The Amitabha Buddha Sutra, 佛說阿彌陀經
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Sūtra 23 (posted 03/2009, updated 12/2011)  Book information on Home page

佛說阿彌陀經
Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Amitābha Buddha

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Later Qin Dynasty
by
The Tripiṭaka Master Kumārajīva from Kucha

Thus I have heard:
    At one time the Buddha was staying in the Anāthapiṇḍika Garden of Jetavana Park in the city kingdom of Śrāvastī, together with 1,250 great bhikṣus, who all were great Arhats as recognized by the multitudes. Such great disciples included the Elder Śāriputra, Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Mahākāśyapa, Mahākātyāyana, Mahākauṣṭhila, Revata, Śuddhipanthaka, Nanda, Ānanda, Rāhula, Gavāṁpati, Piṇḍola-Bharadvāja, Kālodāyin, Mahākapphiṇa, Vakkula, Aniruddha, and others. Also present were Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, such as Mañjuśrī the Dharma Prince, Ajita Bodhisattva, Gandhahastin Bodhisattva, and Persistent Energetic Progress Bodhisattva. Along with great Bodhisattvas such as these, in attendance as well were the god-king Śakro-Devānām-Indra and an innumerable multitude of gods.
    At that time the Buddha told the Elder Śāriputra, “West of here, beyond 100,000 koṭi Buddha Lands, is a land called Ultimate Bliss. In that land resides a Buddha called Amitābha, who is now expounding the Dharma. Śāriputra, why is that land called Ultimate Bliss? Sentient beings of that land have no suffering but only experience myriad joys. Therefore, that land is called Ultimate Bliss. Moreover, Śāriputra, the Land of Ultimate Bliss is surrounded by seven rows of railings, seven layers of nets, and seven lines of trees, all made of the four treasures. Therefore, that land is called Ultimate Bliss.
    “Also, Śāriputra, in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are ponds made of the seven treasures, filled with water with the eight virtues. Covering the bed of each pond is gold dust. The stairs and walkways on the four sides of each pond are made of gold, silver, aquamarine, and crystal. Standing majestically are lofty towers, all adorned with gold, silver, aquamarine, crystal, conch shell, ruby, and emerald. The lotus flowers in the ponds are as large as carriage wheels. The blue colors gleam with blue light; the yellow colors, yellow light; the red colors, red light; the white colors, white light. They are wonderful, fragrant, and pure. Śāriputra, the Land of Ultimate Bliss is formed with such virtues as its adornments!
    “Also, Śāriputra, celestial music is always playing in that Buddha Land, and its ground is made of yellow gold. Day and night in the six periods, the sky rains down celestial māndarāva flowers. At dawn, sentient beings of that land fill their robes with wonderful flowers to make offerings to 100,000 koṭi Buddhas [in worlds] in other directions. At mealtime, they return to their own land to eat and do walking meditation. Śāriputra, the Land of Ultimate Bliss is formed with such virtues as its adornments!
    In addition, Śāriputra, in that land are various kinds of unusual, wonderful birds of diverse colors, such as white cranes, peacocks, parrots, śāris, kalaviṅkas, and jīvajīvas. Day and night in the six periods, these birds sing in harmonious, exquisite tones. These tones pronounce Dharmas, such as the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Seven Bodhi Factors, and the Eightfold Right Path. Sentient beings that hear these tones all think of the Buddha, think of the Dharma, and think of the Saṅgha. Śāriputra, do not say that these birds are born as a form of requital for sins [in their past lives]. Why not? Because, Śāriputra, that Buddha Land does not have the three evil life-paths. Śāriputra, even the names of the three evil life-paths do not exist in that Buddha Land, much less the actual paths. These birds are all magically manifested by Amitābha Buddha to have the Dharma tones flow everywhere.
    “Śāriputra, as breezes blow in that Buddha Land, the jeweled trees in lines and the jeweled nets [with bells[1]] make wonderful music, like 100,000 melodies playing at the same time. Those who hear these tones spontaneously think of the Buddha, think of the Dharma, and think of the Saṅgha. Śāriputra, that Buddha Land is formed with such virtues as its adornments!
    “Śāriputra, what is your opinion? Why is that Buddha called Amitābha? Śāriputra, that Buddha’s radiance is infinite, illuminating lands in the ten directions, hindrance free. Therefore, He is called Amitābha. Moreover, Śāriputra, the lifespan of that Buddha and His people is measureless, limitless asaṁkhyeya kalpas. Therefore, He is called Amitāyus. Śāriputra, it has been ten kalpas since Amitābha Buddha attained Buddhahood. In addition, Śāriputra, that Buddha has innumerable, countless voice-hearer disciples. All of them are Arhats, their numbers unknowable by calculation. Equally unknowable is the size of the multitude of Bodhisattvas. Śāriputra, that Buddha Land is formed with such virtues as its adornments!
    “Furthermore, Śāriputra, sentient beings reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are at the spiritual level of avinivartanīya. Many among them are in the holy position of waiting to attain Buddhahood in their next life. Their numbers are so large that they are unknowable by calculation, and can be reckoned only in terms of measureless, limitless asaṁkhyeyas. Śāriputra, sentient beings that have heard [of that land] should resolve to be reborn in that land. Why? To be in the same place together with people of superior virtues. Śāriputra, no one with the condition of few roots of goodness and a meager store of merits can be reborn in that land.
    “Śāriputra, if, among good men and good women, there are those who, having heard of Amitābha Buddha, single-mindedly uphold His name for one day, two days, three days, four days, five days, six days, or seven days, without being distracted, then upon their dying, Amitābha Buddha, together with a holy multitude, will appear before them. When these people die, their minds will not be demented and they will be reborn in Amitābha Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss. Śāriputra, I see this benefit, so I speak these words. If there are sentient beings that hear what I say, they should resolve to be reborn in that land.
    “Śāriputra, as I now praise Amitābha Buddha’s inconceivable merit, so too do Buddhas in worlds in the east, such as Akṣobhya Buddha, Meru Banner Buddha, Great Meru Buddha, Meru Light Buddha, and Wonderful Tone Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: ‘You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sūtra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.’
    “Śāriputra, in worlds in the south are Sun-Moon Lamp Buddha, Renown Light Buddha, Great Flame Aggregate Buddha,[2] Meru Lamp Buddha, and Infinite Energetic Progress Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: ‘You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sūtra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.’
    “Śāriputra, in worlds in the west are Infinite Life Buddha, Infinite Aggregate Buddha, Infinite Banner Buddha, Great Light Buddha, Great Radiance Buddha, Jewel Brilliance Buddha, and Pure Light Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: ‘You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sūtra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.’
    “Śāriputra, in worlds in the north are Flame Aggregate Buddha, Supreme Tone Buddha, Hard-to-Vanquish Buddha, Sun Birth Buddha, Web-of-Radiance Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: ‘You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sūtra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.’
    “Śāriputra, in worlds toward the nadir are Lion Buddha, Renown Buddha, Renown Light Buddha, Dharma Buddha, Dharma Banner Buddha, and Dharma Upholder Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: ‘You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sūtra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.’
    “Śāriputra, in worlds toward the zenith are Brahma Tone Buddha, Constellation King Buddha, Fragrance Superior Buddha, Fragrant Light Buddha, Great Flame Aggregate Buddha, Adorned with Jeweled Flowers in Diverse Colors Buddha, Salendra King Buddha, Jeweled Lotus Flower Splendor Buddha, Seeing All Meaning Buddha, and Sumeru Likeness Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: ‘You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sūtra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.’
    “Śāriputra, what is your opinion? Why is this sūtra called a sūtra protected and remembered by all Buddhas? Śāriputra, if there are good men and good women who have heard and upheld this sūtra, and have heard Buddhas’ names, they are protected and remembered by all Buddhas. They will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Therefore, Śāriputra, you all should believe and accept my words and other Buddhas’ words. If there are those who have resolved, are now resolving, or will resolve to be reborn in Amitābha Buddha’s land, they will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi, whether they have already been reborn, are now being reborn, or will be reborn in that land. Therefore, Śāriputra, if, among good men and good women, there are those who believe [my words], they should resolve to be reborn in that land.
    “Śāriputra, as I now praise Buddhas’ inconceivable merit,[3] likewise those Buddhas praise my inconceivable merit, saying these words: ‘Śākyamuni Buddha can do the extremely difficult, extraordinary thing in the Sahā World during the evil times of the five turbidities—the turbidity of a kalpa, the turbidity of views, the turbidity of afflictions, the turbidity of sentient beings, and the turbidity of their lifespan—attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. For the sake of sentient beings, He expounds the Dharma, which the entire world finds hard to believe.’
    “Śāriputra, know that, in the evil times of the five turbidities, I have done this difficult thing, attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. For the sake of the entire world, I expound the hard-to-believe Dharma. It is extremely difficult!”
    After the Buddha pronounced this sūtra, Śāriputra and other bhikṣus, as well as gods, humans, asuras, and others in the entire world, having heard the Buddha’s words, rejoiced, believed in, and accepted the teachings. They made obeisance and departed.

Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Amitābha Buddha
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T12n0366)


Notes

    1. F. Max Müller footnotes in Buddhist Mahāyāna Texts (Cowell et al. [1894] 1969, part 2, 92), that he translates the Sanskrit word kaṅkanījālānām (bells of nets) as strings of bells. However, bells can hang from a net (jāla), as described in the Mahāyāna Sūtra of Consciousness Revealed (see Sūtra 18). So the term is translated as nets with bells. (Return to text)
    2. In text 366 (T12n0366), Kumārajīva translates the Sanskrit name Mahārciskandha into Chinese as Great Flame Shoulder. The Sanskrit word arci can mean flame or ray, and skandha can mean shoulder or aggregate. In text 367 (T12n0367), Xuanzang translates Mahārciskandha as Great Light Aggregate. Here, this name is translated as Great Flame Aggregate. (Return to text)
    3. In an earlier passage in this sūtra, the Buddha says, “Śāriputra, as I now praise Amitābha Buddha’s inconceivable merit, so too do Buddhas in worlds in the east, . . .” Therefore, for this passage, it seems that Śākyamuni Buddha’s praising the inconceivable merit of Amitābha Buddha would confirm the earlier passage and would be more relevant than His praising the merit of Buddhas in general. Support of this comment is found in a corresponding passage in text 367 (T12n0367, 0351a27–29), in which the Buddha states: “Śāriputra, as I now acclaim and praise Amitāyus Buddha’s inconceivable merit, who has formed His Buddha Land of Ultimate Bliss, likewise other Buddha-Tathāgatas [in worlds] in the ten directions praise my inconceivable boundless merit, . . .” (Return to text)


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