Buddha-carita Home PageBook XVII
The Buddha-carita continuation by AMṚTĀNANDA
Translated by E. B. Cowell
1. The omniscient lion of the Śākyas then caused all the assembly, headed by those who belonged to the company of Maitrīya, to turn the wheel of the Law.
2. ‘Listen, O company belonging to Maitrīya, ye who form one vast congregation, — as it was proclaimed by those past arch-saints, so is it now proclaimed by Me.
3. ‘These are the two extremes, O mendicants, in the self-control of the religious ascetic, — the one which is devoted to the joys of desire, vulgar and common,
4. ‘And the other which is tormented by the excessive pursuit of self-inflicted pain in the mortification of the soul's corruptions, — these are the two extremes of the religious ascetic, each devoted to that which is unworthy and useless.
5. ‘These have nothing to do with true asceticism, renunciation of the world, or self-control, with true indifference or suppression of pain, or with any of the means of attaining deliverance.
6. ‘They do not tend to the spiritual forms of knowledge, to wisdom, nor to Nirvāṇa; let him who is acquainted with the uselessness of inflicting pain and weariness on the body,
7. ‘Who has lost his interest in any pleasure or pain of a visible nature, or in the future, and who follows this middle Path for the good of the world, —
8. ‘Let him, the Tathāgata, the teacher of the world, proclaim the good Law, beginning that manifestation of the good Law which consists of the (four) noble truths,
9. ‘And let the Buddha proclaim the Path with its eight divisions. I too who am now the perfectly wise, and the Tathāgata in the world,
10. ‘Will proclaim the noble Law, beginning with those sublime truths and the eightfold Path which is the means to attain perfect knowledge.
11. ‘Instructing all the world I will show to it Nirvāṇa; those four noble truths must be heard first and comprehended by the soul.
12. ‘That must be understood and thoroughly realised by the true students of wisdom, which has been known here by me, through the favour of all the Buddhas.
13. ‘Having known the noble eightfold Path, and embraced it as realised with joy, — thus I declare to you the first means for the attainment of liberation.
14. ‘Having thus commenced the noble truths, I will describe the true self-control; this noble truth is the best of all holy laws.
15. ‘Walk as long as existence lasts, holding fast the noble eightfold Path, — this noble truth is the highest law for the attainment of true liberation.
16. ‘Having pondered and held fast the noble eightfold Path, walk in self-control; others, not understanding this, idle talkers full of self-conceit,
17. ‘Say according to their own will that merit is the cause of corporeal existence, others maintain that the soul must be preserved (after death) for its merit is the cause of liberation.
18. ‘Some say that everything comes spontaneously; others that the consequence was produced before; others talk loudly that all also depends on a Divine Lord.
19. ‘If merit and demerit are produced by the good and evil fortune of the soul, how is it that good fortune does not always come to all embodied beings (at last), even in the absence of merit?
20. ‘How is the difference accounted for, which we see in form, riches, happiness, and the rest, if there are no previous actions, how do good and evil arise here?
21. ‘If karman is said to be the cause of our actions, who would imagine cogency in this assumption? If all the world is produced spontaneously, who then would talk of the ownership of actions?
22. ‘If good is caused by good, then evil will be the cause of evil, — how then could liberation from existence be produced by difficult penances?
23. ‘Others unwisely talk of Īśvara as a cause, how then is there not uniformity in the world if Īśvara be the uniformly acting cause?
24. ‘Thus certain ignorant people, talking loudly "he is," "he is not," — through the demerits of their false theories, are at last born wretched in the different hells.
25. ‘Through the merits of good theories virtuous men, who understand noble knowledge, go to heavenly worlds, from their self-restraint as regards body, speech, and thought.
26. ‘All those who are devoted to existence are tormented with the swarms of its evils, and being consumed by old age, diseases, and death, each one dies and is born again.
27. ‘There are many wise men here who can discourse on the laws of coming into being; but there is not even one who knows how the cessation of being is produced.
28. ‘This body composed of the five skandhas, and produced from the five elements, is all empty and without soul, and arises from the action of the chain of causation,
29. ‘This chain of causation is the cause of coming into existence, and the cessation of the series thereof is the cause of the state of cessation.
30. ‘He who knowing this desires to promote the good of the world, let him hold fast the chain of causation, with his mind fixed on wisdom;
31. ‘Let him embrace the vow of self-denial for the sake of wisdom, and practise the four perfections, and go through existence always doing good to all beings.
32. ‘Then having become an Arhat and conquered all the wicked, even the hosts of Māra, and attained the threefold wisdom, he shall enter Nirvāṇa.
33. ‘Whosoever therefore has his mind indifferent and is void of all desire for any further form of existence, let him abolish one by one the several steps of the chain of causation.
34. ‘When these effects of the chain of causation are thus one by one put an end to, he at last, being free from all stain and substratum, will pass into a blissful Nirvāṇa.
35. ‘Listen all of you for your own happiness, with your minds free from stain, — I will declare to you step by step this chain of causation.
36. ‘The idea of ignorance is what gives the root to the huge poison-tree of mundane existence with its trunk of pain.
37. ‘The impressions are caused by this, which produce [the acts of] the body, voice, and mind; and consciousness arises from these impressions, which produces as its development the five senses and the mind (or internal sense).
38. ‘The organisms which is sometimes called saṁjñā or sandarśana, springs from this; and from this arises the six organs of the senses, including mind.
39. ‘The association of the six organs with their objects is called "contact;" and the consciousness of these different contacts is called "sensation; "
40. ‘By this is produced thirst, which is the desire of being troubled by worldly objects; "attachment to continued existence," arising from this, sets itself in action towards pleasure and the rest;
41. ‘From attachment springs continued existence, which is sensual, possessing form, or formless; and from existence arises birth through a returning to various wombs.
42. ‘On birth is dependent the series of old age, death, sorrow and the like; by putting a stop to ignorance and what follows from it, all these successively surcease.
43. ‘This is the chain of causation, having many turns, and whose sphere of action is created by ignorance, — this is to be meditated upon by you who enjoy the calm of dwelling tranquilly in lonely woods;
‘He who knows it thoroughly reaches at last to absolute tenuity; and having become thus attenuated he becomes blissfully extinct.
44. ‘When you have thus learned this, in order to be freed from the bond of existence, you must cut down with all your efforts the root of pain, ignorance.
45. ‘Then, being set free from the bonds of the prison-house of existence, as Arhats, possessing natures perfectly pure, you shall attain Nirvāṇa.’
46. Having heard this lesson preached by the chief of saints, all the mendicants comprehended the course and the cessation of embodied existence.
47. As these five ascetics listened to his words, their intellectual eye was purified for the attainment of perfect wisdom:
48. The eye of dharma was purified in six hundred millions of gods, and the eye of wisdom in eight hundred millions of Brahmans.
49. The eye of dharma was purified in eighty thousand men, and even in all beings an ardour for the Law was made visible.
50. Everywhere all kinds of evil became tranquillised, and on every side an ardour for all that helps on the good Law manifested itself.
51. In the heavens everywhere the heavenly beings with troops of Apsarases uttered forth great shouts, ‘Even so, O noble being of boundless energy!’
52. Then Maitreya addressed the holy one, ‘O great mendicant, in what form has the wheel been turned by thee?’
53. Having heard this question asked by the great-souled Maitreya, the holy one looked at him and thus addressed him:
54. ‘The profound subtil wheel of the Law, so hard to be seen, has been turned by me, into which the disputatious Tīrthikas cannot penetrate.
55. ‘The wheel of the Law has been turned, which has no extension, no origin, no birth, no home, isolated, and free from matter;
56. ‘Having many divisions, and not being without divisions, having no cause, and susceptible of no definition, — that wheel, which is described as possessing perfect equilibrium, has been proclaimed by the Buddha.
57. ‘Everything subject to successive causation is like a delusion, a mirage, or a dream like the moon seen in water or an echo, — it lies stretched out on the surface, not to be extirpated, but not eternal.
58. ‘The wheel of the Law has been described as that in which all false doctrines are extirpated; it is always like the pure ether, involving no doubts, ever bright.
59. ‘The wheel of the Law is described as without end or middle, existing apart from "it is" or "it is not," separated from soul or soullessness.
60. ‘The wheel of the Law has been here set forth, with a description according to its real nature, — as it has a limit and as it has not a limit, in its actual quantity and quality.
61. ‘The wheel of the Law has been here set forth, described as possessing unique attributes, apart from the power of the eye and so too as regards the sense of hearing or smell;
62. ‘Apart from the tongue, the touch, or the mind, — without soul or exertion; ‘Such is this wheel of the Law which has been turned by me;
63. ‘He makes wise all the ignorant, — therefore is he called the Buddha; this knowledge of the laws of reality has been ascertained by me of myself,
64. ‘Apart from all teaching by another, therefore is he called the self-existent, — having all laws under his control, therefore is he called the lord of Law.
65. ‘He knows what is right (naya) and wrong (anaya) in laws, therefore is he called Nāyaka; he teaches unnumbered beings as they become fit to be taught.
66. ‘He has reached the furthest limit of instruction, therefore is he called Vināyaka, from his pointing out the best of good paths to beings who have lost their way.
67. ‘He has reached the furthest limit of good teaching, he is the guide to all the Law, — attracting all beings by his knowledge of all the means of conciliation;
68. ‘He has passed through the forest of mundane existence, therefore is he called the Leader of the Caravan; the absolute ruler over all law, therefore he is the Jina, the lord of Law.
69. ‘From his turning the wheel of the Law he is the lord of all the sovereigns of Law; the master-giver of the Law, the teacher, the master of the Law, the lord of the world;
70. ‘He who has offered the sacrifice, accomplished his end, fulfilled his hope, achieved his success, the consoler, the loving regarder, the hero, the champion, the victorious one in conflict;
71. ‘He has come out from all conflict, released himself and the releaser of all, — he is become the light of the world, the illuminator of the knowledge of true wisdom;
72. ‘The dispeller of the darkness of ignorance, the illuminer of the great torch, the great physician, the great seer, the healer of all evils,
73. ‘The extractor of the barb of evil from all those who are wounded by evil, — he who is possessed of all distinctive marks and adorned with all signs,
74. ‘With his body and limbs every way perfect, of pure conduct and perfectly clear mind, possessed of the ten powers, having great fortitude, learned with all learning,
75. ‘Endowed with all the independent states, he who has attained the great Yāna, the lord of all Dharma, the ruler, the monarch of all worlds, the sovereign,
76. ‘The lord of all wisdom, the wise, the destroyer of the pride of all disputers, the omniscient, the Arhat, possessed of the perfect knowledge, the great Buddha, the lord of saints;
77. ‘The victorious triumphant overthrower of the insolence and pride of the evil Māra, the perfect Buddha, the Sugata, the wise one, he who brings the desired end to all beings,
78. ‘Ever cognisant of past acts, never speaking falsely, a mine of perfect excellence and of all good qualities, the destroyer of all evil ways, the guide in all good ways,
79. ‘The ruler of the world, the bearer of the world, the master of the world, the sovereign of the world, the teacher of the world, the preceptor of the world, he who brings to the world the Law, virtue, and its true end,
80. ‘The fount of an ambrosia which quenches the scorching of the flame of all pain, and the powerful luminary which dries up the great ocean of all pain,
81. ‘He who brings all virtue and all true wealth, the possessor of perfect excellence and all good qualities, the guide on the road of wisdom, he who shows the way to Nirvāṇa,
82. ‘The Tathāgata, without stain, without attachment, without uncertainty. This is the compendious declaration in the turning of the wheel of the Law.
83. ‘A concise manifestation of a Tathāgata's qualities is now declared by me; for a Buddha's knowledge is endless, unlimited like the ether;
84. ‘A narrator might spend a Kalpa, but the virtues of the Buddha would not come to an end, thus by me has the multitude of the virtues of the Buddha been described.
85. ‘Having heard this and welcomed it with joy go on ever in happiness; this, Sirs, is the Mahāyāna, the instrument of the Law of the perfect Buddha, which is the establisher of the welfare of all beings, set forth by all the Buddhas.
86. ‘In order that this methodical arrangement of the Law may be always spread abroad, do you yourselves always proclaim it and hand it on.
87. ‘Whosoever, Sirs, hears, sees, and welcomes with joy this methodical arrangement of the Law, which is a mine of happiness and prosperity, and honours it with folded hands,
88. ‘Shall attain pre-eminent strength with a glorious form and limbs, and a retinue of the holy, and an intelligence of the highest reach,
89. ‘And the happiness of perfect contemplation, with a deep calm of uninterrupted bliss, with his senses in their highest perfection, and illuminated by unclouded knowledge.
90. ‘He shall assuredly attain these eight pre-eminent perfections, who hears and sees this Law with a serene soul and worships it with folded hands.
91. ‘Whosoever in the midst of the assembly shall gladly offer a pulpit to the high-minded teacher of the great Law,
92. ‘That virtuous man shall assuredly attain the seat of the most excellent, and also the seat of a householder, and the throne of a universal monarch;
93. ‘He shall also attain the throne of one of the guardian-spirits of the world, and also the firm throne of Śakra, and also throne of the Vaśavartinaḥ gods, aye, and the supreme throne of Brahman;
94. ‘And also with the permission of the Bodhisattva who is seated on the Bodhi throne he shall obtain the throne of a teacher of the good Law who has risen to perfect knowledge.
95. ‘These eight seats shall the pure-souled one attain who offers joyfully a seat to him who proclaims the Law.
96. ‘Whosoever with a believing heart, after examination, shall utter applause to the pious man who proclaims this carefully arranged Law;
97. ‘Shall become a truthful and pure speaker, and one whose words are to be accepted, — one whose utterances are welcome and delightful, whose voice is sweet and gentle;
98. ‘Having a voice like a Kalaviṅka bird, with a deep and sweet tone, having also a pure voice like Brahman's, and a loud voice with a lion's sound.
99. ‘He as an all-wise and truthful speaker shall obtain these eight excellences of speech, who utters applause to one who proclaims the good Law.
100. ‘And whosoever, after writing this method of the Law in a book, shall set it in his house and always worship it and honour it with all reverential observances,
101. ‘And uttering its praises shall hand the doctrine onward on every side, he, the very pious man, shall obtain a most excellent treasure of memory,
102. ‘And a treasure of insight, and a treasure of prudence, and a treasure of good spells, and a treasure full of intelligence,
103. ‘And a treasure of the highest wisdom, and the most excellent treasure of the Law, and a treasure of knowledge, the means to attain the excellences of the good Law, —
104. ‘These eight treasures shall that highminded man attain who joyfully writes this down and sets it in a sure place and always worships it.
105. ‘And he who, himself holding this method of the Law in his mind, sets it going around him, shall obtain a complete supply for liberality for the good of the world,
106. ‘Next, a complete supply of virtuous dispositions, a most excellent supply of sacred knowledge, a supply of perfect calmness, and that which is called spiritual insight,
107. A supply of the merit caused by the good Law, a most excellent supply of knowledge, a supply of boundless compassion, which is the means to attain the virtues of the perfect Buddha.
108. ‘He, full of joy, shall obtain these eight supplies who himself holds this method of the Law in his mind and sets it going abroad.
109. ‘And he who shall declare this method of the Law to others, shall have himself purified by great merit and shall be prosperous and possessed of supernatural powers.
110. ‘He shall become a universal monarch, a king of kings, and even a ruler among the guardians of the world, an Indra ruler of the gods, and even the ruler of the Yāma heaven,
111. ‘Yea, the ruler of the Tuṣita heaven, and the ruler of the Sunirmitāḥ, and the king of the Vaśavartinaḥ, and the lord of the Brahmaloka;
112. ‘Yea, Mahābrahman, the highest of Sages, and in the end he shall even become a Buddha, — he, possessing a thoroughly pure intelligence, shall obtain these eight sublime rewards of merit.
113. ‘And he who, thoroughly intent, with a believing heart, and filled with faith and devotion, shall hear this method of the Law as it is preached,
114. ‘He shall have his intellect made perfectly pure, his mind calmed with boundless charity, and his soul happy with boundless compassion, and he shall be filled with boundless joy;
115. ‘His soul constantly calm with universal indifference, rejoicing in the four contemplations, having reached the ecstatic state of absolute indifference, and with his senses abolished,
116. ‘With the five transcendent faculties attained, and destroying the aggregate of latent impressions, he, endowed with supernatural powers, will attain the samādhi called Sūraṅgama.
117. ‘He, having his soul pure, will attain these eight forms of absolute spotlessness; yea, wherever this method of the Law will prevail universally,
118. ‘There will be no fear of any disturbance in the kingdom, no fear of evil-minded thieves, nor fear of evil beasts;
119. ‘There will be no fear of plagues, famines, or wildernesses; and no alarm shall spread, caused by quarrel or war;
120. ‘There shall be no fear from the gods nor from Nāgas, Yakṣas, and the like, nor shall there be anywhere any fear of any misfortune.
121. ‘These eight fears shall not be found there where this Law extends; it is all briefly explained, my friends, — all that arises from holding it stedfastly.
122. ‘A yet higher and most excellent merit is declared by all the Buddhas, even although all living beings were to practise complete self-restraint.
123. ‘Let a man worship the Buddhas, honouring them always with faith; from that comes this pre-eminent merit, as is declared by the Jinas.
124. ‘And whosoever joyfully worships a Pratyeka-Buddha, they shall become themselves Pratyeka-Buddhas; therefore let every one worship them.
125. ‘There is pre-eminent merit from the worship of one Bodhisattva, and they shall all themselves become Bodhisattvas, let every one worship them;
126. ‘Therefore there is pre-eminent merit from the worship of one Buddha, — they shall all themselves become Jinas, let every one devoutly worship them; and he too shall obtain this pre-eminent merit who hears this or causes others to hear it.
127. ‘And whosoever in days when the good Law is abolished abandons love for his own body and life and proclaims day and night these good words, — pre-eminent is his merit from this.
128. ‘He who wishes to worship constantly the lords of saints, the Pratyeka-Buddhas and the Arhats, let him resolutely produce in his mind the idea of true wisdom and proclaim these good words and the Law.
129. ‘This jewel of all good doctrines, which is uttered by the Buddhas for the good of all beings, — even one who lives in a house will be a Tathāgata for it, where this good doctrine prevails.
130. ‘He obtains a glorious and endless splendour who teaches even one word thereof; he will not miss one consonant nor the meaning who gives this Sūtra to others.
131. ‘He is the best of all guides of men, no other being is like unto him; he is like a jewel, of imperishable glory, who hears this Law with a pure heart.
132. ‘Therefore let those who are endowed with lofty ambitions, always hear this Law which causes transcendent merit; let them hear it and gladly welcome it and lay it up in their minds and continually worship the three jewels with faith.’
Buddha-carita Home PageBook XVII
last updated: January 2007