Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

The "Nirvana Sutra" Continued a (2)

Now, in the east, there is a Buddha-land, as many lands far out as the sands of uncountable, innumerable asamkhyas of Ganges, one called Easy-in-Mind-and-Beautiful-in-Sound, and the Buddha [there] is called Equal-to-the-Void, the Tathagata, Alms-deserving, the All-Enlightened One, the All-accomplished One, the Well-gone, the All-knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best Trainer, the Teacher-of-Heaven-and-Earth, and the Buddha-World-Honoured-One. At that time, the Buddha spoke to his foremost great disciple: "Go now to the land in the west, called "'saha"' [Endurance - i.e. our world of hardship!] There is a Buddha in that land called Tathagata Shakyamuni, who is the Alms-deserving, the All-Enlightened One, the All-accomplished One, the Well-gone, the All-knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best Trainer, the Teacher-of-Heaven-and-Earth, and the Buddha-World-Honoured-One. He will enter Parinirvana before long. O good man! Carry to him the fragrant dishes of this world, the ones fragrant and beautiful, which give peace. Offer this to him. Having taken this, he will enter Parinirvana. O good man! Also, bow before the Buddha, put questions to him, and do away with whatever doubt you have." Then, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva of boundless body, at that, stood up from his seat, touched the Buddha's feet with his head, walked around the Buddha three times, took with him innumerable asamkhyas of Bodhisattvas, left that country and came to this land of Saha [endurance]. At this, the 3,000 great-thousand worlds shook in six ways, the hair of those congregated there - Brahma, Indra, the four guardian angels of the earth, Marapapiyas, and Mahesvara -  at this great shaking of the great earth stood up on end, and their throats and tongues dried up in fear. They were so frightened that they shook and wanted to flee in all directions. As they looked at their own bodies, their light was lost, and gone was all their divine appearance. Then, Dharmarajaputra Manjushri stood up and spoke to those congregated there: "Good people! Do not fear, do not be afraid! Why not? To the east, as many as the sands of innumerable, uncountable asamkhyas of Ganges away, there is a land called Easy-in-Mind-and-Beautiful-in-Sound. The Buddha's name in that land is Tathagata-Equal-to-the-Void, the Alms-deserving, the All Enlightened One. He possesses the ten epithets of the Buddha. There is a Bodhisattva there, of boundless body. Accompanied by innumerable Bodhisattvas, he desires to come here and make offerings to the Tathagata. By the power of that Buddha, your body now does not shine out. So, gladden yourselves; do not fear!" Then, those congregated saw far off a great number of people from that Buddha whom they saw as though they were their own forms reflected in a mirror. Then, Manjushri said to those congregated there: "You now see the people of that Buddha just as you see the Buddha himself. By the Buddha's power, you can clearly see all the innumerable Buddhas of the nine other Buddha countries." At that, the people congregated there said to one another: "Oh, woe is the day, woe the day! The world is empty. The Tathagata will before long enter Parinirvana."

"Now, all the people saw the Bodhisattva of boundless body and his retinue. And they saw that from each pore of the skin of this Bodhisattva there sprung a great lotus, each containing 78 castle towns. Crosswise and lengthwise, each castle was Vaisali Castle. The castle walls and moats were studded with the seven treasures. There were bejewelled avenues of seven rows of tala trees. The people [there] were active, peaceful, rich, and it was comfortable to live in that land. Each castle was of Jambunadasuvarna. Each had in it the trees of the seven treasures. The growths were luxuriant, and rich were the flowers and fruits. Soft breezes blew, emitting sweet sounds, as of heavenly music. The people of the castle, hearing these sounds, felt great pleasure. The moats were filled with wonderful water. It was pure and fragrant and looked like true beryl. On the water, boats of the seven treasures could be seen. People were riding on these. They bathed and enjoyed themselves. Thus there was no end of pleasure. Also, there were lotuses of various colours, such as the utpala, kumuda, padma and pundarika. These looked like great wheels seen crosswise and lengthwise. Above the moats were many gardens. In each were five ponds, in which there were again such flowers as the utpala, kumuda, padma, and pundarika, which resembled great wheels, seen crosswise and lengthwise. They were fragrant and pleasing. The water was pure and soft to the touch. On this could be seen lapwings, wild geese, and mandarin ducks floating. Garden houses of gems were there, each of which was rightly square crosswise and lengthwise, filling an area seven yojanas square. All the walls were made of four treasures: gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. All around were windows, lattice-windows, and handrails of true gold. The ground was of turkistan dwarf and covered in golden sand. In this palace were many streams, springs, and bathing ponds of the seven treasures. Each side-wall had 18 ladder-steps of gold. The plantain was the Jambunadasuvarna and resembled the pleasance of Trayastrimsa Heaven. Each of these castles accommodated 80 thousand kings and each king had with him innumerable consorts and female attendants. All were amusing themselves and were pleased and happy. The same applied to the people who were amusing themselves where they lived. The people [there] heard no teachings other than unsurpassed Mahayana. On each flower was a simhasana, each leg made of beryl. On each seat was spread a white soft silken cloth. The cloth was wonderful, unsurpassed in all the three worlds. On each seat was sat a king, preaching Mahayana to his people. Some were holding books in their hands, reciting, and practising the Way. Thus Mahayana sutras became pupularised. The Bodhisattva of boundless body allowed innumerable people to walk thereabouts, pleased with themselves and abandoning worldly pleasures. All said: "Woe is the day, woe the day! The world is empty. The Tathagata will soon enter Parinirvana."

Then, the Bodhisattva of boundlesss body, followed by innumerable Bodhisattvas and with wonderful divine power, carried out innumerable and various containers of offerings filled with wonderfully fragrant sweet dishes. On encountering the fragrance of these meals, all the taints of illusion died out. Because of the Bodhisattva's divine power, the people saw all such transformations. The size of this Bodhisattva of boundless body was limitless and like space. Excepting the Buddha, none indeed could see the bodily size of this Bodhisattva. The offerings of this Bodhisattva of boundless body were double those that had preceded them and they came to where the Buddha was. They touched the Buddha's feet, folded their hands, paid him homage, and said: "O World-Honoured One! Please have pity and accept our offerings." The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [their offerings]. Three times they asked, but he would not accept. So the Bodhisattva of boundless body and his retinue stepped back and sat on one side. The same was the case with the Bodhisattvas of boundless body of all the Buddha-lands to the south, west and north. They carried in offerings twice as many as those which had preceded them. They came to where the Buddha was, stepped back, and sat on one side. All proceeded in this manner.

Then, there did not remain a space left in the auspicious ground of weal between the sal trees and within 32 yojanas square which was not full of people. At that time, all the space around the persons of the Bodhisattva of boundless body and his retinue who were gathered there from the four quarters looked [merely] like the point-size of a mote, or awl or needle. All the great Bodhisattvas of all the innumerable Buddha lands of the ten directions were gathered together there. In addition, all the people of Jambudvipa were assembled there, except for the pair, Mahakasyapa and Ananda, and also Ajatasatru and his retinue, and the poisonous serpents that harm people, the dung-beetles, haly-vipers, scorpions, and the doers of evil of sixteen kinds. The danavats and asuras had all forsaken their evil designs and had become compassionate-minded. Like fathers, mothers, older and younger sisters, all the people of the 3,000 great-thousand worlds came together and spoke to one another with the same compassionate heart, except for the icchantikas [those most spiritually alienated from Dharma].

Then, by the power of the Buddha, the 3,000 worlds became soft to the touch. There were [no longer] any hills, sand, gravel, thistles or poisonous plants there, but all was [instead] adorned with various treasures as in the case of the Western Paradise of peace and happiness of Buddha Amitayus. At that time, all those congregated there saw the innumerable number of Buddha lands as though seeing their forms reflected in a mirror. The same was the case when they saw the lands of all the Buddhas.

The light that issued from the Tathagata's face was fivefold in colour, and it shone and covered all the great congregation, so that it blotted out the light that came out of the body. Having done this, it again turned back to the Buddha, back to him through his mouth. Then, the heavenly beings and all those congregated there, asuras and others, became greatly afraid, as they saw the Buddha's light entering him through his mouth. Their hair stood on end. And they said: "The light of the Tathagata, having appeared, goes back and enters [him again]. This is not without reason. This indicates that the Buddha has done what he intended to do in the ten directions and now will enter Nirvana as his last act. This must be what it mean to indicate to us. Woe is the world, woe the world! Why is it that the World-Honoured One so forsakes the four limitless minds and does not accept the offerings of man and heaven? The light of Wisdom is now going out eternally. The unsurpassed boat of Dharma is now sinking. Ah, the pain! Woe is the world!" They held up their hands, beat their breasts, and sorrowfully cried out and wept. Their limbs shook, and they did not know how to support themselves. Blood came from  their bodies and ran over the ground."