The Sutra On The Original Vows And Merits Of
The Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata
Translated by the Chung Tai Translation Committee
From the Chinese translation by
Tripitaka Master Xuan Zang, 7th Century
Prior English translation by the Buddha Text Translation Society was used as base texts and other translations were used as references.
1-1 Thus have I heard: Once the World Honored One was traveling through various lands to teach the Dharma. When he arrived in Vaishali, he rested under the Tree of Music, accompanied by eight thousand great bhiksus and thirty-six thousand bodhisattvas and mahasattvas, as well as kings, ministers, Brahmins, laymen, dragons, yakshas, and other human and non-human beings. This enormous assembly gathered respectfully around the Buddha as he preached the Dharma. At that time, Manjusri, Prince of the Dharma, through the marvelous power of the Buddha, rose up from his seat, exposed his shoulder, and knelt on his right knee. Bowing deeply, with palms joined, he addressed the Buddha:
“World Honored One, may I beseech you to expound the various names and titles of the buddhas, and their great original vows and extraordinary merits, to help remove karmic obstructions to those who hear them and to bring benefits and joy to sentient beings in the Dharma Semblance Age.”
Then the World Honored One praised Bodhisattva Manjusri: “Excellent! Excellent! Manjusri, out of great compassion, you have asked me to expound the buddhas’ names, as well as their vows and merits, in order to liberate those bound by karmic obstructions and bring benefits, peace, and joy to sentient beings in the Dharma Semblance Age. Now, listen attentively and reflect thoroughly. I will explain them to you.” Bodhisattva Manjusri replied: “Yes, please instruct us. We are listening with delight.”
1-2 The Buddha then said to Bodhisattva Manjusri: “To the east of this world, past countless buddha lands, there exists a world called Pure Lapis Lazuli. The buddha of that world is called the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, Arhat, the Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Wisdom and Conduct, Well Gone, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed One, Skilled Tamer, Teacher of Heavenly and Human Beings, Buddha, and World Honored One. Manjusri, when the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata was practicing the bodhisattva way, he made Twelve Great Vows so sentient beings may have all their wishes fulfilled. They are:
“The first great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment, my body will shine forth brilliant rays, illuminating infinite, countless, boundless realms. Endowed with Thirty-two Marks of the Great One and Eighty Auspicious Characteristics, I can enable all sentient beings to become just like me.
“The second great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, my body will be translucent inside and out, like lapis lazuli, with brightness and flawless purity. This great, radiant body will be adorned with superlative virtues and dwell peacefully in a mesh of light more magnificent than the sun or moon. The light will awaken the minds of all beings dwelling in darkness, enabling them to engage in their pursuits according to their wishes.
“The third great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, with infinite wisdom and skillful means, I will enable all sentient beings to obtain inexhaustible goods so that they will never again lack anything.
1-3 “The fourth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, if there are those who follow evil ways, I will set them all upon the bodhi path; if there are those who cultivate the path of the sravaka or pratyekabuddha, I will set them onto the Mahayana path.
“The fifth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, I will help the countless sentient beings who cultivate morality in accordance with my Dharma to observe the precepts to perfection, in conformity with the Three Sets of Pure Precepts. Upon hearing my name, even those guilty of disparaging or violating the precepts will regain their purity and avoid descending into the wretched destinies.
“The sixth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, sentient beings with inferior bodies, deficient senses and abilities, who are ugly, stupid, blind, deaf, mute, crippled, hunchbacked, leprous, insane, or suffering from various other illnesses—upon hearing my name, they will obtain bodies with fine features endowed with intelligence, intact senses and abilities, free of illness and suffering.
“The seventh great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, sentient beings afflicted with various illnesses, with no one to help them, nowhere to turn, no physicians, no medicine, no family, no home, who are destitute and miserable, will, when my name passes through their ears, be relieved of all their illnesses. With mind and body content and at peace, they will enjoy home, family, and property in abundance, and eventually realize unsurpassed enlightenment.
1-4 “The eighth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, if there are women who are extremely disgusted with the numerous feminine afflictions, and wish to abandon their female form, upon hearing my name, they will be reborn as men endowed with noble features, and eventually realize unsurpassed enlightenment.
“The ninth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, I will help all sentient beings escape from the demons’ net and free themselves from the bonds of heretical paths. Should they be caught in the thicket of wrong views, I will lead them to correct views, gradually inducing them to cultivate the ways of the bodhisattva so that they will promptly realize unsurpassed complete enlightenment.
“The tenth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, those sentient beings who are shackled, beaten, imprisoned, condemned to death, or subjected to countless miseries and humiliations by royal decree, and who are suffering in body and mind from such oppression, need only hear my name to be freed from all those afflictions, due to the marvelous power of my merits and virtues.
“The eleventh great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, if sentient beings who are tormented by hunger and thirst, creating evil karma in their attempts to survive, should hear my name, recite and uphold it, I will first satisfy them with the most exquisite food and drinks. Later, with the flavor of the Dharma, I will establish them in the realm of peace and happiness.
1-5 “The twelfth great vow: I vow that in the future, when I attain perfect enlightenment, if sentient beings who are utterly destitute, lacking clothes to protect them from mosquitoes and flies, heat and cold, and are suffering day and night, should hear my name, recite and uphold it, their wishes will be fulfilled. They will receive all manners of exquisite clothing, precious adornments, flower garlands and incense powder, and will enjoy music and entertainment to their heart’s content.
“Manjusri, the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, Arhat, the Completely Enlightened made these Twelve Sublime Vows when he was cultivating the bodhisattva path. Moreover, Manjusri, the many great vows made by the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata while he was practicing the bodhisattva way, as well as the merits and adornments of his buddha land, I cannot possibly describe them all, not even if I were to speak for a kalpa or more. However, this buddha land is utterly pure, without any woman, without the wretched destinies or any sounds of suffering. Its ground is made of lapis lazuli; the boundaries are demarcated with golden cords; the towns, towers, palaces, pavilions, balconies, windows, and draperies are all made of the seven jewels. The merits, virtues, and adornments of this realm are identical to those of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. In this land dwell two great bodhisattvas: One is called Universal Sunlight and the other Universal Moonlight. They are the leaders of countless bodhisattvas and will be successors to this Buddha, upholding the True Dharma Treasury of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata. For these reasons, Manjusri, devout good men and women should vow to be born in this buddha land.”
1-6 The Buddha then told Bodhisattva Manjusri: “Manjusri, there are sentient beings who cannot tell right from wrong. They are greedy and miserly; they do not practice charity nor understand its rewards. They are short on wisdom and deep in ignorance. Lacking the root of faith, they amass riches, which they assiduously hoard. When they see those begging for alms, they become annoyed; when they have to give against their will, they feel as much pain and anguish as if they were parting with their own flesh. Moreover, there are also countless sentient beings who are miserly and avaricious. They amass wealth, yet do not even spend it on themselves, let alone on their parents, spouses, children, servants, slaves, or beggars. Upon their death, these people will descend into the realms of hungry ghosts or animals.
“However, if they have briefly heard the name of the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata when they were humans, although now they are reborn into the wretched destines, if they can recall the Buddha’s name even briefly, they will immediately be free from these destinies and be reborn as human beings. They will remember their sojourn in the lower destinies, and, dreading their past sufferings, cease to wallow in worldly pleasures. They will gladly practice charity, praise others who do so, and will no longer be ungenerous. Gradually, they will even be able to donate their heads, eyes, limbs, blood, flesh, or other parts of their bodies to those who need them, not to mention mere material possessions.
“Moreover, Manjusri, there are sentient beings who accept the teachings of the Tathagata but have violated the precepts; or, they have not violated the precepts, but have broken the regulations; or, while they do not violate the precepts or the regulations, they have disparaged right views; or they have not disparaged right views but have abandoned extensive study of the Dharma and therefore cannot understand the profound meaning of the sutras preached by the Buddha. Or else, although they may be knowledgeable, they have grown conceited in their Dharma knowledge. Clouding their minds with Dharma conceit, they believe that they are always right and others wrong. They may even deprecate the true Dharma, thereby allying themselves with demons. Such deluded persons not only follow wrong views themselves, but also lead countless others into very dangerous pitfalls. These sentient beings are bound to the paths of hell, animals, and hungry ghosts endlessly.
1-7 “Yet, if they should hear the name of the Medicine Buddha, they may abandon evil conduct, cultivate good deeds, and avoid descending into the wretched destinies. Even those who have descended into the wretched destinies because they cannot abandon evil practices nor cultivate good deeds, the marvelous power of the Medicine Buddha’s original vows may still enable them to hear his name momentarily, so that when their present lives end, they will be reborn in the human realm. They will obtain right views, be diligent, pursue right livelihood, and discipline their minds well and be joyful. They will then be able to abandon the home life to become monastics. They will uphold the precepts and regulations of the Tathagata without violation. With right views and extensive study, they will fathom the extremely profound meaning [of the Dharma], be free from arrogance, never disparage the true Dharma nor be companions to Mara (the demon). They will gradually cultivate the practices of bodhisattvas and swiftly perfect them.
1-8 “Moreover, Manjusri, there are sentient beings who are miserly, avaricious, envious, and jealous, praising themselves while disparaging others. They are bound to sink into the three wretched destinies, suffering intense misery for countless thousands of years. When this intense suffering comes to an end, they will be reborn in the world as oxen, horses, donkeys, or camels. Always afflicted with hunger and thirst, they are constantly beaten while carrying heavy loads on the road. If they are reborn as human beings, they will be among the poor and lowly, forever serving and belabored by others, enjoying no freedom. However, if any of them, in a former incarnation as a human being, have heard the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, and as a result of this good cause, now remember and take refuge in him wholeheartedly, they will, thanks to this Buddha’s spiritual powers, be freed from all suffering. Their senses will be sharp and they will be learned and wise, constantly seeking the supreme teachings, and encounter good spiritual friends. They will forever break through Mara’s net, smash the shell of delusion, dry up the river of afflictions, and thus escape all the distress and suffering of birth, old age, illness, and death.
“Moreover, Manjusri, there are sentient beings who love to quarrel, create schisms, and engage in legal disputes. They make themselves and others suffer, creating and increasing all kinds of evil karma with body, speech, and mind. They plot against one another without mercy. While invoking the spirits of mountains, forests, trees, and tombs, they kill sentient beings and use their flesh and blood as sacrifices to the yaksa and raksasa demons. They may also write down the names and make images of those against whom they harbor grudges, curse them with evil mantras or try to harm or kill them with potions, witchcraft, or demons revived from the dead.
1-9 “However, if the victims succeed in hearing the name of the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, none of these evil practices can harm them. Moreover, everyone involved will gradually develop compassion, endeavoring to benefit and bring peace and joy to others. Without harmful, angry, and spiteful thoughts, everyone will be happy and content.
“Moreover, Manjusri, there are those in the fourfold assembly of bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, and upasikas, as well as among other men and women of pure faith, who are able to uphold the Eight Precepts or other precepts and regulations, for one year or three months, dedicating these good roots toward rebirths in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, so as to listen to the true Dharma from the Buddha of Infinite Life. However, if their rebirth in the pure land is still uncertain, and they hear the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, then, at the time of death, eight great bodhisattvas, namely: Bodhisattva Manjusri, Bodhisattva Guanyin, Bodhisattva Great Strength, Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Mind, Bodhisattva Precious Sandalwood Flower, Bodhisattva Medicine King, Bodhisattva Superior Medicine, and Bodhisattva Maitreya will descend from space and show them the way. Thereupon, they will be reborn through natural transformation among precious flowers of various colors in that Pure Land. Moreover, thanks to hearing the Medicine Buddha’s name, there are those who are born in the celestial realms, and with their good roots still not exhausted, they will not be born again into the wretched destinies. When their celestial lifespan ends, they may return to the human realm as Wheel Turning Kings, ruling over the Four Continents. With merits, authority, and skill, they will set countless hundreds of thousands of sentient beings onto the path of the ten virtues. “There are those who are reborn as ksatriyas, Brahmins, or laymen of affluent families, with abundant wealth and overflowing granaries. They will be endowed with noble features, abundant families and full retainers, intelligence and wisdom, as well as courage, vigor, and strength of a giant. Likewise, if a woman hears the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Tathagata, and wholeheartedly upholds his name, she will never again be reborn with a female body.
2-1 “Manjusri, when the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata attained perfect enlightenment, he realized, by virtue of his original vows, that sentient beings endured various ailments, such as emaciation, crippling disabilities, fever, dysentery, jaundice, etc. Some were targets of black magic or various poisons, while others suffered short life or untimely death. He sought to put an end to these miseries and fulfill the wishes of these beings. At that time, the World Honored One entered a samadhi called ‘Eliminating All the Suffering and Afflictions of Sentient Beings’. Having entered that samadhi, a brilliant light shone forth from his usnisa (fleshy crown) as he uttered a great dharani:
Na mo bo qie fa di
Bi sha she
Ju lu bi liu li
Bo la po
He la she ye
Da tuo jie duo ye
E la he di
San miao san pu tuo ye
Da zhi tuo nan
Bi sha shi
Bi sha shi
Bi sha she
San mo jie di
“As soon as the Medicine Buddha, in his radiance, had uttered this mantra, the entire earth shook and shone brilliant lights, curing the disease and eradicating the suffering of sentient beings, enabling them to enjoy peace and happiness. Manjusri, if people come across any man or woman suffering from illness, they should sincerely and frequently help that person bathe, cleanse, and rinse, then recite this mantra one hundred and eight times over his food, medicine, or water that is free from insects. Once the sick person has taken the food or drink, the illness and suffering will be eradicated.
2-2 “If the patient wholeheartedly recites this mantra, he or she will be free of disease and enjoy longevity, with every wish being fulfilled. Furthermore, after death, this person will be born in the land of the Medicine Buddha and attain enlightenment without retrogression. Therefore, Manjusri, any man or woman who wholeheartedly reveres and respectfully makes offerings to the Medicine Buddha should keep reciting this mantra, never giving up or forgetting it.
“Moreover, Manjusri, men and women of pure faith upon hearing the various names of the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, Arhat, the Completely Enlightened, should recite and uphold this name. Each morning, at dawn, having brushed their teeth and bathed themselves, they should make offerings of fragrant flowers, incense, scents, and various kinds of music before an image of this Buddha. Furthermore, they should copy this sutra or have others do so, as well as wholeheartedly accept and uphold it, and listen to explanations of its meaning. They should offer all the necessities of life to the Dharma masters, making sure they lack nothing. The buddhas will be mindful of and bless such devout men and women; all their wishes will be fulfilled and they will eventually attain enlightenment.”
Bodhisattva Manjusri then respectfully addressed the Buddha: “World Honored One, I vow that in the Dharma Semblance Age, I will use every skillful means to help men and women of pure faith hear the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata; even in their sleep, I will awaken their ears with the name of this Buddha. World Honored One, if any devout persons should recite, remember, and uphold this sutra; or expound its meaning to others; or copy it or have others copy it; or if they should pay it the utmost reverence,adorning it with fragrant flowers, scents, incense powder and sticks, garlands, necklaces, banners, canopies, dance, and music, and with pockets made of five-colored cloth; and if they should prepare a clean site, erect a high altar, and place the sutra upon it, the Four Great Heavenly Kings, their retinues as well as countless hundreds of thousands of other celestial beings, will thereupon proceed to this place to make offerings and guard this sutra.
2-3 “World Honored One, wherever this sutra has spread and there are people capable of upholding it, you should know that, thanks to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata’s original vows, his merits, and the power of his name, the place will be free of untimely death. In that place, there will no longer be evil demons or spirits to sap the vital energy of the people. Even if the harm were already done, they would recover and enjoy good health and peace of mind.”
The Buddha then spoke to Manjusri: “So it is, so it is. It is just as you have explained. Manjusri, if good men and women of pure faith wish to make offerings to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, they should first make an image of this Buddha, and install it upon a pure, clean altar. They should scatter all kinds of flowers, burn many varieties of incense, and adorn the place with many kinds of banners and pennants. For seven days and seven nights, they should uphold the Eight Precepts, consume only pure food, bathe and freshen themselves, put on clean, fresh clothing, and keep their mind undefiled, free of anger or malice. They should develop kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity toward all sentient beings, while bringing them benefits, peace, and happiness. They should circumambulate his image clockwise while offering music, chants, and praises to the Medicine Buddha.
2-4 “Moreover, they should bear in mind this Buddha’s merits and original vows while reciting and memorizing this sutra, reflect on its meaning, and explain it to others. All their wishes will then be fulfilled—wishing longevity, one will obtain longevity; wishing wealth, one will obtain wealth; wishing official position, one will obtain official postion; wishing the birth of sons and daughters, one will obtain sons and daughters. Moreover, if people suddenly suffer nightmares and witnesses evil omens—such as flocks of strange birds or many strange occurrences where they live—if they venerate, with various kinds of wonderful offerings, the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, then these unfavorable incidents such as nightmares and bad omens will all disappear, and can no longer harm them. If any sentient beings are in fear of water, fire, knives, poison, falling off a precipice, or of vicious beasts—such as wild elephants, lions, tigers, wolves, bears, venomous snakes, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, mosquitos or gnats—they need only wholeheartedly recall and recite the name of the Medicine Buddha, and respectfully make offerings to him, and they will escape all these terrors. If a country should be subject to invasion, disruption, banditry, or rebellion, the inhabitants who pay homage and recall or recite the name of the Medicine Buddha will be free from such calamities.
“Moreover, Manjusri, there are men and women of pure faith who do not worship other deities for the rest of their lives and only one-mindedly take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and uphold the precepts—the five or ten lay precepts, the four hundred bodhisattva precepts, or the two hundred and fifty bhiksu or five hundred bhiksuni precepts. However, if any of them have violated the precepts they have taken, and are fearful of falling into the wretched destinies, they should concentrate on the name of the Medicine Buddha and respectfully make offerings to him, they will then certainly avoid rebirth in the three wretched destinies.
2-5 “If women, who experience extreme pain during childbirth, can recite and praise the name of the Medicine Buddha with utmost sincerity, venerate and make offerings to him, they will be relieved of their sufferings. The children born to them will have healthy bodies, be proper in appearance, and pleasing to those who see them. They will be endowed with sharp senses and intelligence. They will seldom become ill, nor will non-humans sap their vital energy.”
The World Honored One then asked Ananda: “I have just extolled the merits of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata. These merits are results of the extremely profound practices of all buddhas, but are difficult to explain. Do you have any faith in them or not?” Ananda respectfully replied: “Venerable World Honored One, I do not have any doubts about the sutras preached by the Tathagatas. Why? It is because the Tathagatas’ karma of body, speech, and mind are all pure. World Honored One, the sun and the moon may fall, Mount Sumeru, the majestic king of mountains, may topple, but the words of the buddhas are never mistaken. World Honored One, some sentient beings, whose roots of faith are deficient, may hear of the sublime practices of the buddhas and think, how can we, just by being mindful of the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata alone, obtain these superior merits? Because of this lack of faith, they even develop disparagement, thus forfeiting great benefits and remaining in the long, dark night. They descend into the wretched destinies, revolving in them without end.”
The Buddha then said to Ananda: “If sentient beings should hear the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, wholeheartedly uphold it without harboring doubts, then it will be impossible for them to fall into the wretched destinies.
2-6 “Ananda! These extremely profound practices of the buddhas are difficult to believe in, difficult to understand. Yet you are now able to accept them. You should realize that this is all due to the marvelous power of the Tathagatas. Ananda! Even the sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas who have not reached the Ten Grounds cannot completely understand and believe in this truth. Only the bodhisattvas who are one lifetime away from buddhahood can.
“Ananda! A human body is difficult to obtain; however, to believe in, respect, and honor the Triple Jewels is even more difficult. To hear the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata is more difficult still. Ananda, the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata has cultivated countless bodhisattva practices, employed countless skillful means, and made countless far-reaching vows. If I were to take a kalpa or more to recount them, the kalpa would come to an end before I could exhaustively describe all these practices, vows, and skillful means.”
At that time a great bodhisattva in the assembly, named Salvation, arose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, joined his palms, respectfully bowed and addressed the Buddha: “Venerable World Honored One, in the Dharma Semblance Age, there will be sentient beings who suffer numerous calamities, who are always sick and emaciated, unable to eat or drink, whose throats are dry and lips are parched, and whose eyes see darkness everywhere. As the signs of death appear, they are surrounded by parents, family, friends, and acquaintances, weeping and lamenting. As such a patient lies in bed, he sees the messengers of Yama arrive to lead his consciousness before this King of Justice.
2-7 “Now, all sentient beings have accompanying spirits who record everything they do, both their transgressions and their merits. These spirits then present the patient’s entire record to King Yama. At that time, the King questions the dying person and tabulates his good and bad karma before deciding upon his fate. If, at that point, the relatives and acquaintances of the patient are able to take refuge in the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, on his behalf, invite monks and nuns to recite this sutra, light seven-tiered lamps and hang five-colored longevity banners, his consciousness may return then and there, as if seeing himself clearly in a dream. Or else, after seven, twenty-one, thirty-five, or forty-nine days, when his consciousness returns, as if awakening from a dream, he will recall his good and bad karma and the consequences thereof. Having personally witnessed the consequences of karma, he will refrain from creating evil karma, even if his life were in danger. Therefore, men and women of pure faith should uphold the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, venerate and make offerings to him according to their capacity.”
Ananda then asked the Bodhisattva Salvation: “Good Man, how should we venerate and make offerings to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, and how should we make the longevity pennants and lamps?” Bodhisattva Salvation replied: “Virtuous One, in order to help the patient recover, you should uphold the Eight Precepts for seven days and seven nights, make offerings of food, drinks, and other necessities to monks and nuns in accordance with your means, you should pay homage and make offerings to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata from day to night and recite this sutra forty-nine times. You should light forty-nine lamps;make seven images of the Medicine Buddha and place seven lamps before each image, each lamp as large as a wheel, letting them burn continuously for forty-nine days and nights. You should also make multi-colored banners, forty-nine hand-lengths long. Furthermore, you should release forty-nine species of animals. The patient may then escape danger and will not be under the sway of evil demons, nor subject to untimely death.
2-8 “Moreover, Ananda, when the anointed ksatriya kings find themselves beset by calamities, such as epidemics, foreign invasion, internal insurrection, an adverse alignment of the stars, an eclipse of the sun or moon, unseasonable storms or a failure of the monsoons, the anointed ksatriya kings should develop compassion toward all sentient beings. They should also pardon prisoners, and in accordance with the rites described earlier, make offerings to the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata. Thanks to these good roots and the power of the Medicine Buddha’s original vows, peace and stability will soon return to the countries; the rains and winds will be favorable; crops will mature on time and everyone will be healthy and happy. The country will be free of evil yaksas who are out to harm the populace. All the evil omens will immediately disappear, and these anointed ksatriya kings will enjoy greater longevity and vitality, finer appearance as well as greater health and freedom than ever before.
“Ananda, when queens, consorts, princesses, royal heirs, great ministers, court ladies, officials, or commoners suffer disease and other misfortunes, they should also make offerings to the Medicine Buddha. They should make five-colored longevity banners, light lamps, ensuring that they burn continuously, free different kinds of animals, scatter flowers of various colors, and burn assorted premium incense. They will then recover from disease and escape misfortune.”
2-9 Then Ananda asked Bodhisattva Salvation: “Good Man, how can an expiring life span be lengthened?” Bodhisattva Salvation replied: “Venerable, have you not heard the Tathagata speak of the nine forms of untimely death? Therefore I urge everyone to make longevity banners and lamps and cultivate merits. Thanks to such cultivation, they will escape suffering and misfortune throughout their lives.” Ananda further asked: “What are the nine forms of untimely death?”
Bodhisattva Salvation replied: “Some sentient beings contract a minor illness which goes untreated for lack of a physician or medicine; or, even though there is a physician, he prescribes the wrong medicine, causing premature death. Or, the patients, believing the false pronouncement of earthly demons, heretics, or practitioners of black magic, may panic and fear, unable to calm their minds. They may then engage in divination or perform animal sacrifices in order to propitiate the spirits, praying for blessings or hoping to extend their lives. These are all in vain. Through ignorance, confusion, and reliance on wrong, deluded views, they meet with untimely death and sink into the hells with no end in sight. This is the first form of untimely death.
“The second form is execution by royal decree. The third is through hunting, debauchery, alcohol abuse, extreme dissipation, or, their vital energy is sapped by non-humans. The fourth is death by fire. The fifth is death by drowning. The sixth is being devoured by savage beasts. The seventh is falling off a mountain or a cliff. The eighth is death by poison, incantations, evil mantras, or demons revived from the dead. The ninth is from hunger or thirst, for lack of food and water. These are the nine forms of untimely death that the Tathagatas briefed. There are also countless other forms, which are too numerous to describe.
3-1 “Moreover, Ananda, King Yama is responsible for keeping the karmic register of everyone in the world. If sentient beings have not been filial, have committed the Five Cardinal Sins, disparaged the Triple Jewels, broken the laws of the land, or violated the major precepts, King Yama will mete out punishment according to the infraction. Therefore, I urge sentient beings to light lamps, make banners, free animals, and cultivate merits in order to avoid suffering and misfortune.”
At that time, there were twelve powerful yaksa generals in the great assembly: namely, General Kumbhira, General Vajra, General Mihira, General Andira, General Anila, General Sandila, General Indra, General Pajra, General Makura, General Sindura, General Catura, and General Vikarala. Each was accompanied by a retinue of 7,000 yaksas. They all raised their voices in unison and said respectfully to the Buddha:
“World Honored One, thanks to the Buddha’s marvelous power, now we have heard the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata and no longer fear descending into the wretched destinies. Together, with one-mind, we take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha for the rest of our lives, and pledge to support all sentient beings, bringing them genuine benefits and joy. Whether in villages, towns, kingdoms, or the wilderness, if people circulate this sutra, or uphold the name of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, and venerate or make offerings to him, we will protect them, so they will be released from all sufferings and calamities and have their wishes fulfilled. If those afflicted by disease or calamity wish for salvation, they should also recite this sutra. They should tie five-colored strands with our names on them and untie them when their wishes are fulfilled.”
3-2 Thereupon, the Buddha praised the great yaksa generals with these words: “Very well, very well, great yaksa generals! Those of you who wish to repay the benevolence and the virtues of the World Honored Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata, should always benefit and bring joy to all sentient beings in this way.”
Ananda then asked the Buddha: “World Honored One, what should we call this teaching, and how should we follow and uphold it?” The Buddha replied to Ananda: “This teaching is called the ‘Expounding the Original Vows and Merits of the Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Tathagata’ or ‘Expounding the Divine Mantra of the Vows of the Twelve Yaksa Generals to Benefit Sentient Beings’ or ‘Eradicating All Karmic Obstacles’. You should uphold it as such.”
When the Bhagavan had spoken this sutra, the great bodhisattvas, as well as the great sravakas, kings, ministers, Brahmins, laypersons, devas, nagas, yaksas, grandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, and other human and non-human beings, having heard the Buddha, were all filled with immerse joy; they accepted and followed the teaching faithfully.