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, rising from his seat with his right shoulder bared, Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja faced the Buddha with his palms pressed together, and spoke to him, saying: “O Bhagavat! If there is any son or daughter of a virtuous family who preserves the Lotus Sutra and recites it, is versed in it, and copies it, how much merit will he or she attain?”
Then the Buddha addressed Bhaiṣajyarāja, saying: “If there is any son or daughter of a virtuous family who pays homage to buddhas numbering as many as the sands of eight hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of Ganges
Rivers, what do you think? Will the merit he or she attains be great or not?” He answered: “It will be great, O Bhagavat!”
The Buddha said: “If any son or daughter of a virtuous family preserves a verse of four lines of this sutra, recites it, understands the meaning, or practices what it teaches, his or her merit will be very great.”
Thereupon, Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! I will now give the dhāraṇīs to the expounders of the Dharma and protect them.”
He then recited a dhāraṇī:
Anye manye mane mamane citte carite same samitā viśānte mukte muktatame same avisame samasame jaye kṣaye akṣaye akṣiṇe śānte samite dhāraṇi ālokabhāṣe pratyavekṣaṇi ni dhiru abhyantaranirviṣte abhyantara pāriśuddhi mutkule araḍe paraḍe sukāṇkṣi asamasame buddha vilokite dharmaparikśite saṃgha-nirghoṣanirghoṇi bhayā bhayaviśodhani mantre mantrākṣayate rute rutakauśalye akṣaye akṣa ya vanatāye vakkule valoḍa amanyanatāye.
“O Bhagavat! This mantra-dhāraṇī was spoken by buddhas equal in number to the sands of sixty-two koṭis of Ganges Rivers. Anyone who attacks or slanders an expounder of the Dharma also attacks or slanders these buddhas.”
Thereupon, the Buddha Śākyamuni praised Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja, saying: “Splendid! Splendid! O Bhaiṣajyarāja! Out of compassion you have taught this dhāraṇī in order to protect the expounders of the Dharma. It will greatly benefit all sentient beings.”
Then Bodhisattva Pradānaśūra addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! I also will teach a dhāraṇī in order to protect anyone who recites and preserves the Lotus Sutra. If expounders of the Dharma attain this dhāraṇī, no yakṣa, rākṣasa, pūtana, kṛtya, kumbhāṇḍa, or hungry ghost will ever have a chance to strike at their weaknesses even if they try to do so.” In the presence of the Buddha he taught a dhāraṇī, saying:
Jvale mahājvale ukke mukke aḍe aḍāvati nṛtye nṛtyāvati iṭṭini viṭṭini ciṭṭini nṛtyani nṛtyāvati.
“O Bhagavat! This mantra-dhāraṇī has been spoken by buddhas equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River and everyone has rejoiced in it. Anyone who attacks or slanders an expounder of the Dharma also attacks or slanders these buddhas.”
Thereupon, the devarāja Vaiśravaṇa, a world-protector, addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! I will also teach a dhāraṇī out of pity for sentient beings and in order to protect expounders of the Dharma.” He then recited a dhāraṇī, saying:
Aṭṭe naṭṭe vanaṭṭe anaḍe nāḍi kunaḍi.
“O Bhagavat! With this mantra-dhāraṇī I protect the expounders of the Dharma; I will also protect those who hold to this sutra. All heavy cares shall be banished for a hundred yojanas around.”
At that time the devarāja Dhṛtarāṣṭra was present in the assembly, respectfully surrounded by thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of gandharvas. He came before the Buddha together with them and addressed the Buddha with his palms pressed together, saying: “O Bhagavat! With a mantra-dhāraṇī I will also protect those who hold to the Lotus Sutra.” He then recited the dhāraṇī, saying:
Agaṇe gaṇe gauri gandhāri caṇḍāli mātaṅgi jaṅguli vrūsaṇi agasti.
“O Bhagavat! This mantra-dhāraṇī was spoken by forty-two koṭis of buddhas. Anyone who attacks or slanders an expounder of the Dharma also attacks or slanders these buddhas.
“At that time there were ten rākṣasīs. Their names were Lambā, Vi lam bā, Kūṭadantī, Puṣpadantī, Makuṭadantī, Keśinī, Acalā, Mālādhāri, Kuntī, and Sarvasattvojohārī. These ten rākṣasīs, together with Hārītī and their children and retinues, came before the Buddha and addressed him in unison, saying: “O Bhagavat! We also want to protect those who recite and preserve the Lotus Sutra and rid them of their heavy cares. Those who try to strike at the expounders of the Dharma through their weaknesses shall never be able to do so.”
They then recited a dhāraṇī in the presence of the Buddha, saying:
Iti me iti me iti me iti me iti me nime nime nime nime nime ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe.
“Let troubles come upon our heads rather than distress the expounders of the Dharma. No yakṣa, no rākṣasa, no hungry ghost, no pūtana, no kṛtya, no vetāla, no skanda, no omāraka, no apasmā raka, no yakṣakṛtya, no manuṣyakṛtya, no fever; no fever for one day, for two days, for three days, for four days or even up to seven days or at any time; no one in the form of a man, no one in the form of a woman, no one in the form of a boy, no one in the form of a maiden, no one who may appear even in a dream, in any of these forms shall cause them distress.”
They then spoke to the Buddha in verse, saying:
If anyone does not accept my dhāraṇī,
And troubles one who expounds the Dharma,
His head will be split into seven pieces
Just like a branch of the arjaka tree.
Consider the transgression of parricide,
Of pressing sesame mixed with impurities,
Of cheating people with scales;
Consider the transgression committed by Devadatta
Who divided the sangha.
Those who slander this expounder of the Dharma
Shall suffer consequences such as these.
After having spoken these verses the rākṣasīs addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! We also want to protect those who preserve, recite, and practice this sutra, and cause them to live at ease, rid them of their weighty cares, and drive out various poisons.”
The Buddha said to the rākṣasīs: “Splendid! Splendid! You protect those who preserve the name of the Lotus Sutra. Your merit is immeasurable. How much more merit is there in protecting those who perfectly preserve and revere the sutra in various ways; such as by offering flowers, perfumes, necklaces, fragrant ointments, scented powders, burning incense, banners, canopies, and music, or by lighting ghee lamps, oil lamps, fragrant oil lamps, lamps of oil made from sumanas, campaka, vārṣika, and utpala flowers! How much more merit is there in offering such things in hundreds to thousands of ways! O Kuntī! You and your retinues should protect the expounders of the Dharma in this way.”
When this chapter, “Dhāraṇī,” was taught, sixty-eight thousand people attained the acceptance of the nonorigination of all dharmas.