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 II - The Ten Ordination Vows

At that time Śrīmālā, having received the [Buddha’s] prediction, respectfully arose to take the ten major ordination vows.

“O Lord, from now until I am enlightened:

1) “I will not transgress the discipline that I have received.

2) “I will have no disrespect toward the venerable elders.

3) “I will not hate living beings.

4) “I will not be jealous of others with regard to either their physical 217c appearance or their possessions.

5) “I will not be stingy although I have little sustenance.

“O Lord, from now until I am enlightened:

6) “I will not accumulate property for my own benefit. Whatever I receive will be used to assist living beings who are poor and suffering.

7) “I will practice the four all-embracing acts (giving, kind speech, benefiting others, and cooperation toward leading all beings to virtuous deeds) for all living beings, and not for myself. I accept all living beings without lust, without satiation, and without prejudice.

8) “When I see living beings who are lonely, imprisoned, ill, and afflicted by various misfortunes and hardships, I will never forsake them, even for a moment, for I must bring them peace. Through my good deeds I will bring them benefits and liberate them from their pain. Only then will I leave them.

9) “When I see those who hunt or domesticate animals, slaughter, or commit other such offenses against the precepts, I will never forsake them. When I obtain this power [to teach all beings], I will restrain those who should be restrained and assist those who should be assisted wherever I see such living beings. Why? Because by restraining and assisting them, one causes the eternal continuation of the Dharma. If the Dharma continues eternally, gods and humans shall flourish and the evil destinies shall diminish in number. Then the wheel of the Dharma that is turned by the Tathāgata will again be turned. Because I see these benefits I will save, and never quit [teaching living beings].

“O Lord, from now until I am enlightened:

10) “I accept the True Dharma, never forgetting it. Why? Because those who forget the Dharma forget the Mahayana. Those who forget the Mahayana forget the perfections (pāramitās). Those who forget the perfections do not aspire toward the Mahayana. If the bodhisattvas are not committed to the Mahayana, they cannot have the aspiration to accept the True Dharma. Acting according to their pleasure, they will not be able to transcend the level of common people.

“Because I have seen, in this way, the immeasurably great errors [of humans] and have seen the immeasurable merits of the bodhisattvas, those great beings (mahāsattvas) who will accept the True Dharma, I will accept these great ordination vows.

“O Lord of the Dharma manifested before me, you are my witness. Even though the Lord Buddha presently witnessed [my testimony], living beings’ virtuous deeds are superficial. Some of them are skeptical and extremely difficult to save through these ten ordination vows. They engage in immoral activities for long periods of time and are unhappy. In order to bring peace to them, I now declare, in your presence, that my vows are sincere.

“If I receive these ten major ordination vows and practice them as I have stated them, by [the power of] these true words, heavenly flowers will rain down and divine music will ring out upon this assembly.”

Just as Śrīmālā said these words, a shower of heavenly flowers poured from the sky and divine music rang out: “It is so! It is so! What you have said is true, not false.” Having seen these wondrous flowers and having heard this music, the entire assembly no longer was skeptical, rejoicing immeasurably and exclaiming, “We wish to stay with Queen Śrīmālā and together we would like to join in practice with her.”

The Buddha predicted to all that their wish [to stay with Queen Śrīmālā] would be fulfilled.

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