Thereupon the Buddha addressed Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Mahāsthāmaprāpta: “You should know that, as I have previously explained, those who revile, disparage, or slander monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen who preserve the Lotus Sutra will sow a bitter harvest; as I have just taught, the merit attained by preserving the Lotus Sutra will result in the pure faculties of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.
“O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, in the past, immeasurable, limitless, inconceiv- able and incalculable kalpas ago, there was a buddha called Bhīṣmagarjita- svararāja, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowl- edge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. His land was called Mahāsaṃbhavā and the kalpa was named Vinirbhoga. The Buddha Bhīṣmagarjitasvararāja expounded the Dharma for the devas, humans, and asuras in his world.
“To those who sought the śrāvaka vehicle he expounded the Dharma in accordance with the Four Noble Truths, ferried them from birth, old age, ill- ness, and death, and ultimately led them to nirvana. To those who sought the pratyekabuddha vehicle, he expounded the Dharma in accordance with the twelve-linked chain of dependent origination. To the bodhisattvas he expounded the Dharma in accordance with the six perfections, with reference to highest, complete enlightenment, and led them to the Buddha’s wisdom.
“O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, the lifespan of the Buddha Bhīṣmagarjitasvararāja was as kalpas equal to forty myriads of koṭis of nayutas of sands of the Ganges River. The True Dharma abided for kalpas equal to the number of particles in Jambudvīpa. The Semblance Dharma abided for kalpas equal to the number of particles in the four continents. After having beneﬁted the sentient beings, the Buddha entered parinirvāṇa. After the extinction of the True and Sem- blance Dharmas, there appeared in this land another buddha who was also called Bhīṣmagarjitasvararāja, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Completely Enlightened, Perfect in Knowledge and Conduct, Well-Departed, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed, Tamer of Humans, Teacher of Devas and Humans, Buddha, Bhagavat. In this way there appeared two myriads of koṭis of buddhas one after another, all of whom had the same name.
“After the parinirvāṇa of the ﬁrst Tathāgata Bhīṣmagarjitasvararāja, there were excessively proud and overbearing monks in the Age of the Semblance Dharma, after the True Dharma had been extinguished. At that time there was also a monk, a bodhisattva, called Sadāparibhūta (Never Despising).
“O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, why was he called Sadāparibhūta? Because whenever he saw any monk, nun, layman, or laywoman, he would praise and pay homage to them, saying:
I deeply respect you. I dare not belittle you. Why is this? Because all of you practice the bodhisattva path, and will become buddhas.
“Furthermore, this monk did not concentrate himself on reciting the sutras but only paid homage such that, even when he saw the fourfold assembly from afar, he would go up to them, praise, and pay homage to them, saying:
I dare not belittle you, because you will all become buddhas.
“In the fourfold assembly there were some whose minds were impure and who became angry, and reviled and disparaged him, saying:
Where does this ignorant monk come from? He says that he himself does not belittle us and predicts that we shall all become buddhas. We do not need such an idle prediction.
“In this way he wandered about for many years and was always reviled. But he never got angry and always said, ‘You will become a buddha.’ “Whenever he spoke these words, people would assail him with sticks
or stones; he ﬂed from them yet still proclaimed loudly at a distance: I dare not belittle you. You will all become buddhas.
“Since he always spoke these words, the excessively proud monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen called him Sadāparibhūta. When this monk was about to die, he heard in the air twenty thousands of myriads of koṭis of verses of the Lotus Sutra expounded previously by the Buddha Bhīṣmagarjitasvararāja
and, completely preserving them, he attained the purity of the eye, and the purity of the ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind that were described before. After having attained these pure faculties, his lifespan increased two hun- dreds of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of years and he taught this Lotus Sutra to the people far and wide.
“Then those excessively proud monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen in the fourfold assembly who had despised him and called him Sadāparibhūta saw that he had attained great transcendent powers, the power of joy in elo- quence, and the power of great virtuous meditation. Hearing his teaching, all of them believed and followed him.
“Furthermore, this bodhisattva inspired a thousand myriads of koṭis of sentient beings and caused them to abide in highest, complete enlightenment. After his death, he met two thousand koṭis of buddhas, all of whom were called Candrasūryapradīpa. In accordance with his teaching he expounded this Lotus Sutra, and for this reason met another two thousand koṭis of buddhas, all of whom were called Meghasvararāja. He preserved and recited this sutra in accordance with the teaching of these buddhas and expounded it for the sake of the fourfold assembly. Thus he attained purity of the natural eye and purity of the ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, and taught the Dharma to the four- fold assembly without fear.
“O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, this Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Sadāparibhūta respected, honored, praised, and paid homage to all these buddhas. Having planted roots of good merit, he again met thousands of myriads of koṭis of buddhas; and he expounded this sutra over again in accordance with the teach- ing of those buddhas. Having perfected his merits he attained buddhahood. “O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, what do you think about this? Was Bodhisattva Sadāparibhūta of that time someone unknown to you? He was none other than I myself. If I had not preserved and recited this sutra and taught it to others in my previous lives, I would not have swiftly attained highest, com- plete enlightenment. Because I preserved and recited this sutra and taught it to others in the presence of previous buddhas, I swiftly attained highest, complete enlightenment.
“O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, then the fourfold assembly of monks, nuns, lay- men, and laywomen who became angry and disparaged me, did not, as a consequence, meet a buddha for two hundred koṭis of kalpas, nor did they hear the Dharma or see the Sangha. They suffered greatly in the Avīci Hell for a thousand kalpas. After having been freed from the consequences of their errors they ﬁnally met Bodhisattva Sadāparibhūta, who led and inspired them to highest, complete enlightenment.
“O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, what do you think about this? Were those in the fourfold assembly of that time who disparaged this bodhisattva persons unknown to you? They are the ﬁve hundred bodhisattvas in this assembly, beginning with Bhadrapāla, the ﬁve hundred nuns beginning with Siṃha- candrā, and the ﬁve hundred laymen beginning with Sugatacetanā, all of whom will never turn back on the path to highest, complete enlightenment. “O Mahāsthāmaprāpta, know that this Lotus Sutra will greatly beneﬁt the bodhisattva mahāsattvas and lead them to highest, complete enlighten- ment. For this reason, after the Tathāgata’s parinirvāṇa the bodhisattva mahāsattvas should always preserve, recite, explain, and copy this sutra.”
Thereupon the Bhagavat, wanting to elaborate on the meaning of this further, spoke these verses:
In the past there was a buddha Called Bhīṣmagarjitasvararāja.
He had immeasurable transcendent powers, Led and guided all sentient beings,
And was paid homage by devas, humans, and nāgas. After the parinirvāṇa of this buddha,
When the True Dharma faced extinction, There was a bodhisattva called Sadāparibhūta. At that time the fourfold assembly
Was becoming attached
To its own interpretation of the Dharma. Bodhisattva Sadāparibhūta
Would approach them and say:
I do not belittle you; Practice the path
And you will all become buddhas.
After hearing this,
All the people insulted and disparaged him;
But Bodhisattva Sadāparibhūta Patiently bore this.
As he neared the time of his death, When he had expiated his past errors, He was able to hear this sutra,
And his six sense faculties became pure. Through his transcendent powers
He prolonged his life
And explained this sutra far and wide, Acting, once again, for the beneﬁt of others. Those who were attached
To their own interpretations of the Dharma Were led and inspired by this bodhisattva And were enabled to abide
Within the buddha path. After the end of his life, Bodhisattva Sadāparibhūta Met innumerable buddhas.
Because he explained this sutra,
He attained immeasurable happiness. Gradually accumulating his merits, He quickly attained the buddha path.
The Bodhisattva Sadāparibhūta of that time Was none other than I.
Because the fourfold assembly, Which was then attached to Particular aspects of the Dharma,
Heard Bodhisattva Sadāparibhūta say: You will all become buddhas,
They have since met innumerable buddhas. Those people are none other
Than the ﬁve hundred bodhisattvas
And laymen and laywomen of pure belief Who are now gathered before me
In this assembly to hear the Dharma. In my previous lives I taught them
And led them to hear and accept this sutra, Which is the ultimate Dharma.
I revealed it and taught it to others, And caused them to abide in nirvana.
Throughout many lifetimes they preserved and kept A sutra such as this.
Only after myriads of koṭis of koṭis Of kalpas have passed,
A time inconceivable,
Can they hear this Lotus Sutra. Only after myriads of koṭis of koṭis Of kalpas have passed,
A time inconceivable,
Do the Buddha Bhagavats Expound this sutra.
For this reason, all you practitioners Who hear this sutra
After the nirvana of the Buddha Should feel no doubt about it. You must wholeheartedly Expound this sutra far and wide.
You will then meet the buddhas lifetime after lifetime And quickly attain the buddha path.