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LOTUS SUTRA - Chapter 22. Ancient Devotion of Bhaishagyaraga

Thereupon the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña spoke to the Lord as follows: Wherefore, O Lord, does the Bodhisattva Bhaishagyarâga pursue his course in this Saha-world, while he is fully aware of the many hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of difficulties he has to meet? Let the Lord, the Tathâgata, &c., deign to tell us any part of the course of duty of the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Bhaishagyarâga, that by hearing it the gods, Nâgas, goblins, Gandharvas, demons, Garudas, Kinnaras, great serpents, men, and beings not human, as well as the Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas from other worlds here present, and these great disciples here may be content, delighted, overjoyed.

And the Lord, out of regard to that request of the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, told him the following: Of yore, young man of good family, at a past epoch, at a time (as many) Æons ago as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges, there appeared in the world a Tathâgata, &c., by the name of Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasrî, endowed with science and conduct, a Sugata, &c. &c. Now that Tathâgata, &c., Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasrî had a great assembly of eighty kotis of Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas and an assembly of disciples equal to the sands of seventytwo Ganges rivers. His spiritual rule was exempt from the female sex, and his Buddha-field had no hell, no brute creation, no ghosts, no demons; it was level, neat, smooth as the palm of the hand. Its floor consisted of heavenly lapis lazuli, and it was adorned with trees of jewel and sandal-wood; inlaid with a multitude of jewels, and hung with long bands of silk, and scented by censors made of jewels. Under each jewel tree, at a distance not farther than a bowshot, was made a small jewel-house, and on the top of those small jewel-houses stood a hundred kotis of angels performing a concert of musical instruments and castanets, in order to honour the Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasrî, the Tathâgata, &c., while that Lord was extensively expounding this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law to the great disciples and Bodhisattvas, directing himself to the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana. Now, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the lifetime of that Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasrî, the Tathâgata, &c., lasted forty-two thousand Æons, and likewise that of the Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas and great disciples. It was under the spiritual rule of that Lord that the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana applied himself to his difficult course. He wandered twelve thousand years strenuously engaged in contemplation. After the expiration of those twelve thousand years he acquired the Samâdhi termed Sarvarûpasandarsana (i. e. the sight or display of all forms). No sooner had he acquired that Samâdhi than satisfied, glad, joyful, rejoicing, and delighted he made the following reflection: It is owing to this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law that I have acquired the Samâdhi of Sarvarûpasandarsana. Then he made another reflection: Let me do homage to the Lord Kandravimalasuryaprabhâsasrî and this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law. No sooner had he entered upon such a meditation than a great rain of Mandârava and great Mandârava flowers fell from the upper sky. A cloud of Kâlânusârin sandal was formed, and a rain of Uragasâra sandal poured down. And the nature of those essences was so noble that one karsha of it was worth the whole Saha-world.

After a while, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana rose from that meditation with memory and full consciousness, and reflected thus: This display of magic power is not likely to honour the Lord and Tathâgata so much as the sacrifice of my own body will do. Then the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana instantly began to eat Agallochum, Olibanum, and the resin of Boswellia Thurifera, and to drink oil of Kampaka. So, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana passed twelve years in always and constantly eating those fragrant substances and drinking oil of Kampaka. After the expiration of those twelve years the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana wrapped his body in divine garments, bathed it in oil, made his (last) vow, and thereafter burnt his own body with the object to pay worship to the Tathâgata and this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law. Then, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, eighty worlds equal to the sands of the river Ganges were brightened by the glare of the flames from the blazing body of the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana, and the eight Lords Buddhas equal to the sands of the Ganges in those worlds all shouted their applause, (and exclaimed): Well done, well done, young man of good family, that is the real heroism which the Boddhisattvas Mahasattvas should develop; that is the real worship of the Tathâgata, the real worship of the law. No worshipping with flowers, incense, fragrant wreaths, ointment, powder, cloth, umbrellas, flags, banners; no worshipping with material gifts or with Uragasâra sandal equals it. This, young man of good family, is the sublimest gift, higher than the abandoning of royalty, the abandoning of beloved children and wife. Sacrificing one's own body, young man of good family, is the most distinguished, the chiefest, the best, the very best, the most sublime worship of the law. After pronouncing this speech, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, those Lords Buddhas were silent.

The body of Sarvasattvapriyadarsana continued blazing for twelve thousand years without ceasing to burn. After the expiration of those twelve thousand years the fire was extinguished. Then, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana, having paid such worship to the Tathâgata, disappeared from that place, and (re)appeared under the (spiritual) reign of that very Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasrî, the Tathâgata, &c., in the house of king Vimaladatta, by apparitional birth, and sitting crosslegged. Immediately after his appearance the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana addressed his father and mother in the following stanza :

1. This, O exalted king, is the walk in which I have acquired meditation; I have achieved a heroical feat, fulfilled a great vote by sacrificing my own dear body.

After uttering this stanza, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana said to his father and mother: Even now, father and mother, the Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasrî, the Tathâgata, &c., is still living, existing, staying in the world, the Lord by worshipping whom I have obtained the spell of knowing all sounds and this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law, consisting of eighty hundred thousand myriads of kotis of stanzas, of a hundred Niyutas [a thousand billions], of Vivaras [a hundred thousand billions], of a hundred Vivaras, which I have heard from that Lord. Therefore, father and mother, I should like to go to that Lord and worship him again. Instantaneously, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana rose seven tâlas [the height of a palm-tree,or a span.] high into the sky and sat cross-legged on the top of a tower of seven precious substances. So he went up to the presence of that Lord, and having approached him humbly saluted him, circumambulated him seven times from left to right, stretched the joined hands towards the Lord, and after thus paying his homage addressed him with the following stanza:

2. O thou whose face is so spotless and bright; thou, king and sage! How thy lustre sparkles in all quarters! After having anciently paid thee homage, O Sugata, I now come again to behold thee, O Lord.

Having pronounced this stanza, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana said to the Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasri, the Tathâgata, &c.: Thou art then still alive, Lord? Whereon the Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhasasrî, the Tathâgata, &c., replied: The time of my final extinction, young man of good family, has arrived; the time of my death has arrived. Therefore, young man of good family, prepare my couch; I am going to enter complete extinction. Then, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasri said to the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana: I entrust to thee, young man of good family, my commandment (or mastership, rule); I entrust to thee these Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas, these great disciples, this Buddha-enlightenment, this world, these jewel cars, these jewel trees, and these angels, my servitors. I entrust to thee also, young man of good family, my relics after my complete extinction. Thou shouldst pay a great worship to my relics, young man of good family, and also distribute them and build many thousands of Stûpas. And, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, after the Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasrî, the Tathâgata, &c., had given these instructions to the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana he in the last watch of the night entered absolute final extinction.

Thereupon, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana, perceiving that the Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhâsasrî, the Tathâgata, &c., had expired, made a pyre of Uragasâra sandal-wood and burnt the body of the Tathâgata. When he saw that the body was burnt to ashes and the fire extinct, be took the bones and wept, cried and lamented. After having wept, cried and lamented, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana caused to be made eighty-four thousand urns of seven precious substances, deposed in them the bones of the Tathâgata, founded eighty-four thousand Stûpas, reaching in height to the Brahma-world, adorned with a row of umbrellas, and equipped with silk bands and bells. After founding those Stûpas he made the following reflection : I have paid honour to the Tathâgata-relics of the Lord Kandravimalasûryaprabhasasrî, but I will pay to those relics a yet loftier and most distinguished honour. Then, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana addressed that entire assembly of Bodhisattvas, those great disciples, those gods, Nâgas, goblins, Gandharvas, demons, Garudas, Kinnaras, great serpents, men, and beings not human: Ye all, young men of good family, unanimously vow to pay worship to the relics of the Lord. Immediately after, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana, in presence of those eighty-four thousand Stûpas, burnt his own arm which was marked by the one hundred auspicious signs, and so paid worship to those Stûpas containing the relics of the Tathâgata, during seventy-two thousand years. And while paying worship, he educated countless hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of disciples from that assembly, in consequence whereof all those Bodhisattvas acquired the Samâdhi termed Sarvarûpasandarsana.

Then, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the entire assembly of Bodhisattvas and all great disciples, seeing the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana deprived of a limb, said, with tears in their eyes, weeping, crying, lamenting: The Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana, our master and instructor, is now deprived of a limb, deprived of one arm. But the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana addressed those Bodhisattvas, great disciples, and angels in the following terms: Do not, young men of good family, weep, cry, lament at the sight of my being deprived of one arm. All the Lords Buddhas who be, exist, live in the endless, limitless worlds in every direction of space, have I taken to witness. Before their face have I pronounced a vow of truth, and by that truth, by that word of truth shall I, after the sacrifice of my own arm in honour of the Tathâgata, have a body of gold colour. By this truth, by this word of truth let this arm of mine become such as it was before, and let the great earth shake in six different ways, and let the angels in the sky pour down a rain of flowers. No sooner, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, had the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana made that vow of truth, than the whole triple macrocosm was shaken in six different ways , and from the sky aloft fell a great rain of flowers. The arm of the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana became again as it was before, and that by the power of knowledge and by the power of pious merit belonging to that Bodhisattva Mahasattva. Perhaps, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, thou wilt have some doubt, uncertainty or misgiving, (and think) that the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana at that time, and that epoch, was another. But do not think so; for the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Bhaishagyarâga here was at that time, and that epoch, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana. So many hundred thousand myriads of kolis of difficult things, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, and sacrifices' of his body does this Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana accomplish. Now, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the young man or young lady of good family striving in the Bodhisattva vehicle towards the goal and longing for supreme, perfect enlightenment, who at the Tathâgata-shrines shall burn a great toe, a finger, a toe, or a whole limb, such a young man or young lady of good family, I assure thee, shall produce far more pious merit, far more than results from giving up a kingdom, sons, daughters, and wives, the whole triple world with its woods, oceans, mountains, springs, streams, tanks, wells, and gardens. And, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the young man or young lady of good family, striving in the Bodhisattva-vehicle for the goal, who after filling with the seven precious substances this whole triple world should give it in alms to all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, disciples, Pratyekabuddhas, that young man or young lady of good family, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, does not produce so much pious merit as a young man or young lady of good family who shall keep, were it but a single verse from this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law. I positively declare that the accumulation of merit of the latter is greater than if a person, after filling the whole triple world with the seven precious substances, bestows it in alms on all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, disciples, or Pratyekabuddhas.

Just as the great ocean, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, surpasses all springs, streams, and tanks, so, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law surpasses all Sûtras spoken by the Tathâgata. just as the Sumeru, the king of mountains, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, all elevations at the cardinal points, horizon circles and great horizons, So, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law surpasses as a king all the Sûtrântas spoken by the Tathagâta. As the moon, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, as a luminary, takes the first rank amongst the whole of the asterisms, so, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law ranks first amongst all Sûtrantas spoken by the Tathâgata, though it surpasses hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of moons. As the orb of the sun, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, dispels gloomy darkness, so, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law dispels all the gloomy darkness of unholy works. As Indra, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, is the chief of the gods of paradise, so, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law is the chief of Sûtrântas spoken by the Tathâgata. As Brahma Sahâmpati, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, is the king of all Brahmakayika gods and exercises the function of a father in the Brahma world, so, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law exercises the function of a father to all beings, whether under training or past it, to all disciples, Pratyekabuddhas, and those who in the Bodhisattva-vehicle are striving for the goal. As the Srotaâpanna, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, as well as the Sakridagâmin, Anâgamin, Arhat, and Pratyekabuddha, excels the ignorant people and the profanum vulgus, so, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, the Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law must be held to excel and surpass all Sûtrântas spoken by the Tathâgata; and such as shall keep this king of Sûtras, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, must be held to surpass others (who do not). As a Bodhisattva is accounted superior to all disciples and Pratyekabuddhas, so, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law is accounted superior to all Sûtrantas spoken by the Tathâgata. Even as the Tathâgata is the crowned king of the law of all disciples, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas, so, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya is a Tathâgata in respect to those who in the vehicle of Bodhisattvas are striving to reach the goal. This Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, saves all beings from all fear, delivers them from all pains. It is like a tank for the thirsty, like a fire for those who suffer from cold, like a garment for the naked, like the caravan leader for the merchants, like a mother for her children, like a boat for those who ferry over, like a leech for the sick, like a lamp for those who are wrapt in darkness, like a jewel for those who want wealth, like the ocean for the rivers, like a torch for the dispelling of darkness. So, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law delivers from all evils, extirpates all diseases, releases from the narrow bonds of the mundane whirl. And he who shall hear this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law, who shall write it and cause it to be written, will produce an accumulation of pious merit the term of which is not to be arrived at even by Buddha-knowledge; so great is the accumulation of pious merit that will be produced by a young man of good family or a young lady who after teaching or learning it, writing it or having it collected into a volume, shall honour, respect, venerate, worship it with flowers, incense, fragrant garlands, ointment, powder, umbrellas, flags, banners, triumphal streamers, with music, with joining of hands, with lamps burning with ghee, scented oil, Kampaka oil, jasmine oil, trumpet-flower oil, Vârshika oil or double jasmine oil.

Great will be the pious merit, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, to be produced by a young man of good family or a young lady striving to reach the goal in the Bodhisattva-vehicle, who shall keep this chapter of the Ancient Devotion of Bhaishagyarâga, who shall read and learn it. And, Nakshatrarâga, should a female, after hearing this Dharmaparyâya, grasp and keep it, then this existence will be her last existence as a woman. Any female, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, who in the last five hundred years of the millennium shall hear and penetrate this chapter of the Ancient Devotion of Bhaishagyarâga, will after disappearing from earth be (re)born in the world Sukhâvatî, where the Lord Amitâyus, the Tathâgata, &c., dwells, exists, lives surrounded by a host of Bodhisattvas. There will he (who formerly was a female) appear seated on a throne consisting of the interior of a lotus; no affection, no hatred, no infatuation, no pride, no envy, no wrath, no malignity will vex him. With his birth he will also receive the five transcendent faculties, as well as the acquiescence in the eternal law, and, once in possession thereof, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, he as a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva will see Tathâgatas equal to the sands of seventy-two rivers Ganges. So perfect will be his organ of sight that by means thereof he shall see those Lords Buddhas, which Lords Buddhas will applaud him (and say): Well done, well done, young man of good family, that after hearing this Dharmaparyâya of the Lotus of the True Law which has been promulgated by the spiritual proclamation of the Lord Sakyamuni, the Tathâgata, &c., thou hast studied, meditated, examined, minded it, and expounded it to other beings, other persons. This accumulation of thy pious merit, young man of good family, cannot be burnt by fire, nor swept away by water. Even a thousand Buddhas would not be able to determine this accumulation of thy pious merit, young man of good family. Thou hast subdued the opposition of the Evil One, young man of good family. Thou, young man of good family, hast victoriously emerged from the battle of mundane existence, hast crushed the enemies annoying thee. Thou, young man of good family, hast been superintended by thousands of Buddhas; thine equal, young man of good family, is not to be found in the world, including the gods, with the only exception of the Tathâgata; there is no other, be he disciple, Pratyekabuddba, or Bodhisattva, able to surpass thee in pious merit, knowledge, wisdom or meditation. Such a power of knowledge, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, will be acquired by that Bodhisattva.

Any one, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, who on hearing this chapter of the ancient devotion of Bhaishagyarâga approves it, will emit from his mouth a breath sweet as of the lotus, and from his limbs a fragrance as of sandal-wood. Such temporal advantages as I have just now indicated will belong to him who approves this Dharmaparyâya. On that account then, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, I transmit to thee this chapter of the Ancient Devotion of the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Sarvasattvapriyadarsana, that at the end of time, the last period, in the latter half of the millennium it may have course here in Gambudvipa and not be lost; that neither Mâra the Fiend, nor the celestial beings called Mârakâyikas, Nâgas, goblins, imps may find the opportunity of hurting it. Therefore, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, I bequeath this Dharmaparyâya; it is to be like a medicament for sick and suffering creatures in Gambudvîpa. No sickness shall overpower him who has heard this Dharmaparyâya, no decrepitude, no untimely death. Whenever a person striving to reach the goal in the vehicle of Bodhisattvas happens to see such a monk as keeps this Sûtrânta, then he should strew him with sandalpowder and blue lotuses, and reflect thus: This young man of good family is going to reach the terrace of enlightenment; he will spread the bundle of grass on the terrace of enlightenment; he will put to flight the party of Mâra, blow the conch trumpet of the law, beat the drum of the law, cross the ocean of existence. Thus, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña, should a young man of good family, striving to reach the goal in the vehicle of Bodhisattva, reflect when seeing a monk who keeps this Sûtra, and he will acquire such advantages as have been indicated by the Tathâgata.

While this chapter of the Ancient Devotion of Bhaishagyarâga was being expounded, eighty-four thousand Bodhisattvas attained the spell connected with skill in all sounds. And the Lord Prabhûtaratna, the Tathâgata, &c., intimated his approval (by saying): Well done, well done, Nakshatrararâgasankusumitâbhigña; thou hast done well in thus questioning the Tathâgata, who is endowed with such inconceivable qualities and properties.

End of LOTUS SUTRA - Chapter 22. Ancient Devotion of Bhaishagyaraga horizotal line T.o.C . Previous Chapter « | . 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. | » Next Chapter



 



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