The Sūtra of the Great Vow of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva (Kṣitigarbha Sūtra) is a story about the Buddha teaching to his mother in the Palace of Trāyastriṃśa Heaven about the merits of Kṣitigarbha. It was translated into Chinese, assumedly from Sanskrit, by the monk Śiksānanda from Khotan circa 700....
At that time, the World Honored One raised his golden arm and touched Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva mahāsattva head and said, “Kṣitigarbha! Kṣitigarbha! Your spiritual powers are inconceivable. Your compassion is unimaginable. Your wisdom is unfathomable. Your eloquence is unbelievable. Even all the Buddhas of the Ten Directions could not finish praising your inconceivable actions in ten million kalpas.
“Kṣitigarbha! Kṣitigarbha! Remember that today at Trāyastriṃśa Heaven in front of a hundred trillion, indescribable number of buddhas, bodhisattvas, and eight kinds of demigods in the assembly that I again entrust all the sentient beings who have not yet left the Three Realms and are still in the burning house to your care. Do not let any of the sentient beings fall into any of the evil realms in one day and one night, much less someone from committing one of the Five Unpardonable Sins, which would cause them to fall into Avīci Hell and stay there for a trillion kalpas without any hope of escape.
“Kṣitigarbha, the dispositions of the sentient beings in Jambudvīpa are not steady. Those with bad habits are many. Those that are benevolent regress in a moment. If they meet with evil conditions then their involvement increases. For this reason I transform myself into trillions of emanations to save people, using their own fundamental natures to liberate them.
“Kṣitigarbha, I entrust all the people and spirits to you. In future worlds there may be celestial beings and good men and women who have a few good roots in the Dhárma, perhaps as much as a hair, a speck of dust, a grain of sand, or a drop of water. Use your spiritual strength to protect these people, so that they can gradually cultivate supreme way. Do not let them regress.
“Furthermore, Kṣitigarbha, devas or people in the future may follow their karmic retribution and fall into an evil realm. When they are about to fall into one of these realms or be at the gate if they can recite one Buddha's name, one bodhisattva's name, or one sentence or one verse from a Mahāyāna sūtra then you should use your spiritual power to use a skillful means to save them. Manifest a boundless body for these people to small the hells and lead them to be born in a heavenly realm and enjoy supreme wonderful bliss.”
At that time, the World Honored One spoke this gatha
“I entrust people and devas in the present and future to you.
Use your great spiritual power and skillful means to save them. Do not allow them to fall into the evil realms.”
At that time, Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Mahāsattva kneeled on one knee, joined palms, and said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I only hope that the World Honored One will rest assured. If there are good men and women in the future who even have a single thought of respect for the Dhárma then I will use a hundred thousand skillful means to save them and liberate them from Saṃsāra. How much more for those that have heard of these benevolent actions and been inspired to cultivate? They will naturally follow the supreme path, never to regress.”
After this was said a bodhisattva in the assembly called Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva who said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, Since I have arrived at Trāyastriṃśa Heaven I have heard the Tathāgata praise Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva's great, inconceivable spiritual strength. If there are good men and good women in the future, or the eight kinds of demigods hear this sūtra and Kṣitigarbha's name and revere and bow to his image how many kinds of benefit will they attain? I only hope that the World Honored One would briefly explain this for the benefit of all the people of the present and future.”
The Buddha said to Ākāśagarbha, “Listen carefully! Listen carefully! I will describe the different benefits to you. If there are good men and good women in the future who, when seeing Kṣitigarbha's image or hear this sūtra and then recite the sūtra and practice dāna by offering incense, flowers, food and drink, clothes, and gems, praise, revere, and bow then they will obtain twenty eight kinds of benefit. (1) the eight kinds of demigods will protect them; (2) the karmic results of their good actions will increase daily; (3) they will accumulate causes for becoming a sage; (4) they will attain enlightenment without regression; (5) they will have abundant food and clothing; (6) they will not suffer from epidemics; (7) they will not be affected by floods and fires; (8) they will not be threatened by thieves; (9) they will be given admire and respect; (10) they will be protected by spirits and ghosts; (11) a woman can take the form of a man's body; (12) a woman can be reborn as the daughter of a king or minister; (13) they will have a perfect appearance; (14) they will often be reborn in heavenly realms; (15) they may become a monarch; (16) they will obtain knowledge of their previous lives; (17) they will attain what they seek; (18) their family members will be joyful; (19) they will avoid an untimely death; (20) they will leave bad karmic paths forever; (21) they will travel safely wherever they go; (22) they will sleep in peace; (23) their forebears will not suffer; (24) they will enjoy blessing for merit obtained in previous lives; (25) sages will praise them; (26) they will be clever and have sharp powers of intelligence; (27) they will have an abundantly compassionate mind; (28) in the end they will become a Buddha.
“Furthermore, Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva, if any of the eight kinds of demigods, spirits and demons in the present and the future hear Kṣitigarbha's name and bow to an image of Kṣitigarbha or hear the story of Kṣitigarbha's vow and actions and then praise, revere, and worship him then they will have seven different kinds of benefit: (1) they will quickly ascend through the levels of sagehood; (2) they will eliminate bad karma; (3) all the Buddhas will watch over and protect them; (4) they will be enlightened and not regress; (5) their strength will increase; (6) they will know their past lives; (7) in the end they will become a Buddha.
“At that time, an indescribable number of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and eight kinds of demigods from the Ten Directions after hearing Śākyamuni Buddha commending and praising Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva's great, inconceivable spiritual strength exlaimed at this unprecedented event. Then an immeasurable amount of incense, flowers, and pearl necklaces, rained down in Trāyastriṃśa heaven as an offering to Śākyamuni Buddha and Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva. All the beings in the assembly repeatedly bowed, joined palms, and withdrew.
End of the Sūtra of the Great Vow of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Scroll 2