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Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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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


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.


It is notable for its presentation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara as 'the supreme Buddhist isvara (divine lord) or 'great cosmic purusa' (cosmic person/ being), 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.'.

The sutra introduces the Buddhist mantra, Om Mani padme Hum, which it states can lead to liberation (moksha) and eventual Buddhahood.

A. Studholme sees this famous mantra as being a declarative aspiration, possibly meaning 'I in the jewel-lotus', with the jewel-lotus being a reference to birth in the lotus made of jewels in the Buddhist Paradise of Buddha Amitabha Sukhavati.

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 ...'

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'.'


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.


Translations


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.

Later, the text was translated by T'ien-hsi-tsai into Chinese from a Tibetan version around CE 1000.

Source

Wikipedia:Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra