Samadhiraja Sutra

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The Samādhirāja Sūtra (T. ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་གྱི་རྒྱལ་པོའི་མདོ་ ting nge 'dzin gyi rgyal po'i mdo) or Candrapradīpa Sūtra (T. ཟླ་བ་སྒྲོན་མེའི་མདོ་ zla ba sgron me'i mdo) is an early mahayana sutra that is frequently cited in Madhyamaka treatises, as well as teachings on Mahamudra.


Contemporary translator Peter Alan Roberts states:

This sūtra, much quoted in later Buddhist writings for its profound statements especially on the nature of emptiness, relates a long teaching given by the Buddha mainly in response to questions put by a young layman, Candraprabha. The samādhi that is the subject of the sūtra, in spite of its name, primarily consists of various aspects of conduct, motivation, and the understanding of emptiness; it is also a way of referring to the sūtra itself. The teaching given in the sūtra is the instruction to be dedicated to the possession and promulgation of the samādhi, and to the necessary conduct of a bodhisattva, which is exemplified by a number of accounts from the Buddha’s previous lives. Most of the teaching takes place on Vulture Peak Mountain, with an interlude recounting the Buddha’s invitation and visit to Candraprabha’s home in Rājagṛha, where he continues to teach Candraprabha before returning to Vulture Peak Mountain. In one subsequent chapter the Buddha responds to a request by Ānanda, and the text concludes with a commitment by Ānanda to maintain this teaching in the future.[1]

Name and etymology

Commonly known as the King of Samadhi Sutra (Samādhirājasūtra, Tib. ting nge 'dzin gyi rgyal po'i mdo), it is also known as the Moon Lamp Sutra (Skt. Candrapradīpa Sutra, Tib. zla ba sgron me’i mdo).[2]

The full Tibetan title in the Kanjur is 'Phags-pa chos thams-cad kyi rang-bzhin mnyam-pa-nyid rnam-par spros-pa ting-nge-'dzin gyi rgyal-po zhes byaba theg-pa chen-po'i mdo. This corresponds to Sarva-dharmasvabhavā-samatā-vipancita-samādhirāja-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra, which is the Sanskrit title given in the sutra itself. The Chinese have preferred Yueh-teng san-mei ching, corresponding to *Candrapradīpa-samādhisūtra.[3]

Historical significance

Scholars Gomez and Silk write, "Although it is questionable how much the sutra itself was read in Tibet, it is often cited in Tibetan philosophical literature, probably mostly on the basis of quotations found in Indian texts. The sutra seems to have had a less glorious history in the Far East, where it was translated several times but was seldom quoted. It is not part of any of the sutra collections within the Tibetan and Chinese Canons, though it is found as an independent text in both. In Nepal the Samādhirāja Sūtra was counted as one of the 'Nine Dharmas,' a set of texts so highly revered that its manuscripts were used as objects of worship."[4]

Translations, versions, editions and recensions

The Samādhirāja Sūtra is forty chapters long.


The Tibetan translation is located in the ninth volume (leaves 1-273) of mDo (unknown which edition of the Kangyur). The Indian translators (Tibetan: lotsawa) were Śilendrabodhi and Dharmatāśīla, who both lived in the 9th century CE.


There are three Chinese translations (三摩地王经). Only one of the three Chinese translations is complete. The complete translation was made by Narendrayaśa of the Northern Tshi dynasty in 557 CE. Of the incomplete translations, one was made by Shih-sien-kuṇ of the earlier Suṇ dynasty in CE 420-479.


  • 84000.png The King of Samādhis Sūtra
  • The first four chapters have been translated by Luis O. Gomez and Jonathan A. Silk.[5]
  • The fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth chapters were translated by John Rockwell in an MA thesis at Naropa Institute.[6]
  • The eleventh chapter was translated by Mark Tatz in his MA thesis at the University of Washington (1972).
  • The eight, nineteenth and twenty-second chapters were translated by Konstanty Regamey.[7]
  • Thrangu Rinpoche has published an extensive commentary on this sutra.[8]


Full Devanagari along with English summary of chapters:[9]


Dudjom Rinpoche (1904–1987), a prominent Nyingma lama, quotes the Samādhirāja Sūtra:

In thousands of world systems
The sūtras which I have explained
Differ in words and syllables but have the same meaning.
It is impossible to express them all,
But if one meditates deeply on a single word,
One comes to meditate on them all.
All the buddhas, as many as there are,
Have abundantly explained phenomena.
But if those skilled in meaning
Were to study only the phrase:
All things are emptiness
The doctrine of the Buddha would not be scarce.[10]

Scholar Regamey translates a passage from the Samadhiraja Sutra discussing the Dharmakaya:

...the Body of the Tathagata [i.e. Buddha] should be defined as … having its essence identical with Space, invisible, surpassing the range of vision – thus is the Absolute Body to be conceived. Inconceivable, surpassing the sphere of thought, not oscillating between bliss and suffering, surpassing the illusory differentiation, placeless, surpassing the voice of those aspiring to the Knowledge of Buddhi, essential, surpassing passions, indivisible, surpassing hatred, steadfast, surpassing infatuation, explained by the indications of emptiness, unborn, surpassing birth, eternal from the standpoint of common experience, undifferentiated in the aspect of Nirvana, described in words as ineffable, quiescent in voice, homogenous with regard to conventional Truth, conventional with regard to the Absolute Truth – Absolute according to the true teaching.[11]

Shantideva and Chandrakirti quoted from the Samadhiraja Sutra in the Śikṣāsamuccaya and the Mādhyamika-vṛtti, respectively.


  1. 84000.png The King of Samādhis Sūtra
  2. Pearcey, Adam (2005). A Mini Modern Mahāvyutpatti: A Glossary of Tibetan-Sanskrit Terms for Translators. Third Edition. Lotsawa School Source: [1][dead link] (accessed: Wednesday April 29, 2009), p.17
  3. Luis O. Gomez and Jonathan A. Silk, Studies in the Literature of the Great Vehicle: Three Mahayana Buddhist Texts. Ann Arbor 1989 pgs 15
  4. Luis O. Gomez and Jonathan A. Silk, Studies in the Literature of the Great Vehicle: Three Mahayana Buddhist Texts. Ann Arbor 1989 pg 11
  5. Luis O. Gomez and Jonathan A. Silk, Studies in the Literature of the Great Vehicle: Three Mahayana Buddhist Texts. Ann Arbor 1989 pgs 11-88
  6. "Samadhi And Patient Acceptance Four Chapters of the Samadhiraja-Sutra" Translated From The Sanskrit And Tibetan by John Rockwell, Jr.
  7. Philosophy of the Samādhirājasūtra by Konstanty Regamey, Motilal Banarsidass, 1990
  8. King of Samadhi. Boudhanath, Nepal: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1994
  9. Dutt, Nalinaksha, Litt, D., editors (1941). Gilgit Manuscripts Vol. II , Calcutta Oriental Press.
  10. Dorje, Jikdrel Yeshe (Dudjom Rinpoche, author), & translated and edited: Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (1991). The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History. Boston, USA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-199-8, p.318.
  11. Regamey, Constantin (1938), Philosophy in the Samadhirajasutra, Nakładem Towarzystwa Naukowego Warszawskiego. Reprint: Motilal Banarsidass, 1990, pp. 86-88

Further reading

  • Bennett, A.A.G. (1968). "Excerpts from the Samadhiraja-Sutra", The Maha Bodhi 77, Calcutta 1958, 295-298
  • Cüppers, Christopher (1990). The IXth Chapter of the Samadhirajasutra. Stuttgart
  • Gomez, L.O. and J.A. Silk, eds (1989). "The Sutra of the King of Samādhis, Chapters I-IV." Studies in the Literature of the Great Vehicle, University of Michigan
  • Hartmann, Jens-Uwe (1996). "A note on a newly-identified palm-leaf manuscript of the Samadhirajasutra", Indo-Iranian Journal 39, 105-109
  • Rockwell Jr., John (1980). Samadhi and Patient Acceptance: Four Chapters of the Samadhiraja-sutra. translated from the Sanskrit and Tibetan. M.A.Thesis, The Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado
  • Skilton, Andrew T. (1999). "Dating the Samadhiraja Sutra." Journal of Indian Philosophy 27, 635-652
  • Skilton, Andrew T. (2000). "The Gilgit Manuscript of the Samadhiraja Sutra." Central Asiatic Journal 44, 67-86
  • Skilton, Andrew T. (1999). '"Four Recensions of the Samadhiraja Sutra." Indo-Iranian Journal 42, 335-336
  • Skilton, Andrew T. (?). "Samadhirajasutra", MonSC 2, 97-178
  • Skilton, Andrew T. (2002). "State or statement? Samadhi in some early Mahayana Sutras", The Eastern Buddhist 34.2, 51-93
  • Tatz, Mark (1972). Revelation in Madhyamika Buddhism. M.A.Thesis, University of Washington.
  • Thrangu Rinpoche (2004). King of Samadhi: Commentaries on the Samadhi Raja Sutra and the Song of Lodrö Thaye. North Atlantic Books: ISBN 962-7341-19-3

External links

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