The Sutra of Queen Śrīmālā of the Lion’s Roar

15,590 words

The Sutra of Queen Śrīmālā of the Lion’s Roar (Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra) is a Mahayana text no longer extant in Sanskrit but preserved in both the Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist canons. It teaches the doctrines of Tathāgatagarbha and the One Vehicle (Skt. ekayāna), through the words of the Indian queen Śrīmālā....

Chapter I - The Merits of the Tathāgata’s True Dharma

Thus have I heard. One time the Buddha was residing in the Jeta Garden of Anāthapiṇdika’s Park in the city of Śrāvastī [in the kingdom of Kosala]. At that time King Prasenajit and Queen Mallikā, who had only recently attained faith in the Dharma, said these words together, “Śrīmālā, our daughter, is astute and extremely intelligent. If she has the opportunity to see the Buddha, she will certainly understand the Dharma without doubting [its truth]. Some time we should send a message to her to awaken her religious state of mind.” The queen said, “Now is the right time.” The king and queen then wrote a letter to Śrīmālā, praising the Tathāgata’s immeasurable merits, and dispatched a messenger named Candirā to deliver the letter to the kingdom of Ayodhyā [where Śrīmālā was queen]. Entering the palace, the messenger respectfully conferred the letter to Śrīmālā who rejoiced upon receiving it, raising the letter to her head [as a sign of reverence]. She read and understood it, arousing a religious mind of rare quality. Then she said to Candirā in verse:

“I hear the name ‘Buddha,’
The One who is rarely in the world.
If my words are true [that the Buddha is now in the world]
Then I will honor him.

“Since I humbly submit that the Lord Buddha
Came for the sake of the world,
He should be compassionate with me
Allowing me to see him.”

At that very moment of reflection,
The Buddha appeared in heaven,
Radiating pure light in all directions,
And revealing his incomparable body.

Śrīmālā and her attendants
Prostrated themselves reverently at his feet,
And with pure minds,
Praised the true merits of the Buddha:

“The body of the Tathāgata, excellent in form,
Is unequaled in the world,
Being incomparable and inconceivable.
Therefore, we now honor you.

“The Tathāgata’s form is inexhaustible
And likewise his wisdom.
All things eternally abide [in him].
Therefore, we take refuge in you.

“Having already exorcised the mind’s defilements
And the four kinds [of faults] of body [and speech]
You have already arrived at the undaunted stage.
Therefore we worship you, the Dharma King.

“By knowing all objects to be known,
And by the self-mastery of your body of wisdom,
You encompass all things.
Therefore, we now honor you.

“We honor you, the One who transcends all measures [of space and time].
We honor you, the One who is incomparable.
We honor you, the One who has the limitless Dharma.
We honor you, the One beyond conceptualization.”


“Please be compassionate and protect me,
Causing the seeds of Dharma to grow [within me]
In this life and in future lives,
Please, Buddha, always accept me.”

[The Buddha:]

“I have been with you for a long time,
Guiding you in former lives.
I now again accept you.
And will do likewise in the future.”


“I have produced merits At present and in other lives.
Because of these virtuous deeds I only wish to be accepted.”

Then Śrīmālā and all of her attendants prostrated themselves before the Buddha’s feet. The Buddha then made this prediction among them:

“You praise the true merits of the Tathāgata because of your virtuous deeds. After immeasurable periods of time, you will become sovereign among the gods (devas). In all lives you will continually see me and praise me in my presence, in the same manner as you are doing now. You will also make offerings to the immeasurable numbers of buddhas for more than twenty thousand immeasurable periods of time. Then you (Śrīmālā) will become the buddha named Universal Light (Samantaprabha), the Tathāgata, Arhat, Perfectly Enlightened One. Your buddha land will have no evil destinies and no suffering due to old age, illness, deterioration, torments. . . . There will be no evil whatsoever, not even the word for evil. Those who are in your land will have the five desires [of the senses fulfilled], longevity, physical power, and physical beauty, and will be happier than even the gods who control enjoyments created by others. They all will be exclusively Mahayana, having habitually practiced virtuous deeds, and assembling in your land.”

When Queen Śrīmālā had received this prediction, the innumerable gods, humans, and other beings vowed to be born in her land. The Buddha predicted to everyone that they all would be born there.

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