1. AGAMA SUTRAS
A traditional doctrine or precept—Collection of Buddha’s doctrine—Sacred work—Anything handed down and fixed by tradition—Mahayana name for collections of writings of the Sanskrit canon or sutras or sermons as collected by the Sarvastivadin school of Hinayana.
The Agamas are Chinese translations of the sutras or sermons in Sanskrit of the Buddha, collected by the Sarvastivadin School of the Hinayana. They vary little from the corresponding Sutta Pitaka of the Theravada Canon of today.
According to Most Venerable Thich Minh Châu in Vietnamese Buddhist Dictionary, there are four Agamas:
Sanskrit Sutras consist of four Agamas:
1. Dirghagama Treatises on cosmogony, 22 books.
2. Madhya-agama Middle treatises on metaphysics, 60 books.
3. Samyuktagama Miscellaneous treatises on abstract contemplation, 50 books.
4. Ekottaragama Numerical treatises subjects treated numerically, 51 books.
Pali Sutras consist of five Agamas:
1) Dighanikaya (p).
2) Majjhimanikaya (p).
3) Samyuttanikaya (p).
4) Anguttaranikaya (p).
5) Khuddakanikaya (p).
2. JATAKA SUTRAS
(The original or cause of any phenomenon ) Sutras:. A birth story—A collection of 550 stories of the former lives of the Buddha Gotama, one of the twelve divisions of the Buddhist teaching.
3. PRAJNAPARAMAITHRDAYS SUTRAS:
The most Sutra is Prajnaparamitahrdaya-Sutra . The Heart of the Prajna-Paramita-Sutra or Heart Sutra, the shortest of the forty sutras that constitute the Prajanparamita-sutra. It is one of the most important sutras of Mahayana Buddhism. The sutra is especially emphasized on emptiness (Shunyata). It is recited so frequently in the temple that most Buddhists chant it from memory. One of the most famous sentences in the sutra is “Form is no other than emptiness; emptiness is no other than form,” an affirmation that is frequently referred to in Zen. The Prajna-Paramita Heart Sutra literally means “the wisdom that leads to the other shore.” The sutra was translated into Chinese by Hsuan-Tsang.
4. LOTUS SUTRAS:
Includes Saddharma-pundarika-Sutra and other Sutra of Lotus Sutras.
The period between the Second Council and the first century B.C., Mahayana literature developed in India, and the emergence of a number of important texts. After that, hundreds of Mahayana sutras were composed in Sanskrit. Sutra of the Lotus Flower, sutra of the Lotus of the Good Dharma, written in the first century A.D., one of the most important sutras of Mahayana Buddhism because it contains the essential teachings of Mahayana, including the doctrines of the transcendental nature of the buddha and of the possiblity of universal liberation. In many ways, the Lotus is the foundation sutra of the Mahayana tradition. It has great influence in the Mahayana Buddhist world, not only in India, but also in China, Japan, and Vietnam, where it is the favorite text of the T’ien-T’ai, Nichiren and some other schools. Moreover, it expounds the way of great compassion, the lotus sutra represents the essence of the Mahayana tradition’s fundamental orientation, which is great compassion. It is considered in the Mahayana as that sutra that contains the complete teaching of the Buddha. The Lotus Sutra is a discourse of the Buddha on Vulture Peak Mountain. Dharma Flower Sutra or the Maha Saddharma-pundarika Sutra, or the Lotus Sutra, is one of the greatest sutras taught by the Buddha. Its significance is that the Buddha united all three vehicles of Sravaka-Yana (Sound-Hearer Vehicle), Pratyeka-Buddha-Yana, and Bodhisattva-Yana and said there is only one vehicle and that is the vehicle of Buddhahood. In it the Buddha shows that there are many methods through which a being can attain enlightenment such as shravaska, pratyekabuddha and bodhisattva, etc. These are only expedients adapted to varying capabilities of beings. In reality, there is only one vehicle: Buddhayana (Buddha vehicle), which leads all beings to enlightenment, including Mahayana and Hinayana. The Saddharma-pundarika sutra represents the period of transition from Hinayana to Mahayana Buddhism. A large part of this sutra is devoted to proving that Hinayana Buddhism was preached by the Buddha for the benefit of people of lower intelligence, to whom the whole truth was not divulged. Hinayana Buddhists were adivised to practise the thirty-seven limbs of enlightenment in order to rid themselves of moral impurities, to comprehend the Four Noble Truths and the Law of Causation, and to realize the absence of soul or individuality whereby they can reach a place of rest or nirvana. The Buddha then advises those who had reached perfection in these attainments, to exert themselves further in their future existences in order to acquire the merits and virtues prescribed for the Bodhisattvas for the attainment of Buddhahood. The sutra was translated into Chinese by Kumarajiva. We should bear in mind that the Lotus Sutra was originally translated into Chinse by Dharmaraksa in 268 and Kumarajiva in 383 in seven volumes of twenty-seven chapters. Fa-Hsien, in quest of another chapter, started for India in 475 A.D. When he reached Khotan, he found the chapter on Devadatta, a treacherously acting cousin of the Buddha. He eturned and requested Fa-I, an Indian monk, to translate it. This translation was later added to the earlier text. Thus, there are twenty-eight chapters in the present text. In 601A.D., Jnanagupta and Dharmagupta also translated this sutra into Chinese.
5. GARLAND SUTRAS:
includes Garland Sutra and other Sutra of Garland Sutras.
The Sanskrit title is Avatamsaka, but it is Gandavyuha according to Fa-Tsang’s commentary on the sixty-fascile Garland Sutra. Avatamsaka means a ‘garland,’ while in Gandavyuha, ganda means ‘a flower of ordinary kind,’ and vyuha ‘an orderly arrangement’ or ‘array.’ Gandavyuha means ‘flower-decoration.’ Avatamsaka is one of the profound Mahayana sutras embodying the sermons given by the Buddha immediately following his perfect enlightenment. The Gandavyuha is the Sanskrit title for a text containing the account of Sudhana, the young man, who wishing to find how to realize the ideal life of Bodhisattvahood, is directed by Manjusri the Bodhisattva to visit spiritual leaders one after another in various departments of life and in various forms of existence, altogether numbering fifty-three. This is the basic text of the Avatamsaka school. It is one of the longest and most profound sutras in the Buddhist Canon and records the highest teaching of Buddha Sakyamuni, immediately after enlightenment. It is traditionally believed that the sutra was taught to the Bodhisattvas and other high spiritual beings while the Buddha was in samadhi. The sutra has been described as the “epitome of Budhist thought, Buddhist sentiment, and Buddhist experiences” and is quoted by all schools of Mhayana Buddhism. The sutra compares the whole Universe to the realization of Vairocana Buddha. Its basic teaching is that myriad things and phenomena are the oneness of the Universe, and the whole Universe is myriad things and phenomena. After examining the sutra, we find that there were in the beginning many independent sutras which were later compiled into one encyclopaedic collection, as the subject-matters treated in them are all classified under one head, and they came to be known as Avatamsaka.
6. MAHA RATANAKUTA SUTRAS
includes Maha Ratnakuta Sutra and other Sutra of Maha Ratnakuta Sutras.
The sutra was translated into Chinese by Bodhiruci, one of the oldest sutras of Mahayan. In the Ratnakuta, the thought of the Middle Way is developed. It also contains sutras on transcendental wisdom (Prajan Paramita Sutra and Longer Amitabha Sutra)—A very important sutra (6000 pages in nine volumes) which contains almost all the most critical teaching of the Mahayana Tradition (Great Vehicle) to carry sentient beings to the Ultimate Enlightenment of Buddhahood.
7. MAHPARINIRVANA SUTRAS:
Includes Mahaparinirvana-Sutra and other Sutras of Mahaparinirvana Sutras.
Mahaparinirvana-Sutra—Maha Parinirvana Sutra—Great Nirvana—The sutra or sermon of the Great Decease or passing into final Nirvana—A long sutra containing a description of the Buddha’s passing and his teaching—The Paradise Sutra. The sutra also deals with the doctrine of Buddha-nature, which is immanent in all beings. The sutra was translated into Chinese by Dharmaksema.
8. GREAT HEAP SUTRAS
Includes many Sutras that are not kind of the Sutras above.
9. ESOTERIC SUTRAS
Includes Mahavairocanabhisambodhivikur – Vitadhisthanna – vaipulya – Sutrendra – Raja – Nama – Dharmaparyaya and other Sutras of Esoteric Section. Mahavairocanabhisambodhivikur – Vitadhisthanna – vaipulya – Sutrendra – Raja – Nama – Dharmaparyaya is one of the fundamental sutras in Tantric Buddhism. It is also called “Mahavairocana Sutra.” The sutra was translated into Chinese by Subhakarasimha and I-hsing.
Written by NAMOYTS
1.Vietnamese – English Buddhism Dictionary. Thuvienhoasen.org
2. English – Vietnamese Buddhism Dictionary. Thuvienhoasen.org.
3. Vietnamese – English Buddhism Dictionary. Niemphat.com
4. Sanskrit – Vietnamese Buddhism Dictionary. Thuvienhoasen.org.
5. Giới thiệu hệ thống kinh điển Đại thừa. daitangkinhvietnam.com
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