The Play in Full
The Demonstration at the Writing School
Degé Kangyur, vol. 46 (mdo sde, kha), folios 1.b–216.b
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Play in Full tells the story of how the Buddha manifested in this world and attained awakening, as perceived from the perspective of the Great Vehicle. The sūtra, which is structured in twenty-seven chapters, first presents the events surrounding the Buddha’s birth, childhood, and adolescence in the royal palace of his father, king of the Śākya nation. It then recounts his escape from the palace and the years of hardship he faced in his quest for spiritual awakening. Finally the sūtra reveals his complete victory over the demon Māra, his attainment of awakening under the Bodhi tree, his first turning of the wheel of Dharma, and the formation of the very early saṅgha.
This text was translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the supervision of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche.
Cortland Dahl, Catherine Dalton, Hilary Herdman, Heidi Koppl, James Gentry, and Andreas Doctor translated the text from Tibetan into English. Andreas Doctor and Wiesiek Mical then compared the translations against the original Tibetan and Sanskrit, respectively. Finally, Andreas Doctor edited the translation and wrote the introduction.
The Dharmachakra Translation Committee would like to thank Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche for blessing this project, and Khenpo Sherap Sangpo for his generous assistance with the resolution of several difficult passages.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of 簡源震及家人江秀敏，簡暐如，簡暐丞 Chien YuanChen (Dharma Das) and his wife, daughter, and son for work on this sūtra is gratefully acknowledged.
Monks, when the young child had grown a little older, he was taken to school. He went there amid hundreds of thousands of auspicious signs, and he was surrounded and attended by tens of thousands of boys, along with ten thousand carts filled with hard food, soft food, and condiments, and ten thousand carts filled with gold coins and gems. These were distributed in the streets and road junctions, and the entrances to the markets of the city of Kapilavastu. At the same time a symphony of eight hundred thousand cymbals was sounded, and a heavy rain of flowers fell.
Hundreds of thousands of girls, adorned with all kinds of jewelry, perched themselves on the balconies, turrets, arches, windows,  upper stories, and roofs of the homes. Gazing at the Bodhisattva, they tossed flowers. There were also eight thousand goddesses, who were adorned with loose hanging jewelry and carried bhadraṃkara gems. They went ahead of the Bodhisattva, cleansing his way. Gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, demigods, garuḍas, kinnaras, and mahoragas revealed the upper halves of their bodies, and festooned wreaths of flowers and woven silk from the sky. All the Śākya factions, with King Śuddhodana leading the way, went ahead of the Bodhisattva. With such an array as this, the Bodhisattva was taken to school.
As soon as the Bodhisattva arrived in school, the schoolmaster, who was called Viśvāmitra, was unable to withstand the Bodhisattva’s splendor and radiance, and prostrated to him face-down on the ground. [F.66.a] A god from the Heaven of Joy called Śubhāṅga saw the schoolmaster collapsed on the ground and, grabbing him with his right hand, raised him up. Suspended in the sky, Śubhāṅga then spoke the following verses to King Śuddhodana and the crowd:
The nannies and the entourage of maids were asked to stay at the school, while the remaining Śākyas, headed by Śuddhodana, departed. The Bodhisattva took up a writing board made of sandalwood. It was decorated with flecks of divine gold of prime quality and studded with precious gems on all sides. He then addressed the master Viśvāmitra:
“Which script, O master, will you be teaching me? [F.66.b] Will it be the Brāhmī script, the Kharoṣṭī script, or the Puṣkarasāri script? Will it be the Aṅga script, the Vaṅga script, the Magadha script, the Maṅgalya script, the Aṅgulīya script, the Śakāri script, the Brahmavali script, the Pāruṣya script, the Drāviḍa script, the Kirāta script, the Dākṣiṇya script, the Ugra script, the Saṃkhyā script, the Anuloma script, the Avamūrdha script,  the Darada script, the Khāṣya script, the Cīna script, the Lūna script, the Hūṇa script, the Madhyākṣaravistara script, the Puṣpa script, the Deva script, the Nāga script, the Yakṣa script, the Gandharva script, the Kinnara script, the Mahoraga script, the Asura script, the Garuḍa script, the Mṛgacakra script, the Vāyasaruta script, the Bhaumadeva script, the Antarīkṣadeva script, the Uttarakurudvīpa script, the Aparagoḍānī script, the Pūrvavideha script, the Utkṣepa script, the Nikṣepa script, the Vikṣepa script, the Prakṣepa script, the Sāgara script, the Vajra script, the Lekhapratilekha script, the Anudruta script, the Śāstrāvarta script, the Gaṇanāvarta script, the Utkṣepāvarta script, the Nikṣepāvarta script, the Pādalikhita script, the Dviruttarapadasaṃdhi script, the Yāvaddaśottarapadasaṃdhi script, the Madhyāhāriṇī script, the Sarvarutasaṃgrahaṇī script, the Vidyānulomāvimiśrita script, the Ṛṣitapastapta script, the Rocamāna script, the Dharaṇīprekṣiṇī script, [F.67.a] the Gaganaprekṣiṇī script, the Sarvauṣadhiniṣyanda script, the Sarvasārasaṃgrahaṇī script, or the Sarvabhūtarutagrahaṇī script? Master, which of those sixty-four scripts will you teach me?”
Monks, then the schoolmaster taught writing to the Bodhisattva, along with ten thousand other children. However, through the power of the Bodhisattva, as the schoolmaster was saying the alphabet to the children, he did it in the following manner:
Thus, while the schoolmaster taught the children the alphabet, there emerged innumerable hundreds of thousands of excellent Dharma teachings due to the Bodhisattva’s power. Moreover, while the Bodhisattva was attending school, 32,000 children gave rise to thoughts aimed at unexcelled, perfect, and complete awakening. This is the circumstance and the reason why the Bodhisattva attended school, even though he was already so learned.
This concludes the tenth chapter, on the demonstration at the writing school.
’phags pa rgya cher rol pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo (Āryalalitavistaranāmamahāyānasūtra). Toh 95, Degé Kangyur vol. 46 (mdo sde, kha), folios 1b–216b.
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