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Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra

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The Karandavyuha Sutra is a Mahayana sutra which extols the virtues and powers of the great Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara, and which is particularly notable for introducing the Buddhist mantra Om mani padme Hum into the Buddhist sutra tradition.


General Features

The Karandavyuha Sutra is a Mahayana sutra that was compiled at the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century C.E. [1]. It is notable for its presentation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara as 'the supreme Buddhist isvara (divine lord) or 'great cosmic purusa' (cosmic person/ being) [2], whose effulgence is even greater than that of any other bodhisattva or Buddha. A striking feature of Avalokitesvara in this sutra is his creative power, as he is said to be the progenitor of various heavenly bodies and major divinities. Dr. Alexander Studholme, in his monograph on the sutra, writes:

'The sun and moon are said to be born from the bodhisattva's eyes, Mahesvara [Siva] from his brow, Brahma from his shoulders, Narayana [Vishnu] from his heart, Sarasvati from his teeth, the winds from his mouth, the earth from his feet and the sky from his stomach.'[3].

The sutra introduces the Buddhist mantra, Om Manipadme Hum, which it states can lead to liberation (moksha) and eventual Buddhahood [4]. Dr. Studholme sees this famous mantra as being a declarative aspiration, possibly meaning 'I in the jewel-lotus',[5] with the jewel-lotus being a reference to birth in the lotus made of jewels in the Buddhist Paradise, Sukhavati, of Buddha Amitabha. The mantra is the very heart of Avalokitesvara (the supreme Buddha of Compassion) and can usher in Awakening. Dr. Studholme writes:

'Om Manipadme Hum, then, is both the paramahrdaya, or 'innermost heart', of Avaolitesvara ... It is also ... a mahavidya, a mantra capable of bringing about the 'great knowledge' of enlightenment itself ...' [6]

Avalokitesvara himself is linked in the versified version of the sutra to the first Buddha, the Adi-Buddha, who is 'svayambhu' (self-existent, not born from anything or anyone). Dr. Studholme comments:

'Avalokitesvara himself, the verse sutra adds, is an emanation of the Adibuddha, or 'primordial Buddha', a term that is explicitly said to be synoymous with Svayambhu and Adinatha, 'primordial lord'.' [7]


See also

References

  1. Dr. Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2002, p. 17
  2. Dr. Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, pp. 59 and 39
  3. Dr. Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 40
  4. Dr. Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 68
  5. Dr. Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 117
  6. Dr. Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 108
  7. Dr. Alexander Studholme, The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra, SUNY, 2002, p. 12

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