Cover of The Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi Sutra
BDK America
Publish Date: 
Rolf W. Giebel


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This fundamental sūtra of Esoteric Buddhism discusses philosophy and practice, dealing as it does with both doctrinal and ritual aspects. It is often studied with the other fundamental sutra of Esoteric Buddhism, The Adamantine Pinnacle Sutra, also available from BDK in the volume Two Esoteric Sutras.

Fundamental sutra of Esoteric Buddhism


Taishō 848

Volume 18

The Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi Sutra

The Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi Sutra is one of the basic sūtras of Esoteric Buddhism. It is generally known as the Mahāvairocana-sūtra and is considered to have been composed in western India around the middle of the seventh century C.E. It consists of 36 chapters, dealing with both the doctrinal aspects of Esoteric Buddhism and its practical side, describing as it does the procedure for various rituals. The Mahākaruṇāgarbhodbhava-maṇḍala (Maṇḍala Born from the Womb of Great Compassion) is based on this sūtra, and is so called because it represents pictorially the essence of a buddha, the spirit of which is compared to the compassion enveloping an embryo in a mother’s womb.

Skt. Mahāvairocanābhisambodhi-vikurvitādhiṣṭhāna-vaipulyasūtrendra- rājanāma-dharmaparyāya. Translated into the Chinese by Śubhakarasiṃha and I-hsing as Da Biluzhena chengfo shenbian jiachi jing (大毘盧遮那成佛神變加持經). 7 fascicles.

Table of Contents

A Message on the Publication of the English Tripiṭaka    NUMATA Yehan    v
Editorial Foreword    MAYEDA Sengaku    vii
Publisher’s Foreword    Francis H. Cook    ix
Translator’s Introduction    Rolf W. Giebel    xiii

The Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi Sutra

Fascicle One

Chapter I. The Stations of the Mind When Entering the Mantra Gateway 3
Chapter II. Full Accoutrements and Mantras for Entering the Maṇḍala 17

Fascicle Two

Chapter II (continued). Full Accoutrements and Mantras for Entering the Maṇḍala 39
Chapter III. The Quelling of Obstacles 55
Chapter IV. A Treasury of Mantras in Common Use 59

Fascicle Three

Chapter V. Mundane Accomplishment 69
Chapter VI. The Manifestation of Siddhi 71
Chapter VII. The Accomplishing of Siddhi 89
Chapter VIII. Maṇḍala Practices for the Revolving Wheel of Letters 93

Fascicle Four

Chapter IX. Mystic Seals 101

Fascicle Five

Chapter X. The Wheel of Letters 119
Chapter XI. The Secret Maṇḍala 123
Chapter XII. The Ritual for Entering the Secret Maṇḍala 145
Chapter XIII. Entry to the Station of the Secret Maṇḍala 147
Chapter XIV. The Eight Secret Seals 151
Chapter XV. The Prohibitory Precepts for Reciting Vidyās 155
Chapter XVI. The True Knowledge of the Ācārya 159
Chapter XVII. The Allocation of the Letters 163

Fascicle Six

Chapter XVIII. Receiving the Code of Training with Expedient Means 165
Chapter XIX. The Exposition of the Arising of the Hundred Letters 171
Chapter XX. Intercorrespondence with the Fruit of the Hundred Letters 173
Chapter XXI. The Accomplishment of the Station of the Hundred Letters 175
Chapter XXII. Recitation for the Accomplishment of the Hundred Letters 179
Chapter XXIII. The Mantra Method for the Hundred Letters 183
Chapter XXIV. The Exposition of the Nature of Bodhi 185
Chapter XXV. The Three Samayas 187
Chapter XXVI. The Exposition of “Tathāgata” 189
Chapter XXVII. The Mundane and Supramundane Homa Rituals 191
Chapter XXVIII. The Exposition of Deity Samādhi 197
Chapter XXIX. The Exposition of Samādhi without Characteristics 199
Chapter XXX. Mundane and Supramundane Recitation 201
Chapter XXXI. The Entrustment 203

Fascicle Seven

Chapter I. The Code of Training for Mantra Practice among the Procedural Rules for Worship 205
Chapter II. The Increasing and Guarding of Pure Conduct 211
Chapter III. The Worship Ritual 219
Chapter IV. The Rules for Recitation 233
Chapter V. Mantra Deeds 243

Notes 251
Bibliography 263

Glossary 265
Index 273
A List of the Volumes of the BDK English Tripiṭaka (First Series) 293