blatant pride of thinking oneself wise, (3) praising oneself, (4) criticizing others, (5) being fond of foolish talk, (6) being fond of gossip, (7) being fond of crowds, (8) clinging strongly to wealth, (9) clinging strongly to respect, and (10) being a hypocrite.
“Great King, an individual who possesses these ten causes [F.16.b] is known as one who lacks effort.”
Then the Blessed One spoke the following verses:
“Great King, recognize the following sixteen things as characteristics of jealous people. What are these sixteen? They are as follows: (1) being deceitful like a crow, (2) talking foolishly, (3) lacking self-control, (4) being pleased when others are denounced, (5) doubting the qualities of others, (6) thinking excessively, (7) being excessively sorrowful, (8) possessing extreme mental discomfort, (9) being envious, (10) possessing a decrepit figure and complexion, (11) being overwhelmed with pride, (12) disliking monks, (13) being rude toward unexpected visitors, (14) looking for mistakes to start an argument, (15) being stingy regarding one’s residence, and (16) not attending teachings, not listening with attention but having a distracted mind, spreading rumors, and saying with contempt for the Dharma, ‘I don’t understand what was said. It is a foolish, mundane, and conventional Dharma being taught.’
“These people, who have no respect for the Vinaya and Dharma that was realized by the noble ones, are ignorant fools.
“Saying, ‘I shall attain awakening; only then shall I sit under the Bodhi tree and be respectful toward the Dharma,’ they stand outside the door and listen even when the Dharma is being taught to the monks. They think, ‘I am not willing to sit down. But, since it provides the monks with their livelihood, I will listen when there is a talk on the eight branches of awakening.9 If I listen to this, my illness will be dispelled.’ [F.17.b] Thus these foolish people who chase after awakening by yearning for what is not the Dharma are like people who pluck out their eyes and then want to see. They are like those wishing to satisfy many guests after getting rid of all their wealth. They are like those wishing to follow a path after cutting off their legs. Great King, this is how these foolish people with such wishes think about awakening.
“Great King, someone who has fallen away from awakening should be understood as having the following twenty-five attributes. What are the twenty-five? They are as follows: (1) being stingy regarding their residence; (2) being stingy regarding their household; (3) being stingy with their praise; (4) being jealous; (5) having no faith; (6) being shameless; (7) being immodest; (8) being malicious; (9) being deceptive; (10) being harmful toward others; (11) behaving in a way that is self-absorbed; (12) being hypocritical; (13) being vengeful; (14) excessively accumulating wealth; (15) misinterpreting and exaggerating the teachings of the Thus-Gone One out of fear and thus (16) abandoning the Dharma; (17) not asking any questions because of excessive pride; (18) lacking remorse, even after betraying the Dharma; (19) being dislikable and having many enemies; (20) after joining the assembly, exposing someone’s faults immediately upon seeing them in an attempt to reverse others’ fondness for them; (21) scorning those who have trust in secret topics; (22) disparaging monks whether one has previously seen them or not, thinking that no one should like them; (23) disparaging in order to harm; (24) forsaking others in order to disparage them; and (25) guarding their ethical discipline motivated by the thought that failing to keep the fully ordained monk’s vows would not bring as much profit.
“Great King, such individuals will seriously drift from the teachings, [F.18.a] or they will become householders.”
Then the Blessed One spoke the following verses:
“Also, Great King, the Thus-Gone One and the hearers of the Thus-Gone One will not want to stay for long in places where there are people who lack [F.20.a] respect and faith and who hate others and seek to harm them. They will leave such places immediately.
“Great King, there are sixteen attributes that describe an individual who lacks faith. What are these sixteen? They are (1) instigating discord, (2) considering wicked teachings reasonable, (3) considering Dharma talks unreasonable, (4) having wicked thoughts, (5) having a mind that is proud, (6) seeking to harm, (7) having ulterior motives, (8) possessing a livelihood that is totally impure, (9) desiring respect, (10) having a mental continuum that is not virtuous, (11) lacking practice, (12) belittling others, (13) being fully intent on finding only faults, (14) not ascertaining the teachings, (15) holding wrong views, and (16) doubting the ripening of karma.
“Great King, these sixteen attributes describe an individual who lacks faith.”
Then the Blessed One spoke the following verses:
“Great King, the monks in your monastery lacked qualities such as these. Therefore, the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin examined them individually and did not stay but quickly departed.
“Great King, after they die and pass on, all of those sixty monks will circle in the lower realms for three eons. Thereafter, they will be born into low classes of beings for eighty thousand lives; they will be inferior, survive on leftover food, and be reviled by the world. They will have emaciated bodies, be of hideous complexion, be considered insignificant, be disfigured, and be afflicted with chronic ailments in almost all successive lifetimes. They will be agitated due to imbalanced health, wail with pitiful voices, and die in a bad state.
“Then, after dying in their last lifetime, they will be reborn in the realm of Sukhāvatī. For eighty thousand years they will hear but not understand the teachings of the thus-gone Amitāyus. They will be able to see that thus-gone one’s light but not him; his light will not even shine on their bodies. In order to purify their faults completely, [F.21.b] they will confess their faults to the gathering of bodhisattvas three times a day and three times a night, with their limbs and heads touching the ground. Only then will their actions become completely purified. Thereafter, they will be able to see the Thus-Gone One, understand the teachings, and receive predictions regarding their awakening.”
Then King Brahmadatta said to the Blessed One, “Blessed One, give me your permission to remove these monks. I do not wish for such wicked monks to be known among my subjects, let alone be seen.” Then King Brahmadatta dispatched his men in order to remove those monks, ensuring that they did not remain among his subjects. “Blessed One, this is the fruition of their karma in this life. These are people who will harm themselves in future lives as well.”
As he said this, the Blessed One said to King Brahmadatta, “Great King, there are four pitfalls for those who have gone forth into this teaching of mine. What are these four? They are as follows: (1) not respecting the Buddha, (2) forsaking the supreme Dharma, (3) loathing those who teach the Dharma, and (4) taking offerings given with faith when one lacks true effort.
“Great King, these are the four pitfalls for those who have gone forth into this teaching of mine.”
Then the Blessed One spoke the following verses:
When the Blessed One spoke this discourse of the Dharma, five thousand beings generated the aspiration for unsurpassed, perfect, and complete awakening, which they had never done before, and achieved the acceptance of phenomena as unarisen. King Brahmadatta also became irreversibly oriented toward unsurpassed, perfect, and complete awakening. One hundred thousand beings possessed the pure eye of the Dharma, which is devoid of stains and free from defilements with respect to phenomena. One hundred million gods generated the mind of awakening, which they had never done before.
The Blessed One then smiled, and as happens whenever the blessed ones smile, at that moment light of myriad colors—blue, yellow, red, white, crimson, crystalline, and silver—emerged from his mouth. The light illuminated boundless, limitless realms and reached all the way up to the world of Brahmā. It even eclipsed the magnificence of the sun and moon. Then the light rays returned, circled around the Blessed One three times, and dissolved into the crown of his head.
Then the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin folded his hands and bowed in the direction of the Blessed One and asked him, “Blessed One, what are the causes of your smile? What are the conditions?”
The Blessed One said, [F.22.b] “Amoghadarśin, King Brahmadatta will not fall into any bad state for thirty eons, and after enjoying the bounties of the gods and humans, he will please eight hundred million buddhas. In all his lives, he will be universal emperor. Forsaking the four continents completely, he will respect and revere the blessed buddhas with an intention free of any hostility.
“Thereafter, he will actually attain buddhahood—unsurpassed, perfect, and complete awakening—in a buddha field that will be equal in display to Sukhāvatī, and he will become a thus-gone, worthy, perfect buddha called King of Limitless Display.”
Thus, King Brahmadatta felt contented, elated, jubilant, and overjoyed. Happy and blissful, he bowed down with the five points of his body at the feet of the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin. He then said, “Blessed One, because Amoghadarśin endured being with that community of monks for my sake, I sincerely appeal to him for forgiveness.” Out of his love for King Brahmadatta, the bodhisattva Amoghadarśin then forgave him.
It consists of three hundred stanzas.
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Wijayaratna, Mohan. Buddhist Monastic Life: According to the Texts of the Theravāda Tradition. Translated by Claude Grangier and Steve Collins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
- ldem po’i ngag
Speech that is allusive, indirect, or contains undisclosed meaning and therefore requires further interpretation.
- tshe dpag med
Celestial buddha of infinite life, another name for the Buddha Amitābha.
- mthong ba don yod
A bodhisattva. The name of one of the thirty-five confessional buddhas.
- spyo bo nas dbang bskur ba
Inauguration through sprinkling water on the head; a custom used for anointing kings in ancient India.
- lha ma yin
A class of semidivine beings who are engaged in a mythic war with the gods (deva) for possession of the nectar of immortality. In Buddhist cosmology, they inhabit the realm neighboring that of the gods, from which they observe the gods with intense jealousy.
- mngon pa’i nga rgyal
The pride of showing off. It is one of seven types of pride, which include (1) pride (Tib. nga rgyal; Skt. māna), (2) excessive pride (Tib. lhag pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. adhimāna), (3) outrageous pride (Tib. nga rgyal las kyang nga rgyal; Skt. mānātimāna), (4) egoistic pride (Tib. nga’o snyam pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. asmimāna), (5) blatant pride (Tib. mngon pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. abhimāna), (6) pride of feeling inferior (Tib. cung zad snyam pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. ūnamāna), and (7) unfounded pride (Tib. log pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. mithyāmāna).
- tshangs pas byin
King of Pañcāla. A name for a number of different kings who appear in Buddhist scripture.
An incantation, spell, or mnemonic formula that distills essential points of the Dharma and is used by practitioners to attain mundane and supramundane goals. It also refers to the capacity to grasp or remember the words and meanings of the Dharma without forgetting them. A function of mindfulness and wisdom.
Eight worldly concerns
- ’jig rten chos brgyad
Gain (Tib. rnyed pa; Skt. lābha) and loss (Tib. ma rnyed pa; Skt. alābha), fame (Tib. snyan pa; Skt. yaśas) and lack of fame (Tib. ma snyan pa; Skt. ayaśas), praise (Tib. bstod pa; Skt. praśaṃsā) and blame (Tib. smad pa; Skt. nindā), pleasure (Tib. bde ba; Skt. sukha), and sorrow (Tib. sdug bsngal; Skt. duḥkha).
- lhag pa’i nga rgyal
The pride of overestimating one’s accomplishments. It is one of seven types of pride, which include (1) pride (Tib. nga rgyal; Skt. māna), (2) excessive pride (Tib. lhag pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. adhimāna), (3) outrageous pride (Tib. nga rgyal las kyang nga rgyal; Skt. mānātimāna), (4) egoistic pride (Tib. nga’o snyam pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. asmimāna), (5) blatant pride (Tib. mngon pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. abhimāna), (6) pride of feeling inferior (Tib. cung zad snyam pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. ūnamāna), and (7) unfounded pride (Tib. log pa’i nga rgyal; Skt. mithyāmāna).
- mngon par shes pa
Supernatural knowledge or powers, including the ability to remember past lives.
Five points of the body
- yan lag lnga pa
The head, arms, and legs.
- mngon par ’du byed pa
Volitional construction or mental fabrication that leads to the accumulation of karma.
- bden pa bzhi
The four truths the Buddha realized at his enlightenment: the truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the truth of the path.
- dri za
The celestial musicians who reside in the two heavens at the very top of Mount Meru, or beings in the bardo who feed on odors.
- gang gA
The sacred river of North India.
- nyan thos
Early disciple of the Buddha.
- ’dzam bu gling pa
The name of the southern continent in Buddhist cosmology, which can mean the known world of humans or more specifically the Indian subcontinent. A gigantic, miraculous rose-apple (jambu) tree at the source of the great Indian rivers is said to give the continent its name.
- ye shes ’od
King of Limitless Display
- bkod pa dpag tu med pa’i rgyal po
A future buddha.
- ko sa la
An ancient Indian kingdom, in present day Uttar Pradesh. Śrāvastī was its capital.
Limit of reality
- yang dag pa’i mtha’
The absolute limit or extent of reality. The term is most often used as a synonym for the ultimate state.
- dran pa’i blo can
A monk living in the world system in which the Dharma of the Buddha Jñānaprabhā proliferated.
- ri’i rgyal po ri rab
The mountain in the center of the universe in Buddhist cosmology.
- lnga ’dzin
One of the major North Indian kingdoms in the Buddha's time, it was located to the west of the kingdom of Kośala and east of Kuru.
- pradz+nyA barma
Indian paṇḍita and translator.
- chos nyid
The true or real nature of phenomena.
Realm of phenomena
- chos kyi dbyings
A synonym for emptiness or the ultimate nature of things. This term is interpreted variously—given the many connotations of dharma/chos—as the sphere, element, or nature of phenomena, reality, or truth.
Restoration and purification rites
- gso sbyong
The fortnightly ceremony during which ordained monks and nuns gather to recite the prātimokṣa vows and confess faults and breaches. The term is also sometimes used in reference to the taking of eight vows by a layperson for just one day, a full-moon or new-moon day.
- rgyal po’i rigs
The royal, noble, or warrior caste; one of the four social classes in Indic culture.
- ting nge ’dzin
- lhag pa’i bsam pa
As defined in the Bodhisattvabhūmi, this is a bodhisattva’s determined, deeply informed enthusiasm for the Buddhist teachings that is grounded in faith and careful study of the Dharma.
- pha rol tu phyin pa drug
Practices of the bodhisattva path: generosity (Tib. sbyin pa; Skt. dāna), discipline (Tib. tshul khrims; Skt. śīla), patience (Tib. bzod pa; Skt. kṣānti), diligence (Tib. brtson ’grus; Skt. vīrya), concentration (Tib. bsam gtan; Skt. dhyāna), and wisdom (Tib. shes rab; Skt. prajñā).
- mnyan yod
The capital of the ancient Indian kingdom of Kośala, where the Buddha spent many summers and gave numerous teachings. The city was ruled by King Prasenajit, who makes frequent appearances in the sūtras. It is also the site of the Jeta Grove, which was gifted to the Buddha by his patron Anāthapiṇḍada.
- bde ba can
The Buddha Amitābha’s buddha field known as the Land of Bliss.
- su ren+d+ra bo d+hi
One of the Indian teachers invited to Tibet in the time of Emperor Ralpachan (early ninth century).
- dkon mchog gsum
The Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha.
- bkod pa’i rgyal po
A town in time and world system of the Buddha Jñānaprabha.
World of Brahmā
- tshangs pa’i ’jig rten
The heaven of Brahmā, usually located just above the desire realm (kāmadhātu) as one of the first levels of the form realm (rūpadhātu) and equated with the state that one achieves in the first meditative absorption (dhyāna).
- ye shes sde
Important Tibetan translator and editor of many sūtras.
- dpag tshad
The longest unit of distance in classical India. The lack of a uniform standard for the smaller units means that there is no precise equivalent, especially as its theoretical length tended to increase over time. Therefore it can mean between four and ten miles.