Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva
Translated by the Tang Dynasty Tripitaka Master Shikshananda of Udyana
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Although virtually unknown in the West, the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva has been popularly used for centuries in East Asia in the rituals concerned with death and dying. The Earth Store Sutra records various previous lives of Earth Store (Ksitigarbha) Bodhisattva in which he made vows.
The first of these stories relates how the bodhisattva was once the daughter of a Brahmin woman who dies and is consigned to the hells for offenses that she has committed in her lifetime. In an act of filial responsibility and respect, the daughter travels to the hells to rescue her mother from its horrors and subsequently vows to rescue all beings who suffer there.
The rich descriptions of the kinds of karmic retribution and punishments that the dead suffer in the hells are reminiscent of the Christian hell in Dante’s Inferno. The theme of this Sutra is to offer a model of filial respect and elucidate Earth Store Bodhisattva’s determination to use every means and expedient available to fulfill those vows.
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Print copy details:
Paperback: 141 pages
LC: BQ1712.E5 T74 2000
Publication Date: 2003