The Mahāsaṃnipāta Sutra (Chinese: 大集經, pinyin: Dà Jí Jīng, Japanese: Daijikkyō or Daishūkyō) is anthology of Mahayana Buddhist sutras. The meaning in English is the Sutra of the Great Assembly. The sutra was translated into Chinese by Dharmakṣema, beginning in the year 414. The anthology consists of 17 sutras across 60 fascicles, but the only extant copy of the entire collection is found in Chinese, though individual sutras can be found in Sanskrit and Tibetan. Sutra number 15 in the collection is particularly influential because it enumerates the notion of the decline of the Dharma, or decline of the Buddha's teachings, dividing this into three eras, subdivided by 5 five-hundred periods of time:
- The Age of True Dharma
- The period in which people's minds are fixed on and devoted to liberation/enlightenment
- The period devoted to meditation
- The Age of Semblance Dharma
- The period of devotion to reading and intoning [sutras]
- The period of devotion to erecting stupa and temples
- The Age of Dharma Decline
- The period where the true Dharma disappears and "devotion to strife and division"
- Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. p. 508. ISBN 0691157863.
- Kato, Bunno (1989). Threefold Lotus Sutra. Charles E Tuttle Co. p. 309. ISBN 4-333-00208-7.
- Venerable Yin-Shun (1998). The Way to Buddhahood: Instructions from a Modern Chinese Master. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-133-5.
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