Sutra on the Merits and Original Vows of Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light
Under Imperial Order of Tang Dynasty, Translated into Chinese by Tripitaka Dharma Master Xuan Zang
Translated from Chinese into English By Dr. Yutang Lin.
Thus Have I heard:
Once Bhagavan (Shakyamuni Buddha) roamed through countries to give teachings and came to stay beneath the tree Musical Sounds in the city of Extensive Grandeur. He was accompanied by eight thousand great Bhikshus, thirty-six thousand great Bodhisattvas, together with kings, high officials, Brahmans, householders, heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, humans, non-humans, etc., who formed an immeasurable assembly that respectfully surrounded Buddha to listen to his preaching of Dharma.
At that time Dharma Prince Manjusri through the awesome power of Buddha rose up from his seat, exposed his right shoulder as a gesture of respect, and knelt on his right knee. Toward Bhagavan he bowed with folded palms and said, “World Honored One, I wish that you would expound the names and epithets of various kinds of Buddhas and their original vows and extraordinary merits so that beings upon hearing them would be free from karmic hindrances. The intention is to benefit sentient beings at the later time when only a semblance of Dharma will be available.”
Then World Honored One praised Boy Manjusri by saying: “Good! Good! Manjusri, out of compassion you have begged me to expound the names, epithets, original vows and merits of various Buddhas in order to rescue sentient beings entangled by karmic hindrances and to benefit sentient beings at the period of the spreading of semblance of Dharma with peace and happiness. Now you should listen attentively and ponder extremely well, and I will explain them to you.” Manjusri said, “Yes, please tell us. We would rejoice to hear about them.”
Buddha told Manjusri: “In the East, passing Buddha lands as numerous as the number of sands in ten Ganges rivers there is a world named ‘Pure Lapis Lazuli.’ The Buddha there has the epithets: Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, Arhat, Rightly and Fully Enlightened One, Omniscient Wisdom One, Well-gone One, Knower of Worlds, Unsurpassable One, Cultivator of Men, Teacher of Heavenly Beings and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavan. Manjusri, that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, when he originally was practicing the Bodhisattva path, developed twelve great vows so that all sentient beings would obtain whatever they wished for.
The first great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may my body be glowingly bright to shine upon immeasurable countless boundless worlds, and be adorned with the thirty-two marks of a great man and the eighty ensuing refined features. I shall cause all beings to come to resemble me without differences.
The second great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may my body be like Lapis Lazuli, transparent throughout and pure without blemish, with extensive brightness and majestic merits, well at ease, and adorned with aureole brighter than sun and moon. Sentient beings in hell would all then be taught the right path. I would engage in all kinds of salvation activities as my intention moves along.
The third great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may I employ countless boundless skillful means of wisdom to render all beings in possession of inexhaustible things of comfort and not to let sentient beings suffer for want of anything.
The fourth great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may I settle well all those who practice the heterodox ways onto the Bodhi path, and establish securely those who practice Sravaka yana or Pratyekabuddha-yana in Mahayana.
The fifth great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may the countless boundless sentient beings who would cultivate pure conduct in accordance with my teachings all attain no breach of sílas and fulfill the three cumulative sílas. If they fail to comply or violate sílas, upon hearing my name, they will regain purity and not fall into bad realms.
The sixth great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may those sentient beings who are physically inferior with incomplete senses, and are suffering from being ugly, retarded, blind, deaf, mute, victim of convulsion, crippled, humpbacked, leprous, lunatic, or sick with various diseases, upon hearing my name, all attain proper features, become smart, with all senses wholesome and without any illness.
The seventh great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may those sentient beings who are tormented by diseases but with neither help nor refuge, neither medical treatment nor medication, neither relatives nor family, yet in poverty with much hardship, upon hearing my name, all become free from diseases, attain peace and joy of body and mind, have abundance of family and possessions, and even attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment. (Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi)
The eighth great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may those women who are tormented by hundreds of sufferings of the female sex, and are extremely weary to the extent of wishing to give up their female bodies, upon hearing my name, all transform into men with proper male features, and even attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment.
The ninth great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may I help all sentient beings escape the nets of evil and become free from the entanglements of heterodox ways. If they are trapped in all sorts of dense forests of perverse views, I will induce and introduce them to right views, gradually lead them to practice the Bodhisattva ways, and help them soon attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment.
The tenth great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may those sentient beings who are condemned by royal laws to be bound by ropes, lashed by whips, enchained in prisons, or executed, and are tormented by numerous other disasters and insults so that they are afflicted by sorrow and anguish, and are suffering in both body and mind, upon hearing my name, through the majestic supernatural power of my merits and virtue, all become free from sorrows and sufferings.
The eleventh great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may those sentient beings who are tormented by hunger and thirst, and, in order to obtain food, have committed all sorts of evil karma have the opportunity to hear my name and will then continue to repeat my name whole-heartedly. Then I shall first satisfy their physical needs with most wondrous foods and drinks, and afterwards provide them with the flavors of Dharma so as to establish them in ultimate peace and joy.
The twelfth great vow: In the future when I shall attain unsurpassable complete Enlightenment may those sentient beings who are poor without clothing, tormented day and night by mosquitoes, wasps, cold and heat, upon hearing my name continue to repeat it whole-heartedly, and then they will obtain all sorts of most wondrous clothing just as they prefer. They will also obtain all kinds of jewel ornaments, floral garlands, perfumes, drums and music, and dancers; whatever their hearts desire will all be satisfied.
Manjusri, these are the twelve wondrous supreme vows pledged by that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, Rightly and Fully Enlightened One, in the course of practicing the Bodhisattva path.”
“Furthermore, Manjusri, all the great vows as pledged by that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, while he was practicing the Bodhisattva path, and all the meritorious grandeur of his Buddha land could not be exhausted if I continued to enumerate them for the duration of one kalpa or over one kalpa. However, his Buddha land remains pure, without women. There are no bad realms, nor sounds of suffering. Its ground is made of lapis lazuli, with gold ropes marking the roads. Its cities, palaces, windows and ornamental nets are all made of seven kinds of jewels. It is similar to the Utmost Joy World in the west, with equal meritorious grandeur such that they are indistinguishable. In his country there are two great Bodhisattvas: one is named ‘Sunlight Everywhere’; the other is named ‘Moonlight Everywhere.’ They are leaders of the assembly of immeasurable innumerable Bodhisattvas there, next in line to attaining Buddhahood, and completely capable of upholding the treasure of correct teachings of that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light. Therefore, Manjusri, all good men and good women with faith should aspire to be born in the world of that Buddha.”
Then the World Honored One again told Boy Manjusri, “Manjusri, some sentient beings are incapable of distinguishing good from bad. They maintain only greed and miserliness, without knowing almsgiving and the consequences thereof. They are ignorant, without wisdom and lack the root of faith. They accumulate much wealth and treasures, and diligently guard those possessions. When they see beggars coming, displeasure arises in their hearts. If they were obliged to make a donation, then they would feel deep pain of reluctance as if their flesh were being ripped off. In addition, there are immeasurable stingy and greedy sentient beings that are accumulating resources and wealth, but they would not partake of those even for themselves, not to mention for their fathers, mothers, wives, children, servants, workers or visiting beggars.
All such sentient beings, upon end of their lives in this world, would be born in the realm of hungry ghosts or animals. Had they the opportunity during their human lives to have briefly heard the name of Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, then by this cause they would briefly recall the name of that Tathágata while they are now in the bad realms. Right at the moment of such a thought they would pass away from that realm and gain rebirth among humans. They would then remember their past lives, become afraid of suffering in bad realms, and no longer enjoy sensuous pleasures. They would like to practice almsgiving and praise other almsgivers. They are neither greedy over nor attached to any of their possessions. Gradually they would become able to give their heads, eyes, hands, feet, blood, flesh and bodily parts to those that come to ask for them, not to mention the rest of their wealth and properties.”
“Furthermore, Manjusri, some sentient beings, even though they had received from the Tathágata teachings on what to practice, still broke sílas. Some even though they had not broken sílas, broke established rules. Some even though they had not broken sílas or established rules, damaged right views. Some even though they had not damaged right views, gave up learning more teachings; consequently they could not comprehend the profound significance of Sutras as spoken by the Buddha. Some even though they learned many teachings sustained unsubstantiated pride of superiority, and since their minds were covered by unsubstantiated pride of superiority, they were self-righteous, critical of others, suspicious or slanderous of correct Dharma, and became companions to devils.
Foolish people like these are practicing devious views themselves, and in addition causing immeasurable billions of sentient beings to fall into pits of great suffering. These sentient beings should be transmigrating endlessly in realms of hells, animals and ghosts. If they had the opportunity to hear the name of this Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, then they would renounce wicked activities, cultivate good practices, and not fall into bad realms.
If some fell into bad realms because they were incapable of renouncing wicked activities and cultivating good practices, by the awesome power of that Tathágata’s original vows they would have the opportunity to hear briefly that Tathágata’s epithets. Then they would end their lives there and be reborn as humans. They would obtain right views, be diligent and good at tuning their intention and inclinations.
Thus they would be able to renounce family life and lean toward non-family life (becoming a monastic student). They would receive and uphold practices according to the teachings of the Tathágata without incurring damage or violations of moral principles. They would have right views, learn many teachings, understand the very profound significance of teachings, abstain from unsubstantiated pride of superiority, not disparage right teachings, and not become companions of devils. They would gradually cultivate all Bodhisattva practices and soon attain fulfillment.”
“Furthermore, Manjusri, if some sentient beings were stingy, greedy, envious, self-praising and disparaging others, then they should fall into three bad realms to experience all sorts of tremendous sufferings for immeasurable thousands of years. Having gone through tremendous sufferings they would end their lives there and be reborn as cows, horses, camels, donkeys in human society, and constantly be tormented by whipping, beating, hunger and thirst. Furthermore, they would often carry heavy loads to walk along roads. Or they might be reborn as humans but live at the bottom of the society, working as servants to others, being ordered around to do hard labor, constantly without ease.
If in their past lives as humans they had heard the epithets of World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, then by this good cause now they would recall again the epithets and wholeheartedly take refuge in him. Then by the supernatural power of Buddha they would be relieved from all sufferings. Their senses would be sharp and sensitive. They would be wise and would learn many teachings. They would constantly seek superior teachings, often encounter good friends, and forever sever connection with devils. They would break the shell of ignorance, dry up the river of sorrows, and become liberated from all worries and sorrows that are associated with birth, senility, sickness and death.”
“Furthermore, Manjusri, if some sentient beings were inclined to devious antagonism, and furthermore engaged in fighting or lawsuits that bring sorrows and confusion to themselves and others, then they have committed, accumulated and cultivated all sorts of bad karmas by their physical, verbal and mental activities. They would constantly do unbeneficial things to plot havoc against one another. They would call upon the gods of mountains, forests, trees or tombs, and kill all kinds of sentient beings to get blood and flesh for making offerings to yakshas, rakshasas, and the like.
They would make a statue of their enemy and write the enemy’s name on it, and then curse it with evil charms. They would employ sorcery, toxic substances, or call forth ghosts from corpses by magic spells so as to cut short their enemy’s life short or damage their enemy’s body. These sentient beings, if they had the opportunity to hear the epithets of this Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, would be free from harms incurred by all those evil practices. At every turn merciful mind would arise in all of them. They would intend to benefit and bring peace and happiness to others, with neither harmful intentions nor feelings of discontent. Each and every one would rejoice and take delight in being content with what they receive in life. They would not afflict one another but instead would bring benefit to one another.”
“Furthermore, Manjusri, if there were members of the four assemblies of Bhikshus, Bhiksunis, Upasakas and Upasikas, and other good men and good women with pure faith, who could receive and maintain the eight-branch rules of fasting and austerity for the duration of one year or one year and three months, and engage in observance of the practices as taught by the Buddha, with this root of goodness they would aspire to be reborn in the western Utmost Joy World of Immeasurable Longevity Buddha in order to listen to the correct teachings there. Yet the outcome of their spiritual development was still unsure. If they heard the epithet of World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, then at the end of their lives there would be eight great Bodhisattvas who would come by supernatural powers to indicate the path to them. The eight great Bodhisattvas are called, Bodhisattva Manjusri, Bodhisattva Observing Worldly Sounds, Bodhisattva Great Influence Achieved, Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent, Bodhisattva Precious Sandalwood Flower, Bodhisattva Medicine King, Bodhisattva Medicine Supreme, and Bodhisattva Maitreya. Then they would naturally and miraculously be born in that world inside all sorts of flowers made of variegated jewels of various kinds. Some would thereby be born in a heaven realm. Even though they gained rebirth in some heaven that still would not have exhausted their original root of goodness, and they would never be reborn into the bad realms again. When their longevities in heaven were exhausted they would be reborn as humans. Some would become wheel-turning kings in charge of four continents, at ease with awe-inspiring character and virtues, and settle immeasurable hundreds of thousands of sentient beings on the path of cultivation of ten virtues. Or be born in important families of Ksatriya or Brahman householders, with abundance of wealth and treasures, and full or overflowing warehouses, possessing proper figure and features, with complete family members, sharp and wise, brave and healthy, vigorous and powerful as a mighty man. In the case of women, if they had heard the epithet of World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, and maintained it with all their hearts, then later they would never again receive a female body.”
“Furthermore, Manjusri, when that Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light attained Bodhi, through the power of his original vows he observed that sentient beings were suffering from all kinds of diseases such as weight-loss, convulsion, dryness, shrinking, jaundice, and fever, or were tormented by sorcery or toxic substances, or had their lives cut short, or sometimes encountered tragic and unexpected deaths. He wanted to render all such disease and suffering extinct, and also wanted all wishes to be fulfilled.
Then that World Honored One entered the Samádhi called ‘Eradicating Suffering and Sorrow of all Sentient Beings.’ After he had entered the Samádhi, great brightness issued forth from Usnisa at the top of his head, and in this brightness he pronounced the great Dharani by saying:
Na Mo Bo Qie Fa Di, Bei Sha She Ju Lu, Bi Liu Li, Bo La Po, He Luo She Ye, Da Tuo Jie Duo Ye, A Luo He Di, San Miao San Bo Tuo Ye, Da Zhi Ta, An, Bei Sha Shi, Bei Sha Shi, Bei Sha She, San Mo Jie Di, Suo He.
(Translator’s note: The Dharani is written in Pin Yin.)
When the mantra was thus spoken in the light the earth trembled and emitted huge brightness. All sentient beings were rid of sickness and suffering, and attained the happiness of peace and stability. Manjusri, if one encountered men or women with sickness, one should wholeheartedly clean, rinse and bath those patients regularly, and provide them with food, medicine or insect-free water that has been blessed with one hundred and eight repetitions of this mantra, all of their sickness and suffering would then be extinguished. If one sustained some wishes and wholeheartedly repeated this mantra, then all wishes would come true. One would be free from sicknesses and live longer, and after one’s life has ended one would be reborn in his world and attain no-regress on the path until achieving Bodhi.
Therefore, Manjusri, if there were men or women that wholeheartedly and solemnly paid respect and made offerings to that Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, they should constantly recite this mantra so that they would not give it up or forget about it.”
“Furthermore, Manjusri, if men and women of pure faith had the opportunity to have heard all epithets of Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, Arhat, Rightly and Fully Enlightened One they would maintain them by recitations. In the morning they chew tooth-wood, rinse and bathe to clean themselves, and offer fragrant flowers, burning incenses, perfumes, all kinds of dances and music to images and statues of this Buddha.
As to this sutra, they have either copied it by themselves or ordered others to do so; they sustained it wholeheartedly and listened to the teachings on its significance. As regards Dharma teachers who provided such explanations they should practice making offerings to sustain them; all things related to their sustenance should be offered as gifts to them so as not to let them be in want or scarcity of something. Thus they would be protected and cared for by all Buddhas, and the wishes they sought after would be fulfilled, even up to their attainment of Bodhi.”
Then Boy Manjusri told the Buddha, “World Honored One, I should vow that during the period of the spreading of semblance of the Dharma I will use all sorts of skillful means so that good men and good women with pure faith will hear the epithet of the World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, even to enlighten their ears by this Buddha’s name during their sleep.
World Honored One, if one sustained this sutra through recitation and reading, or furthermore expounded its significance and revealed its essence to others, if one copied it by oneself or ordered others to copy it, and respectfully and reverently made offerings of all sorts of floral fragrance, perfumes, powdered incenses, burning incenses, floral garlands, jeweled necklaces, banners, canopies, dances and music to it, and if one made a bag of five-color silk to contain it, and swept and sprinkled to clean up a spot, then set up a high throne there for the sutra to be well placed, then the Four Great Heavenly Kings together with their retinues and the remaining immeasurable hundreds of thousands of heavenly beings would all arrive there to make offerings to it and to guard it.
World Honored One, if where this treasure of a sutra were in circulation, there were people that could receive and sustain it, then by the merits and the original vows of that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, and hearing of his epithets, one should know that there would be no more tragic and accidental deaths, nor would people there be robbed of their essential air anymore by evil ghosts or deities. If some had been robbed of their essential air, they would recover from such losses and retain peace and enjoyment of both body and mind.”
Buddha told Manjusri, “Thus is the case; thus is the case. It is just as you said. Manjusri, if there were good men or good women with pure faith that would like to make offerings to that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, they should first of all have that Buddha’s image or statue made, and set up a clean throne to secure it there. Scatter all sorts of flowers around it, and burn all kinds of incenses. Adorn its seat with all kinds of banners and flags. Receive and maintain the eight-branch rules of fasting and austerity for the duration of seven days and seven nights. Eat pure foods, bath to become clean and fragrant, and wear clean new clothing.
Good men and women should develop stainless, anger-less and a harmless mind. To all sentient beings let there arise the mind of benefiting, peace and happiness, mercy, compassion, joy, renunciation and equality. Play drums and music, and sing praises while circumambulating clockwise around the image of the Buddha. Furthermore, one should recall the merits and original vows of that Tathágata, read and recite this sutra, ponder on its significance, and expound it to people so as to reveal its essence.
Then whatever one would like to attain will all be realized. Those wishing for longevity will attain longevity; those wishing for wealth and abundance will attain wealth and abundance; those wishing for official positions will attain official positions; those wishing for son or daughter will obtain a son or daughter.
If there were someone that suddenly started having bad dreams, saw various bad signs, noticed strange birds came to gather around, or had all kinds of strange phenomena occurred at his residence, you should know that if this person respectfully offered all kinds of wondrous items of sustenance to that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, then bad dreams, bad signs and all un-auspicious phenomena would disappear and could not cause any harm.
Or if there were undue fright of water, fire, knife, poison, impending danger, violent elephants, lions, tigers, wolfs, bears, venomous snakes, venomous scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, mosquitoes, horse fly’s, etc., and if one could wholeheartedly recall that Buddha and respectfully make offerings, then all such fears would be relieved. If a foreign country invaded or robbers and thieves revolted, those who recalled and showed respect to that Tathágata would all be relieved of such dangers!”
“Furthermore, Manjusri, if there were good men or good women with pure faith, they should, for the rest of their lives, attend to no other deities, but wholeheartedly take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, as well as observe the sílas of abstention. If among the five sílas, ten sílas, four hundred sílas of Bodhisattvas, two hundred fifty sílas of Bhikshus, or five hundred sílas of Bhiksunis that one had received some were violated and one were in fear of falling into bad realms, then those who could repeat solely that Buddha’s epithets and respectfully make offerings would definitely not be born into the three bad realms.
Or if some women were experiencing tremendous suffering during pregnancy or childbirth, and they could wholeheartedly repeat the name of that Tathágata, salute, praise, and respectfully make offerings to him, then all such sufferings would be relieved. Children thus born would possess complete faculties, proper shapes and colors, be liked by whoever sees them, be sharp, understanding and responsive, peaceful and stable, seldom get sick, and be without non-humans that would rob their essential air.”
Then World Honored One told Ánanda, “As I declared and praised all the merits of that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, since this belonged to the sphere of very profound activities of the Buddhas and was difficult to comprehend, did you believe it or not?” Ánanda replied, “Great Virtuous One, World Honored One, to sutras spoken by the Tathágata I had no doubt arising. Why was it so? The physical, verbal and mental activities of all Tathágatas are without impurities.
World Honored One, sun and moon could be made to fall down, Mount Sumeru could be toppled or moved, and yet what the Buddhas said would not vary. World Honored One, some sentient beings lacked the root of faith, upon hearing about the sphere of very profound activities of the Buddhas, they would think thus: how could all those merits and superior benefits be obtained by simply repeating the epithets of one Buddha, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light?
Due to this disbelief, in reaction there arose slander. They would lose great advantage and happiness in the extensive night of ignorance, fall into various bad realms, and transmigrate endlessly.” Buddha told Ánanda, “These sentient beings, if they heard the epithets of the World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, and wholeheartedly maintained repetition thereof without any doubt arising, then it could not be the case that they would fall into the bad realms.
Ánanda, this belonged to very profound activities of Buddhas and was difficult to believe or comprehend. Now you could receive it; you should know that it was all due to the awesome power of the Tathágata.
Ánanda, all Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas that had not attained Bhumis, cannot believe and comprehend it as truth, except Bodhisattvas that are on the verge of attaining Buddhahood. Ánanda, a human body is difficult to attain. It is also difficult to attain faith, respect and reverence with regard to the Triple Gems. It is even more difficult than these to hear the epithets of World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light.
Ánanda, if the immeasurable Bodhisattva activities, immeasurable skillful means and immeasurable extensive great vows of that Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light were to be expounded extensively by me for one kalpa or even over one kalpa, soon the kalpa would be over and yet that Buddha’s activities, vows and skillful means could not be exhausted.”
Then among the assembly there was a great Bodhisattva by the name of “Salvation.” He rose up from his seat, exposed his right shoulder as a gesture of respect, his right knee to the ground, bowed his body, folded his palms, and said to the Buddha, “Great Virtuous One, World Honored One, during the period of the spreading of semblance of the Dharma some sentient beings would be tormented by all sorts of diseases.
Due to chronic illness they would be weak and thin, and could not eat or drink. Their throats and lips would be dry, and they would see darkness everywhere. Signs of impending death would be present, with parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances surrounding them and crying bitter tears.
Even while their bodies would still lie at the same place, they would see agents of Yama leading their consciousness to the presence of Judicial King Yama and know that each sentient being had an accompanying god since birth that would record whatever that sentient being had done, be it sinful or meritorious.
The records would all be presented to the Judicial King Yama, and then the King would question this person, evaluate what had been done, and hand down judgment according to his sins and merits. At that time if relatives and acquaintances of that patient could, on his behalf, take refuge in World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, beseech monks to recite this sutra, light seven-layer lamps, and hang five-color banner of consciousness for extension of longevity, then it could happen that his consciousness might return and he would be able to see the whole process clearly like in a dream.
Or it could take seven days, twenty-one days, thirty-five days, or forty-nine days for the returning to happen. When the consciousness would return it would be similar to waking up from a dream but the person would remember what consequences each good or bad karma would lead to. Since they had witnessed in person the consequences of karma, even when facing dangers to their life they would not commit bad karma.
Therefore, all good men and good women with pure faith should maintain repetition of the epithets of Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, and respectfully make offerings as much as they could.”
Then Ánanda asked Bodhisattva Salvation, “Good man, how should one respectfully make offerings to that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light? And how do we construct the banner and lamp for the extension of longevity?” Bodhisattva Salvation said, “Great Virtuous One, if there were a patient who would like to relieve suffering of illness, then on that person’s behalf one should receive and maintain the eight-branch rules of fasting and austerity for the duration of seven days and seven nights.
One should make offerings of foods, drinks and other sustenance, as much as one could, to Bhikshus. Three times in daytime and three times in the nighttime one should make prostration and offerings to that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light. One should recite this sutra forty-nine times. One should light forty-nine lamps as follows: have seven statues of that Tathágata made; in front of each statue place seven lamps, with each lamp as large as a wheel, and sustain the brightness for forty-nine days. One should have a five-color silk banner made that is forty-nine vitasti (the length between extended thumb and middle finger) long. One should release various kinds of sentient beings to freedom, and the total number should be up to forty-nine. Thus the patient could overcome the danger, and not become hostage to those malicious ghosts of various accidental deaths.”
“Furthermore, great virtuous Ánanda, if calamities arose to Ksatriya Initiated Kings, such as epidemics, invasion by foreign countries, rebellion from within, abnormal phenomena of astrology, eclipse and waning of sun or moon, out of season winds and rains, rains overdue, then those Ksatriya Initiated Kings should develop compassionate mind toward all sentient beings. They should release prisoners from jails, and make offerings according to the ways of making offerings as stated above to that World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light.
Due to this root of goodness and the power of the original vows of that Tathágata, right then their country would be rendered peaceful and secure, rains and winds would arrive in season, grains and crops would mature, and all sentient beings would be free from illnesses and joyful. In their countries there would be no violent malicious deities such as yakshas that tend to torment sentient beings. All bad signs would disappear right away.
As to the Ksatriya Initiated Kings, their longevity, physical strength, freedom from diseases, and ease would all increase and improve. Great virtuous Ánanda, if queens, imperial concubines, crown princes, princes, high officials, ministers, palace retainers, government officials, or ordinary people were tormented by sickness or other disasters, they should also have five-color banners of consciousness made and set it up, light lamps and continue their brightness, release various lives, scatter flowers of variegated colors, and burn all sorts of fine incenses. Thus their illnesses and all their hardships would be relieved.”
Then Ánanda asked Bodhisattva Salvation, “Good man, how can a life that was ending be extended?” Bodhisattva Salvation said, “Great Virtuous One, haven’t you heard Tathágata said that there were nine kinds of accidental deaths? Therefore, I recommended people to have a banner and lamps made for the extension of longevity and to accumulate various meritorious virtues.
Through accumulation of merits one would live the entire life without experiencing suffering and calamities.” Ánanda asked, “What are the nine kinds of accidental deaths?” Bodhisattva Salvation said, “If sentient beings got sick even though only mildly, and yet went without treatment, medication or a nurse; furthermore suppose that they were given wrong medication by the doctor they encountered, then, even though they should not have died, yet they unexpectedly died right away.
In addition, they believed evil teachers of worldly wicked and heterodox doctrines. Upon hearing those teachers’ arbitrary sayings of fortune and misfortune they became frightened and affected. Their minds did not adhere to righteousness; instead they looked for misfortune by asking for divinations. They killed various kinds of sentient beings, and cut them up as offerings to deities. They called upon various spirits of mountains, rivers, trees or rocks to beg for blessings of fortune. They desired and expected to extend their longevity, but eventually they could not get it. Being ignorant and confused, they believed in erroneous and perverse views. Consequently they died unexpectedly and entered the hell realm without a date for escape. This is called the first kind of accidental death.
The second kind of accidental deaths are those who were abruptly slaughtered by royal decree. The third kind of accidental deaths are those who engaged in hunting and playing, addicted to promiscuity and drinking, displayed uninhibited indulgence, and were abruptly robbed of their essential air by non-humans. The fourth kind of accidental deaths are those who were abruptly burned by fire. The fifth kind of accidental deaths are those who were abruptly drowned by water. The sixth kind of accidental deaths are those who were abruptly bitten by various kinds of fierce animals.
The seventh kind of accidental deaths are those who accidentally fell off cliffs. The eighth kind of accidental deaths are those who abruptly fell victim to poisons, malicious prayers, curses, ghosts called forth from corpses, etc. The ninth kind of accidental deaths are those who were suffering from hunger and thirst but could not obtain foods and drinks, and consequently died prematurely. Such were the Tathágata’s brief account of these nine kinds of accidental deaths. Besides them there are, in addition, immeasurable various kinds of accidental deaths that are difficult to enumerate fully.”
“Furthermore, great virtuous Ánanda, understand that King Yama is in charge of records of the names of all the people in the world. If sentient beings had been un-filial, committed the five heinous sins, damaged or disgraced the Triple Gem, violated rules among sovereigns and officials, or transgressed faith and sílas, then Judicial King Yama would ascertain the heaviness or lightness of their sins and punish them accordingly. Therefore, now I urge sentient beings to light lamps, make banners, release lives and accumulate merits, so that they would overcome sufferings and dangers and remain free from all disasters.”
Then among the assembly there were twelve Yaksha Great Generals; all sat together. They were the so-called:
Great General Gong Pi Luo
Great General Fa Zhe Luo
Great General Mi Qi Luo
Great General An Di Luo
Great General E Ni Luo
Great General Shan Di Luo
Great General Yin Da Luo
Great General Bo Yi Luo
Great General Mo Hu Luo
Great General Zhen Da Luo
Great General Zhao Du Luo
Great General Pi Jie Luo
These twelve Yaksha Great Generals, each with an entourage of seven thousand yakshas, simultaneously raised their voices and said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, now that all of us have been blessed by the awesome power of the Buddha to have heard the epithets of World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, we will no longer have fear of the bad realms. All of us jointly with one mind take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for the entire rest of our lives.
We vow to support all sentient beings by providing them with benefits, prosperity, peace and happiness. In whatever village, city, country, land or unfrequented forest if there were people who propagated this sutra or, in addition, maintained repetition of the epithets of Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light and respectfully made offerings, our entourage would guard these people so that they would be liberated from all sufferings and disasters, and all their wishes would be fulfilled. Those who are seeking relief from sickness or hardship should also recite this sutra, and use five-color threads to knit our names. Untie the knitting only after the wishes have been fulfilled.”
Then World Honored One praised the Yaksha Great Generals by saying, “Good, good, Great Yaksha Generals, those of you who would like to repay the gracious kindness of World Honored One, Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light, should constantly benefit, in this manner, all sentient beings by inducing peace and happiness.”
Then Ánanda said to Buddha, “World Honored One, what should this Dharma gate be named? How do we adhere to it?” Buddha told Ánanda, “This Dharma gate is named ‘Expounding the Merits and Original Vows of Tathágata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light,’ also named ‘Expounding the Supreme Mantra of Knitting Wishes to Benefit Sentient Beings by Twelve Supreme Generals,’ and also named ‘Eradicating All Karmic Hindrances.’ It should be thus adhered to.”
When Bhagavan had said these words, all those great Bodhisattvas and great Sravakas, kings, high officials, Brahmans, householders, heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, humans, non-humans, etc., were extremely joyful to have heard Buddha’s words. They all received the teachings with great faith and practiced accordingly.