Introduction and Forward to The Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva with commentary by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Sutra of the Past
This is one of the books in a series published
Under the sponsorship of
The Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions
With the aim of making religious texts translated from
Various languages accessible in English
Sutra of the Past Vows of
The Collected Lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by American Bhiksu Heng Ching
Revised by American Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
Polished by American Bhiksu Heng Kuan
Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua
BUDDHIST TEXT TRANSLATION SOCIETY
The Institute for Advanced Studies of
The translator dedicates this translation
to his grandmother, Rose Klarer,
and to his parents, David and Ruth Klarer.book Number: 0-915078-00-7
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 74-18135
© 1974 by the Sino-American Buddhist Association,
All rights reserved
Printed and bound in theUnited States of America
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.
THIS TRANSLATION OF THE Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva, with the explanatory lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua, has been prepared by the Buddhist Text Translation Society of the Sino-American Buddhist Association, with headquarters at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery,1731 15th Street,San Francisco,California94103U.S.A.
Since everyone who hears or reads a lecture has his or her own understanding, the views of a great many people have been consulted in the preparation of the translation. Although space precludes the mention of every individual, the following members of the Buddhist Text Translation society must be singled out: Dharma Masters Heng Ch’ien and Heng Shou, who, although, they did not work on this text specifically, have given a great deal of advice and criticism on many aspects of translation over the years, Upasaka I Kuo Jung has also been of great help in this regard. The task of refining the English of the initial translation has been performed by Dharma Master Heng Kuan, editor-in-chief of Vajra Bodhi Sea and chairman of the Polishing Committee of the Buddhist Text Translation Society.
In addition to an enormous amount of editorial work, a great deal of preliminary rewriting and sifting had to be done. Much of this work was done by Dharma Master Heng Ch’ih of the Revision Committee of the Buddhist Text Translation Society, who not only helped in rewriting but undertook a great deal of laborious research into Sanskrit forms and niceties of presentation. She is also responsible for putting the entire manuscript into finished typed form, a job of no small matter in itself.
Many people took part in the earlier stages of preparation of this work. Special thanks are due to the following members of the Buddhist Text Translation Society: Dharma Masters Heng Shou and Heng Chu, who did a great deal of the proof-reading and made many useful suggestions: Upasakas Kuo T’ang Yager, Ph.D. candidate; Kuo Hui Weber; Kuo Kuei Bach; Upasika Kuo Chin Vickers, who provided valuable help in preparing copies of the manuscript; and especially Upasika Kuo Tsung Bach, who handled the complex and difficult task of turning the first rough typed manuscript into presentable form.
Special thanks are due to the Venerable Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua, chairman of the Certification Board of the Buddhist Text Translation Society, for having delivered the lectures in the first place and for his constant and patient aid during the preparation of this work.
Special mention must also be made of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions, which has undertaken to have this sutra published, and of Nora A. Larke and Institute copy editors Upasika Yeshe Tsomo and Leah Zahler, who devoted much talent and effort to the preparation of the work. The skilled guidance provided by Nai Yung Chang of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in the production of this book is likewise greatly appreciated.
Buddhist Text Translation Society
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