Buddha Sutras Mantras Sanskrit

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Foreword 1A to Sūtra 1  (posted 04/2007, updated 06/2009)


Foreword

Texts 967-71 in the Chinese Canon (CBETA, T19n0967-71) are five versions of Sūtra 1, and two of them were translated into Chinese by Divākara (地婆訶羅, 613-687). Sūtra 1 is based on Divākara's second translation in text 970, in which the Buddha tells a past life of the god-son Well Established (Supratiṣṭhita), the principal character, and explains which of his past karmas had led to the pleasant requitals and which ones were about to result in painful requitals. Text 967, the version translated by Buddhapāla, includes a story written by a monk named Zhijing (志靜), which tells why Buddhapāla took this sūtra to China. For the reader's interest, this story in text 967 is also translated into English to serve as a foreword to Sūtra 1. The Buddha usually gives several names to a sūtra and, for brevity, the shorter name of the sūtra in text 967 is adopted.
    One can learn from the story of the god-son, whose good karmas and bad karmas done with his body, mouth, and mind do not offset or mitigate each other. As one transmigrates in the cycle of karmic life and death, each action taken becomes a karmic seed in one's mind, which will ripen into a corresponding karmic requital in due time and under due conditions. Fortunately, one can produce good conditions to mitigate or avert a dreadful requital before its fruition. The best condition one can use against any future requital is sincere repentance. In this sūtra, the Buddha imparts a special mantra as a skillful means to purify the karmic seeds in one's mind. One can also recite this mantra to rescue others who are in the midst of their suffering.
    This special mantra is the Buddha-Crown Superb Victory Dhāraṇī (Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī). In 776, the eleventh year of the Dali (大曆) years of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Daizong (唐代宗) decreed that all Buddhist monks and nuns in China should learn this mantra in a month's time and that they should recite it twenty-one times every day and report their compliance to the Imperial Court on the lunar New Year's Day each year. In the fourth month of 860, Heavenly Emperor Qinghe (清河天皇) of Japan also decreed that recitation of this mantra twenty-one times a day should be a regular practice of the monastic community. This mantra has been widely recognized and recited in China, Japan, and Tibet, and stories of its power have been documented. Timeless in its power, recitation of this mantra is especially appropriate and needed in this modern age of greed, anger, and delusion.


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