1. The Account of the Acclaim of the Praise of the Triple Gem
OṂ Homage to the Noble Triple Gem, Homage to All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas!
Śrīghana is the great Buddha, the Lord of all worlds, the Jina; having gone for refuge to that Lord, I shall relate the true story of Lokeśvara. By the grace of devotion to the Noble Lady, the Devī, the Goddess who is the Commander of all the Dharma, I shall relate the accomplishment of bodhi. By that, I shall relate the accomplishment of all goals of Lokeśvara, who fully protects this world with its three realms.
- King Jinaśrī's Petition to Jayaśrī
Thus it was that King Jinaśrī, self-possessed, went for refuge to the Triple Gem, and so was an arhat, the son of the Jina. At one time, this arhat, at the bodhimaṇḍa, in the monastery of the victor, having made firm his vows of conduct for attaining bodhi, took refuge for the world’s benefit.
Thereupon, the greatly powerful Jayaśrī, the much self-possessed, resorted to his seat in the assembly to expound the True Dharma. Seeing him, the śrāvakas, all bhikṣus observing noble conduct, having approached him to imbibe the nectar of the True Dharma, resorted to him. Thus other bodhisattvas, accomplished in the vrata for full bodhi, resorted to that assembly to imbibe the nectar of that which is well-spoken. The bhikṣuṇīs, servants, and also upāsakas and upāsikās, vrata holders and mahāsattvas practising devotion to the full Buddha, brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyās, and also kings, ministers, and subjects, the noble, the distinguished, townsfolk, merchants, and crowds, and likewise those of countries, villages, mountain-dwellers, citizens, and other provincials and peoples, seeking the virtues of the True Dharma, all approached that arhat, Jayaśrī. Successively, they greeted him, bowed to him, and took refuge in him. They joyfully joined their palms in añjali to imbibe the nectar of the True Dharma. Having beheld that teacher, they surrounded him and sat down.
Then that arhat, mahāsattva, bodhisattva, son of the Jina, the noble King of Jinas, saw all the people assembled in the assembly. Eager to hear about the magnanimous qualities of the Triple Gem, [King Jinaśrī] arose from his seat, and before Jayaśrī, removing his upper robe, he kneeled on the floor. Having bowed to his lotus-like feet, he respectfully addressed the Lord:
O Venerable Sir, I wish to hear a true discourse on the arising of the Triple Gem. Having taught that, O Bhagavān, awaken me, O Guru!
Having thus been requested by King Jinaśrī endowed with virtues, Jayaśrī, the intelligent teacher, having beheld the assembly, spoke thus:
Sādhu! Listen carefully, O King Jinaśrī, to the true discourse abounding in qualities of the arising of the Triple Gem. Just as my guru taught me, Upagupta, the yogin equal to the Jinas, it will be explained by me for the world’s benefit.
a. Aśoka's Petition to Upagupta
There was thus a great king, a cakravartin, a lord of men, called Aśoka, the Lord of Kings, who ruled for the welfare of the whole world. At one time, the great king longed for the virtues of the True Dharma and wished to hear about the magnanimity of the qualities of the Triple Gem for the world’s benefit. Thus, that lord of the earth, the king, together with his townsmen, citizens, and ministers, took up the requisites of worship, fully declared [his intention] with great rejoicing, and arrived at Kukkuṭa Monastery, delighted.
Then, having entered, that lord of kings was perfectly at peace. He saw Upagupta, of great supernormal powers, together with the saṅgha, and having beheld that arhat, he bowed down with palms joined in añjali. Having approached him directly, he honoured him according to rule, circumambulated him and prostrated to his lotus-like feet. He took refuge before him to hear the True Dharma with the añjali gesture, and all the people arrived in order. Having bowed to that arhat, they surrounded him and took refuge in him. Then, Aśoka, that lord of kings, saw the people gathered in the assembly. Having arisen from his seat, he took refuge before the teacher, removed his upper robe and kneeled on the ground. Having bowed down with the añjali gesture, he implored him thus out of reverence:
O Venerable One, I wish to hear a true discourse on the arising of the Triple Gem. Please deign to tell me what is called the Triple Gem.
Thus petitioned the king. The arhat, the intelligent son of the Jina, Upagupta, having beheld that lord of men, addressed him thus:
Sādhu! Listen carefully, O Great King, for the benefit of the world. As my guru instructed me, thus shall I relate to you the original arising of the nature of the dharmadhātu.
i. The Buddha Gem
The Lord of the World, the Tathāgata, is arisen in parts as the Five Buddhas, the Great Buddha, the Lord of the World, the Teacher of the World, the Great Lord, the Dharma King, the Lord of Sages, the Arhat, Bearing the Vairocana Samādhi, Omniscient, Bearing True Virtues, Lord of all Knowledge, the Jina. In the form of Samantabhadra, the Sugata, the Noble Bliss Maker, with the Six Supernormal Powers, the Great Hero, the Guide Vajrasattva, the destroyer of the darkness of the pride of Māra, the light of the knowledge of full bodhi: This is the Bhagavān, who is remembered as the Buddha Gem in the world. They who have gone for refuge for the world’s benefit as bodhisattvas, who bore the vows of bodhisattva conduct, practising noble behaviour, who conquered all the hosts of Māra, arhats who abide stainless, who have attained samyak-sambodhi, are those who have attained the rank of a full buddha. All those lords of the world, tathāgatas, lords of sages, the bhagavāns, with the great supernormal powers, are remembered as the Buddha Gem.
ii. The Dharma Gem
She is the Noble Lady, the Devī Prajñā, whose abode is all virtues: the mother of all buddhas, the light of the knowledge of full bodhi. She destroys the darkness of the pride of Māra, is the bestower of the virtues of the True Dharma, and bears all wisdom: Lakṣmī, who brings happiness to all beings. This assemblage of the True Dharma is remembered as the Dharma Gem. Whatever else is well-spoken, such as the Mahāyāna Sūtras, were also taught by the sugatas and are remembered as the Dharma Gem.
iii. The Saṅgha Gem
And the bodhisattva who is master of the world, endowed with the True Dharma, a mahāsattva, who is the lord of the world and master of all the Dharma, the destroyer of the darkness of corrupt defilements, the sun of full awakening, who is of various forms, with the great supernormal powers, who bestows benefits on all beings, the lord of all worlds, the noble king of the Dharma, son of the jinas: This is the teacher Lokeśvara, and he is remembered as the Saṅgha Gem. All the other mahāsattvas, bodhisattvas who have conquered their faculties, arhats who are themselves without stain, who have accomplished the knowledge of full bodhi, whose conduct is noble conduct, of the four brahmavihāras: the Jinas also remember such ones in the assembly of full buddhas as the Sangha Gem.
iv. Benefits of Refuge in the Triple Gem
Those who have taken refuge in them are endowed with devotion and faith. Those who sing of them all day and night and remember them daily become mahāsattva bodhisattvas, endowed with virtues, fully endowed with true nobility and success, and are celebrated by all beings. Those who observed the vow of bodhisattva conduct, who always did good in the world, having enjoyed happiness constantly, go to Sukhāvatī at the end of their lives. This is the praise of the highest merit of the Saṅgha Gem. Having thought of it and gone to it for refuge, those who seek its qualities praise it. One purified by these merits never goes to a bad realm but is always born in a good realm as a master of the Dharma. Those who always go for refuge to the Dharma Gem, having heard this which is well-spoken, praise it with faith and devotion. Those mahāsattva bodhisattvas, whose abode is virtue, who are supported by noble joy and full awakening, are gentle and good to all beings. Having borne the conduct of full bodhi and always practised for the sake of beings, they go forth to the Sugata’s abode after enjoying true bliss. Having known this most excellent and best meaning of the praise of the Dharma Gem, And having gone for refuge, those seeking the good should praise it. One who this Dharma purifies does not go to a bad realm but is born in a good realm: at the end of his life, he goes to the Jina’s abode. Those mortals who understood this, wishing for the bliss of the True Dharma, having gone for refuge to the Triple Gem, should always praise them in the world.
By the power of these merits, pure-minded men, having attained bodhicitta, practise the precepts for bodhi. They who perform practice for bodhi gradually fulfil the pāramitās. Having defeated the four māras, they are without afflictions with minds purified. Having attained arhatship, they shall obtain full awakening and the state of a full buddha. The mortal who knows this desires the state of a full buddha.
v. How to Practise a Poṣadha Vrata
First, having gone for refuge, he should resort to a true guru. Having honoured the true guru with devotion, satisfied and favoured him, And having received his instructions, one should bathe at a tīrtha and practise a vrata.
The poṣadha is declared the best of vratas by the Lord of Sages; by the power of its merits, one obtains the highest bodhi. In the past, too, by its merits, full buddhas, the jinas, conquered the māras and attained full awakening. Those who are present here, all, also, by the power of its merits, having obtained arhatship, are indeed well-gone to full bodhi. And all those bodhisattvas of the future, who observe vratas, will become lords of sages by fruition of its merits. Thus, by the fruition of its merits, others will become lords of sages. And thus, other beings who are also observing that vrata will all become mahāsattvas with a share in bodhi. Those noble ones possess true virtues, are devoid of afflictions, and have conquered their faculties; devoted to the benefit of all beings, they abide in the four brahmavihāras; in this world, they never go to a bad realm. They are always born in a good realm and enjoy true bliss. Those bodhisattvas, who are intelligent and possess the virtues of the True Dharma, gradually fulfilled and are endowed with the requirements for bodhi. They attain the threefold bodhi and obtain the state of cessation. Understanding mortals who long for nirvāṇa, having observed this vrata, practising like this, and purified by its merits, indeed do not go to a bad realm. Instead, they are always born in a good realm and are well-liberated at the end of their lives.
vi. The Encouragement of King Aśoka
My guru has thus taught me, and just as taught by the Lord of Sages, thus have I instructed you, O King. Please consider what I have said. And thus, O King, if you never wish for a bad realm but always wish for birth in a good realm and nirvāṇa, please perform this poṣadha vrata according to the vidhi, O King. One purified by its merits will surely attain good nirvāṇa.
b. Aśoka's Threefold Inquiry
Hearing the teaching by that arhat, King Aśoka, Lord of Men, desired to observe that vrata. Then that King, the Lord of Men, having joined his palms in añjali, Bowed down to that arhat, Upagupta, and addressed him thus:
O Venerable Sir, having heard what your honour has taught, my mind is pleased. Thus, I shall perform that highest vrata, the poṣadha. Please explain its method, its special fruits, and the extensive fruits of merit that arise from praising the Triple Gem.
Being requested by the king, that intelligent arhat teacher, having beheld that great king Aśoka, spoke thus:
i. The Method of the Amoghapāśa Vrata
Sādhu! Listen, o great king, it shall be fulfilled just as you wish. Just as my guru taught me, thus shall I explain this to you. In just this way, a person who is faithful and wishes to perform the vrata should first, in the morning, bathe in a tīrtha, according to the vidhi. Having covered himself with pure water, his mind is purified, and he abides in the brahmavihāras. Joined with the eightfold vidhi, he observes the poṣadha vrata. The maṇḍala of Amoghapāśa Lokeśvara, together with its attendants, should be decorated with five colours. Having established it according to the vidhi, being endowed with pure morality, one should thus avoid alcohol, meat, garlic and so forth.
First, having honoured the guru, one should bow to him according to the vidhi. Then, having honoured the Triple Gem, he should bow down and go for refuge. Then, having meditated upon the master of the world Lokeśvara, called Amoghapāśa, invoked him and offered him foot-washing water out of respect, he is established in the maṇḍala, and the assembly rejoices. One should worship them with faith and devotion according to the vidhi. With offerings of incense, scents, flowers, lamps, and the five amṛtas, one should satisfy them by worshipping them with all kinds of objects and jewels. Having praised him with the chanting of stotras, performed many circumambulations, and bowed down with añjali and the eight limbs, one should request the good vow. Then, having stood with añjali, one should confess one’s sins, rejoice in the merits, and request that he abides for a long time. Thus, one who is faithful, having requested the vow of bodhi and asked for forgiveness of mistakes, should dismiss that maṇḍala. Then, in the third part of the day, one should eat the five amṛtas and so forth; having eaten meatless food as one wishes, one should practise meditation. Thus, having fulfilled that vrata, one should joyfully observe it. Having performed it for the sake of all beings, one should practise with a mind set on full bodhi.
ii. The Special Fruits of Performing the Vrata and Praising the Triple Gem
That one of pure merit, without afflictions and with freed faculties, is a bodhisattva mahāsattva, who bears the benefit and welfare of himself and others. The noble one, endowed with true virtues, who observes the vrata of practice for bodhi, is always born in a good realm and enjoys delights according to his wishes. Having attained the three kinds of bodhi, he attains true nirvāṇa at the end of his life. Thus, even the lords of sages cannot measure the greatest fruits of merit which result from that vrata. The special fruits of the merits of those who perform this ritual will be declared, O great king, please listen to them carefully.
Having seen the jewel of the human race, those who desire merit take refuge in him out of joy. They, devoted to the Dharma, are endowed with good fortune and practice conduct for full bodhi with delight. They who joyfully bathe the Triple Gem with the five amṛtas and the five fragrances, having bathed in the divinely fragrant waters of the Mandākinī River, enjoy bliss in heaven. Those who delightfully burn fragrant incense to the triple gem are pure in heart, have fragrant limbs, and are endowed with noble qualities like jewels. Those whose minds are purified and go to the body of the Triple gem with the five scents are those who, possessing jewels, become kings of the earth, desiring benefit and welfare for the sake of all.
Those who joyfully offer cotton cloth and so forth, and the best clothes to the Lord of the Triple Gem, become intelligent lords of the Dharma with limbs covered with bejewelled silk. Those who worship the Triple Gem with beautiful flowers which grow on the earth and in water enjoy the bliss of divine fortune and become well-endowed with noble perfection. Those who desire the Dharma, placing garlands of flowers on the best images of the Triple Gem, desiring full bodhi, become kings of the devas, well-endowed with the best of fortune. Those who scatter all fragrant flowers on images of the Triple Gem become lords of the gods if they go to heaven and kings of lords of the earth if they are born on earth. Those who fashion strings of lamps for the highest Triple Gem, whose snares of delusion are destroyed, become endowed with quality jewels of lovely form, and kings worship their lotus-like feet. Those who make gifts of lamps for the triple gem, which are lit with oil and ghee, with pure eyes and power, become kings of the gods rich in virtues and lords of the earth. Those who offer food, tasty goods, and gold to the Triple Gem become lords of the gods in heaven, endowed with devotion and firm power over ghosts. Those men who offer water rich in good qualities and amṛta to the Triple Gem become kings of the earth, strong and without sickness, and lords of the three directions in heaven. Those who offer vegetables, roots, and fruits to the Triple Gem always enjoy whatever food they wish and go to the abode of the Sugata. Those who offer many healthy medicines to the Triple Gem with devotion, having enjoyed bliss as nobly prosperous lords of the earth, go to the abode of the Jina. Those who offer betel nut and other elixirs to the Triple Gem become charming with divinely beautiful qualities and gods of noble virtue. He who stretches out canopies above the Triple Gem, being praiseworthy by all lords of men, will become one with an extensive lineage, endowed with virtues, well-established, and respected for his great power. Those who raise various flags to celebrate the Triple Gem become nobly prosperous lords in the heavens and on the earth, being delightful with good qualities. Those who hang glorious banners to the Triple Gem, endowed with good sentiment, become lords of fortune who defeat bands of villains and sovereigns in the heavens and on earth. Those who place parasols made of gold or made of painted silk and made of flowers with lovely colours for the Triple Gem become kings of the earth, endowed with exemplary accomplishments and the best fortune, and bodies that benefit all. Desiring the True Dharma, they are filled with quality gems, worthy of worship, and prosperous.
Those who worship the Triple Gem with the sounding of auspicious sounds with musical instruments such as the murujā and so forth, the mukunda, ḍhakkā, prānavānaka, drums, mṛdaṅgas, and tambourines, which are of pleasant sound and lovely to the mind and ear, with drums and bells, and with wind and the sounding of percussion instruments, and likewise with the pleasing sounds of the vīṇa and so forth, as well as with free calls and large drums, and those who praise the Triple Gem with loud kettle drums and elegant seven-stringed lutes, with the triple symphony, with conches of good and nice sound, with other horns and so forth pleasing to the mind, and who, rejoicing, praise the Triple Gem with elegant dancing and so forth: they, having the divine ear, and voices pleasing to the mind, will have their treasuries filled with all riches. Being devoted to the qualities and merits of the True Dharma and having enjoyed bliss, they proceed to heaven.
Those who, delighting, scatter flowers, gains, and rice upon the Triple Gem never go to a bad realm, and when they have passed away, they delight in good fortune. Those who offer true donations of jewels of good materials to the Triple Gem delight in bliss from having their wishes fulfilled and become intelligent with full faculties. Those who rejoice in worshipping the Triple Gem with devotion, having performed circumambulations, become devas and rulers of men, having obtained happiness with pure bodies. Those who worship the Triple gem with praises, with pure prose and verses, become lords in heaven and on earth, being masters of speech with prosperous treasuries. Those who have gone for refuge to the Triple Gem prostrate to them out of devotion with eight limbs become of full and glorious colour and lords of kings desirous of the True Dharma. Those who constantly praise them with reflective minds and who have gone for refuge with devotion, with bodies purified and released from sin, go to [good] realms desirous of the True Dharma. Those who constantly recite the name of the Triple Gem with reflective minds become pure in mind and stainless in heart, delighting in the Dharma of the full Buddha. Moreover, those who are faithful, having seen the Triple Gem from afar, and having prostrated to them out of devotion, also become fortunate ones with the pure Triple Body, desirous of the qualities of the True Dharma.
Considering these and other greater merits and accomplishments of true, noble qualities produced by the praise and worship of the Triple Gem, one would worship those whose nature is of those three qualities. All sugatas have declared these merits that arise from praising and serving the Triple Gem, and they are truly not surpassed anywhere in the world. Thus, having considered the great merit, whose measure is the highest and best, and cannot be reckoned, if, O King, you desire bodhi, you should go for refuge to the Triple Gem. Those who have gone for refuge to the Triple Gem, and being faithful, constantly praise them respectfully, all, thus delighting in those three qualities, desirous of the Saddharma, will become sons of the Sugata.
Having always given generous gifts to beggars, those desirous of full bodhi should practise in the best [vrata]; practising the vrata for full bodhi, gradually having approached bodhi, they will become jinas. Then, having understood its meaning for the sake of the world, they explain the Good Dharma among the Saṅgha. After that, they practise all three Buddhist rites, and, in the end, they attain parinirvāṇa. Having understood this, if you thus wish to go to the bliss of nirvāṇa, having always gone for refuge to the Triple Gem, you should always praise them with faithful devotion.
iii. The Frightful Consequences of Slandering the Triple Gem
O King, being deluded, do not blame others or the Lord of the Triple World, who gives goodness, and the Triple Gem, which is verily the chief of the world, the king of the True Dharma, and indeed worthy of praise. But those who are overcome by arrogance and pride, who have lost their fortitude amongst unwholesome families, who are faithful, having beheld the Triple Gem which provides meaning to the Triple World, always blame it: they all, devoted to carelessness, and delighting in blaming the True Dharma, are corrupt. They will become corrupted, haughtily mad with injuring others, striking and harming beings. Then, when encountering difficulties and not hesitating amidst great evil, having heard all that is well-spoken about the meaning of the Dharma, being faithful, they should be pleased. But having thus committed many fearful evils and practising them constantly, those beings who commit great evils, having reaped suffering, will go forth to niraya. Having gone there, their bodies will sink into water, and they will be confused and scorched by the fire of hunger. Having eaten faeces and drunk urine, they still burn with thirst and are not satisfied. Fettered to hunger and wishing to drink, they are confused by the burning flame of afflictions. They wander that world with their patience impaired by violent suffering. They also cannot find the path to liberation, with their minds fettered, and they always dwell thus in intense pain. Those who, with strong greed, desire the wealth and property of the Triple Gem, and who have killed, robbed, or destroyed them, and having consumed [the spoils], with their patience overcome by afflictions, such evil beings, devoted to evil delights, after performing awful crimes with perverted minds, will go to naraka after dying with difficulty and suffer for a long time. There, with their patience lost due to afflictions, their limbs are burned by the fires of hunger and thirst. They thus dwell in niraya, wandering and feeding on faeces, urine, and so forth. After a long time, they regain their patience and reflect on their actions and the evil they did; after recollecting the Triple Gem and meditating on them with a penitent mind, they faithfully offer obeisances to them. Then, eventually, their bodies will be liberated and will rise from naraka, but after obtaining a human birth, they will be miserable, poor, and pitiful. There also, they being attached to evil births and delighting in the wickedness of slandering the Saddharma, having committed great evil again, they thus again go to naraka. Thus they wandered in many ways, experiencing suffering for a long time. Those with a mind bound to crime will never find happiness dwelling in naraka.
Thus, the lords of sages have declared the terrible evil born of offence to the Triple Gem, O King. Having considered this, do not perform any injury to the Triple Gem. Having gone for refuge with devotion and faith, you should praise each Gem. By the fruit of having done those good deeds, you will always go to a good destiny.
c. Inquiry on the Timing of the Vrata
Having heard what was taught, the Lord of the Earth, Aśoka, was delighted. After bowing to that arhat guru, with añjali, he spoke thus:
O Venerable Sir, having heard what you have spoken, my mind is pleased. Having gone for refuge to them, I [shall] always praise them. Always observing the vrata of the Triple Gem, I wish to bear it—may the teacher deign to instruct me in it. In what month and on what date should one observe the vrata?Please instruct me correctly in this matter and awaken me, sir!
Having heard what the king had said, that magnanimous arhat, Upagupta, beheld that king and spoke thus:
Sādhu! Listen, O Mahārāja! If you wish to observe the vrata, I shall instruct you just as my guru instructed me. That is, one should practise it on five lunar phases each month. The jinas especially come on the eighth day of the bright half of the month and the full moon day. Among the months, Śrāvaṇa is best, and Kārtika is special: the fruits of rites performed [then] are uncountable.
d. Conclusion of the Account
After contemplating this, the Mahārāja, composed for the rest of his life, went for refuge to the Triple Gem and always performed this vrata. Its merit is mighty, and it grants knowledge of full bodhi and it is declared by all buddhas to be incomparable and inexhaustible. Having heard what was said by that arhat, the king rejoiced. Being provided with that teaching, he wished to perform that vrata.
Then, the Lord of the Earth, the King, with his wives, sons, and relatives, constantly observed this vrata according to the vidhi. Having been ordered by that king, all the ministers, servants, soldiers, townsfolk, villages, twice-borns, and all the people devotedly went for refuge to the Triple Gem and always happily worshipped them with respect out of faith and devotion. Then, there was always superior virtue everywhere, and there was no non-acquisition of these Dharma teachings.
Thus I have spoken just as my guru instructed me. If you please, sir, you should also perform this vrata. Those who are purified by its merits, and the purity of the three maṇḍalas are arhats free of stain, who shall obtain full bodhi.
- The Benefits obtained by King Jinaśrī and the Assembly
This was explained by the intelligent Jayaśrī, and having heard it, all those śrāvakas rejoiced and were awakened. Then, extremely pleased, King Jinaśrī, excited, having gone for refuge to the Triple Gem, always performed that vrata. Everyone in that saṅgha, abiding in the four brahmavihāras, having performed praise to the Triple Gem, always performed that vrata. All those who performed the vrata, purified by the three maṇḍalas, became stainless arhats, delighting in bodhi. Those who tell this world of the host of celebrated qualities of this Triple Gem and those mortals who hear it, with glad minds and faith, devotion, and belief, are all bodhisattvas endowed with all qualities, nobly accomplished and intelligent. Having enjoyed bliss, they will always delight in going to the Heaven of the One with Ten Powers at the end of their lives.