The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's Fundamental Vows

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Tripitaka Master Siksananda
Translated into English by K'un Li, Shih
Edited by K'un Li, Shih and Dr. Frank G. French
From: http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/ksitigarbha/content.html

Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Chapter 9: The Recitation of the Buddhas' Names

At that time, Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Ksitigarbha addressed the Buddha, saying, " O World Honored One, now I wish to speak on behalf of the sentient beings of future times and about the beneficial things that will help them gain great advantage in birth and death. I only hope that you, O World Honored One, will allow me to speak on this subject."

The Buddha answered Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, saying, "You wish, at this very moment, to be merciful and compassionate in order to deliver all the sinful, miserable beings on the six paths of existence and to speak about the inconceivable thing. Yes! Now is exactly the right time to do so. You should speak at once. Soon I shall enter Nirvana, and if you fulfill this wish of yours early, I shall then have no more worry about any of the sentient beings of the present or of future times."

Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha addressed the Buddha, saying, "O World Honored One, incalculable asankhyeya kalpas ago there was a Buddha by the name of Anantakaya. Any man or woman who hears the name of this Buddha and instantly performs obeisance to him will be exonerated from serious sins of life and death covering forty kalpas. But how much better even will it be for one who would mold or paint his image to worship and praise him! Countless and boundless will be the bliss gained by this person.

"Again in the past, as many kalpas ago as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, a Buddha came into the world bearing the title of Ratnasuabhava Tathagata. Any man or woman who hears the name of this Buddha and makes up his mind, as quickly as it takes to snap one's fingers, to take refuge in him will never suffer retrogression from the stage of Unsurpassed Enlightenment.

"Again in the past, a Buddha came to this world by the name of Padmajina Tathagata. Any man or woman who hears this Buddha's name once will be reborn repeatedly one thousand times in the six heavens of desire. But how much better even would it be for one who wholeheartedly recites the name and keeps the name in mind!

"Again in the past, some inexpressible, inexpressible asankhyeya kalpas ago, a Buddha was born in the world by the name of Simhananda Tathagata. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha's name and wholeheartedly taking refuge in him, will be able to encounter incalculable numbers of Buddhas, who will touch his head and bestow upon him the superlative predestination.

"Again in the past, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Krakucchandsa Buddha. Any man or woman who, upon hearing this Buddha's name, also wholeheartedly worships him or praises him will become a great Brahman king in the Thousand Buddhas' Assembly and gain the superlative predestination.

"Again in the past, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Vipasyin Buddha. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha's name, will never fall onto evil paths of existence but will always be reborn as a human being or a deva and enjoy extraordinarily wonderful happiness.

"Again in the past, immeasurable, incalculable kalpas ago, as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges River, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Ratnasambhava Tathagata. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha's name and showing respect to him, will soon attain the stage of an Arhat.

"Again in the past, immeasurable asankhyeya kalpas ago, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Kasayadhvaja Tathagata. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha's name, will be exonerated from all the sins he or she ever committed during his or her rebirths and deaths in one hundred great kalpas.

"Again in the past, there appeared in the world a Buddha bearing the title of Mahabhijna-Sumeru Tathagata. Any man or woman, hearing this Buddha's name, will encounter Buddhas, as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges River, preaching extensively to him or her, and will definitely attain Bodhi.

"Again in the past, there appeared many other indescribable Buddhas such as Sudhacandra Buddha, Sumeru Buddha, Jnanajina Buddha, Vimalanamanraja Buddha, Jnanasaddhi Buddha, Anuttara Buddha, Sughosa Buddha, Full-Moon Buddha and Moon-Faced Buddha.

"O World Honored One, all the sentient beings of the present and future generations-whether devas or human beings, whether males or females-will gain immeasurable meritorious virtue even if they invoke the name of only one Buddha. But how much better even will it be to invoke many names! These beings will automatically gain great benefit while living and while dead, and they will not ever fall onto the evil paths of existence.

"When someone is approaching the end of his life, if any of his relatives or even only one person should, on his behalf, invoke aloud the name of just one Buddha, such a dying person will be exonerated from all karmic retribution for his sins other than the unpardonable offenses.

"The five unpardonable offenses are those sins of the utmost, seriousness, and usually a person committing such offenses cannot be acquitted of them even after millions of kalpas. However, if at the time of his death, others invoke, on his behalf, Buddhas' names, then even some of these extremely serious offenses will gradually be reduced and eradicated. But how much better even would it be for the dying one to invoke the Buddhas' names himself in order to gain immeasurable bliss and to eradicate innumerable sins!"