Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra

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The Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra (Tibetan: ['phags pa] za ma tog bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo; Chinese: 佛說大乘莊嚴寶王經, Taishō Tripiṭaka 1050) is a Mahayana sūtra which extols the virtues and powers of the great Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and which is particularly notable for introducing the mantra Om mani padme hum into the sūtra tradition.

General Features[edit]

The Karandavyuha Sutra is a Mahayana sutra that was compiled at the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century C.E.[1] It is notable for its presentation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara as 'the supreme Buddhist isvara (divine lord) or 'great cosmic purusa' (cosmic person/ being),[2] whose effulgence is even greater than that of any other bodhisattva or Buddha. A striking feature of Avalokitesvara in this sutra is his creative power, as he is said to be the progenitor of various heavenly bodies and major divinities. Alexander Studholme, in his monograph on the sutra, writes:

'The sun and moon are said to be born from the bodhisattva's eyes, Mahesvara [Siva] from his brow, Brahma from his shoulders, Narayana [Vishnu] from his heart, Sarasvati from his teeth, the winds from his mouth, the earth from his feet and the sky from his stomach.'.[3]

The sutra introduces the Buddhist mantra, Om Manipadme Hum, which it states can lead to liberation (moksha) and eventual Buddhahood.[4] A. Studholme sees this famous mantra as being a declarative aspiration, possibly meaning 'I in the jewel-lotus',[5] with the jewel-lotus being a reference to birth in the lotus made of jewels in the Buddhist Paradise, Sukhavati, of Buddha Amitabha. The mantra is the very heart of Avalokitesvara (the supreme Buddha of Compassion) and can usher in Awakening. A. Studholme writes:

'Om Manipadme Hum, then, is both the paramahrdaya, or 'innermost heart', of Avalokitesvara ... It is also ... a mahavidya, a mantra capable of bringing about the 'great knowledge' of enlightenment itself ...' [6]

Avalokitesvara himself is linked in the versified version of the sutra to the first Buddha, the Adi-Buddha, who is 'svayambhu' (self-existent, not born from anything or anyone). Studholme comments:

'Avalokitesvara himself, the verse sutra adds, is an emanation of the Adibuddha, or 'primordial Buddha', a term that is explicitly said to be synoymous with Svayambhu and Adinatha, 'primordial lord'.' [7]

According to a Tibetan legendary tradition, the text of Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra arrived in a casket from the sky unto the roof of the palace of the 28th king of Tibet, Lha Thothori Nyantsen who died in 650 C.E., in southern Tibet. This coincides with one version of dating of the Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra, somewhere in the 4th or perhaps early 5th century, however it seems more likely that the sutra has originated in Kashmir, due to closeness to characteristics to Kasmiri tantric traditions of the time and to Avataṁsakasūtra earlier associated with the Central Asian regions.[8]

Translations[edit]

The Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra was first translated into Tibetan as the Za ma tog bkod bkod pa in the eighth century by Jinamitra, Ye shes sdes and others.[9] Later, the text was translated by T'ien-hsi-tsai into Chinese from a Tibetan version around CE 1000.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2002, p. 17
  2. ^ Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, pp. 59 and 39
  3. ^ Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 40
  4. ^ Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 68
  5. ^ Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 117
  6. ^ Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 108
  7. ^ Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 12
  8. ^ Studholme, Alexander: The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum, Albany, NY 2002, pp. 13-14.
  9. ^ According to the sTog palace bka' 'gyur, the relevant colophon reading: 'phags pa za ma tog bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo rdzogs so/ /rgya gar gyi mkhan po dzi na mi tra dang / dA na shI la dang / zhu chen gyi lo tsha ba ban d+he ye shes sdes bsgyur cing zhus te gtan la phab pa. See TBRC Digital Library, http://www.tbrc.org/#library_work_Object-O01CT0007%7CO01CT000701JW27109$W22083
  10. ^ Yu Chun-fang, "Ambiguity of Avalokites'vara and Scriptural Sources for the Cult of Kuan-yin in China," available online http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-BJ001/10_18.htm; also see C. N. Tay, "Kuan-Yin: The Cult of Half Asia," History of Religions, vol. 16, no. 2 (Nov., 1976), pp. 147-177.