Paranirvana Sutra

Paranirvana Sutra

Date Posted:
November 2009

A student wrote to Rinpoche explaining how she was planning on printing an edition of the Paranirvana Sutra. Her letter and Rinpoche’s response are below.

Student’s letter

I am involved in another sutra project. Having been looking for the Mahaparanirvana Sutra when we studied Uttaratantra, I hadn't found it anywhere as a real book, just 12 scattered paperback volumes, and some of them already out of print. So, I got in contact with the copy editor of the English translation (which had originally been done by a Japanese scholar, from a Chinese Dharmaksema translation, and he told me that there was indeed no book available other than those left-over paperback volumes since, alas, he had no money to publish it any more. So, I could not keep myself from suggesting that we make a beautiful new edition of the Buddha's final discourse in improved English, hardbound, and preferably illustrated.

The sutra is considered by those who have that view a shentong text. According to me (I have read only a quarter of it so far), it seems one can effortlessly read it either way. I read it without any contradictions with the Prasangika. However, there is a rumor that in the Gelugpa school it has been somewhat banned.

I think it is a great and amazing text, Lama Tsongkhapa quotes from it in several places in the Lam-rim Chen-mo, and after all, it is the word of the Buddha. It has about 800 pages, and since it is already translated I think it would be a shame if it disappeared from the face of the earth due to money concerns. It will be revised throughout this year and then, hopefully, ready for print next year.

Much love again,

Rinpoche's Response

Dear Jane,
That is great news about the Paranirvana Sutra. This sutra (Sutra of the Sorrowless State) was the first sutra that I came across (in Tibetan). It is incredibly inspiring, such a great great sutra, but also has unbelievably fearful, terrifying descriptions of the hell realms.

I think it is extremely beneficial to make it available, but it depends on the quality of the translation.

I received the oral transmission of this sutra from Kyongla Rato Rinpoche. It was so wonderful.

I think you must have some interesting karma with sutras.

With much love and prayer, for all you are doing, also your help and support and great devotion to the Dharma at the Dharma center. Please continue.

Lama Zopa