Kishitigarbha Bodhisattva Vow Sutra – Buddhism


published on website

Gary and Elya Byrnes

3F, No. 32, Lane
167. San-Ming Road.
Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. 105
Tel. 886-2-753-5182
Fax. 886-2-753-5182

This translator
wishes to give special thanks to Jennie Ruth Gould and Gary
Byrnes for their invaluable assistance



Poetry, metaphor and myth can often
express the most profound ethical, psychological and
spiritual insights and aspirations of a people or culture in
a way that communicates to the imagination more immediately
than a literal narrative may. The impact of these literary
forms lies not only in the written word, but resonates also
on some other more subtle wavelength. Perhaps they
communicate more to the heart or the intuition than to the
intellect. Whatever the reason, great works like the Vedas
and the Upanishads, the Mahabharata and Bhagavad-Gita, the
Greek myths and epic poems, the Tao Teh Ching, the Zen poems
– earth-treasures such as these have all helped to shape the
thinking of whole civilizations for hundreds or thousands of
years, and thus have influenced the histories and the
destinies of the peoples who inspired and absorbed

The Buddhist sutras belong to this
class of inspired world literature, giving expression as
they do to many noble truths, and with some, like the Heart
Sutra, the Diamond Sutra and the Avatamsaka Sutra, revealing
and making known in a few words ultimate Truth: ‘Form is
Emptiness, Emptiness is Form’, ‘All that we see is a product
of the Mind’, ‘Thou art the Buddha’. The Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha Vow Sutra is presented here, and whether
viewed literally, mythically, or perhaps somewhere between
the two, it can take its own unique place amongst the sutras
– its ever-present underlying theme expressing the great
universal truths of love, compassion and responsibility for
all beings

The Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha Vow

Was first translated from the
Sanskrit into Chinese in the 7th century A.D. T’ang Dynasty.
The English here has been faithfully translated directly
from the original archaic Chinese. In China this sutra has
for hundreds of years been one of the most well-known and
popular Buddhist sutras, but compared to such Bodhisattvas
as Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, the name Kishitigarbha
appears to be relatively unknown in the West. According to
one Chinese authority on Kishitigarbha, the reason for this
obscurity lies in an ancient prophecy foretelling that this
sutra would not be known outside of China and Tibet for 2500
years after the time of Buddha – until the Dharma-Ending Age
– our present age – which would be ready to receive and
understand it. The sutra would then be revealed and spread
to distant lands. Regardless of any mystique surrounding
this explanation, the fact is that together with
Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Samantabhadra, Kishitigarbha
is one of the most revered and celebrated Bodhisattvas.
Respectively they personify the four basic Mahayana
qualities of Great Compassion, Great Wisdom, Great
Meritorious Deeds, and in Kishitigarbha: the Great Vow – the
vow to save all sentient beings, including the hungry ghosts
and the hell beings.

The literal translation of the
Bodhisattva’s Sanskrit name is “Earth-Store”. The name in
one sense indicates that any undesirable or troublesome
thoughts ‘stored’ or hidden deep in one’s mind or heart may
be uncovered and released with the help of Kishitigarbha’s
divine power – thereby freeing the person from their
negative influence. A less literal translation, which more
accurately communicates its complex significance to Western
readers, could be to render it as “Earth-Treasure”. In this
freer sense his name expresses the many marvellous aspects
of the earth and his mysterious connection with it: the
earth is vast, it supports all living beings, it is
impartial, it receives the life-giving rain, it produces
trees and crops, it holds all planted seeds which will
ultimately ripen and come to fruition, it holds many
treasures, it produces medicines for suffering humanity, it
is not moved by storms. And the earth too, is in its own way
a sentient being.

The Earth-Treasure Bodhisattva has a
deep relationship with beings of the earth ñ humans,
and especially with those ‘below’ it – the hungry ghosts and
hell beings. Because these are the most difficult to raise
into a more fortunate condition due to their previous
unwholesome actions, and because of his past vow to save
them all, Kishitigarbha has been known as the Teacher of the
Dark Regions. “If I do not go to hell to help them, who else
will go?” is the famous declaration popularly attributed to
Kishitigarbha. No matter what the crime or the karma, he is
willing to have a connection with any being, and to help
free them from suffering.

The Sutra is fundamentally a
teaching concerning karmic retribution, graphically
describing the consequences one creates for oneself by
committing undesirable actions. This is especially for the
benefit of future beings in the Dharma-Ending Age in order
to help these beings avoid making the mistakes that will
cause them to be reborn in a low condition. With the
motivation to help suffering beings always in mind, the
sutra is a discourse given by the Buddha in praise of the
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha and his heroic Vow, and of the
benefits one can receive from worshipping Kishitigarbha and
by reading the sutra.

Presented in the form of a seemingly
mythic dialogue between the Buddha and Kishitigarbha, the
teaching takes place in a certain heaven called Trayastrimsa
Heaven, in front of a vast multitude of Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas, gods and ghosts. Immediately prior to his
departure from this world, Buddha manifested in Trayastrimsa
Heaven so that he might repay the kindness of his mother who
dwelt there by speaking the Dharma on her behalf. So from
another aspect the sutra deals with filial responsibility –
not only that between oneself and one’s parents, but also in
an ultimate sense of a universal code of duty or
responsibility for all living beings, all of whom a
Bodhisattva regards with the same kindness, consideration
and respect that one should accord to one’s own parents.
This, together with the practice of acts for the good of
all, is the Bodhisattva’s vision.

The sutra closes as the Buddha is on
the point of entering Nirvana. Throughout the sutra Buddha
is concerned for the future beings of the Dharma-Ending Age,
and trusts that through Kishitigarbha’s divine power, the
Bodhisattva will be able to help these beings attain
liberation even during this difficult Age – which is the
reason his sutra is to be revealed at this time. The Buddha
ends his discourse by praising Kishitigarbha before the
assembly, entrusting all future beings in the heavens and
the worlds to him – proclaiming that any future person who
reads the Sutra or who worships Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha

Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha Mahasattva





I have heard:

At one time, Buddha Sakyamuni appeared in Trayastrimsa
Heaven to preach the Dharma for his mother, Lady Maya. At
that time, uncountable Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas
from the Ten Directions went there for this instruction. All
the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas admired Buddha Sakyamuni for
his ability to help all hard and violent living beings learn
how to achieve happiness and rid themselves of distress.
Every Buddha and Bodhisattva sent their envoys to request
the World-Honored One’s instructions.

When Buddha smiled,
millions of bright clouds appeared. The Bright Cloud of
Great Perfect Fullness, The Bright Cloud of Great
Compassion, The Bright Cloud of Great Wisdom, The Bright
Cloud of Great Prajna, The Bright Cloud of Great Samadhi,
The Bright Cloud of Great Auspiciousness, The Bright
Cloud of Great Blessing, The Bright Cloud of Great Merit,
The Bright Cloud of Great Refuge, The Bright Cloud of Great
Praise and countless others. Following the bright clouds, he
also emitted many kinds of wonderful subtle sounds. The
Sound of Contribution, The Sound of Discipline, The Sound of
Patience, The Sound of Dauntless Energy, The Sound of
Meditation, The Sound of Enlightened Wisdom, The Sound of
Benevolence and Compassion, The Sound of Joyous Giving, The
Sound of Release, The Sound of No-Outflows, The Sound of
Wisdom, The Sound of Great Wisdom, The Sound of the Lion’s
Roar, The Sound of the Great Lion’s Roar, The Sound of
Thunderclouds, The Sound of Great Thunderclouds and other
endless sounds.

Uncountable billions of heavenly
beings, dragons, ghosts and gods from the Saha World and
many realms gathered together in the Palace of Trayastrimsa
Heaven. They came from the Heaven of Four Kings, the Heaven
of Trayastrimsa, the Heaven of Suyama, the Heaven of Tusita,
the Heaven of Transformation Happiness, the Heaven of
Transformation Comfort, the Heaven of Brahma’s Multitudes,
the Heaven of Brahma’s Ministers, the Heaven of Great
Brahma, the Heaven of Little Light, the Heaven of Endless
Light, the Heaven of Light and Sound, the Heaven of Little
Purity, the Heaven of Endless Purity, the Heaven of
Universal Purity, the Heaven of Blessing Birth, the Heaven
of Blessing Love, the Heaven of Many Fruit, the Heaven
Without Thought, the Heaven Without Upset, the Heaven
Without Heat, the Heaven of Good Views, the Heaven of Good
Manifestation, the Heaven of Ultimate Form, the Heaven of
Mahesvara, the Heaven of Neither Thought Nor Non-Thought.
Numerous gods including the God of Oceans, the God of
Rivers, the God of Streams, the God of Trees, the God of
Mountains, the God of Earth, the God of Swamps, the God of
Grains, the God of Days, the God of Nights, the God of
Space, the God of Skies, the God of Food, the God of Grass
and so on assembled for this teaching. Many ghost kings from
other lands and the Saha World also joined this instruction.
The Ferocious Eyes Ghost King, Drinking Blood Ghost King,
Absorbing Vitality Ghost King, Embryo Eating Ghost King,
Spreading Diseases Ghost King, Collecting Poisons Ghost
King, Kind Heart Ghost King, Welfare People Ghost King,
Protecting and Respecting People Ghost King, and numerous
ghost kings all assembled together.

At that time, Buddha Sakyamuni asked
Bodhisattva Manjushri, Mahasattva, “Do you know how many
Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, heavenly beings, dragons, ghosts and
gods from other lands and worlds are here in the
Trayastrimsa Heaven for this instruction?” Manjushri
answered, “World-Honored One, even using my divine power for
thousands of aeons, I still would not be able to calculate
how many are here.” Buddha Sakyamuni said to Manjushri,
“Even if I use my Buddha eye, I too cannot calculate them.
These multitudes include all whom Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
has released, is releasing, and will release from suffering.
That is, these multitudes include all living beings who live
in the past, present and future!”

Manjushri said to Buddha,
“World-Honored One, I have long cultivated good roots and
have acquired extensive and profound wisdom. So, as soon as
I hear anything the Buddha says, I understand and believe it
immediately. However, other living beings may doubt Buddha’s
sincere words. They might believe them temporarily but they
cannot hold the words in their hearts, and will begin to
doubt them and then to criticize them. I hope the
World-Honored One can provide more detailed information
about Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, and tell us
what this Bodhisattva did. What kind of vows did this
Bodhisattva make that allowed him to achieve this
inconceivable thing?”

Buddha told Manjushri, “As an
analogy, it is as if in the thousands of worlds, all the
grasses, trees, bushes, straw, hemp, bamboo, reeds,
mountains, stones, dust and every object is made into the
Ganges River. And each grain of sand in the Ganges River
becomes a great world. And each speck of dust in each world
is compared to an aeon. And within those aeons the specks of
dust that would accumulate would also become aeons. Increase
this amount a thousand times and this is how long
Kishitigarbha has maintained the position of the Tenth
Ground – the highest ground or position that a Bodhisattva
can reach. Manjushri, the power from Bodhisattva’s vow is
unimaginable. In the future, if there is any good man or
good woman who hears this Bodhisattva’s name, who praises,
gazes at and worships, who recites the name Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha or makes offerings and who paints, engraves,
or moulds an image of Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, he or she
will go to that area of Heaven called ‘Thirty-Three Heaven’,
more than one hundred times, and will never fall into the
evil levels.

“Manjushri, many aeons ago, this
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, was the son of a
powerful and rich person. At that time, there was a Buddha
named ‘Lion-Lightning-Sprint-Vast-Tasks-Complete’ who had a
very dignified appearance. The son asked what kind of vow he
had made to achieve such a dignified appearance. Buddha
Lion-Sprint told the son that if he wanted to have this
appearance, he would have to relieve all living beings from
suffering and distress. So therefore, Manjushri, he made a
vow: “From now on for countless aeons, I will provide all
kinds of possible ways to relieve all beings from suffering.
I will not become a Buddha until they have all been released
from pain.” So, even after such a long time, he still has
not become a Buddha and is still a Bodhisattva.

“Boundless aeons ago, there was a
Buddha who lived on the earth. His name was
Enlightenment-Flower Self-Sufficient King and he had lived
for innumerable aeons. During this time of the Dharma-Image
Age, there was a girl who was born in the Brahmin caste, and
because she had done so many good deeds everybody admired
and respected her. Many gods from heavens protected her
every move. However, her mother had improper beliefs and did
not respect the Triple Gems. She used many ways to convince
her mother of the truth of Buddha’s teachings, but her
mother died before completely accepting them. Her soul fell
into Endless Hell. This daughter knew that her mother who
did not believe in cause and effect, resulting in
retribution, might have fallen into the evil level because
of her karma. To save her mother, this daughter sold all her
family possessions and properties to buy flowers and
offerings for Buddha. She went to the temple in which there
was a shrine to Buddha Enlightenment-Flower Self-Sufficient
King, then contributed all her offerings.

“At the temple, gazing at and
worshipping the venerable face of Buddha
Enlightenment-Flower, this daughter spoke quietly to
herself, “Buddha has complete wisdom. If Buddha were still
in this world, I would be able to ask him where my mother
is. ” This daughter cried a long time and gazed tenderly at
Buddha. Suddenly, there was a voice in the sky, “Saintly
woman, do not grieve too much. I am now going to tell you
where your mother is.” The daughter placed both her hands
together gratefully and answered, “Who are you that has come
to comfort and relieve me of my anxiety? Since my mother
passed away, I think of her day and night. I do not know
where I can go to ask about her.” The voice sounded in the
sky again, “I am the Buddha you are worshipping, Buddha
Enlightenment-Flower Self-Sufficient King. I know you miss
your mother more than those ordinary beings. So I come
especially to tell you.” The daughter jumped up happily
after listening to the words. She jumped so vigorously that
she hurt her knees and fainted. After she had revived, she
said, “May Buddha be benevolent and compassionate. I know
that I will not live long – please tell me where my mother
is. ” Buddha Enlightenment-Flower Self-Sufficient King said,
“After your offerings here, go home and meditate on my name.
Then you will know where your mother is. “

“The daughter meditated for one day
and one night. Unexpectedly, she felt that she had arrived
at a shore next to a sea with bubbling, boiling water. Many
fierce beasts with iron bodies were flying and running back
and forth above the sea. She saw many men and women
who were eaten and bitten by evil blood-thirsty animals. She
saw many monstrous devils with many hands, eyes, legs or
heads. Their teeth grew out of their mouths and were sharp
as swords. The devils frightened, chased and seized criminal
persons, and twisted their heads and feet together. No one
dared to willingly look at these terrifying sights. Because
the daughter was meditating on Buddha, she was not afraid of
these scenes.

“A ghost king named Poisonless
greeted this saintly woman and said, “Excellent,
Bodhisattva, why are you here?” The Brahmin daughter asked
of the Ghost King, “Where am I?” Poisonless answered, “This
is the first ocean of the western side of Big Iron-Fence
Mountain. ” The saintly woman asked, “I have heard that
there is a hell inside the Iron-Fence Mountain. Is that
true?” Poisonless answered, “Yes, there indeed exists a
hell.” The saintly woman asked, “Why am I here?” Poisonless
answered, “Only those with either a god’s power or those by
their karma come here. If it were not because of these two
things, you would not be able to come here.” The saintly
woman asked again, “Why does the sea keep boiling? Why are
there so many criminal persons and fierce beasts?”
Poisonless answered, “These are those beings who committed
bad actions in their past lives. If someone dies and no one
arranges proper rituals or does good deeds to relieve their
suffering during the first forty nine days after death, and
he or she did not have any redeeming merits from benevolent
actions when alive, he or she will fall into this hell in
accordance with his or her own actions. On the way to hell,
it is necessary to cross this sea of suffering first. Four
million miles to the east of this ocean is another one,
where the beings there suffer twice as much as in this
ocean. East of this second ocean is another with even more
suffering. These areas are called the Karma Oceans, and are
caused by the three causes of karma: body, speech and mind.”
The saintly woman asked the ghost king, “Where is hell?”
Poisonless answered, “Among these three oceans, there is
Big Hell. This Big Hell is divided into hundreds or
thousands of hells. Each divided hell is completely
different from the others. The reason why we called this
Hell ‘Big’ is that these hells are classified into five
hundred or more small hells. Each hell contains endless
sufferings. Within these five hundred hells, there are
thousands of smaller hells which also contain boundless

“The saintly woman asked the ghost
king again, “My mother recently died, and I wonder where her
soul has gone. The ghost king asked the saintly woman,
“Bodhisattva, what did your mother do when she was alive?”
She answered, “My mother had improper beliefs and
disrespected the Triple Gems. At one time she believed, and
then soon after again fell into disrespect. Poisonless
asked, “Bodhisattva, what is your mother’s name?” The
saintly woman responded, “Both my parents are of the Brahmin
caste. My father’s name is Sila Sudarshan, my mother’s is
Yueh Tili. – Poisonless placed both hands together and told
Bodhisattva, “Please saintly woman, return home and do not
be sad. The criminal woman Yueh Tili ascended to heaven
three days ago. It is said she was saved by the filial piety
of her daughter who made offerings at the temple of Buddha
Enlightenment-Flower Self Sufficient King For the purpose of
saving her mother. Not (only was your mother released from
hell, but also as a result those other criminal persons in
Endless Hell have been reborn.”

the ghost king had finished speaking, he placed both his
hands together in respect and withdrew.

a short time, the Brahmin daughter woke up as if from a
dream. Realizing the truth, she faced the statue of Buddha
Enlightenment-Flower Self Sufficient King and vowed, “May I
use the future aeons to establish as many possible ways as I
can in order to release from pain all beings who are
suffering from their criminal behavior.

Buddha told Manjushri, “The ghost
king, Poisonless, is actually a Bodhisattva named Wealthy
Leader now. And the Brahmin daughter is the Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha. ”





At that time, millions of divinely
incarnated forms of Kishitigarbha from inconceivable,
uncountable and unutterable worlds and hells came together
to Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace. Buddha used his divine power
to lead all Bodhisattvas from all worlds, and all those
beings released from the hells to come here. Everybody
brought flowers to Buddha. These multitudes were those
beings whom Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha had instructed, and
who would never regress from Buddha’s wisdom. For many
aeons, they had floated throughout life and death, suffering
in the six levels, with no time to rest. Because of
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha’s benevolence and compassion, and
his great vow, all had attained a certain level of spiritual
development. They came happily to Trayastrimsa and
reverently gazed at Buddha.

At that time, World-Honored One
stretched out his golden arms and touched all the incarnated
heads of Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva. He said, “I
cultivate those hard and violent living beings in the world
and in the human condition, subduing their hearts. I hope
they can renounce evil and do good deeds. However, one or
two-tenths of them still have evil habits. I incarnate
myself into billions of forms, and use many convenient ways
to save them from suffering. Some of them are very
receptive; they believe and practice the Dharma as soon as
they hear it. Some of them who have done a few good deeds
can become better after I patiently teach and guide them.
Some of them are dark and dull – it takes a long time to
cultivate them before they will take refuge in the Dharma.
Some of them who have heavy karma do not even respect the
Triple Gems at all.

“Since such beings have many
distinct characters, I always incarnate myself to deliver
them from pain and suffering. In order to help them, I
incarnate myself in the mountain, forest, stream, plain,
river, pond, fountain or well. I show myself not only in the
image of Buddha but also in the image of man, woman,
heavenly being, dragon, ghost or god. In order to benefit
them, I also show myself as an emperor king, Brahma King,
Wheel-Turning King, layman, country’s king, prime minister,
government official, monk, nun, Sound-Hearer, Arhan,
Pratyekabuddha or Bodhisattva.

“You, Kishitigarbha, have observed
that I have diligently worked for a long time to release
hard and obstinate suffering criminal beings. As for those
who have not improved, if they fall into evil or suffer from
past karma retribution, you should remember what I gently
taught and repeated to you in Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace –
that is, to release all those beings in the Saha World,
until the coming of Maitreya, from suffering forever; and to
encounter Buddhas and receive the Dharma. “

At that time, all the incarnated
forms of Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha from many worlds gathered
into a single form and said to Buddha tearfully, “I have
been instructed by Buddha for long aeons. I have gained
inconceivable divine power and wisdom. The boundless worlds
are filled with my incarnations. In order to make them take
refuge in and respect the Three Treasures, to escape from
life and death forever, and achieve Nirvana’s bliss, I have
incarnated billions of bodies in every world. Every one I
have incarnated has taught hundreds, thousands or billions
of people. Even if their good deeds within the Buddhadharma
are as little as a hair, a drop, a grain of sand, or a speck
of dust, I will gradually save them and make them gain great
benefits. Please World-Honored One, do not be concerned for
those beings in the future.” Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha said
to Buddha three times, “Please World-Honored One, do not be
concerned for future beings with bad karma.”

Buddha then praised Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha and said, “Very good, very good. I am pleased
that you have made such a vow. You will achieve your vow and
after all have been cultivated and instructed you will
attain Bodhi.





Buddha Sakyamuni’s mother, Lady Maya,
reverently placed both her hands together and asked
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, “Saintly One, those beings of the
worlds have different karma. What kind of retribution do
they deserve?” Kishitigarbha answered, “Some of the infinite
lands have hells, the others do not. Some lands have women,
the others do not. Some lands have the Buddhadharma, the
others do not. Some lands have Sound-Hearers and
Pratyekabuddhas, the others do not. The hells do not all
have the same retributions.” Lady Maya asked Bodhisattva, “I
would like to know what retributions the beings in the
worlds will receive.” Kishitigarbha replied, “Saintly
mother, please listen and I will give you a general
explanation.” Buddha’s mother said, “Saintly One, please
tell me.”

Kishitigarbha told the saintly mother, “The criminal
retributions are as follows: Anyone who is not filial or
does not respect his parents, or anyone who kills or hurts
his parents will fall into Endless Hell for an indefinite
period of time. Anyone who hurts or injures Buddha, slanders
the Three Treasures or disrespects the sutra, will fall into
Endless Hell for an indefinite period of time. Anyone who
damages or steals from the temple, makes a monk or nun
disobey the rules, practices sexual acts in a temple or
kills people, will fall into Endless Hell for an indefinite
period of time. Anyone who pretends to be a monk or a nun
but fails to keep the rules of Buddha in his or her heart,
wastes objects in a temple, cheats a follower of Buddha or
goes against the Buddha’s disciplines, will fall into
Endless Hell for an indefinite period of time. Anyone who
steals money, food, clothing or takes anything from the
temple without permission, will fall into Endless Hell for
an indefinite period of time.” Kishitigarbha continued,
“Those beings who commit such crimes will fall into Endless
Hell. It is also impossible to ask for a momentary pause
from these sufferings.

Lady Maya asked
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha again, “Why are those hells called
‘Endless’?” Kishitigarbha replied, “Saintly mother, there
are eighteen big hells, then five hundred major hells which
have different names and thousands of secondary hells with
different names, too. All hells are within the Iron-Fence
Mountain. Endless Hell is eighty thousand miles in
circumference, ten thousand miles high, and the buildings
and walls around it are made of iron. The hell is surrounded
by a wall of flames making it impossible to escape. Within
this hell, many secondary hells are connected together and
they also have different names. There is just one hell here
which is properly named ‘Endless’. This hell is made of
solid iron, is eighteen thousand miles in circumference and
its wall is one thousand miles high. Below and above is all
burning fire. There are iron snakes and dogs chasing and
breathing out fire along the wall. Inside this hell is a bed
that extends for ten thousand miles or more. One suffering
here can see himself lying on that bed. And when thousands
of people are suffering there, they each would see
themselves lying on that bed, too. These are retributions
for the bad karma caused by the offenders.

“Furthermore, many
criminal people suffer from all kinds of pain. The
sufferings are as follows: There are several hundred or
thousand skeletons and evil ghosts with sword-like teeth and
lightning-like eyes dragging criminal people by copper
claws. One kind of skeleton has hands like big iron spears
that shoot through bodies, mouths, noses, bellies or backs.
They throw criminal people back and forth through the air.
Some skeletons put criminal people on the bed and let iron
eagles peck at their eyes or iron snakes twist their necks.
Nails are driven into their joints, and their tongues pulled
out and ploughed through; their intestines are drawn and cut
out. They are forced to drink molten copper and hot iron is
used to brand them. These karmic retributions are for
thousands of lives and are all caused by the beings
themselves. Having been through so much pain, they are still
unable to leave the hells. Even though the hell has come to
an end or has decayed, they will be conveyed to another
hell. When the former hell has also decayed, they
will be sent back yet again. These are the karmic
retributions proceeding in Endless Hell.

“This is a hell that is basically
established for these five kinds of karmic retributions, so
it is called Endless Hell. The reasons why it is called
Endless Hell are: First, suffering continues day and night,
and there is no end. Therefore, it is called Endless Hell.
Second, no matter how many people are there, either one or a
great many, the hell is always full. Therefore, it is called
Endless Hell. Third, the pains they suffer are without end.
They use a variety of implements such as forks, sticks,
eagles, snakes, wolves and dogs, mills, saws and files that
pierce, pound, grind, saw and chop. Large pots, iron nets
and ropes, iron horses and donkeys, and molten iron are used
to boil and flay one alive, bind, and pour molten iron over
one’s body. When they are hungry and thirsty, they are
forced to swallow iron pellets and drink iron fluid. These
sufferings will continue for countless years. Therefore, it
is called Endless Hell. Fourth, regardless of race, sex,
age, wealth, or whether dragons or gods, heavenly beings or
ghosts, if any of them have karmic retributions caused by
criminal behavior, they will all suffer together. Fifth,
anyone in hell will pass through many lives every day and
night. It is impossible to rest even for a moment. They will
never be reborn as human beings until all karma has come to
an end. Because of this never-ending life and death, it is
called Endless Hell.”

Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha told
saintly mother, “I have described Endless Hell in general.
If you want me to explain everything in detail about Endless
Hell, I could not finish in one aeon.” After listening to
Kishitigarbha’s words, Lady Maya sorrowfully placed both her
hands together, bowed in worship, then withdrew.




At that time, Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, said to Buddha, “World-Honored
One, relying upon your divine power, I am able to transform
myself into many forms to save all beings in billions of
worlds from their karmic retribution. If it were not for
your benevolent power, I would not be able to transform
myself. Now I am again bidden by Buddha to relieve those
beings in the six levels. Yes, World-Honored One, please do
not be concerned.

At that time, Buddha Sakyamuni told
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, “Those beings who have not been
liberated are very unstable. Bad habits cause karma, good
habits cause good fruit, and whether habits are good or bad,
beings are all influenced by environment. They transmigrate
within the five levels like a wheel turning without
stopping. They have been through many hardships for aeons.
Like a fish swimming into a net and thinking that it is in a
flowing stream, when the fish breaks out from the net, it
becomes trapped again. Such beings are what I am always
anxious about. But now, you are going to accomplish your vow
to help the criminal people. So I have no need for

When Buddha spoke these words in the
meeting, a Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, named Self-Existent King
asked, “World-Honored One, what vow makes the Buddha praise
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha so much? Please World-Honored One
tell us.” Buddha answered Bodhisattva Self-Existent King,
“Listen, listen, and think of what I am about to say. Many
aeons ago, there was a Buddha named All-Knowledge-
Accomplished Oneí. This Buddha is worshipped by
heavenly beings and people. He has wisdom and is perfect in
clarity and conduct. He can be released from life and death.
He is omniscient and acts as an advocate and mediator. He is
the highest sage and the greatest instructor of heaven and
people. That is why this Buddha is respected by heavens and
people. The lifespan of this Buddha is sixty thousand aeons.
He was a king of a small country before he became a
monk. While he was a king, he had a good friend who was also
a king of a neighboring country. They both cultivated
themselves by doing ten good deeds to help others. The
citizens of their countries used to commit many evil acts,
so the two kings decided to set up possible ways to help
people to give up evil and return to virtue. One king made a
vow that he may soon become a Buddha to help all beings. The
other king made a different vow, saying that he would never
become a Buddha unless all beings suffering from their
criminal acts were saved and gained peace and happiness, and
attained Bodhi.

Buddha Sakyamuni told Bodhisattva
Self-Existent King, “The king who wished to become a Buddha
first is Buddha All-Knowledge Accomplished. The other king
who wished to help people but refused to become a Buddha
first is the Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha

“Moreover, long and infinite aeons
ago, Buddha Pure-Lotus-Eyes came into the world. This
Buddha’s lifespan is forty aeons. The immortal Buddha,
Pure-Lotus-Eyes existed during the Dharma-Image Age – at the
time when images were used for worship. There was an arhan
who instructed many people little by little with his
fortunate merits. This arhan met a woman, Bright Eyes, who
prepared sacrificial offerings for him. The arhan asked her
what she wanted. Bright Eyes answered, “I have prayed and
given offerings in memory of my mother since the day she
died. I wish to know where my mother is now.” The arhan felt
compassion for Bright Eyes. He meditated and saw that her
mother had fallen into an evil level and had suffered great

The arhan asked Bright Eyes, “What
did your mother do when she was alive? She is now suffering
in hell.” Bright Eyes answered, “My mother loved eating
fish, especially baby fish. She fried or boiled thousands of
baby fish, willfully, as she pleased. Please noble one be
merciful and help my mother. ” The arhan felt compassion for
her and advised Bright Eyes, “Reverently recite the name of
Buddha Pure-Lotus-Eyes and draw an image of him to benefit
all those beings either living or dead.”

So Bright Eyes sold all her favorite
things as soon as she heard the arhan’s instructions. Then
she asked a painter to draw the Buddha’s portrait. She gave
offerings in sacrifice, and with a reverent heart
sorrowfully wept as she worshipped the Buddha. Unexpectedly
one night, as if in a dream, she saw a Buddha who was as
tall as Mount Sumeru, emitting bright and shining light.
This Buddha told Bright Eyes, “Your mother will be soon
reborn in your house. She will be able to speak soon after
she feels hunger and cold.

After some time, a maidservant of
Bright Eyes family bore a baby. This baby could speak three
days after her birth. Bowing her head and crying, she told
Bright Eyes, “One has to suffer the consequences and
retributions of one’s own doing throughout life and death. I
was your mother. I stayed in hell for a long time. Since we
parted, I have fallen into hell several times. Because of
you, I am born here as a servant. But I will die early; I
will only live until I am thirteen years old. After I die, I
will fall into an evil level again. Do you have any way to
relieve me from these sufferings?” After listening to the
words of the servant’s baby, Bright Eyes realized this baby
was her mother. She asked her sorrowfully, and with tears,
“When you were my mother, do you know what you did to make
you fall into an evil level?” The baby answered, “I am
suffering this retribution due to the karma of killing and
slandering. If it were not for you saving me from suffering,
I would not be released from such karma.” Bright Eyes asked
about the situation in hell and the baby answered, “It was
so horrible that I dare not remind myself of it again. And
the sufferings there cannot be stated even in thousands of

Bright Eyes wept and wailed after
listening to the baby’s statement. She swore into empty
space, “May my mother leave hell forever and not fall into
evil again after her thirteen years on earth. Please all
Buddhas from the Ten Directions have mercy upon me; listen
to my solemn pledge for my mother. If my mother can leave
the three evil levels forever, and does not take any humble
position or ever be born as a woman, I vow, in front of
Buddha Pure-Lotus-Eyes that from now on I will save and work
towards cultivating all beings in all worlds, hells and evil
levels out of suffering. I do not want to become a Buddha
until all of them become Buddhas. “

Eyes then clearly heard Buddha Pure-Lotus-Eyes who told her,
“Bright Eyes, you have great benevolence and compassion to
make such a great vow for your mother. After your mother
finishes thirteen years’ retribution, she will be born into
the Brahmin class for one hundred years. In her next life,
she will again be born into the Land of No Concern for
uncountable aeons. Then, she will become a Buddha to help to
cross over as many human and heavenly beings as there are
sands in the Ganges.

Buddha told Bodhisattva
Self-Existent King, “The arhan who helped Bright Eyes at
that time is now the Bodhisattva Inexhaustible-Intention.
The mother of Bright Eyes is the Bodhisattva Liberation. And
Bright Eyes herself is now the Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha.
Throughout many aeons, Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha has crossed
over all beings by his benevolence and compassion. He has
made as many vows to rescue living beings as there are
grains of sand in the Ganges.

“In the future, if any man or woman
does not do good deeds, does bad deeds, does not believe in
cause and effect, is licentious, uses false and reckless
speech, who quarrels a lot, or slanders the Mahayana, such
people who create this karma must certainly fall into the
three evil levels after they die. However, if one meets a
wise person who even in the time it takes to snap the
fingers, and who guides him to take refuge in Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, he will be pardoned for the retributions in
the three evil levels. If he can respect with all his heart,
gaze at, worship and praise, offer fragrant flowers,
clothing, food or various kinds of jewellery and valuables
to Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha he will enjoy the most
wonderful happiness and welfare in heavens for boundless
time in the future. Even if his welfare in the heavens has
come to an end, he can be born as an emperor for hundreds or
thousands of aeons. And he can also remember what happened
in his previous life. Bodhisattva Self-Existent King,
Kishitigarbha has such a great divine power that will
benefit all beings. You, Bodhisattva, keep the sutra in mind
and proclaim it extensively.”

Bodhisattva Self-Existent King
answered Buddha, “World-Honored One, please do not be
concerned. Billions of Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas here
will certainly proclaim this sutra around the worlds, and
with Buddha’s divine power, help all beings.” Bodhisattva
Self-Existent King placed both his hands together
reverently, bowed and knelt in worship, and withdrew after
finishing his statements.

At that time, the Four Heavenly
Kings from the east, west, south and north rose from their
own seats, placed both their hands together respectfully and
asked Buddha, “World-Honored One, a long time ago
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha made a great vow. Why are there
still many who have not yet crossed over? Now, he again
makes another vow. Please, World-Honored One, explain it to
us.” Buddha told the four kings, “Excellent, excellent. Now,
for your benefit and for the advantage of all beings from
heavens and worlds now and in the future, I am going to
explain how Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha benevolently helps all
beings suffering from their crimes in both life and death in
the Saha World, and all the possible ways he uses.” The Four
Heavenly Kings said, “Yes, World-Honored One, we would like
to know.”

Buddha told the Four Heavenly Kings,
“Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha has helped and released all those
beings from long time past to now, but he still has not
completed his great vow. He has great benevolence and
compassion for the suffering beings of this world. Because
he observes that the causes of the beings’ karma and their
retribution are like grass that creep and spread
fast, he again takes another strong vow. Therefore,
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha shows billions of convenient ways
to help and cultivate all beings in the Saha

“Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades
those who kill any creature not to kill, otherwise they will
die young. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades those who
steal things or rob people not to steal or rob, otherwise
they will be poor and receive a hard lot. Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha persuades those licentious people to give up
lustful behavior, otherwise they will be born as birds in
future lives. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades those
people who have abusive tongues not to speak bad language,
otherwise their own relatives will fight with one another.
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades those who are fond of
slandering others not to libel anyone, otherwise in their
future lives they will become mutes or their mouths will

“Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades
people with hateful hearts not to hate or be angry with
anybody, otherwise in their future lives they will be ugly
and crippled. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades mean
people to be generous, otherwise their wishes will be never
fulfilled. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades those people
who drink and eat without limitation to control themselves,
otherwise they will suffer pain from hunger and thirst and
throat diseases. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades those
who go hunting willfully to stop hunting, otherwise they
will die in terror. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades
those who are mean to their own parents to show filial piety
or devotion to them, otherwise they will die in natural

“Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades
those who set fires on mountains, forest or woods never to
do that again, otherwise they will die in insanity and
confusion. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades step-parents
not to torture their step-children, otherwise in their
future lives they will be lashed. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
persuades people not to catch fish and birds, otherwise they
will lose their own children. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
persuades people not to slander the Three Treasures,
otherwise they will become deaf, blind or mute in their
future lives. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades people not
to disrespect the Dharma, otherwise they will fall into evil
levels forever.

“Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades
people not to destroy anything in the temple, otherwise they
will transmigrate among the hells for an endless time.
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades people not to insult or
falsely accuse monks or nuns, otherwise they will be animals
forever in their future lives. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
persuades people not to hurt living beings with boiling
water, fire or sharp knives, otherwise they will suffer the
same pain as they did to others. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
persuades monks or nuns not to break the Sangha’s rules,
otherwise in their future lives they will be animals and
they will suffer hungry retributions. Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha persuades people not to ruin objects without
any reason or use anything which does not belong to them
without permission, otherwise they will never obtain what
they want.

“Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha persuades
people not to be proud, otherwise they will be born in low
positions and be enslaved by others. Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha persuades people not to stir up or incite
trouble between people, otherwise they will have no tongue
or hundreds of tongues as their retribution. Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha persuades people not to argue irrationally or
disobey the right way, otherwise they will be born in a
barbarous frontier.

“The retributions that I have
described in general are what those beings of the worlds
cause by their own behavior, language and
consciousness. Because of their different karmas,
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha uses many kinds of convenient ways
to help and cultivate them. After those beings have finished
such retributions, they still will fall into hell and there
will be no way out for aeons. Therefore, you should protect
these living beings and their lands. Do not allow those
beings who are confused by their own karma to create more
karma. “

After listening to Buddha’s
exhortations, the Four Heavenly Kings sighed, and with tears
in their eyes, placed their hands together, and withdrew.



At that time, Bodhisattva
Samantabhadra, Mahasattva, said to Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, “Merciful One, would you please explain for
the gods, dragons and the Four Heavenly Kings and all beings
living in the future and in the present: where all those
beings of the Saha World are suffering from their criminal
pain, the names of the hells, and the conditions? These
answers will let those beings in the future time of the
Dharma-Ending Age know of the retributions undergone by the
beings of the Saha World.

Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha answered,
“Merciful One, now, receiving Buddha’s divine power and the
Mahasattva’s power, I will explain in general the names of
the hells and the situations of the retributions. Merciful
One, east of this world there is a dark Iron-Fence Mountain.
This mountain is black and deep and has neither sunlight nor
moonlight. Within the mountain there is a large hell called
Infinite Hell. In this Infinite Hell is another hell named
Great Arbi. In this Great Arbi Hell, there are many small
hells as follows:

“Four-Cornered Hell Flying Knife
Hell, Flaming Arrow Hell, Crushing Mountains Hell, Piercing
Spear Hell, Iron Cart Hell, Iron Bed Hell, Iron Ox Hell,
Iron Clothing Hell, Thousand Blades Hell, Iron Donkey Hell,
Molten Copper Hell, Holding-Pillar Hell, Flying Fire Hell,
Ploughing Tongue Hell, Chopping Head Hell, Burning Leg Hell,
Pecking Eye Hell, Iron Pellet Hell, Fighting Hell, Iron Axe
Hell, Much Anger Hell.”

Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha said,
“Merciful One, such is the unlimited number of hells within
the Iron-Fence. In addition, there is the Screaming Hell,
Pulling Tongue Hell, Excrement and Urine Hell, Copper Lock
Hell, Fire Elephant Hell, Fire Dog Hell, Fire Horse Hell,
Fire Ox Hell, Fire Mountain Hell, Fire Stone Hell, Fire Bed
Hell, Fire Beam Hell, Fire Eagle Hell, Sawing Teeth Hell,
Stripping Skin Hell, Drinking Blood Hell, Burning Hand Hell,
Burning Leg Hell, Hanging Thorns Hell, Fire House Hell, Iron
House Hell and Fire Wolf Hell. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
said, “Merciful One, in the Iron-Fence Mountain, there are
infinite hells as such. In these hells, there are many small
hells with many more different names. One, two, three, four
hundred or thousand small hells, and they also have
different names. “

Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha told
Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, “Merciful One, these hells are
created by the people themselves who commit these
malefactions in all the worlds. The power of karma is so
great as to be compared with Mount Sumeru and as deep as the
immense ocean. The power of karma can also block the way of
Buddhadharma. Therefore, do not ignore a minor evil
and think that it is guiltless. There is retribution after
one dies, even as small as a hair or fibre, and this must be
taken. Even the closest relatives, like father and son, have
a different road. Even meeting, they cannot substitute their
retribution for each other. Now, relying on Buddha’s divine
power, I will give a general explanation of the situation in
hell. Please Merciful One listen to me. “

Bodhisattva Samantabhadra answered,
“For a long time, I have known of the retributions of the
three evil levels. I hope the Merciful One speaks so that
all beings who do evil acts in the future time of the
Dharma-Ending Age rely on and take refuge in the

Kishitigarbha said, “Merciful One,
the following are the retributions of hells: There is a hell
which pulls out a criminal person’s tongue and ploughs it
with an ox. There is a hell where a mean devil takes out the
criminal person’s heart and eats it. There is a hell where
they cook criminal peoples’ bodies in a big cauldron. There
is a hell which burns copper pillars and makes criminal
persons hold them. There is a hell which uses fire to burn
criminal people. There is a hell which is always frozen and
icy. There is a hell of endless excrement and urine. There
is a hell of flying maces There is a hell that is full of
fire spears. There is a hell in which one’s chest or back
are beaten. There is a hell where only hands or legs are
burned. There is a hell where iron snakes twist and coil
around one. There is a hell where iron dogs chase. There is
a hell where all ride on iron donkeys.

“Merciful One, such retributions in
every hell use hundreds or thousands of instruments of
Karma’s Way. Those instruments are made of copper, iron,
stone or fire. The four materials are caused by the heavy
karma of beings. It is nearly impossible to explain all the
situations in all hells, because there are hundreds or
thousands of sufferings in each and every hell. Now, relying
on the divine power of Buddha, I have replied to the request
from the Merciful One, and I have only explained in general.
Even to the end of aeons, there is no end to explaining all
the hells in detail.”



At that time, the World-Honored One
emitted bright lights from his body, illuminating the
millions of worlds in which Buddhas lived. Buddha Sakyamuni
pronounced in a loud voice, informing all the Bodhisattvas,
Mahasattvas, in every world, the heavenly beings, dragons,
ghosts and gods, humans and non-humans, “Today, listen to me
as I glorify Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva. He shows
inconceivable, benevolent, and compassionate divine power to
help and protect the suffering. After I reach Nirvana, all
of you Bodhisattvas, heavenly beings, dragons, ghosts and
gods should employ every possible way to protect this sutra
in order to allow all beings to obtain Nirvana’s happiness.

After Buddha finished, there was a
Bodhisattva named Universally Expansive who placed his hands
together and said to Buddha with respect, “Today,
World-Honored One glorifies Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha who
has such unbelievable divine powers and virtues.
World-Honored One, for the sake of all future beings of the
Dharma-Ending Age, please tell us how Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha will benefit people. May gods, dragons, the
eight divisions, and all those beings in the future accept
Buddha’s instructions.”

At that time, the World-Honored One
said to Bodhisattva Universally Expansive, “Listen, listen.
I will explain in general about Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha –
how he benefits the human and heavenly beings with his
blessings and merit.” Bodhisattva Universally Expansive
answered, “Yes, World-Honored One, we would all be pleased
to know.”

Buddha told Bodhisattva Universally
Expansive, “In the future world, any good man or good woman
when hearing the name of Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha,
Mahasattva, places both hands together, glorifies, bows and
admires Kishitigarbha, this person can be relieved of sins
from the past thirty aeons. Universally Expansive, if any
good man or good woman paints Kishitigarbha’s portrait, or
using clay, stones, glue, varnish, gold, silver, copper or
iron to engrave or erect a statue of Bodhisattva for
worship, this person can be born a hundred times in
Thirty-Three Heaven and will never fall into the evil
levels. Even if his welfare in heaven comes to an end and he
is born in the world, he still can be a king. That is, he
will still have great merits.

“If there is a woman who dislikes
being a woman, she can reverently worship the portrait of
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha day after day; or she can offer
fragrant flowers, food, clothing, paintings, flags, money or
treasures as offerings, and after she ends this life, for
hundreds or thousands of aeons she will be born in a world
where there exist no women. She will not be born a woman
unless she mercifully wishes to be a woman to help and
cultivate others. She will inherit the merit power from
these offerings to Kishitigarbha and will not be a woman for
hundreds or thousands of aeons.

“Again, Universally Expansive, if
there is a woman who hates herself, is ugly and constantly
ill, she can gaze at and bow in front of Kishitigarbha’s
image with sincere devotion, and in a moment she will have a
countenance of good fortune. Even though this person does
not hate being female, she can be reborn as a king’s,
minister’s or virtuous person’s daughter, or a minister’s
wife and she will have perfect features. Because she
concentrates her heart with sincere devotion, on gazing and
bowing to Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, she can gain such

“Moreover, Universally Expansive, if
there is a good man or good woman who can play music or sing
to extol before the Bodhisattva’s image, who can offer
fragrant flowers or who can persuade one or many people to
worship Bodhisattva, such people will be protected by many
spirits day and night, and will hear no evil things, not to
mention personally experiencing evil things or

“Moreover, Universally Expansive, in
the future world, if evil people, evil gods or evil ghosts
ridicule or slander that good man or good woman who
reverently makes offerings and praises, gazes at and bows to
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha’s image, by saying that this is
completely without advantage or merit, or laughs at, or
talks behind their backs, or persuades others to slander
together, even if they only slander in one thought – the
retributions from these peoples’ slanders will be to suffer
great pains in Great Arbi Hell for an infinite time. After
finishing the sufferings in hell, they will become a hungry
ghost. Through a thousand aeons, they will become an animal.
Then through a thousand aeons, they will become a human
being. However, even when they have become a human, they
will still have a hard life, for example, crippled, weak or
poor. Because they are often upset and distressed by the
evil karma that twists their hearts, they will again soon
fall into evil. Therefore, Universally Expansive, to slander
others’ offerings, not to mention having an evil mind to
destroy the Dharma, will cause such retributions.

Universally Expansive, in the future, anyone who has a long
illness and can neither live nor die, who always dreams of
evil ghosts or dead families, or dreams of walking on
dangerous roads with spirits and in which these situations
continue for months to years, and has a chronic disease,
groans in his dreams, and always feels grieved and unhappy,
must have done something wrong or evil causing these
retributions. This is all due to their past karma road,
which is a judgement that has not been decided, and which is
not allowing them to die, or to recover either. Most of the
ordinary men or women cannot distinguish why these phenomena
happen. If anyone suffers from this kind of thing, this
sutra should be read once aloud. In addition, one may take
any favorite article of the sick person, such as clothing,
treasures, manors or houses, to give to charity or sell for
offering and making Buddhas’ or Bodhisattvas’ images. In
front of the sick person’s face, he should speak loudly that
he would like to give these up on behalf of the sick person.
One could also build a temple, light an oil-lamp, or donate
money to a shrine.

Speak this three times in front
of the sick person and make sure that he hears what you
say clearly. If he has already been in a coma or has
breathed his last, you can still speak these words and read
this sutra aloud for seven days. Because of this, after the
person dies, his past heavy crimes can be released forever,
including the five crimes which will lead him to Endless
Hell. In his next life, he will always know the things that
happened in his former life.

“If any good man or good woman
writes this sutra by hand or teaches others to write it, or
paints or moulds the Bodhisattva’s image or teaches others
to paint or mould, he will certainly gain a great deal of
merit. Hence, Universally Expansive, if you see anyone read
or recite this sutra, praise this sutra even with a single
thought or respect this sutra as soon as he hears it, you
must use every way to urge them to study hard and not to
regress. They can obtain inconceivable merits both now and
in the future.

“Moreover, Universally Expansive, if
those beings in the future dream of many gods, ghosts or
even forms, and are always grieving, crying, distressed,
sighing, terrified or anxious, they must have relatives from
their past lives who have fallen into evil, and these
relatives are unable to save themselves and have no way to
ask people who have fortune and power for help. You should
tell these people to do many convenient things to help their
relatives get far away from the evil level.

“Moreover, Universally Expansive,
using your divine power, you should make those people read
this sutra in front of the images of Buddhas or
Bodhisattvas. Or ask anyone to recite this sutra three to
seven times for themselves. Thus, these relatives who remain
in evil can be released after reciting this sutra. And they
will never again dream of those spirits.

“Moreover, Universally Expansive, in
the future world, if the people of lower positions, such as
servants, slaves or people who are not free realize the
former karma and wish to repent, they may gaze at and bow to
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha’s image, and with sincere devotion
recite Kishitigarbha’s name ten thousand times during seven
days. Such people after they finish this life will be reborn
in noble families for thousands of lives and they will not
suffer the pain of evil.

” Moreover, Universally Expansive,
in future generations around the worlds, no matter what type
of people they are, if they recite the inconceivable sutra
for seven days for their new born babies, male or female,
and again recite Kishitigarbha’s name ten thousand times,
these babies will be released from their past retributions,
can be easily raised and will enjoy longevity. If the baby
is born by his own fortune, his happiness and life will

“Moreover, Universally Expansive, if
those beings in the future can recite this sutra once in
front of any Buddha’s or Bodhisattva’s image during certain
ten days including the first, eighth, fourteenth, fifteenth,
eighteenth, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-eighth,
twenty-ninth and thirtieth days of the lunar calendar, they
will be safe, without any disasters. The neighboring
families, both young and old, will be far away from evil. On
these certain days the offences of living beings will be
gathered together and judged, since all behavior or thoughts
of those in the worlds are karma and an offence – not to
speak of such offences as killing, stealing, debauching or
slandering willfully. If people can recite this sutra once a
month on the special ten days, their families can be free of
every kind of disease and their clothes and food will be

“Universally Expansive, you should
know that Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha has such unspeakable,
great divine power to benefit all who worship. All beings of
the worlds have a deep relationship with this Mahasattva. As
long as they hear the Bodhisattva’s name, see the
Bodhisattva’s image or listen to a single paragraph,
sentence or even a few words from this sutra, they can enjoy
wonderful pleasure, peace and happiness today, and be reborn
with fine features in noble families in the future million

At this moment, after listening to
the Buddha glorify the Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha,
Bodhisattva Universally Expansive knelt down, placed his
hands together and said, “World-Honored One, I have known of
the great, inconceivable divine power of Bodhisattva’s vow
for a long time. In order to make those beings in the future
understand the benefits, I therefore ask Buddha and we shall
keep this in our hearts. World-Honored One, what do we call
this sutra? And how do we proclaim this sutra?”

The Buddha said to Universally
Expansive, “There are three names for this sutra. One is the
Kishitigarbha Vow Sutra, another name is the
Kishitigarbha Past Conduct Sutra, the other name is
the Kishitigarbha Powerful Vow Sutra. Because so many
aeons ago this Bodhisattva took such great vows to benefit
all beings, you should proclaim this sutra in accord with
these vows. “

After Universally Expansive heard
this, he placed his hands together, and withdrew.




At that time,
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, said to Buddha,
“World-Honored One, I have observed sins of thought or
action from everyone in all the worlds. Even though they do
a few good deeds their kind hearts soon regress. If they
fall into a bad circumstance, their evil thoughts will
continue. It is as if these people are walking in mud
carrying a heavy stone on their shoulders. The longer they
walk, the harder they step. Their feet sink in mud and they
cannot get themselves out. If they meet a knowledgeable
person who can carry some or all the stones for them, this
knowledgeable person has great power to help and persuade
them not to go any further. After they arrive at a smooth
plain, the knowledgeable one soon teaches them how to
examine themselves and not to go through the mud again.

World-Honored One, the minor offences accumulate into major
ones. Since most of these people have such bad habits, in
order to help them to be reborn into a better life, their
parents or relatives should make offerings or oblations for
them after they pass away. They can hang pennants, light oil
lamps or make statues of Buddha or Bodhisattva. They can
also recite the sutras or the names of the Buddha and
Bodhisattva. They should make sure that they keep every
single word deep in their minds. Though these beings have
fallen into evil karma, their criminal offences can be
eliminated by oblations and offerings in their name by their
family or relatives. If their family or relatives can do
many good deeds for the dead during the first seven days,
the dead can avoid evil forever and be reborn in heaven or
as a human and enjoy wonderful happiness. In addition, the
people who promote benefits for the dead can also obtain
endless merits.

“Thus, now, in front of the Buddha,
World-Honored One, gods, dragons and all others, both human
and non-human, I urge all beings in all worlds not to offer
sacrifices to the spirits of deceased persons by killing
creatures or calling on ghosts or spirits. Why? Because
offering sacrifices by killing has not the slightest merit
for the deceased persons at all. On the contrary, it will
increase their burden, because their relatives make more
offences for the deceased. The deceased person’s spirit has
to defend itself against the spirits of the sacrificed
creatures. This might risk the rebirth of that person in
heaven or the human world. Not to mention the deceased who,
while he was alive had few merits, and thus according to his
karma, has to suffer pains in the evil level. How could his
relatives increase his karma?

“For example, it’s like a person who
has eaten nothing for three days and is carrying baggage
which weighs more than one hundred kilograms. Unexpectedly,
his neighbor asks him to bring some extra things for him.
Now his burden is heavier than before. World-Honored One, I
have observed that as long as beings in all the worlds do
good deeds for Buddhadharma, no matter as small as a hair, a
drop of water, a grain of sand or a speck of dust, they will
obtain all merits themselves.”

While these words were being spoken,
there was an elder named Great Eloquence who has advocated
the Dharma since long ago, cultivates all beings from the
Ten Directions, and is always incarnated as an elder. He
placed both hands together with reverence, then asked
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, “Mahasattva, after those beings
in all the worlds have died and their relatives do good
deeds for them, offer vegetarian foods or plant all kinds of
good things, can the deceased obtain merits and be released
from pain and suffering?”

Kishitigarbha answered, “Now, by
Buddha’s power, I will explain this in general. Elder, if
those beings today or in the future hear a name of Buddha or
a Bodhisattva on the day they die, no matter whether they
are guilty or not, they can be released from suffering. If
anyone does many evil deeds while alive and his or her
relatives do good deeds for them after their death, the
deceased will receive a seventh part of the relative’s
merit. The remaining merits belong to his or her relatives.
If good people today and in the future can promote goodness
by themselves, they can obtain every merit.

“After death the Great Ghost of
Impermanence will take the spirit of the deceased away
without warning. At that time, nobody knows whether the
spirit’s future is good or bad. During the first forty-nine
days after death, the deceased does not hear anything. At
that time, he will be judged in a court arguing his karmic
retribution. He will not be reborn until the trial. Before
the trial in hell, the deceased has already felt distress,
not to speak of suffering in the evil level. The deceased
longs for help from his children or relatives during these
forty-nine days. After forty-nine days, he will follow his
own karmic retributions and suffer. These kinds of criminal
persons usually cannot be released for hundreds or thousands
of years. If the being has ever committed one of Five
Endless Offences, he or she will fall into Endless Hell and
suffer all kinds of pain for an indefinite time.

“Moreover, elder, if beings with
such karma die, the relatives can make offerings. Their
relatives should prepare or eat vegetarian food and not
throw rice-water or vegetable leaves on the ground. They
should not even eat before offering it to Buddha and the
monks. If they waste the food, eat before offering it or are
too lazy to learn about Dharma, the deceased will obtain no
merits at all. If their relatives are diligent and are
reverently devoted to Buddha and the Sangha, the deceased
will receive a seventh part of the merit. Therefore, elder,
if those beings in all the worlds can honestly and
reverently offer vegetarian food to the Three Treasures
after their parents or relatives die, both the living and
the dead can obtain all the merits.”

While Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
spoke these words, millions of ghosts and gods in
Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace from all the worlds made endless
requests for helping the suffering. And the elder Great
Eloquence bowed and withdrew.



At that time, from the Iron-Fence
Mountain, many ghost kings and sons of the heavens came to
the Trayastrimsa Heaven where Buddha taught the Dharma.
Those who came included Evil Poison Ghost King, Evil Doing
Ghost King, Dispute Ghost King, White Tiger Ghost King,
Blood Tiger Ghost King, Red Tiger Contagious Ghost King,
Disaster Ghost King, Flying Body Ghost King, Lightning Flash
Ghost King, Wolf Teeth Ghost King, Thousand Eyes Ghost King,
Eating Beast Ghost King, Rock-Carrying Ghost King,
Exhaustion Ghost King, Calamity Ghost King, Food Ghost King,
Wealth Ghost King, Domestic Animal Ghost King, Fowl Ghost
King, Beast Ghost King, Mountain Spirit Ghost King, Birth
Ghost King, Life Ghost King, Disease Ghost King, Danger
Ghost King, Three Eyes Ghost King, Four Eyes Ghost King,
Five Eyes Ghost King, the Fire Spirit King, the Great Fire
Ghost King, the Dharma Protector King, the Great Dharma
Protector King and so on. There were also thousands of major
and minor ghost kings who live in all the worlds and rule
over specific areas.

These ghost kings and sons of
heavens, by the divine power of Buddha and Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, all came to the Buddha’s assembly
in Trayastrimsa. They reverently stood beside the

At that time, Yama, Son of Heaven,
knelt down, placed his hands together and asked,
“World-Honored One, inheriting the divine power of Buddha
and Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, and having good
merits, we, sons of heavens and all ghost kings, join this
great assembly in the Trayastrimsa. Now, we have a small
doubt we would like to express. May Buddha be merciful and
explain it to us.” Buddha told Yama, Son of Heaven,
“Whatever you ask, I shall explain it to you.”

At that time, Yama, Son of Heaven
looked at Buddha with respect, turned his head towards
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha and said, “World-Honored One, as
we have observed, Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha has used
hundreds and thousands of convenient ways to help and
cultivate the suffering offenders of the six levels. He
never feels tired. This great Bodhisattva has such
inconceivable divine power. But these beings fall into evil
soon after they are relieved from their criminal
retributions. World-Honored One, since this Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha has such unimaginable divine power, why do not
all beings follow the Dharma and be relieved from pain
forever? Will World-Honored One please explain this to

The Buddha told Yama, Son of Heaven,
“Those beings of the worlds are hard-minded. It is difficult
to subdue them. This Great Bodhisattva has saved these
beings for a long, long time. Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha uses
every possible way to point out their own basic karma
relationships and make them realize the things which they
did in their former lives. However, all beings have a
pattern of bad habits, and they quickly fall into the same
pattern again. This Bodhisattva has taken many aeons to help
and save them.

“For example, if someone
accidentally walks onto a dangerous road and gets lost among
the many devils, tigers, wolves, lions, snakes and scorpions
on this road, this person will be attacked immediately. If
this person happens to meet and heed the advice of a wise
and knowledgeable person, then he could avoid those evil
beasts. The person does not know how dangerous this
situation is until he hears the wise and knowledgeable
person’s advice. Soon after, the person wants to get out of
that situation. This wise person leads him away and protects
him from those evils, and when he arrives to a safe place,
he is peaceful and happy. Then, this wise person tells him,
‘Do not walk this road from now on. Those who walk this road
will live a difficult and dangerous life.’ The person who
was once lost appreciates him very much. Before leaving, the
wise person says, ‘If you see your friends, relatives or any
person walk by, whether they are male or female, you should
let them know that this way is full of evil. Anyone entering
this road will have their lives threatened. Do not allow any
beings to walk this way.’ In this way, Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha helps and cultivates the criminal beings by
his benevolent and compassionate heart. Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha helps them be reborn as human beings or
heavenly beings and thus obtain peace and happiness. Because
they know the sufferings of retribution, when they are
released they will be reluctant to go through the pain of
evil again. That person will never walk that dangerous way
again since he was saved by the wise person. Besides this,
he also persuades others not to walk along this dangerous
road. And since he has been there before, he will certainly
not walk that way again. If he is still confused and makes
the same mistake, and does not realize that he himself has
been on this dangerous road before, he will lose his life.
This is the same as falling into evil. Although Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha has used all kinds of useful ways to release
them and allow them to be reborn into heaven or as a human
being, those beings will still fall into evil again. If he
has heavy karma, he will stay in hell with no definite time
to be released from suffering. “

At that time, Evil Poison Ghost King
reverently placed his hands together and said,
“World-Honored One, we, the many ghost kings in the worlds
have different jobs, some of us are advantageous and help
people, some of us hurt people. Our karmic retribution
causes us and our retinues to travel throughout all the
worlds and do more evil than good. While we are passing
through a house, a town, a castle, a village or a farm, if
we see any man or woman do a tiny benefaction, hang a
pennant or streamers of silk before a Buddha’s image,
prepare a little incense or flowers to offer the Buddha or
Bodhisattva, or recite even just one sentence or word of the
sutras, all of us will salute this person as we do to
Buddhas past, present and in the future. We will also order
all powerful ghosts and gods of the lands to protect this
person and never let any evil thing, disease or bad luck
draw near to this person’s house, not to mention to
themselves.” The Buddha praised the ghost king, “Very good,
very good. All of you and Yama also can support and protect
these good men and women. I will ask Brahma King and Shakra
to protect you as well.”

After this, another ghost king named
Life Master said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, in
accordance with their retributions, I am in charge of
humans’ lives. Their lives and deaths are governed by me.
Fundamentally, I am willing to help them. But, because they
do not realize my true heart, they have little happiness and
peace when either bearing children or dying. Why? If people
could offer some benefactions to increase the merits of
their own family when they are going to have either a son or
a daughter, the God of Land would be happy to protect the
mothers and children to obtain happiness and peace. Even
their relatives could obtain merits, too. On the other hand,
they should not kill any creature for offering as food to a
woman who has just given birth. Neither gather relatives
together to eat meat, drink wine, sing songs and dance in
celebration of the new born baby. This behavior will make
the mother and baby lose peace and happiness. Why? Because
uncounted evil ghosts and monsters would like to eat the
offensive- smelling blood at childbirth. I have already
ordered the God of Land to protect the mother and child and
make them peaceful and happy and without any disaster. These
people should offer more benefactions to thank this god for
the happiness and peace they obtain. However, not only do
they show little gratitude but they also kill creatures and
gather relatives for celebration. Therefore, their
retribution is caused by themselves. They deserve the
damage. The mother and child will also suffer.

“Furthermore, throughout the worlds,
I will help the people who are about to die, regardless of
whether they are good or evil, not to fall further into
evil. My power to help them is increased when they have done
good deeds. When benevolent persons are going to die,
hundreds or thousands of evil spirits will turn into the
same form as their parents or relatives, and encourage them
to be a part of their evil horde. It will be even more
difficult for a person who has done many evil deeds to get
away from evil. World-Honored One, when men or women in all
the worlds are going to die, they are incapable of clear
thinking, they cannot tell good from bad, their eyes are
unable to see and their ears are unable to hear. If their
relatives make offerings to Buddha for them, recite the
sutra and recite Buddhas’ or Bodhisattvas’ names, these good
deeds will help the dead people turn away from evil and all
the devils and ghosts will retreat. World-Honored One, if
anyone who is about to die hears a Buddha’s or Bodhisattva’s
name or one sentence from a Mahayana sutra, these people can
be relieved from the Five Endless Offences. As for the minor
bad karma which would basically lead them into evil, this
can be relieved immediately.”

Buddha told Life Master Ghost King,
“You have great benevolence to make such a great vow to
protect all beings, both alive and dead. In future
generations if anyone, male or female, faces life and death,
do not forget the vow you have made, and be sure to release
all the beings from hardships and allow them to observe
happiness and peace.”

The ghost king replied to Buddha,
“Please do not be concerned. I shall do my best to protect
all beings in all the worlds so that they will have
happiness both at the time of birth and at the time of
death. I hope they will believe my word so they will be
released, receive happiness, and earn numerous

At that time, Buddha told
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, “This Life Master Ghost King has
already been a great ghost king for thousands of
generations. Supporting and protecting all those beings
between life and death is the benevolent merciful power of
his vow. He is now incarnated as a ghost king, but in
reality he is not a ghost. One hundred and seventy aeons
from now, in an aeon named Tranquility, he will be a Buddha
named No Appearance Thus Come One. His kalpa will be named
Happiness. The world he lives in will be called Pure
Dwelling and his age will be uncountable. Kishitigarbha,
everything about this great ghost king is unimaginable. The
people he has saved, is saving and will save in all the
worlds and in the heavens are innumerable.”



At that time, Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, said to the Buddha,
“World-Honored One, I am going to speak on the benefits for
those beings in the future worlds. Between life and death,
they can all receive great benefits. Please World-Honored
One, hear my words.” Buddha told Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha,
“At this time you wish to raise your benevolent and merciful
heart, to save and cultivate the suffering beings and speak
on inconceivable things. Speak quickly because I am about to
enter Nirvana. Complete your vow soon, so I need not be
concerned for all those beings now and in the future.

Bodhisattva said to the Buddha,
“World-Honored One, a long time ago, there was a Buddha
named Limitless Body. Any man or woman who has heard his
name and shows a respectful heart may be pardoned of the
heavy crimes of previous and forthcoming aeons. He or she
will obtain endless welfare by making offerings or painting
images. In addition, a long time ago, there was a Buddha in
the world named Jewel Nature. If any man or woman hearing
his name, and in the snap of the fingers makes a wish to
take refuge in Buddha Jewel Nature, he or she will never
regress from the Buddha’s way. There was also a Buddha named
Lotus-Victory. Any man or woman who hears, with the deepest
ear, this Buddha’s name, or concentrates on reciting this
Buddha’s name can be born in the Six Desire Heaven a
thousand times.

“Besides, endless time ago, there
was a Buddha named Lion Roar. Any man or woman hearing his
name who can follow this Buddha for one moment, that person
will meet uncountable Buddhas, be ordained and be prophesied
as a future Buddha. There was another Buddha named
Victorious Contemplation in the past. Any man or woman who
hears his name and worships or praises him with the utmost
mind will be a Brahma King in the assemblies where one
thousand Buddhas are gathered and will be ordained and
prophesied as a future Buddha. There was a Buddha named
Vipasin in the past. Any man or woman who hears this name
will never fall into the evil level and will be born in
heaven with the most wonderful pleasure.

“Besides, endless time ago, there
was a Buddha named Jewel Victory in the world. Any man or
woman hearing this Buddha’s name will never fall into the
evil level and will enjoy wonderful happiness. There was a
Buddha named Jewel Appearance. Any man or woman hearing this
name who raises a deferential heart will soon earn the
Arhanship fruit. There was a Buddha named Kasaya Banner in
the past world a long time ago. Any man or woman hearing
this name can be pardoned of the crimes of life and death
for one hundred aeons. There was another Buddha named Great
Penetration Mountain King in the past. Any man or woman who
hears this name will meet endless Buddhas to speak Dharma
for him or her. And he or she will surely achieve

“There were also innumerable Buddhas
in the past, including Buddha Pure Moon, Buddha Mountain
King, Buddha Wise Victory, Buddha Pure Name King, Buddha
Accomplished Wisdom, Buddha Unsurpassed, Buddha Wonderful
Sound, Buddha Full Moon, Buddha Moon Face and so

“World-Honored One, the beings,
regardless if they are men or women now and in the future,
as long as they can recite a Buddha’s name, they will have
endless merit. They can obtain still more merit by reciting
more Buddhas’ names. These people can earn great merit
between life and death, and they will not fall into the evil
level on earth.

“Any relative, even if there is only
one relative, who can recite Buddha’s name aloud for the
person who is going to die, can allow the person to be
pardoned of all karmic retribution except the Five Endless
Offences. Though the Five Endless Offences can make them
fall into hell for millions of aeons and not be released, if
their relatives recite Buddha’s name for them when they are
about to die, or if they recite the names themselves, their
offences can generally also be eliminated. The merit they
earn will be uncountable, and their offences will be



At that time, relying on Buddha’s
divine power, Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, rose
from his seat, knelt down, placed his hands together in
front of the Buddha and said, “World-Honored One, as I have
observed, the charitable deeds which all beings do are all
different. Some benefactions can benefit people for one
generation. Another for ten generations, some for a hundred
or a thousand generations. Why is this? Please World-Honored
One, explain it for us. ” Buddha told Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, “Now, here in the Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace,
I am going to explain the comparative merits which are
earned from the virtuous act of giving done by those living
beings in the worlds. You should listen to thy explanation

Kishitigarbha replied to Buddha, “I
have had doubts about this matter, therefore, I will be glad
to listen.”

Buddha told Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, “In the worlds, there are kings, prime
ministers, officials, elders, Kshatriyas, Brahmins and so
on. Suppose they do favors with benevolent hearts for the
poor, blind, deaf, mute or crippled, asking others to help,
or comfort the suffering with tender words – the merits they
gain will be the same as making offerings to Buddha. Why?
Because if they can stimulate great benevolent and
compassionate hearts for the poor and crippled, they can
obtain merits. They can own the seven treasures completely,
not to mention food and clothing.

“Moreover, Kishitigarbha, in the
future world, if any king or Brahmin offers sacrifices or
makes contributions to Buddha’s temple or to the images of
Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Sound-Hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, the
king or Brahmin will certainly be Shakra god for three aeons
and enjoy the most wonderful happiness. If they can dedicate
to all beings in the Dharma-World the merits which they
earned by their contributions, these kings can always be
Great Brahma Heaven Kings for ten aeons.

“Furthermore, Kishitigarbha, in the
future worlds, if the kings can rebuild or repair any ruined
or broken temples or images, or they encourage others to do
this, these kings will be Wheel-Turning Kings for hundreds
or thousands of generations. The people who help these kings
will be the kings of small countries. If they can make vows
in front of the temples to dedicate the merits which they
obtain from rebuilding or repairing the temples or images,
their Buddhadharma will become complete. Their good karma is
boundless and limitless.

“Additionally, Kishitigarbha, in the
future world, if these kings or Brahmins show mercy and give
medicine, food or bedding to old people, sick people or
pregnant women and make them peaceful and happy, such
welfare and benefits are the best imaginable. They will be a
king of Pure Dwelling Heaven for one hundred aeons, they
will be a king of Six Desire Heaven for two hundred aeons
and they will surely become Buddhas. They will never fall
into the evil level and will hear no distressful voice for
hundreds or thousands of generations.

“Furthermore, Kishitigarbha, in the
future world, the kings or Brahmins who can bestow such a
gift will obtain endless merits. If they can dedicate these
merits to all those beings around the Dharma-World, they
will finally all become Buddhas – not to mention becoming
Shakra, Brahma or Wheel-Turning Kings. Therefore,
Kishitigarbha, you should persuade all those beings to do

“Moreover, Kishitigarbha, in the
future world, if any good man or woman can plant the
smallest good root, even as little as a hair, sand or dust,
their welfare and benefits will be beyond description.
Furthermore, Kishitigarbha, in the future world, if any man
or woman makes contributions or offers sacrifices when
encountering the images of the Buddha, Bodhisattva,
Pratyekabuddha or Wheel-Turning King, he or she will obtain
endless welfare and always enjoy the most wonderful
happiness in the worlds or heavens. If this man or woman can
return this merit to those beings around the Dharma-World,
this person’s merit will be incomparable.

“Furthermore, Kishitigarbha, in the
future world, any man or woman who reads a Mahayana sutra,
even one single word or sentence, shows a respectful heart,
praises it reverently and dedicates the sutra to others,
will earn good karma. If the person can dedicate the merits
to the Dharma-World, this person’s welfare will be beyond
description. Furthermore, Kishitigarbha, in the future
world, if any good man or good woman worships, praises,
places their hands together in respect, and bestows a gift
when he or she sees a new Buddha-temple or Mahayana sutra;
or who repairs, or cleans up any old, ruined or broken
temple or sutra himself, or persuades others to do so, they
will be kings for thirty generations. If one leads others in
these affairs, he or she may always be a Wheel-Turning King.
And this Wheel-Turning King will enjoy using many good ways
to cultivate and teach the other kings of small

“Furthermore, Kishitigarbha, in the
future world, any good man or good woman who plants a minor
root in the Dharma-World, such as making contributions or
offerings, repairing a temple or binding a book of sutras,
even if these things are as tiny as a hair, a speck of dust,
a grain of sand, or a drop of water – if this person can
dedicate the merit he or she has earned to those beings in
the Dharma-World, this person can enjoy the most wonderful
happiness for hundreds or thousands of generations. If one
dedicates the merit to one’s own relatives or oneself, this
person can enjoy happiness for only three generations. Once
one abandons one’s own merit, he may earn millions of
merits. Thus, Kishitigarbha, such are the conditions for
bestowing gifts.”






At that time, the Earth God Firm and
Solid said to Buddha, “World-Honored One, I have respected
and worshipped limitless Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas since
a long time past. They all possess inconceivable divine
power and wisdom to cultivate and help all beings. However,
the vow of Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva, is deeper
and weightier than those of the other Bodhisattvas.
World-Honored One, this Bodhisattva, Kishitigarbha, has a
close relationship with beings in the worlds. Even though
Manjushri, Samantabhadra, Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya all
have incarnated themselves into hundreds or thousands of
forms to cultivate and help those beings in the six levels,
their vows will be completed one day. However, the
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha cultivates and teaches all those
beings in six levels – the time Kishitigarbha made the great
vow to now being hundreds, thousands and billions of

“World-Honored One, as I have observed,
if those beings now and in the future find a clean place
located in the south of their own house and use earth,
stone, bamboo or wood to make a shrine, or make an image of
Kishitigarbha out of gold, silver, copper or iron, or paint
an image of Kishitigarbha and place it in the shrine, often
burn incense in worship and respect, and salute or praise
Kishitigarbha, then they can obtain the following ten

1. Their
land will be very rich and fertile.

2. Their homes and
families will be peaceful forever.

3. Their
ancestors will be raised to heaven.

4. They
will enjoy longevity.

5. They
will fulfill their wishes.

6. They
will escape floods or fires.

7. They will escape
anything that frightens or exhausts them.

They will have no further nightmares.

Their every step will be protected by gods.

10. They will have
many opportunities to encounter the Dharma.

World-Honored One, if those beings now
and in the future can make such offerings in their own
homes, they can obtain these ten benefits.”

The Earth God Firm and Solid continued,
“World-Honored One, in the future, any good man or good
woman who can have this sutra and an image of Kishitigarbha
in their homes, and who can recite this sutra and make an
offering to the Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, will be protected
and guarded day and night by divine power. Even the risk of
flood or fire, robbery, stealing and any evil thing will be

The Buddha instructed the Earth God
Firm and Solid, “The divine power you possess is much
greater than that of the other gods. Do you know why? The
land in all the worlds is guarded by you. Even every blade
of grass, tree, sand, stone, straw, hemp, bamboo, reed, rice
or treasure from the ground, grows or is produced by your
power. Your constant praise of Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
makes your merits, virtues and divine power a thousand times
greater than that of ordinary earth-gods’.

“In the future worlds, if there is any
good man or good woman who can make offerings to Bodhisattva
and recite this sutra to others, as long as he or she
practices the rules according to the Kishitigarbha Sutra,
you should protect this man or woman by your divine power.
Do not allow any disaster or unpleasant thing go through his
or her ears, and do not allow them to suffer. Not only will
you protect this person yourself, but the retinues of
Shakra, Brahma, and the gods of the heavens will also
protect them. The reason why this person is protected by
many gods is that he or she respects and worships
Kishitigarbha’s image and recites this Vow Sutra. These
people will be removed from the ocean of suffering and will
be proof of the bliss of Nirvana.”




At that time, the World-Honored One
emitted hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of light
rays from the top of his head: the White Ray, the Great
White Ray, the Auspicious Portent Ray, the Great Auspicious
Portent Ray, the Jade Ray, the Great Jade Ray, the Purple
Ray, the Great Purple Ray, the Blue Ray, the Great Blue Ray,
the Azure Ray, the Great Azure Ray, the Red Ray, the Great
Red Ray, the Green Ray, the Great Green Ray, the Gold Ray,
the Great Gold Ray, the Good Luck Cloud Ray, the Great Good
Luck Cloud Ray, the Thousand-Wheeled Ray, the Great
Thousand-Wheeled Ray, the Jewelled Ray, the Great Jewelled
Ray, the Solar Disc Ray, the Great Solar Disc Ray, the Lunar
Disc Ray, the Great Lunar Disc Ray, the Palace Ray, the
Great Palace Ray, the Ocean Cloud Ray and the Great Ocean
Cloud Ray.

And the Buddha again emitted
wonderfully subtle sounds and informed all beings ,
gods, dragons and the others, both human or non-human,
“Here in Trayastrimsa Heaven Palace, all listen to me as I
glorify the merits that Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha has
performed for those in heaven and the human world. This is
an inconceivable and super saintly thing. It is his
certification of the Tenth Ground – the highest ground of
Bodhisattva, and shows us that he will never regress from
the Buddhadharma.”

At that time, there was a great
Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, named Avalokiteshvara. He rose from
his seat, then knelt down, placed his hands together and
said, “World-Honored One, Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha,
Mahasattva, has a merciful and benevolent heart. He pities
the suffering and incarnates himself into billions of
different forms to cultivate all beings. All his merits and
unimaginable divine power I have heard from the mouths of
the World-Honored One and limitless Buddhas. Even all the
Buddhas now and in the future cannot extol all of
Kishitigarbha’s merits. And now, you again want to tell all
beings and praise him for all his merits. World-Honored One,
please speak of the inconceivable divine power of
Kishitigarbha. Then allow the gods, dragons and the others
to obtain benefits and merits.”

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara, “You have a close relationship with the
Saha World. If heavenly beings, dragons, men, women, gods,
ghosts or all beings suffering from their crimes in the six
levels hear your name, see your image, adore you or praise
you, they will never regress from the Dharma, and they will
always be born in heaven or a human world and enjoy
happiness. When their good fruit ripens, they will encounter
Buddhas and be prophesied as a future Buddha. Now, having
mercy and a kind heart for all heavenly beings, dragons and
the others, you come here to listen to my explanation of the
inconceivable benefits of the Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha. You
should listen to me carefully. I shall explain this to you.”
Avalokiteshvara said, “Yes, World-Honored One, I will be
glad to hear your words. “

The Buddha told Bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara, “Now and in the future worlds, when the
heavenly beings are going to complete their happy life
there, they will show five signs of decay. Some will even
fall into an evil level. When such heavenly beings,
regardless of whether they are male or female show the five
weak signs, if they can see Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha’s
image, hear Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha’s name, and gaze in
worship, they will obtain more merits, enjoy more happiness
and never fall into the three evil levels. If they see this
Bodhisattva and offer him flowers, clothing, food, treasures
or jewels, the merits and benefits they earn will be endless
and uncountable.

“Moreover, Avalokiteshvara, now and
in the future, if those beings in the six levels who are
about to die can hear the name of the Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha deep in their ears, they will not go through
the pain of the three evil levels. If, for example, one
sells the house, treasures, possessions and clothing which
belong to this person who is about to die, and uses the
money to paint or carve an image of Kishitigarbha – or the
sick person himself hears or sees that a relative on his
behalf has sold his properties to paint or carve a statue of
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha for him. If this person’s karma
retribution is to suffer a serious illness, then by
inheriting these merits, he will recover from the illness
soon and will live longer. What if this person’s karmic
retribution is to fall into the evil levels? By inheriting
the merits, his crimes and karma will be eliminated. After
he dies he will ascend to heaven and enjoy wonderful
happiness. All other crimes will also be

“Moreover, Avalokiteshvara, in the
future, if there is a man or woman whose parents, or
brothers or sisters die; or if when a person was young, was
separated from his or her parents or relatives and wonders
where they are or to which heaven they have gone: if they
can carve or paint an image of the Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, or can respect and worship him continuously
for seven days, constantly and attentively hearing his name
and worshipping, then the accumulated merits will allow this
person’s relatives to be relieved from suffering soon, even
though this person’s relatives should fall into the evil
level for many aeons, and suffer pain because of their
karma. The person’s relatives can be reborn in heaven, where
they will enjoy wonderful bliss. If the relatives by their
own merits have ascended to heaven they will possess
Buddha’s wisdom and have endless happiness. If a person can
bow and kneel to the image of Kishitigarbha with an
attentive heart for twenty-one days, and recite his name ten
thousand times, the Bodhisattva will appear and tell the
person where his relatives have gone. Or, in his dream, he
will see the Bodhisattva show great divine power and
personally lead him to every world to meet his

“If one can recite the name of
Bodhisattva one thousand times a day, continuously for a
thousand days, the Bodhisattva will send a god or a ghost to
protect and guard him for his whole life and make
sure that he lives in affluence. No hardship or
sickness will come to him or his house. This person will
finally be blessed when Bodhisattva comes to touch his head
and predict that he will become a Buddha.

“Moreover, Bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara, in the future, when any good man or good
woman benevolently makes a vow towards cultivating an
helping all beings, wishes to learn about the Dharma an
hopes to be released from the three evil levels, if that
person sees Kishitigarbha’s image, hears his name, follows
him with an honest heart or contributes fragrant flowers,
clothing, treasures or food in worship, then al their wishes
will soon be brought to completion without any obstruction.
Moreover, Avalokiteshvara, in the future, any good man or
good woman who make millions of wishes, as long as he or she
takes refuge in worships respectfully, offers and praises
the image of Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha, then all wishes and
goals can be realized. If he or she makes a vow for
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha to show his great mercy and
protect and guard him or her forever, and
dreams that Bodhisattva touches his or her head
making a mark, then he or she will finally be a

“Moreover, Bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara, in the future, what if a good man or good
woman cherishes and reverently reads Mahayana sutras and
raises a sincere heart in reading sutras, but even though he
or she meets a good teacher, soon forgets the contents of
the sutra and cannot read or recite it? This is because this
person has karmic obstructions from a former life. This
person should tell the Bodhisattva reverently when they hear
his name or see his face that they are unable to remember or
read the Mahayana sutra. And they should offer flowers,
clothing, food or even playthings to the Bodhisattva,
prepare a glass of clean water, place it in front of
Bodhisattva’s image for one day and night, then place both
hands together, ask to drink the water, face the south, and
with a sincere and respectful heart, drink the water. After
that, be careful not to drink wine, eat meat and the five
pungent plants. Do not be licentious, use false speech or
kill living creatures. After seven or twenty-one days, this
good man or good woman will see Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha
show his limitless body in their dream. Kishitigarbha will
himself anoint their head with water. This person will then
be intelligent when he or she awakes. Any sutra he or she
hears will be remembered forever; not a single word or
sentence will be forgotten.

“Furthermore, Bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara, in the future, anyone who lacks food or
clothing, who cannot obtain the thing he or she wants, who
usually falls sick, who always meets evil, whose family is
disturbed, who loses his or her relatives, who is often hit
by a misfortune or who is terrified in their dreams, they
will gradually be removed from those unpleasant things. If
they have a reverent and sincere heart when reciting
Bodhisattva’s name ten thousand times, or while hearing
Kishitigarbha’s name or seeing his image, they will also
obtain peace, happiness and wealth – even in their

“Furthermore, Bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara, in the future, any good man or good woman
who needs to enter a mountain or forest, cross an ocean or
river, or pass along a dangerous road for personal or
official business in a life or death situation or emergency,
should first recite Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha’s name ten
thousand times. Then, this place will be protected by gods
and ghosts, regardless of whether he or she walks, sits or
lies. He or she will surely be peaceful and happy. Even
though they meet a tiger, wolf, lion or any other fierce
beast, these beasts will be unable harm them at all. The
Buddha told Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, “Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha has a deep relationship with those beings of
the worlds. Even through hundreds or thousands of aeons, I
still could not convey all the ways he benefits all beings.
Therefore, Avalokiteshvara, you should use your divine power
to spread this sutra to make sure that all those beings in
all worlds can enjoy the merits of peace and happiness
through thousands of aeons.”

At that time, World-Honored One
spoke a verse:

“I observe Kishitigarbha’s
divine power,

Like the Ganges sand-like

It cannot be described.

To see, to hear, or to worship are
all in a thought;

Endless benefits for humanity and

Men, women, dragons or

If by their retributions should fall
into evil,

Sincerely take refuge in

Lifespan will increase and karmic
obstacles will be eliminated.

If children lose parents’ love when
they are young,

And wonder where their spirits

And they never met brothers, sisters
or relatives,

Since they grew up:

Carve or paint an image of the

Look, worship and adore it without

Recite the name from seven to
twenty-one days.

will show the limitless body,

where the relatives have gone.

falling into evil can be removed.

one does not go back on his first thought,

will touch his head and anoint it.

who wants to follow Bodhi,

be relieved from the suffering of the three

person should raise a great merciful heart,

gaze at and worship Mahasattva’s image.

wish will come true immediately,

no karma obstacle can stop him.

who raises his heart to read the sutra

to save all beings,

this vow is inconceivable,

the person reads and forgets it soon

karma obstacles confuse him.

of fragrant flowers,

food or any playthings to Kishitigarbha.

clean water before the Mahasattva,

to drink after a day and a night.

careful to avoid the five pungent plants,

to drink wine, eat meat or be licentious,

to kill living beings for twenty-one days.

Mahasattva’s name reverently.

can see Kishitigarbha in your dream.

intelligent when awakening.

instruction, no sutra will be forgotten,

ever forget through thousands of generations.

is caused by Mahasattva’s inconceivable power,

makes this person wise.

beings who are poor or sick,

family whose fortune is declining,

people who have uneasy dreams,

never come true.

worship Kishitigarbha’s image.

evil things can be eliminated,

dreams can be peaceful.

and food will be opulent,

and ghosts will protect them.

who enters the forest or crosses the ocean,

of ferocious animals and evil people,

such disaster and distress,

at, worship and makes offerings to the image of Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva.

evils of the forest and ocean will be eliminated.

listen to me,

is inconceivable,

thousands of aeons it cannot be told.

Proclaim and exalt Mahasattva’s divine power.

hearing Kishitigarbha’s name,

seeing Kishitigarbha’s image and worshipping,

flowers, clothing or food

enjoy wonderful pleasure for thousands of aeons.

the merits to those beings in the Dharma-World,

become a Buddha, crossing over life and death.

thus you should know

proclaim through the worlds

numerous than the Gangesí sands.”





At that time, the World-Honored One
raised his golden arms and touched the head of Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva. Then he said, “Kishitigarbha,
Kishitigarbha, your divine power is inconceivable. Your
benevolent and compassionate heart is inconceivable. Your
wisdom is inconceivable. Your eloquence is inconceivable.
Thousands or millions of aeons is not enough time for the
Buddhas from the Ten Directions to explain and praise your
inconceivable qualities. Kishitigarbha, Kishitigarbha,
remember what I speak of today in Trayastrimsa Heaven –
where thousands, millions and billions of Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas, heavenly beings, dragons and the others gather
together. I request you to help those beings in heavens and
worlds who are suffering. Do not allow them to fall into the
evil level even for a single day and night, or fall into the
five endless hells and Arbi Hell and suffer hardships for
thousands, millions or billions of aeons.

“Kishitigarbha, those beings of the
worlds have unstable minds. They are used to doing evil.
Even though they raise a good heart, they soon reject it. If
they are in an evil environment, their minds will increase
in evil little by little. Therefore, I incarnate hundreds,
thousands or billions of forms, according to their
personalities, to help and cultivate them.

“Kishitigarbha, today, I sincerely
entrust multitudes in the heavens and the worlds to you. In
the future, if any heavenly being or any good man or good
woman in any of the worlds plants a tiny good root in
Buddhadharma, even as tiny as a hair, a speck of dust, a
grain of sand or a drop of water, you should use your divine
power to protect this person. Guide him on the path of
Dharma, step by step and never allow him to regress or lose

“Moreover, Kishitigarbha, in the
future, those heavenly or human beings about to fall into
the evil level, if at the front door of hell they can recite
a Buddha’s or a Bodhisattva’s name, or a sentence from a
Mahayana sutra, you should use your divine power and employ
every possible way to help and save them. You can manifest
your limitless form around their homes and shatter the hells
for them. Let all of them ascend to heaven and enjoy
wonderful happiness.”

At that time, the World-Honored One
spoke a verse:

“Those heavenly beings and
humans now and in the future,

sincerely entrust them all to you.

Using great divine power to cross
them over,

Do not allow them to fall into the
evil levels.

At that time, Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha, Mahasattva knelt down, placed his hands
together and said to Buddha, “World-Honored One, please do
not be concerned. In the future, if any good man or good
woman shows a little reverence for Buddhadharma, I shall use
hundreds or thousands of convenient ways to help and
cultivate this person and relieve him or her from suffering.
Those people who have studied the Dharma and have heard of
good deeds will progress naturally and will never regress
from the Way.”

Present at the meeting while Buddha
spoke was a Bodhisattva named Empty Space Store, who asked
Buddha, “World-Honored One, since I came to Trayastrimsa, I
have heard you eulogize the inconceivable divine power of
Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha. In the future, how many benefits
may a good man or good woman, and those heavenly beings and
dragons who hear this sutra, Kishitigarbha’s name, or
worship his image receive? May World-Honored One please
speak for all those beings now and in the

The Buddha told Bodhisattva Empty
Space Store, “Listen, listen, I shall explain this to you.
In the future, any good man or good woman who sees the image
of Kishitigarbha or hears this sutra, who recites it and
offers fragrant flowers, food, clothing or precious
jewellery, and who reverently praises, gazes at and worships
him will earn these twenty-eight benefits:

They will be protected by heavenly beings and

They will increase in good mind day after day.

They will accumulate superior wisdom.

They will never regress from Bodhi.

They will be opulent in food and clothing.

They will never suffer from any disease.

They will be far away from flood, fire and

They will not be stolen from or robbed.

They will be respected by everyone.

Gods and ghosts will help and support them.

A woman may be reborn as a male in the next life.

A woman may be born as a king’s or minister’s

They will be born with good-looking features.

They will be reincarnated in heaven.

They may be reincarnated as a king.

They will be aware of their former lives.

They will obtain anything they ask.

Their families and relatives will be joyful.

All disasters or accidents will be eliminated.

They will be rid of all bad karma.

They will go anywhere without problems.

They will have pleasant and peaceful dreams.

Their deceased relatives will be far away from

They will receive the blessings from their past

They will be praised by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

They will become intelligent and have good roots.

They will possess a merciful heart.

They will ultimately realize Buddhahood.

“Moreover, Bodhisattva Empty Space
Store, the heavenly beings, dragons, ghosts or gods now and
in the future who hear Kishitigarbha’s name, worship
Kishitigarbha’s image or know of Kishitigarbha’s
accomplishments, and praise, gaze at and worship him can
obtain seven benefits:


1. They will soon ascend to the
sage’s land.

Their evil karma will be eliminated.

All Buddhas will protect them.

They will never regress from Bodhi.

Their natural powers will increase.

They will know their past lives.

They will ultimately realize Buddhahood.”

Thus, at that time, from the Ten
Directions, came all the uncountable Buddhas and Great
Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons and the others to hear Buddha
Sakyamuni eulogize the great divine power of Bodhisattva
Kishitigarbha. Such inconceivable divine power had never
before been known.

And thus, at that time, boundless
fragrant flowers, heavenly garments, treasures and jewels
rained down in the Trayastrimsa Heaven as offerings to
Buddha Sakyamuni and Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha. All those at
the assembly again regarded Buddha with respect, then bowed
reverently, placed their hands together, and withdrew.

Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha

published on website

Gary and Elya Byrnes

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167. San-Ming Road.
Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. 105
Tel. 886-2-753-5182
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