SUTRA OF THE PAST VOWS OF
EARTH STORE BODHISATTVA
TRANSLATED BY AMERICAN BHIKSU HENG CHING
REVISED BY AMERICAN BHIKSUNI HENG CH'IH
POLISHED BY AMERICAN BHIKSU HENG KUAN
CERTIFIED BY GOLD MOUNTAIN SRAMANA DHYANA MASTER HSUAN HUA
BUDDHIST TEXT TRANSLATION SOCIETY
THE INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES OF WORLD RELIGIONS
Spiritual Penetrations in the Palace of the Trayastrimsa
Thus I have heard; at one time the Buddha dwelt in the Trayastrimsa
Heaven speaking Dharma for his mother. At that time an indescribable
number of Buddhas as well as great Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, from
limitless worlds in the ten directions, all assembled together to
praise Sakyamuni Buddha's ability to manifest the power of
indescribably great wisdom and spiritual penetrations in the Evil
World of the Five Turbidities, as well as his ability to regulate
and subdue obstinate living beings so that they might come to know
the dharmas of suffering and bliss. Each of these sent his
attendants to greet the World-Honored One.
At that time the Thus Come One smiled and emitted hundreds of
thousands of millions of great clouds such as the Great Perfect
Fullness Light Cloud, the Light Cloud of Great Compassion, the Light
Cloud of Great Wisdom, the Light Cloud of Great Prajna, the Light
Cloud of Great Samadhi, the Great Auspicious Light Cloud, the Light
Cloud of Great Blessing, the Light Cloud of Great Merit, the Light
Cloud of Great Refuge, and the Light Cloud of Great Praise.
After emitting more indescribable clouds of light, he also emitted a
great many wonderfully subtle sounds such as the
Danaparamita sound, the Silaparamita sound, the
Ksantiparamita sound, the viryaparamita sound, the
Dhyanaparamita sound, and the Prajinaparamita sound.
The Sound of Great Compassion, the Sound of Joyous Giving, the Sound
of Liberation, the Sound of No-Outflows, the Sound of Wisdom, the
Sound of Great Wisdom, the Sound of the Lion' Roar, the Sound of the
Great Lion's Roar, the Sound of Thunderclouds, the Sound of Great
After such indescribable sounds had issued forth, gods, dragons,
ghosts, and spirits from the Saha world and other realms assembled
in the Palace of the Trayastrimsa Heaven. They arrived from the
Heaven of the Four Kings, the Trayastrimsa Heaven, the Suyama
Heaven, the Tusita Heaven, the Transformation of Bliss Heaven, and
the Heaven of Comfort Gained through Transformation of Others'
The Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma, the Heaven of the Ministers
of Brahma, the Heaven of the Great Brahma Lord, the Heaven of Lesser
Light, the Heaven of Limitless Light, the Heaven of Light-Sound, the
Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, the Heaven
of Universal Purity.
The Birth of Blessings Heaven, the Love of Blessings Heaven, the
Abundant fruit Heaven, the No-Thought Heaven, the No-Affliction
Heaven, the No-Heat Heaven, the Good Views Heaven, the Good
Manifestation Heaven, the Ultimate Form Heaven, the Mahesvara Heaven
and so forth, until the Heaven of the Place of Neither Thought nor
Non-thought. The gods, dragons, ghosts and spirits assembled
Moreover, sea spirits, river spirits, stream spirits, tree spirits,
mountain spirits, earth spirits, brook and marsh spirits, sprout and
seedling spirits, day, night, and space spirits, heaven spirits,
food and drink spirits, grass and wood spirits, and other such
spirits form the Saha and other worlds all assembled together.
In addition, all the great ghost kings from the Saha and other
worlds assembled together. They were the Evil-Eyed Ghost King, the
Blood-Eating Ghost King, the Essence-and Energy-eating Ghost King,
the Womb and Egg-Eating Ghost King, the Sickness-Spreading Ghost
King, the Poison-Gathering Ghost King, the Kindhearted Ghost King,
the Blessings and Profit Ghost King, the Great Love and Respect
Ghost King, and others.
At that time Sakyamuni Buddha said to the Bodhisattva
Manjusri, son of the Dharma King: "As you regard these Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits from this and other
worlds, who are now assembled in the Trayastrimsa Heaven, do you
know their number?"
Manjusrisaid to the Buddha: "World-Honored One, even if I were to
measure and reckon with my spiritual penetrations for a thousand
aeons, I would not be able to calculate it."
The Buddha told Manjusri: "As I regard them with my Buddha eye,
their number cannot be exhausted. Throughout many aeons all these
beings have been crossed over, are being crossed over, will be
crossed over, have brought to accomplishment, are being brought to
accomplishment, or will be brought to accomplishment, by Earth Store
Manjusri said to the buddha: "World-Honored One, throughout many
aeons I have cultivated good roots and certified to unobstructed
wisdom. When I hear what the Buddha says, I immediately accept it
with faith. Sound-Hearers of small attainment, gods, dragons, and
the remainder of the Eight fold Division, as well as other living
beings in the future, many hear the Thus Come One's sincere and
actual words but will certainly harbor doubts. They may receive the
teaching most respectfully, but they will be unable to avoid
slandering it. Would-Honored One, please discuss the conduct of
Earth Store Bodhisattva while he was on the causal ground, and tell
about the vows he made that have enabled him to accomplish such an
The Buddha said to Manjusri: "By way of analogy, it is as if all the
grasses, trees, forests, hemp, bamboo, reeds, mountains, rocks, and
motes of dust in the world system of a million worlds were
enumerated, and each one made into a Ganges River, while within each
Ganges River each grain of sand became a world and within each world
each mote of dust was an aeon, while within those aeons the motes of
dust which would accumulate were in turn to become aeons. Increase
this sum of time a thousandfold and know how long Earth Store
bodhisattva has remained on the position of the Tenth Ground. Much
longer was his dwelling on the grounds of sound-Hearer and
"Manjusri, the awesome spirit and vows of this Bodhisattva are
beyond thought. If good men or women in the future hear this
Bodhisattva's name, praise him, regard and worship him, make
offerings to him, or if they draw, carve, cast, sculpt, or lacquer
his image, they will be born among the Heaven of the Thirty-Three
one hundred times, and will never again fall into the Evil Paths.
"Manjusri, unspeakably many aeons ago, during the time of a Buddha
named Lion Sprint Complete in the Ten Thousand Practices, Thus Comes
One, Earth Store Bodhisattva was the son of an elder. On seeing that
Bhddha adorned with a thousand blessings, the elder's son asked what
practices and vows had enabled him to achieve such an appearance.
The Thus Come One said: 'If you wish to perfect such a body
throughout long aeons, you must liberate living beings who are
"Manjusri, the elder's son then made this vow: 'Throughout
immeasurable aeons until the very boundaries of the future, I will
establish many expedient devices for the sake of suffering and
criminal beings in the Six Paths. When they have all been liberated
I myself will perfect the Buddha Way.' From the time he made this
vow in the presence of that Buddha until the present, unspeakably
many hundreds of thousands of nayutas of aeons have passed, and
still he is a Bodhisattva.
"Moreover, unthinkable asamkhyeya kalpas ago there was a Buddha
named Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Sufficient King Thus Come
One. That Buddha's lifespan was four hundred thousand million
"During the Dharma-Semblance Age there was a Brahman woman who had
much merit form former lives and who was respected by everyone. In
walking, standing, sitting, and lying down she was surrounded and
protected by gods. Her mother, however, had improper belief and
often slighted the Triple Jewel.
"That wise woman worked many skillful plans to entice her mother to
hold right views, yet the mother did not totally believe. Before
long her life ended and her spirit fell into the uninterrupted hell.
"Knowing that when her mother was in the world she had not believed
in cause and effect, the Brahman woman realized that, in accordance
with her karma, her mother would be reborn in the states of woe.
Thereupon she sold the family house, procured incense, flowers, and
other items, and performed a great offering in that Buddha's temple.
Upon seeing the awesome and majestic image of the Thus Come One
Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Sufficient King in the temple, the
Brahman woman became doubly respectful. As she gazed at the
venerable image she thought to herself: 'Buddhas are also called
Greatly Enlightened Ones Complete With All Wisdom. If the Buddha
were in the world and I were to ask him, he would certainly know
where my mother had gone at death.'
"The Brahman woman wept for a long time with lowered head and then
fixed her gaze on the Thus Come One. Suddenly a voice was heard in
space, saying: 'O! weeping holy woman, do not be so sorrowful, I
shall show you where your mother has gone.'
"The Brahman woman placed her palms together toward space and said:
'What divinity is this who comforts my grief? From the day I lost my
mother onward I have held her in memory day and night, but there is
nowhere I can go to ask about the realm of her rebirth.'
"A voice again resounded from space and said to the holy woman: 'I
am the one whom you behold and worship, the past
Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Sufficient King Thus Come One.
Because I have seen that your regard for your mother is double that
of ordinary living beings, I will now show you the place of her
"On hearing this voice the Brahman woman suddenly leaped up and fell
back, breaking all her limbs. Those around her picked her up, and
after she had been revived for awhile, she spoke into space and
said: 'Please pity me and quickly tell me my mother's realm; my own
death is not far off.'
"The Thus Come One Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Sufficient
King, spoke to the pious woman and said: 'After your offering is
complete, return home quickly. Sit upright thinking of my name and
you will certainly know your mother's place of rebirth.' After she
had finished worshipping the Buddha, the
Brahman woman returned home, where, mindful of her mother, she sat
upright recollecting the Thus Come One Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi
"After a day and a night she suddenly saw herself beside a sea whose
waters seethed and bubbled. Many horrible beasts with iron bodies
flew about the sea, rushing in every direction. She saw hundreds of
thousands of millions of men and women rising and sinking in the
water, being mauled and devoured by the beasts. She beheld yaksas as
well, each with a different form. Some had many hands, some many
eyes, some many legs, some many heads. Sharp, swordlike teeth
protruded from their mouths, and they drove the offenders on toward
the beasts. Some yaksas seized the offenders and twisted their heads
and feet together in a myriad horrifying shapes at which none would
"During this time the Brahman woman was calm and fearless because of
the power of recollecting the Buddha. A ghost king named Poisonless
bowed and came to welcome the holy woman and said: 'Excellent, O!
Bodhisattva. Why have you come here?'
"The Brahman woman asked the ghost king: 'What is this place?'
"Poisonless replied: 'This is the first sea of the western face of
the Great Iron Ring Mountain.'
"The holy woman said: 'I have heard that hell is within the Iron
Ring. Is this actually so?'
"Poisonless answered: 'Hell is really here.'
"The holy woman asked: 'How have I now come to the hells?'
"Poisonless answered: 'No one can come here unless he has either
awesome spirit or the required karma.'
"The holy woman asked: 'Why is this water seething and why are there
so many criminals and evil beasts?'
"Poisionless replied: 'These are the newly dead beings of
Jambudvipa who have done evil deeds and who, during the first
forty-nine days after their death, had no survivors to perform acts
of merit on their behalf and rescue them from difficulty. Moreover,
during their lives they planted no good causes. In accordance with
their own deeds the hells appear, and they must first fathom this
sea. Ten thousand yojanas east of this sea is another sea which has
double the sufferings of this one. East of that is yet another sea
where the sufferings are doubled still again. What the combined evil
causes of the Three Karmic Vehicles evoke is called the sea of
karma. This is that place.'
"The holy woman again asked the ghost king Poisonless: 'Where is
"Poisonless answered: 'Within the three seas are hundreds of
thousands of great hells, each one different. There are eighteen
that are specifically known as great hells. In succession there are
five hundred with unlimited cruel sufferings, and further there are
over one hundred thousand with limitless sufferings.'
"The holy woman again spoke to the ghost king: 'My mother has not
been dead long, and I do not know on what path her soul has gone.'
"The ghost king asked: 'When the Bodhisattva's mother was alive,
what were her habitual deeds?'
"The holy woman replied: 'My mother had wrong views and ridiculed
and slandered the Triple Jewel. Even if she occasionally believed,
it was short-lived and turned again to disrespect. Although she has
been dead but a few days, I do not know the place of her rebirth.'
"Poisonless asked: 'What was the Bodhisattva's mother's name and
"The holy woman replied: 'My parents were both Brahman; my father's
name was Sila Sudarshan, my mother's name was Yueh Ti Li.'
"Poisonless placed his palms together respectfully and told the
Bodhisattva: 'Please, Holy One, return to your original dwelling. Do
not be worried or sorrowful, for the criminal woman Yueh Ti Li was
born in the heavens three days ago. It is said that she was
succeeded by a filial child who made offerings and cultivated merit
for her sake in the temple of Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi
Self-Sufficient King Thus Come One. Not only has the Bodhisattva's
mother obtained release from hell, but, as a result of so much
merit, other offenders deserving of uninterrupted retribution have
also attained bliss and have been reborn.' When the ghost king was
finished speaking, he withdrew, with palms still respectfully
"The Brahman woman quickly returned as if from a dream, understood
what had happened, and swore a deep vow before the image of
Enlightenment-Flower Samadhi Self-Sufficient King Thus Come One in
the temple, saying: 'I vow to establish many expedient devices in
response to living beings who are suffering for offenses. Until the
end of future aeons, I shall cause those beings to obtain
The Buddha told Manjusri: "The ghost king Poisonless is the present
Bodhisattva Wealthy Leader. The Brahman woman is now Earth Store
The Assembly of the Reduplicated Bodies
At that time the reduplicated bodies of Earth Store Bodhisattva
assembled in the palace of the Trayastrimsa Heaven from a hundred
thousand tens of thousand of millions of inconceivable, unutterable,
asamkhyeyas of worlds, from all the places where there are hells.
Because of the spiritual power of the Thus Come One, each came from
his own direction together with thousands of ten thousands of
nayutas of those who had obtained liberation from the paths of
karma. All came holding incense and flowers as offerings to the
Buddha. Because of the teachings of Earth Store Bodhisattva all of
those who came were irreversible from Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, even
though long kalpas ago they had been wandering in birth and death,
undergoing suffering within the Six Paths without even temporary
respite. Because of Earth Store Bodhisattva's great compassion and
deep vows, however, each had borne testimony to the fruits. When
they came to the Trayastrimsa Heaven, their hearts jumping, they
gazed at the Thus Come One, their eyes not leaving him for a moment.
At that time the World-Honored One stretched forth his
golden-colored arm and rubbed the crowns of all the reduplicated
bodies of Earth Store Bodhisattva, from the hundreds of thousands of
tens of thousands of millions of unthinkable, unutterable,
immeasurable, ineffable, limitless asamkhyeyas of worlds, and said:
"I teach and transform obstinate living beings within the evil
worlds of the Five Turbidities, causing their minds to be regulated
and subdued, to renounce the improper and return to the proper. One
or two of ten, however, have bad habits remaining and I also divide
into hundreds of thousands of millions of bodies in order to
establish numerous expedient devices for them. There are those of
keen roots who hear and then faithfully accept; there are others who
have already reaped good retribution and who have been energetically
exhorted to accomplishment. Yet others are dark and dull and must
long be taught and transformed in order to effect their return,
while others whose karma is heavy do not give rise to respect. The
reduplication bodies cross over and release all of these manifold
kinds of living beings by being manifested as the bodies of men,
women, gods, dragons, spirits or ghosts. They may be manifested as
mountains, forests, streams, springs, and rivers; as lakes,
fountains or wells, in order to benefit people. All of these may
save beings. The bodies of divine emperors, Brahma kings,
Wheel-Turning Kings, laymen, kings of countries, prime ministers,
officials, Bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasika, Sound-Hearers,
Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas, may be manifested in
order to teach and rescue beings. It is not only the body of a
Buddha which manifests."
The Buddha continued, saying: "You see that I have worked hard for
many kalpas and endured different kinds of sufferings in order to
liberate and cross over those living beings who are obstinate and
difficult to transform and who suffer from offenses. Those among
them who have not submitted undergo retributions according to their
karma. If they should fall into the states of woe and endure a time
of great suffering, you should remember my repeated commitment made
in the Palace of the Trayastrimsa Heaven: I will cause all living
beings in the Saha world, until the advent of Maitreya, to attain
liberation, to leave suffering eternally, and to encounter Buddhas
and receive their prophecies."
At that time the reduplicated bodies of Earth Store Bodhisattva from
all the worlds returned together to a single form which, weeping
with pity, said to the Buddha: "Throughout long aeons I have
received the Buddha's guidance, which has caused me to obtain
inconceivable spiritual power and great wisdom. My reduplicated
bodies fill as many worlds as there are grains of sand in a hundred
thousand tens of thousands of Ganges Rivers. In each of those
worlds, I transform into tens of thousands of millions of bodies,
each of which crosses over a hundred thousand tens of thousands of
people and causes them to return respectfully to the Triple Jewel,
eternally leave birth and death, and reach the bliss of nirvana.
Even if their good deeds within the Buddhadharma are as little as a
hair, a drop, a grain of sand, a mote of dust, or a stand of down, I
shall gradually cause them to be liberated and attain great benefit.
World-Honored One, do not be concerned about future living beings
with evil karma." Thus he spoke three times: "World-Honored One, do
not be concerned about future living beings with evil karma."
At that time the Buddha praised Earth Store Bodhisattva and said:
"Very good, very good, I shall help in this work you so willingly
undertake. When you fulfill these great vows after long and distant
kalpas, you will instantly testify to Bodhi."
Contemplating the Karmic Conditions of Living Beings
At that time the Buddha's mother, the Lady Maya, placed her palms
together respectfully and said to Earth Store Bodhisattva: "Holy
One, the deeds done by the living beings of Jambudvipa differ. what
are their respective retributions?"
Earth Store replied: "In a thousand ten thousands of worlds and
lands, whether with or without hells, with or without women, the
Buddhadharma, Sound-Hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and others, the
retributions of the hells differ."
The Lady Maya again spoke to Earth Store Bodhisattva; "I wish to
hear only of the bad paths that are the retributions for offenses in
Earth store Bodhisattva replied: "Holy Mother, please listen and I
will explain it in general terms."
The Buddha's mother answered: "I hope that you will do so."
Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Holy Mother: "These are the
names of the retributions for offenses in Jambudvipa. Living beings
who are not filial to their parents, who harm or kill them, will
fall into the uninterrupted hell, where, for a thousand millions of
kalpas, they will seek in vain to escape.
"Living beings who shed the Buddha's blood, who slander the Triple
Jewel, and who do not respect and venerate sutras, will fall into
the uninterrupted hell, and for thousands of tens of thousands of
millions of kalpas they will seek escape in vain.
"Living beings who usurp property of the 'permanently dwelling,' who
defile bhiksus or bhiksunis, who practice sexual acts within the
sangharama, or who kill and harm beings there, will fall into the
uninterrupted hell where, for thousands of millions of kalpas, they
will seek escape in vain.
"Living beings who pretend to be sramanas but whose hearts are not
those of sramanas, who make destructive use of the gods of the
permanently dwelling, who take advantage of the white-robed, and who
turn their backs on the precepts, doing all manner of evil acts,
will fall into the uninterrupted hells and for thousands of ten
thousands of millions of kalpas seek escape in vain.
"Living beings who steal the wealth and property of the permanently
dwelling, their grains, food and drink, clothing, or anything that
should not be taken, will fall into the uninterrupted hells, where
they will seek escape for thousands of tens of thousands of millions
of years in vain."
"In the midst of that hell is a bed that extends for ten thousand
yojanas. When one person undergoes punishment, he sees his own body
extended across and completely filling the bed, and yet each person
of a thousand ten thousands sees his own body doing the same. Such
are the retributions for various bad deeds.
"Moreover, offenders undergo many sufferings. A hundred thousand
yaksas, as well as evil ghosts with swordlike teeth and eyes like
lightning, drag and pull at them with brass-clawed hands. Moreover,
there are yaksas who brandish great iron halberds, which they pass
through the offenders' bodies, either through their mouths and noses
or through their bellies and backs. They toss them into space, turn
them over and pull them back, or else they place them on the bed.
There are also iron eagles that peck at the offenders' eyes, and
iron serpents that encircle their necks. Long nails are driven into
all their joints; their tongues are pulled out and plowed through;
their guts are pulled out, sawed, and chopped in two. Molten brass
is poured into their mouths and their bodies are bound in hot iron.
Such are their karmic retributions throughout ten thousand deaths
and as many births. They pass through millions of aeons, seeking for
release but without hope.
"When this world decays, the offender is born in another world, and
when that world is annihilated, he passes in turn through others.
When those worlds, too, fall and decay, he returns again. Such is
the phenomenon of uninterrupted retribution for offenses.
"Moreover, this hell is given the name uninterrupted for five
reasons. What are they? 1) Punishment is undergone day and night
throughout kalpas, and there is no time of respite. Therefore it is
called uninterrupted. 2) One person fills it, yet many people also
fill it. Therefore it is called uninterrupted. 3) The implements of
punishment are forks, clubs, eagles, serpents, wolves, and dogs,
which pound, grind, saw, drill, chisel, cut and chop; boiling
liquids, iron nets, iron ropes, iron asses, and iron horses that
flay one alive, bind the head in rawhide, and pour hot iron over
one's body; meals of iron pellets and drinks of iron fluids.
Throughout many nayutas of kalpas such suffering continues without
respite. Therefore it is called uninterrupted. 4) Whether a man, a
woman, a barbarian, old or young, honorable or lowly, a dragon or a
spirit, a god or ghost, everyone must undergo retribution for the
offenses he has committed. Therefore it is called uninterrupted. 5)
From the time of entry, one undergoes ten thousand deaths and as
many births each day and night throughout a hundred thousand kalpas.
He may seek release for but the space of a thought, but even such a
brief pause is not possible. Only when one's karma is exhausted can
he attain rebirth. Because of this continuity, it is called
Earth store Bodhisattva said to the Holy Mother: "This is a general
description of the uninterrupted hell. If I were to speak
extensively about all the names of the implements of punishment in
the hells, and all the sufferings there, I could not finish speaking
in an entire kalpa."
After hearing this the Lady Maya placed her palms together
sorrowfully, made obeisance, and withdrew.
Karmic Retribution of Living Beings
At that time Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha:
"World-Honored One. because I have received the awesome spiritual
power of the Buddha, the Thus Come One, I reduplicate my body and
rescue living beings from their karmic retributions everywhere,
throughout hundreds of thousands of millions of worlds. If it were
not for the great compassionate strength of the Thus Come One, I
would be unable to perform such changes and transformations. Now, I
receive the World-Honored One's entrustment; until the coming of
Ajita, I will cause all living beings in the Six Paths to attain
liberation. So it is, World-Honored One, do not be concerned."
The Buddha then told Earth Store Bodhisattva: "Living beings who
have not yet obtained liberation have unfixed natures and
consciousness. They may practice evil or good and reap the
corresponding karma. Their good or evil acts arise in accordance
with their states, and they turn in the Five Paths without a
moment's rest. They pass through kalpas as numerous as motes of
dust, confused, deluded, obstructed, and afflicted by difficulties,
like fish swimming down a long stream through nets. They may slip
about through the nets for a long time, but, after temporary
liberation, they again are snagged. It is for such as these that I
would be concerned, but since you have made extensive vows and sworn
to cross over such offenders throughout many kalpas, I have no cause
for worry. "
When this was said, a Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, named Samadhi
Self-Existent King arose from the midst of the assembly and said to
the Buddha: "World-Honored One, what vows has Earth Store
Bodhisattva made during these many kalpas that he now receives the
World-Honored One's special praise? Please, World-Honored One, speak
The World-Honored One said to Samadhi Self-Existent King: "Listen
attentively, consider this well. I shall now explain this matter for
"Once, limitless asamkhyeyas of nayutas of kalpas ago, there was a
Buddha named All-Knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come One, the One
Worthy of Offerings, the One of Right and Equal Enlightenment, the
One Perfect in Clarity and Conduct, the Well-Gone-Forth One, the
Unsurpassed Scholar Who Comprehends the World, the Valiant Tamer and
Guide, the Master of Gods and Men, the Buddha, the World-Honored
One. That Buddha's lifespan was sixty thousand kalpas. Before
leaving home he had been the king of a small country and had been
friendly with the king of a neighboring country with whom he
practiced the Ten Good Deeds and benefited living beings. Because
the citizens of these countries did many evil acts, the kings agreed
to perfect expedient devices for them. One vowed: 'I will accomplish
the Buddha Way quickly and then cross over all the others without
"The other king vowed: 'If I do not first cross over all those who
suffer for their offenses, and cause them to attain peace and Bodhi,
I shall not accomplish Buddhahood.'"
The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Samadhi Self-Existent King: "The
King who vowed to become a Buddha quickly is
All-knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come One. The king who vowed not to
become a Buddha until he had seen all others safely across is Earth
"Moreover, limitless asamkhyeya kalpas ago a Buddha named
Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One appeared in the world. His lifespan
was forty kalpas. During his Dharma-Image Period, an Arhat who had
great merit and who crossed over living beings, teachings them as he
encountered them, met a woman named Bright Eyes who made an offering
of food to him.
"'What is your wish?' asked the Arhat.
"Bright Eyes replied: 'On the day of my mother's death I performed
meritorious deeds for her rescue, but I do not yet know in what path
she has been born.'
"Out of pity for her, the Arhat entered into samadhi to contemplate,
and saw that Bright Eyes' mother had fallen into an evil path where
she was undergoing extremely great suffering. The Arhat asked: 'When
your mother was alive, what deeds did she do that she should now be
undergoing such great punishment in an evil path?'
"Bright Eyes replied: 'My mother enjoyed eating fish, turtles, and
the like. She particularly relished their fried or boiled roe, and
because she was fond of eating, she took thousands of lives. Oh,
Venerable compassionate One, how can she be saved?'
"The Arhat pitied her and established an expedient device and said:
'With a sincere will be mindful of Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One,
and also make carved and painted images for the benefit of the
living and the dead.'
"On hearing this, Bright Eyes renounced everything she loved, drew
an image of that Buddha, and made offerings before it. Moreover, she
wept sorrowfully as she respectfully gazed at and worshipped that
Buddha. Suddenly, in the small hours of the night, as if in a dream,
she saw that Buddha's body, dazzling gold in color and as large as
Mount Sumeru, emitting great light.
"This Buddha said to Bright Eyes: 'Before long your mother will be
born in your own household and as soon as she can know hunger and
cold she will speak.'
"Shortly thereafter, a maidservant in the house bore a son who spoke
within three days of his birth. Lowering his head and weeping
mournfully, he said: 'In life and death one must undergo
retributions for his own deeds. I am your mother and have been in
darkness for a long time. Since leaving you I have constantly been
reborn in the great hells. As a result of receiving the power of
your meritorious deeds, I have been able to be reborn, but only as a
poor son of low class. My lifespan, moreover, will be short, and
after thirteen years I will fall into an evil path again. Do you not
have some way to effect my liberation?'
"When Bright Eyes heard the words of the servant's child, she knew
without doubt that he was her mother and, choked with sobs, said to
the child: 'Since you are my mother you should know your own past
offenses. What deeds did you do that caused you to fall into the
"The servant's child said: 'I have undergone this retribution as a
result of killing and slandering. If I had not received the merit
which you earned to rescue me from difficulty, my karma would be
such that I could not yet have been released.'
"On hearing this, bright Eyes asked: 'What happens during
retribution in the hells?'
"The servant's son answered: 'Merely to speak of those sufferings is
unbearable, and even a hundred thousand years would not suffice to
describe them all.'
"Bright Eyes heard this and wept bitterly and said into empty space:
'May my mother be eternally separated from the hells, and after
these thirteen years may she be free of her heavy offenses and leave
the Evil Paths. O! Buddhas of the Ten Directions, have compassion
and pity me. Hear the far-reaching vows which I am making for the
sake of my mother. If she can leave the Three Paths forever, leave
the lower classes, leave the body of a woman, an never again have to
endure them, then, before the image of the Thus Come One
Pure-Lotus-Eyes, I vow that from this day forth, throughout hundreds
of thousands of tens of thousands of millions of kalpas, I will
rescue living beings who are suffering in the hells for their
offenses, and others of the Three Evil Paths. I will rescue them all
and cause them to leave the realms of the hells, hungry ghosts,
animals, and the like. Only when the beings who are undergoing
retribution for their offenses have all become Buddhas will I myself
accomplish the right enlightenment.'
"After making this vow she clearly heard the Thus Come One
Pure-Lotus-Eyes say to her: 'Bright Eyes, you have great compassion
to be able to make such a great vow for your mother's sake. I see
that your mother will cast off this body after thirteen years and
will be born a Brahman with a lifespan of one hundred years. After
that life she will be born with a lifespan of kalpas in the Land of
No Concern, after which she will accomplish Buddhahood and cross
over as many men and gods as there are sand grains in the Ganges.'"
Sakyamuni Buddha told Samadhi Self-Existent King: "The Arhat with
great merit who helped Bright Eyes is now Inexhaustible-Intention
Bodhisattva, the mother of Bright Eyes is Liberation Bodhisattva,
and Bright Eyes herself is now Earth Store Bodhisattva. Throughout
many aeons, because of his compassionate pity, he has made as many
vows as there are sand grains in the Ganges to rescue living beings.
"Men and women in the future who do not practice good but do evil,
who do not believe in cause and effect, who indulge in sexual
misconduct and false speech, who practice double-tongued and harsh
speech, and who slander the Great Vehicle, will certainly fall into
the Evil Paths. But if they encounter a good, knowing adviser who,
in the flick of a finger, leads them to take refuge with Earth Store
Bodhisattva, those living beings will obtain release from the
retribution of the Three Evil Paths. Those whose acts show
deference; who are respectful with a determined mind; who gaze in
worship, praise, and make offerings of flowers, incense, clothing,
gems or food and drink will be born in the heavens. There they will
enjoy supremely wonderful bliss for hundreds of thousands of kalpas.
When their heavenly merit is ended and they are born below in the
world of men, they will be imperial kings throughout hundreds of
thousands of kalpas and will be capable of remembering the causes
and results of their former lives. O!
Samadhi Self-Existent King, Earth Store Bodhisattva has
inconceivable and ineffable great spiritual power to benefit living
beings. All you Bodhidattvas should recall this sutra and proclaim
and widely spread it."
Samadhi self-Existent King said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One,
please do not be concerned. We thousands of ten thousands of
millions of Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, receiving the Buddha's
awesome spirit, will certainly proclaim this sutra widely throughout
Jambudvipa for the benefit of living beings."
Having spoken thus to the Buddha, the Bodhisattva Samadhi
Self-Existent King put his palms together respectfully, bowed, and
At that time the Four Heavenly Kings arose from their seats, put
their palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha:
"World-Honored One, since Earth Store Bodhisattva has made such
extensive vows for kalpas, why then has he not yet completed his
crossing over of beings? Why does he continue to practice such vast
vow? Please, World-Honored One, explain this for us."
The Buddha told the Four Heavenly Kings: "Excellent, excellent. for
your benefit as well as for the benefit of men and gods of the
present and future, I will speak of Earth Store Bodhisattva's works
in the paths of birth and death in
Jambudvipa in the Sahaworld. I shall speak of his expedient devices,
and of his compassion and pity in rescuing, saving, crossing over,
and liberating beings who are suffering for their offenses."
The Four Heavenly Kings replied: "Yes, world-Honored One, we would
like to hear about his work."
The Buddha told the Four Heavenly Kings: "From kalpas long ago until
the present, Earth store Bodhisattva has crossed over and liberated
living beings, yet out of compassionate pity for those beings still
suffering in the world, he has not yet completed his vows. Moreover,
he sees that their causes for limitless kalpas in the future are
like uncut tendrils and vines, and, because of this, he makes his
mighty vows. Thus, in the continent of Jambudvipa, in the Saha
world, this Bodhisattva teaches and transforms beings by means of
thousands of myriads of expedient devices.
"Kings, to killers Earth Store Bodhisattva speaks of a retribution
of a short lifespan; to robbers he speaks of a retribution of
poverty and acute suffering; to practices of sexual misconduct he
speaks of the retribution of being born as pigeons, mandarin drakes
and ducks; to the foul-mouthed he speaks of the retribution of a
"To slanderers he speaks of the retribution of a tongueless and
cankerous mouth; to the hateful he speaks of being ugly and
crippled; to the stingy he speaks of frustrated desires; to gluttons
he speaks of the retribution of sickness, hunger, and thirst; to
those who enjoy hunting, he speaks of the retribution of a
frightening insanity and disastrous doom.
"To cruel parents or step-parents he speaks of the retribution of
being flogged in future lives; to those who net and trap young
animals, he speaks of the retribution of separation of flesh from
bone; to those who slander the Triple Jewel, he speaks of the
retribution of being blind, deaf, or mute; to those who slight the
Dharma and regard the teachings with arrogance, he speaks of being
in the Evil Paths forever; to those who recklessly use the things of
the permanently dwelling, he speaks of the retribution of revolving
in the hells for myriads of kalpas; to those who defile the pure
conduct of others and purposely slander the Sangha, he speaks of an
eternity in the animal realm; to those who scald, burn, behead, cut,
or otherwise harm animals, he speaks of repayment in kind.
"To those who violate precepts and the regulations of pure eating,
he speaks of the retribution of being born as birds and beasts
suffering from hunger and thirst; to those who make unprincipled and
destructive use of things, he speaks of the retribution of never
obtaining what they seek; to those who are arrogant and haughty, he
speaks of a retribution of being servile and of low class; to those
whose double-tongued behavior causes dissension and disorder, he
speaks of a retribution of tonguelessness and speech impediments; to
those of biased views, he speaks of rebirth in the frontier regions.
"This is a general description of the hundreds of thousands of
differing retributions resulting from the habitual bad deeds of
body, mouth, and mind committed by the living beings of Jambudvipa.
Since they have such differing responses, Earth store Bodhisattva
uses hundreds of thousands of expedient means to teach them. The
living beings who commit offenses must first undergo retributions
such as these, and them fall into the hells, where they pass through
kalpas with no moment of escape. You should therefore protect people
and protect their countries. Do not allow living beings to be
confused by these manifold deeds."
On hearing this the Four Heavenly Kings wept sorrowfully, placed
their palms together, and withdrew.
The Names of the Hells
At that time Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, said to Earth
Store Bodhisattva: "Humane One, for the sake of the gods, dragons,
and the fourfold assembly, as well as for all living beings of the
present and future, please speak about the names of the hells and
describe the retributions for evil undergone by living beings of
Jambudvipa in the Saha world."
Earth Store Bodhisattva replied: "Humane One, receiving the Buddha's
awesome spirit as well as your strength, I shall speak in general
terms of the names of the hells, and of the retributions for
offenses and evil.
"Humane One, east of Jambudvipa there is a mountain called Iron
Ring, which is totally black and has neither sun nor moonlight.
There is a great hell there called Uninterrupted, and another called
the Great Avici. there is also a hell called Four Pointed, a hell
called Flying Knives, a hell called Flying Arrows, and a hell called
Squeezing Mountains; a hell called Piercing Spears, a hell called
Iron Carts, a hell called Iron Beds, and a hell called Iron Ox; a
hell called Iron Clothing, a hell called Thousand Blades, a hell
called Iron Asses, and a hell called Molten Brass; a hell called
Embracing Pillar, a hell called Flowing Fire, a hell called Plowing
Tongues, and a hell called Head Chopping; a hell called Burning
Feet, a hell called Eye Pecking, a hell called Iron Pellets, and a
hell called Quarreling; a hell called Iron Ax, and a hell called
Earth Store Bodhisattva said: "Humane One, such is the unlimited
number of hells within the Iron Ring. In addition there is the hell
of Crying Out, the hell of Pulling Tongues, the hell of Dung and
Urine, and the hell of Brazen Locks; the hell of Fire Elephants, the
hell of Fire Dogs, the hell of Fire Horses, and the hell of Fire
Oxen; the hell of Fire Mountains, the hell of Fire Stones, the hell
of Fire Beds, and the hell of Fire Beams; the hell of Fire Eagles,
the hell of Sawing Teeth, the hell of Flying skin, and the hell of
Blood Drinking, the hell of Burning Hands, the hell of Burning Feet,
the hell of Hanging Thorns, and the hell of Fire Houses; the hell of
Iron Rooms, and the hell of Fire Wolves.
"Such are the hells, and within each of them there are one, two,
three, four, or as many as hundreds of thousands of smaller hells,
each with its own name."
Earth Store Bodhisattva told the Universal Worthy Bodhisattva:
"Humane One, such are the karmic retributions of the living beings
of Jambudvipa who do evil. The power of karma is extremely great and
can rival Mount Sumeru; it can deepen the great ocean and can
obstruct the way of wisdom. For this reason, living beings should
not slight small evils and consider them as being no offense, for
after death retribution is undergone in the most exact detail.
Father and son may be close, but their roads diverge and each goes
his own way, and even if they should meet, neither would consent to
undergo suffering in the other's place. Now, drawing on the awesome
spiritual power of the Buddha, I shall speak of the events of
hellish retributions for offenses. Please, Humane One, hear these
Universal Worthy replied: " I have long know of the retributions of
the Three Evil Ways. I hope that the Humane One will discuss them,
so that living beings who do evil in the future time of the
Dharma-Ending Age may hear the Humane One's words and take refuge in
Earth Store said: "Humane One, these are the phenomena of
retribution in the hells for offenses. There is a hell in which the
offender's tongue is stretched out and plowed through by cattle;
there is a hell in which the offender's heart is pulled out and
eaten by yaksas; there is a hell in which the offender's body is
fried in cauldrons of seething broth; there is a hell in which the
offender is made to embrace a red-hot bronze pillar; there is a hell
in which the offender is followed everywhere by fire; there is a
hell in which there is cold and ice; there is a hell in which there
is limitless dung and urine; there is a hell in which there are
flying maces; there is a hell in which there are many fiery spears;
there is a hell in which one is constantly beaten on the chest and
back; there is a hell in which one's hands and feet are burned;
there is a hell in which the offender is wrapped and bound by iron
serpents; there is a hell in which there are running iron dogs; and
there is a hell in which the offender is yoked between iron donkeys.
"Humane One, such are the retributions. In each hell there are a
hundred thousand kinds of utensils of karma, and all are made of
copper, iron, stone, or fire, the four materials which are summoned
by the manifold karmas. If I were to explain the hellish
retributions for offenses in detail, any single hell would have
hundreds of thousands of kinds of acute suffering. How much more
numerous would the sufferings in the many hells be. Now, drawing
upon the awesome spirit of the Buddha, I have replied to the Humane
One's question. It has been a general discussion, for if I were to
speak in detail, I could not finish in a kalpa."
The Thus Come One's Praises
At that time the world-Honored One emitted a great bright light from
his entire body, illuminating as many Buddha-lands as there are
grains of sand in hundreds of thousands of millions of Ganges
Rivers. With a great sound he spoke to all the Bodhisattvas,
Mahasattvas, from all these Buddha-lands, as well as to the gods,
dragons, ghosts and spirits, humans, nonhumans, and others, saying:
"Listen as I now praise and extol Earth Store Bodhisattva,
Mahasattva, who manifests great and inconceivable awesome spirit and
compassionate power to rescue and protect living beings wherever
they encounter misery and suffering. After my extinction, all of you
Bodhisattvas, Great Beings, and all you gods, dragons, ghosts,
spirits, and others should practice expedient devices for the sake
of protecting this sutra and causing all living beings to testify to
the bliss of nirvana."
After the Buddha spoke, a Bodhisattva named Universally Expansive
arose from the midst of the assembly, placed his palms together
respectfully, and said to the Buddha: "We now hear the World-Honored
One's praise of Earth Store Bodhisattva's awesome spiritual virtue.
World-Honored One, for the sake of future living beings in the
Dharma-Ending Age, please tell us how Earth Store Bodhisattva has
benefited men and gods; caused the gods, dragons, and the remainder
of the Eightfold Division, as well as other living beings of the
future, to receive the Buddha's teaching respectfully."
At that time the World-Honored One said to the Bodhisattva
Universally Expansive and to the Fourfold Assembly: "Listen
attentively, listen attentively. I will briefly describe how Earth
Store Bodhisattva's blessings and virtues have benefited men and
Universally Expansive replied: "So be it, World Honored One, we will
be glad to hear."
The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Universally Expansive: "If in the
future good men or good women hear Earth Store Bodhisattva,
Mahasattva's name, worship, and fix their gaze on him, they will
overcome the offenses of thirty kalpas. Universally Expansive, if
good men or good women paint, draw, use earth, stone, lacquerware,
gold, silver, brass, or iron to make this Bodhisattva's image, gaze
at it, and bow but once, they will be reborn one hundred times in
the Heaven of the Thirty-Three, and will eternally avoid falling
into the Evil Paths. If their heavenly merit becomes exhausted and
they are born below in the human world, they will be powerful kings.
"If there are women who detest the body of a woman, and who
full-heartedly make offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva's image,
whether the image be a painting or made of earth, stone,
lacquerware, brass, iron, or some other material, and if they do so
day after day without fail, using flowers, incense, food, drink,
clothing, colored silks, banners, money, jewels, and other items as
offerings, when the female retribution body of those good women is
exhausted, for hundreds of thousands of tens of thousands of aeons
they will never again be born in worlds where there are women, much
less be one, unless it be through the strength of their
compassionate vows to liberate living beings. From the power of the
meritorious virtues resulting from these offerings to Earth Store
Bodhisattva, they will not receive the bodies of women throughout
hundreds of thousands of tens of thousands of aeons.
"Moreover, Universally Expansive, if a woman who dislike being ugly,
vile, and prone to sickness gazes at and worships an image of Earth
Store Bodhisattva with a sincere mind for even the space of a single
meal, throughout thousands of tens of thousands of aeons she will
always receive a body with full features. If that ugly woman does
not dislike the body of a woman, during hundreds of thousands of ten
thousands of millions of lives she will always be a royal woman or
the concubine of a king, the wife of a minister of great family, or
the wife of an elder, and be upright with perfect features. Such are
the rewards for beholding and worshipping Earth Store Bodhisattva.
"Moreover, Universally Expansive, if a good man or woman is able to
play music, sing, or chant praises, and make offerings of incense
and flowers before that Bodhisattva's image, and is able to exhort
others to do likewise, both now and in the future that person will
be surrounded day and night by hundreds of thousands of ghosts and
spirits who will even prevent bad news from reaching his ears, much
less allow him to suffer accidents.
"Moreover, Universally Expansive, in the future evil men, spirits,
or ghosts may see good men or women respectfully making offerings
and praising, beholding, and worshipping Earth Store Bodhisattva's
image. These evil beings may wrongly express ridicule and malign the
acts of worship as profitless affairs devoid of meritorious
qualities. They may bare their teeth in laughter, slander them
behind their backs, and exhort others to do likewise, whether one
person or many, or they may even bear just one single thought of
slander. Such beings will fall into and remain in the Avici Hells,
undergoing the utmost misery as retribution for their calumny, even
after the nirvana of the thousand Buddhas of the Auspicious Aeon.
After that kalpa they will be reborn among the hungry ghosts, where
they will pass a thousand aeons before being reborn as animals.
After another one thousand aeons, even though they may again attain
a human body, they will be poor and lowly, with incomplete organs,
and their many evil deeds will bind up their minds. Before long they
will fall into the Evil Paths again. Universally Expansive, such are
the retributions that will be undergone by those who ridicule and
slander others' offerings. How much worse will it be if they have
other evil and harmful views.
"Moreover, Universally Expansive, in the future men or women may be
bedridden with a long illness and in spite of their wishes be unable
either to get well or to die. At night they may dream of evil
ghosts, of family and relatives, or of wandering in dangerous paths;
in numerous nightmares they may roam with ghosts and spirits. As
these dreams continue over a period of days, months, and years, such
persons may weaken and waste away, cry out in fitful sleep, and be
depressed and melancholy day by day. All of this is due to an
unresolved degree of severity of their evil karmic paths, which make
it difficult for them to die and difficult for them to be cured. The
eyes of common men and women cannot distinguish such things.
"In this instance this sutra should be recited once in a loud voice
before the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and possessions which
the sick one loves, such as clothing, jewels, gardens, or houses,
should be offered, saying in a voice before the sick person: 'I, so
and so, before this sutra and image, give all these items on behalf
of this sick person.' Making offerings to the sutra and images,
making images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, constructing temples and
monasteries, lighting oil lamps, or giving to the permanently
dwelling may be undertaken in a like manner.
"The sick person should be told three times of the offerings that
are being made so that he may hear and know of them. If his
consciousnesses are separated and scattered and his breath
exhausted, then for one, two, three, four, and on through seven
days, this sutra should be read aloud in a clear voice. When that
person's life is gone he will achieve eternal liberation from all
the heavy and disastrous offenses committed in his life, even the
five offenses that receive uninterrupted retribution. He will always
be born in a place where he will know his past lives; much greater
will the beneficial retributions be if a good man or woman writes
this sutra out himself, teaches others to do so, carves or paints
images himself, or teaches others to do so.
"Therefore, Universally Expansive, if you see a person reading and
reciting this sutra or having a single thought of praise and respect
for it, you should employ hundreds of thousands of expedients to
exhort him to be energetic and not retreat. In both the present and
the future he will be able to obtain thousands of tens of thousands
of millions of inconceivable meritorious virtues.
"Moreover, Universally Expansive, when dreaming or dozing, living
beings in the future may see ghosts, spirits and other forms that
are either sad, weeping, or worried, fearful, or terrified. These
are all past fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters,
husbands, wives, and relatives from one, ten, a hundred, or a
thousand lives, who have not yet been able to leave the Evil Paths.
They have no place from which to hope for the power of blessings to
rescue them, and so they plead with their flesh-and-bone descendants
to establish expedient devices for them so that they might leave the
Evil Paths. Universally Expansive, using your spiritual power, you
should cause all these descendants to recite this sutra with
sincerity before the images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, or to
request others to recite it, either three or seven times. When the
sutra has been sounded the proper number of times, relatives in the
Evil Paths will obtain liberation and never again be seen by those
who dream or doze.
"Moreover, Universally Expansive, in the future, lowly people,
bondsmen, serving maids, and others who are not independent may be
aware of their past deeds and wish to repent of them and to reform.
They should gaze at and worship Earth Store Bodhisattva's image with
a sincere heart for seven days and recite his name a full ten
thousand times. When their current retribution ends they will be
born into wealth and honor, and throughout thousands of tens of
thousands of lives they will not pass through any of the sufferings
of the Three Evil Paths.
Moreover, Universally Expansive, if in the future in Jambudvipa
there are Ksatriyas, Brahmans, elders, upasakas, and others of
various names and clans who have newborn sons or daughters, they
should recite this inconceivable sutra and recite the Bodhisattva's
name a full ten thousand times within seven days before the child'
birth. If that newly born child was to have had a disastrous life,
he will be liberated from it and be peaceful, happy, easily raised,
and long-lived. If he was to have received a life of blessings, his
peace and happiness will increase, as will his lifespan.
"Moreover, Universally Expansive, on the first, eighth, fourteenth,
fifteenth, eighteenth, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-eighth,
twenty-ninth, and thirtieth days of the month, the offenses of
living beings will be gathered together and judged. Since almost
every single movement or stirring of thoughts on the part of the
living beings of Jambudvipa is karma and an offense, how much more
likely are they to incur offenses when they actually give themselves
over to killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and false speech. If
they are able to recite this sutra before the images of Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas, or sages once on these ten days, there will be no
disasters for one hundred yojanas to the north, south, east, and
west. Those in their families, both old and young, now and in the
future, will be apart from the Evil Paths throughout hundreds of
thousands of years. If they can recite it once on each of these ten
vegetarian days, there will be no accidents or illnesses in the
family and there will be food and clothing in abundance.
"Therefore, Universally Expansive, you should know of the
unspeakable hundreds of thousands of tens of thousands of millions
of great awesome occurrences of Earth Store Bodhisattva's beneficial
spiritual powers. The living beings of Jambudvipa have strong
affinity with this Great Being, and if they hear his name, see his
image, or hear but three or five words, a verse, or sentence of this
sutra, they will obtain particularly wonderful peace and happiness
in this present life. Through hundreds of thousands of tens of
thousands of future lives their appearance will always be upright
and they will be born into honorable and wealthy families."
After Universally Expansive had heard the Buddha, the Thus Come One,
praise and laud Earth Store Bodhisattva, he knelt with both knees on
the ground, placed his palms together, and said: "World-Honored One,
I have long known that this great lord had such inconceivably great
spiritual powers and vast mighty vows. My questions are put for the
sake of benefiting living beings of the future; I shall receive the
answer most respectfully. World-Honored One, what should we call
this sutra and how should it be propagated?"
The Buddha said: "This sutra has three names: the first is the Past
Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva; it is also called Earth Store's
Past Conduct; and it is called Earth Store's Fundamental Power of
the Way. Because this Bodhisattva has made such great vows over so
many aeons to benefit and profit living beings, you should all
propagate the sutra in accord with these vows."
After Universally Expansive heard this he placed his palms together
respectfully, made obeisance, and withdrew.
Benefits for the Living and the Dead
At that time earth store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, said to the
Buddha: "World-Honored One, I see that almost every motion and
stirring of thought of the living beings of Jambudvipa is an
offense, and that those living beings lose the benefits they have
obtained, many of them retreating from their initial resolve. If
they encounter evil conditions, they harbor them in every thought.
This is like a man carrying a heavy rock through the mud. With each
step his rock becomes heavier and more ponderous, and he sinks even
deeper. If he meets a powerful guide he may be exhorted and warned
to set his feet on firm ground again; his load may be lightened or
even totally removed. If he reaches level ground he should remain
aware of the evil road and never traverse it again.
"World-Honored One, the habitual evil of living beings extends from
the subtle to the overwhelmingly great. Since all beings have such
habits, their parents or relatives should create merit for them when
they are on the verge of dying in order to assist them on the road
ahead. This may be done by hanging banners and canopies, lighting
lamps, reciting the holy sutras, or making offerings before the
images of Buddhas or sages. It includes recitation of the names of
Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Pratyekabuddhas in such a way that the
recitation of each name passes by the ear of the dying one and is
heard in his fundamental consciousness.
"The evil deeds done by living beings bear corresponding results,
yet even if one ought to fall into the Evil Paths, his offenses may
be eradicated if his survivors cultivate holy causes for him. During
a period of forty-nine days after the death, they should do many
good deeds that can cause the dead one to leave the Evil Paths, be
born among male gods, and receive supremely wonderful bliss. The
benefits that accrue to the survivors are also unlimited."
"Therefore, before the World-Honored One, as well as before the
gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division, both human
and nonhuman, I vow to exhort the living beings of Jambudvipa to be
careful and avoid harming, killing, and creating evil conditions, or
calling on ghosts, spirits, or Wang Liang on the day of death. Why?
Sacrificing beings is not in the least helpful to the dead but binds
up the conditions of offense so that they grow ever more deep and
heavy. The dead one might be due to receive a good retribution and
be born among men and gods in his next life or in the future, but
because of offenses committed by his family in his name, his good
rebirth will be delayed. Everyone must undergo the Evil Paths in
accordance with his own deeds; it is even more unbearable when
survivors add to those deeds. It is as if a man had been traveling
from a distant place with a hundred-pound load and had been cut off
from his provisions for three days. If he were suddenly to encounter
a neighbor who gave him a few more things to carry, his load would
become heavier and more distressing.
"Would-Honored One, as I contemplate the living beings of
Jambudvipa, I see that those who are able to do good, even as little
as a hair, a drop of water, a grain of sand, or a mote of dust, will
obtain the benefits of their good deeds."
After this had been said, an elder named Great Eloquence, who had
long since testified to the unproduced and who often appeared in the
body of an elder to teach and cross over those in the ten
directions, arose from the midst of that assembly, placed his palms
together respectfully, and said to Earth Store Bodhisattva: "Great
Lord, when the close and distant relatives of the dead in Jambudvipa
cultivate meritorious virtues for the dead by preparing vegetarian
meals and doing other good deeds, does the dead one attain any
Earth Store Bodhisattva replied: "Elder, based on the awesome
spiritual power of the Buddha, I will now explain this matter, in a
general way, for the sake of living beings of the present and
future. Elder, if living beings of the present and future on the
verge of dying hear the name of one Buddha, one Bodhisattva, or one
Pratyekabuddha, they will attain liberation whether they have
offenses or not.
"If a man or woman who has not cultivated good causes during life
and who has committed many offenses has close or distant relatives
who do deeds productive of blessings and various holy deeds for his
sake, after death he will receive one-seventh of the benefit, and
six parts will accrue to those who help him. Therefore, all good men
and women of the present and future who hear and practice this will
obtain a share."
"When the great ghost of impermanence arrives, the spirit roams in
darkness and obscurity, not knowing what is offense and what is
merit. For forty-nine days it is as if one were stunned and deaf, or
as if in a court arguing karmic retribution. Once judgment has been
fixed, rebirth is undergone in accordance with one's deeds. Before
that rebirth is reached, there are thousands of ten thousands of
worrisome sufferings that must be undergone. How much more is this
the case for those who are to fall into the Evil Paths.
"Throughout forty-nine days one whose life has ended and who has not
yet been reborn looks for his flesh-and-bone survivors to do merit
powerful enough to rescue him. At the end of that time he falls into
his karmic retribution. If he is an offender, he passes through a
hundred thousand years without a day of liberation; if his offenses
are the five of uninterrupted retribution, he falls into the great
hells, where he undergoes suffering for tens of thousands of aeons."
"Moreover, elder, when one who has bad karma dies, his relatives may
prepare a vegetarian offering to aid him in his karmic path. In
doing this they should not throw rice-washing water or vegetable
leaves on the ground during the preparation of the meal, or before
it has been eaten, and all food that has not first been offered to
the Buddha and Sangha should not be eaten. If there is laxness or
transgression in this matter, the deceased will receive no strength
from it. If purity is vigorously maintained in making the offering
to the Buddha and Sangha, the dead one will receive one seventh of
the merit. Therefore, elder, if the living beings of Jambudvipa make
vegetarian offerings after the death of their fathers, mothers, and
relatives, and make earnest supplication on their behalf, they will
benefit the living and the dead."
After this had been said, thousands of tens of thousands of millions
of nayutas of ghost and spirits of Jambudvipa who were in the
Trayastrimsa Heaven resolved their thoughts on the unsurpassed
enlightenment. The elder, Great Eloquence, made obeisance and
The Praises of the Multitudes of King Yama
At that time from within the Iron Ring Mountain came Yama, Son of
Heaven, and with him limitless ghost kings, all of whom appeared
before the Buddha in the Trayastrimsa Heaven: the ghost king Evil
Poison, the ghost king Many Evils, the ghost king Great Argument,
the ghost king White Tiger, the ghost king Blood Tiger, the ghost
king Crimson Tiger, the ghost king Disaster, the ghost king Flying
Body, the ghost king Lightning Flash, the ghost king Wolf Tooth, the
ghost king Thousand Eyes, the ghost king Animal Eater, the ghost
king Rock Bearer, the ghost king Lord of Bad News, the ghost king
Lord of Calamities, the ghost king Lord of Food, the ghost king Lord
of Wealth, the ghost king Lord of Domestic animals, the ghost king
Lord of Birds, the ghost king Lord of Beasts, the ghost king Lord of
Mountain Spirits, the ghost king Lord of Birth, the ghost king Lord
of Life, the ghost king Lord of sickness, the ghost king Lord of
Danger, the ghost king Three Eyes, the ghost king Four Eyes, the
ghost king Five Eyes, the Ch'i Li She King, the Great Ch'i Li She
King, the Ch'i Li Ch'a King, the Great Ch'i Li Ch'a King, the No
Ch'a King, the Great No Ch'a King, and other such great ghost kings.
There were also hundreds of thousands of minor ghost kings who dwelt
Jambudvipa, each of whom ruled over something specific.
Aided by the Buddha's awesome spirit and the power of Earth Store
Bodhisattva, all these ghost kings, as well as Yama, Son of Heaven,
came together in the Trayastrimsa Heaven and stood off to one side.
Then, Yama, Son of Heaven, placed his palms together and said to the
Buddha: "World-Honored One, because of the Buddha's awesome spirit
and the power of Earth Store bodhisattva, all these ghost kings and
I have been able to come to this great assembly in the Trayastrimsa
Heaven. There is now a small doubt that we should like to express,
and we hope the World-Honored One will be compassionate and resolve
The Buddha told Yama, Son of Heaven: "As you will. I shall speak for
At that time Yama, Son of Heaven, looked respectfully at the
World-Honored One, made obeisance, turned his head to acknowledge
Earth Store Bodhisattva, and then said to the Buddha: "World-Honored
One, as I contemplate, I see that Earth Store Bodhisattva uses
hundreds of thousands of expedient devices to cross over living
beings who suffer for their offenses within the six paths of birth.
I see that he does so without the least fatigue or weariness. This
great Bodhisattva has inconceivable spiritual penetrations that
enable living beings to obtain release from retribution for their
offenses; nonetheless, before long, they fall back into the evil
"World-Honored One, since Earth Store Bodhisattva has such great
inconceivable spiritual power, why do living beings not rely on it,
stay in the good way, and eternally hold to their liberation?
Please, World-Honored One, explain this for me."
The Buddha told Yama, Son of Heaven: "The living beings of
Jambudvipa have stubborn and obstinate natures, difficult to tame,
difficult to subdue. This great Bodhisattva constantly rescues such
living beings throughout hundreds of thousands of aeons, and causes
them to obtain liberation quickly. He rescues even those who have
fallen into the Three Evil Paths from their offenses. He extricates
them from their own basic karmic conditions and leads them to
understand the events of past lives.
"Because the living beings of Jambudvipa are bound up with heavy bad
habits, which cause them to revolve in the paths, arriving and
departing over and over, it takes this Bodhisattva many aeons to
completely rescue and liberate them.
"They are like a man who becomes confused, loses his original home,
and mistakenly enters a dangerous path in which there are many
yaksas, tigers, wolves, lions, serpents, and vipers. A confused
person would certainly be poisoned very quickly on that path. When a
wise adviser who understands many methods and who is able to control
all the poison of those yaksas, evil ghosts, and others, suddenly
encounters the confused man about to enter the dangerous road, the
adviser says to him: 'Say, fellow, why are you entering this road?
What methods do you have to deal with all that poison?'
"The confused traveler who hears such words suddenly knows that it
is a dangerous path, and begins to retreat, to leave it. The good,
knowing adviser then takes him by the hand leading him off the
dangerous path so that he avoids the evil poisons. They reach a good
way and he becomes happy and at peace. The adviser then says to him:
'Well, confused one, do not go back into that path again, for those
who enter it have a difficult time getting out, and moreover, it
destroys their very nature and life.'
"The confused traveler thanks him profusely, and as they are about
to separate, the adviser says to him: 'If you see those whom you
know personally, as well as other travelers, be they men or women,
tell them that there are many poisons and evils on that path which
can cause them to lose their very nature and life. Do not let them
seek their own deaths.' In the same way, Earth Store Bodhisattva,
replete with great compassion, rescues living beings who suffer from
their offenses and causes them to be born among men and gods, where
they receive wonderful bliss.
"All the offenders, knowing the sufferings of the path of evil
karma, obtain release and never go down that road again. They are
like confused person who mistakenly enters a dangerous road but who,
having encountered a good adviser who leads him out, does not enter
that road again. If he meets others he teaches them not to enter
into that road by saying: 'I, myself, was confused but have obtained
liberation and will not enter that road again.' If he encounters
that dangerous path again and he is still confused and makes the
mistake, unaware that it is the dangerous path he encountered
before, then he will probably lose his life. The same thing is true
if one has fallen into the Evil Path and, because of the powerful
expedient device of Earth Store Bodhisattva, has been made to take
rebirth among men or gods, but then falls into the Evil Paths again.
If one's karmic bonds are heavy, one dwells in the hells for a long
time without liberation."
At that time the ghost king Evil Poison placed his palms together
respectfully, addressed the Buddha, and said: "World-Honored One, we
limitless ghost kings of Jambudvipa either benefit or harm beings.
Each of us is different; our karmic retribution causes us and our
followers to roam in the world doing much evil and little good. When
we pass a household or a city, a town, village, or hamlet, a garden,
cottage, or hut where there is a man or woman who has cultivated as
little as a hair's worth of good deeds, who has hung but one banner
or one canopy, who has used a little incense or a few flowers as
offerings to images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, or who has read and
recited the sutras, or burned incense as an offering to even one
sentence or gatha in them, all of us ghost kings will respect and
revere that person as we would the Buddhas of the past, present, and
future. We will order all the smaller ghosts, each of whom has great
power, as well as all the ground spirits, to surround and protect
that person. Bad affairs, accidents, severe and unexpected
illnesses, as well as all other unwelcome phenomena, will not be
allowed to draw near his dwelling or place of residence, much less
enter the door."
The Buddha said to the ghost kings: "It is excellent, excellent,
that all you ghost kings and Yama are able to protect good men and
women in this way. I shall tell Brahma and Sakra to cause you to be
protected as well."
When this was said, a ghost king in the assembly named Lord of
Lifespan said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One, my conditions are
such that I am lord of the lifespan of men in
Jambudvipa, and govern the time of their birth and death. My
fundamental vows are based on a great desire to benefit people, but
living beings do not understand my intent and go through birth and
death uneasy. Why is this?
"When humans in Jambudvipa have just borne children," Lord of
Lifespan continued: "be they boys or girls, or when they are just
about to give birth, good deeds should be done to increase the
benefits of the household and thus cause the local ground spirits to
be immeasurably please. The spirits will then benefit the entire
family and protect the mother and child so that they obtain great
peace and happiness. After the birth, all killing and injuring for
the purpose of offering fresh foods to the mother should carefully
be avoided, as should calling together assemblies of the family for
the sake of drinking wine, eating meat, singing, making music, and
playing instruments, for all these things can keep the mother and
child from obtaining peace and happiness. Why? At the difficult time
of birth there are uncountable evil ghosts, such as Wang Liang and
Ching Mei, who desire to eat the strong-smelling blood. I quickly
cause the ground spirits of that household to protect the mother and
child, allowing them to be peaceful and happy and to obtain benefit.
When people in such households see this benefit they should
establish merit in response to the ground spirits. If instead of
doing this they harm, kill, and assemble all the relatives together
for feasting and playing, they will undergo a retribution for this
violation, which harms both mother and child.
"Moreover, when the humans of Jambudvipa are on the verge of death,
I desire to keep them from falling into the Evil Paths, regardless
of whether they have done good or evil, but how much is my power to
do so increased when they have cultivated good roots! When a
practicer of good in Jambudvipa is about to die, there are hundreds
of thousands of ghosts and spirits of the evil ways who transform
themselves and appear as the parents, relatives, and friends of the
dying in an attempt to lead him to fall into the Evil Paths. How
much more is this the case for those who have done evil!
"Therefore, World-Honored One, when a man or woman in
Jambudvipa is on the verge of death and his consciousness and spirit
are confused and dark, when he is unable to discriminate between
good and evil and his eyes and ears are unable to see or hear, his
relatives should certainly establish great offerings, recite the
holy sutras, and recite the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Such
good conditions can cause the dead person to leave the Evil Paths,
and all the demons, ghosts, and spirits will withdraw and disperse.
"World-Honored One, if at the time of death any living being hears
the name of one Buddha or Bodhisattva, or if he hears a sentence or
gatha of a Mahayana sutra, I see that such a person can be liberated
from his small bad deeds, which unite to pull him into the Evil
Paths, and that he can also be kept apart from the uninterrupted
retribution of the Five Offenses."
The Buddha told the ghost king Lord of Lifespan: "Because of your
great compassion you are able to make such great vows and protect
all living beings in the midst of life and death. In the future,
when men and women reach the time of death, do not withdraw from
your vow, but cause them to attain liberation and be eternally
The ghost king told the Buddha: "Please do not be concerned. Until
the end of this life I shall constantly protect the living beings of
Jambudvipa, both at the time of birth and at the time of death, so
that they obtain tranquillity. I only wish that at the time of birth
and death they will believe what I say and thereby be liberated and
attain great profit."
At that time the Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva: "This great
ghost king, Lord of Lifespan, has already passed through hundreds of
thousands of lives as a great ghost king, protecting living beings
in life and death. Only because of this great lord's compassionate
vows does he manifest the body of a ghost king, for in reality he is
not a ghost. After one hundred and seventy aeons have passed, in an
aeon named Tranquillity, he will accomplish Buddhahood. His kalpa
will be called Happiness and his world will be named Pure Dwelling.
His name will be No Appearance Thus Come One, and his lifespan will
be incalculable aeons. Earth Store, the doings of this great ghost
king are inconceivable, and the men and gods whom he crosses over
The Names of Buddhas
At that time Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, said to the
Buddha: "World-Honored One, I shall now perform a profitable and
beneficial act for the sake of living beings of the future, so that
they may obtain great help and benefit in the midst of life and
death. Please, World-Honored One, hear my words."
The Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva: "With your great compassion
you now wish to undertake the inconceivable task of rescuing all
those in the Six Paths who suffer for their offenses. The time is
just right, speak quickly, for I am about to enter
nirvana. You should complete this vow soon so that I have no need to
be concerned for living beings of the present or future."
Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha: "In the past, numberless
asamkhyeyas of aeons ago, a Buddha named Limitless Body Thus Come
One appeared in the world. If a man or woman hears this Buddha's
name and suddenly gives rise to a thought of respect, that person
will overstep the heavy offenses of forty aeons of birth and death.
How much more will he be able to do this if he sculpts or paints
this Buddha's image, or praises and makes offerings to him. The
merit of this is limitless and unbounded.
"Again, in the past, as many aeons ago as there are grains of sand
in the Ganges River, a Buddha named Jewel Nature appeared in the
world. If a man or woman hears the name of this Buddha and in the
space of a finger-snap decides to take refuge, it will be eternally
impossible to turn that person from the unsurpassed path.
"Again, in the past, a Buddha named Padma-Victory Thus Come One
appeared in the world. If a man or woman hears this Buddha's name,
or if the name merely passes by his or her ear, that person will
attain one thousand births in the Six Desire Heavens. How much more
will this be true if he or she sincerely recites the name of that
Thus Come One.
"Again, in the past, indescribable asamkhyeyas of aeons ago, a
Buddha named Lion Roar Thus Come One appeared in the world. If a man
or woman hears this Buddha's name and single-mindedly takes refuge,
that person will encounter numberless Buddhas, who will rub his or
her crown and bestow predictions of enlightenment upon the
"Again, in the past, a Buddha named Krakucchanda appeared in the
world. If a man or woman hears this Buddha's name and sincerely
beholds, worships, or praises him, that person will be the Great
Brahma King in the assemblies of the one thousand Buddhas of the
Auspicious Aeon, and will there receive a lofty prediction.
"Again, in the past, a Buddha named Vipasin appeared in the world.
If a man or woman hears this Buddha's name, that person will
eternally avoid falling into the Evil Paths, will always be born
among men and gods, and will receive supremely wonderful bliss.
"Again, in the past, as many aeons ago as there are grains of sand
in limitless and boundless numbers of Ganges Rivers, a Buddha named
Jeweled Victory appeared in the world. If a man or woman hears this
Buddha's name, that person will never again fall into the Evil Paths
and will eternally dwell in the heavens, where he or she will
receive supremely wonderful bliss.
"Again, in the past, a Buddha named Jeweled Appearance Thus Come One
appeared in the world. If a man or woman hear this Buddha's name and
gives rise to a thought of respect, that person will before long
attain the fruit of Arhatship.
"Again, limitless asamkhyeyas of aeons ago, a Buddha named Kasaya
Banner thus Come One appeared in the world. If a man or woman hears
this Buddha's name, that person will overcome the offenses of birth
and death for one hundred aeons.
"Again, in the past, a Buddha named Great Penetration Mountain King
Thus Come One appeared in the world. If a man or woman hears this
Buddha's name, that person will encounter as many Buddhas as there
are grains of sand in the Ganges, who will speak Dharma for him, and
he will certainly realize Bodhi.
"Again, in the past, there were Buddhas named Pure Moon Buddha,
Mountain King Buddha, Wise Victory Buddha, Pure Name King Buddha,
Accomplished Wisdom Buddha, Unsurpassed Buddha, Wonderful Sound
Buddha, Full Moon Buddha, Moon Face Buddha, and other such
indescribable Buddhas. World-Honored One, living beings of the
present and future, both gods and humans, men and women, will obtain
limitless meritorious virtues by merely reciting one Buddha's name.
How much the more if they recite many names. In birth and death all
these living beings will obtain great benefit and ultimately will
not fall into the Evil Paths.
"If even one person in a dying person's family loudly recites on
Buddha's name for the sake of the dying person, that dying one will
quickly be freed from all karmic offenses except the uninterrupted
retribution of the Five Offenses. The Five Offenses warranting
uninterrupted retribution are so extremely heavy that one who
commits them should not escape retribution for myriads of aeons. If,
however, at the time of the offender's death, another person recites
the names of Buddhas on his behalf, his offenses can be gradually
wiped away. How much more will this be true for living beings who
recited those names themselves. The merit thus attained is limitless
and eradicates numberless offenses."
The Conditions and Comparative Merits of Giving
At that time Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, inspired by the
Buddha's awesome spirit, arose from his seat, knelt, placed his
palms together and said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One, when I
compare the various acts of giving done by the beings within the
paths of karma, I see some that are great and some that are small.
As a result, some receive blessings for one life, some for ten
lives, and some receive great blessings and profit for one hundred
or one thousand lives. Why is this? Please, World-Honored One,
explain this for me."
At that time the Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva: "For the sake
of all these assembled in the palace of the Trayastrimsa Heaven, I
will discuss the comparative meritorious virtues of the giving done
by the living beings in Jambudvipa. Listen attentively to what I
Earth Store Bodhisattva replied: "I have had doubts about this
matter and will be pleased to listen."
The Buddha said to Earth Store Bodhisattva: "In
Jambudvipa, the kings of countries, noblemen, great ministers, great
elders, great Ｋsatriyas, great Brahmans, and others may encounter
the tired, poor, hunchbacked, crippled, dumb, mute, deaf, stupid, or
eyeless, as well as others who are handicapped. Those kings and
great men may wish to give and be able to do so with great
compassion, a humble heart, and a smile. They may give personally
with their own hands, or arrange for others to do so, using gentle
words and sympathetic speech. Such kings, ministers, and others will
obtain blessings comparable to the meritorious virtue of giving to
as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in one hundred Ganges
Rivers. Why is this? Those persons will receive such a meritorious
reward because of having shown a great compassionate heart toward
the poorest, most impoverished, and most handicapped individuals.
For one hundred thousand lives they will always have an abundance of
the seven gems, not to mention clothing, food, and the necessities
"Moreover, Earth Store, if in the future the kings of countries,
Brahmans, and the like encounter Buddha stupas, monasteries, or
images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Sound-Hearers, or Pratyekabuddhas,
and personally make offerings or give gifts, those persons will
obtain three aeons as Sakra and will receive supremely wonderful
bliss. If they are able to transfer the merit of that giving and
dedicate it to the Dharma-realm, those great kings and other men
will be Great Brahma Heaven Kings for ten aeons.
"Moreover, Earth Store, if in the future, kings, Brahmans, and
others encounter ruined, decayed, broken, and tumbledown stupas,
temples, sutras, or images of previous Buddhas, they may resolve to
restore them. They may then do so themselves or encourage as many as
a hundred thousand other people to help, and thereby establish
affinities. Those kings and the like will be Wheel-Turning Kings
throughout a hundred thousand lives, and all those who help them
will be kings of smaller countries for as many lives. If, before the
Buddhastupa or monastery, they are able to resolve to dedicate this
merit to the Dharma-realm, such kings and their helpers will finally
accomplish the Buddha path, their good retribution being limitless
"Moreover, Earth Store, if in the future the kings of countries,
Brahmans, and others have compassionate thoughts when seeing the
old, the sick, or women in childbirth, and provide them with
ointments, medicines, food, drink, and bedding so as to make them
peaceful and comfortable, the merit of their giving is quite
inconceivable. For one thousand aeons such kings will constantly be
lords of the Pure Dwelling Heaven; for two hundred aeons they will
be lords in the Six Desire Heavens, and they will ultimately attain
Buddhahood. They will eternally not fall into the Evil Paths, and
for one hundred thousand lives they will hear no sounds of
"Moreover, Earth Store, if kings, Brahmans and others can give in
this way, in the future they will receive limitless blessings. If
they are able to dedicate that merit, be it great or small, they
will ultimately attain Buddhahood. How much more easily will they be
able to attain the positions of Sakra, Brahma, or Wheel-Turning
King. Therefore, Earth Store, you should exhort all living beings to
study in this way.
"Moreover, Earth Store, if there are good men or women who plant a
few good roots in the Buddhadharma, amounting to as little as a fine
hair, a grain of sand, or a mote of dust, they will receive
"Moreover, Earth Store, good men or women in the future may
encounter the image of a Buddha, Bodhisattva, Pratyekabuddha, or
Wheel-Turning King, and may give gifts or make offerings. Such
persons will attain limitless blessings and will always receive
supremely wonderful bliss among men and gods. If they can dedicate
that merit to the Dharma-realm, their blessings and profits will be
"Moreover, Earth Store, if good men or good women in the future
encounter a Mahayana Sutra, and on hearing but one
gatha or sentence of it energetically resolve to be benevolent and
respectfully praise and make offerings, those people will attain
great, limitless, and unbounded rewards. If they can dedicate that
merit to the Dharma-realm, their blessings will be incomparable.
"Moreover, Earth Store, if in the future good men or women encounter
new Buddhastupas, temples, or sutras of the Great Vehicle and make
offerings to them, gaze at them in worship, and respectfully make
praises with joined palms; or if they encounter old temples, stupas
or sutras that are in ruins and either repair them themselves or
encourage others to aid them, such people will be the kings of small
countries throughout thirty lives. Those who act as the leaders in
these affairs will always be Wheel-Turning Kings who teach those
minor kings by means of the good Dharma.
"Moreover, Earth Store, in the future, good men or good women may
plant good roots in the Buddhadharma by giving, making offerings,
repairing temples or monasteries, binding
sutras, or doing good deeds that are as small as one strand of hair,
one mote of dust, a grain of sand, or a drop of water. Merely by
transferring the merit from that deed to the Dharma-realm, those
people's meritorious virtues will be such that they will receive
supremely wonderful bliss for one hundred thousand lives. If they
dedicate the merit only to their own family or relatives, or to
their own personal benefit, they will receive as a result only three
lives of bliss, thus putting aside the ten-thousandfold reward.
Earth Store, such are the conditions of giving."
The Dharma Protection of the Earth Spirit
At that time the earth spirit Firm And Solid spoke to the Buddha and
said: "World-Honored One, from long ago I have personally beheld and
paid homage to limitless Bodhisattvas,
Mahasattvas, all of whom have inconceivable and great spiritual
penetrations and wisdom, and all of whom cross over many living
beings. Among all the Bodhisattvas, Earth Store Bodhisattva,
Mahasattva, has the deepest and most weighty vows. World-Honored
One, Earth Store Bodhisattva has great affinity with beings in
Jambudvipa. Manjusi,Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara, and Maitreya also
transform hundreds of thousands of bodies to cross over those in the
Six Paths, but their vows have an end. Earth Store Bodhisattva has
made these vows to teach living beings in the Six Paths throughout
aeons as many as the number of sand grains in hundreds of thousands
of myriads of Ganges Rivers.
"Would-Honored One, as I regard the living beings of the present and
future, I see those who make shrines of earth, stone, bamboo, or
wood and set them in pure places in the southern part of their
dwellings. They place within the shrines an image of Earth Store
Bodhisattva, either carved, painted, or made of gold, silver,
copper, or iron. They then burn incense and make offerings, worship
and praise him. By doing these things they will receive ten kinds of
advantages and benefits.
"What are these ten? Their lands will be fertile; their families and
homes will be peaceful; their ancestors will be born in the heavens;
they will have benefit and longevity in their present life; what
they seek will be as they will; they will escape the disasters of
water and fire; they will escape other calamities; their nightmares
will cease; they will be protected by spirits in all their comings
and goings; and they will encounter many causes of wisdom.
"World-Honored One, living beings of the present and future will
obtain these advantages and benefits if they can construct a place
of worship and make offerings in their homes."
Firm And Solid continued to speak to the Buddha: "World-Honored One,
If good men or women in the future keep this sutra and an image of
the Bodhisattva in their homes, and if in addition they recite the
sutra and make offerings to the Bodhisattva, I shall use my
spiritual powers to surround and protect them day and night so that
all threat of floods, fire, robbery and theft, great calamities, and
small accidents, will be eradicated."
The Buddha told the earth spirit Firm And Solid: "There are few
spirits who can match the great spiritual power you possess. Why?
All the lands in Jambudvipa receive your protection; all the
grasses, woods, sands, stones, paddy fields, hemp, bamboo, reeds,
grains, rice, and gems come forth from the ground because of your
power. Moreover, your constant praise of the beneficial deeds of
Earth Store Bodhisattva makes your meritorious virtues and spiritual
penetrations hundreds of thousands of times those of ordinary earth
"If good men or women make offerings in the future to this
Bodhisattva, or recite and rely upon the Sutra of the Past Vows of
Earth Store Bodhisattva in their cultivation, you should use your
spiritual power to protect them and not allow disastrous or
unwelcome affairs even to be heard, much less undergone, by them.
Not only will those people be protected by you, but
Brahma,Sakra, and their retinues, as well as the retinues of all the
other gods, shall also protect them. Why will they obtain protection
from worthies and sages such as these? They obtain such great
protection from having beheld and worshipped the image of Earth
Store Bodhisattva, and from having recited this
sutra of his past vows. They shall naturally leave the sea of
suffering and certify to the bliss of nirvana."
The Benefits from Seeing and Hearing
At that time the World-Honored One emitted hundreds of thousands of
tens of thousands of millions of great rays of light from the door
of his crown: the White Ray, the Great White Ray, the Auspicious
Portent Ray, the Great Auspicious Portent Ray, the Jade Ray, the
Great Jade Ray, the Purple Ray, the Great Purple Ray, the Blue Ray,
the Great Blue Ray, the Azure Ray, the Great Azure Ray, the Red Ray,
the Great Red Ray, the Green Ray, the Great Green Ray, the Gold Ray,
the Great Gold Ray, the Good Luck Cloud, the Great Good Luck Cloud,
the Thousand-Wheeled Ray, the Great Thousand-Wheeled Ray, the
Jeweled Ray, the Great Jeweled Ray, the Solar Disc Ray, the Great
Solar Disc Ray, the Lunar Disc Ray, the Great Lunar Disc Ray, the
Palace Ray, the Great Palace Ray, the Ocean Cloud Ray and the Great
Ocean Cloud Ray.
After emitting such rays of light from the door of his crown, the
Buddha spoke in wonderfully subtle sounds to the great assembly of
gods, dragons, and other members of the Eightfold Division of ghosts
and spirits, and to humans, nonhumans, and others: "Hear me now in
the palace of the Trayastrimsa Heaven as I praise Earth Store
Bodhisattva's beneficial and inconceivable deeds among men and gods,
his rapid progress in the causes of wisdom, his certification on the
Tenth Ground, and his ultimate irreversibility from
As this was said, in the midst of the assembly a Bodhisattva,
Mahasattva, named Avalokitesvara, arose from his seat, knelt, and
with palms together said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One, Earth
Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, is replete with great compassion and
pities living beings who suffer for their offenses. In thousands of
tens of thousands of millions of worlds he manifests thousands of
ten thousands of millions of transformation bodies. His meritorious
virtues and awesome spiritual powers are inconceivable.
" I have heard the World-Honored One and the limitless Buddhas of
the ten directions praise Earth Store Bodhisattva with different
mouths but a common sound, saying that even if all the Buddhas of
the past, present, and future were to speak of his meritorious
qualities, these qualities still could not be fathomed. I have heard
the World-Honored One tell the great assembly about the benefits of
Earth Store Bodhisattva. World-Honored One, for the sake of living
beings of the present and future, please explain Earth Store
Bodhisattva's inconceivability. Cause the gods, dragons, and the
others of the Eightfold Division to gaze in worship and attain
The Buddha replied to the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara: "You have
great affinity with the Saha World. If gods, dragons, men, women,
spirits, ghosts, or any other being who suffers for offenses within
the Six Paths hears your name, sees your image, fixes his gaze on
you, or praises you, they will become irreversible in the
unsurpassed Way. They will always be born among men and gods and
there receive wonderful bliss. When their conditions are ripe they
will encounter Buddhas and be given their predictions of
enlightenment. You now have great compassion and pity for living
beings, for gods, dragons, and the others of the Eightfold Division.
Listen as I proclaim the inconceivable benefits of Earth Store
Bodhisattva. Listen attentively. I will discuss it for you."
The Avalokitesvara said: "So be it, World-Honored One, I will be
pleased to hear."
The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara: "In worlds of the
present and future there will be gods whose heavenly merit has
ended, who manifest the five signs of decay and are about to fall
into the Evil Paths. When those signs appear, if those gods, whether
male or female, see Earth Store Bodhisattva's image, hear his name,
gaze at him or bow once to him, they will increase their heavenly
blessings, receive great happiness, and never again fall into the
retributions of the Three Evil Paths. How much more will limitless,
boundless merit, virtue, and blessings accrue to those who see and
hear the Bodhisattva and use incense, flowers, clothing, food,
drink, jewels, and gems as gifts and offerings.
"Moreover, Avalokitesvara, if living beings in the Six Paths,
present and future, are on the verge of death and hear the name of
Earth Store Bodhisattva, the single passing of that sound by their
ear will eternally remove them from the sufferings of the Three Evil
Paths. How much more will this be true if the parents and relatives
use the dying man's houses, wealth, jewels, and clothing to
commission the carving or painting of Earth Store Bodhisattva's
image. If that sick person has not yet died and sees or hears that,
on his behalf, relatives have used his house, jewels, and so forth
for the carving or painting of Earth Store Bodhisattva's image,
because of that merit, he may quickly be cured and his lifespan
prolonged, even if his karmic retribution is such that he should
have undergone severe sickness. If that person's retribution is such
that because of all manner of offense obstacles and karmic
obstructions he should fall into the Evil Paths at death, because of
receiving such merit he will be born among men and gods, and there
receive extremely wonderful bliss. All his obstacles due to offenses
will be eradicated.
" Moreover, Avalokitesvara, in the future a man or woman may lose
father, mother, brothers, or sisters while he or she is still an
infant or child under ten years. When fully grown the person may
think of these parents and relatives but does not know into what
path or world or heaven they have been born. If that person is able
to carve or paint an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva, hear his
name, or gaze upon and worship him; and if he can continue to do so
from one through seven days, constantly hearing his name, seeing his
image, beholding, worshipping, and making offerings without
retreating form his initial resolve, then that person's relatives
will be liberated for many aeons. Even though their karma might be
such as to cause them to fall into Evil Paths, they will be quickly
reborn in the heavens, where they will receive supremely wonderful
bliss. This results from their receiving the meritorious virtues
established by that son, daughter, brother, or sister who has carved
or painted an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva and then bowed to and
"If that person's relatives have already been born in the heavens on
the strength of their own merit and are already experiencing
supremely wonderful bliss, upon receiving this additional merit
their causes for wisdom will increase and they will receive
limitless bliss. If that person is able to behold and worship Earth
Store Bodhisattva's image single-mindedly during three weeks,
reciting his name a full ten thousand times, the Bodhisattva may
manifest a limitless body and tell that person the name of the world
in which his relatives have been born. The Bodhisattva may manifest
great spiritual power and personally lead him to those worlds in a
dream to see his relatives.
"Moreover, if one is able to recite the Bodhisattva's name one
thousand times a day every day for one thousand days, the
Bodhisattva will command the ghosts and spirits to abide on the
ground where that person is and to surround and protect him for his
entire life. In this world his clothing and food will be abundant
and he will have no suffering from sickness or the like. No
accidents will occur in his house, much less affect his person.
Finally, the Bodhisattva will rub his crown and bestow a prediction
of enlightenment upon him.
"Moreover, Avalokitesvara, if a good man or woman in the future
wishes to practice great compassion to rescue all living beings and
wishes to cultivate unsurpassed Bodhi in order to leave the Triple
World, and if that person sees Earth Store Bodhisattva's image,
hears his name, and relies on him sincerely, using incense, flowers,
clothing, jewels, food, and drink to make offerings, or if he gazes
at and worships him, his wishes will quickly be realized and his
obstructions will forever be left behind.
"Moreover, Avalokitesvara, if good men and women in the future wish
to fulfill hundreds of thousands of ten thousands of millions of
wishes and to succeed in as many undertakings regarding both present
and future, they should simply return to and rely upon, gaze in
worship at, make offerings to, and praise the image of Earth Store
Bodhisattva. Their wishes and goals will certainly be realized.
Moreover, they may ask Earth Store Bodhisattva, the Compassionate
One, to eternally protect them. In a dream the Bodhisattva will rub
their crowns and bestow predictions of enlightenment.
"Moreover, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, good men and women in the
future may have high regard for the Great-Vehicle
Sutras and make the inconceivable resolve to read and recite them
from memory. They may then encounter a good master who instructs
them, so that they may become familiar with the texts. But as soon
as they learn them, they forget them. They may become unable for
months and years to read or recite them from memory. It is because
such persons' karmic obstructions from past lives have not yet been
eradicated that they do not have the nature to read and recite
sutras of the Great Vehicle. Upon hearing Earth Store Bodhisattva's
name or seeing his image, they should feel deep respect and state
their situation to the Bodhisattva. They should then take incense,
flowers, clothing, food, and drink, as well as all manner of
playthings, and make offerings to the Bodhisattva. They should place
a bowl of pure water before the Bodhisattva's image for one day and
one night. Afterward, placing their palms together, let them state
their request and then drink the water while facing south. As the
water is about to enter their mouths they should be particularly
sincere and earnest. After drinking the water they should abstain
from the five pungent plants, wine, meat, all sexual activity, and
false speech, as well as all killing and harming, for one to three
weeks. In dreams these good men or women will see Earth Store
Bodhisattva manifesting a limitless body and annointing their crowns
with water. When they awaken they will be endowed with keen
intelligence. Should this sutra then be heard by them one time, they
will eternally remember it and never forget or lose a single
sentence or verse.
"Moreover, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, if there are people in the
future whose food and clothing are insufficient, who endure sickness
and ill fortune, whose families are not peaceful, whose relatives
are scattered, who are bothered by unfortunate occurrences, or who
are often startled in their sleep by dreams, upon hearing the
Bodhisattva's name and seeing his image, they should recite his name
a full ten thousand times with extreme sincerity and respect. Those
inauspicious matters will gradually be eradicated, and they will
attain peace and happiness. Their food and clothing will be abundant
and even in their dreams they will be peaceful and happy.
"Moreover, Avalokitesvara, good men or women in the future who must
enter mountain forests; cross over rivers, seas, and the great
waters; or pass through dangerous roads for the sake of earning
their own livelihood, for public affairs, matters of life and death,
or other urgent business, should first recite the name of Earth
Store Bodhisattva a full ten thousand times. The ghosts and spirits
of the ground they pass over will always surround and protect them
in their walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. The peace and
happiness of those persons will constantly be guarded, so that even
if they encounter tigers, wolves, lions, or other harmful evil
creatures, the beasts will be unable to hurt them."
The Buddha told the Avalokitesvara: "Earth Store Bodhisattva has
great affinity with beings in Jambudvipa. Hundreds of thousands of
aeons would not be time enough to describe the benefits derived by
living beings who see this Bodhisattva and hear his name. Therefore,
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, you should use your spiritual powers to
propagate this sutra and to cause the living beings of the Saha
world to receive peace and happiness throughout hundreds of
thousands of myriads of aeons."
At that time the World-Honored One spoke verses, saying:
"Earth Store Bodhisattva's spiritual strength
Cannot be explained with infinities of words.
To see, to hear, to worship for but one thought
Brings endless benefit to men and gods.
If a man's or woman's or a god's or dragon's
Lifespan ends and he should fall
Into evil ways, but returns sincerely and trusts
In this Lord, his lifespan will increase
And his offenses will be wiped away.
Those who have lost their parents' devoted care,
And do not know what paths their spirits took;
Lost brothers, sisters, or some other kin,
Whom in their youth they never met at all,
Should carve or paint an image of this Lord,
Should gaze and worship him unceasingly,
And for twenty-one days constantly hold his name.
The Bodhisattva will reveal a boundless body
And show the realms in which the kin were born.
And kin who have fallen into evil ways
Will quickly leave behind these states of woe.
To cultivate the Bodhi unsurpassed
And leave behind the suffering Triple World,
To bring about the great compassion heart,
Just gaze upon the image of this Lord.
Each wish one makes will quickly come to pass
And karmic hindrances will not bind one up.
If one does not retreat from his first thought
His crown will be rubbed, he'll hear a prophecy.
If a man resolves to read a sutra text,
Wishing to cross over confused beings to the other shore,
Although his wish transcends all words and thoughts,
What he has read he straightaway forgets;
Because he doubts, blocked by karmic faults,
He cannot hold the sutra in his mind.
To Earth Store Bodhisattva he should offer
Scents and flowers, clothing, food, and toys,
And place pure water on that Lord's altar,
Wait one day and night, then drink the water;
Carefully avoid the pungent plants,
Both meat and wine, improper sex and speech;
For twenty-one days neither kill nor injure;
Just recite the name of this great Lord.
Then in a dream he'll see the boundless realm
And, once awake, obtain keenness of ear;
Then when a sutra text passes his ear
Throughout ten million lives he'll not forget.
The power of this Lord cannot be thought
Or talked about, yet it can cause one to
Obtain great wisdom.
If poverty-stricken beings, plagued with disease,
Whose homes are troubled, whose relatives are scattered,
Who aren't at peace, even in sleep or dreams,
Seek a way to leave misfortune's grasp
And sincerely gaze in worship on this Lord,
Their bitter sorrows will be wiped away.
With sufficient food and clothes, and peaceful dreams,
Gods and ghosts will circle and protect them.
Those who travel in mountain wilds, on seas,
Who meet with poisonous birds and beasts, or evil
Men or ghosts, spirits, or evil winds-
So many kinds of troublesome disturbances-
Should gaze in worship and make offerings
To Earth Store Bodhisattva's form.
Within the mountain forests, and on the seas,
The evil multitudes will disappear.
Avolokitesvara, be attentive.
Earth Store cannot be reached by word or thought.
A thousand million years is time too brief
To fully describe the power of this Lord.
If humans can but hear the name "Earth Store",
Or if they see his image, worship once,
Or offer flowers, clothing, food, perfumes,
They will delight in a thousand wondrous joys.
If one returns this merit to the Dharma-
Realm, he will become a Buddha, freed
From birth and death. Therefore, Avalokitesvara,
You should know this sutra and spread it through worlds
More numerous than the Ganges River's sands."
The Entrustment of Men and Gods
At that time the World-Honored One extended his gold-colored arm and
again rubbed the crown of Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, as he
said: "Earth Store, Earth Store, your spiritual powers, compassion,
wisdom, and eloquence are inconceivable. Even if all the Buddhas of
the ten directions were to praise your inconceivable qualities, they
could not finish in thousands of tens of thousands of aeons.
"Earth Store, Earth Store, remember that now, in the
Trayastrimsa Heaven in this great assembly of hundreds of thousands
of tens of thousands of millions of ineffable Buddhas, Bodhisattvas,
gods, dragons, and eightfold divisions of spirits, I entrust to you
the men and gods of the future who have not yet left the burning
house of the Triple World. Do not allow those beings to fall into
the Evil Paths for the space of even a single day and night, much
less fall into the uninterrupted hell of the Five Offenses and the
Avici hell, where they would have to pass through thousands of tens
of thousands of millions of aeons without being able to leave.
"Earth Store, the beings of Jambudvipa are of irresolute will and
nature, and they habitually do many evil deeds. Even if they resolve
their thoughts on good, they quickly turn back on that resolve, and
if they encounter evil conditions they tend to become increasingly
involved in them. For this reason I reduplicate hundreds of
thousands of millions of transformation bodies to cross them over in
accord with their respective natures.
"Earth Store, I now carefully entrust the multitudes of men and gods
of the future to you. If, in the future, gods or men plant good
roots in the Buddhadharma, be they as little as a hair, dust mote,
grain of sand, or drop of water, you should use your spiritual
powers and virtues to protect them so that they gradually cultivate
the unsurpassed way and do not retreat from it.
"Moreover, Earth Store, if in the future men and gods who ought to
fall into the Evil Paths in accord with the retribution of their
deeds, who are on the verge of falling into those paths, or who are
already at the very gates of those paths, recite the name of one
Buddha or Bodhisattva, or a single sentence or verse from a Mahayana
sutra, you should manifest a limitless body, smash the hells, and
cause them to be born in the heavens and receive supremely wonderful
The World-Honored One then spoke in verse, saying:
"Men and gods of the future,
as well as those now living,
I entrust all to you.
Use your penetrations
To rescue them all.
With your expedient skill in means,
Do not allow them to fall
into the Evil Paths."
At that time Earth Store Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, knelt, placed his
palms together, and said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One, please
do not be concerned. If good men and women in the future have a
single thought of respect toward the Buddhadharma, I shall use
hundreds of thousands of expedient devices to cross them over so
that they may quickly attain liberation from birth and death. How
much more will those who have heard of good undertakings and
cultivated in accord with them be able to attain spontaneous
irreversibility from the unsurpassed Way."
When this was said, a Bodhisattva named Empty Space Store arose from
the midst of that assembly and spoke to the Buddha: "World-Honored
One, I have come to the Trayastrimsa Heaven and heard the Thus Come
One speak of the inconceivable power of Earth Store Bodhisattva's
awesome spiritual strength. If in the future good men or good women,
as well as gods and dragons, hear this sutra and the name of Earth
Store Bodhisattva, or if they gaze at and worship his image, how
many kinds of advantages and blessings will they attain? Please,
World-Honored One, speak about this for the sake of those living
beings in the present and in the future."
The Buddha told Empty Space Store Bodhisattva: "Listen attentively,
listen attentively, I shall enumerate and describe them to you. If
there are good men and women in the future who see Earth Store's
image, or who hear this sutra or read or recite it; who use incense,
flowers, food and drink, clothing, or gems as offerings; or if they
praise, behold, and worship him, they shall attain twenty-eight
kinds of advantages:
1. They will be remembered and protected by gods and dragons.
2. Their good roots will increase daily.
3. They will accululate superior causes of wisdom.
4. They will not retreat from Bodhi.
5. Their food and drink will be abundant.
6. Epidemics will not touch them.
7. They will not encounter disasters of fire and water.
8. They will not be troubled by thieves.
9. They will be respected by all who see them.
10. They will be aided by ghosts and spirits.
11. Women will be reborn as men.
12. If born as women they will be daughters of kings and ministers.
13. They will have upright and proper appearances.
14. They will often be born in the heavens.
15. They may be emperors or kings.
16. They will know their past lives.
17. They will attain whatever they seek.
18. Their families will be happy.
19. All disasters will be eradicated.
20. They will eternally be apart from the paths of karma.
21. They will always arrive at their destination.
22. At night their dreams will be peaceful and happy.
23. Their deceased relatives will leave suffering behind.
24. They will receive the blessings from their past lives.
25. They will be praised by the sages.
26. They will be intelligent and their roots will be keen.
27. They will have magnanimous, kind, and sympathetic hearts.
28. They will ultimately attain Buddhahood.
"Moreover, Empty Space Store Bodhisattva, if gods, dragons, or
spirits of the present or future hear Earth Store Bodhisattva's
name, bow to his image, or merely hear of his past vows and conduct,
and then praise him and gaze at and worship him, they will attain
seven kinds of advantages.
1. They will quickly step over to the sages' ground.
2. Their evil karma will be eradicated.
3. All the Buddhas will protect and be near them.
4. They will not retreat from Bodhi.
5. Their fundamental powers will increase.
6. They will know their past lives.
7. They will ultimately realize Buddhahood.
At that time, all those who had come from the ten directions,
unspeakable numbers of Buddhas, Thus Come Ones, as well as the great
Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, and the remainder of the Eightfold
Divisions who heard Sakyamuni Buddha's praise of Earth Store
Bodhisattva's great inconceivable spiritual powers, exclaimed that
there had never been anything like this before.
At that time incense, flowers, heavenly garments, and gems rained
down in the Trayastrimsa Heaven as offerings to Sakyamuni Buddha and
Earth Store Bodhisattva. When this was finished, the entire assembly
again gazed, made obeisance, placed their palms together, and