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The Secrets of the Tathāgata

A Mahāyāna Sūtra

ByShaku Shingan

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The Secrets of the Tathāgata, in Sanskrit, the Tathāgataguhya Sūtra, is a quintessential Mahāyāna sūtra on the nature of the body, speech, and mind of bodhisattvas and the Buddha. This annotated translation is the first in any western language. The core message of the Secrets of the Tathāgata is that bodhisattvas and the Buddha manifest in whatever form is necessary to teach and aid sentient beings. It illustrates its teachings with marvellously memorable narratives. Its primary interlocutor is Vajrapāṇi, the vajra (thunderbolt mallet) bearer. He incisively answers the queries of Śāntamati Bodhisattva and narrates his recollection of crucial moments in the Buddha's life. The Secrets of the Tathāgata emphasises that the power of the non-dual and ineffable Buddha underlies all the good deeds and realisations of the bodhisattva, and that his wisdom is inherent in all beings. While the Buddha exerts no effort, he freely manifests for beings based upon their needs and the inclinations of their mind. Beings see the Buddha just like looking at themselves in the mirror, and his words of wisdom sound forth like enchanted instruments that automatically play when wafted by the winds of our karmic inclinations. Shaku Shingan has rendered a readable English translation from the Chinese of the Song Dynasty monk Dharmarakṣa, with critical comparisons and translations from the earlier Mahāratnakūṭa Sūtra translation of the same text. This second edition also incorporates insights from the newly available Sanskrit manuscript. Shingan's introduction provides historical background, explains the sūtra's place in the history of Mahāyāna Buddhism and Buddhist studies, and gives the reader an understandable digest of its key themes and doctrines.


Publication Date
Dec 21, 2021
Religion & Spirituality
All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright License
By (author): Shaku Shingan


Case Wrap
Interior Color
US Trade (6 x 9 in / 152 x 229 mm)

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