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Escaping the inescapable: changes in Buddhist karma.


This article presents a study of the way the doctrine of karma changes over time. The particular feature of the karma doctrine that is explored is the inevitability of experiencing the consequences of actions. Part I of this article recaps some points from "Did King Ajatasattu Confess to the Buddha, and did the Buddha Forgive Him?" (Attwood Ajatasattu) and establishes that karma was absolutely inescapable during the period represented in the Pali Nikayas, which I take to cover the last half millennium B.C.E., and perhaps a century into the Common Era. Inescapability of karma remained a feature of Theravada thought through at least to Buddhaghosa in the Fifth century C.E.

Part II deals with the period from about 1000 B.C.E. to 500 B.C.E. and looks at the precedents of Buddhist karma, particularly the changes to Brahmanical eschatology that emerge in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad. Drawing on "Possible Iranian Origins of Sakyas and Aspects of Buddhism" (Attwood), Part II will outline a possible prehistory for karma and will explore the conjecture that Zoroastrian ideas influenced the development of the Buddhist theory of karma. Part II will also try to show why karma had to be inevitable to have moral force.

Part III will look at how karma changed in India during the first millennia C.E.. Developments in karma theory can be seen in the Sramanyaphala Sutra, the Siksasamuccaya of Santideva, and in the Sarvatathagata-tattvasamgraha (STTS). The Sramanyaphala is an early Buddhist text that has been edited by and/or for a Mahayana milieu. The Siksasamuccaya, on the other hand, is firmly rooted in the Mahayana and does not cite Early Buddhist sources, though it does show some possible hints of tantric influence. STTS represents a mature Tantric Buddhist attitude to karma. The neutralizing of bad karma, that is, the sidestepping of inevitability, becomes an increasingly important theme. The nature and role of ethics in this changed worldview is different from the ethos of the early texts.

Over the course of this survey of Buddhist ideas, a major change in the conception of karma is seen. This article suggests that a perennial problem for Buddhists may have been influential in bringing about the change: the problem of how the unawakened can escape their own negative conditioning.

Part I: The Inevitability of Karma

In the Samannaphala Sutta King Ajatasattu is troubled by his conscience and goes to meet the Buddha. After hearing a Dharma discourse, he confesses that he killed his father, King Bimbisara, who was also the Buddha's patron. (2) The Buddha accepts this news, and acknowledges that the King intends to return to lawfulness (yathadhammam patikaroti). However, when Ajatasattu leaves, the Buddha says to the bhikkhus, "the king is wounded (khata), and done for (upahata)" (D i.86). Had Ajatasattu not killed his father, the text tells us, he would have attained the eye of wisdom (dhammacakkhu) after hearing the discourse. Patricide is one the five actions which result in immediate rebirth in hell after death. The committer of patricide is said to be atekiccha ("incurable" or "unpardonable") and the discourse could have no effect on him (C.f. A iii.146). Buddhaghosa's commentary records that after his death, Ajatasattu goes to the Hell of Copper Kettles (DA 1.237).

It is a central feature of karma in the Pali texts that the consequences of actions manifest as rebirth in one or other of the realms in which one can be reborn. In the Culakammavibhanga Sutta, for instance, using a stock phrase, the fruits of actions are experienced "with the breaking up of the body after death" (kayassa bheda param marana M iii.203) as a happy or miserable destination (sugati/duggati). However, the moral force of karma would be weakened if it did not allow for actions to ripen in this life as well. The technical term for this is: "actions to be experienced in this life" (kammam ditthadhammavedaniyam). (3)

The phrase yathadhamma patikaroti "returning to lawfulness" had previously been misinterpreted (Attwood Ajatasattu 298f). When Ajatasattu told the Buddha of having killed his own father he cannot be considered to be "making amends" (as some translators suggest), nor does the Buddha "forgive" him since such a thing is not in his power. Ajatasattu confesses and makes a resolution to return to moral behavior, nothing more. The Buddha acknowledges the confession and resolution, but does not intervene in any way, because in the worldview of that text there is no conceivable intervention. This is why the Buddha says the King is "wounded and done for." It is simply not possible for him to intervene between a person and the consequences of their actions. This is borne out by comparing all the uses of yathadhamma- pati-kr in the Nikayas.

In the early Buddhist texts the results of actions are inescapable; there is nothing that stands between us and the consequences of our actions. The Theravada tradition came to see this belief as epitomized in a verse from the Dhammapada (Dhp 127):
   Not in the sky, nor the middle of the ocean,
   Nor in a mountain cave;
   Though terrified, there is nowhere on earth
   Where one might escape from an evil action. (4)

Buddhaghosa, for example, cites this verse while explaining the term dhammata, "naturalness," in his commentary on the Mahapadana Sutta. He uses it to demonstrate the inevitability of karma (kammaniyama), which is one of the five kinds of inevitability (pancavidham niyama). (5) To illustrate the principle, he tells the story of a woman who quarrels with her husband and murders him. She is about to hang herself when a man with a knife comes to rescue her. But in order to ensure that the consequences of the woman's action manifest, the rope she is hanging herself with turns into a snake and frightens the man off. The woman dies a short time later (itara tattheva mari DA 2.431), though we are not told how. (6) In the Atthasalim (272-274) Buddhaghosa uses the commentarial back-story for Dhp 127 to illustrate the inevitability of karma at greater length. For Buddhaghosa, the results of actions are absolutely inescapable.

The Nikayas do suggest ways in which one might lessen the impact of the consequences of our previous actions. For instance, the Lonaphala Sutta (AN 3.99) tells us that "When someone practices awareness, ethics, and dwells in the immeasurable ... then they are less bothered by the consequences of small evils" (Attwood Ajatasattu 296). However there is no way to avoid the consequences entirely. This is a distinctive moral teaching of the Early Buddhists, and it is precisely this aspect of Buddhist morality that changes.

Before looking at how this distinctive teaching changes, and why, we need to consider why karma had to be inevitable in the first place. In order to discover this, we must look at its precedents.

Part II: Precedents


It is common to see Buddhist eschatology as reliant on Upanisadic eschatology. Thus, it is worthwhile to survey briefly the eschatological theories found in the early Upanisads. In these texts, the word karma had ritual rather than ethical significance. In the late Vedic literature, dating roughly from a few centuries before the Buddha, we begin to find references to one's afterlife destination being dependent on one's actions (karma) in life. In fact, in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad (BU), we find a number of different action-based eschatologies. BU 4.4.5 states:
   However he acts or behaves, he becomes that. Acting right
   (sadhu) he is right, acting harmfully (papa) he is harmful.
   He is good (punya) by doing good actions, and evil by doing
   evil actions. (7)

Action here is indicated by the action nouns karin, "one who acts" (from the same root, Vkr, as karma), and carin, "one who behaves [in a particular way]." The terms sadhu and punya seem not to be ethical terms, but are more likely to refer to satisfactory participation in ritual life. This suggests that the opposite, papa, might also not be an ethical term in this context. With reference mainly to ethical distinctions, Gananath Obeyesekere says:
   There can no longer be a single place for those who have
   done good and those who have done bad. The otherworld
   [i.e., the afterlife] must minimally split into two, a world
   of retribution ('hell') and a world of reward ('heaven').

So, even in this ritual context, the very fact of there being a right way to behave and a wrong way results in different afterlife destinations. This traditional Vedic eschatology is contrasted in BU with one in which a man's actions based on desire (kama) cause him to cycle between this world and the next world (BU 4.4.6). In the next world, the results of actions are exhausted, and it is only in this world that consequential actions are performed. However, a man free from desire has a different fate: brahmaiva sanbrahmapyeti, "he is only brahman, he goes to brahman." (8) The Chandogya Upanisad (CU) 8.1-2 also appears to list a number of alternative post-mortem destinations based on desires. Giving up desire is part of a renunciate lifestyle in this context, and again this is not quite ethics. This would appear to be a development of the earlier Vedic eschatology of cycling between this world and the next world, but has introduced the notion of escaping from this cycle. References to this kind of eschatology are perhaps discerned in Pali in the pair "this world" (ayam loko) and "the other world" (paro loko) at D i.55, D iii.264, M i.227 etc.

Finally both BU and CU propose different post-mortem destinations for those who know about the Five Fires (pancagni-vidya), those who only practice the ordinary Brahmanical rituals, and those who do neither (BU 6.2, CU 5.2-10). Richard Gombrich has suggested that certain Pali texts, particularly the Tevijja Sutta, make allusions to the Five Fires. According to Gombrich this can be interpreted as the Buddha having had knowledge of the Upanisads (Gombrich 80-84).

Here, then, are three distinct versions of how one's afterlife destination might be affected by this life: good [ritual] actions (sadhukarin), actions free from desire (niskama), (9) and actions based on special knowledge (vidya). There are some similarities with Buddhist karma and rebirth here, and we should not be surprised to find that Brahmanism might have influenced Buddhism because the Buddhist texts feature Brahmins and their beliefs quite prominently and record many Brahmin converts. However, it is worth noting that there seems to be no equivalent of karma ripening in this life, no sense that an action in this life will have ethical consequences in this life. Brahmanical karma appears to in volve only rituals concerned with the afterlife and not ethical considerations.

Obeyesekere shows that all rebirth eschatologies are broadly similar and thus we should expect similarities between the rebirth eschatologies of Vedic and Buddhist cultures that are independent of any interactions between them. Indeed, as Wendy Doniger points out, "It is clear from Obeyesekere's presentation that the karma theory of rebirth is not a linear development from Vedic and Upanisadic religion, but a composite structure" (xiii). One important question that remains unanswered, as far as I'm aware, is why the Brahmins came to see their traditional eschatology as unsatisfactory. Why did cycling between this world and the next cease to comfort Brahmins? A possible answer to this question is discussed below.

Another possible source for Buddhist karma is Jainism. Richard Gombrich, citing work by Will Johnson, has explored this connection (4559). The Jain version of karma does not distinguish between good and bad actions, but says that all action is harmful. This may suggest that Jainism influenced Buddhism, though Jainism per se is only likely to have been a generation or two earlier. One possible influence is the use of the word asava, literally influxes, which may be a reference to the weighing down of the jlva or soul by the "dust" caused by action.

However, we need to be cautious about opinions on ancient Jainism. The Jains, according to their own traditions, which are confirmed by modern scholarship, lost the texts that might parallel the Pali suttas. Our ideas about early Jainism are reconstructions, partly based on the Pali suttas, which contain glimpses of the Jains. We know that the early Buddhist portrayals of Brahmins are often parodies and caricatures for the purposes of polemic, so we need to take the Buddhist view of Jains with a grain of salt. The history of early Jainism is far more uncertain than the history of early Buddhism. Even if we accept the reconstructed versions of Jainism, this only tells us about the situation contemporary with the Buddha or perhaps a generation earlier--at something like 100 generations removed. It is more likely that the comparisons only become coherent many centuries later. Broadly speaking, the two traditions emerged from the same culture at the same time and developed alongside each other.

Based on an original observation by Michael Witzel, I have suggested that both Jainism and Buddhism have roots that go considerably deeper than previously thought, and that the emergence of both, along with other groups like the Ajivakas, represents the culmination of a process rather than the genesis of one (Attwood "Origins"). This process is one of assimilation of ideas associated with Zoroastrianism and Iranian culture.

The Iranian connection

For some time, Michael Witzel has been suggesting a connection between the Sakya tribe, of which the Buddha was a member, and Iran. The connecting factor is a migrating branch of the Saka people of Northwestern Iran, one group of whom became the Sakya tribe. Having investigated Witzel's suggestion, I found it to be plausible, if not definite, because it seems to provide explanations for some observations about Buddhist ideas and practices that are otherwise difficult to explain.

One of the conjectures in this Iranian connection thesis is that ethical eschatology, i.e., judgment after death based upon how one had lived, was introduced into North-eastern India by the migration of tribes originating from Iran that had been exposed to Zoroastrian ethics and eschatology. In Iran, the idea of post-mortem judgment is associated with Zoroastrianism, though it in turn it appears to borrow from Egyptian religious ideas. If this conjecture is correct, these ideas, once injected into Indian culture in the central Ganges plains, would have spread both east and west, influencing the development of both the brahmana and sramana cultures.

Buddhism and Zoroastrianism both analyze the actions of a person in terms of body, speech and mind. In Vedic literature, this triad is found only in Manusmrti (12.10f), which is much later than the period being considered. Amongst all the Indo-European speakers, and all the peoples of South Asia, only Zoroastrians and Buddhists appear to be concerned with the morality of body, speech and mind. Explaining this similarity is difficult. A migration that skirted the powerful Kuru kingdom and settled on the margins of the emerging kingdoms of Kosala and Magadha is a way of explaining the known facts. And there is some sparse evidence that such a migration may have taken place.

As described above, karma is most importantly a post-mortem judgment on the ethicality of this life. In the case of Ajatasattu, his fate was rebirth in hell. The concept of hell as an afterlife destination is well developed in Zoroastrianism, where it may have been influenced by Egyptian eschatology. However, Hell emerged as if from nowhere in the Late Vedic period and its ruler, Yama, had previously dwelt in the sky (with the ancestors) rather than in the underworld. (10) Buddhist descriptions of the tortures of hell are detailed and graphic. One text in particular, the Devaduta Sutta (MN 130), stands out as being similar in some ways to a scene in the Egyptian Book of the Dead where the scribe Ani's soul is weighed against the law and his fate decided. The main difference is that in the Devaduta Sutta, one's fate is decided by one's own behavior. The main character in the text arrives in hell, and Yama only reminds him of why he is there. Similarly, in Zoroastrianism "the soul's fate depends solely on the sum of the individual's thoughts, words, and acts, the good being weighed against the bad, so that no observances should avail it in any way" (Boyce Death).

Returning to the idea of inescapability, another similarity between Buddhist and Zoroastrian eschatologies is that nothing can intervene in the process of judgment. For Zoroastrians, as noted above, only one's thoughts, words and deeds can affect one's afterlife. Mary Boyce adds that Zoroaster insisted " ... on the unwavering impartiality of divine justice. According to him ... there could be no intervention, whether compassionate or capricious, by any divine Being to alter this" (Zoroastrians 29). Likewise, in early Buddhism the outcome of karma is fixed only by the action itself. Nothing can be done to avoid the outcome. Over time, as we will see below, this limitation is gradually removed by Buddhists, but initially Zoroastrians and Buddhists agree that the judging is inevitable, impartial (even impersonal), and inescapable.

My suggestion is that we could see various doctrines of karma as part of the culmination of a process of assimilation of Iranian and/or Zoroastrian ideas by the various tribes in the central Ganges Plain region, introduced by the Sakyas (and others). The process of assimilation probably started soon after 850 B.C.E. when climate change affected the environment and set in process a series of migrations across Eurasia and the sub-continent. The emergence in the Fifth or Fourth centuries B.C.E. of Buddhism, Jainism and Ajivakaism as organized religious movements marks a mature phase of this process. In particular, the Buddhist theory of karma may well emerge from the application of the Zoroastrian ideas of a single afterlife destination (Heaven or Hell) to a belief system incorporating cyclic rebirth.

I suppose cyclic rebirth to be an Indian regional belief, since it is almost unknown amongst Indo-European speakers outside India. (11) The simple cycle between this world and the next becomes differentiated first into good and bad destinations because of ideas of right and wrong, and later into more possibilities depending on how one lived. However, it is still cyclic. BU and CU record a transitional period in Vedic thought when new eschatological ideas associated with escaping from the cycle of birth and death were being assimilated by Brahmins. The newness is marked in the text by being associated with kings who are ksatriyas. A great deal of ink has been spilled trying to explain the role of the ksatriya/king in introducing these new ideas with no real consensus except that the ideas were novel and had no Vedic precedent.

Buddhist texts, as well as the early Upanisads, consider escaping from the rounds of rebirth to be the point of religious practices. If the idea of a single destination after death was introduced into the central Ganges valley by the Sakyas, then it may help to explain why escaping the rounds of rebirth first appears as an idea in BU, which was composed in that region (Cohen; Witzel). Cohen has also perceived in BU a challenge to the authority of the Rgveda from a sect taking the Yajurveda as their authority. The Brahmins of the newly colonized Kosala-Videha region were less conservative those in the Kuru-Pancala heartland and in a position to interact with the incomers who brought new ideas with them.

The Iranian connection thesis leaves intact the current consensus regarding the chronology of texts, or at least does not demand a change in that chronology such as the one proposed by Johannes Bronkhorst in Greater Magadha. Bronkhorst's argument, in part, depends on rearranging the texts in time to make it seem that ideas flowed in the opposite direction from what is the current consensus. But because that rearrangement is co-dependent on the revised reading, his main argument is circular. I'm also persuaded by the argument that internal textual evidence argues for the current chronology. If we view the idea of escaping from cyclic rebirth as already developing in the Kosala-Videha region when the Upanisads were being composed, we could see the emergence of the idea in Sramana and Brahmana culture as a parallel development. It only requires that Brahmins began to discuss it in their texts before Buddhists, and in the Vedic milieu described by Cohen and Witzel, this is quite conceivable.

Having explored the early Buddhist position on the inevitability of karma, and some possible reasons why the idea was framed as it was, we can now go on to look at how the theory of karma developed in the Common Era, beginning with developments in the Samannaphala Sutta or as we will now refer to it, the Sramanyaphala Sutra.

Part III: Sramanyaphala Sutra and Ajatasatru's Redemption

The Sramanyaphala Sutra (SPS) is the focal point of this study of changes in the doctrine of karma. The various versions nicely illustrate the change that is the main concern of this article. Our exploration of SPS is facilitated by the study published by MacQueen which included seven versions of the text: one in Pali (-P), one fragment in Sanskrit (-S) (12), one in Tibetan (-T) (13) and four in Chinese (-C1, -C2, -C3, -C4). (14) A Gandhari version has subsequently come to light and is discussed in Allon (2007); however, it is incomplete and does not contain the part of the text that interests us here. (15) The much broader study of the Ajatasatru story, especially in Chinese texts, by Michael Radich (2011) offers some useful insights into the development of the story and its place in Chinese and Japanese history.

Regarding the episode involving Ajatasatru's confession and the Buddha's response, SPS-S, SPS-T and SPS-C3 agree with the Pali version and see the king as irreparably damaged by the act of patricide. As King Ajatasatru walks away from his encounter with the Buddha, SPS-S says: evam ksato bhiksavo raja magadho jatasatrur vaidehlputrah evam upahatah; (16) while the SPS-P has khatayam, bhikkhave, raja. Upahatayam, bhikkhave, raja. So, both agree that the king is, in MacQueen's translation "injured and stricken" (101), or as I put it "wounded and done for" (S. ksata and upahata; P. khata and upahata). Both of these texts nicely illustrate the early Buddhist attitude to karma as inescapable. Repenting has no power to change the outcome, and nor does a meeting with the Buddha. However compare SPS-C1:
   If the king Ajatasatru had not killed his father he would
   have on this very spot obtained the purity of the dharmaeye;
   nevertheless, in as much as the king Ajatasatru has
   now repented his error, his transgression is diminished and
   he has removed a weighty offence. (49. Emphasis added.)

Here the transgression is diminished precisely because it was repented. Between the composition of SPS-S and SPS-C1 a major shift has taken place. The two phrases are not quite in agreement; "diminished" and "removed" are not the same thing at all. However, it is at least clear that the redactor of -C1 felt that Ajatasatru deserved a break for having confessed. SPS-C2 goes even further:
   When the king had left and while he was yet not far from
   the Buddha, he addressed JIvaka Kumara: 'You have done
   me much profit and benefit by having me go to the Buddha
   to receive his instruction on the Law; having had an
   audience with the World Honoured One I have been released
   from my sinful transgression and have had a
   weighty fault made light.'

   The Buddha addressed the bhiksus: 'The king Ajatasatru
   has already attained the receptivity of ordinary beings.
   Although he has killed a law-king ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN
   ASCII]), he has completely done away with the imperfections and
   impurities and is free from the Outflows [i.e., asavas]. He is
   established in the Law and will not regress. On this very seat the
   eye for dharmas, which is far from dust and free of impurity, has
   arisen [in him].' (69. Emphasis added.)

Here, C2 perceives Ajatasatru's meeting with the Buddha and receiving the teaching as the key ingredient in avoiding the consequences of the action of patricide. However, there is again some ambiguity in the way the let-off is phrased. MacQueen sees three not entirely consistent statements:

1. The king is said to obtain the "receptivity of ordinary beings" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]);

2. He is said to have "completely done away with the imperfections and impurities" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and to be "free from the Outflows" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (17);

3. He is said "to have attained the dharmacaksu" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).

Regarding the first statement, MacQueen relates [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to pothujjanika saddha (the faith of ordinary beings) in Buddhaghosa's commentary on the Pali text (225). SPS-P leaves the king "wounded and done for," causing Buddhaghosa to ask, "What benefit did the king get from hearing the sutta?" (18) His first answer is that Ajatasatru gained a good night's sleep for the first time since killing his father. Then: "He paid great reverence to the three jewels. The one endowed with ordinary faith was not equal to the king." (19) He goes on to say that in the future (that is, in a future life) the king will become a paccekabuddha and attain parinibbana (after his spell in hell) (DA i.237). However, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is not usually interpreted as translating saddha. Typically it translates words from the root Vksam "to forbear," such as ksanti "forbearance." Even if the equation of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and pothujjanika saddha is doubtful, the fact that Bud dhaghosa was concerned to know what benefit had accrued from the meeting suggests that MacQueen is correct to highlight the progression of Buddhist thought from the Buddha being unable to help Ajatasatru to his being "saved" by meeting the Buddha.

For MacQueen, there is a contradiction in the three statements about Ajatasatru's attainment. The first statement is a relatively low level of spiritual attainment; the second is consistent with Arhatship; the third is associated with becoming a stream entrant (srotapanna). He concludes, "Obviously the three statements do not fit, but betray a process of awkward change and development in the textual tradition" (226).

Thus, in the various versions of this text we see the change in the theory of karma in the process of happening. Interestingly, SPS-C2 (381395 C.E.) was translated into Chinese before SPS-C1 (413 C.E.).

MacQueen points out that in the texts that allow for the redemption of Ajatasatru, the form of the text has changed. In SPS-P, the story of the king is a framing story for a lengthy discourse on the benefits of the renunciate lifestyle (samannaphala). However, in those versions that redeem Ajatasattu, the text is turned inside out; the framing story becomes more important than the content. As MacQueen says, this suggests that for the composer(s) of SPS-P the renunciate lifestyle was more important, but for the composer(s) of SPS-C1 & C2 the meeting with the Buddha was more important. Accordingly, MacQueen sees the change in terms of the increasing prestige of the Buddha, although he also sees a role for the natural elaboration of story telling (214-5; 220ff). Radich shows this process continuing in the retelling of the story in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra "so that the story is entirely about Ajatasatru's repentance and exculpation; and it depicts the Buddha as saving Ajatasatru in much more elaborate and glorious terms" (22).

This change is all the more marked in the light of stories in the Pali suttas in which the Buddha's meeting with people fails to have a positive impact. Examples include his meeting with Upaka the Ajivaka during his journey to meet his five former companions at Isipatana (MN i.170-1), or his meeting with a man whose son has died (MN ii.106-7). For later Buddhists, a meeting with the Buddha becomes the turning point in the lives of disciples. Even before the close of the Canon, the practice of recollecting the Buddha (buddhanusmrti) has become one of the main forms of practice. And for Buddhaghosa, one who is engaged in recollecting the Buddha is to be venerated like a chaitya (Vism vii.67).

Radich discusses the increasing emphasis on confession in China (53-54), but as the next section will show, it is a major concern in Indian Buddhist texts as well. So, although the Chinese encounter with rebirth may have lead to adoption of Ajatasatru as an exemplary beneficiary of Buddha's power to save beings, the possibility of escaping from the consequences of actions was growing in India as well.

The Sramanyaphala Sutra is not an isolated case. There is a parallel in the Angulimala Sutta (MN ii.97ff.). In the case of the conversion of the mass murderer Angulimala, however, the power of the Buddha has clear limits. After his awakening, while begging for alms, the former mass murderer is pelted with missiles by the townspeople. The Buddha tells Angulimala that this is old karma ripening and that he must simply bear it (MN ii.104). This story demonstrates the inevitability of karma, even while it equivocates in demonstrating the salvific power of the Buddha by allowing a mass murderer to become an arahant. Bhikkhu Analayo's study of the Chinese versions of the Angulimala story reveals that this text undergoes a transformation similar to that of the Sramanyaphala Sutra. The conversion is highlighted, and exists in increasingly elaborate versions. Analayo reads this elaboration of the conversion as an aspect of the fascination with conversion per se (145) and notes that other events, particularly the lingering resentment of the townspeople, are relegated to the background (146). Indeed, in the Samyuktagama version that Analayo translates, there is no mention of the attack on Angulimala. The translated text is slightly ambiguous. It has Angulimala say:
   A man who earlier performed evil deeds,
   Who with right wholesomeness can cause them to cease,
   With right mindfulness he goes beyond
   The current craving and affection in this world."
   Previously I did such evil deeds,
   Which certainly would have led me to an evil borne,
   "[But now] I have experienced the fruit of evil,
   Already [free of] former debts I eat [my] food." (139) (20)

The quoted passage begins by intimating that Angulimala has overcome his evil deeds but ends by suggesting that he has not sidestepped his karma. In any case, he is liberated because he has already experienced the results of his actions. The inevitability of karma is stretched but not broken. Although the Chinese text notes the resentment that people feel towards him, their attack on him is left out of this account, which has the effect of playing down his own residual karma and leaving the lingering resentment people feel towards him on the doorstep of the resentful.

The story of Ajatasatru goes on to inspire further doctrinal developments, particularly in Japan, where Shinran used the idea of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] mukonshin or "rootless faith" (Skt. *amulika saddha) in the development of his ideas of faith (Radich 78ff). The term is found in title of the C3 (T 2.125) version of the Sramanyaphala Sutra. The story also forms the basis of the "Ajase Complex," a modern Japanese that Radich calls a "psychoanalytic theory of religion, intended to challenge or supplement that of Sigmund Freud" (17).

Having explored the transition in the theory of karma from inescapable to at least potentially escapable on the basis of meeting the Buddha, we now turn to a collection of texts that represent the mature Mahayana outlook.


The Siksasamuccaya (SSm) is anthology of passages from Mahayana texts compiled in the Eighth century by Santideva that outlines the bodhisattva path to liberation. In the section on purification of evil (papasodhana), Santideva includes several extracts that point to a more mature version of escaping karma. These are presented as four successive practices for the aspiring Bodhisattva as found in the Caturdharmaka Sutra (SSm 160): confession (vidusana); opposition (pratipaksa); restoration (patyapatti); and seeking refuge (asraya). Santideva also mentions the purifying power of bodhicitta in this respect.

Each of the four practices is described as having a power (bala), and that power, inevitably, is the overcoming of evil (papa), or more specifically is the overcoming of the consequences (vipaksa) of evil actions. Confession is typified by the Suvarnaprabhasottama Sutra, which includes the phrase:
   May the Tathagatas carry away the fruits of defiled actions
   for me;

   And may the Buddhas wash me in the flowing waters of
   their compassion. (21)

Later, the bodhisattva is said to be purified of evil (papasuddhih karya) by confession, calling the names of the buddhas, reciting the Triskandhadharma, (22) and meditation. (SSm 171).

The next section, on "opposition," opens with the idea that "there is destruction of evil from knowledge of the profound texts." (23) Santideva then contrasts various kinds of practices with various kinds of "evil" actions. The practices include book worship, recollection of the name of the Buddha (namanusmrti) (24), and dharanl or mantra repetition. The gist is that one does these activities to counteract evil actions. This section includes the practice of reciting the hundred syllables eight thousand times, which comes from the Trisamayaraja. This text is treated as a krlya tantra by Tibetan Buddhists. I have not been able to identify the one hundred syllable mantra, but in the Chinese version it is referred to as the "vajra one hundred syllable mantra" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] T. 21.1201, p19c). It is possible that the Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra is intended.

The subject of restoration is treated more briefly. It mainly consists in performing the ten good paths of action (dasakusalah karmapathah).
   Thus the ten paths of good actions are spoken of as the
   destroyers of the fruits of one's own unskilfulness. (25)

Again, we see a sea change. In Pali texts, the ten paths of good action cannot destroy the fruit of actions. They can only set up the conditions for positive experiences in the future.

The last of the four practices, seeking refuge (asraya), is given only brief treatment. The essence of this practice comes from the Sukarikavadanam:
   Those who go to the Buddha refuge do not go to a bad rebirth;

   Removed from their human bodies, they receive divine

   So also for the Dharma and Sangha refuges, thus evil is
   ended. (26)

However, there is also the purifying power of bodhicitta, as mentioned in the Aryamaitreyavimoksa. The Upalipariprccha makes a distinction between the bodhisattva and sravaka: in possession of bodhicitta the bodhisattva need not be overly concerned with transgressions, but the sravaka must beware of destroying their virtue (silaskandha). It seems here that attaining bodhicitta has a function similar to that of meeting the Buddha in the Sramanyaphala Sutra--it purifies one's karma.

Thus, in the Siksasamuccaya the escapability of karma is normalized. The next stage in the development of this idea is hinted at in SSm and can be seen in the Sarvatathagata-tattvasamgraha (STTS) and the mantra of Vajrasattva. (27)

The hundred-syllable Vajrasattva mantra

The Vajrasattva mantra is included in a collection of miscellaneous practices in the STTS. It takes the form of a series of requests for Vajrasattva's indulgence and assistance, punctuated by seed syllables. For the mantra itself, see Jayarava ("Hundred"). What interests us here is the framing narrative for the mantra that explains when it is used and for what purpose. The whole passage amounts to just two paragraphs, written in nearly impenetrable Buddhist Sanskrit jargon. We are fortunate to have Todaro's translation of the Sanskrit and Geibel's translation of the Chinese parallel, though sometimes the text remains obscure to the uninitiated (including the present author).

The mantra is used if one's seal empowerment becomes lax (mudradisthanam sithilibhavati) or if there is a selfish desire for liberation (svayam va muktukamo bhavati). (28) The benefit of reciting the mantra is more difficult to render into English and the two translations differ in their wording.

Not-withstanding continuous killing, the slander of all the Tathagatas, the repudiation of the true teaching and even all evil and injury, (by this) the perfection of all the Tathagata's mudras from the strengthening of Vajrasattva, in the present life as you desire, and all accomplishments, the supreme accomplishment, the thunderbolt accomplishment or the accomplishment of Vajrasattva, up to the accomplishment of the Tathagata, will be attained quickly. (Todaro 322)

The English is not elegant, but having studied the Sanskrit text I can do no better. Geibel's translation from the Chinese confirms that what is intended is a list of the worse actions that one can perform, actions that would normally result in longs stays in hell. All of them are nullified by chanting this mantra.

In all of our examples so far, we have simply taken the texts on face value, with the initial caveat that they represent normative ideals. Here we must pause to consider whether this is intended literally or merely represents piety. From the text itself we cannot tell. Popular presentations of the practice suggest that some Buddhists believe that chanting this mantra can eliminate all evil karma. If this is so, we could say that in this mantra the process of releasing people from the consequences of their actions reaches its apotheosis. It represents a very different worldview, a different ethos, from the theory of karma found in the Pali suttas.


The Buddhist theory of karma begins as a narrative about the absolutely inescapable consequences of actions that produce a moral imperative to act in accordance with Buddhist norms. Early Buddhist ethics are rooted in the idea that no matter what happens, and death notwithstanding, the consequences of our actions must be lived. The consequences of our actions can ripen in this life for good or ill, but more importantly they collectively determine whether we are liberated from rebirth (and therefore from suffering) or, if not liberated, into which realm we are reborn. This, in turn, determines the extent of suffering we are likely to experience in life, from minimal amounts in the god realms to maximal amounts in the hells. This is a potent ethical theme that, if believed wholeheartedly, would no doubt motivate the individual to conform to ethical norms.

Based on Michael Witzel's theory that the Sakya tribe, along with other tribes from the same region, originated in Iran, this article has suggested that we might look beyond India to Iran and Zoroastrianism in order to fully understand why Buddhist ethics took this initial shape. In this view, Buddhism emerges as the culmination of a process of assimilation of ideas from many sources.

Like Zoroastrians, the early Buddhists were concerned with how actions of body, speech, and mind determined one's afterlife destination, and saw this as an impersonal, impartial, and inevitable process. This idea is embodied in a number of early Buddhist texts, but the frame story of the Pali Samannaphala Sutta emphasizes that not even a Buddha may intervene in this process. The best an early Buddhist could hope for was to mitigate the impact of karma on themselves through religious practices that improved their resilience in the face of suffering.

As illustrated in the various versions of the Sramanyaphala Sutra and in the Siksasamuccaya, this important criterion of Buddhist ethics was deprecated by Mahayana Buddhists. In Mahayana Buddhism, as we see it outlined in the Siksasamuccaya, the practitioner was able to dodge the bullet of karma by doing religious practices such as confession that neutralize vipaka. The Chinese versions of the Sramanyaphala Sutra were altered so that meeting the Buddha at the very least reduced the weight of karma for King Ajatasatru and at best eliminated it completely. The Sarvatathagata-tattvasamgraha takes this even further. There, chanting the Vajrasattva mantra provided a way forward even for those who commit "unforgiveable" acts (if we take the text on face value).

This change in the metaphysics of karma has some major implications for Buddhist ethics. Buddhists are no longer constrained to avoid evil actions at all costs. They can afford to slip as long as they are prepared to undertake religious practices. Perhaps this change was just an accommodation to human nature; since the unawakened are bound to act unskillfully at some point, Mahayana Buddhists reshaped karma to be more tolerant of imperfection, provided that it was contained by piety.

The change might also have been linked to a perennial problem in Buddhism. I.e., how can the ordinary person, whose response to sense experience is attraction and aversion, attain liberation? If karma is inescapable, and, as ordinary people, we keep on creating negative karma, how could we realistically expect to be liberated from suffering? The new answer is that we can be liberated through doing the newly prescribed practices that negate karma.

Similar questions arise when nirvana is conceived of as absolutely transcendent or as impossibly far off (as when it is said to require incalculable numbers of lifetimes to achieve). The extreme difficulty of attaining nirvana raises its value and status amongst Buddhists, but at the same time makes it virtually unattainable. Because practitioners cannot be motivated unless the goal is attainable, transcendence is countered with a narrative of immanence. However, immanence leads to reification and devaluing. We can see such swings across the history of Buddhist ideas.

MacQueen notes that in the introductory material added to the Sramanyaphala Sutra by -C1, Ajatasatru comes to represent a kind of everyman: "The plight of this specific king becomes the plight of everyone; the modes of action open to him become those open to everyone; the final solution to his problem ... becomes the solution that ought to be adopted by everyone" (222). In other words, assuming that the audience for the text consisted of Buddhists, the text to some extent becomes a justification for Buddhist beliefs. The same tendency can be seen in the Pali Kalama Sutta (Jayarava Kalamas 30).

Added to this is the increasing prestige or the "divinization" of the Buddha noted by MacQueen (215). We could compare this to the valorization of nirvana already mentioned. The higher the value of the Three Jewels, the higher the prestige of Buddhists themselves, and the higher the charisma of those who claim to have experienced nirvana. As Buddhism developed, and particularly where the bodhisattva path became a central feature of Buddhism, it became inconceivable to Buddhists that the Buddha could not intervene to help someone to overcome their karma and to be liberated. As MacQueen puts it, "The successful conversion of this depraved individual demonstrates clearly the power of the Buddha's 'divine' salvific action" (225). Meeting the Buddha in imagination (buddhanusmrti) became an increasingly important practice, since even this virtual meeting was considered to be purifying.

However it came about, and whatever the details now obscured by time, the broad outlines of a major change in the way Buddhists thought about karma is evident. Karma is important in each of the broad time periods identified, but important in different ways. The way karma developed sheds some light on how the priorities of Buddhists changed over time. In particular, absolutist moral imperatives gave way to other considerations, especially the prestige of the Buddha, and perhaps the prestige of Buddhists themselves. Pragmatic concerns regarding human failings and the achievability of the Buddhist goal probably also played a part.

BU      Brhadaranyaka Upanisad
CU      Chandogya Upanisad
DA      Digha Nikaya Atthakatha
MN      Majjhima Nikaya
MP      Milindapanha
SPS     Sramanyaphala Sutra-general references to the text.
SPS-P   Samannaphala Sutta-Pali
SPS-S   Sramanyaphala Sutra-Sanskrit fragment
SPS-T   Sramanyaphala Sutra-Tibetan
SPS-C1  Sramanyaphala Sutra-Chinese. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE
          IN ASCII]. T 1.1
SPS-C2  Sramanyaphala Sutra-Chinese. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE
          IN ASCII]. T 1.22
SPS-C3  Sramanyaphala Sutra-Chinese. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE
          IN ASCII]. T 2.125
SPS-C4  Sramanyaphala Sutra-Chinese. [untitled]. T24.1450
SSm     Siksasamuccaya
Vism    Visuddhimagga


Canonical Texts

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Shamen guo jing (Sramanyaphala sutra) in T01n0001: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Dirghagama). Translated 413 C.E. by Buddhayasas ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and Zhu Funian ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). CBETA T01n0001_p0107a16-114b02. Online. Available HTTP: (MacQueen 47-49).

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]ji zhi guo jing (Sramanyaphala sutra). T01n0022. Trans. 381-395 C.E. by [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]Zhu Tanwulan. CBETA. Online. Available HTTP: (MacQueen 68-69).

"Samannaphala Sutta." Chattha Sangaya Tipitaka. 4th Ed. Vipassana Research Institute.

Siksasamuccaya of Santideva: Sanskrit Text (siksasamuccaye danaparamita prathamah paricchedah). Version: 0.1a_1. Indica et Buddhica. Online. Available HTTP:

Untitled, but referred to as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Wugen xin (Faith Without Roots = Skt. amulaka sraddha) T02n125p762a07 ff. (Sramanyaphala Sutra) in T02n0125: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Ekottarikagama) T 2.124: 762-764. 7th sutra, 39th fascicle, 43rd section. Translated either 384 C.E. or 397 C.E.; uncertainty depends on who translated the text. CBETA. Online. Available HTTP: (MacQueen 88-89). Abbreviation: SPS-C3.

Untitled. (=partial version of Sramanyaphala sutra) in T24.1450 (p.205a ff.) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Mulasarvastivada Vinaya Samghabheda Vastu). Translated 710 C.E. by [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Yijing. CBETA. Online. Available HTTP:

Untitled Sanskrit Fragment from Gilgit (probably one half, with the other half found but as yet unpublished). Occurs in the Samghabhedavastu (ground for schism in the Sangha) of the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya. Online. Available HTTP: http://fiindolo.sub.uni 1_sanskr/4_rellit/buddh/vinv172u.htm (MacQueen 100-101).

Yamada, Isshi. Sarva-tathagata-tattva-sangraha nama mahayana-sutra: a critical edition based on a Sanskrit manuscript and Chinese and Tibetan translations. New Delhi: Sharada Rani, 1981.

English Language Sources

Abe, Ryuichi. The Weaving of Mantra: Kukai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse. Columbia University Press, 1999

Allon, Mark. "Introduction: The Senior Manuscripts," in Glass, Andrew & Allon, Mark. Four Gandhari Samyuktagama Sutras: Senior Kharosthi Fragment 5. University of Washington Press, 2007.

Analayo. "The Conversion of Angulimala in the Samyukta-agama." Buddhist Studies Review 25 no.2 (2008), 135-48.

Attwood, Jayarava Michael. "Did King Ajatasattu Confess to the Buddha, and did the Buddha Forgive Him?" Journal of Buddhist Ethics 15 (2008), 279-307. Online. Available HTTP:

Attwood, Jayarava. "Possible Iranian Origins of Sakyas and Aspects of Buddhism." Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. 3 (2012), 47-69.

Boyce, Mary. Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. London: Routledge, 2001.

Boyce, Mary. "Death (1) Among Zoroastrians." Encyclopaedia Iranica (2011) . Online. Available HTTP: articles/death-1

Bronkhorst, Johannes. Greater Magadha: studies in the culture of early India. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Cohen, Signe. Text and Authority in the Older Upanisads. Leiden: Brill, 2008.

Doniger O'Flaherty, Wendy. Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. Motilal Banarsidass, 1999.

Evans, Stephen A. "Ethical Confusion: Possible Misunderstandings in Buddhist Ethics." Journal of Buddhist Ethics 19 (2012): 514-544.

Giebel, Rolf W. Two Esoteric Sutras. The Adamantine Pinnacle Sutra. The Susiddhikara Sutra. Numata Centre for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2001.

Gombrich, Richard. What the Buddha Thought. London: Equinox, 2009.

Jayarava. "The Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra." Western Buddhist Review no. 5 (2010). Online. Available HTTP

Jayarava. Talking to the Kalamas: The Kesaputta Sutta (AN 3.65): Translation and Commentary. Visible Mantra Press, 2012.

Jones, Thomas. "The Need for Doctrine." Journal of Buddhist Ethics 19 (2012) , 545-582.

Jurewicz, J. "The Rgveda, 'small scale' societies and rebirth eschatology." Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, (2006). Online. Available HTTP

MacQueen, G. A. Study of the Sramanyaphala-sutra. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1988.

Obeyesekere, Gananath. Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth. University of California Press, 2002.

Olivelle, Patrick. The Early Upanisads: Annotated Text and Translation. Munshiram Manoharlal, 1998.

Radich, Michael. How Ajatasatru Was Reformed: The Domestication of 'Ajase' and Stories in Buddhist History. Studia Philologica Buddhica Monograph Series XXVII. Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2011.

Silk, Jonathan A. The Heart SUtra in Tibetan: a Critical Edition of the Two Recensions Contained in the Kanjur. Arbeitskreis fur tibetische und buddhistische Studien, Universitat Wien, 1994.

Stausberg, Michael. "Hell in Zoroastrian History." Numen vol. 56 (2009), 217-253.

Studholm, Alexander. The Origins of Om Manipadme HUm: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra. State University of New York Press, 2002.

Todaro, Dale Allen. An Annotated Translation of the Tattvasamgraha (part 1) With an Explanation of the Role of the Tattvasamgraha Lineage in the teaching of KUkai. PhD Thesis, Columbia University, 1985.

Witzel, Michael. "On the Localisation of Vedic Texts and Schools (Materials on Vedic sakhas, 7)." In India and the Ancient world. History, Trade and Culture before A.D. 650. P.H.L. Eggermont Jubilee Volume, edited by G. Pollet. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 25. Leuven, 1987, 173-213. Online. Available HTTP: pdf.

Jayarava Attwood (1)

(1) % Cambridge Buddhist Centre, 38 Newmarket Rd, Cambridge CB5 8DT, U.K. Email:

(2) There is no suggestion of Ajatasattu's collusion with Devadatta in this story.

(3) ditthi-dhamma is a Pali idiom which more literally means "whose nature is visible," but is understood to mean "here and now," or "in this life."

(4) All translations are my own unless stated.

(5) The inevitability of actions (kammaniyama); of seasonal change (utuniyama); of seeds (bjaniyama); of thoughts (cittaniyama); and of natures (dhammaniyama). The last describes the inevitability of the miracles accompanying the birth of a Buddha. This list occurs in the Sumangalavilasini (DA 2.431); Atthasalini (272-274); Abhidhammavatara (VRI 66; vs. 468-473; PTS 54); Abhidhamma-matika (VRI 58); and Abhidhammavatara-purana tika (VRI 1.68). See also Jones.

(6) The morality in this episode is perhaps a little strange from a standard Buddhist point of view. The story seems to suggest that death by suicide is a fitting result for a murderer, and that nature would miraculously intervene to make sure that it occurred. It emphasises the heterogeneity of Buddhist morality.

(7) yathakarlyathacarl tatha bhavatij sadhukarl sadhur bhavatij papakarl papo bhavatij punyah punyena karmana papah papena // The Vedic texts, including the Upanisads, discuss this process in masculine terms, and it is uncertain as to whether women were included.

(8) Following Olivelle. A literal reading would be "only brahman goes to brahman," which seems to rely on the notion that "I am brahman" (aham brahmasmi). Again, it is doubtful whether women were included in this scheme, so I have not corrected the gender specific language of the texts in my translations.

(9) BU 4.4.7: "without desire, free of desire, satisfied, whose [only] desire is atman" (akama niskama aptakama atmakama).

(10) The development of the idea of Hell in India requires more study. It is touched on by Stausberg and Jurewicz.

(11) Compare regional linguistic features such as the retroflexion of consonants. Some ancient Greeks also believed in reincarnation; see Obeyesekere (190ff) for a detailed description of this eschatology.

(12) When I wrote Attwood ("Ajatasattu") I did not have access to the Sanskrit text. I can now point out that the Sanskrit text lacks a proper parallel to the phrase yathadhammam patikarosi. Instead we find the verb patikarosi replaced by the causative verb desayasi with no adverb, viz. "yatas ca tvam maharaja atyayam janasi atyayam pasyasi ca drstvadesayasi ayatyam ca samvaram apadyase.. ." which MacQueen translates "because, Great King, you recognize and see your transgression, and seeing it confess it [desayasi] and attain to control in the future ... " (100). Clearly the intent of this passage is the same as the Pali. Unfortunately, the Gandhari version stops well short of this episode and can shed no light on the phrasing (Allon).

(13) MacQueen consulted only the Otani reprint of the Peking Kanjur. There is considerable variation between editions of the Tibetan Canon, so it is not always realistic to take one edition as representative. For example, Jonathan Silk compares versions found in fourteen editions of the Tibetan Kanjur, no two of which are identical.

(14) The alphanumeric labels are those used by MacQueen. Full details of these texts are found in the Bibliography and in MacQueen.

(15) My thanks to Mark Allon for supplying me with a copy of his article.

(16) "Thus monks, Ajatasatru, Son of Vaidehi, King of Magadha is wounded, thus he is done for."

(17) That is free from samraga [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and asrava ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).

(18) Idam pana suttam sutva ranna koci anisamso laddhoti? (DA i.237).

(19) Tinnam ratananam mahasakkaram akasi. Pothujjanikaya saddhaya samannagato nama imina ranna sadiso nahosi. (DA i.237). MacQueen (232) translates: "He went on to pay great honour to the Three Treasures. There was no one endowed with the faith of ordinary people as he was." I read samanagato (nominative: "the one endowed [with the faith of a pothujjana]") as the subject of this sentence, and the passage as saying that the samanagato is not equal with the king (imina ranna in the instrumental case), that is, that the king's faith is superior to that of ordinary folk.

(20) This verse section parallels the verse section at the end of the Pali. These Pali verses are not explicit about the attack on Angulimala, but they do refer to his enemies and their wish to harm him, where the Chinese seems not to. The attack may have been added to the Pali text as an after-thought.

(21) klesakarmaphalam mahyam pravahayantu tathagatah / snapayantu ca mam buddhah karunyasaritodakaih || (SSm 163)

(22) Another text that includes sections on obeisance and confession.

(23) tatra gambhirasutrantaparicayat papaksayo bhavati //

(24) For a description of namanusmrti see Studholm.

(25) evam dasapi kusalah karmapathah svavipaksakusalaghatakas tatra pathyante || (SSm 177)

(26) ye buddham saranam yanti na te gacchanti durgatim / prahaya manusan kayan divyan kayaml labhanti te // ity evam dharmam samgham cadhikrtya papaksayah // (SSm 177).

(27) The identification of STTS as the earliest source text for the Vajrasattva Mantra was part of a joint project between the present author and Maitiu O'Ceileachair, which remains unfinished. Our notes to date are available on the author's blog, along with comments on the Chinese and Tibetan Canonical versions of the mantra: See also Jayarava ("Hundred").

(28) Geibel has " ... or if one's mind should wish to release the seal."
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Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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