Sacred Books of the East/Volume 21/Chapter 20

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Sacred Books of the East, Volume XXI:
The Saddharma-Pundarîka or The Lotus of the True Law
 (1884)  edited by Max Müller, translated by Hendrik Kern
Chapter XX. Conception of the Transcendent Power of the Tathâgatas



Thereupon those hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas equal to the dust-atoms of a macrocosm, who had issued from the gaps of the earth, all stretched their joined hands towards the Lord, and said unto him: We, O Lord, will, after the complete extinction of the Tathâgata, promulgate this Dharmaparyâya everywhere (or on every occasion) in all Buddha-fields of the Lord, wherever (or whenever) the Lord shall be completely extinct[1]. We are anxious to obtain this sublime Dharmaparyâya, O Lord, in order to keep, read, publish, and write it.

Thereupon the hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas, headed by Magusrî; the monks, nuns, male and female lay devotees living in this world; the gods, Nâgas, goblins, Gandharvas, demons, Garudas, Kinnaras, great serpents, men, and beings not human, and the many Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas equal to the sands of the river Ganges, said unto the Lord: We also, O Lord, will promulgate this Dharmaparyâya after the complete extinction of the Tathâgata. While standing with an invisible body in the sky, O Lord, we will send forth a voice[2], and plant the roots of goodness of such creatures as have not (yet) planted roots of goodness.

Then the Lord addressed the Bodhisattva Mahsattva Vmsh/a£&ritra, followed by a troop, a great troop, the master of a troop, who was the very first of those afore-mentioned Bodhisattvas Mahisattvas followed by a troop, a great troop, masters of a troop: Very well, VLrish/a^iritra, very well; so you should do; it is for the sake of this Dharmaparyiya that the Tathgata has brought you to ripeness.

Thereupon the Lord .SSkyamuni, the Tathdgata, &c., and the wholly extinct Lord Prabhfltaratna, the Tathgata, &c, both seated on the throne in the centre of the Stûpa[3], commenced smiling to one another, and from their opened mouths stretched out their tongues, so that with their tongues they reached the Brahma-world, and from those two tongues issued many hundred thousand myriads of kotis of rays[4]. From each of those rays issued many hundred thousand myriads of ko/is of Bodhisattvas, with gold-coloured bodies and possessed of the thirty-two characteristic signs of a great man, and seated on thrones consisting of the interior of lotuses. Those Bodhisattvas spread in all directions in hundred thousands of worlds, and while on every side stationed in the sky preached the law. Just as the Lord .Sikyamuni, the Tath&gata, &c, produced a miracle of magic by his tongue, so, too, Prabhfttaratna, the TathAgata, &c, and the other Tathfigatas, &c., who, having flocked from hundred thousands of myriads of ko/is of other worlds, were seated on thrones at the foot of jewel trees, by their tongues produced a miracle of magic.

The Lord .Sikyamuni, the Tath&gata, &c, and all those Tathigatas, &c, produced that magical effect during fully a thousand * years. After the lapse of that millennium those Tath£gatas, &c, pulled back their tongue, and all simultaneously, at the same moment, the same instant, made a great noise as of expectoration 2 and of snapping the fingers, by which sounds all the hundred thousands of myriads of ko/is of Buddha-fields in every direction of space were moved, removed, stirred, wholly stirred, tossed, tossed forward, tossed along, and all beings in all those Buddha-fields, gods, NAgas, goblins, Gandharvas, demons, Garudas, Kinnaras, great serpents, men, and beings not human beheld, by the power of the Buddha, from the place where they stood, this Saha-world. They beheld the hundred thousands of myriads of ko/is of Tath&gatas seated severally on their throne at the foot of a jewel tree, and the Lord .SSkyamuni, the Tath&gata, &c, and the Lord Prabhfttaratna, the TathAgata, &c, wholly extinct, sitting on the throne in the centre of the

Burnouf has 'a hundred thousand.' Utk&jana, better °sana. Stûpa of magnificent precious substances, along with the Lord Sâkyamuni, the Tathâgata, &c.; they beheld, finally, those four classes of the audience. At this sight they felt struck with wonder, amazement, and rapture. And they heard a voice from the sky calling: Worthies, beyond a distance of an immense, incalculable number of hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of worlds there is the world named Saha; there the Tathâgata called Sâkyamuni, the Arhat, &c., is just now revealing to the Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas the Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law, a Sûtrânta of great extent, serving to instruct Bodhisattvas, and belonging in proper to all Buddhas. Ye accept it joyfully with all your heart, and do homage to the Lord Sâkyamuni, the Tathâgata, &c., and the Lord Prabhûtaratna, the Tathâgata, &c.

On hearing such a voice from the sky all those beings exclaimed from the place where they stood, with joined hands: Homage to the Lord Sâkyamuni, the Tathâgata. Then they threw towards the Saha-world various flowers, incense, fragrant wreaths, ointment, gold, cloth, umbrellas, flags, banners, and triumphal streamers, as well as ornaments, parures, necklaces, gems and jewels of all sorts, in order to worship the Lord Sâkyamuni, the Tathâgata[5], and this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law. Those flowers, incense, &c., and those necklaces, &c., came down upon this Saha-world, where they formed a great canopy of flowers hanging in the sky above the Tathâgatas there sitting, as well as those in the hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of other worlds.

Thereupon the Lord addressed the Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas headed by Visishtakâritra: Inconceivable, young men of good family, is the power of the Tathâgatas, &c. In order to transmit this Dharmaparyâya, young men of good family, I might go on for hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of Æons explaining the manifold virtues of this Dharmaparyâya through the different principles of the law, without reaching the end of those virtues. In this Dharmaparyâya I have succinctly taught all Buddha-laws (or Buddha-qualities), all the superiority, all the mystery, all the profound conditions of the Buddhas. Therefore, young men of good family, you should, after the complete extinction of the Tathâgata, with reverence keep, read, promulgate, cherish[6], worship it. And wherever on earth, young men of good family, this Dharmaparyâya shall be made known, read, written, meditated, expounded, studied or collected into a volume, be it in a monastery or at home, in the wilderness or in a town, at the foot of a tree or in a palace, in a building or in a cavern, on that spot one should erect a shrine in dedication to the Tathâgata. For such a spot must be regarded as a terrace of enlightenment; such a spot must be regarded as one where all Tathâgatas &c. have arrived at supreme, perfect enlightenment; on that spot have all Tathâgatas moved forward the wheel of the law; on that spot one may hold that all Tathâgatas have reached complete extinction.

And on that occasion the Lord uttered the following stanzas:

1. Inconceivable is the power to promote the weal of the world possessed by those who, firmly established in transcendent knowledge, by means of their unlimited sight display their magic faculty in order to gladden all living beings on earth.

2. They extend their tongue over the whole world[7], darting thousands of beams to the astonishment of those to whom this effect of magic is displayed and who are making for supreme enlightenment.

3. The Buddhas made a noise of expectoration and of snapping the fingers, (and by it) called the attention of the whole world, of all parts of the world in the ten directions of space.

4. Those and other miraculous qualities they display in their benevolence and compassion (with the view) that the creatures, gladly excited at the time, may (also) keep the Sfitra after the complete extinction of the Sugata.

5. Even if I continued for thousands of kotis of Æons speaking the praise of those sons of Sugata who shall keep this eminent Sfitra after the extinction of the Leader of the world,

6. I should not have terminated the enumeration of their qualities; inconceivable as the qualities of infinite space are the merits of those who constantly keep this holy Sûtra.

7. They behold me as well as these chiefs, and the Leader of the world now extinct; (they behold) all these numerous Bodhisattvas and the four classes.

8. Such a one now here 3 propitiates me and all


Ten' ih£dya. The connection between this stanza and the next would have been clearer if the two stanzas had been transposed. these leaders, as well as the extinct chief of Ginas and the others in every quarter.

9. The future and past Buddhas stationed in the ten points of space will all be seen and worshipped by him who keeps this Sûtra.

10. He who keeps this Sûtra, the veritable law, will fathom the mystery of the highest man; will soon comprehend what truth it was that was arrived at on the terrace of enlightenment.

11. The quickness of his apprehension will be unlimited; like the wind he will nowhere meet impediments; he knows the purport and interpretation of the law, he who keeps this exalted Sûtra.

12. He will, after some reflection, always find out the connection of the Sûtras spoken by the leaders; even after the complete extinction of the leader he will grasp the real meaning of the Sûtras.

13. He resembles the moon and the sun; he illuminates all around him, and while roaming the earth in different directions he rouses many Bodhisattvas.

14. The wise Bodhisattvas who, after hearing the enumeration of such advantages, shall keep this Sûtra after my complete extinction will doubtless reach enlightenment.

  1. Hence follows that Nirvâna is repeatedly entered into by the Lord.
  2. From this it appears that the abode of the monks &c. in the assembly of the Lord Sâkyamuni is in the sky, at least occasionally. Their attribute of 'an invisible body' shows them to be identical with the videhas, the incorporeal ones, i. e. the spirits of the blessed departed, Arhats, Muktas, Pitaras. The Pitaras form the assembly of Dharmarâga.
  3. Cf. Chapter XI.
  4. It is quite true that the moon as well as the sun is sahasrarasmi, possessed of thousand rays, but it is difficult to understand how the Bhagavat Prabhûtaratna can show his magic power in his state of extinction.
  5. In Burnouf's translation we find added: and the Tathâgata Prabhûtaratna.
  6. Or develop; or meditate, bhâvayitavya. Burnouf seems to have read bhâshayitavya, for he translates it by 'expliquer.'
  7. Sarvalokam.