Smaller Sukhavati Vyuha Sutra
There are two recessions of the Sukhavati Sutra: the larger and the smaller ones. The present Nepalese translation of the smaller version of Sukhavati Sutra is made for the benefit of Nepalese readers under Nepal Buddhist Text translation Project of NIEM. The sutra, as the name suggests, describes Sukhavati as the land of utmost bliss and happiness.
The Sanskrit text was for the first time edited and translated into English by Max Muller and B. Nanjio and published in Anectdota Oxoniensia, Aryan Series, Vol I, part II, Oxford, 1883. Another edition of the text was made available by Dr. P.L. Vaidya in Mahayana Sutra Samgraha published by the Mithila Institute, Darbanga, India, 1961.
The Pure Land sect of China and Japan consider the text as one of the most sacred sutras. The recitation of the name Amitabha is the most cherished dharma door among Chinese and Japanese Buddhist for taking rebirth Sukhavati Buddhaksetra.
The aspirant seeking rebirth in Sukhavati heaven are not only limited to and Japan, it is also present conspicuously present in the Newar Buddhist tradition of the Kathmandu Valley.
In the Newar Buddhist tradition, the cult of Five Buddhas seems to be predominant. The tradition of depicting Buddha Akshobhya from Abhirati paradise in the East, Buddha Amitabha from Sukhavati in the West, Buddha Amoghsiddhi from Amoghvati in the north, Buddha Ratna Sambhava from Ratnavati in the south and the Buddha Vairocana from Akanistha is represented in most of the Stupas of Kathmandu valley.
The predominant exposure of Amitabha and his Buddhaketra in the Southeast Asia only is yet obscure and is a subject of further study and research. The Newar Buddhism is predominantly "Indic" in nature, although there are several indigenous elements. It is through Nepal that this tradition was conveyed to Tibet. Nepalese Buddhism has had much in common with the domesticated form of Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet and Japan-notably, householder Samgha, and with a special emphasis on devotion to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
The earliest inscription dated 610 A.D from Patan is one of the epigraphic references to Amitabha in South Asia. There are several stone images depicting Amitabha and Bodhisattva Padmapani of the Lichchavi period. It suggests that the rebirth in Sukhavati is one of the principal elements of the aspirants. The image of Amitabh Buddha is found on the crown of Avalokiteshvara in Nepalese images from as early as 550 AD. It is said that Sukhavati heaven is ten billion world systems west from this earth. How can we get there then? The Sutra also says that no body can take rebirth in this Sukhavati with insufficient roots of merits. How much merit ? It is not expressed explicitly in that sutra. But it 's clearly described how one can take rebirth in that Sukhavati heaven.
It is thus described.
" Sariputra, whatever son or daughter of a family shall hear the name of the blessed Amitayus, the Tathagata, and having heart it, shall keep it in mind, and with thoughts undisturbed shall keep in mind for one, two, three, four, five, six or sevens, - when that son or daughter of a family comes to die, then that Amitayus, the Tathagata, surrounded by an assembly of disciples and followed by a host of Bodhisattvas, will stand before them at their hour of death, and they will depart this life with tranquil minds. After their death, they will be born in the world Sukhavati, in The Buddha country of the same Amitayus, the Tathagata."
The Smaller Sukhavati-Vyuha
Adoration to the Omniscient !
Thus it was heard by me:
At one time the Blessed (Bhagavat, i.e. Buddha) dwelt at Sravasti, in the Jeta-grove, in the garden of Anathapindaka, together with a large company of Bhikshus (mendicant friars), viz. with twelve hundred and fifty Bhikshus;
All of them acquainted with the five kinds of knowledge, elders, great disciples, afn Arthats, such as Sariputra, the elder, Mahamaudgalyana, Mahakasyapa, Mahakapphina, Mahakatyayana, Mahakaushthila, Revata, Suddhispathaka, Nanda, Ananda, Rahula, Gavampati, Bharadvaja, Kalodayin, Vakkula, and Aniruddha. He dwelt together with these and many other great disciples, and together with many noble-minded Bodhisattvas such Manjusri, the prince, the Bodhisattva Ajita, the Bodhisattva Gandhahastin, the Bodhisattva Nityodyukta, the bodhisattva Anikshiptadhura. He dwelt together with them and many other noble-mined Bodhisattvas, and with sakra, the Indra of King of the Devas, and with Brahman Sahampati. With these and many other hundred thousand nayutas of sons of the gods, Bhagavat dwelt at Sravasti .
Then Bhagavat addressed the honoured Sariputra and said, "O Sariputra, after you have passed from here over a hundred thousand kotis of Buddha countries there is in the Western part a Buddha country, a world called Sukhavati (the happy country). And there a Tathagata called Amitayus, an arhat, fully enlightened, dwells now, and remains, and supports himself, and teaches the Law.
'Now what do you think, Sariputra, for what reason is that world called Sukhavati (the happy)? In that world Sukhavati, O Sariputra, there is neither bodily or mental pain for living beings. The sources of happiness are innumerable there. For that reason is that world called Sukhavati (the happy).
'And again, O Sariputra, that world Sukhavati is adorned with seven terraces, with seven rows of palm-trees, and with strings of bells. It is enclosed on every side, beautiful, brilliant with the four gems, viz. gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. With such arrays of excellencies peculiar to a Buddha country is that Buddha country adorned.
'And again, O Sariputra, in that world Sukhavati there are lotus lakes, adorned with the seven gems. viz. gold, silver, beryl, crystal, red pearls, diamonds, and corals as the seventh. They are full of water which possesses the eight good qualities, 'their waters rise as high as the fords and bathing places, so that even crows may drink there; they are strewn with golden sand. And in these lotus lakes there are all around on the four sides four stairs. beautiful and brilliant with the four gems, viz. gold, silver, beryl, crystal. And on every side of these lotus-lakes gem-trees are growing, beautiful and brilliant with the seven gems, viz. gold, silver, beryl, crystal, red pearls, diamonds, and corals as the seventh.
And in those lotus-lakes lotus-flowers are growing, blue, blue-coloured, of blue splendor, blue to behold; yellow, yellow-coloured, of white splendor, white to behold: beautifully coloured, of beautiful splendor, beautiful to behold, and in circumference as large as the wheel of a chariot.
'And again, O Sariputra, in that Buddha country there are heavenly musical instruments always played on, and the earth is lovely and of golden colour. An din that Buddha country a flower-rain of heavenly Mandarava blossoms pours down three times every day, and three times every night. And the beings who are born there worship before their morning meal a hundred thousand kotis of Buddha by going to other worlds; and having showered a hundred thousand kotis of flowers upon each Tathagata, they return to their own world in time for the afternoon rest. With such arrays of excellence peculiar to a Buddha country is that Buddha country adorned.
'And again, O, Sariputra, there are in that Buddha country swans, curlews, and peacocks. three times every night, and three times every day, they come together and perform a concert, each uttering his own note. And from them thus uttering proceeds a sound proclaiming the five virtues, the five powers, and the seven steps leading towards the highest knowledge. When the men there hear that sound, remembrance of Buddha, remembrance of the Law, remembrance of the Sangha, rises in their mind.
'Now, do you think, O Sariputra, that there are beings who have entered into the nature of animals (birds, & c)? This is not to be thought of. the very name of hells is unknown in that Buddha country. and likewise that (descent into) animal bodies and of the realm of Yama (the four apayas). NO, these tribes of birds have been made on purpose by the Tathagata Amitayus, and they utter the sound of the Law. With such arrays of excellences, &c.
'And again, O Sariputra, when those rows of palm-trees and strings of bells in that Buddha. country are moved by the wind, a sweet and enrapturing sound proceeds from them. Yes, O Sariputra, as from a heavenly musical instrument consisting of a hundred thousand kotis of sounds when played by Aryas. A sweet and enrapturing sound proceeds, a sweet and enrapturing sound proceeds from those rows of palm-trees and strings of bells moved by the wind. And when the men hear that sound, reflection on Buddha arises in them, reflection on the Law, reflection on t he Sangha. With such arrays of excellences, & c.
'Now what do you think, O Sariputra, for what reason is that Tathagata called Amitayus? The length of life (Ayus), O Sariputra, of that Tathagata and of those men there is immeasurable (amita). Therefore is that Tathagata called Amitayus. And ten kalpas have passed, O Sariputra, since that Tathagata awoke to perfect knowledge.
'And what do you think, O Sariputra, for what reason is that Tathagata called Amitabha? The splendor (abha), O Sariputra, of that Tathagata is unimpeded over all Buddha countries. Therefore is that Tathagata called Amitabha.
'And there is, O. Sariputra, an innumerable assembly of disciples which that Tathagata, purified and venerable persons, whose number it is not easy to count. Whish such arrays of excellences &c.
'And again, O Sariputra, of those beings also who are born in the Buddha country of the Tathagata Amitayus was purified Bodhisattvas, never return again and bound by one birth only, of those Bodhisattvas also, O Sariputra, the number is not easy to count, except they are reckoned as infinite in number.
'Then again all beings. O Sariputra, ought to make fervent prayer for that Buddha country and Why? Because they come together there with such excellent men. Beings are not born in that Buddha country of the Tathagata Amitayus as a reward and result of good works performed in this present life.
No, whatever son or daughter of a family shall hear the name of the blessed Amitayus, the Tathagata, and having heard it, shall keep it in mind, and with thoughts undisturbed shall keep in mind for one, two, three, four, five, six or seven nights, -when that so or daughter of a family comes to die, then that Amitayus , the Tathagata, surrounded by an assembly of disciples and followed by a host of Bodhisattvas, will stand before them at their hour of death, and they will depart this life with tranquil minds. After their death they will be born in the world Sukhavati, in the Buddha country of the same Amitayus, the Tathatgata.
Therefore, then, O Sariputra, having perceived this cause and effect, I with reverence say thus, Every son and every daughter of a family ought with their whole mind to make fervent prayer for that Buddha country.
'And now, O Sariputra, as I here at present glorify the world, thus in the East, O Sariputra, other blessed Buddhas, liked by the Tathagata Akshobhya, the Tathagata Merudhvaja, the Tathagata Mahameru, three Tathagata Meruprabhasa, and the Tathagata Manjudhvaja, equal in number to the sand of the river Ganga, comprehend their own Buddha countries in their speech, and then reveal them. Accept this repetition of the Law, called the "Favor of all Buddhas," magnifies their inconceivable excellences.
'Thus also in the South do other blessed Buddhas, led by the Tathagata Candrasuryapradipa, the Tathagata Yasahprabha, the Tathagata Maharciskandha, the Tathagata Merupradipa, the Tathagata Anantavirya, equal in number to the sand of the river Ganga, comprehend their own Buddha countries in their speech, and then reveal them. Accept, &c.
'Thus also in the West do other blessed Buddhas, led by the Tathagata Amitayus, the Amitaskandha, the Tathagata Amitadhvaja, the Tathagata Mahaprabha, the Tathagata Maharatnaketu, the Tathagata Suddharasmiprabha, equal in number to the sand of the river Ganga, comprehend, &c.
'Thus also in the North do other blessed Buddhas, led by the Tathagatta Maharciskhandha, The Tathagata Vaisvanaranirghosha, the Tathagata Dundubhisvaranirghosha, the Tathagata Dushpradharsha, the Tathagata Adityasambhava, the Tathagata Jaleniprabha (Jvalanaprabha?), the Tathaggata Prabhakara, equal in number to the sand, &c.
'Thus also in the Nadir do other blessed Buddhas, led by the Tathagata Simha, the Tathagata Yasas, the Tathagata Yasahprabhava, the Tathagata Dharma, the Tathagata Dharmandhara, the Tathagata Dharmadhvaja, equal in number to the sand, &c.
'Thus also in the Zenith do other blessed Buddhas, led by the Tathagata Brahmaghosha, the Tathagata Nakshatraraga, the Tathagata Indraketudhvajaraja, the Tathagata Gandhottama, the Tathagata Gandhaprabhasa, the Tathagata Maharkiskandha, the Tathagata Ratnakusumasampushpitagatra, the Tathagata Salendraraja, the Tathagata Ratnotpalasri, the Tathagata Sarvarthadarsa, the Tathagata Sumerukalpa, equal in number to the sand, &c.
'Now what do you think, O Sariputra, for what reason is that repetition (treatise) of the Law called the Favour of all Buddhas ? Every son or daughter of a family who shall hear the name o that repetition of the Law and retain in their memory the names of those blessed Buddhas, will be favoured by the Buddhas, and will never return again, being once in possession of the transcendent true knowledge. Therefore, then, O Sariputra, believe, accept and do not doubt of me and those blessed Buddhas!
'Whatever sons or daughters of a family shall make mental prayer for the Buddhas country of that blessed Amitayus, the Tathagata, or are making it now or have made it formerly, all these will never return again, beings once in possession of the transcendent true knowledge. They will be born in that buddha country, have been born, or are being born now. Therefore, then O Sariputra, mental prayer is to be made for that Buddha country by faithful sons and daughters of a family.
'And as I at present magnify here the inconceivable excellences of those blessed Buddhas, thus O Sariputra, do those blessed Buddhas magnify my own inconceivable excellences.
'A very difficult work has been done by Sakyamuni, the sovereign of the Sakyas. Having obtained the transcendent true knowledge in this world Saha, he taught the Law which all the world is reluctant to accept, during this corruption of the present kalpa, during this corruption of mankind, during this corruption of belief, during this corruption of life, during this corruption of passions.
'This is even for me, O Sariputra, an extremely difficult work that, having obtained the transcendent true knowledge in this world Saha, I taught the Law which all the world is reluctant to accept, during the corruption of mankind, of belief, of passion, of life, and of this present kalpa.
Thus spoke Bhagavat joyful in his mind. And the honourable Sariputra, and the Bhikshus and Bodhisattvas, and the whole with the gods, men, evil spirits and genie, applauded the speech of Bhagavat.
This is the Mahayanasutra called Sukhavati-vyuha
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