2. The Account Informing the Noble Righteous King of the Drying Up of Avīci

1. King Jinaśrī's Petition to Jayaśrī

Then, the wise mahāsattva, King Jinaśrī, self-possessed, bowing to Jayaśrī, the ascetic, with joined palms, spoke thus:

O Venerable Sir! I wish to hear about the Jewel of the Saṅgha, the supreme qualities of the magnanimity of the Noble Lokanātha! Please declare the magnanimous qualities of that noble bodhisattva, the Lord of the Triple World, for the benefit of the world!

Thus requested, that ascetic, the intelligent Jayaśrī, looking at King Jinaśrī, spoke thus:

Listen well, O greatly fortunate one! Just as my guru has told me, I shall tell you briefly, for the benefit of the world:

a. King Aśoka's Petition to Upagupta

Thus that great king and lord of men, Aśoka, again, in the Kukkuṭa Monastery, came to listen to the Dharma. There he, having sat down together with his ministers and citizens,  having bowed down to that arhat Upagupta, took refuge in him. There he, having approached that arhat ascetic joyfully, having worshipped him, he joined his palms and entreated him respectfully:

O Venerable Sir! I wish to hear about the magnanimous qualities of the True Dharma of the Lord of the World. Please instruct me!

Thus requested by that great lord, the well-disposed Upagupta looked upon that great protector and spoke thus:

Listen well, O Great King! Just as I heard from my guru, thus shall I tell you about the magnanimity of the Lord of the Three Worlds:

i. The Setting at Jetavana

Thus was there the great Buddha, Śākyamuni, the guru of the world, the king of the Dharma, the greatly wise, omniscient, arhat, and lord of sages; the Bhagavān Śrīghana, the teacher, the Tathāgata, the leader, the conqueror of Māra, the Sugata, the Lord of this world and Jina. He was staying in Jeta's Grove, of the greatly wise householder, the Noble Anāthanātha [Anāthapiṇḍada], together with the saṅgha. 

ii. The Coming of the Assembly

At that time, the bodhisattva mahāsattva sons of the Jina, all headed by Maitreya, came to hear the True Dharma. Seeing that Śrīghana, joyfully and faithfully, they bowed at his lotus-like feet and took refuge in his assembly. All the pratyekabuddhas and arhats also came and honoured the Bhagavān; they took their seats to one side. The śrāvakas and bhikṣus, ascetics and celibates, having bowed to the teacher, took refuge in his assembly. The ṛṣis and mahāsattvas also, all desiring the True Dharma, having seen the Śrīghana from afar, bowed down and approached. 

Brahmā and so forth, with great knowledge, shining in all directions, having seen the Sugata from afar, bowed down and approached. Indra and so forth, all the Suras, thirsting for the ambrosia of Dharma, seeing him from afar, bowed down and approached that teacher. Then, all the world protectors, headed by Agni, were delighted and, having beheld the Bhagavān from afar, bowed down and approached. And all the gandharvas, including Dhṛtarāṣṭra and so forth, also spying from afar, bowed down and came immediately. Viruḍhaka and so forth, and all the Kumbhāṇḍas, delighted, also having seen from afar, bowed down and came immediately. Virupākṣa and so forth, and also all the kings of the nāgas, having also seen from afar, came to the Jina. Vaiśravaṇa and so forth, and also the yakṣas, all delighted, seeing from afar bowed down, and came to that sage. Sūrya and so forth, and all the lord of the planets came to him, and all the assemblies of the stars and all the vidyādharas also. The siddhas, sādhyas, rudras, vāyus, maheśvaras, and lords of the desire realm, all headed by Śrīpati [Viṣṇu], also, and the garuḍas and so forth, and all the lord of the kinnaras, drumas and so forth, the vemacitras and so forth, and all the lords of the daityas, and rākṣasas too, and the mahoragas, and nāgas, and also all aquatic creatures, and all the devaputras and the groups of apsaras, all the gandharva maidens, and all the kinnara maidens, and the nāga maidens with divine limbs, and rakṣa maidens who were noble, and the innumerable yakṣa maidens and the daitya maidens, and the innumerable vidyādhara maidens who were charming, and the siddha maidens, and the sādhya maidens who were particularly charming, and the deva maidens and so forth, and other maidens, were all delighted, and having seen him, they approached that radiant one, near the assembly.

And thus celibates, bhikṣuṇis, and those wearing bark garments, and those upāsakas and also upāsikas who were observing the vrata, and ṛṣi maidens, and others, came to hear the True Dharma. And thus brāhmaṇas and wise tīrthikas and ascetics, kings and kṣatriyas, and all the sons of kings, ministers and counsellors, leaders, and great people, soldiers, armies, and also servants and attendants, householders, the wealthy, caravan leaders and so forth, and groups of merchants, artisans and farmers too, and all family men as well, as well as all merchants, servants, and those of other castes, townsfolk and villagers too, those from the countryside and market towns, those from hamlets, and people living in border regions, and those from deserts and the mountains: all these people also, desiring to partake of the food of the awakened, came to drink the nectar of the magnanimity of the Triple Gem.

There, all those people, and Brahmā and so forth, came and having beheld that lord of sages, they bowed down before him. Having worshipped him properly and having bowed in order, they circumambulated him three times, joyfully and with joined palms. To drink the ambrosia of his True Dharma, they surrounded him on all sides. Having concentrated on him before them, they beheld him and took refuge. 

iii. The Adornment of the Grove

There, the Bhagavān, having seen them all take refuge, then entered a samādhi called Purification of All. Thereupon, there were rays of light shining brightly, and they illuminated all directions and came shining. Then, in that vihāra, those rays touched everything, and all the seats and pillars were adorned and made of gold and jewels; all the pavilions were also adorned with gold and jewels, and the doors there were all made of gold and silver; the steps were also made of gold and silver, and the windows were all made of gold and jewels; the shutters, too, were all made of silver and jewels too, and the walls also became made of gold and jewels; the ceilings were adorned with gold and jewels, and the railings there were all also adorned with gold and jewels; all the arches were also made of gold and jewels, and thus all the buildings were adorned with gold and jewels. All the grounds, also, were like beryl and were level, pure, and gentle, without bumps.

Thus, the vihāra in that Jeta's Grove was adorned, shining with the noble splendour of divine gold and jewels. Outside Jeta's Grove also, all around the vihāra, wish-granting trees arose, giving happiness to all seekers, with golden trunks and branches covered with silver leaves, adorned with divine robes and so forth hanging down, with shining, gorgeous jewel garlands hanging down, and with all adornments, such as pearls and so forth, and strings of jewels hanging down. Many flower trees also arose all around, bearing hidden flowers with divine fragrance and odour and so forth. Many fruit trees also arose all around, bearing fruits with divine ambrosial tastes and delicious qualities. All medicines also, endowed with taste, power, and qualities, destroyers of diseases, appeared everywhere. Many lotus ponds also, filled with pure waters, adorned with flowers such as the white and red lotus and so forth, appeared and were delightful. 

Thus, all things were adorned with auspiciousness, and everywhere became prosperous, serene, and pleasing. Therefore, all beings, delighted, gave rise to great enthusiasm, which was endowed with great joy, happiness, and the qualities of the Dharma. Seeing this great wonder, all the beings, including the gods, their minds filled with astonishment, stood looking upwards.

iv. Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin's Entreaty

Then, a well-disposed bodhisattva mahāsattva called Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin, seeing them astonished, having seen the whole assembly sitting agitated by astonishment,  beheld the Lord of Sages, and stood thinking about the cause of this. Then the Bhagavān, the teacher, who was concentrated, [wished] to inform the beings and all the devas about the great cause of that wonder. Having gone, seen, and concentrated, he arose from that samādhi and wished to teach on the great cause of this wonder. Then, having beheld this, that wise bodhisattva, the son of the Jina, the accomplished Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin, looked around, rose up, approached, knelt on the ground, lifted up his upper robe, and joined his palms joyfully. Having bowed down to that omniscient Śrīghana, the Lord of the World, the Teacher, the Guru of the Three Worlds, who was beholding him, he entreated him respectfully:

O Bhagavān! I witnessed a supreme miracle, seeing this! From whence did these rays of light, shining with good merit, come? To which meritorious person do they belong, who is that great field of the True Dharma? Such a power as this has never been seen by us. Therefore, let the Guru of the Three Worlds, the omniscient Bhagavān, the Jina, instruct us about this, and enlighten us.

v. Avalokiteśvara's Work in Avīci

Being requested, that Bhagavān, the Lord of the Dharma, the Jina, having looked upon Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin, said this:

He who is the glorious and greatly wise, Noble Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva, the Lord of all Worlds, who bears the instructions of the Jina Amitābha, who is compassionate, has come from the Sukhāvatī World System to rescue beings. Now, he is in Avīci Hell, where he ripens beings; having seen them, he came to rescue them by stretching out his hands. His rays touched all beings in that hell and made them happy; having done that, they came out of there and shone everywhere. Here have come these rays, born of that Lord of the World. Thus, this Mahāsattva, who has a great wealth of merit, has also come here to rescue evil beings. 

Having heard this teaching by the Lord of Sages, that son of the Sugata, the wise Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin, was amazed. Having seen that Bhagavān, the Lord of Sages, he was astonished and thus asked about the magnanimity of the Lord of the World's merit:

O Bhagavān! In Avīci Hell, there is a great fire that blazes constantly. Its very bright flame is known not to have waves (vīci). How then does that Mahāsattva, the Lord of the World, endowed with compassion, enter there to rescue beings, O Lord of the World? Where its earth has an encircling rampart, there are great pits of fire with blazing firebrands, and there, a great cauldron filled with oil is placed. In it, beings of base mind and evil suffer endlessly. They are boiled for innumerable and incalculable days and nights, and those rough beings are tortured and remain with their limbs torn out. Thus, those beings suffering unbearable pain reap their evil deeds and continue to be tormented. And so, how and from where does that Mahāsattva, Lokanātha, the son of the Jina, enter there and save and embrace them? O Bhagavān! Having explained all this in detail for those who wish for it, please awaken us!

Thus requested by that wise bodhisattva, the Bhagavān beheld that Mahāsattva and taught him thus:

Listen carefully, O Mahāsattva, and with concentration! If you wish to hear about the magnanimity and power of the Lord of the World, I shall tell you for the benefit of the world:

Just as a lord of the earth, a king, a cakravartin, lord of men, endowed with great royal power and great enthusiasm, at springtime, when everywhere is adorned with flowers, enters a very delightful great garden, delightfully: thus, that Lord of the Triple World, nobly endowed with merit and power, having beheld it, entered Avīci, and shone brightly there. His body had no change, only bliss, great joy, great delight and rejoicing. When that Lord of the Triple World emitted rays from his own body, they emerged from Avīci, with illumination. Then, first, Avīci Hell, with great flames and firebrands, became cool, with great bliss, and the limbs [of beings there] instantly became calm. The guardian Yama, having seen this, became agitated and distressed and wondered what ill-omen arose there. Having said:

What deva or mighty demon approached there?

They went all around to see. There they saw him, of divine form and great splendour, with gentle form and good limbs, adorned with divine ornaments. They saw him endowed with great majesty and adorned with a matted hair crown, and having seen, they stood amazed. Then, that lord of all guardians, the Lord of the World, the son of the Jina, gazed shining and emitting pure rays. 

When that lord of bodhisattvas and worlds entered there, a great lotus emerged, shining brightly. He stood there, resting on a lotus made of the seven jewels, and his water pot burst and the fires [of hell] there also were calmed. There, amidst the firewood, appeared a lake, and those evil beings were touched by his light, freed from the feeling of suffering and endowed with great bliss. Gladdened, and with faith, they looked at that lord. Having beheld him, they quickly approached him joyfully with palms joined, and having bowed to his lotus-like feet, they praised him and eulogised him respectfully. 

Then, all those beings, having completely abandoned their crimes, with pure limbs and stainless minds, went to Sukhāvatī. And having gathered in Sukhāvatī, they all rejoiced and always sought refuge in the Lord of Sages, Amitābha. Having borne the vow of conduct for awakening, they practice for the world's benefit.

vi. King Yama's Astonishment

Then, on the other side of hell, all those [servants of Yama] with agitated minds, having seen that great miracle, were filled with astonishment and fear and, having grabbed their seats, quickly fled from there and went at once to the presence of King Yama. Having bowed down, they reported to him what had happened in detail. Having heard what they reported, King Yama was very astonished and having summoned them before him, he asked them respectfully:

Why have you all come here with agitated minds? Where has this fear come from? Why are you terrified? If you are devoted to me, tell me everything that happened! You should explain it to me again and again in detail!

Thus addressed by King Yama, all those servants of Yama bowed down to King Yama and reported extensively:

O Lord! You should know everything; you are the lord of the world! A great portent has arisen there in Avīci; that is what is reported:

A fragrant breeze blew coolly there; then, delightful rays came and shone; touched by that radiance, even the fire of Avīci was extinguished!

A water pot burst and broke into pieces and crumbled, and a lake appeared there, even among the firewood. There was a Mahāsattva, of beautiful form and exceedingly handsome: he was of auspicious appearance and pure mind, adorned with a matted hair crown, was glorious, very powerful, firm, and adorned with divine ornaments. His auspicious lights, with compassion and mercy, were shining with cool rays; looking upon the evil beings, he entered shining.

A great lotus, glowing with the seven jewels, appeared, and he stood upon it, shining, and they took refuge in him. Having seen him sitting there, those evil ones were amazed and having approached him, they went for refuge and eulogised him out of respect. 

All those beings became pure in body and were delighted. Having performed prostrations to his lotus-like feet, they all departed from there. Thus, that hell of Avīci has completely been rendered obsolete, so, O Lord, you should look at and consider it!

Having heard their report, King Yama was astonished, and thus wondering what wonder had occured, he thought:

Who is that deva who has come of such a form and of great power? Is he Maheśvara, Viṣṇu, Brahmā, or the lord of the thirty [three gods]? Or is it the great fire that arises during [universal] dissolution? Or is it a gandharva, or surendra, or kinnara, or a rākṣasa? Or is it Mahāvāyu who has arisen, being very heroic and powerful? Or is it Vajrapāṇi, the yakṣa Mahāsattva who is the king of the guhyas? Or is it the lord of the rākṣasas, the great hero Rāvaṇa, my rival? Or is it the lord of the yakṣas, the great hero Rājarāja, or someone else? Or is it the lord of ghosts, Rudra, Īśāna, the lord of the Pramathas? Who is the lord of the world, the hero, who is so great in power and strength? Among all these too, who have great power and splendour, such power and splendour indeed is not seen in any of them. Or is he an ascetic or some ṛṣi, a lord of men, who is abundant in great power and strength by the power of austerities and attainments? Of which deva, devī, or as a devotee of whom was he made so? Having attained a boon as a practitioner, has he come to conquer me too? Who else has such extraordinary heroism? Where is such a person found who can calm the blazing fire of Avīci? Such a being, called a great lord, endowed with great merit and power, is not seen anywhere, even in the heavens of the three realms!

vi. King Yama's Eulogy of Avalokiteśvara

Thinking thus, King Yama was terrified and very astonished. He looked upon Avīci hell with his divine eye, and there, having seen, seated on a lotus seat made of jewels, he who was divinely handsome and charming, adorned with divine ornaments, with limbs like those of Samantabhadra, and crowned with jewels on his matted hair, shining with a pleasing and delightful light, delightful and endowed with merits and qualities, the glorious Lord of the World, the son of the Jina. Having known it was the bodhisattva mahāsattva, he was delighted. King Yama arose quickly and came. Having approached with joined palms, he praised that son of the Jina thus:

Homage to you, the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva, the saviour, Noble Avalokiteśvara, the great lord and auspicious one, adorned with the noble beauty of lotuses, bestower of the True Dharma! Homage to you, who creates lineages and grants vision to the world, and who always grants boons upon the world, with a hundred thousand hands and a lakṣa of a koṭi of eyes! Homage to you, of immeasurable and infinite forms, of universal form! Homage to you, who has the form of all beings and is their original lord, and who, from the horse-faced [Yama] to the Hare-marked [Moon] in all directions, conforms to all dharmas and is accomplished in the dharmas that are dear, and who liberates all beings from great suffering, and grants reassurance to aquatic creatures such as fish, and who has supreme limbs endowed with knowledge, and who bestows what is dear in terms of the Dharma and wealth, and who is adorned with the beauty of jewels and is the noble bestower of good qualities, and who is the dryer-up of all the lands of the hells, and who shines with noble knowledge, and who bestows the future of knowledge, and he who is worshipped by the world with its deities and lords of asuras, who is saluted and worshipped by all, eternal homage!

To he who gives fearlessness, and teaches the pāramitās, who shines like the sun and is the lamp of the Dharma, who takes any form he wishes, from the good form of a gandharva to that of a deity, who mounts upon a golden nāga, who practises the yoga of the highest meaning, whose Dharma is as profound as the ocean, who shows his face to all, who has attained all samādhis, who delights in his own nature, whose limbs are well-proportioned, who has the form of a sage, who liberates those bound by the bonds of imprisonment, whose form is suited to all beings, who has accumulated causes [for good], who is rich in many attendants, whose form is like a wish-fulfilling jewel, who bestows vision of the practice of the path to nirvāṇa, who dries up the abodes of ghosts, goblins, and ogres, who is a parasol to beings dwelling in the three realms, who frees those afflicted by all diseases and ailments, who bears a sacred-thread made of the kings of nāgas, Nanada and Upananda, who is beautiful Noble Amoghapāśa [of the unfailing noose], and who has obtained the higher knowledges of the qualities of all mantras and good qualities, who awakens the great yakṣas of Vajrapāṇi, who bears a form terrifying to evil beings in the three worlds, who defeats ghosts, vetālas, kumbhāṇḍas, rākṣasas, yakṣas and so forth, whose eyes are like the blue lotus, and whose intellect and wisdom are deep, who is the lord of all sciences, who removes all afflictions, who has cultivated various dharmas on the path to full awakening, who ascends the path to liberation, bears strong dharmas, and who has cultivated, and attained, the true path with the aspiration for full awakening, who liberates from the afflictions those in bad states, like pretas, and who holds samādhis as innumerable as the number of atoms: homage!

Eternal homage to you! O Lord of the World, the bodhisattva mahāsattva, who is the giver of the attainment of the qualities of the True Dharma. I always pay homage to you, the master of the world, and go for refuge in you, praising you constantly with devotion; be pleased with me, O Lord of the World. Pardon me for the faults that I may have committed; from today onwards, I will always be devoted to your teachings. Bearing your teachings on my head, I shall practise for the world's benefit and act just as you instruct. Having looked upon me, be pleased with me, O Lord of the World; I will do whatever pleases you.

vi. King Yama's Instruction

Thus that righteous king, having praised and joyfully entreated him, again bowed down to him with palms joined, and stood back up. Then that Lord of the World looked upon that righteous king, and instructed him kindly to guide him on the path to full awakening:

O Yama! You are a righteous king who rules over all beings. With your wealth, protect and instruct beings in the Dharma. And those evil, wicked, and foolish beings: establish them in Dharma also, and awaken them zealously. And those beings who, with faith and devotion, have gone for refuge to the Triple Gem, and who always praise it, desiring the Dharma of full awakening, to those beings, also, look upon them and protect them always! Awaken, look upon, and protect them always! And having awakened those beings, and established them in good vows, establish them on the path to awakening and send them to Sukhāvatī. And those who are evil and wicked also, you, with zeal, having awakened and looked upon them, should make them always perform good!

Thus having heard my words, if you desire full awakening, uphold the vow of the conduct for awakening, and practise for the world's benefit. If thus you act, practising the Dharma out of compassion in this world, you will be called a righteous king and bear its good fruit accordingly.

Thus having been instructed by that Lord of the World, the righteous king listened attentively and understood accordingly. 

Then, that righteous king, having beheld that Lord of the World, the son of the Jina, bowed down to him with joined palms and returned to his palace.

Then, that Lord of the World also departed, full of compassion, and went elsewhere to save beings.