THIS CHAPTER DECLARES how with mystic syllables nonhuman beings representing the spiritual world, who are deeply moved by the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, vow to protect the teachings and their preachers.
First two bodhisattvas, Medicine King and Courageous Giver, vow to guard and protect the preachers of the Lotus Sutra. Their vows are only to be expected, for these two bodhisattvas are the disciples and messengers of the Buddha. Next two Brahma heavenly kings, the Divine King Vaishravana and the Divine King Domain Holder, vow to protect the sutra. The vows of these two non-Buddhist divine kings signify that the Buddha's teachings comprehend all other teachings and infuse religious life into them.
Following this, ten female rakshasis and the Mother of Demon Sons1 vow to protect the Lotus Sutra. These female demons with one voice declared before the Buddha that if anyone harassed the preachers of the sutra, they would protect the preachers and rid them of such persecution. Their declaration bears witness to the fact that the Buddha mind is found even in these demons. Conversely, the teachings of the Lotus Sutra can be said to have the power to enable even these demons to become buddhas.
FIVE KINDS OF UNTRANSLATABLE WORDS. Many mystic Sanskrit words appear in this chapter. Why were these words not translated? The reason is due to the prudence of Kumarajiva, who translated the Lotus Sutra from Sanskrit into Chinese. When the Mahayana sutras were rendered into Chinese from Sanskrit, the translators, including Kumarajiva, left "untranslatable words" untouched. These translators defined as untranslatable the following five kinds of words:
1. Words with meanings alien to Chinese, that is, the names of
animals, plants, and demons peculiar to India but foreign to
China. For example: the fragrance of tamala-pattra and of tagara,
mentioned in chapter 19, and such beings as garudas and kimnaras.
2. Words with many meanings, that is, words that cannot be fully
translated by a single word. For example: dharani, sometimes
meaning the mystic power that enables a reciter to maintain the
teaching he has heard, sometimes meaning the power of
checking all evil and of encouraging all good, sometimes
meaning the mystic syllables by which the reciter can escape
disaster. The mystic syllables in chapter 26 belong to the last
3. Mystic words. For example: the dharani spells appearing in
chapter 26. These words were left as they were because their
profound meaning would be impaired if they were translated.
4. Transliterations well established by precedent. For example:
anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, which can be translated as "Perfect
Enlightenment" or "the unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddha."
5. Words with profound meanings, which would lose their true
meaning if translated. For example: buddha and bodhi.
These five kinds of untranslatable words (goshu-fuhon) were invariably left untouched by any translator.
When the Buddha had finished preaching chapter 25, Medicine King Bodhisattva arose from his seat and, humbly baring his right shoulder, joined his palms together toward the Buddha and spoke to the Buddha, saying: "World-honored One! If there be any good son or good daughter who is able to receive and keep the Law Flower Sutra, either reading or reciting or studying or copying the sutra, what is the extent of the blessings obtained?"
The Buddha answered Medicine King: "Suppose any good son or good daughter pays homage to eight hundred myriad kotis of nayutas of buddhas, equal to the sands of the Ganges, in your opinion are not the blessings so obtained rather numerous?" "Very numerous, World-honored One!" was the reply.
The Buddha continued: "If any good son or good daughter is able, in regard to this sutra, to receive and keep but a single four-line verse, read and recite, understand its meaning, and do as it says, his merits will be still more numerous."
Thereupon Medicine King Bodhisattva said to the Buddha: "World-honored One! To the preachers of the Law I will now give dharani spells2 for their guard and protection."
Then he delivered the following spell: "Anye manye mane mamane citte carite same samita visante mukte muktame same avishame samasame jaye [kshaye] akshaye akshine sante samite dharani alokabhashe pratyavekshani nidhiru abhyantaranivishte abhyantaraparisuddhi utkule mutkule arade parade sukankshi asamasame buddhavilokite dharmaparikshite samghanirghoshani [nirghoshani] bhayabhayavisodhani mantre mantrakshayate rute rutakausalye akshaye akshayavanataye [vakkule] valoda amanyanataye [svaha].
"World-honored One! These supernatural dharani spells have been spoken by buddhas numerous as the sands of sixty-two kotis of Ganges rivers. If anyone does violence to the teacher of this Law, then he will have done violence to these buddhas."
Then Shakyamuni Buddha extolled Medicine King Bodhisattva, saying: "Good, good, O Medicine King! Because you are compassionate and protect these teachers of the Law, you have pronounced these dharanis, which will abundantly benefit the living."
Thereupon the Bodhisattva Courageous Giver spoke to the Buddha, saying: "World-honored One! I, too, for the protection of these who read and recite, receive and keep the Law Flower Sutra, will deliver dharanis. If these teachers of the Law possess these dharanis, neither yakshas, nor rakshasas, nor putanas, nor krityas, nor kumbhandas, nor hungry spirits, nor others spying for their shortcomings can find a chance." Then, in the presence of the Buddha, he delivered the following spell:
"Jvale mahajvle ukke [tukku] mukku ade adavati nrtye nrtyavati ittini vittini cittini nrtyeni nrtyavati [svaha].
"World-honored One! These supernatural dharani spells have been spoken by buddhas numerous as the sands of the Ganges, and all approved. If anyone does violence to the teachers of this Law, he will have done violence to these buddhas."
Thereupon the Divine King Vaishravana, protector of the world, spoke to the Buddha, saying: 'World-honored One! I, too, in compassion for the living and for the protection of these teachers of the Law, will deliver these dharanis.' Whereupon he delivered the following spell: "Atte [tatte] natte vanatte anade nadi kunadi [svaha].
"World-honored One! By these supernatural spells I will protect the teachers of the Law. I will also myself protect those who keep this sutra, so that no corroding care shall come within a hundred yojanas."
Thereupon the Divine King Domain Holder, who was present in this congregation, with a host of thousands of myriads of kotis of nayutas of gandharvas reverently encompassing him, went before the Buddha, and joining his palms together said to the Buddha: "World-honored One! I, too, with supernatural dharani spells, will protect those who keep the Law Flower Sutra." Whereupon he delivered the following spell: "Agane gane gauri gandhari candali matangi [pukkasi] samkule vrusali sisi [svaha].
"World-honored One! These supernatural dharani spells have been spoken by forty-two kotis of buddhas. If anyone does violence to these teachers of the Law, he will have done violence to these buddhas."
There were female rakshasis, the first named Lamba, the second named Vilamba, the third named Crooked Teeth, the fourth named Flowery Teeth, the fifth named Black Teeth, the sixth named Many Tresses, the seventh named Insatiable, the eighth named Necklace Holder, the ninth named Kunti, and the tenth named Spirit Snatcher. These ten female rakshasis, together with the Mother of Demon Sons and her children and followers, all went to the Buddha and with one voice said to the Buddha: "World-honored One! We, too, would protect those who read and recite, receive and keep the Law Flower Sutra, and rid them of corroding care. If any spy for the shortcomings of these teachers of the Law, we will prevent their obtaining any chance." Whereupon in the presence of the Buddha they delivered the following spell: "Iti me, iti me, iti me, iti me, iti me; ni me, ni me, ni me, ni me, ni me; ruhe, ruhe, ruhe, ruhe [ruhe]; stuhe, stuhe, stuhe, stuhe, stuhe [svaha].
"Let troubles come on our heads, rather than on the teachers of the Law; neither yakshas, nor hungry spirits, nor putanas, nor krityas, nor vetadas, nor kashayas, nor umarakas, nor apasmarakas, nor yakshakrityas, nor man-krityas,3 nor fevers, whether for a single day, or quotidian, or tertian, or quartan, or weekly, or unremitting fevers; whether in male form, or female form, or form of a youth, or form of a maiden, even in dreams shall ever cause distress." Then in the presence of the Buddha they spoke in verse:
"Whoever resists our spell
And troubles a preacher,
May his head be split in seven
Like an arjaka sprout;
May his doom be that of a parricide,
His retribution that of an oil-expresser
Or a deceiver with false measures and weights,
Or of Devadatta who brought schism into the Sangha;
He who offends these teachers of the Law,
Such shall be his retribution."
This is a famous verse. It is said that if one touches an arjaka flower its petals will open and fall into seven pieces. The lines "May his head be split in seven / Like an arjaka sprout" mean, "May that man's doom be that of a parricide." The words "His retribution that of an oil-expresser" refer to an Indian custom. When grinding sesame, one puts a weight on the grinder to press down the sesame. If this weight presses only moderately on the sesame, the worms in it are not squeezed. If he puts too heavy a weight on the grinder in order to press the sesame faster, they are squeezed and the sesame will lose its flavor. Therefore, in ancient India, this was regarded as symbolizing the crime by which one takes another's life for the sake of his own self.
The same thing can be said of the crime of one who deceives with false measures and weights. Although such a crime cannot be compared with that of homicide in today's legal system, it is a heinous deed from a spiritual point of view. Therefore, such a deed was considered a great crime in ancient India.
THE CRIME OF BRINGING SCHISM INTO THE SANGHA. Next is the phrase, "Or of Devadatta who brought schism into the Sangha." Devadatta committed the evil of breaking the close and loyal concord in Shakyamuni's community of believers. It goes without saying that human beings commit a great crime when they bring schism into the community formed by the fellow believers of a faith. Those who disturb the preachers of the Lotus Sutra are no better than criminals, and their retribution will be such that their heads will be split in seven like an arjaka sprout.
Reading this passage superficially, the female rakshasis appear to be vowing vengeance on the enemies of the Lotus Sutra. This is a mistaken interpretation, however. We should consider rather that their vigor and zeal caused them to utter passionate words because they had not accumulated such great virtues as the disciples of the Buddha and because of their demonic nature. Otherwise Shakyamuni Buddha, who preached tolerance for all living beings, could not have unconditionally extolled the female rakshasis, saying, "Good, good!"
The explanation of the principle of punishment in Buddhism, discussed earlier, fully applies here. The verse reads, "May his head be split in seven," not "May the Buddha split his head in seven." And again, we read, "Such shall be his retribution," following the list of the various dooms for offending teachers of the Law. This expression accords with the principle of the Buddhist concept of punishment, which teaches that one will be punished by his own crimes, not by some outside agency or arbitrary force.
After the female rakshasis had uttered this stanza, they addressed the Buddha, saying: " World-honored One! We ourselves will also protect those who receive and keep, read and recite, and practice this sutra, and give them ease of mind, freedom from corroding care and from all poisons."
The Buddha addressed the rakshasi women: "Good, good! Even if you are only able to protect those who receive and keep the name of the Law Flower, your happiness will be beyond calculation; how much more if you protect those who perfectly receive, keep, and pay homage to the sutra with flowers, scents, necklaces, sandal powder, unguents, incense, flags, canopies, and music, burning various kinds of lamps - ghee lamps, oil lamps, lamps of scented oil, lamps of oil of campaka flowers, lamps of oil of varshika flowers, and lamps of oil of udumbara flowers, such hundreds of thousands of kinds of offerings, as these. Kunti! You and your followers should protect such teachers of the Law as these."
The chapter concludes: "While this chapter of the dharanis was preached, sixty-eight thousand people attained the assurance of no rebirth."
- Also called "Joyful Mother" or "Mother Who Loves Her Children." She is a rakshasa, or female rakshasi, who devoured the babies of others every day until her own five hundred babies were hidden by Shakyamuni Buddha and she was converted. After her conversion she vowed to protect the Buddha Law and especially to guard babies.
- Talismanic formulas, one of the four kinds of dharanis. There are four kinds of spells: 1) to heal disease, 2) to put an end to the consequences of sin, 3) to protect the sutras, and 4) for wisdom. Here the spells are for the protection of this sutra.
- A vetada is a red demon, a kashaya a yellow demon, an umaraka a black demon, and an apasmaraka a blue demon; a yaksha-kritya is a kritya in the form of a yaksha, and a man-kritya a kritya in the form of a human being.
Copyright © 2009 by Rissho Kosei-kai. All rights reserved.