The sutra is also known as the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra and in its abbreviated form as Śrī-mālā-sūtra ; the original author is unknown. Scholars concur that it was written in the Andhra region of South India in the third-century A.D. and since its inception has greatly influenced Buddhist China, Korea and Japan. According to Alex Wayman the Queen in its title is referenced to the glorious garland (Śrīmālā) given to the main protagonist in the sutra by her mother, Mallikā, whose name means the daughter of the garland maker. All in all, though, the opening setting of the sutra that introduces her is half historical and half fictional. The central thrust of the sutra is that all sentient beings potentially have the Buddha-seed; this is reinforced through the dominant doctrines of the One-Vehicle and Its primary conduit of the Tathagatagarbha. Wayman states:
According to the Śrī-mālā, the “One Vehicle” (ekayāna) is the Great Vehicle (mahāyana) which incorporates all vehicles. The Śrī-mālā agrees with the Lotus Sutra that the “Great Vehicle” is the Buddha Vehicle which has discovered and taught all Buddha truth. Another important agreement with the Lotus Sutra is the application of the “One Vehicle” to the nirvāṇa doctrine. The two scriptures agree that there are also partial nirvāṇas which are shown by the Tathāgatas as a means for promoting persons spirituality. The Śrī-mālā takes the “embryo of the Tathāgata” (Tathāgatagarbha) as the basis of “One Vehicle”. That “embryo” potentially is not predestined to various enlightenments; rather all sentient beings arrive at identical enlightenment or nirvāṇa, because their “species” (gotra) is precisely that “embryo of the Tathāgata”. Accordingly, the theory of One Vehicle rivals the Prajñāpāramitā exegesis of radically different paths and fruits for the Disciples, the Self-Enlightened, and the Bodhisattvas. (The Lion’s roar of Queen Śrīmālā , A Buddhist Scripture on the Tathāgatagarbha Theory, Alex and Hideko Wayman, pg.37)
As is discerned, it is within the Sole Vehicle of the Tathagata-garbha that the bodhi-seed takes root and the developing gotra—the Bodhichild—comes to enjoy enlightenment in and through the Tathata-family. Eventually, as the sutra will reveal, it is through the Immaculate, or Alaya Consciousness of the developing garbhachild that will taste the very essence of truth [the Dharmakaya]. The Immaculate (in her spirit) Queen Śrī-mālā, through her dharma-teaching will reveal the following:
… the 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..
Alex Wayman’s translation divides the sutra into separate chapters. This is a fine-tunement of the concluding gathas in the epilogue. While his translation will be referred to when warranted, the primary translation will be from the version as set forth by the Buddhist Association of the United States. It flows rather nicely (as n.yeti would most likely say, in very “supple fashion”) and gives it the added dimension of poetic-verse.