Gandavyuha

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Gandavyuha (Skt. Gaṇḍavyūha; T. Sdong po bkod pa; C. Dafangguang fo huayan jing; J. Daihōkō butsu kegongyō; K. Taebanggwang pul hwaŏm kyŏng 大方廣佛華嚴經), also Gandavyuha Sutra. Translated as "The Excellent Manifestation Sūtra" or “Multivalent Array Sutra”.[1]

Scholars believe that the text was composed in India roughly c. 200 to 300 CE,[2] and was later added as the final chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Within the Avatamsaka Sutra, this chapter is known as "Entrance into the Dharma Realm"[3] or "Entering the Dharmadhatu".[4]

The Gandavyuha depicts the spiritual pilgrimage of Sudhana, in his search for enlightenment. The text has been described as the "Sudhana's quest for the ultimate truth", as Sudhana encounters various teachings and Bodhisattvas until he reaches the end of his journey and awakens to teachings of the Buddha.

Overview

Sudhana learning from one of the fifty-two teachers along his journey toward enlightenment. Sanskrit manuscript, 11-12th century.

In his quest for enlightenment, Sudhana converses with a diverse group of 52 kalyāṇa-mittatā (wise advisors), 20 of whom are female, including an enlightened prostitute named Vasumitrā,[5] Gautama Buddha's wife and his mother, a queen, a princess and several goddesses. Male sages include a slave, a child, a physician, and a ship's captain.[6] Near the end of his journey, Sudhana meets Maitreya; here he encounters the Tower of Maitreya, which — along with Indra's net – is a most startling metaphor for the infinite:

In the middle of the great tower... he saw the billion-world universe... and everywhere there was Sudhana at his feet... Thus Sudhana saw Maitreya's practices of... transcendence over countless eons (kalpa), from each of the squares of the check board wall... In the same way Sudhana... saw the whole supernal manifestation, was perfectly aware of it, understood it, contemplated it, used it as a means, beheld it, and saw himself there.[7]

The penultimate master that Sudhana visits is the Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, the bodhisattva of great wisdom. The final master that Sudhana visits is the bodhisattva Samantabhadra, who teaches him that wisdom only exists for the sake of putting it into practice; that it is only good insofar as it benefits all living beings. Samantabhadra concludes with a prayer of aspiration to buddhahood, which is recited by those who practice according to Atiśa's Bodhipathapradīpa, the foundation of the lamrim textual traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.[8][9][10]

References

  1. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Buswell & Lopez 2014, Gaṇḍavyūha
  2. Osto, Douglas. The Gaṇḍavyūha-sūtra: a study of wealth, gender and power in an Indian Buddhist Narrative, 2004, pg 60
  3. Osto, pg 29 (regarding Buddhabhadra's Chinese translation)
  4. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Buswell & Lopez 2014, Gaṇḍavyūha
  5. Doniger, Wendy (January 1999). Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Merriam-Webster. p. 365. ISBN 978-0-87779-044-0. 
  6. Fontein, Jan (1967). The pilgrimage of Sudhana: a study of Gandavyuha illustrations. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-156269-8. 
  7. Cleary, Thomas. The Flower Ornament Scripture 3, Entry into the Realm of Reality / Transl. by Thomas Cleary. Boulder: Shambhala, 1987, p. 369.
  8. "samantabhadracaryāpraṇidhānam". Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  9. "bhadracarīpraṇidhānastotram". Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon. 
  10. Lung, Jang. "King of Prayers" (PDF). Kalachakranet. Retrieved 1 June 2013.