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
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.
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.”
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
This was translated, edited, and finalized by the Indian preceptor Surendrabodhi and the chief editor and translator Bandé Yeshé Dé.
|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.
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.
- mgon med zas sbyin gyi kun dga’ ra ba
A name of one of the first Buddhist monasteries, which is located outside of Śrāvastī. The monastery is also known as Jeta Grove. Anāthapiṇḍada, a merchant and benefator of the Buddha, bought the land from Prince Jeta and donated it to the saṅgha. It is said that both names are used to acknowledge their mutual efforts in building the monastery. It was there that the Buddha spent several rainy seasons and gave discourses there that were later recorded as sūtras.
- rgyal bu rgyal byed kyi tshal
A name of one of the first Buddhist monasteries, which is located outside of Śrāvastī. The monastery is also known as Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park. Anāthapiṇḍada, a merchant and benefator of the Buddha, bought the land from Prince Jeta and donated it to the saṅgha. It is said that both names are mentioned to acknowledge their mutual efforts in building the monastery. It was there that the Buddha spent several rainy seasons and gave discourses there that were later recorded as sūtras.
- ’jam dpal
One of the eight “close sons” of the Buddha, the embodiment of wisdom.
Mind of awakening
- byang chub kyi sems
The intent at the heart of the Great Vehicle, namely to obtain buddhahood in order to liberate all sentient beings from suffering. In its relative aspect, it is both this aspiration and the practices toward buddhahood. In its absolute aspect, it is the realization of emptiness or the awakened mind itself.
- dmigs pa
In the Potala manuscript, the term is rendered as ārambaṇa, which is an equivalent term in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit.
- yongs su dga’ ldan
King of the god realm of Tuṣita (“Joyful”).
- 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.
- mtshams bzangs
The name of a god from the realm of Tuṣita and the main interlocutor of Mañjuśrī’s Teaching. In the Kangyur, Susīma appears as a minor interlocutor in several other sūtras; his other most notable appearance is as an interlocutor in conversation with Māra in The Chapter on Mañjuśrī’s Magical Display, Toh 97, 1.68–1.78. He also appears in some Pali sources; see Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, Susīma (4–5).
- de bzhin gshegs pa
A frequently used synonym for a buddha, literally meaning “one who has thus gone.”
- dpag tshad
A standard measure of distance used in ancient India. The Sanskrit literally means “yoking” or “joining.” It is the distance a yoked ox can travel in a day or before needing to be unyoked. Sources calculate the exact distance in variably somewhere between four and ten miles.
- ’jam dpal gzhon nur gyur pa
An epithet for the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, as he appears always youthful, like a prince of sixteen.