The Gandavyūha-sūtra


(Please note that the translation (unless otherwise noted) we are using in this series is the text by Thomas Cleary)

The Gathering

THUS HAVE I HEARD. At one time the Blessed One was in Sravasti, in a magnificent pavilion in the garden of Anathapindada in the Jeta grove, together with five thousand enlightening beings, led by Samantabhadra, the universally good enlightening being, and Manjushri. 

in Sravasti, in a magnificent pavilion in the garden of Anathapindada in the Jeta grove: For description see the following from our Diamond Sutra series. It’s interesting to note that although most of the ensuing imagery is of a transcendent character, this actual mundane location indicates, in sync with the larger Avatamsaka, the all-encompassing Universal Location of the Dharmadhātu.

Samantabhadra, the universally good enlightening being, and Manjushri:


From The Vows of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra

The following are the names of the exalted Bodhisattvas present in the assembly. Each one is of a particularly resplendent character that I found it impossible not to include them all. Seeing these names can actually strike a most profound meditational reverie, yea they all convey elements of enlightened activity itself.

The names were Endowed with Perspicacious Knowledge, Endowed with Essential Knowledge, Endowed with Unattached Knowledge, Endowed with Blossoming Knowledge, Endowed with Sunlike Knowledge, Endowed with Moonlike Knowledge, Endowed with Undefiled Knowledge, Endowed with Adamantine Knowledge, Endowed with Unemotional Knowledge, Endowed with Radiant Knowledge, Starlike, Mountainlike, Jewellike, Unattached, Flowerlike, Undefiled, Sunlike, Resplendent, Dispassionate, Radiant, Jewel Energy, Great Energy, Knowledge Thunderbolt Energy, Undefiled Energy, Energy of the Sun of Truth, Virtue Mountain Energy, Energy of the Light of Knowledge, Universal Glorious Energy, Universal Light Energy, Earth Matrix, Sky Matrix, Lotus Calyx, Jewel Matrix, Sun Matrix, Matrix of Virtues, Matrix of the Ocean of Truths, Matrix of Radiance, Matrix of Origination, Matrix of Lotus Splendor, Good Eye, Pure Eye, Undefiled Eye,Unobstructed Eye, All-Seeing Eye, Perceptive Eye, Observant Eye, LotusEye, Adamantine Eye, Jewel Eye, Space Eye, Universal Eye, CelestialCrown, Crown of Jewels Which Give Birth to All Buddhas, Crown Beyond All Worlds, All-Illumining Crown, Invincible Crown, Crown of Jewels Illuminating All Things in the Cosmos, Crown of the Essence of Enlightenment, Radiant Crown, Crown of Jewels Inset with the Lion Thrones of All Buddhas, Crown Illuminating the Space of the Whole Cosmos, Crest of Lord Brahma, Crest of the Lord of Dragons, Crest of Lights Emanated by All Buddhas, Crest of the Essence of Enlightenment, Crest of Most Excellent Jewels of the Sound of the Ocean of All Vows, Crest of a Spew of Jewels Emanating the Halos of All Buddhas, Crest Adorned with Jewels Showing the Nondifferentiation of All Surfaces of Space, Crest Covered with a Net of the Finest Jewels Representing the Lights Magically Produced by All Buddhas, Crest of Sounds of the Wheel of Teaching of All Buddhas, Crest Uttering the Names of Everything in Past, Present, and Future, Great Light, Undefiled Light, Light of Undefiled Energy, Jewel Light, Dispassionate Light, Star Light, Light of Truth, Light of Peace, Sun Light, Magical Light, Celestial Light, Torch of Virtue, Torch of Knowledge, Torch of Truth, Torch of Superknowledge, Torch of Light, Flower Torch, Torch of Enlightenment, Torch of Brahma, Torch of Universal Illumination, Jewel Torch, Brahma Sound, Ocean Sound, Earth Roaring Sound, Voice of a World Leader, Sound of Mountains Colliding, Voice Pervading All Universes, Sound Emitted by the Ocean of All Universes, Sound of Crushing All Armies of Demons, Sound Emitted by All Didactic Devices of Great Compassion, Sound of Stopping the Sufferings of All Worlds and Giving Comfort, Born of Truth, Born of Excellence, Born of Knowledge, Born of a Polar Mountain of Virtue, Born of Radiance of Virtues, Born of Splendor, Born of Universal Illumination, Born of Great Kindness, Born of a Store of Knowledge, Born of the Family of Buddhas, Glowing Splendor, Preeminent Splendor, Exalted Splendor, Radiant Splendor, Splendor of Truth, Splendor of the Moon, Splendor of the Sky, Jewel Splendor, Splendor of Brilliance, Splendor of Knowledge, Mountain Lord, Lord of Truth, Lord of the World, Lord Brahma, Lord of the Masses, Lord of Gods, Lord of Peace, Immutable Lord, Mighty Lord, Eminent Lord, Supremely Tranquil Voice, Unobstructed Voice, Voice of Earth, Voice of the Ocean, Voice of Thunder, Voice of the Light of Truth, Voice of Space, Voice of the Roots of Goodness of All Beings, Voice of Encouragement of All Past Vows, Jewel Awareness, Knowing Awareness, Spacelike Awareness, Unattached Awareness, Undefiled Awareness, Purified Awareness, Awareness of All Times, Powerful Awareness, All-Observing Awareness, Awareness of Ways to the’Reality Realm.

The following depicts the supernal accomplishments of all these Bodhi-Beings. As stated in earlier series “They have effectively transcended the effects of any outflows from the phenomenal realm; hence they are beyond the three realms of desire, form, as well as the formless realms. They are no longer influenced by the karmadhatu and are now “dwellers in the Realm of Dharmadhatu”. Their whole being is now exclusively devoted to the Buddhadharma; their manomakaya bodies are able to transport to and fro through sundry Buddhafields and in so doing are quite capable of displaying the “awesome deportment”, or the Great Bearing of Noble Wisdom.”  

Beginning with these, there were five thousand great enlightening beings, all of whom had undertaken the acts and vows of universally good enlightening beings and were unhindered in their sphere of action, pervading all buddha-lands. They manifested boundless bodies, going to all buddhas. The sphere of their unobstructed eye was pure, seeing the miracles of all buddhas. They had attained to infinity in revelations, ceaselessly approaching the entries into enlightenment of all buddhas. Their illumination was measureless, having attained the light of knowledge of principles and didactic devices of the ocean of teachings of all buddhas. They could explain virtues forever, through purity of intellectual powers. They were unfettered in the purity of the realm of knowledge vaster than space, being able to appear in the world in any physical form they wished. They were clear-sighted, knowing the realm of beings to be void of beings or souls. They had spacelike knowledge, pervading all universes with a net of lights. There were also five hundred hearers with great spiritual powers, all of them perfectly aware of the essence of true reason and the principles of truth. They had arrived at direct witness of the limit of reality, had penetrated the nature of phenomena, had gotten out of the ocean of existence and into the realm of space of those who have arrived at suchness, had stopped their propensities and habits and were beyond regression, dwelled in the abode of nonattachment and nonobstruction, were in a state as tranquil as space, had cut off all doubt in Buddha, and had entered the path intent on the ocean of buddha-knowledge.  

There were also world rulers, who had served past buddhas, who had accomplished the welfare and happiness of all beings, who were unsolicited benefactors, who had accomplished the protection of others, who had entered into the bliss of the highest knowledge in the world, who were never indifferent toward sentient beings, who issued from the realm of the buddha-teaching, who had accomplished the preservation of the buddhateaching, who vowed to sustain the lineage of buddhas, who were oriented toward birth in the family of buddhas, who sought omniscient knowledge.  

Another all-inclusive detail of the multitudinous nature of the assembly, one that includes not only Bodhi-Beings but other sentient wayfarers on the road to direct realization of Noble Wisdom. As such, they too, are welcomed sojourners through the Dharmadhātu.

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