The Great Parinirvana Sutra

(Taisho Tripitaka 0375)


Chapter 1: Introduction

[605a] Thus have I heard. One time the Buddha was staying at the city of Kusinagara, the birthplace of the great worthy, on the shore of the Ajiravati River between a pair of Sala trees. At that time, the World Honored One was accompanied by a great bhiksu congregation numbering eighty nayutas of kotis [1] of people, encircling him front and back. On the fifteenth day of the second month, the time of his entry into Nirvana was eminent. Using the buddhas' spiritual power, he issued a great voice that universally filled the minds of beings. Conforming to each species of beings, the voice addressed all the sentient beings (sattvas), "Today the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Perfectly Enlightened One, feels compassion for sentient beings, protectively shelters the sentient beings, and regards sentient beings equally as he would his own son, Rahula. For the sake of those who have taken refuge, and for the householders, the greatly awakened World Honored One now wishes to enter Nirvana. If any sentient being has uncertainties, they can now submit the very last questions [to the Tathagata]."

At that time, the World Honored One in the early morning issued from his facial orifices a variety of lights. Their brilliance was of various colors. They were blue, yellow, red, white, rock crystal (sphatika), and agate. The light pervasively lit the trichiliocosm of Buddha worlds, reaching out into all ten directions as well. Within those worlds, the sentient beings of the six destinies who encountered this light had their evil defilements and afflictions completely nullified. The minds of the sentient beings who witnessed these events were greatly distressed (duhkha), and yet at once they were uplifted by the voice of compassion, which was called the Cry of Compassion. Its lament was that of a sympathetic parent, who cries, "O, the suffering! The distress!" They lifted their hands to their heads, beat their breasts, and gave a great cry. These beings, whether or not they had bodily form, were angry and apprehensive. They wept and sobbed.

At that time, the mountains and oceans of the Earth quaked and trembled. Then the sentient beings who shared this experience said to each other, "We now resolve to discipline ourselves, so that none are subject to great anxiety or affliction. Let us go now with haste to Kusinagara, the city of the great worthy's birthplace. And when we arrive we will salute the Tathagata, pay our respects, and beseech him to forgo entry into parinirvana, to remain in the world for another kalpa or more."

They held each other's hands and again exclaimed, "The worldly existence is vacant and the merits of sentient beings are exhausted. The unwholesome deeds of old have brought them into this world. Now, the Sage shall soon leave us! He shall soon leave us! It is not long now before the Tathagata must enter Nirvana."

And again they said, "The worldly existence is vacant! The worldly existence is vacant! From now on we will be without his aid [605b] and protection. Having no tradition to look to, we are left impoverished and isolated from the [Dharma] dew. In one morning, we shall be left behind by the unsurpassed World Honored One. Who shall we go to with our questions when there are doubts or misconceptions?"

And then there was a measureless number of great disciples present. The venerable Mahakatyayana, the venerable Vakula, and the venerable Upananda were among those of the great bhiksus who witnessed the Buddha's light and, being unable to maintain themselves, their bodies were tossed about when the ground shook. Their minds were muddled, doubtful, and anguished when the great cry [of compassion] arose. There arose in them such a variety of afflictions (klesas).

And at that time, there were eighty kotis of bhiksus who were arhats. Their minds had attained freedom. Having done what needed to be done, they had departed from the afflictions. Having pacified the roots [of defilement], they were like great Naga kings in their great deportment and virtue. Having consummated the wisdom of emptiness and seized the their own reward, they were like a sandalwood forest with sandalwood trees all around, or like the lions who surround a lion king. Having consummated such infinite virtues, they were true disciples of the Buddha.

In the early morning just as the sun was rising, when each of them woke and went to brush their teeth, they encountered the Buddha's light and there appeared an image before them that said, "Sage, you must bath and brush your teeth with haste!" This being said, they arose, hands and body, and when they stood the side of their bodies upon which they had lain was red like the palasa blossom. Tears filled their eyes, and there arose in them a great anguish. Hoping that sentient beings might receive the blessing of peaceful happiness, they had consummated the Mahayana's supreme practice of emptiness, manifesting the inception of the expediency of the Tathagata's esoteric teachings. In order to prevent the disappearance of the spoken Dharmas and bring about the circumstances leading to the pacification of sentient beings, they made haste to the Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and circled him one hundred thousand times. With their palms together in reverence, they withdrew to sit at one side.

And at that time, there was present the women of Kusinagara. Bhiksuni Good Worthy, bhiksuni Upananda, and bhiksuni Oceanic Mind were accompanied by sixty nayutas of bhiksunis who were great arhats. Their outflows ended, their minds had attained freedom. Having done what needed to be done, they had departed from the afflictions. Having pacified the roots [of defilement], they were like great Nagas in their great deportment and virtue. They had consummated the wisdom of emptiness.

In the early morning just as the sun was rising, they arose, hands and body. When they stood the side of their bodies upon which they had lain was red like the Palasa blossom. Tears filled their eyes, and there arose in them a great anguish. They, too, hoping that sentient beings might receive the blessing of peaceful happiness, had consummated the Mahayana's supreme practice of emptiness, manifesting the inception of the expediency of the Tathagata's esoteric teachings. In order to prevent the disappearance of the spoken Dharmas and bring about the circumstances leading to the pacification of sentient beings, they made haste to the Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and circled him one hundred thousand times. With their palms together in reverence, they withdrew to sit at one side.

And among the bhiksunis, there were bhiksunis who were like Nagas among the bodhisattvas [605c]. They were seated and peacefully dwelt at the level of imperturbability among the ten bodhisattva stages. It was in order to transform sentient beings that they manifested female bodes and constantly practiced the four immeasurable minds. Having attained the power of freedom, they could transform themselves into Buddhas [if they so chose].

At that time, there were bodhisattva-mahasattvas whose number were like the sands of the Ganges River. Nagas among men, they were seated and peacefully dwelt at the level of imperturbability among the ten bodhisattva stages, and could expediently manifest their bodies [freely]. Their names were Bodhisattva Oceanic Virtue and Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Mind. They were the foremost leaders among the bodhisattva-mahasattvas. Their thoughts were reverent of the Mahayana, peacefully dwelt in the Mahayana, deeply understood the Mahayana, delighted in the Mahayana, and protected the Mahayana. They were skilled in conforming themselves [to the circumstances of] all worldly beings, making the vow, "I shall lead those who have not yet been liberated to the attainment of liberation." They had in the distant past of infinite kalpas cultivated and kept the precepts purely, skillfully maintained the practice of understanding what is not yet understood, and assisted the three jewels, being certain that they did not perish. And in future lives they would turn the Dharma wheel, adorning themselves with the great armor. Consummating thus such infinitely virtuous deeds, they regarded sentient beings equally as they would an only child.

In the early morning just as the sun was rising, they encountered the Buddha's light and arose, hands and body. When they stood the side of their bodies upon which they had lain was red like the Palasa blossom. Tears filled their eyes, and there arose in them a great anguish. They, too, hoping that sentient beings might receive the blessing of peaceful happiness, had consummated the Mahayana's supreme and practice of emptiness, manifesting the inception of the expediency of the Tathagata's esoteric teachings. In order to prevent the disappearance of the spoken Dharmas and bring about the circumstances leading to the pacification of sentient beings, they made haste to the Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and circled him one hundred thousand times. With their palms together in reverence, they withdrew to sit at one side.

And at that time, there were upasakas whose number were like the sands of two Ganges Rivers. They had taken and kept the precepts, perfect was their majestic deportment. They were the upasaka King Majestic Virtue of Undefiled Speech and upasaka Good Virtue. They were the foremost leaders. They deeply delighted in the contemplation of the ways of correcting oneself. The subjects of contemplation were suffering and happiness, permanence and impermanence, purity and impurity, self and non-self, the real and the unreal, taking refuge and not taking refuge, sentient beings and what is not sentient beings, the continuous and non-continuous, peace and non-peace, the conditioned and the unconditioned, the ending and the unending, Nirvana and what is not Nirvana, as well as advancement and what is not advancement. They always delighted deeply in the contemplation of ways of correcting themselves. They, too, longed to and delighted in listening to the unsurpassed Mahayana. And having heard it, they could explain it to others. They were skilled in keeping the precepts purely, which quenched their thirst for the Mahayana. When they were completely satisfied, they could, again, drink up what remained. They were skilled at accumulating the unsurpassed wisdom. They delighted in the Mahayana and defended it. They were skilled at conforming themselves to [the circumstances] [606a] of the all worldly beings, liberating those who were not yet liberated and understanding what was not yet understood. They assisted the three jewels, being certain that they did not perish. And in future lives they would turn the Dharma wheel, adorning themselves with the great armor. Their minds were constantly steeped in the flavor of the pure practice of the precepts. Consummating thus such infinitely virtuous deeds, there arose the great thought of compassion when they regarded sentient beings equally as it would with an only child.

In the early morning just as the sun was rising, because they wished to be present for the cremation the Tathagata's body, they each took up 10,000 bundles of fragrant woods. These included sandalwood, agura, oxhead sandalwood, and fragrant wood of the Heavens. The lines on the grain of each of these woods were quite compact. They had embedded into them the seven treasures, which glowed with a marvelous light. It was as though they were painted decoratively with various hues. Through the Buddha's power, there were wondrous hues of blue, yellow, red, and white that sentient beings were delighted to see. These woods had been treated with a variety of perfumes, with saffron, agura, and ambar. They were sprinkled with flowers. These included blue lotuses (utpala), white lotuses (kumuda), red lotuses (padma), and silver lotuses (pundarika). These fragrant woods were covered with pennants of all five colors. These pennants were soft and pliant, marvelous, like heavenly robes, silk robes (Kauseya), linen (ksauma), or silk embroidery.

They carried these fragrant woods with jewel-studded carts. These jewel-studded carts produced a variety of lights that were blue, yellow, red, and white. Their axles and spokes were filled with a mixture of the seven treasures. Each of these carts was yoked with teams of four horses, and each of these horses was as swift as the wind. Each of these carts had standing at its fore fifty-seven marvelous and precious pennants, and a netting woven from real gold covered them. Each of these jewel-studded carts had fifty wondrous and precious canopies. Above each of these carts there were draped blossom vines on which were blue lotuses, white lotuses, red lotuses, and silver lotuses.

The flowers were tempered with gold, had leaves of adamantine, and were set on terraces. In these flower terraces there were numerous bees that buzzed in them happily, enjoying themselves. Also, there were wondrous voices that spoke of impermanence, affliction, emptiness, and selflessness. And these voices spoke of the root of practicing the bodhisattva path. There were, as well, a variety of singers and musicians who played bamboo lutes, harps, flutes, and drums. To this delightful music was a voice saying, "O, the suffering!

The suffering that is in this vacant world!"

Before each of these carts there were four jewel-studded stands carried by upasakas. And upon these stands were piled a variety of flowers. These included blue lotuses, white lotuses, red lotuses, and silver lotuses. There were also saffron fragrances and other perfuming fragrances that were wondrous and supreme. The upasakas furnished a variety of meals and supplies for the Buddha and the sangha. This included fragrant firewood made of sandalwood and agura. The food was sweet and exquisitely cooked in the eight virtuous waters, [606b] and had the six flavors. These were 1) bitter, 2) sour, 3) sweet, 4) acrid, 5) salty, and 6) insipid. The food also had three virtues. These were 1) light and soft, 2) pure and clean, and 3) like the Dharma. Assembling such a variety of adornments, they went to the Worthy One's birthplace, where he rested between a pair of Sala trees.

Once there, they spread gold dust throughout the area. With kalavinka clothing, kambala clothing, and embroidered silk clothing they covered up the gold dust, creating a pile all around twelve yojanas high. For the Buddha and the sangha, they prepared lion thrones inlaid with the seven treasures. These thrones were as tall as Mount Sumeru. And above them were precious curtains, from which were hung diamond necklaces. From the Sala trees were hung a variety of marvelous pennants and canopies. The trees were treated with a variety of excellent perfumes. Flowers of various names were scattered among the trees.

The upasakas each then had this thought, "If any sentient beings are lacking in their possessions of drink, food, clothing, medicine, head, eyes, limbs, or body; then they can make use of and be furnished with these offerings." Once they had given this gift, the upasakas departed from having desire, enmity, anger, defilement, discord, or otherwise injurious thoughts. Being devoid of any remainder of these thoughts, they made the vow to seek the life of merit and happiness. Their only ambition was the unsurpassed and pure bodhi. These upasakas had peacefully dwelt in the bodhisattva path.

And then they had this thought, "The Tathagata has today received our food and shall enter into Nirvana." Having had that thought, they arose, hands and body, and when they stood the side of their bodies upon which they had lain was red like the Palasa blossom. Tears filled their eyes, and there arose in them a great anguish. Each of them took up and carried the gift of supplies that were piled into their jewel-studded carts. These included the fragrant woods, pennants, flags, precious canopies, beverages, and food. They went to the Buddha with haste and prostrated themselves at his feet. With what they had carried with them, they made offerings with the desire to support the Tathagata. They then circled him one hundred thousand times, praising his [ten] epithets. Their tearful grief was such that it shook both Heaven and Earth.

They beat their beasts and let out a great cry. Tears fell from Heaven like rain.

And they said to one another, "O, Sage, the suffering of this vacant world! How vacant is the world!"

They said to the Buddha, "Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings." The World Honored One remained silent when he saw this and did not accept the offerings. And after three such attempts, he still did not accept them. The upasakas' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were sorrowful as they silently waited. It was just like the extreme grief and anguish of a loving father whose only child had come to the end of its life and was forced to send its body back home with him for the funeral. The compassionate tears and anguish of these upasakas was also so. With their gifts and supplies, they calmly arranged a place and withdrew to sit quietly at one side.

And at that time, there were upasikas whose number were like the sands of three Ganges Rivers. They had taken and kept the five precepts, perfect was their majestic [606c] deportment. Their names were upasika Life of Virtue, upasika Virtuous Hairpin, and upasika Vaisakha. They were the foremost leaders among the myriad number [2] of upasikas. They were able to deeply serve, protect, and uphold the true Dharma. In order to liberate the measureless kotis of sentient beings, they manifested female bodies to enforce the household Dharma.

They regarded their own bodies to be like the four poisonous snakes, like bodies constantly being the meal for an infinite number of insects, like bodies that were foul smelling, polluted, lustful, and a prison of bondages. They regarded their bodies as being capable of evil deeds such as the taking of life, regarded their bodies to be constantly leaking from the nine impure orifices, and also like a construction of blood, flesh, sinew, and bone wrapped in skin. The use of the hands and feet was for repelling enemies, like the tower and shield. The eye was the window. The head was the ceremonial hall. The heart was the Lord's abode. The Buddhas, the World Honored Ones, discard and leave behind this bodily fortress. In contrast, when the ordinary man encounters another person, he always has attachments to the feelings he has [about that person's body]. Whether they are covetous, lustful, angry, or hateful, he encounters delusions, as though demons (raksasa) inhabited the other person's body.

The upasikaas regarded the body to be infirm like rushes, reeds, the airavana tree, water bubbles, banana plants, and weeds. They regarded the body to be impermanent and that thoughts abided nowhere in it. That it was just like a lightning flash, rushing water, or the shadows cast by a fire. That it was like drawing a line in water, which just as it is drawn is swallowed up again. They regarded the body to be variable and destructible, like a great tree growing on a river shore, or near a sheer cliff. They regarded the body to be unenduring, that it shall be food to foxes, wolves, kites, owls, buzzards, eagles, ravens, magpies, and starving dogs. Who that is a Sage would delight in this body? How can an ox's footprints hold an ocean's waters? It is impossible to say that they can. They regarded the body to be impermanent, impure, foul smelling, and unclean. How can the round Earth be used like a date tree? Its gradual turning is so slight, like seeds being ground into dust grains, it is impossible to say that it can be. The body is given to faults and anxiety. This is why it should be abandoned, like casting aside tears and criticism.

Under these circumstances the upasikas, with the Dharmas of emptiness, marklessness, and wishlessness constantly cultivated their minds. They deeply delighted in asking to receive the Mahayana Sutras. And having heard them, they could explain them to others. They protected and upheld their personal vows, even while their female bodies were slandered. Deeply could their behavior cause insecurity in those with the dispositions of anxiety and disgust. The upasikas always cultivated their minds, gathering thus the correct contemplation, destroying the endlessly turning wheel of birth and death (samsara). Once they had quenched their thirst for the Mahayana and were completely satisfied, they could, again, drink up what remained. They deeply delighted in the Mahayana and defended it. And although they manifested female bodies, they were really bodhisattvas. They were skilled in conforming themselves [to the circumstances of] all worldly beings, liberating those not yet liberated and understanding what has not yet been understood. They assisted the three jewels, being certain that they did not perish. And in future lives they would turn the Dharma wheel, adorning themselves with the great armor. They kept firmly to the precepts. Consummating thus such virtuous deeds, there arose the great thought of compassion when they regarded sentient beings equally as it would with an only child.

[607a] In the early morning just as the sun was rising, they said to one another, "Today we ought to go to that pair of Sala trees." The upasikas gathered together supplies twice as great as the last. They took these offerings, went to the Buddha, and prostrated themselves at his feet. They circled him one hundred thousand times and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we now have provided for the Buddha and the sangha these offerings of supplies. Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings."

The Tathagata remained silent and did not accept their offerings. The upasikas' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were sorrowful as they withdrew to sit at one side.

And at that time, there were carts carrying the men, women, wives, children, and attendants from the city of Vaisali whose number was like the sands of four Ganges Rivers. And with them also was the King of Jambuvipa and his attendants. They came seeking the Dharma and were skilled in the cultivation of practicing the precepts, perfect was their majestic deportment. The destruction of the Dharma by the various heretics always caused them to say to one another, "We vow use gold, silver, and grain to bring about the sweet dew of the inexhaustible and true Dharma, so that the germ at its very core will abide for a long time in the world. This wish leads us to always cultivate our studies. If there is someone who slanders the Buddhas' true Dharma, we shall cut out his tongue." And, again, they composed the vow, "If there is someone who leaves the household life and then breaks the precepts, then we shall stop him and send him back to the lay life to work as a scribe. If they can take deep delight in protecting and keeping the true Dharma, then we shall respect and honor them as we would our own fathers and mothers. If there is a sangha that can cultivate the true Dharma, then we shall follow them gladly and give them vitality and strength." They always wished and gladly listened to the Mahayana Sutras. And having heard them, they could explain them to others. They had completely consummated such virtuous deeds.

Their names were the Licchavi Pure and Undefiled Seed, the Licchavi Pure and Unerring, and the Licchavi Ganges Waters of Undefiled and Pure Virtue. They each said to each other, "The Sages now have made haste to the Buddha with offerings of supplies of a variety of excellences." They each departed with their carts that were adorned by 84,000 great elephants, 84000 great four-horse jeweled carriages, and 84,000 moonlight pearls. They took with them bundles of heavenly wood, sandalwood, and airavana perfumed firewood, the variety of which was of 84,000 kinds. Each of the elephants bore precious pennants, flags, and canopies. The smaller canopies were wrapped around them loosely and filled a yojana. The very shortest of the flags measured thirty-two yojanas in length. The shortest of the pennants were as tall as one hundred yojanas. Carrying such offerings, they went to the Buddha and prostrated themselves at his feet. They circled him 100,000 times and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we now have provided for the Buddha and the sangha these offerings of supplies. Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our offerings." The Tathagata remained silent and did not accept their offerings. The Licchavis' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were sorrowful and grieved. By the Buddha's spiritual power, they were moved to a grove [607b] of seven Tala trees, and there they silently waited.

And at that time, there was a group of great elders whose number was like the sands of five Ganges rivers. They had respect for the Mahayana. If those of the various studies slandered the true Dharma, these men had the ability to defeat them, just as hail and rain breaks and bends the grasses and trees. Their names were the elder Sunlight, the elder Defender of the World, and the elder Defender of the Dharma. They were the foremost leaders. They gathered together supplies five times as great as the last and took their offerings to the pair of Sala trees. They prostrated themselves at the Buddha's feet, circled him 100,000 times, and then said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we now have provided for the Buddha and the sangha these offerings of supplies. Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our offerings." The Tathagata remained silent and did not accept their offerings. The elders' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were sorrowful and grieved. By the Buddha's spiritual power, they were moved to a grove of seven Tala trees, and there they silently waited.

And at that time, there was the King of Vaisali, his wife, and his palace retinue.

From Jambudvipa there were the Kings who had removed the King Ajatasatru from power. They were together with the common people from the villages, towns, and cities of their kingdoms. Among them was one king named Moon Without Defilement. Each wearing four weapons, they wished to go to the Buddha. Each of these Kings had a retinue of one hundred and eighty ten thousands of nayutas of common people. Their carts were war chariots pulled by elephants and horses. The elephants had six tusks and the horses were as swift as the wind. The carts were laden with supplies six times as great as the last. The very smallest of the precious canopies had a circumference easily filling eight yojanas. The very shortest of the flags was sixteen yojanas in length. And the lowest of the precious pennants was thirty-six yojanas high. These Kings peacefully dwelt in the true Dharma and detested scornfully the mistaken Dharmas. They respected the Mahayana and deeply delighted in it. They felt compassion for sentient beings as they would an only child.

They carried beverages and food, the aroma of which perfumed the air throughout an area of four yojanas. In the early morning just as the sun was rising, they took up a variety of superior and wondrous sweet delicacies, and went to where the Tathagata was staying between the pair of Saala trees. They said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we now have provided for the Buddha and the sangha these offerings of supplies. Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. The Kings' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were sorrowful as they withdrew to sit at one side.

And at that time, there was a group of God Kings whose number was like the sands of seven Ganges Rivers. These were only those who removed the wife of Ajatasatru. In order to liberate sentient beings, they manifested themselves with female bodies. They constantly contemplated their bodily conduct. [607c] And by way of the Dharmas of emptiness, marklessness, and wishlessness, they perfumed and cultivated their minds. They were the wife Wonder of the Three Realms and the wife Commiserate Virtue. They were those among the Kings' wives. They peacefully dwelt in the true Dharma, cultivating their practice of the precepts, perfect was their majestic deportment. They felt compassion for sentient beings as they would an only child.

They said to one another, "We should now make haste to the World Honored One." The Kings' wives gathered offerings seven times as great as the last. They took up aromatic flowers, precious pennants, embroidered silk, flags, canopies, and superior and wondrous beverages and food. The smallest of the precious canopies had a circumference that easily filled sixteen yojanas. The very shortest of the flags was thirty-six yojanas in length. The lowest of the precious flags was sixty-eight yojanas high. The aroma of the beverages and foods perfumed the air throughout an area of eight yojanas. Carrying these offerings of supplies, they went to the Tathagata and prostrated themselves at his feet. They then circled him 100,000 times and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we have provided for the Buddha and the sangha these offerings of supplies. Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. Then, the wives' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were sorrowful and anguished. They pulled the hair out of their heads, beat their chests, and let out a great wail, like compassionate mothers who had recently buried a beloved child. They withdrew to sit quietly to one side.

And at that time, there was a group of goddesses whose number was like the sands of eight Ganges Rivers. There was the Goddess Extensive Eye who was foremost leader among them. She made the statement, "O, sisters! Look closely, look closely! These various assemblies have gathered together a variety of superior and wondrous offerings of supplies with the wish to offer them to the Tathagata and the bhiksu sangha. We should also gather together such marvelous offerings of supplies to give to the Tathagata. Once the Tathagata has accepted them, he will then enter Nirvana. Sisters, the appearance in the world of the Buddhas, the Tathagatas, is most difficult. To make the very last offerings they accept is twice as difficult to do. If the Buddha enters Nirvana, the world will be left vacant."

The goddesses cherished and delighted in the Mahayana and wished to listen to it. And having heard it, they could explain it to others. When their thirst was quenched for the Mahayana and they were completely satisfied, they could, again, drink up what remained. They defended the Mahayana. If there was someone from the sanghas of the heretical sects who was envious of the Mahayana, the goddesses were strong enough to knock down their arguments, like a storm knocking down grass. They protected and kept the precepts, perfect was their majestic deportment. They were skilled in conforming themselves [to the circumstances of] all worldly beings, liberating those not yet liberated and saving those not yet saved. And in future lives they would turn the Dharma wheel. They assisted the three jewels, being certain that they did not perish, and cultivated the study of the Mahayana. They adorned themselves with the great armor. Having consummated such infinitely virtuous deeds, they felt compassion for sentient beings as they would [608a] an only child.

In the early morning just as the sun was rising, they each took up a variety of heavenly wood and fragrances, twice that possessed by the human assemblies. The scent of their firewood perfuming the air could suppress the variety of foul odors among mortals. They had white carts with white canopies drawn by teams of white horses. Atop each cart was spread a white sheet. From all four sides of the sheets dangled gold and silver, a variety of fragrant flowers, precious pennants, flags, and canopies. Atop them were piled wondrously sweet delicacies and a variety of delightful dancers. The goddesses prepared their lion thrones. The four feet of their thrones were made of pure blue agate. On the backsides of these thrones the seven treasures were sown into the back and floor. On the front side of each throne was also a golden desk. And the trees were lit by the seven treasures, a variety of pearls being used for lamp light. Marvelous were the heavenly flowers scattered everywhere on their properties. Once the goddesses had gathered these gifts, their minds became grieved, tears flowed freely, and there arose in them a great anguish. In order to bless sentient beings with peaceful happiness, they had consummated the Mahayana's supreme practice of emptiness, manifesting the inception of the expediency of the Tathagata's esoteric teachings. And to prevent the disappearance of the spoken Dharmas, they went to the Buddha and prostrated themselves at his feet. They circled him one 100,000 times and then said to Buddha, "World Honored One, our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings."

The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. The goddesses' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were grieved and anguished. They withdrew to one side quietly and seated themselves.

And at that time, there were naga kings residing in the four direction whose number was like the sands of nine Ganges Rivers. They were the naga king Peaceful Cultivation of Fortune, the naga king Nanda, and the naaga king Bhananda. They were the foremost leaders.

In the early morning just as the sun was rising, these naga kings gathered offerings of supplies twice as great as that of the men and gods. They brought them to the Buddha and prostrated themselves at his feet. They circled him 100,000 times and then said to the Buddha, "Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. The naga kings' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were grieved and anguished as they withdrew to sit to one side.

And at that time, there were preta kings whose number was equal to that of the sands of ten Ganges Rivers. The king Vaisravana was the foremost leader. They said to one another, "The Sages are now making haste to the Buddha!" They gathered offerings of supplies twice that of the nagas. They brought them to the Buddha and prostrated themselves at his feet. They circled him 100,000 times and then said to to the Buddha, "Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. The preta kings' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were grieved and anguished as they withdrew to sit to one side.

At that time, there again were gold-winged bird kings (garudas) present whose number was equal to that of the sands of twenty Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was [608b] bird king Subjugator of Hatred. Again, there were gandharva kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of thirty Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Nalanda. Again, there were kinnara kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of forty Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Good Sight. Again, there were mahoraga kings present whose number was equal to that of fifty Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Great Good Sight. Again, there were asura kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of sixty Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Savalisa. Again, there were danavat kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of seventy Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Undefiled River Waters and King Bhadradatta. Again, there were rakuasa kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of eighty Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Terrible. They abandoned their evil thoughts and moreover desisted from eating people. From their hate there arose compassionate thoughts. Their ugly and mean countenances were made straight and correct by the Buddha's power. Again, there were tree and wood spirit kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of ninety Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Pleasant Perfume. Again, there were dharada keeper kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of one thousand Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Great Dharani Keeper. Again, there were form-craving ghosts present whose number was equal to that of the sands of ten million Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Good Sight. Again, there were beautiful deva maidens present whose number was equal to that of the sands of a billion Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was Lamba, Ubha, Tilochan, and Visaka. Again, there were spirit kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of ten billion Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was the King White Fluid. Again there were gods, the four god-kings, and other god-kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of one hundred billion Ganges rivers.

Again, there were spirits from the four winds present whose number was equal to that of the sands of one hundred billion Ganges rivers. When they wailed above the trees, the flowers did not then scatter among the two sala trees.

Again, there were spirits who were the lords of the rain clouds present whose number was equal to that of the sands of one hundred billion Ganges rivers. They thought, "When the Tathagata enters Nirvana and his body is cremated, I will pour the rains down to put out the fire. And among the congregation, the fever of anguish then will be cooled."

Again, there were fragrant elephant kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of two hundred billion Ganges rivers. The foremost among them were King Rahu, King Golden, King Sweet Flavor, King Purple Eye, and King Desire's Fragrance. They respected the Mahayana and delighted in the Mahayana. Knowing that it was not long before the Buddha would enter parinirvana, each of them picked and brought a measureless and boundless number of wondrous lotus flowers, went to the Buddha, bowed their heads at his feet, and then withdrew to sit at one side.

Again, there were lions, kings of beasts, present whose number was equal to that of the sands of two hundred billion Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was King Lion's Roar. They gave fearlessness to all the sentient beings, brought flowers and fruit to the Buddha, bowed their heads at the Buddha's feet, and withdrew to sit to one side.

Again, there were flying bird kings present whose number was equal to that of the sands of two hundred billion Ganges rivers. They included ducks, geese, swans, peacocks, sparrows, [608c] gandharva birds, karanda birds, ..., kokila birds, ..., kalavinka birds, and partridges. These birds brought flowers and fruits to the Buddha, bowed their heads at his feet, and then withdrew to sit a one side.

Again, there were water buffalo, cattle, and sheep present whose number was equal to that of the sands of twenty Ganges rivers. They went to the Buddha and gave a wondrously scented milk and that milk flowed all the way to the city of Kusinagara. The sewers and pits there took on the color, fragrance, and flavor of it, all of them being perfected. Once these things were done, the animals withdrew to sit to one side.

Again, there were the spirits and sages from the four heavens present whose number was equal to that of the sands of twenty Ganges rivers. The foremost among them was the Sage named Tolerance. They brought fragrant flowers and sweet fruits to the Buddha, bowed their heads at his feet, and circled him three times. They said to the Buddha, ▀Our only wish is for the World Honored One to accept our very last offerings.?The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept them. When the sage's wishes went without effect, their minds were anguished as they withdrew to sit at one side.

There was also present all the bees in JambudvŃpa. The foremost among them was King Wondrous Voice. They brought a variety of flowers to the Buddha, bowed to this feet, circled him once, and then withdrew to one side.

At that time, the monks and nuns in Jambudvipa all gathered together. The only ones missing were the two congregations of Venerable Mahakasyapa and Venerable Ananda. Again, there were the mountains of Jambudvipa in worlds whose number was equal to that of the sands of a measureless asaikhya of Ganges rivers, the foremost of which was Mount Sumeru. Together the mountains were adorned with densely growing trees and vegitation. The branches and leaves were lush and full, covering and obscuring the light of the sun. They were decorated with a variety of wondrous flowers everywhere. From naga-springs flowed waters that were pure, fragrant, and clean. The gods, nagas, spirits, gandharvas, asuras, garuˇas, kinnaras, mahoragas, and spirit sages intoned magical incantations, sang, and played musical instruments. Thus were the Mount Sumerus filled. The mountain spirits also went to the Buddha, bowed their heads to his feet, and withdrew to one side.

Again there were the spirits of the four oceans and the rivers present whose number was equal to that of the sands of an asaikhya of Ganges rivers. They possessed great majestic virtue and spiritual abilities. They provided twice the supplies of those before them, their spirit bodies glowing and they played instruments while carrying lamp lights. All this obscured the sun and the moon, causing them not to appear. They scattered divining flowers in lines across the rivers. They went to the Buddha, bowed their heads at his feet, and then withdrew to sit at one side.

At that time, the trees of the sala tree forrest near the city of Kusinagara turned white like the white stork. And in the sky there spontaneously appeared a reception hall and tower made of the seven treasures. It was engraved,[609a]carved, and inlaid ornamentally with brilliance. It was surrounded by a railing that was made of a mixture of myriad jewels. Beneath the hall were many springs that flowed into bathing pools. Atop the pools there were wondrous lotus flowers that covered their surface. Like the Uttara-kuru continent to the North and also like the delightful gardens of the Trayastrimsas heaven, there was at that time a variety of adornments inbetween the sala trees which were lovely and delightful in the same way. Everyone regarded this as an indication of the Tathagata's Nirvana. All felt sympathy, anxiety, greif, and unhappiness.

And at that time, there was Sakro-devanam-Indra and the four god kings. They said to one another, "You should contemplate the gods', humans', and asuras' great collections of offerings, and their wish to make the very last offerings to the Tathagata. We, too, should make such offerings. If we were to make the very last offerings, the complete consummation of the perfection of giving (dana-paramita) would not be difficult."

At that time, the four god kings gathered together offerings twice as great as the last. They brought mandarava flowers, great mandarava flowers, manjusaka flowers, great manjusaka flowers, sandanika flowers, great sandanika flowers, lovely flowers, great lovely flowers, flowers of universal virtue, great flowers of universal virtue, timely flowers, great timely flowers, city perfuming flowers, great city perfuming flowers, delightful flowers, great delightful flowers, flowers that stir up desire, great flowers that stir up desire, flowers of intoxicating fragrance, great flowers of intoxicating fragrance, flowers of pervasive fragrance, great flowers of pervasive fragrance, heavenly golden-pedaled flowers, naga flowers, parijata tree flowers, and kovidara tree flowers. And they brought a variety of superior and wondrous sweet delicacies. They went to the Buddha and prostrated themselves at his feet. These gods glowed with a brilliance that outshone the sun and moon. With these supplies, they wished to make offerings to the Buddha. The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. At that time, the gods' wish going unfulfilled, they were grieved and anguished as they withdrew to wait at one side.

And at that time, there was Sakro-devanamindra and the thirty-three gods of the Trayas-trimsa heaven. They gathered together offerings of supplies twice as great as the last. And they brought flowers as before, which perfumed the air in a marvelous and most lovely way. They also brought excellent shrines and smaller shrines with them. They went to the Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and said to him, "World Honored One, we deeply delight in, cherish, and defend the Mahayana. Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our offerings." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. And so, the indra gods' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were grieved and anguished as they withdrew to sit at one side.

Up to the sixth heaven, the gods gathered together offerings, each greater than the last. They gathered precious pennants, flags, and canopies. The smallest of the [609b] canopies covered the four heavens. The shortest of the flags enwrapped the four oceans. The lowest of the pennants reached up to the Paranirmita-vasa-vartin heaven. And the flags and pennants fluttering in the wind produced a wondrous sound. The gods also brought the sweetest delicacies. They went to the Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and said to him, "World Honored One, our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our offerings." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. The gods' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were grieved and anguished as they withdrew to sit at one side.

Above them, the remaining brahma congregations all came and gathered together.

And at that time, there was the great Brahma and his congregation of brahma gods. Their bodies emitted a brilliance that pervaded everything under the four heavens, so much so that the light of the sun and moon in the desire realm were outshone. The brahma gods brought precious pennants, silk embroideries, flags, and canopies. The very shortest of the flags were hung from Brahma's palace and extended down to the Sala trees below. They went to the Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and said to him, "World Honored One, our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our offerings." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept the offerings. The brahmas' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were grieved and anguished as they withdrew to sit at one side.

And at that time, there was the asura king Vimalacitra, who was accompanied by an infinite number of asuras is a great retinue. Their bodies emitted lights that surpassed that of the brahma gods. The asuras brought precious pennants, silk embroideries, flags, and canopies. The smallest of their canopies could cover a chiliocosm. With the sweetest delicacies, they went to the Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and said to him, "Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. The asuras' wish going unfulfilled, their minds were grieved and anguished as they withdrew to sit at one side.

And at that time, there was the mara king of the desire realm, Papiyan. He was accompanied by his retinue of gods and gorgeous women, a congregation of infinite and limitless asankhyas. He opened the gates to Hell and gave [the demons there] pure ice water. This caused him to say, "Now, there is nothing that you can do but turn your thoughts to the Tathagata, the Arhat, the perfectly enlightened one. Let us put together the very last offerings to bring him happiness. This will lead you old demons to find peace." Then the mara Papiyan went into the Hell where all were put to death with blades coated with an infinite variety of excruciating poisons. He poured into that Hell a rain to extinguish the raging flames there. And with the Buddha's spiritual power, he engendered the [bodhi]citta, leading those of his retinue to put down their blades, bows, crossbows, armor, halberds, spears, lances, long hooks, metal mallets, battle axes, hatchets, quarreling, arguing, entrapping, and hunting.

They gathered together offerings twice as great as that gathered by all of the gods and humans. The smallest of their canopies could cover a medium chiliocosm. They went to the Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and said to him, "We now cherish and delight in the Mahayana as well as defend it. World Honored One, suppose there are good sons [609c] and good daughters who in giving offerings become fearful, reside in Hell, are materially blessed, or follow others in order to receive the Mahayana, whether it is true or false. We then at that time will eliminate that person's fears when they speak this dharani:

"Taki tatarataki rokarei makarokarei ara shara tara shaka."

This dharani can keep mistaken thoughts, fears, and spoken Dharmas from cutting off the true Dharma. This is because it subjugates the heretical paths, protects one's own body, protects the true Dharma, and protects the Mahayana when one enunciates this dharani. If there is one who can maintain this dharani, there are no evil apparitions that can frighten him. If he should go into desolate lands, empty wetlands, or onto mountain peaks, he will not be afraid. And there are no waters, fires, lions, tigers, wolves, bandits, rebels, or kings who will give him difficulties.

World Honored One, if one is able to maintain this dharani, then he will be able to eliminate these sorts of fear. World Honored One, we shall be the protection of those who maintain this dharani, like the six-peice shell of the tortoise. World Honored One, this is not flattery, what we now say. We shall sincerely bless them with strength those who maintain this dharani. Our only wish is for the Tathagata to mercifully receive our very last offerings."

At that time, the Buddha addressed the mara Papiyan, "I do not accept your offerings of drink and food. I have accepted your enunciation of this dharani for the sake of the peace and happiness of all the sentient beings in the fourfold assemblies here." The Buddha having said this fell silent and did not accept their offerings. And so, the mara Papiyan's wish going unfulfilled, his mind was grieved and anguished as he withdrew to sit at one side.

And at that time, there was Mahesvara, the king of the Paranirmita-vasa-vartin Heaven, accompanied by his retinue of an infinite and limitless number of gods. They gathered together offerings of supplies such that it buried the offerings gathered by all of the brahmas, indras, the four heavenly protectors, humans, and gods of the eightfold assemblies, as well as the non-humans. The offerings gathered by the brahmas were like a heap of charcoal where white agate and seashells once shined. The smallest of their precious canopies could cover an entire trichiliocosm. They took such offerings of supplies and went to Buddha, prostrated themselves at his feet, and circled him an innumerable number of times. They said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we are here to hand over our very last offerings of supplies, which are like that of a mosquito or a gnat. Our giving of offerings is like that of a person who throws a handful of water into the ocean. It is like a single small lamp aiding [the brilliance] of 100,000 suns, like adding a single flower to all the myriad flowers that grow and bloom in the Spring and Summer months, or like adding a single grain of dust to Mount Sumeru. How can that person adding to the [610a] ocean [match] the sunlight on the myriad flowers of Sumeru? World Honored One, our handing over these final offerings of supplies is like this. If the trichiliocosm were filled with fragrant flowers, dancers, flags, and canopies, it could not be said that it is sufficient enough an offering to honor the Tathagata. And why? The Tathagata acts on behalf of the sentient beings who are constantly undergoing afflictions in the evil destinies of the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. This is why, World Honored One, that you should look upon us mercifully and accept our offerings."

At that time, there was a Buddha land to the East, beyond worlds whose number was like the infinite and innumerable sand grains of an asankhya of Ganges rivers. It was called the Beautiful Voice with the Intent of Happiness and its Buddha was called Emptiness, a Tathagata, an Arhat, a completely and perfectly Enlightened One, who is perfect in wisdom and conduct, well gone, a knower of the world, unsurpassed, a tamer of men, a teacher of men and gods, and a World Honored One.

At that time, that Buddha addressed the best of his great disciples, saying, "Good son, you should now go to the Saha world to the West. In that land there is a Buddha called Shakyamuni, a Tathagata, an Arhat, a completely and perfectly Enlightened One, who is perfect in wisdom and conduct, well gone, a knower of the world, unsurpassed, a tamer of men, a teacher of men and gods, and a World Honored One. It is not long from now that that Buddha shall enter parinirvana. Good son, you can take the fragrant food of this world with you. That food is a fragrant and beautiful meal of personal peace. You may take and present it to that Buddha, that World Honored One. Once that World Honored One has eaten it, he will enter parinirvana. Good son, you can pay your respects to him and ask to have your doubts put to rest."

At that time, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva Limitless Body accepted that Buddha's instruction and rose from his seat. He prostrated himself at the Buddha's feet, circled him clockwise three times, and, with an assembly of infinite asankhyas of bodhisattvas, he left his land and came to this Saha world.

In response, the grounds in the trichiliocosm all trembled and quaked in six ways. The grounds beneath the great assemblies of the brahmas, indras, the four [protector] god kings, the mara king Papiyan, and Mahesvara also shook. The hair on their bodies stood on end and their throats and tongues became parched. They were frightened and outraged. They wished to scatter in all directions. They saw that their bodies no longer glowed and that their majestic virtue was completely eliminated, without exception.

At that moment, the Dharma prince Manjusri got up from his seat and called out to the great assemblies, saying, "Good sons! Do not be afraid! Why should you not be afraid? To the East, beyond worlds whose number is like the infinite and innumerable sand grains of an asankhya of Ganges rivers, there is a Buddha land that is called the Beautiful Voice with the Intent of Happiness.

It's Buddha is called Emptiness, a Tathagata, an Arhat, a completely and perfectly Enlightened One. He has fulfilled all ten of the epithets [of a Buddha]. And in that land there is a bodhisattva whose name is Limitless Body [610b] who is accompanied by an infinite number of bodhisattvas who wish to come and make offerings to the Tathagata. It is the majestic virtue of those bodhisattvas that has caused the glow of your bodies to completely cease to shine. This is why you should be elated and not alarmed or afraid."

At that time, those in the great assembly all saw the other Buddha's great congregation, which was like looking into a bright mirror and seeing themselves.

At that time, Manjusri again address the great assembly, "You are now seeing that other Buddha's great assembly, which is like seeing this Buddha [and his great assembly]. With the Buddha's spiritual power, you again shall see the infinite Buddhas in the other nine directions."

At that time, those in the great assembly said to one another, "The suffering, the suffering! The world is vacant! It will not be long now that the Tathagata will enter parinirvana." Then the great assembly all saw Bodhisattva Limitless Body and his retinue. From each hair on the bodhisattva's body was produced a great lotus flower. Each one of these lotus flowers had 78,000 cities on them that sprawled out like the city Vaisali. The cities' walls and moats were embedded and filled with a variety of mixtures of the seven treasures. There were jeweled Tala trees and the seven kinds of path railings. The common people were prosperous, peaceful, wealthy, and happy. The Jambu river, whose sands were gold, had tributaries, each of which had forests of seven-treasured trees on their banks. These trees flowered and bore fruit abundantly. A fine wind whistled and moved in the trees, producing a marvelous sound. The sound was harmonious and graceful like heavenly music.

Inside the cities, the people heard this music and, when they did, partook of a most wondrously resolute happiness. There were depressions filled with wondrous waters that were pure and clean smelling, like true agate. In these waters there were boats made of the seven treasures that carried people who played sports and bathed on the decks. They enjoyed each other's company and theirs was a firm and unchanging happiness. And there was an infinite number of variously hued lotus flowers. There were blue lotuses, white lotuses, red lotuses, and silver lotuses. These flowers had diameters measuring like cartwheels.

And on the outside of the cities' moats there were numerous forest parks. In each of these parks there was five springs and lakes. And in these lakes there were lotuses. There were blue lotuses, white lotuses, red lotuses, and silver lotuses. These lotus flowers had a diameter that was also like cartwheels. They perfumed the air with luxuriant fragrances that were most lovely. The waters of the lakes were pure, the lotus flowers soft and pliable, the best. There were drakes, geese, ducks, and other waterfowl that frolicked in the lakes.

Those parks had palaces and households. Each of these palaces and households had a diameter and height filling four yojanas. They possessed property walls made completely of four precious materials. Those were gold, silver, agate, and rock crystal. Windows of real gold were set in the encircling wall. The floors were made of ruby and coated with gold dust. Inside of the palaces and households were bathing pools made of the seven treasures. Around the border of each of these bathing pools there are eighteen golden staircases and ladders. And on the shores of the Jambu rivers were [610c] plantain trees. These parks were comparable to the elation of the Trayas-trimsa heaven.

Each of these cities had 84,000 human kings. Each of these kings had an infinite number of wives and concubines. They enjoyed one another's company, happily frolicking. The remaining people of the cities were also so. In each home they happily frolicked. In these places sentient beings do not hear the names of the heretics. Purely, they hear the voice of the unsurpassed Mahayana.

In each those lotus flowers, there was a lion's throne. The four feet of those thrones were all made of a deep blue agate. A soft and pliable cloth covered the tops of the thrones. That cloth was marvelous and made beyond the three realms. Atop each of those thrones a king sat who transformed sentient beings with the Dharma teachings of the Mahayana. On some on the thrones there were sentient beings who copied, kept, read, and recited as they were taught the Mahayana scriptures, thus propagating them.

At that time, Bodhisattva Limitless Body stood still and this caused the infinite sentient beings on his body to abandon their worldly pleasures. They all said, "The suffering, the suffering! The world is vacant! It will not be long now before the Tathagata shall enter parinirvana."

At that time, the Bodhisattva Limitless Body, encircled by the assembly of infinite bodhisattvas, demonstrated in this way his spiritual power. He brought the variety of infinite offerings of supplies and the most wondrous, fragrant, and beautiful food and drink. Those who happened to smell the food's aroma had their afflictions and defilements completely annulled. Because of that bodhisattva's spiritual powers, all in the great assembly saw the transformation of Bodhisattva Limitless Body's body into a great limitless expanse of space. Only those governed by the other Buddhas were exempt from seeing the bodhisattva's body in its ultimate dimensions.

At that time, Bodhisattva Limitless Body and his retinue gathered together offerings twice as great as the last and went to the Buddha. They prostrated themselves at his feet and with palms together said to him, "World Honored One, our only wish is for you to mercifully accept our food." The Tathagata remained silent when he saw this and did not accept their offerings. After three such attempts, he still did not accept them. At that time, Bodhisattva Limitless Body and his retinue withdrew to sit at one side.

And in the Buddha worlds to the South, West, and North, there were also an infinite number of bodhisattvas with limitless bodies who gathered offerings twice as great as the last, went to the Buddha, and eventually withdrew to sit at one side. They were also so.

At that time, the grounds around the pair of Sala trees were most auspicious. A great assembly filled an area with a diameter of thirty-two yojanas, leaving no space therein unoccupied. At that time, in all four directions, there sat the Bodhisattva Limitless Body and his retinue, some of them so small as to fit on the head of a drill or the point of a needle, like grains of dust. From the Buddha worlds of ten directions that numbered like grains of dust, great bodhisattvas came and gathered together. [611a] And all of the great assemblies from Jambuvipa came and gathered. It was only the two assemblies of the Venerable Mahakasyapa and the Venerable Ananda that were missing. King Ajatasatru and his retinue, poisonous snakes that were capable of killing people, crickets, vipers, lizards, and the other beings of sixteen ways of evil actions all gathered together. Daanavat, spirits, and asuras all abandoned their evil thoughts and there arose in them the compassionate mind, like that of a father, mother, elder sister, or a younger sister. Throughout the trichiliocosm, there arose in sentient beings a compassion for one another. The only exceptions were the icchantikas.

At that time, because of the Buddha's spiritual power, the grounds throughout the trichiliocosm became soft and pliant so that there were no more hilly lands, sands, pebbles, rocks, thorns, brambles, or poisonous plants. Myriad treasures adorned the lands just as in the Buddha Infinite Lifespan's (Amitayus) world of Utmost Bliss (Sukhavati) to the West. And then all those in this great assembly saw into Buddha worlds of the ten directions, which numbered like grains of dust, and it was like looking into a bright mirror and seeing themselves. They were seeing [scenes] in those Buddha lands that were also [like their own].

At that time, the Tathagata emitted from his facial orifices a light of five colors and that light lit brilliantly the entire assembly. It outshone the bodily glow of those in the assembly. It then returned again and entered his mouth. At that moment, the gods and their assemblies, the asuras, etc. who saw the Buddha's brilliant light enter his mouth were all greatly alarmed and the hair on their bodies stood on end. And then they said, "This light that has left the Tathagata and returned again is not without causes and conditions. It must be a portent to all in the ten directions that his parinirvana is at hand. How he suffers! How he suffers! And what about the World Honored One on this morning leaving aside the four immeasurable minds and refusing to accept the offerings brought to him by men and gods? The sunlight of noble wisdom shall from now to eternity be extinguished. The unsurpassed ship of the Dharma shall sink and be destroyed. Alas, the affliction of this world's great suffering!"

They lifted their hands to their heads, beat their breasts, and gave a great cry. Their behavior was outrageous, for they were unable to maintain their composure. From the pores of their bodies blood flowed and bathed the Earth.

(Here ends fascicle one of the Great Parinirvana Sutra)

Endnotes to Chapter 1

1.The Chinese translates koti into the numeral 100,000 and nayuta into the numeral 1,000,000. In this draft version of the English translation, I am transliterating back into Sanskrit in most of the instances of these terms until I've settled on a way to deal with the differing usages. Sometimes these two terms seem to be used as straight numbers, and sometimes as batch quantities (like the English term "dozen" for a batch of twelve items).

2.The text literally reads "84,000". However, since the number of upasikas has already been described as "numbering like the sands of three Ganges rivers" (a number somewhat larger than 84,000!), I am reading "84,000" here in the figurative sense of "a myriad quantity".

Table of Contents   Next >>