The Prophecy on Mount Gośṛṅga
Degé Kangyur, vol. 76 (mdo sde, aH), folios 220.b–232.a
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
In this scripture the Buddha Śākyamuni travels miraculously from Rājagṛha with a large retinue of bodhisattvas, hearers, gods, and other beings to the Central Asian region of Khotan, which in this discourse has not yet been established as a kingdom but is covered by a great lake. Once there, the Buddha foretells how this will be the site of a future land called Virtue, which will contain a blessed stūpa called Gomasalaganda. The Buddha proceeds to explain to his retinue the excellent qualities of this land, foretelling many future events, and instructing his disciples how to guard and protect the land for the sake of beings at that time. At the end of his teaching, the Buddha asks the hearer Śāriputra and the divine king Vaiśravaṇa to drain the lake, thus diverting the water and rendering the land ready for future habitation.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the guidance of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. The translation was produced by Laura Dainty. Andreas Doctor compared the translation with the original Tibetan and edited the text. The introduction was written by Andreas Doctor and the 84000 editorial team.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The Prophecy on Mount Gośṛṅga1 is an account of the Buddha Śākyamuni visiting the ancient Central Asian oasis state of Khotan, and prophesying its future as a Buddhist kingdom. It is one of a number of canonical texts in the form of prophecies that furnish Khotan with its Buddhist founding mythology. While other texts (detailed below) relate how the Buddha prophesied key figures in Khotan’s founding, rule, and protection, this sūtra provides an account of how the Buddha also established and blessed the landscape itself and other physical features of the country.
More generally, the text belongs to a category of works that describe the spread of the Buddhist teachings and their eventual decline. Whereas in many sūtras the term “prophecy” (vyākaraṇa, which can also mean “revelation” or simply “explanation”) is used in the specific sense of the Buddha predicting the future awakening to buddhahood of a particular individual, in the titles of a few texts like the present one it refers to prophecies of a more general kind.
Together with a large retinue of bodhisattvas, hearers, gods, and other beings, the Buddha travels miraculously through the sky from Rājagṛha in India to Khotan, which in this discourse has not yet been established as a country and at the outset remains covered by a giant lake. Once there, the Buddha visits the lakeshore and the nearby Mount Gośṛṅga. Gośṛṅga means “cow horn” in Sanskrit and the hill is said to have received this name due to having two pointed peaks. From the top of Mount Gośṛṅga the Buddha foretells how this will be the site of a future Buddhist land called Virtue, which will contain a stūpa known as Gomasalaganda and a range of other sacred temples and monuments. The Buddha continues to explain to his retinue the excellent qualities of this land, foretelling many future events, and instructing his disciples how to guard and protect the land for the sake of beings at that time. At the end of the discourse, the Buddha instructs the great hearer Śāriputra and the divine king Vaiśravaṇa to drain the lake’s water by using their miraculous powers to crush one of the surrounding mountains, thus diverting the water and rendering the land ready for future inhabitants.
The once great city-state of Khotan, called li yul in Tibetan,2 is today called Hotan (or Hetian) and is located in China’s Xinjiang province. An oasis kingdom on the southwest edge of the vast Taklamakhan desert that fills the Tarim Basin, Khotan lies to the north of the Kunlun mountain range, which divides it from present-day Ladakh to the southwest and from Western Tibet to the southeast. It was an important trade center on the southern branch of the Silk Route, which from Kashgar followed the southern side of the desert through Khotan and Shanshan to Lop Nor and Dunhuang. From the time of the emperor Aśoka onwards3 Khotan became an outpost of Indian culture and gradually, during the first millennium ᴄᴇ, a place where Chinese merchants, monks, and scholars encountered Indian Buddhist doctrine, practices, and texts. It therefore had an important role in the transmission of Buddhism to China and the rest of east Asia.
Tibetans, too, may have encountered some aspects of the Indian Buddhist traditions in Khotan. Khotan was invaded by the Tibetans around the mid-seventh century ᴄᴇ at a time when, during the reigns of Songtsen Gampo and his successors, Tibetan political and military power were expanding. Khotanese accounts of the time saw the arrival of the Tibetans as destructive of Buddhist institutions there, and although the Tibetan court had recently begun to adopt Buddhist culture it is likely that its influence had not yet reached the far-flung army commanders. However, soon afterwards it appears that Tibetan occupation had proved relatively benign to Khotan’s Buddhists, and for the next three centuries while Khotan was twice subject to Tibetan administration4 the cultural ties between Tibet and Khotan grew stronger.5 Indeed, some scholars attribute considerable importance to Khotan in the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. Khotanese monks seem to have been welcomed in Tibet in the early eighth century by the Chinese queen of Tridé Tsukten, father of Trisong Deutsen, and for several centuries even after the collapse of the Tibetan imperial power in the mid-ninth century Tibetan and Khotanese monks and scholars were in frequent contact in Dunhuang and other cultural centers in Central Asia.6
A considerable range of Buddhist literature in Khotanese, mostly Mahāyāna texts and many represented only by fragmentary manuscripts, has been identified. Khotanese was a Middle Iranian form of the Indo-European language family that developed from the vernacular of the region and, written in Brāhmī script, was used in Khotan for Buddhist texts from the sixth century ᴄᴇ onward.7 Many such texts must have circulated in Tibet as Buddhism took root there, alongside texts in other Central Asian languages, Chinese, and increasingly—as the great imperial period of translations gathered pace—in Sanskrit.
The text must have been first translated into Tibetan no later than the early ninth century, since it is recorded in the Denkarma8 and Phangthangma9 inventories of Tibetan imperial translations. The sūtra may possibly have been known to the Chinese monk Xuanzang (600–664 ᴄᴇ), who referenced the legends contained in this text and associated works when writing about his travels through Khotan, which he visited in the first half of the seventh century.10 Interestingly, however, while the sūtra describes Khotan as a contested wilderness region sought after by various foreign powers, it foretells a time when the area will gain peace, prosperity, and protection under the governance of Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist kingdoms. At the time of Xuanzang’s visit, not very long before the first Tibetan invasion of the country, it is unlikely that any Tibetan governance would have been foreseen as either Buddhist or benevolent. If the sūtra itself existed in some earlier form during the first half of the seventh century when the Buddhist rulers of Khotan were clinging to power in the face of rising threats from neighboring foreign powers, including Tibet and China, it is likely to have been adapted later to cast Tibet in a more favorable light. Any dating must therefore remain speculative in the absence of corroborating evidence.
Apart from the Tibetan translation and its presumed Khotanese source text, now lost, the sūtra is not known to exist in any other Asian language. It has no colophon to aid in determining who translated it and from what language. However, given both its content and Xuanzang’s testimony, it seems reasonable to assume that it came to Tibet from Khotan, and indeed Chomden Rikpai Raltri, the great thirteenth century scholar of Narthang who was instrumental in producing the first prototype Kangyur, includes it in a list of twenty canonical works that he believed (with doubt in a few cases) to have been translated into Tibetan from Khotanese.11
Among these texts with a linguistic link to Khotan, a smaller number are works whose content also focuses on Khotan. Included among them is this sūtra, as well as The Questions of Vimalaprabhā (Vimalaprabhaparipṛcchā, Toh 168), which prophetically establishes the cast of characters who will play an important role in Khotan’s history and links them to the Buddha’s lifetime in India. The princess Vimalaprabhā, bodhisattva daughter of King Ajātaśatru of Magadha, receives a detailed prophecy of her future lives as a series of important and powerful female figures in Khotan, and especially one life as the formidable lady Rabngé—sister of the king of one neighboring country, widow of the king of another, Buddhist nun, and protectress of Khotan. Also related to Khotan are two texts found in the epistles section of the Tengyur: The Prophecy of the Arhat Saṅghavardhana (Arhatsaṅghavardhanavyākaraṇa, Toh 4201) relates the future expulsion of Buddhist monks from Khotan and the difficulties they will encounter as they travel through Tibet to India, while The Prophecy Concerning the Land of Khotan (li’i yul lung bstan pa, Toh 4202) also relates Saṅghavardhana’s prophecy and then goes on to provide versions of the Buddha’s prophecies to Vimalaprabhā, Vaiśravaṇa, and others, and of his visit to Khotan as recounted in the present text, before detailing a long historical account of the country, its rulers, and its people.12 Its title, confusingly but understandably, has sometimes been used to refer to the present text in the Tibetan literature.
The sūtra itself, and to a greater degree these other texts associated with it, are part of a wider group of texts that focus on the spread, duration, and eventual decline of the Buddha’s teachings, and have sometimes been termed “prophecies of decline” or “prophetic histories.”13 Many of them include the term “prophecy” (vyākaraṇa) in their title, but unlike the majority of “prophecy” sūtras in which an individual’s future awakening to buddhahood in another realm is proclaimed, the prophecies in this group of texts are concerned with broader events in this world, may contain warnings and advice on how to avoid the most negative outcomes, and recount events that may range from the mythical to the historical. Curiously, mentions of Khotan feature in texts of this genre more frequently than might be expected from its relatively modest historical profile, and the Khotan texts make up a substantial portion of the group, suggesting that the theme may have been especially popular in Central Asia. One example of the genre that references Khotan but was probably not translated from a Khotanese source is the Sūryagarbha-mahāvaipulyasūtra (Toh 257)14, which briefly tells the story of the Gomasalaganda stūpa that is also found in the sūtra translated here.15
One of the themes central to this text, of a lake being miraculously drained to open a valley to habitation, is a recurrent legend common to several geographical locations, including Kashmir as related in the Purāṇas,16 places in Tibet, and in particular the Kathmandu valley. The legend as applied to the Kathmandu valley almost certainly had several other sources, but a tendency among some Tibetan scholars specifically to locate this text in Nepal rather than Khotan appears to have contributed significantly to the corresponding mythology of the Kathmandu valley, as related in the much more recent Nepalese Svayambhūpurāṇa and Vaṃśāvalī, leading to a widespread belief in both Tibet and Nepal that the land described in this sūtra was—or at least could also be—Nepal, and that Gośṛṅga was the hill at the western edge of the Kathmandu Valley on which the famous Svayambhū stūpa rests.17
This mistaken location of the narrative seems to have been due to a lack of complete consensus among Tibetan authors as to what country the name Liyul (li yul, the usual Tibetan name for Khotan) actually refers.18 Evidence that some early Tibetan authors applied the name Liyul to Nepal can be inferred from specific refutations of that notion by early figures like Drolungpa, Sakya Paṇḍita, Chomden Rikpai Raltri,19 and Rendawa. Confirmation that it nevertheless persisted into the twentieth century can be seen in the writings of the renowned Tibetan traveler and scholar Gendun Chopel (1903–51), who felt the need to point out to his countrymen that this identification is not correct and that the features of the country, as described in this sūtra and the texts related to it, refer to Khotan.20
The first scholar in the West to take an interest in Khotan seems to have been the nineteenth century French Sinologist, Abel Rémusat, who in 1820 published a study of Chinese texts about Khotan. W. Woodville Rockhill drew attention to the Tibetan texts on Khotan in his Life of the Buddha, published in 1884, while Édouard Chavannes and Sylvain Lévi published articles mentioning Khotanese texts in 1903 and 1905.
A few years earlier, in 1900, Sir Auriel Stein, the great explorer of Central Asia, set out for Chinese Turkestan after learning of discoveries of Kharoṣṭhī manuscripts in Kuchā and Khotan through the writings of Émile Senart and Rudolf Hoernle. In 1907, Stein published a full account of his archaeological findings together with a wealth of geographical, historical, and linguistic observations, identifying and describing the sacred geography and architecture mentioned in this sūtra.21
Stein’s initial work on the Tibetan texts was subsequently developed further by Frederick Thomas, culminating in the publication in 1935 of complete English translations of this text and of the other closely associated texts mentioned above, The Questions of Vimalaprabhā (Toh 168), The Prophecy of the Arhat Saṅghavardhana (Toh 4201) and The Prophecy Concerning the Land of Khotan (Toh 4202), along with extracts from some other related works.22
More recently, in 1967, Ronald Emmerick published translations of the two parts of The Prophecy Concerning the Land of Khotan (Toh 4202). He also published translations of other Khotanese works and a guide to Khotanese literature. A useful article by Sam van Schaik published in 2016 summarizes published studies on Khotanese literature in general and on Khotanese works discovered at Dunhuang, including studies by Karashima, Kumamoto, Skjaervø, van Schaik, and Zhang and Rong.
This English translation was prepared based on the Tibetan translation in the Degé Kangyur in consultation with the Comparative Edition (Tib. dpe bsdur ma) and the Stok Palace Kangyur.
Thus did I hear at one time. The Buddha Śākyamuni, the god of gods who had attained perfect awakening through the ripening of merit accumulated over three countless eons and then brought disciples throughout the various regions of Jambudvīpa to maturity, [F.221.a] was residing in Rājagṛha, at the place of the mighty great sages,23 in the direction of the Vaiśalī region.24 He was there together with a great retinue of many bodhisattvas, such as the bodhisattva great being noble Maitreya; one thousand two hundred and fifty great hearers, such as the elders Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana; many gods such as Brahmā and Śakra; many world protectors such as the divine king Vaiśravaṇa; many great nāga kings; many mighty yakṣas; many gandharvas, such as the gandharva king Pañcaśikha; many kinnaras such as the kinnara king Delightful; and many human kings of the Jambudvīpa continent, such as King Bimbisāra.
At that moment, the Buddha Śākyamuni, the god of gods, had a premonition and foresaw the future of a land called Virtue,25 and thus he said to his vast retinue, “Noble children, in the north on the shore of River Goma, near Mount Gośṛṅga, is the palace of the mighty great sages—a stūpa called Gomasalaganda. There are deeds that must, without doubt, be performed there. Now the time to travel there has come.”
The Blessed Buddha, the god of gods, together with most of his retinue then rose up into the sky. The gandharva king Pañcaśikha and countless other gandharvas played many divine instruments in front, and the kinnara king Delightful and many other kinnaras made offerings from above as the Blessed Buddha was praised in enchanting tunes and divine voices. In the midst of that retinue and their homage he proceeded to Mount Gośṛṅga. Having arrived there, the Blessed Buddha, the god of gods, stood facing north and gazed for a long time at the large ocean-like lake. [F.221.b] With his body upright, he immersed himself in many billions of meditative absorptions of the thus-gone ones. After three countless eons, he had26 actualized the conduct, aspirations, and merit of a buddha. Right then, the Blessed Buddha, the god of gods, blessed Mount Gośṛṅga, the land of Virtue, and everything else from the golden base all the way up to the peak of existence. He granted it protection, purified it, established auspiciousness, secured its boundaries, engaged in recitation,27 and performed virtue.
The Blessed Buddha, the god of gods, then announced to the entire retinue, “Mount Gośṛṅga, along with the Gomasalaganda stūpa—the palace of the blessed ones—and this land of Virtue constitute insignia, distinctions, hallmarks, and distinctive features of all the blessed buddhas of the excellent eon. It is for that reason that this land is called Virtue.”
The Blessed Buddha, the god of gods, next prophesied the coming of all the meritorious and virtue-performing kings, the faithful ones endowed with the Dharma, the patrons, and all the people of Khotan yet to appear in the land of Virtue, Virtuous Castle, as well as the individual saṅgha enclaves, temples, and hermitages.
At this point, the Blessed One told the bodhisattvas, “Noble children, you must also by all means bless this place so that, in the future, beings here may swiftly attain the utterly sublime and so that they will accomplish meditative absorption.”
Having said these words, the Blessed One retreated slightly from the lake shore. Immediately he was seated cross-legged upon a throne arranged at the peak of Mount Gośṛṅga. Facing west, he looked toward the Gomasalaganda stūpa, the palace of the blessed ones. [F.222.a] At that moment, twenty thousand bodhisattvas from other world systems and many sages endowed with the five superknowledges arrived together before the Blessed One. Having arrived, they prostrated to the Gomasalaganda stūpa, the palace of the blessed ones, and went there to take refuge. They also prostrated and went for refuge to the Blessed Buddha and his retinue, and then stood together to one side.
At that moment the Blessed Buddha was aware that the majority of the retinue had gathered, so he addressed the retinue: “Previously in this excellent eon four blessed ones appeared and they too blessed this Gomasalaganda stūpa as well as this country. In the future, during this excellent eon, one thousand and one buddhas will appear, and they too will all come here with their retinues and bless this Gomasalaganda stūpa and this country. They will secure its boundaries and establish auspiciousness and virtue. Now the time has come for me too to bless it, so I will do so.”
The Blessed Buddha, the god of gods, now rested in the meditative absorption called the presence of present buddhas and countless other absorptions of the thus-gone ones. At that time, the bodhisattva Mahāsthāmprāpta, nurturer of those who are resting in absorption and engaged in the concentrations, sat in front of the Buddha Kāśyapa’s stūpa. He blessed that area so that in the future people would construct an image of him in that region. Likewise, the bodhisattva Mañjuśrīkumārabhūta, who engages in vast aspirations, blessed the ground on Mount Gośṛṅga where a temple called Relinquishing was to appear, so that all those who come to that place could fulfill their aims. [F.222.b] Likewise, the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha, who has strength that is as immeasurable as space, blessed the area where a temple called Relinquishing the Personality was to appear, so that it could become a place of worship. Likewise, the bodhisattva noble Avalokiteśvara, who is endowed with great compassion, blessed the ground where a temple called Radiant was to appear, so that the attainments could be accomplished there. Likewise, the bodhisattva Maitreya, who is endowed with constant love, blessed the ground where a temple called Visimonya was to appear, so that he could reside there. Likewise, the bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha, who has impeccable conduct, blessed the ground where a temple called Wisdom Mountain was to appear, so that that place would be worthy of homage. Likewise, the bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja, who possesses an unlimited ability to liberate beings to be trained, blessed the ground where a temple called Vanoco was to appear, so that the attainments could be accomplished there. Likewise, the bodhisattva Samantabhadra, who possesses great miraculous powers, blessed the ground where a temple called Sustaining the Saṅgha was to appear, so that the attainments could be accomplished there.
In this way, the Blessed Buddha, the other bodhisattvas, and all of the great worthy ones blessed the ground for all the temples, parks, and hermitages that were to appear throughout the land of Khotan so that they would be as beautiful, delightful, prosperous, and enchanting as the full moon encircled by the constellations of stars, orbiting through a clear sky. [F.223.a]
While the Blessed Buddha was present at Mount Gośṛṅga, all the bodhisattva great beings and the great worthy ones projected an array of light rays that illuminated the entire land of Khotan. At that very moment, three hundred and fifty-three lotuses emerged from the vast lake there. Inside each of these lotuses appeared the bodies of buddhas and bodhisattvas glowing with light. At that moment, the gods, seeing these signs—signs the likes of which they had never seen before—inquired of the Blessed Buddha as to their meaning.
The Blessed One replied, “Noble children, the appearance of these three hundred and fifty-three lotuses containing the bodies of the buddhas and bodhisattvas is a portent that in the future, when this land manifests, there will appear here, equal in number to these lotuses, hermitages and temples where the gong will be struck. This is a portent that in all of these places—the places where the land has been blessed by bodhisattva great beings, great hearers, and the array of projected light rays, and where I have blessed the Gomasalaganda stūpa, the palace of the thus-gone ones, and this land of Virtue—faithful patrons will all fashion images of the Buddha and others, and that whoever arrives in these places will accomplish all their wishes.”
At this point, the gods rose from their seats and asked the Blessed One, “Respected Blessed One, at what point in time will this land appear? Who will be its founders? [F.223.b] Esteemed Blessed One, it is now a wilderness with an abundance of water, so who will be the founders, and how?”
The Blessed One replied, “Noble children, listen. One hundred years after my nirvāṇa, there will appear in China a king called Cayang, who will have a thousand sons. He will order each of his sons to search for a piece of virgin land. Later on, he will hear that in the west there is a hill called Gośṛṅga and a land containing the Gomasalaganda stūpa, the palace of the thus-gone ones, which have been blessed by many thus-gone ones. Hearing this, he will think, ‘Oh, if only I had another son, I would send him to cultivate that land, which has been blessed by so many buddhas.’ At that time, that Chinese king will request Vaiśravaṇa to grant him a son. But Vaiśravaṇa will grant him a son of King Aśoka, here in Jambudvīpa.28 This boy will have an excellent body, a beautiful appearance, and he will be a delight to the eyes. For this boy, a breast will appear from the ground and, through the strength of his previous merits and roots of virtue, he will suckle this breast. As a result, he will become known by the name Suckler of the Earth Breast. He will mature quickly, and his father, the Chinese king, will confer royal power upon him, bestow upon him a mass of wealth, and assign most of the ministers as his servants. The prince Suckler of the Earth Breast, together with a senior minister called Jangsho and many soldiers, will then leave China and come to this land. Arriving here, they will cultivate the land and, in order to found the country, Prince Suckler of the Earth Breast will name the place Land of Suckler of the Earth Breast.29
“At that time, many Indian people will travel here from the west and request to become subjects of King Suckler of the Earth Breast. Thus, that single kingdom will contain various people. [F.224.a] The Chinese senior minister Jangsho, together with others, will then gradually found both Chinese and Indian villages, towns, and markets. In that way, King Suckler of the Earth Breast and his descendants will rule over these lands for many generations. Each of these kings will, in turn, build hermitages and temples and offer them irrigation water, subjects, and counsel. Some of them will even go forth as monks themselves. Some of them will have their sons and daughters go forth. Some of them will allow countless numbers of their subjects to go forth. In this land, there will appear many people with the nature of bodhisattvas, who will constantly gather roots of virtue and engage in meritorious deeds based on the Three Jewels. In this way, King Suckler of the Earth Breast will establish this land.
“Each time a buddha appears, this land will appear and flourish. Why is it that, while other lands deteriorate and then remain empty and desolate for a long time, the land Virtue is adorned and beautified by people each time a buddha appears? It is because this land is the dwelling place of the saintly great sage, the domain of the thus-gone ones, the locale of the Gomasalaganda stūpa, which is near Mount Gośṛṅga and on the banks of the River Goma. This stūpa is called Gomasalaganda in the sūtras. In ordinary parlance, however, it is called ‘On the Bank of River Goma.’ Thus, for as long as that stūpa called On the Bank of River Goma, as well as Kāśyapa’s stūpa, flourish and are sites of worship, the land of Virtue will also flourish and prosper. Whenever these two stūpas fall into decline, this land will also fall into decline and become empty.”
Having heard the Blessed One’s explanation, the retinue of gods gathered there [F.224.b] gained great faith and veneration for the Gomasalaganda stūpa and Mount Gośṛṅga. They bowed down to the Blessed Buddha and went to him to take refuge. Then, in the Blessed One’s presence they made this aspiration: “At that time, may we take birth in that land within eminent families and guard the Well-Gone One’s teaching so that the righteous laws of the land never weaken!”
At that moment the Blessed One addressed the divine king Vaiśravaṇa, the bodhisattva great being Perceptive, the god of gods Ajita, the nāga king Gṛhadāha, the god Song of the Sky, the god Golden Garland, the goddess Hook Bearer, and the goddess Stable: “Noble children, I entrust to you the Gomasalaganda stūpa, Mount Gośṛṅga and its land, together with my teachings and my offspring. Be sure to guard them, protect them, nurture them, and pay homage to them! I entrust to you the monarchs of this land, the governing ministers, and all the patrons who act in accord with the Dharma. Protect them accordingly! I also entrust to you this discourse that describes Mount Gośṛṅga, so you must propagate and spread it! If at some point this land is endangered and ravaged by fire, water, or foreign armies, if you read this discourse, or recite it, pay homage to it, reflect upon it, and meditate upon it, the destructive forces afflicting this land will be pacified.
“In the future, due to the ripening of sentient beings’ former actions, the Sumpa and Tibetan people will come to this land. At that time, you must propound this discourse, for when they hear this discourse, then through its inherent power and the blessings of the gods, those faithless people will [F.225.a] not devastate the land but rather feel remorse. In the future, the Chinese will also come to this land. At that time, you must propound this discourse, for upon hearing it, they will give rise to faith, and through the strength of their faith, they will not inflict any harm on this land. Rather, they will grant it protection and engage in meritorious deeds. This being so, this discourse will be of benefit for this land. There are so many other benefits of this discourse, but it is not possible to mention them all in a short time. Therefore, I entrust this discourse to you.”
Vaiśravaṇa and the other gods, the nāga king, and the goddesses together with their retinues stood up. They kneeled down before the Blessed One and with their palms joined, exclaimed, “Respected Blessed One, we place the Blessed One’s commandment on the crown of our heads!” They then continued, “Just as the Teacher, the Blessed One, has instructed, we will guard the Gomasalaganda stūpa, Mount Gośṛṅga, and its land. We will guard the Well-Gone One’s teaching, the monarchs who act in accord with the Dharma, those who have gone forth, governors who act in accord with the Dharma, patrons who act in accord with the Dharma, and all those engaged in meritorious deeds. Blessed One, for as long as the Three Jewels are venerated in this land and for as long as the governors rule the land in accord with the Dharma and do not protect those who act in ways contrary to the Dharma, we will be able to guard this land. To ensure that this discourse may remain in the land of Khotan for a long time, we will make sure that the kings and ministers in the border regions surrounding Khotan hear that the Blessed One has taught this discourse at Mount Gośṛṅga for the benefit of the land of Khotan. We will make sure that they receive it in their hands and that their minds are transformed. [F.225.b]
“Blessed One, when the Three Jewels are no longer venerated in this land and when those who act in ways contrary to the Dharma are protected here, our splendor and might will decline so that we are no longer able to guard this land. Why? Because our might and splendor grow from the Well-Gone One’s teaching, from the land being correctly governed in accord with the Dharma, and from the roots of virtue engendered through meritorious deeds.”
Right then, the Blessed Buddha rose from his seat and from the edge of the peak of Mount Gośṛṅga he gazed toward the Gomasalaganda stūpa. Repeatedly—twice, thrice—he blessed the Gomasalaganda stūpa, the domain of the thus-gone ones, as well as Mount Gośṛṅga and the whole region. He thus suffused the entire land of Khotan and all the countless beings dwelling in the lake there with light rays and great compassion. The light rays and his great compassion quelled all the sufferings of those beings dwelling in the water, freed them from anger and resentment, imbued them with loving kindness, and endowed them with the happiness of the gods. In that very instant, an uncountable number of those beings changed lives and were reborn as gods and humans. They acquired the seed for awakening, and their progress toward awakening became irreversible.
The Blessed One then called out to the gods three times and addressed them thus: “Noble children, these pledges of yours will not be fulfilled without perseverance. Noble children, I entrust to you this teaching of mine for which I underwent hardships for three countless eons. I also entrust to you the Gomasalaganda stūpa and its land. Guard them closely. [F.226.a] All of you, in whatever you do, should recall me, retain and protect the teachings, and thereby closely guard all those who have gone forth under this teaching. Why, you may wonder? Some householders might gather roots of virtue and create vast amounts of merit each day for a hundred years, yet this would not amount to even one percent of the merit of someone who abides by the teachings for just a single day after going forth. Why is that? Because all of the buddhas, who are equal in number to the grains of sand in the Ganges River, have first given up their life as householders and gone forth, and attained awakening through that lifestyle.
“I too—having completed the six perfections, attained the tenth level, and entered my last life in cyclic existence—left the royal compound at midnight and went to the forest. From the forest I sent my mount to my father, the king. I then cut off my hair with my sword and gave hunters my fine, priceless clothes in exchange for saffron-colored Dharma robes. Donning those Dharma robes, I paid homage to all the buddhas of the three times, went to them for refuge, and then assumed the lifestyle of one who has gone forth. All of the gods then paid homage to me,30 went to me for refuge, and followed my lead. Thus, I too attained perfect awakening through that lifestyle. For this reason, understand that the Well-Gone One’s teaching is sublime. Understand that to go forth is to possess merit. In this world it has never been seen or heard that someone with the trappings of a householder attained the states of a worthy one, a self-realized buddha, or unsurpassable awakening; such states are only attained by going forth. The sublime lifestyle of one who has gone forth is an object of veneration by all the gods and others in this world.”
All of the gods and goddesses now rose from their seats and pledged to the Blessed Buddha in unison, [F.226.b] “Respected Blessed One, we will do as the Blessed One has instructed. We will not intentionally transgress your instructions. Here in this land we will fully guard, nurture, and uphold the Buddha’s teaching and the stūpa that is the domain of the thus-gone ones. Blessed One, please endow us with strength! Why? Because in the future age of conflict, many enemies, faithless people, and adversaries who have yet to gain the special quality of faith in the Well-Gone One’s teaching will come to this blessed land and persistently attempt to destroy the teaching.”
The Blessed One then expressed his approval to the gods, saying, “Sublime beings, excellent! Excellent! I have blessed this land and due to those blessings its boundaries have been secured. In the future age of conflict, great armies of the Sumpa people, different clans of Drugu people, people from Hor, and other faithless people will come to destroy this land. At that time, blessed images of thus-gone ones will arrive here from other lands and they will guard the land’s borders. Through the strength of that merit, this land will never be completely destroyed. Many bodhisattvas, gods, and mighty nāgas will follow these images and they will help avert harm in many regions. Enemies will be unable to destroy the land. From Blissful Castle an image of the thus-gone Source of Bliss will appear. It will then reside at Koshé Castle31 and thereby guard the borders of the land. [F.227.a] In the northern lands, an image called Shenazha of the thus-gone Shenazha will emerge from underground and guard the land’s borders. An image of the Thus-Gone One, called Kiulang, will appear and reside in the eastern region at Sand Castle and guard the land’s borders. An image of the Thus-Gone One, called Chisé, will appear and remain in front of Kāśyapa’s stūpa on Mount Gośṛṅga in the north. It will generate roots of virtue for the monks living in hermitages there and will guard the Thus-Gone One’s teaching and the land’s borders. In Virtuous Castle, an image of the Thus-Gone One, called Abiding in the Royal Palace, will remain in the Kasadizé market and guard Virtuous Castle and the borders of its land. King Yola will discuss plans to build a castle on the land called Nyomonya. There, an image of the Thus-Gone One, called Chugönpana, will abide and guard Virtuous Castle and the borders of its land.
“In Dinadzya Temple a cast image32 of the thus-gone Dīpaṅkara will arrive. This image will be the first cast image made in Jambudvīpa. People will name this image ‘the circulating Dīpaṅkara.’ It will become an example for all other cast images made throughout Khotan and it will guard the Well-Gone One’s teaching and the land. Moreover, an image of the thus-gone Prabhūtaratna will come to the center of the land and secure the boundaries in all ten directions. For as long as images of the thus-gone ones abide in the various directions [F.227.b] and are venerated, this land will not be destroyed. If the people born in this land, or people from other lands feel heartfelt faith and devotion for these images of the thus-gone ones, feel deeply inspired by them, and think, “These images of the thus-gone ones have come here to guard this land,” the images will benefit them as if they were the Buddha in person. Why? Because these images are blessed by me and by all the buddhas of the three times.
“Furthermore, a large image of me will be brought to this land by chariot. It will be installed in Virtuous Castle and be taken as a major object of veneration. As a result, wealthy merchants from other lands in all directions will come here and all negative forces will be pacified. Two hundred and eight images of the thus-gone ones, together with the Kāśyapa stūpa, will appear in this land. Each of them will display great miracles, purify the grave misdeeds of sentient beings, and dispel negative forces.
“If it so happens that some negative forces and causes of fear and terror do appear in this land, people should resort to the five regions for the sake of the country. If the king, or the ministers and governors of the land wish to create merit through the Well-Gone One’s teachings in order to free the land from fear, they should create merit at Tsarma Temple. Why? Because the faith and correct view of the people of this land are born in that temple. If at some point the king, or the ministers and governors of Khotan are faced with many kinds of negative forces, they should circumambulate Mount Gośṛṅga—that place where in the past the perfect buddhas were seated. [F.228.a] If the people of this land wish to purify their negative karma, they should make confessions before the Gomasalaganda stūpa. Why? Because this stūpa is like the buddha in person; whoever circumambulates it, or venerates it with flowers, incense, song, or music can diminish even the five deeds with immediate retribution, not to mention other negative acts. If the king, ministers, and governors of this land wish to take a vow of great discipline, they should take such a vow from the saṅgha33 at Mount Gośṛṅga, where the Thus-Gone One’s image called Chisé34 and the Kāśyapa stūpa are. Why? Because in this land, perfect Dharma conduct35 and impeccable discipline will arise there. If some people in this land find themselves facing grave privation,36 they should go for refuge to the noble saṅgha living at Mount Gośṛṅga. Thereby they will be freed from their privation. Why? Because many thousands of people will gain liberation in that locale and it will remain until the end of time and not disappear. For these reasons, Mount Gośṛṅga, the Gomasalaganda stūpa, and its land are the site where the thus-gone ones assemble.”37
At that moment, twenty thousand bodhisattvas arrived from the buddha realms in the ten directions. They bowed toward the Blessed One with palms joined, and in a single voice said, “Blessed One, we too will sustain and guard this land and the Thus-Gone One’s domain of activities38 here in a variety of ways. For as long as the Well-Gone One’s teachings and the Three Jewels remain, and for as long as the kings, ministers, and others maintain discipline, have faith, and rule the land in accord with the Dharma, we will not forsake this land. [F.228.b] We will continue to come here and, assuming whatever behavior and attire may be appropriate, we will fully ripen vast merit in a great number of beings, generate within them the wish to attain buddhahood, help them rest in concentration and absorption, and establish them irreversibly in buddhahood. In order to take these kinds of rebirth, some will take birth in the royal line, some will go forth into homelessness, while still others will assume the attire of householders.”
The Blessed One replied, “Noble children, excellent! Excellent! Noble children, may you gain the strength to do this—to ensure that all sentient beings within this land, the domain of all the buddhas of the Excellent Eon, proceed irreversibly to buddhahood!”
The gods Vaiśravaṇa and Ajita, together with all of the other gods present, then said to the Blessed One, “Blessed One, please imbue these bodhisattva great beings with strength so that they may guard this land. Blessed One, through your blessings and power we too will guard the thus-gone ones’ domain and this land that has been blessed. We will not let it disappear. We will exert ourselves in this with great perseverance. If wild people, such as the faithless Drugu, or if armies from Hor and Sumpa come here, we will cause infighting between them, incite discord within their own troops, and make them perish. Alternatively, to ensure that they do not come here under any circumstances, so that they are unable to destroy the Thus-Gone One’s teachings, we will cause them to fall under the control of others. If Chinese armies come here, we will inspire them with faith, and ensure that they bring benefit to this land and in the future create great virtue through performing meritorious deeds here. [F.229.a] When at some point they inflict harm upon the beings of this land, we will once more engender faith in them and ensure that they comprehend this discourse. When in the future they seek control over the objects of the Three Jewels, seize power, and cause harm to meritorious beings, at that time we will empower and dispatch many of the yakṣas in our retinue—those who have faith as well as some who lack faith—to ensure that prolonged decline occurs in that country, and that they experience famine, disease, and attacks from foreign armies that make them unable to destroy this land. Even if they should plunder any wealth from the land of Khotan, we shall ensure that it brings them bad luck. Whichever country they visit, we will ensure that they are met not with hospitality but with rebellion. We will ensure that their governors and military leaders face decline. It should be known that it will be the same for the Tibetan army. When the land is ruled and protected in harmony with the Dharma, we will nurture it and make it victorious. However, when the Well-Gone One’s teaching is destroyed and the people of the land are harmed, we will ensure that the army will be riven by internal strife and that the military leaders will suffer a great decline.39 As for the details, it will occur just as already explained.
“In the future, there will be some kings and ministers of this land who will be full of deceit. They will have little merit and no faith. They will lust insatiably40 after the property of the Three Jewels. They will contravene the rules of the country. They will pursue grandeur without paying attention to their wealth, and they will oppose those with merit by discrediting them. They will be shameless, flawed, and insatiable when it comes to sensual pleasures. They will feel offended by those who have gone forth. When these things happen [F.229.b] we will drive them out from this land and expel them to other inferior lands. In these ways, we will sustain and guard this land.
“Blessed One, in the future, during the age of conflict, there will appear demonic beings who will seek to destroy this land. These evildoers will be powerful. They will cause beings throughout the lands to lose their faith. There will be many of them—gods, nāgas, yakṣas, and rākṣasas—all with wicked and savage minds. If we are unable to bring these beings under our control, to what means should we turn?”
“Noble children,” the Blessed One replied, “do not be disheartened. Why not? In this world of the four continents there live many bodhisattvas, mighty gods, nāgas, and yakṣas who have attained the levels. Make elaborate offerings to them with a gentle state of mind, and at blessed places, such as the Gomasalaganda stūpa and the Tsarma Temple, you should resound a great number of the extensive Great Vehicle discourses, such as the Perfection of Wisdom, the Great Assembly, the Ornaments of the Buddhas, and the Heap of Jewels. Bodhisattvas on the ten levels—such beings with power and might— from other lands will then come to this land. Here they will let beings savor the taste of the Dharma and ensure they do not transgress the commitments of the thus-gone ones of the three times. They will guard the domain and the land of the buddhas of the Excellent Eon. They will also guard the people and teachings in this land.
“Moreover, in the future, the king of this land Virtue will grow weak, and this infirmity will render him unable to rule the land independently. As a result, the king will seek protection from other faithful monarchs, such as the Tibetan and Chinese kings, and they will proceed to protect the land. [F.230.a] Why? Because in the future, the Three Jewels will be present and widely venerated in the lands of China and Tibet. Those lands will also become the abodes of bodhisattva great beings. The people in those lands will pursue the path of great awakening, have faith in the Great Vehicle, and exert themselves in meditative absorption. Through their power and might, the people of Khotan and the Three Jewels will not be destroyed.
“All of you sublime beings, you must also by all means ensure that the kings and ministers of Tibet and China pay service to the Gomasalaganda stūpa and this land of Virtue. You must cause them to perform extensive virtue through meritorious acts. When people from this land travel to foreign border lands where people lack faith, you must relieve them of their suffering and ensure their easy return to their homeland. Thus, you should transform their minds so they come to adopt the correct view and take delight in merit. Through the strength of these roots of virtue, sublime beings, your roots of virtue, and your luster, splendor, and retinues will increase and you will draw closer and closer to buddhahood. Repay the kindness of the instructions of the thus-gone ones of the three times! In this way, the people of this land will adopt the bodhisattva deeds that make them irreversible. They will possess compassion and truth. They will be generous, free of jealousy and resentment, have gratitude, delight in the Dharma, have the correct view, be free of all wrong views, and be gentle-minded. Because of this they shall be called people from the land of Virtue. Even the castle in this land will be filled with loving and gentle-minded people and adorned with several stūpas and temples. [F.230.b] For that reason, the castle is called Virtuous Castle.
“When faithless beings, hostile and antagonistic, come here from other lands, their minds will be transformed simply by touching the sand in this region and by partaking of the food grown in this land. They will become gentle, mild, and loving, free of anger and resentment. They will develop faith and they will not perform misdeeds in this land. Such are the numerous qualities of this land.”
The Blessed Buddha, having previously blessed the land three times, now emitted light rays infused with great compassion, which purified the minds of all of the beings there who were living in the water and filled them with happiness. The light then re-emerged from the water and spread out in all the buddha realms in the ten directions. The light rays then returned and merged with the light rays of the places blessed by the bodhisattva great beings, the light rays of the places blessed by the great hearers, and the light rays of the images of the thus-gone ones seated upon the lotuses that had emerged upon the lake. At that point, the rays exploded upward into the atmosphere, covering the sky above, and a rain of divine flowers showered down upon the entire land of Khotan.
As these divine flowers touched one another, sounds of the following gateways of Dharma rang out: the names of Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha; the correct view; insight; discipline; roots of virtue; the austerities performed by the thus-gone ones; their aspirations; the bodhisattvas’ miraculous feats and the ways they ripen sentient beings; the four results of spiritual practitioners: stream enterer, once-returner, non-returner, and worthy one; escape from the existences of the three realms; [F.231.a] the three gateways of liberation; destruction of the karmic formations; the applications of mindfulness; the truths of noble ones; the bases of miraculous absorption; concentration; the means of attracting disciples; correct discrimination; the four formless attainments; the purity of the faculties; and all the teachings that are in accord with the factors of awakening.
Moreover, there also arose sounds pertaining to the pure mind; the branches of awakening; the noble path; the attainments; the strength of the spiritual levels; great compassion and love; dependent origination; dispelling doubt; proceeding irreversibly toward buddhahood; meditative absorption; clear realization; acceptance that phenomena are unborn; the distinct qualities; the transformation into buddhahood; the impermanent, unsatisfactory, selfless, and empty; the unproduced; the unborn; the unmistaken; the limit of reality; the realization of nonconceptual wisdom that is implicit in buddha nature; the domain of the personally realized self-awareness of practitioners; and the sufferings of birth, aging, parting from what is dear, encountering what is disliked, and being unable to fulfill one’s desires.
Moreover, the following sounds occurred: “within the five aggregates there is no sentient being, nor any soul, person, or life-force”; “the truth of phenomena is that all things are without birth, without cessation, without permanence, without annihilation, without coming, and without going”; “the lineage of the Three Jewels”; “blessings”; and “the delusion of the five types of beings is like a dream, and the formations of cyclic existence are like a prison, and like an illusion, a mirage, a reflection of the moon in water, and an echo.” Moreover, the following other sounds occurred: “faith”; “clear realization”; “diligence”; “the path of the ten virtuous deeds”; “disenchantment with saṃsāra”; and hundreds, as well as thousands of other such sounds. [F.231.b]
All of the many assembled retinues, as well as the bodhisattvas who had arrived there from various other places, the gods and nāgas living on the earth, and the celestial gods and yakṣas, were all filled with wonder and rapture and they gained confidence in those sounds of gateways of Dharma.
In order to facilitate their understanding, the bodhisattva great being Mañjuśrīkumārabhūta then asked the Blessed One, “Blessed One, for what purpose was this great miracle displayed?”
The Blessed One replied in a voice like that of Brahmā, “Mañjuśrī, these gateways of Dharma, which yield great blessings, were taught for the benefit of those who are to be born in the land of Virtue and for the benefit of the fourfold retinue. Through these gateways of Dharma, bodhisattvas will purify their faculties and consciousness with only a little hardship and a little effort and they will come to directly realize these gateways of Dharma. Beings of the future, from young children upward, will take joy in the realization of the Dharma and they will talk about these gateways of Dharma even in their games. Such sentient beings, by developing their faculties in this way, will purify the eye of Dharma and will thereby behold the bodies of the thus-gone ones. Purifying the ear of Dharma, they will hear and receive the Dharma. Their minds will be freed from all the formations and phenomena in saṃsāra. With such minds, they will exert themselves in virtue here in this blessed wilderness, or they will live on Mount Gośṛṅga and will all gain realization there. Evil Māra himself will be unable to harm them, let alone anyone else. It is like this. Even if the gods were to penalize and punish the retinues of yakṣas, gandharvas, or kinnaras, if these beings were to take shelter at the Gomasalaganda stūpa and Mount Gośṛṅga, the gods would be unable to see them. Even if they should happen to see them, their minds would become peaceful. For this reason, Mount Gośṛṅga and the Gomasalaganda stūpa are an asylum, [F.232.a] a sanctuary, and a haven. They are worthy of homage by beings living in other worlds. Simply to feel faith upon hearing the names of the Gomasalaganda stūpa, Mount Gośṛṅga, the land of Virtue, Virtuous Castle, and the blessed hermitages will purify grave misdeeds.”
The Blessed One then told venerable Śāriputra and Vaiśravaṇa, “Noble sons, you two go and cut down Sha Mountain and transfer this large lake into the Gyisho River in the north. Thus, without harming any beings living in the water, you must guard and demarcate this land.”
The great hearer Śāriputra and Vaiśravaṇa said in response, “We shall do as you instruct.” Then they flew miraculously through the sky in the direction of Sha Mountain. Śāriputra held in his hand a staff and Vaiśravaṇa held a spear, and with these they cleaved Sha Mountain into two, picked up the pieces, and placed them down in the west. Thus, they created a large riverbank through which the lake with all the animals living therein was diverted into the Gyisho River. In this manner, the Gomasalaganda stūpa, Mount Gośṛṅga, and the land of Khotan were brought into being.
At this point, the Blessed One entrusted the Gomasalaganda stūpa and the other places to the eight bodhisattva great beings such as noble Avalokiteśvara and Maitreya, the twenty thousand bodhisattvas, the sages, the eight great gods such as Vaiśravaṇa and Gṛhadāha, and the remaining retinue of thirty-five thousand five hundred beings. All of the gods also accepted this entrustment. The Blessed One bestowed it accordingly.
When the Blessed One had thus spoken, the entire assembly rejoiced and praised what the Blessed One had said.
|D||Degé (sde dge Kangyur)|
|K||Kangxi (Kangxi) Kangyur|
|KY||Yongle (g.yung lo) Kangyur|
|S||Stok Palace (stog pho brang bris ma) Kangyur|
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Abiding in the Royal Palace
- rgyal po’i pho brang gnas
acceptance that phenomena are unborn
- mi skye ba’i chos la bzod pa
- mi pham pa
- nam mkha’i snying po
applications of mindfulness
- dran pa nye bar gzhag pa
- mya ngan med
- spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug
bases of miraculous absorption
- rdzu ’phrul gyi rkang pa
- sman gyi rgyal po
- gzugs can snying po
- mkhar bde ba can
- tshangs pa
- ca yang
- phyi se
Chomden Rikpai Raltri
- bcom ldan rigs pa’i ral gri
- cu gon pa na
- so so yang dag par rig pa
- yid ’ong
- rten cing ’brel bar ’byung ba
- gtsug lag khang di na dzya
- mar me mdzad
- gru gu
- gnas brtan
- dri za
- gser gyi phreng ba can
- go ma
- go ma sa la gan da
- ’dus pa chen po
- khyim ’tshig
- gyi sho gtsang po
Heap of Jewels
- dkon mchog brtsegs pa
- nyan thos
- lcags kyu can
- ’dzam bu gling
- jang sho
- tshong ’dus ka sa di ze
- ’od srung
- li yul
- rgyal po yo la
- mi’am ci
- ki’u lang
- mkhar ko shed
- sa’i snying po
Land of Suckler of the Earth Breast
- sa las nu ma nu’i yul
limit of reality
- yang dag pa’i mtha’
- mthu chen thob
- byams pa
- ’jam dpal gzhon nur gyur pa
- ’jam dpal gzhon nur gyur pa
- maud gal gyi bu
- ri glang ru
- phyir mi ’ong ba
- nyo mo nya
- lan cig phyir ’ong ba
Ornaments of the Buddhas
- sangs rgyas phal po che
- gtsug phud lnga pa
- ’du shes can
Perfection of Wisdom
- shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa
- rin chen mang
- ’od can
- rgyal po’i khab
- srin po
- spong byed
Relinquishing the Personality
- ’jig tshogs spong byed
- brgya byin
- shakya thub pa
- kun du bzang po
- mkhar phye ma
- sha ri’i bu
- sha’i ri
- she na zha
Song of the Sky
- nam mkha’i dbyangs
Source of Bliss
- bde ba’i ’byung gnas
- gnas can
- rgyun du zhugs pa
Suckler of the Earth Breast
- sa las nu ma nu
- sum pa
Sustaining the Saṅgha
- dge ’dun skyong
three gateways of liberation
- rnam par thar pa’i sgo gsum
- gtsug lag khang tshar ma
- yangs pa can
- rnam thos kyi bu
- rnam thos sras
- ba no co
- dge ba
- mkhar dge ba can
- bi si mo nya
- ye shes ri
- dgra bcom pa
- gnod sbyin