Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra

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Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra (T. Lha mo dpal phreng gi seng ge’i sgra’i mdo ལྷ་མོ་དཔལ་ཕྲེང་གི་སེང་གེའི་སྒྲའི་མདོ་; C. Shengman shizihou yisheng da fangbian fangguang jing 勝鬘師子吼一乘大方便方廣經), or Sutra of the Lion’s Roar of Queen Śrīmālā, is an early Mahayana sutra belonging to the Tathāgatagarbha sūtras that teaches the doctrines of Buddha-nature and "One Vehicle" through the words of the Indian queen Śrīmālā.[1] After its composition, this text became the primary scriptural advocate in India for the universal potentiality of Buddhahood.[2]

This sutra was especially influential in East Asian Buddhism.[3] Over twenty commentaries on this text were composed in the Chinese language.[4]

This text is included in the Ratnakuta Sutra within the Tibetan canon.


Relief image of the Great Stupa at Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, India

Brian Edward Brown, a specialist in Buddha-nature doctrines, writes that the composition of the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra occurred during the Īkṣvāku Dynasty in the 3rd century CE as a product of the Caitika schools of the Mahāsāṃghikas.[2] Alex Wayman has outlined eleven points of complete agreement between the Mahāsāṃghikas and the Śrīmālā, along with four major arguments for this association.[5] Anthony Barber also associates the earlier development of the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra with the Mahāsāṃghikas, and concludes that the Mahāsāṃghikas of the Āndhra region were responsible for the inception of the Buddha-nature doctrine.[6] In the 6th century CE, Paramārtha wrote that the Mahāsāṃghikas revere the sūtras that teach the Buddha-nature doctrine.[7]


A complete Sanskrit version of this text is no longer extant,[8] but extensive quotations are found in the Sanskrit text of the Ratnagotravibhāga as well as some recently discovered fragments conserved in the Schøyen Collection.

Translations into Asian languages


The Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra was translated to Chinese in 436 CE by Guṇabhadra (394-468) and later by Bodhiruci (672-727).[1]

Korean and Japanese

The text was translated into Korean and Japanese.


The text was translated into Tibetan with the title: ལྷ་མོ་དཔལ་ཕྲེང་གི་སེང་གེའི་སྒྲའི་མདོ། (lha mo dpal phreng gi seng ge'i sgra'i mdo; The Lion's Roar of Śrīmālādevī). This version has yet been translated into English.[9]

Translations into the English language

The following translations are available in English:

  • Alex & Hideko Wayman (2007). Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala: A Buddhist Scripture on the Tathagatagabha theory. Motilal Banarsidass. (Based on avaialable Chinese, Japanase and Tibetan texts, as well as Sanskrit fragments.)
  • Diana Y. Paul (2004), The Sutra of Queen Srimala of the Lion's Roar, in The Sutra of Queen Śrīmālā of the Lion's Roar and The Vimalakīrti Sutra. BDK America.


The Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra teaches the reality of an ultimate, immaculate consciousness within each living being, which is the Buddhic "Dharmakāya" (essence of Truth), which is temporarily obscured by the kleshas. This Dharmakāya, when viewed as intrinsically free from spiritual ignorance, is said to constitute eternity, bliss, the self, and purity in their perfect state. The use of the word "self" in this sutra is in a way unique to this class of sutra. The great Queen Śrīmālā, who according to this text is empowered by the Buddha to teach the Dharma, affirms:[10]

[T]he Dharmakāya of the Buddha has the perfection of permanence, the perfection of pleasure, the perfection of self, the perfection of purity. Whatever sentient beings see the Dharmakāya of the Tathagāta that way, see correctly. Whoever see correctly are called the sons of the Lord born from his heart, born from his mouth, born from the Dharma, who behave as manifestation of Dharma and as heirs of Dharma.

The scripture, which was extremely influential by way of clarification of the Tathagātagarbha view of Śūnyatā, insists that the ultimately correct understanding of emptiness is that the Tathāgatagarbha is empty of all knowledge that is not liberation, whereas, in contrast, the qualities which characterise a Buddha are not empty of inconceivable virtues. An alternative title offered by the Buddha for this sutra expresses this idea of an ultimate meaning to the emptiness doctrine: "The True Revelation of the Buddha's Intention when Teaching Emptiness."

The sūtra has, furthermore, significantly contributed to the Mahāyāna notion of the permanent, steadfast and eternal Tathagātagarbha, which is nothing less than the perfect Dharmakāya temporarily concealed by (ultimately unreal) mental contaminants.

There is some debate as to whether or not the Tathagātagarbha constitutes true self or not, although that perfect self is nowhere denied in the sutra, but affirmed.[citation needed]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 McRae 2004, p. 5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Brown 2010, p. 3.
  3. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Śrīmālādevīsiṃhanādasūtra
  4. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Śrīmālādevīsiṃhanādasūtra
  5. Barber 2008, pp. 153-154.
  6. Barber 2008, pp. 155-156.
  7. Hodge 2006.
  8. Tola 2004, p. xiii.
  9. 84000.png The Lion's Roar of Śrīmālādevī
  10. Wayman 1990, p. 102.



  • Paul, Diana (1979). 'The Concept of Tathāgatagarbha in the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra (Sheng-Man Ching)'. Journal of the American Oriental Society 99 (2), 191–203
  • Mark Dennis (trans.). Prince Shōtoku's Commentary on the Śrīmālā-sūtra, Berkeley, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research 2011. ISBN 978-1-886439-43-6
  • King, Richard (1995). Is "Buddha-Nature" Buddhist? Doctrinal Tensions in the Śrīmālā Sūtra: An Early Tathāgatagarbha Text, Numen 42 (1), 1-20

External links

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