The Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra
[Shakyamuni Buddha gives his disciple Ananda a detailed description of the Realm of Bliss. He also recounts the history of the Bodhisattva Dharmakara and describes His vows in detail.]
Adoration to the Three Treasures!
Adoration to all the glorious Buddhas and Bodhisattvas!
Adoration to all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Aryas, Sravakas, and Pratyekabuddhas, past, present, and to come, who dwell in the unlimited and endless world systems of the ten quarters!
Adoration to Amitabha!
Adoration to him whose soul is endowed with incomprehensible virtues!
Adoration to Amitabha, to the Jina, to thee, O Sage!
I go to Sukhavati through thy compassion also;
To Sukhavati, with its groves, resplendent with gold,
The delightful, adorned with the sons of Sugata,–
I go to it, which is full of many jewels and treasures;
And the refuge of thee, the famous and wise.
# 1. Thus it was heard by me. At one time the Bhagavat dwelt in Rajagriha, on the mountain Gridhrakuta, with a large assembly of Bhikkhus, with thirty-two thousands of Bhikkhus, all arhats, free from frailties and cares, who had performed their religious duties, whose thoughts had been thoroughly freed through perfect knowledge, with inquiring thoughts, who had broken the fetters of existence, who had obtained their desires, who had conquered, who had achieved the highest self restraint, whose thoughts and whose knowledge were unfettered, great heroes, possessed of the six kinds of knowledge, self-controlled, meditating on the eight kinds of salvation, possessed of the powers, wise in wisdom, elders, great disciples, that is, Ajnatakaundinya, Asvajit, Vashpa, Mahanaman, Bhadrajit, Yasodeva, Vimala, Subahu, Purna Maitrayaniputra, Uruvilva-kasyapa, Nadi-kasyapa, Gaya-kasyapa, Kumara-kasyapa, Maha-kasyapa, Shariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakaushthilya, Mahakaphila, Mahakunda, Aniruddha, Nandika, Kampila, Subhuti, Revata, Khadiravanika, Vakula, Svagata, Amogharaja, Parayanika, Patka, Kullapatka, Nanda, Rahula, and the blessed Ananda–with these and with other elders, and great disciples, who were wise in wisdom, with the exception of one person who had still to be advanced on the path of the disciples, that is, the blessed Ananda–and with many noble-minded Bodhisattvas, led by Maitreya.
#2. Then the blessed Ananda, having risen from his seat, having put his cloak on one shoulder, and knelt on the earth with his right knee, making obeisance with folded hands in the direction of the Bhagavat, spoke thus to the Bhagavat: ‘Thy organs of sense, O Bhagavat, are serene, the color of thy skin is clear, the color of thy face bright and yellowish. As an autumn cloud is pale, clear, bright and yellowish, thus the organs of sense of the Bhagavat are serene, the color of his face is clear, the color of his skin bright and yellowish. And as, O Bhagavat, a piece of gold coming from the Jambu river, having been thrown into a furnace by a clever smith or by his apprentice, and well fashioned, when thrown on a pale cloth, looks extremely clear, bright and yellowish, thus the organs of sense of the Bhagavat are serene, the color of his face is clear, and the color of his skin bright and yellowish. Moreover, I do not know, O Bhagavat, that I have ever seen the organs of sense of the Tathagata so serene, the color of his face so clear and the color of his skin so bright and yellowish before now. This thought occurs to me, O Bhagavat: probably, the Tathagata dwells to-day in the state of a Buddha, probably the Tathagata dwells to-day in the state of a Jina, in the state of omniscience, in the state of a Mahanaga; and he contemplates the holy and fully enlightened Tathagatas of the past, future, and present.’
After these words, the Bhagavat thus spoke to the blessed Ananda: ‘Well said! well said! Ananda. Did the gods suggest this matter to you? or the blessed Buddhas? Or do you know this through the philosophical knowledge which you possess?’
After these words the blessed Ananda spoke thus to the Bhagavat: ‘The gods, O Bhagavat, do not suggest this matter to me, nor the blessed Buddhas, but this thought occurs to me by my own philosophy alone, that is, that probably the Tathagata dwells to-day in the state of a Buddha, probably the Tathagata dwells to-day in the state of a Jina, in the state of omniscience, in the state of a Mahanaga; or he contemplates the venerable Buddhas of the past, future, and present.’
After these words the Bhagavat spoke thus to the blessed Ananda: ‘Well said! well said! Ananda; excellent indeed is your question, good your philosophy, and beautiful your understanding! You, O Ananda, have arrived for the benefit and happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the sake of the great body of men, for the benefit and happiness of gods and men, as you think it right to ask the Tathagata this matter: Thus, indeed, Ananda, might pile up intellectual knowledge under immeasurable and innumerable blessed, holy, and fully enlightened Tathagatas, and yet the knowledge of the Tathagata would not be exceeded thereby. And why? Because, O Ananda, one who possesses the knowledge of a Tathagata possesses an intellectual knowledge of causes that cannot be exceeded.
‘If the Tathagata wished O Ananda, he could live for a whole kalpa on one alms-gift, or for a hundred kalpas, or for a thousand kalpas, or for a hundred thousand kalpas, to a hundred thousand nayutas of kotis of kalpas, nay, he could live beyond, and yet the organs of nature of the Tathagata would not perish, the color of his face would not be altered, nor would the color of his skin be injured. And why? Because, O Ananda, the Tathagata has so fully obtained the perfections which arise from Samadhi.
‘The appearance of fully enlightened Buddhas is very difficult to be obtained in this world, O Ananda. As the appearance of Audumbara-flowers is very difficult to be obtained in this world; thus, O Ananda, the appearance of Tathagatas who desire welfare, wish for what is beneficial, are compassionate, and have arrived at the highest compassion, is very difficult to be obtained. But, O Ananda, it is owing to the grace of the Tathagata himself that you think that the Tathagata should be asked this question, so that there may arise in this world beings who can be teachers of all the world, for the sake of noble-minded Bodhisattvas. Therefore, O Ananda, listen, and take it well and rightly to heart! I shall tell you.’
‘Yes, O Bhagavat,’ so did the blessed Ananda answer the Bhagavat.
# 3. The Bhagavat then spoke to Ananda: ‘At the time, O Ananda, which was long ago in the past, in an innumerable and more than innumerable, enormous, immeasurable, and incomprehensible kalpa before now–at that time, and at that moment, there arose in the world a holy and fully enlightened Tathagata called Dipankara. Following after Dipankara, O Ananda, there was a Tathagata Pratapavat, and after him, Prabhakara, Kandanagandha, Sumerukalpa, Kandana, Vimalanana, Anupalipta, Vimalaprabha, Nagabhibhu, Suryodana, Giririjaghosha, Merukuta, Suvarnaprabha, Gyotishprabha, Vaiduryanirbhasa, Brahmaghosha, Kandabhibho, Turyaghosha, Muktakusumapratimanditaprabha, Srikuta, Sagaravarabuddhivikriditabhijna, Varaprabha, Mahagandhajanirbhasa, Vyapagatakhilamalapratighosha, Surakuta, Rananjaha, Mahagunadharabuddhipraptibhijna, Chandrasuryajihmikarana, Uttaptavaiduryanirbhasa, Chittadharabuddhisankusumitabhyudgata, Pushpavativanarajasankusumitabhijna, Pushpakara, Udakakandra, Avidyandhakaravidhvamsanakara, Lokendra, Muktakkhatrapravatasadrisa, Tishya, Dharmamativinanditaraja, Simhasigarakutavinanditaraja, Sagaramerukandra, Brahmasvaranadabhinandita, Kusumasambhava, Praptasena, Kandrabhanu, Merukuta, Chandraprabha, Vimalanetra, Girirajaghoshesvara, Kusumaprabha, Kusumavrishtyabhiprakirna, Ratnakandra, Padmabimbyupasobhita, Chandanagandha, Ratnabhibhasa, Nimi, Mahivyuha, Vyapagatakhiladosha, Brahmaghosha, Saptaratnabhivrishta, Mahijunadhara, Mahatamalapatrakandanakardama, Kusumabhijna, Ajnavidhvamsana, Kesarin, Muktakkhatra, Suvarnagarbha, Vaiduryagarbha, Mahaketu, Dharmaketu, Ratnaketu, Ratnasri, Lokendra, Narendra, Karunika, Lokasundara, Brahmaketu, Dharmamati, Simha, and Simhamati.
‘After Simhamati, a holy and fully enlightened Tathagata arose in the world, Lokesvararaja by name, perfect in knowledge and conduct, a Sugata, knowing the world, without a superior, charioteer of men whose passions have to be tamed, teacher of gods and men, a Buddha, a Bhagavat. And again during the time of the preaching of this holy and fully enlightened Tathagata Lokesvararaja, O Ananda, there was a Bhikkhu, Dharmakara by name, richly endowed with memory, with understanding, prudence, and wisdom, richly endowed with vigor, and of noble character.
# 4. ‘Then, O Ananda, that Bhikkhu Dharmakara, having risen from his seat, having put his cloak on one shoulder, and knelt on the earth with his right knee, stretching forth his folded hands to where the Bhagavat Tathagata Lokesvararaja was, and, after worshipping the Bhagavat, he, at that very time, praised him in his presence with these Gathas:
“O thou of immeasurable light, whose knowledge is endless and incomparable; not any other light can shine here where thou art! The rays of the moon of Siva and of the jewel of the sun, were not bright here in the whole world,
“The form also is infinite in the best of beings; thus also the voice of Buddha is of infinite sound; his virtue likewise, with meditation, knowledge, strength; like unto thee there is no one in this world.
“The Dharma is deep, wide, and subtle; the best of Buddhas is incomprehensible, like the ocean; therefore there is no further exaltation of the teacher; having left all faults, he is gone to the other shore.
“Then the best of Buddhas, of endless light, lights up all regions, he the king of kings; and I, having become Buddha, and a master of the Dharma, may I deliver mankind from old age and death!
“And I, on the strength of generosity, equanimity, virtue, forbearance, power, meditation and absorption, undertake here the first and best duties, and shall become a Buddha, the savior of all beings.
“And I, seeking for the knowledge of the best of the Blessed Ones, shall always worship many hundred thousands of kotis of Buddhas, endless like the sand of the Ganges, the incomparable lords.
“Whatever worlds there are, similar in number to the sand of the Ganges, and the endless countries which exist besides, there everywhere I shall send out light, because I have attained such power.
“My land is to be noble, the first and the best; the Bodhi-tree excellent in this world. There is incomparable happiness arising from Nirvana, and this also I shall explain as vain.
“Beings come hither from the ten quarters; having arrived there they quickly show my happiness. May Buddha there teach me the truth, I form a desire full of true strength and vigor.
“I, knowing the worlds of the ten quarters, possessed of absolute knowledge–they also always proclaim my thought! May I, gone to Avichi hell, always abide there, but I shall never cease to practise the power of prayer! ”
# 5. ‘Then, O Ananda, that Bhikkhu Dharmakara, having praised the Bhagavat, the Tathagata Lokesvararaja, in his presence, with those Gathas, spoke thus: “O Bhagavat, I wish to know the highest perfect knowledge. Again and again I raise and incline my thoughts towards the highest perfect knowledge. May therefore the Bhagavat, as a teacher, thus teach me the Dharma, that I may quickly know the highest perfect knowledge. May I become in the world a Tathagata, equal to the unequalled. And may the Bhagavat proclaim those signs by which I may comprehend the perfection of all good qualities of a Buddha country.”
‘After this, O Ananda, the Bhagavat Lokesvararaja, the Tathagata, thus spoke to that Bhikkhu: “Do you by yourself, O Bhikkhu, know the perfection of all excellences and good qualities of a Buddha country ?
‘ He said: “O Bhagavat, I could not do this, but the Bhagavat alone. Explain the perfection of the excellences and all the good qualities of Buddha countries of the other Tathagatas, after hearing which we may fulfil every one of their signs.”
‘Then, O Ananda, the Tathagata Lokesvararaja, holy and fully enlightened, knowing the good disposition of that Bhikkhu, taught for a full koti of years the perfection of all the excellences and good qualities of Buddha countries belonging to eighty-one hundred thousand nayutas of kotis of Buddhas, together with the signs, indication, and description, desiring welfare, wishing for benefits, compassionate, full of compassion, so that there might never be an end of Buddha countries, having conceived great pity for all beings. The measure of life of that Tathagata was full forty kalpas.
# 6. ‘Then, O Ananda, that Bhikkhu Dharmakara, taking the perfections of all the excellences and good qualities of those Buddha countries, of those eighty-one hundred thousand nayutas of kotis of Buddhas, and concentrating them all on one Buddha country, worshipped with his head the feet of the Bhagavat Lokesvararaja, the Tathagata, turned respectfully round him to the right, and walked away from the presence of this Bhagavat. And afterwards, for the space of five kalpas, he thus concentrated the perfection of all the excellences and good qualities of the Buddha countries, such as had never been known before in the ten quarters of the whole world, more excellent, and more perfect than any, and composed the most excellent prayer.
# 7. ‘Thus, O Ananda, that Bhikkhu concentrated in his mind a perfection of a Buddha country eighty-one times more immeasurable, noble, and excellent than the perfection of the eighty-one hundred thousand nayutas of kotis of Buddha countries that had been told him by the Bhagavat Lokesvararaja, the Tathagata. And then, proceeding to where the Tathagata was, he worshipped the feet of the Bhagavat with his head, and said: “O Bhagavat, the perfection of all the excellences and good qualities of the Buddha countries has been concentrated by me.”
‘After this, O Ananda, the Tathagata Lokesvararaja thus spoke to the Bhikkhu: “Preach then, O Bhikkhu; the Tathagata allows it. Now is the proper time, O Bhikshu. Delight the assembly, produce joy, let the lion’s voice be heard, so that now and hereafter, noble-minded Bodhisattvas, hearing it, may comprehend the different subjects of the prayers for the perfection of the good qualities of a Buddha country.”
‘Then, O Ananda, that Bhikkhu Dharmakara thus spoke at that time to the Bhagavat: “May the Bhagavat thus listen to me, to what my own prayers are, and how, after I shall have obtained the highest perfect knowledge, my own Buddha country will then be endowed with all inconceivable excellences and good qualities.