The Lotus Sūtra (Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra) is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras, and is known for its extensive instruction on the concept and usage of skillful means (upāya), the seventh paramita or "perfection of a Bodhisattva". The ultimate teaching of the sutra is implied to the reader that "full Buddhahoo...
Thereupon Bodhisattva Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusumitābhijña addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat, why does Bodhisattva Bhaiṣaj yarāja wander in this sahā world? O Bhagavat, this Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja has performed hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of difficult and arduous practices. Splendid, O Bhagavat! I entreat you to explain it even a little, so that all the devas, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṃn aras, maho ragas, humans, and nonhumans, and also the assemblies of the bodhisattvas who have come from the other lands and these śrāvakas, will rejoice on hearing it.”
Then the Buddha spoke to Bodhisattva Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusum itābhijña, saying: “In the remote past, beyond kalpas as immeasurable as the sands of the Ganges River, there was a buddha called Candrasūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī, an Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, WellDeparted, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. With this buddha were eighty koṭis of great bodhisattva mahā sattvas and an assembly of great śrāvakas, as many as the sands of seventy-two Ganges Rivers. The lifespan of this buddha was forty-two thousand kalpas, and the lifespans of the bodhisattvas were also equal to this. In his land there were no women, no hell-dwellers, no hungry ghosts, no animals, no asuras, and no calamities. The land was level like the palm of one’s hand and was made of lapis lazuli. It was adorned with jeweled trees, and was covered with jeweled canopies with various hanging, flowered banners. This world was filled with jeweled vases and incense burners. There were platforms made of the seven treasures. For each tree there was a platform, and each tree stood away from the platform a distance of no more than a bow-shot. All the bodhisattvas and śrāvakas sat under these jeweled trees. On the top of every jeweled platform were hundreds of koṭis of devas who played divine music and sang in praise and homage to the Buddha. Then the Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra for Bodhisattva Sarva rūpasaṃdarśana and numerous other bodhisattvas and śrāvakas. Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana devoted himself entirely to severe practices. Following the teachings of the Buddha Candrasūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī, he strove and wandered up and down in the singleminded search for enlightenment for a full twelve thousand years; and he attained the samādhi called sar va rūpasaṃ darśana. After having attained this samādhi, he rejoiced a great deal and thought thus:
I have attained the samādhi called sarvarūpasaṃdarśana entirely because of the power I attained through hearing the Lotus Sutra. I will now pay homage to the Buddha Candras ūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī and the Lotus Sutra.
“Immediately after he had entered this samādhi, māndārava and great māndārava flowers and finely powdered solid and black sandalwood fell from the sky, filling the air like clouds and raining down upon the earth. It also rained the perfume of sandalwood from the inner seacoast of Mount Sumeru. With this quantity of perfume, six drams of which equal the worth of this sahā world, he paid homage to the Buddha. Having paid homage to the Buddha, he emerged from samādhi and thought this:
I have paid homage to the Buddha using my transcendent power. This is, however, by no means equal to the tribute of offering my body.
“For a full one thousand two hundred years, he inhaled the fragrance of sandalwood, olibanum, frankincense, clove, aloeswood, and glue trees and drank the fragrant oil of campaka flowers. He then anointed his body with scented ointment. In the presence of the Buddha Candrasūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī he covered his body with a divine jeweled garment and with the fragrant oil. Through his transcendent power and vows he set his body alight, which illuminated worlds equal in number to the sands of eighty koṭis of Ganges Rivers. At the same time all the buddhas in these worlds praised him, saying:
Splendid, splendid, O son of a virtuous family! This is the true perseverance. This is called the true Dharma offering to the Tathāgata. It stands no comparison, even if one were to pay tribute with flowers, perfumes, necklaces, burning incense, scented powders, ointments, divine silk banners, canopies, perfumes of sandalwood from the inner seacoast of Mount Sumeru, and various other things like this. It stands no comparison, even if one were to offer one’s kingdom or wife and children. O son of a virtuous family, this is the supreme offering. This is the highest and best of all offerings, because you offer the Dharma to the Tathāgatas.
“Having spoken these words, all became silent. His body was alight for one thousand two hundred years. After this period passed, his body burned out. Because he had paid tribute to the Dharma like this, Bodhisattva Sarva rūpasaṃdarśana was reborn after his death in the land of the Buddha Candra- sūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī. He was born spontaneously, sitting cross-legged in the house of King Vimaladatta.
“Then he immediately spoke these verses for the sake of his father, saying:
O Great King! You should now know
That I, in an instant, attained
The samādhi called sarvarūpasaṃdarśana
In the place where I wandered;
And, practicing with enthusiasm and perseverance,
I set aside this, my beloved body.
I have paid homage to the Bhagavat
In order to attain the utmost wisdom.
“After having spoken these verses, he addressed his father, saying:
The Buddha Candrasūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī is now in this world. Having previously paid homage to the Buddha, I attained the dhāraṇī of understanding the speech of all sentient beings and heard eight hundred thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of verses and tens of billions of verses, hundreds of billions of verses and thousands of billions of verses of the Lotus Sutra. O Great King, I will now once again pay homage to this buddha.
“Having spoken this, he sat on the seven-jeweled platform and ascended into the air as high as seven tāla trees. Having come before the Buddha, he bowed until his forehead touched the Buddha’s feet. He praised the Buddha in verse with his ten fingers pressed together, saying:
Your countenance is rare and wonderful.
Your brilliance illuminates the ten directions.
Once, long ago, I paid you homage.
I now come to behold you again.
“Thereupon Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana, having spoken this verse, addressed the Buddha, saying:
O Bhagavat! The Bhagavat is yet in this world!
“Then the Buddha Candrasūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī said to Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana:
O son of a virtuous family! The time of my parinirvāṇa has come. The time of extinction has come. I ask you now to prepare my bed. I will enter parinirvāṇa tonight.
“The Buddha said again to Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana:
O son of a virtuous family! I entrust you with the Buddha-Dharma, and all the bodhisattvas and great śrāvakas as well as the Dharma for highest, complete enlightenment. I will also entrust you with the sevenjeweled world, all the jeweled trees, jeweled platforms, and the devas who are my servants in the great manifold cosmos. After my pari nirvāṇa I will also entrust you with all my relics. You should distribute them far and wide and pay them homage. You should also erect a great many thousands of stupas.
“Having addressed Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana in this way, the Buddha Candrasūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī entered pari nirvāṇa in the last watch of that night.
“Thereupon, having seen the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa, Bodhisattva Sarva rūpasaṃdarśana was grieved and saddened, and longed and yearned for the Buddha. Having prepared a pyre with sandalwood from the inner seacoast of Mount Sumeru, he cremated the Buddha’s body in homage. After the fire had gone out, he collected all the relics. He had eighty-four thousand jeweled urns made and erected eighty-four thousand stupas as high as three worlds. They were adorned with poles from which hung all kinds of banners and canopies and various kinds of jeweled bells.
“Then Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana thought this:
Although I have paid tribute in this way, I am not yet satisfied. I will now further pay homage to the relics.
“Then he spoke to all the great assemblies of bodhisattvas, great śrāvakas, devas, nāgas, and yakṣas, saying:
You should pay full attention: I will now pay homage to the relics of the Buddha Candrasūryavimalaprabhāsaśrī.
“Having said these words, he made an offering before the eighty-four thousand stupas by burning his arms adorned with hundreds of merits for seventy-two thousand years. He thus made innumerable śrāvakas and immeasurable, incalculable people set forth toward highest, complete enlightenment. All of them were made to dwell in the samādhi called sarvarūpasaṃdarśana.
“At that time all the bodhisattvas, devas, humans, and asuras saw that his arms were missing and became grieved and distressed. They said:
This Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana is our teacher. He has led and inspired us. He has now burned his arms, and his body is deformed.
“Then Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana made a vow and said to the great assembly:
I have abandoned both my arms, and I shall definitely attain the golden body of the Buddha. If this is true and not false, then may both arms be restored as before.
“Because this bodhisattva was endowed with profound merit and wisdom, after he had made this vow his arms recovered spontaneously. At that very time the great manifold cosmos quaked in six ways. It rained jeweled flowers from the heavens and all the devas and humans experienced an unprecedented marvel.”
The Buddha addressed Bodhisattva Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusumitābhijña, saying: “What do you think about this? Is Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana someone unknown to you? He is none other than this Bodhisattva Bhaiṣa jyarāja. He undertook the practice of giving by abandoning his body immeasurable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of times in this way. O Nakṣa tra rāja saṃkusumitābhijña! If there is anyone who sets forth and wishes to attain highest, complete enlightenment, he should pay homage to the stupas of the Buddha by burning either a finger or a toe. He is superior to those who pay homage by giving their countries and cities, their wives and children, or the mountains, forests, rivers, ponds, and many other rare treasures.
“If there is anyone who pays homage to all the buddhas, great bodhisattvas, pratyekabuddhas, and arhats by filling the great manifold cosmos with the seven precious treasures, the merit of this person will not be equal to the surpassing merit of one who receives and holds to even a single verse consisting of four lines of the Lotus Sutra.
“O Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusumitābhijña! Just as the ocean is the greatest of streams and rivers and of all waters, this Lotus Sutra is the most profound of the sutras taught by the Tathāgatas. Just as Mount Sumeru is the greatest of mountains—greater than Earth Mountain, Black Mountain, Mount Cakravāḍa, Mount Mahācakra vāḍa, and the ten jeweled mountains—this Lotus Sutra is the greatest of the sutras. Just as the moon is the greatest among all the stars, this Lotus Sutra is the most illuminating of the thousands of koṭis of sutras. Just as the sun destroys darkness, in the same way this sutra destroys the darkness of erring thought. Just as the noble emperor is the best of all the kings, this sutra is the noblest of all the sutras. Just as Śakra is the king of the thirtythree devas, this sutra is the King of Sutras. Just as Great Brahma is the father of all the sentient beings, in the same way this sutra is the father of all the wise, the noble, those who have more to learn and those who do not, and those in whom the thought of enlightenment has awakened. Just as those who have entered the stream of the teaching (srota-āpannas), those who are to return to this world once again (sakṛdāgāmins), those who are never to return (anāgā mins), arhats, and pratyekabuddhas are the best of all the common people, in the same way this is the best of all the sutras taught by all the Tathāgatas, bodhisattvas, or śrāvakas.
“Those who hold to this sutra are the best of all sentient beings. The bodhisattvas are the best of all śrāvakas and pratye kabuddhas. In the same way, this sutra is the best of all sutras. Just as the Buddha is the King of the Dharma, this sutra is the King of Sutras.
“O Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusumitābhijña! This sutra saves all sentient beings. This sutra makes all sentient beings free from suffering. This sutra greatly benefits all sentient beings and brings their aspirations to fulfillment, just as a clear, cool pond satisfies the thirsty, as a fire satisfies those suffering from cold, as clothes for the naked, as a caravan leader for merchants, as a mother for her children, as a boat for the traveler, as a physician for the sick, as a lamp for the gloom, as a treasure for the poor, as a king for the people, as the sea for traders, and a torch for those in darkness. In the same way, this Lotus Sutra frees sentient beings from every suffering, all the pains and bonds of illness and of birth and death. If there is anyone who hears this Lotus Sutra, copies it, or moves others to copy it, their merit will be limitless even if it is measured through the Buddha’s wisdom. If there is anyone who copies it and pays it tribute with flowers, perfumes, necklaces, burning incense, scented powders, fragrant ointments, banners, canopies, clothes, various kinds of ghee lamps, oil lamps, fragrant oil lamps, lamps of oil made from campaka, sumanas, pāṭala, vārṣika, and navamā likā trees, that person’s merit will also be immeasurable.
“O Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusumitābhijña! If there is anyone who hears this chapter ‘Ancient Accounts of Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja,’ they will attain immeasurable and limitless merit. If there is any woman who hears and holds to this chapter ‘Ancient Accounts of Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja,’ she will never be reborn with a female body. If there is any woman five hundred years after the pari nirvāṇa of the Tathāgata who hears this sutra and practices according to the teaching, she will immediately reach the dwelling of the Buddha Amitāyus in the Sukhāvatī world, surrounded by great bodhisattvas, and will be born on a jeweled seat in a lotus flower. Never again troubled by the [three poisons] of greed, anger, or ignorance, by arrogance or jealousy, he will attain the bodhisattva’s transcendent powers and the acceptance of the nonorigination of all dharmas. After attaining this acceptance, his faculty of sight will be pure; and with this pure eye faculty, he will see all the Buddha Tathāgatas, equal in number to the sands of seventy-two million koṭis of nayutas of Ganges Rivers. At that time all the buddhas will praise him from afar, saying:
Splendid! Splendid! Son of a virtuous family! You have preserved, recited, and contemplated this sutra from the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni and taught it to others. The merit you have obtained is immeasurable and limitless. Even fire cannot burn it. Even water cannot wash it away. Even thousands of buddhas cannot give a complete description of your merit. You have already destroyed the māras. You have already conquered the armies of birth and death. You have defeated all enemies. O son of a virtuous family! Hundreds of thousands of buddhas together protect you with their transcendent powers. There is no one equal to you among the devas and humans of the entire world. With the exception of the Tathāgata, the wisdom and meditation of all śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas can never equal yours.
“O Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusumitābhijña! Such is the power of the merit and wisdom that this bodhisattva has perfected. If there is anyone who hears this chapter ‘Ancient Accounts of Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja,’ rejoices in it, and praises it well, in his present life he will always exhale the fragrance of blue lotus flowers from his mouth and will always emit the fragrance of the sandalwood on Mount Oxhead from his pores. The benefits of the qualities he has obtained are just as mentioned above. For this reason, O Nakṣatrarāja saṃkusumitābhijña, I will entrust you with this chapter ‘Ancient Accounts of Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja.’ During the period of five hundred years after my parinirvāṇa you must spread it far and wide in Jambudvīpa and not allow it to be destroyed. You must not give Māra and his men, or the devas, nāgas, yakṣas, and kum bhāṇḍa demons any chance of destroying it. O Nakṣatrarāja- saṃkusumitābhijña! You should protect this sutra with your transcendent power. Why is this? Because this sutra is good medicine for the ills of the people of Jambudvīpa. If there is any sick person who hears this sutra, his illness will disappear, and he will neither die nor grow old. O Nakṣatrarāja saṃkusumitābhijña! If you see anyone who holds to this sutra, you should scatter blue lotus flowers full of scented powder on him. After scattering them, you should think like this:
This man will before long destroy the army of Māra, sitting on the grass-covered terrace of enlightenment. He will blow the conch of the Dharma, beat the drum of the great Dharma, and ferry all sentient beings across the ocean of old age, illness, and death.
“Therefore, if those seeking the buddha path see those who hold to this sutra, the thought of respect should awaken in them.”
When this chapter, “Ancient Accounts of Bodhisattva Bhaiṣa jyarāja,” was being taught, eighty-four thousand bodhisattvas attained the dhāraṇī of understanding the speech of all sentient beings. The Tathāgata Prabhūtaratna in the jeweled stupa praised Bodhisattva Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusumitābhijña, saying: “Splendid! Splendid! O Nakṣatrarājasaṃkusumitābhijña! You have attained marvelous merit, for you have questioned the Buddha Śākya muni about these things and benefited all of the immeasurable numbers of sentient beings.”