Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva
Namo Ti Tsang Wang P’u Sa
Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
The sutra often instructs practitioners to recite the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva, as well as the names of various Buddhas. This is traditionally done by prefacing the name with the Sanskrit word Namo, which means praise or homage to, take refuge in, revere, etc. Thus the Bodhisattva’s name would be recited in English, Chinese, and Sanskrit as above.
FROM ANCIENT TIMES, the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva has been one of the most popular Chinese Buddhist sutras. “Earth Store” is a literal rendering of the bodhisattva’s original Sanskrit name, Ksitigarbha. In the Buddhist pantheon, he is one of the most highly celebrated bodhisattva, along with Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, and Samantabhadra. These four represent the four basic Mahayana qualities: Manjusri represents great wisdom; Avalokitesvara, great compassion; Samantabhadra, great meritorious deeds; and Ksitigarbha, the great vow – the vow to help and to cross over all sentient beings. “If I do not go to hell (to help them there), who else will go?” is the famous pronouncement of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha.
In the seventh century A.D., this sutra was translated by Siksananda from the Sanskrit into Chinese, but not until this publication has it ever been translated into English. Dharma Master Heng Ching’s work is not a critical study in the traditional Western scholarly sense. However, it bears special importance, as it is accompanied by the comprehensive commentary of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua. Without such an accompaniment, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for Western readers to understand the significance and applications of this sutra.
One of the aims of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions is to make available religious teachings that were previously inaccessible to the English-speaking student of religion. In this light, the Institute is honored to publish this invaluable source of learning and awareness.
The Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions