Degé Kangyur, vol. 60 (mdo sde, ma), folios 240.a–240.b
Translated by the Kīrtimukha Translation Group
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
First published 2021
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The bodhisattva Mañjuśrī approaches the Buddha, who is teaching the Dharma in Śrāvastī, and offers him the shade of a jeweled parasol. The god Susīma, who is in the audience, asks Mañjuśrī whether he is satisfied with his offering, to which Mañjuśrī replies that those who seek enlightenment should never be content with making offerings to the Buddha. Susīma then asks what purpose one should keep in mind when making offerings to the Buddha. In response, Mañjuśrī lists a set of four purposes.
This sūtra was translated by the Kīrtimukha Translation Group. Celso Wilkinson, Laura Goetz, and L.S. Summer translated the text from the Tibetan and Sanskrit. William Giddings provided comparisons to the Chinese versions of the text.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
Mañjuśrī’s Teaching takes place in the Jeta Grove in Śrāvastī, where the Buddha is giving a teaching to congregations of monks and bodhisattvas. Mañjuśrī emerges from the audience with a parasol and holds it over the Buddha’s head as an offering. The god Susīma, who is in the audience, asks Mañjuśrī whether he is satisfied with his offering. Mañjuśrī replies that those who seek enlightenment should never be content with making offerings to the Buddha. Susīma then asks which purpose one should keep in mind when making offerings to the Buddha. In response, Mañjuśrī lists a set of four purposes: (1) the mind of awakening, (2) liberating all sentient beings, (3) preserving unbroken the lineage of the Three Jewels, and (4) purifying the buddha realms.
This list of the four purposes seems to be uncommon in the Buddhist tradition. Although there are a few other sets of fourfold purposes found in the Kangyur and Tengyur in various contexts, there is only one other occurrence of this list, which is found in the Catuṣkanirhārasūtra.1 This sūtra is interesting as it begins with a passage closely resembling Mañjuśrī’s Teaching; its setting and opening are the same and are followed by the same dialogue between Mañjuśrī and the god, although here the god’s name is Śrībhadra (dpal bzang) rather than Susīma. In the Catuṣkanirhārasūtra the four purposes are phrased in somewhat different terms but have essentially the same meaning.2 The sūtra is considerably longer, too, since after receiving Mañjuśrī’s reply regarding the four purposes Śrībhadra proceeds to ask a series of questions, all regarding things that are taught in sets of four.
There was no known Sanskrit witness of Mañjuśrī’s Teaching until recently, when a manuscript containing twenty texts, all of them sūtras, was found in the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Bhikṣuṇī Vinītā published a critical edition and English translation of this collection in the series Sanskrit Texts from the Autonomous Region (2010). Unfortunately, due to the inaccessibility of the manuscript collection and because it is missing a final colophon, its origin and date are currently unknown.3 Citations of the Sanskrit are given using Vinītā’s emendations of the handwritten manuscript. There seems to be a thematic connection among the twenty sūtras. Vinītā gives the example of moral discipline (śīla) as a recurrent theme in the manuscript,4 and we also can note the prevalence of themes of karmic cause and effect and the hierarchy of merit. Interestingly, this sūtra is quoted among others, including several sūtras from the Potala manuscript, by Kawa Paltsek (ska ba dpal brtsegs, eighth century ᴄᴇ) in a text contained in the Tengyur called the gsung rab rin po che’i gtam rgyud dang shAkya’i rabs rgyud.5 Here we can identify the same recurrent themes among the quotations.
There is no Chinese translation of this sūtra,6 but there is a Chinese translation of the Catuṣkanirhārasūtra, which, as mentioned above, has an opening passage that closely parallels that of Mañjuśrī’s Teaching. This Chinese version of the Catuṣkanirhāra was translated by Śikṣānanda between 695–700 ᴄᴇ.7
According to the Tibetan translators’ colophon, Mañjuśrī’s Teaching was translated into Tibetan by the Indian preceptor Surendrabodhi and the Tibetan translator Yeshé Dé, who were active during the late eighth–early ninth centuries ᴄᴇ. The Denkarma and Phangthangma imperial catalogs, which are dated to the early ninth century, both list Mañjuśrī’s Teaching among their inventories of sūtras.8
We have based our translation on the Degé edition of the Tibetan Kangyur in consultation with the Sanskrit and other Kangyur editions, and compared this scripture to the parallel section found in both the Tibetan and Chinese versions of the Catuṣkanirhārasūtra. These various Tibetan witnesses, along with the Sanskrit, are generally consistent. Any instance in which we have diverged from the Degé has been noted, and significant differences found in the various versions of the sūtra are recorded in the notes.
Thus did I hear at one time. The Blessed One was dwelling in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park, the Jeta Grove in Śrāvastī, together with a great congregation of 1,250 monks and five thousand bodhisattvas.
At that time, the Blessed One was teaching the Dharma surrounded and venerated by an audience of many hundreds of thousands. Youthful Mañjuśrī then hoisted a jeweled parasol measuring ten yojanas in circumference and held it directly over the Blessed One’s head.
Present in the retinue, along with his entourage, was a god from the house of Santuṣita called Susīma,10 whose progress toward unsurpassed and perfect awakening had become irreversible. He now rose from his seat, approached the place where Youthful Mañjuśrī was, and addressed him: “Mañjuśrī, aren’t you satisfied with your offering to the Blessed One?”
Mañjuśrī asked in return, “Divine being, tell me, is the great ocean ever satisfied by having water poured into it?”
“Mañjuśrī, no, it is not,” replied the god.
Mañjuśrī said, “Divine being, likewise, the wisdom of omniscience is as profound, immeasurable, and boundless11 as the great ocean. Those bodhisattva mahāsattvas who wish to search for that wisdom should never12 be content in their desire to make offerings to the Tathāgata.”
The god then asked, “Mañjuśrī, with what purpose in mind should offerings be made to the Tathāgata?” [F.240.b]
Mañjuśrī replied, “Divine being, offerings should be made to the Tathāgata with four purposes in mind. What are those four? They are (1) the purpose of the mind of awakening,13 (2) the purpose of liberating all sentient beings, (3) the purpose that the lineage of the Three Jewels will continue uninterrupted, and (4) the purpose of purifying all buddha realms.14 Divine being, it is with these four purposes in mind that offerings should be made to the Tathāgata.”
When Mañjuśrī had spoken, the god Susīma, the monks, nuns,15 bodhisattvas, and the entire retinue, along with the world with its gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas, rejoiced and praised the words of Youthful Mañjuśrī.16
|C||Choné (co ne) Kangyur|
|D||Degé (sde dge) Kangyur|
|H||Lhasa (zhol) Kangyur|
|K||Peking (pe cin) or “Kangxi” Kangyur|
|KY||Yongle (g.yung lo) Kangyur|
|N||Narthang (snar thang) Kangyur|
|S||Stok Palace (stog pho brang bris ma) Kangyur|
|Sanskrit||Sanskrit manuscript found in the Potala Palace (see introduction and bibliography)|
|Toh 252||Catuṣkanirhārasūtra, which contains a parallel list of the four purposes addressed in Mañjuśrī’s Teaching (see introduction and bibliography)|
|U||Urga (ku re) Kangyur|
’jam dpal gyis bstan pa (Mañjuśrīnirdeśa). Toh 177, Degé Kangyur vol. 60 (mdo sde, ma), folios 240.a–240.b.
’jam dpal gyis bstan pa. 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), 2006–9, vol. 60, pp. 636–38.
’jam dpal gyis bstan pa. Stok 92, Stok Palace Kangyur vol. 60 (mdo sde, ta), folios 401.a–402.a.
’jam dpal gis bstan pa. Go 13.17, Gondhla Collection vol. 13 (ka–na), folios 97.a–97.b; Go 35.37, vol. 35 (ka–nga), folios 35.b–36.a.
bzhi pa sgrub pa (Catuṣkanirhāra). Toh 252, Degé Kangyur vol. 66 (mdo sde, za), folios 61.a–69.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2021.
Sanskrit and Chinese Texts
Vinītā, Bhikṣunī, ed. and trans. A Unique Collection of Twenty Sūtras in a Sanskrit Manuscript from the Potala. Sanskrit Texts from the Tibetan Autonomous Region 7/1. Beijing: China Tibetology Publishing House; Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2010.
Śikṣananda, trans. 大乘四法經 (da cheng si fa jing; Chinese translation of Catuṣkanirhāra), Taishō 774.
Denkarma (pho brang stod thang ldan dkar gyi chos ’gyur ro cog gi dkar chag). Toh 4364, Degé Tengyur vol. 206 (sna tshogs, jo), folios 294.b–310.a.
Dharmachakra Translation Committee. The Fourfold Accomplishment (Catuṣkanirhāra, Toh 252). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, 2021.
Kawa Paltsek (ska ba dpal brtsegs). gsung rab rin po che’i gtam rgyud dang shAkya’i rabs rgyud (*Pravacanaratnākhyānaśākyavaṃśāvalī). Toh 4357, Degé Tengyur vol. 204 (sna tshogs, co), folios 238.b–377.a. Also in 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). 120 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 1994–2008, vol. 115, pp. 802–22.
Lancaster, Lewis R. The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalogue. Accessed October 18, 2018.
Phangthangma (dkar chag ’phang thang ma). Beijing: mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2003.
Silk, Jonathan A. “Review Article: Buddhist Sūtras in Sanskrit from the Potala.” Indo-Iranian Journal 56 (2013): 61–87.
Types of attestation for Sanskrit names and terms
Attested in source text
This term is attested in the Sanskrit manuscript used as a source for this translation.
Attested in other text
This term is attested in other Sanskrit manuscripts of the Kangyur or Tengyur.
Attested in dictionary
This term is attested in Tibetan-Sanskrit dictionaries.
The attestation of this name is approximate. It is based on other names where Tibetan-Sanskrit relationship is attested in dictionaries or other manuscripts.
Reconstruction from Tibetan phonetic rendering
This term is a reconstruction based on the Tibetan phonetic rendering of the term.
Reconstruction from Tibetan semantic rendering
This term is a reconstruction based on the semantics of the Tibetan translation.
This term has been supplied from an unspecified source, which most often is a widely trusted dictionary.
- mgon med zas sbyin gyi kun dga’ ra ba
- rgyal bu rgyal byed kyi tshal
- ’jam dpal
mind of awakening
- byang chub kyi sems
- dmigs pa
- yongs su dga’ ldan
- mnyan yod
- mtshams bzangs
- de bzhin gshegs pa
- dpag tshad
- ’jam dpal gzhon nur gyur pa