The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law
Translated By H. Kern (1884)
While this exposition of the duration of the Tathâgata's lifetime was being given, innumerable, countless creatures profited by it. Then the Lord addressed the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Maitreya: While this exposition of the duration of the Tathâgata's lifetime was being given, Agita, sixty-eight hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas, comparable to the sands of the Ganges, have acquired the faculty to acquiesce in the law that has no origin. A thousand times more Bodhisattvas Mahisattvas have obtained Dharanî [Dhârani usually denotes a magic spell, a talisman. Here and there it interchanges with dhâranâ, support, the bearing in mind, attention. The synonymous rakshâ embraces the meaning of talisman and protection, support. It is not easy to decide what is intended in the text]; and other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of one third of a macrocosm, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya obtained the faculty of unhampered view. Other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas again, equal to the dust atoms of two-third parts of a macrocosm, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya obtained the Dhârani that makes hundred thousand kotis of revolutions. Again, other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of a whole macrocosm, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya moved forward the wheel that never rolls back. Some Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of a mean universe, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya moved forward the wheel of spotless radiance. Other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of a small universe, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya come so far that they will reach supreme, perfect enlightenment after eight births. Other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of four worlds of four continents, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya become such as to require four births (more) before reaching supreme, perfect enlightenment. Other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of three four-continental worlds, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya become such as to require three births (more) before reaching supreme, perfect enlightenment. Other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of two four-continental worlds, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya become such as to require two births (more) before reaching supreme, perfect enlightenment. Other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of one fourcontinental world, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya become such as to require but one birth before reaching supreme, perfect enlightenment. Other Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, equal to the dust atoms of eight macrocosms consisting of three parts, have by hearing this Dharmaparyâya conceived the idea of supreme, perfect enlightenment.
No sooner had the Lord given this exposition determining the duration and periods of the law, than there fell from the upper sky a great rain of Mandârava and great Mandârava flowers that covered and overwhelmed all the hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Buddhas who were seated on their thrones at the foot of the jewel trees in hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of worlds. It also covered and overwhelmed the Lord Sâkyamuni, the Tathâgata, &c., and the Lord Prabhûtaratna, the Tathâgata, &c., the latter sitting fully extinct on his throne, as well as that entire host of Bodhisattvas and the four classes of the audience. A rain of celestial powder of sandal and agallochum. trickled down from the sky, whilst higher up in the firmament the great drums resounded, without being struck, with a pleasant, sweet, and deep sound. Double pieces of fine heavenly cloth fell down by hundreds and thousands from the upper sky; necklaces, halfnecklaces, pearl necklaces, gems, jewels, noble gems, and noble jewels were seen high in the firmament, hanging down from every side in all directions of space, while all around thousands of jewel censers, containing priceless, exquisite incense, were moving of their own accord. Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas were seen holding above each Tathâgata, high aloft, a row of jewel umbrellas stretching as high as the Brahma-world. So acted the Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas in respect to all the innumerable hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of Buddhas. Severally they celebrated these Buddhas in appropriate stanzas, sacred hymns in praise of the Buddhas.
And on that occasion the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Maitreya uttered the followino, stanzas:
1. Wonderful is the law which the Sugata has expounded, the law we never heard before; how great the majesty of the Leaders is, and how infinite the duration of their life!
2. And on hearing such a law imparted by the Sugata from face to face, thousands of kotis of creatures, the genuine sons of the Leader of the world, have been pervaded with gladness.
3. Some have reached the point of supreme enlightenment from whence there is no return, others are standing on the lower stage; some have reached the standpoint of having an unhampered view, and others have obtained thousands of kotis of Dhâranis.
4. There are others, (as) atoms, who have reached supreme Buddha-knowledge. Some, again, will after eight births become Ginas seeing the infinite.
5. Among those who hear this law from the Master, some will obtain enlightenment and see the truth after four births, others after three, others after two.
6. Some among them will become all-knowing after one birth, in the next following existence. Such will be the perfect result of learning the duration of life of the Chief.
7. Innumerable, countless as the atoms of the eight fields, are the kotis of beings who by hearing this law have conceived the idea of superior enlightenment.
8. Such is the effect produced by the great Seer, when he reveals this Buddha-state that is endless and has no limit, which is as immense as the element of ether.
9. Many thousand kotis of angels, Indras, and Brahma-angels, like the sands of the Ganges, have flocked hither from thousands of kotis of distant fields and have poured a rain of Mandairavas.
10. They move in the sky like birds, and strew fragrant powder of sandal and agallochum, to cover ceremoniously the Chief of Ginas withal.
11 High aloft tymbals without being struck emit sweet sounds; thousands of kotis of white cloth whirl down upon the Chiefs.
12. Thousands of kotis of jewel censers of costly incense move of their own accord on every side to honour the mighty Lord of the world.
13. Innumerable wise Bodhisattvas hold myriads of kotis of umbrellas, elevated and made of noble jewels, like chaplets, up to the Brahma-world.
14. The sons of Sugata, in their great joy, have attached beautiful triumphal streamers at the top of the banner staffs in honour of the Leaders whom they celebrate in thousands of stanzas.
15. Such a marvellous, extraordinary, prodigious, splendid phenomenon, O Leader, is being displayed by all those beings who are gladdened by the exposition of the duration of life (of the Tathâgata).
16. Grand is the matter now (occurring) in the ten points of space, and (great) the sound raised by the Leaders; thousands of kotis of living beings are refreshed and gifted with virtue for enlightenment.
Thereupon the Lord addressed the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Maitreya: Those beings, Agita, who during the exposition of this Dharmaparyâya in which the duration of the Tathâgata's life is revealed have entertained, were it but a single thought of trust, or have put belief in it, how great a merit are they to produce, be they young men and young ladies of good family? Listen then, and mind it well, how great the merit is they shall produce. Let us suppose the case, Agita, that some young man or young lady of good family, desirous of supreme, perfect enlightenment, for eight hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Æons practises the five perfections of virtue (Pâramitâs), to wit, perfect charity in alms, perfect morality, perfect forbearance, perfect energy, perfect meditation-perfect wisdom being excepted; let us, on the other hand, suppose the case, Agita, that a young man or young lady of good family, on hearing this Dharmaparyâya containing the exposition of the duration of the Tathâgata's life, conceives were it but a single thought of trust or puts belief in it; then that former accumulation of merit, that accumulation of good connected with the five perfections of virtue, (that accumulation) which has come to full accomplishment in eight hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Æons, does not equal one hundredth part of the accumulation of merit in the second case; it does not equal one thousandth part; it admits of no calculation, no counting, no reckoning, no comparison, no approximation, no secret teaching. One who is possessed of such an accumulation of merit, Agita, be he a young man or a young lady of good family, will not miss supreme, perfect enlightenment; no, that is not possible.
And on that occasion the Lord uttered the following stanzas:
17. Let a man who is seeking after this knowledge, superior Buddha-knowledge, undertake to practise in this world the five perfect virtues;
18. Let him, during eight thousand kotis of complete Æons, continue giving repeated alms to Buddhas and disciples;
19. Regaling Pratyekabuddhas and kotis of Bodhisattvas by giving meat, food and drink, clothing and lodging;
20. Let him build on earth refuges and monasteries of sandal-wood, and pleasant convent gardens provided with walks;
21. Let him after so bestowing gifts, various and diversified, during thousands of kotis of Æons, direct his mind to enlightenment;
22. Let him then, for the sake of Buddhaknowledge, keep unbroken the pure moral precepts which have been recommended by the perfect Buddhas and acknowledged by the wise;
23. Let him further develop the virtue of forbearance, be steady in the stage of meekness [i.e. of a monk under training.], be constant, of good memory, and patiently endure many censures;
24. Let him, moreover, for the sake of Buddha-knowledge, bear the contemptuous words of unbelievers who are rooted in pride;
25. Let him, always zealous, strenuous, studious, of good memory, without any other pre-occupation in his mind, practise meditation, during kotis of.Æons;
26. Let him, whether living in the forest or entering upon a vagrant life [i.e. a Yogin, a contemplative mystic.], go about, avoiding sloth and torpor, for kotis of Æons;
27. Let him as a philosopher, a great philosopher who finds his delight in meditation, in concentration of mind, pass eight thousand kotis of Æons;
28. Let him energetically pursue enlightenment with the thought of his reaching all-knowingness, and so arrive at the highest degree of meditation;
29. Then the merit accruing to those who practise the virtues oft described, during thousands of kotis of Æons,
30. (Is less than that of) a man or a woman who, on hearing the duration of my life, for a single moment believes in it; this merit is endless.
31. He who renouncing doubt, vacillation, and misgiving shall believe even for a short moment, shall obtain such a reward.
32. The Bodhisattvas also,who have practised those virtues during kotis of Æons, will not be startled at hearing of this inconceivably long life of mine.
33. They will bow their heads (and think): 'May I also in future become such a one and release kotis of living beings!
34. 'As the Lord Sâkyamuni, the Lion of the Sakya race, after he had occupied his seat on the terrace of enlightenment, raised his lion's roar;
35. 'So may I in future be sitting on the terrace of enlightenment, honoured by all mortals, to teach so long a life!'
36. Those who are possessed of firmness of intention and have learnt the principles, will understand the mystery and feel no uncertaint.
Again, Agita, he who after hearing this Dharmaparyâya, which contains an exposition of the duration of the Tathâgata's life, apprehends it, penetrates and understands it, will produce a yet more immeasurable accumulation of merit conducive to Buddhaknowledge; unnecessary to add that he who hears such a Dharmaparyâya as this or makes others hear it; who keeps it in memory, reads, comprehends or makes others comprehend it; who writes or has it written, collects or has it collected into a volume, honours, respects, worships it with flowers, incense, perfumed garlands, ointments, powder, cloth, umbrellas, flags, streamers, (lighted) oil lamps, ghee lamps or lamps filled with scented oil, will produce a far greater accumulation of merit conducive to Buddha-knowledge.
And, Agita, as a test whether that young man or young lady of good family who hears this exposition of the duration of the Tathâgata's life most decidedly believes in it may be deemed the following. They will behold me teaching the law I here on the Gridhrakûta, surrounded by a host of Bodhisattvas, attended by a host of Bodhisattvas, in the centre of the congregation of disciples. They will behold here my Buddha-field in the Saha-world, consisting of lapis lazuli and forming a level plain; forming a chequered board of eight compartments with gold threads; set off with jewel trees. They will behold the towers that the Bodhisattvas use as their abodes. By this test, Agita, one may know if a young man or young lady of good family has a most decided belief. Moreover, Agita, I declare that a young man of good family who, after the complete extinction of the Tathâgata, shall not reject, but joyfully accept this Dharmaparyâya when hearing it, that such a young man of good family also is earnest in his belief; far more one who keeps it in memory or reads it. He who after collecting this Dharmaparyâya into a volume carries it on his shoulder carries the Tathâgata on his shoulder. Such a young man or young lady of good family, Agita, need make no Stûpas for me, nor monasteries; need not give to the congregation of monks medicaments for the sick or (other) requisites [This agrees with the teaching of the Vedanta that Brahma-knowledge is independent of good works]. For, Agita, such a young man or young lady of good family has (spiritually) built for the worship of my relics Stûpas of seven precious substances reaching up to the Brahma-world in height, and with a circumference in proportion, with the umbrellas thereto belonging, with triumphal streamers, with tinkling bells and baskets; has shown manifold marks of respect to those Stûpas of relics with diverse celestial and earthly flowers, incense, perfumed garlands, ointments, powder, cloth, umbrellas, banners, flags, triumphal streamers, by various sweet, pleasant, clear-sounding tymbals and drums, by the tune, noise, sounds of musical instruments and castanets, by songs, nautch and dancing of different kinds, of many, innumerable kinds; has done those acts of worship during many, innumerable thousands of kotis of Æons. One who keeps in memory this Dharmaparyâya after my complete extinction, who reads, writes, promulgates it, Agita, shall also have built monasteries, large, spacious, extensive, made of red sandal-wood, with thirty-two pinnacles, eight stories, fit for a thousand monks, adorned with gardens and flowers, having walks furnished with lodgings, completely provided with meat, food and drink and medicaments for the sick, well equipped with all comforts. And those numerous, innumerable beings, say a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand or a koti or hundred kotis or thousand kotis or hundred thousand kotis or ten thousand times hundred thousand kotis, they must be considered to form the congregation of disciples seeing me from face to face, and must be considered as those whom I have fully blessed. He who, after my complete extinction, shall keep this Dharmaparyâya, read, promulgate, or write it, he, I repeat, Agita, need not build Stûpas of relics, nor worship the congregation; not necessary to tell, Agita, that the young man or young lady of good family who, keeping this Dharmaparyâya, shall crown it by charity in alms, morality, forbearance, energy, meditation, or wisdom, will produce a much greater accumulation of merit; it is, in fact, immense, incalculable, infinite. just as the element of ether, Agita, is boundless, to the east, south, west, north, beneath, above, and in the intermediate quarters, so immense and incalculable an accumulation of merit, conducive to Buddha-knowledge, will be produced by a young man or young lady of good family who shall keep, read, write, or cause to be written, this Dharmaparyâya. He will be zealous in worshipping the Tathâgata shrines; he will laud the disciples of the Tathâgata, praise the hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of virtues of the Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, and expound them to others; he will be accomplished in forbearance, be moral, of good character, agreeable to live with, and tolerant, modest, not jealous of others, not wrathful, not vicious in mind, of good memory, strenuous and always busy, devoted to meditation in striving after the state of a Buddha, attaching great value to abstract meditation, frequently engaging in abstract meditation, able in solving questions and in avoiding hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of questions. Any Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Agita, who, after the Tathâgata's complete extinction, shall keep this Dharmaparyâya, will have the good qualities I have described. Such a young man or young lady of good family, Agita, must be considered to make for the terrace of enlightenment; that young man or young lady of good family steps towards the foot of the tree of enlightenment in order to reach enlightenment. And where that young man or young lady of good family, Agita, stands, sits, or walks, there one should make a shrine', dedicated to the Tathâgata, and the world, including the gods, should say: This is a Stûpa of relics of the Tathâgata.
And on that occasion the Lord uttered the following stanzas:
37. An immense mass of merit, as I have repeatedly mentioned, shall be his who, after the complete extinction of the Leader of men, shall keep this Sûtra.
38. He will have paid worship to me, and built Stûpas of relics, made of precious substances, variegated, beautiful, and splendid;
39. In height coming up to the Brahma-world, with rows of umbrellas, great in circumference gorgeous, and decorated with triumphal streamers;
40. Resounding with the clear ring of bells, and decorated with silk bands, while jingles moved by the wind form another ornament at (the shrines of) Gina relics.
41. He will have shown great honour to them by flowers, perfumes, and ointments ; by music, clothes, and the repeated (sound of) tymbals.
42. He will have sweet musical instruments struck at those relics, and lamps with scented oil kept burning all around.
43. He who at the period of depravation shall keep and teach this Sûtra, he will have paid me such an infinitely varied worship.
44. He has built many kotis of excellent monasteries of sandal-wood, with thirty-two pinnacles, and eight terraces high;
45. Provided with couches, with food hard and soft; furnished with excellent curtains, and having cells by thousands.
46. He has given hermitages and walks embellished by flower-gardens; many elegant objects of various forms and variegated.
47. He has shown manifold worship to the host of disciples in my presence, he who, after my extinction, shall keep this Sûtra.
48. Let one be ever so good in disposition, much greater merit will he obtain who shall keep or write this Sûtra.
49. Let a man cause this to be written and have it well put together in a volume; let him always worship the volume with flowers, garlands, ointments.
50. Let him constantly place near it a lamp filled with scented oil, along with full-blown lotuses and suitable' oblations of Michelia Champaka.
51. The man who pays such worship to the books will produce a mass of merit which is not to be measured.
52. Even as there is no measure of the element of ether, in none of the ten directions, so there is no measure of this mass of merit.
53. How much more will this be the case with one who is patient, meek, devoted, moral, studious, and addicted to meditation;
54. Who is not irascible, not treacherous, reverential towards the sanctuary, always humble towards monks, not conceited, nor neglectful;
55. Sensible and wise, not angry when he is asked a question; who, full of compassion for living beings, gives such instruction as suits them.
56. If there be such a man who (at the same time) keeps this Sûtra, he will possess a mass of merit that cannot be measured.
57. If one meets such a man as here described, a keeper of this Sûtra, one should do homage to him.
58. One should present him with divine flowers, cover him with divine clothes, and bow the head to salute his feet, in the conviction of his being a Tathâgata.
59. And at the sight of such a man one may directly make the reflection that he is going towards the foot of the tree to arrive at superior, blessed enlightenment for the weal of all the world, including the gods.
60. And wherever such a sage is walking, standing, sitting, or lying down; wherever the hero pronounces were it but a single stanza from this Sûtra;
61. There one should build a Stûpa for the most high of men, a splendid, beautiful (Stûpa), dedicated to the Lord Buddha, the Chief, and then worship it in manifold ways.
62. That spot of the earth has been enjoyed by myself; there have I walked myself, and there have I been sitting; where that son of Buddha has stayed, there I am.
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