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Ratnakuta Sutra

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Ratnakuta Sutra (Skt. Ratnakūṭasūtra; T. Dkon mchog brtsegs pa’i mdo དཀོན་མཆོག་བརྩེགས་པ་; C. Dabaoji jing; J. Daihōshakukyō; K. Taebojŏk kyŏng 大寶積經) or Heap of Jewels Sutra, is a collection of 49 sutras that is included in both the Chinese and Tibetan canons.[1]

The the majority of texts in this collection are Mahāyāna sūtras that deal with themes such as emptiness, compassion, wisdom, and the bodhisattva's path. The collection also includes texts on a variety of other topics.[2]

Although the whole collection is labelled a "sutra," its "component texts or chapters are explicitly presented as independent works. Many of them are individually cited in the treatises of the great Indian masters and are known to have circulated as sūtras in their own right; only five are still extant in Sanskrit."[2]

The name of the collection

The full Sanskrit title for this collection is Mahāratnakūṭasūtra, which is translated as “the Sūtra of the Great Heap of Jewels.”

84000 translation group states:

Although the name Ratnakūṭa (“heap of jewels” or, more exactly, “piled-up jewels”) seems quite appropriate for such a compilation of precious scriptural works, it is in fact the name by which just one of the texts in the collection, the Kāśyapaparivarta (Toh 87) was originally known, and seems to have been applied to the whole collection only later. Citations from a Ratnakūṭasūtra in works by Asaṅga, Śāntideva, and other authors all refer to the Kāśyapaparivarta, which is sometimes therefore designated the “old” Ratnakūṭa.[2]


Regarding the history of the collection, the 84000 translation group states:

The history of the Heap of Jewels remains unclear. Tibetan historical tradition, as mentioned briefly in the Degé Kangyur catalogue and recounted more fully by Tāranātha, tells us that the originally much larger collection (with a thousand chapters, or even the hundred thousand of the full title) was reduced to its current forty-nine texts by an arson attack on the library at Nālandā. The date of this event, said to have been responsible for the decimation of many other scriptures, too (including the Buddhāvataṃsaka), is placed some time before the lives of Asaṅga and Vasubandhu, along with accounts of other calamitous episodes during a period of political turbulence and unstable patronage for Buddhist institutions in India.
According to modern historical methods, while the Heap of Jewel's component texts can be traced back in some cases to dates early in the appearance of Mahāyāna texts, evidence that the collection as a whole existed in India (i.e. before it appeared in China) is present but sparse. The earliest mention of it is in the Daśabhūmikavibhāṣa, attributed to Nāgārjuna and translated into Chinese by Kumārajīva in the early 5th century. The 6th century Gandhāran translator Jñānagupta seems to have spoken of it, and the famous Chinese traveler Xuanzang was asked to translate it in 664, although he only made a start. It was Bodhiruci who collected and translated it into Chinese in the first decade of the 8th century, using 23 texts already circulating in Chinese and adding 26 new translations of his own; it is reasonable to assume that he was using an Indian (or perhaps central Asian) prototype. The Tibetan collection follows the Chinese closely in structure and composition, but most of the texts were evidently translated directly from Sanskrit originals (with a few exceptions, namely Toh 51, 57, 58, and 84, which are known to have been translated from the Chinese). The Tibetan translation is mentioned with a full list of its present component texts in the early 9th century Denkarma catalogue, though surprisingly the other early inventory, the Pangthangma (which is thought to be of a slightly later date) lists only nine works under that heading (the other forty being listed in more general size-ranked categories), and the Mahāvyutpatti names some of the Ratnakūṭa sūtras without any mention of the collection’s name.[2]

Contemporary scholar Jonathan Silk has identified 10 sutras in the Tibetan canon's Ratnakuta that are likely to be translations from Chinese sources.[3] This list includes, for example, raśmisamantamuktanirdeśasūtra (Toh 55) and vidyutprāptaparipṛcchāsūtra (Toh 64).[4]


The the majority of texts in this collection are Mahāyāna sūtras that deal with themes such as emptiness, compassion, wisdom, and the bodhisattva's path. The collection also includes texts on a variety of other topics.[2]

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism states:

Many of the texts embedded in the collection are seminal to the Mahāyāna tradition. In this collection, we find treated such influential figures as the buddhas Amitabha and Akshobya, the bodhisattva Manjusri, and the arhat Mahakasyapa. Its Kāśyapaparivarta chapter was widely cited in Madhyamaka treatises[5].

The collection also contains, for example:

"The very variety of its works suggests that it may have been deliberately compiled as an anthology representing many topics."[2]

List of sutras

The 49 sutras within the Ratnakuta Sutra are:[8][9][10]

  1. Explaining the Three Vows
    T. sdom pa gsum bstan pa'i le'u
    Toh 45
  2. Teaching the Purification of Boundless Gateways
    Toh 46
    84000.png English translation: toh 46, 84000 Reading Room
  3. The Teaching on the Unfathomable Secrets of the Tathāgatas
    a.k.a Tathāgataguhyaka Sūtra
    Toh 47
    84000.png Translation
  4. Discourse on Dreams
    Toh 48
  5. Array of Amitābha
    a.k.a. Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra
    Skt. amitābhavyūhasūtra [alt. sukhāvatī-vyūha]; T. 'od dpag med kyi bkod pa'i mdo
    Toh 49
  6. Array of the Tathāgata Akṣobhya
    Toh 50
  7. The Teaching of the Armor Array
    Skt. Varma-vyūha-nirdeśa
    Toh 51
    84000.png Translation
  8. The Teaching on the Indivisible Nature of the Realm of Phenomena
    Skt. Dharmadhātu-prakṛty-asambheda-nirdeśa
    Toh 52
    84000.png Translation
  9. The Ten Dharmas
    Skt. Daśadharmaka
    Toh 53
  10. The Exposition on the Universal Gateway
    Toh 54
    84000.png Translation
  11. The Teaching on the Effulgence of Light
    Toh 55
    84000.png Translation
  12. The Bodhisattva’s Scriptural Collection
    a.k.a. Bodhisattvapiṭaka Sūtra
    Skt. Bodhisattva-piṭaka
    Toh 56
  13. The Teaching to Nanda on Entering the Womb
    a.k.a Garbhāvakrānti-sūtra
    Skt. nandagarbhāvakrāntinirdeśa [alt. āryanandagarbhāvakrāntinirdeśa]
    Toh 57
  14. The Teaching to Venerable Nanda on Entry into the Womb
    a.k.a. Garbhāvakrānti-sūtra
    Skt. Āyuṣmannanda­garbhāvakrānti­nirdeśa [alt. Nanda-garbhāvakrānti-nirdeśa]
    Toh 58
    84000.png Translation
  15. The Array of Virtues of Mañjuśrī’s Buddha Realm
    Toh 59
    84000.png Translation
  16. The Meeting of Father and Son
    Toh 60
  17. The Questions of Pūrṇa
    Toh 61
    84000.png Translation
  18. The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla
    Skt. Rāṣṭrapāla-paripṛcchā
    Toh 62
    84000.png Translation
  19. The Sūtra of Ugra's Questions
    Skt. ugraparipṛcchāsūtra [alt. Gṛhapaty-Ugra-paripṛcchā]
    Toh 63
  20. The Sūtra of Vidyutprāpta's Questions
    Skt. Vidyutprāpta-paripṛcchā
    Toh 64
  21. The Prophecy for Bhadra the Illusionist
    Skt. Bhadramāyākāra-vyākaraṇa
    Toh 65
    84000.png Translation
  22. The Teaching of the Great Magical Display
    Skt. mahāpratihāryopadeśasūtra [alt. Mahā-prātihārya-nirdeśa]
    Toh 66
  23. The Great Lion’s Roar of Maitreya
    Skt. Maitreya-mahāsiṁhanāda
    Toh 67
    84000.png Translation
  24. Ascertaining the Vinaya: Upāli’s Questions
    Skt. Vinaya-viniścayopāli-paripṛcchā [alt. Upāli-paripṛcchā]
    Toh 68
    84000.png Translation
  25. Inspiring Determination
    Skt. Adhyāśaya-saṁcodana
    Toh 69
    84000.png Translation
  26. The Sūtra of the Question of Subāhu
    Skt. Subāhu-paripṛcchā
    Toh 70
    84000.png Translation
  27. Surata’s Questions
    Skt. Surata-paripṛcchā
    Toh 71
    84000.png Translation
  28. The Questions of the Householder Vīradatta
    Skt. Vīradatta-gṛhapati-paripṛcchā
    Toh 72
    84000.png Translation
  29. The Sūtra of the Questions of Udayana, King of Vatsa
    Skt. Udayanavatsarāja-paripṛcchā
    Toh 73
    84000.png Translation
  30. The Sūtra of the Girl Sumati's Questions
    Skt. Sumatidārikā-paripṛcchā
    Toh 74
  31. The Questions of Gaṅgottarā
    Skt. Gaṅgottarā-paripṛcchā
    Toh 75
    84000.png Translation
  32. The Sūtra of Aśokadatta's Prophecy
    Skt. Aśokadatta-vyākaraṇa
    Toh 76
  33. The Sūtra of Vimaladatta's Questions
    Skt. Vimaladattā-paripṛcchā
    Toh 77
  34. The Questions of Guṇaratnasaṅkusumita
    Skt. Guṇaratnasaṁkusumita-paripṛcchā
    Toh 78
    84000.png Translation
  35. The Sūtra Teaching the Unfathomable Sphere of a Buddha
    Skt. Acintyabuddhaviṣaya-nirdeśa
    Toh 79
  36. The Sūtra of the Devaputra Susthitamati's Questions
    Skt. Susthitamati-devaputra-paripṛcchā
    Toh 80
  37. Simha's Questions
    Toh 81
    84000.png Translation
  38. The Sūtra of the Chapter of the Bodhisattva Jñānottara's Questions
    Skt. jñānottarabodhisattva­paripṛcchāparivartasūtra [alt. Upāyakauśalya-jñānottara-bodhisattva-paripṛcchā]
    Toh 82
  39. The Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant
    Skt. Bhadrapāla-śreṣṭhi-paripṛcchā
    Toh 83
    84000.png Translation
  40. The Questions of the Girl Vimalaśraddhā
    Skt. Dārikā-vimalaśuddha-paripṛcchā
    Toh 84
    84000.png Translation
  41. The Question of Maitreya (1)
    Toh 85
    84000.png Translation
  42. The Question of Maitreya (2) on the Eight Qualities
    Skt. Maitreya­paripṛcchā­dharmāṣṭa
    Toh 86
    84000.png Translation
  43. The Discourse for Kāśyapa
    a.k.a. Kāśyapaparivarta
    Toh 87
  44. The Mass of Jewels
    Toh 88
  45. The Sūtra of Akṣayamati's Questions
    Toh 89
  46. The Perfection of Wisdom in Seven Hundred Lines
    saptaśatikāprajñāpāramitā [alt. Saptaśatikā-nāma-prajñāpāramitā]
    Toh 90
  47. The Sūtra of Ratnacūḍa's Questions
    Toh 91
  48. The Lion's Roar of Śrīmālādevī
    a.k.a. Śrīmālā-devī-siṁhanāda
    Toh 92
  49. The Seer Vyāsa’s Questions
    Toh 93
    84000.png Translation


Many of the sutras in this collection have been translated, or are currently being translated, by the 84000 translation group. See:


  1. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Ratnakūṭasūtra
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 84000.png Heap of Jewels
  3. Silk 2019, p. 230.
  4. Silk 2019, pp. 239,232.
  5. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Ratnakūṭasūtra
  6. Kritzer 2013, p. 738.
  7. Kritzer, 2022
  8. 84000.png Heap of Jewels
  9. "OpenPhilology | Texts". OpenPhilology. Retrieved 2021-12-24. 
  10. Toh refers to a catalog number commonly used within the Tibetan Canon


Further reading

  • Book icoline.svg Nattier, Jan (2003), A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path According to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugraparipṛcchā): A Study and Translation, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 0824826078 
  • G.C. Chang (ed.), A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, Pennsylvania State University, 1983
  • Pedersen, K. Priscilla, “Notes on the Ratnakūṭa collection,” JIABS vol. 3 no. 2, 60-67 (1980).
  • Tāranātha, dam pa’i chos rin po che ’phags pa’i yul du ji ltar dar ba’i tshul gsal bar ston pa dgos ’dod kun ’byung (rgya gar chos ’byung, from Degé xylographs), Tezu, A.P., India: Tibetan Nyingma Monastery (1974), ff. 47a-48b. Translation in Chimpa, L. et al. (trans.), Tāranātha's History of Buddhism in India, Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press (1981), pp. 140-143.

External links