The Great Sūtra known as ‘The Transcendent Victory Banner’ (Dhvajā Grana Mahā-Sūtra)

Translated from the Tibetan by Erick Tsiknopoulos

 

In the Indian Language: dhvajā-grana-namā-mahāyāna-sūtra

In the Tibetan Language: mdo chen-po rgyal-mtshan dam-pa zhes-bya-ba

In the English Language: The Great Sūtra known as ‘The Transcendent Victory Banner’

 

HOMAGE TO THE PRECIOUS TRIPLE GEM.

Thus have I heard at one time: The Bhagavān [the Buddha] was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s park in Jetavana Grove in Śrāvastī. Then the Bhagavān gave teaching to the monks: “Monks, if you happen to be staying in a hermitage, staying beneath a tree, or staying in an empty house, when that which is called ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’, or ‘dread’ comes to arise, then at that time, you should authentically recollect my aspects in the following way:

“The Bhagavān (Transcendent Master) is the Suchness Faring One (Tathāgata), the Foe Destroyer (Arhat), the Perfectly Complete Buddha (Samyaksambuddha), endowed with deep knowledge and good conduct, the One Gone to Bliss (Sugata), the Knower of the World, the unsurpassed Charioteer of persons to be trained, the Teacher of gods and humans: the Buddha Bhagavān.”

“At that time, if you do authentically recollect my aspects, then whatever there was of that which is called ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’, or ‘dread’ shall disappear.”

“Monks, long ago, in a place that was close to the battlefields of gods and demigods, the ruler of the gods, Indra, said to the gods of the Thirty-Three: “Friends, if you happen to enter the battlefields of the gods and demigods, when that known as ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’, or ‘dread’ comes to arise, then at that time, you should authentically recollect my foremost victory banner, Total Triumph. At that time, if you do recollect my foremost victory banner, Total Triumph, then whatever there was of that which is called ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’, or ‘dread’ shall disappear.”“

“Monks, likewise, if you, as well, happen to be staying in a hermitage, staying beneath a tree, or staying in an empty house, when that which is called ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’, or ‘dread’ comes to arise, then at that time, you should authentically recollect my aspects in the following way:

“The Bhagavān (Transcendent Master) is the Suchness Faring One (Tathāgata), the Foe Destroyer (Arhat), the Perfectly Complete Buddha (Samyaksambuddha), endowed with deep knowledge and good conduct, the One Gone to Bliss (Sugata), the Knower of the World, the unsurpassed Charioteer of persons to be trained, the Teacher of gods and humans: the Buddha Bhagavān.”

“Monks, at that time, if you do authentically recollect my aspects, then whatever there was of that which is called ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’, or ‘dread’ shall disappear.”

“Monks, the ruler of the gods, Indra, still has greed, has anger, has delusion, and is not thoroughly liberated from birth, old age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, dissatisfaction, mental unhappiness and disturbance; and moreover has fear, has anxiety, has panic, and has terror. And he sometimes becomes frightened, becomes anxious, becomes panicked, and becomes terrified. Hence, monks, if you were to contemplate by endeavoring to listen and contemplate by acting in accordance to words, in the way that the gods of the Thirty-Three did for the words of the ruler of the gods, Indra, who still has greed and anger, has delusion, and who is not thoroughly liberated from birth, old age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, dissatisfaction, mental unhappiness and disturbance, and who moreover has fear, has anxiety, has panic, and has terror, monks; for I am the Tathāgata, the Arhat, the Samyaksambuddha, free of greed, free of anger, free of delusion, thoroughly liberated from birth, old age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, dissatisfaction, mental unhappiness and disturbance, without fear, without anxiety, without panic, and without terror. This being so, monks, the point is to endeavor to listen to the words, act in accordance with the entrusted instructions, and act in accordance with the expounded teachings of I who am the Tathāgata, the Arhat, the Samyaksambuddha, free of greed, free of anger, free of delusion, thoroughly liberated from birth, old age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, dissatisfaction, mental unhappiness and disturbance, without fear, without anxiety, without panic, and without terror.”

The Bhagavān gave teaching thus with those words, and after the Sugata had taught by speaking those words, once more he gave teaching in the following words:

 

In hermitages or under trees,

Or in empty homes, recollect the Chief of the World,

The Total Guide, the Perfect Buddha,

O monks.

 

If you do not recollect the Total Guide and Chief of the World,

The Perfect Buddha,

Then recollect the foremost of freedoms from attachment,

The Dharma.

 

If you do not recollect the foremost of freedoms from attachment,

The Dharma,

Then recollect the Sangha,

The unsurpassed field for positive potential.

 

If you do recollect the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha

In such a way,

Then fear, anxiety, and dread

Shall vanish, O monks.

 

Many people, trembling with fear,

Go for refuge in mountains, forests,

And under trees,

Worshiped by all with joy.

 

These are not the main refuge,

These are not the refuge supreme;

For it is not by relying on these refuges

That one is freed from all suffering.

 

Those who go for refuge in the Buddha, Dharma,

And Sangha, will, with deep insight, perceive well the Four Noble Truths:

Of suffering, the origin of suffering, the authentic cessation of suffering,

And the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to bliss and Nirvāṇa.

 

These are the main refuge,

These are the refuge supreme;

For it is by relying on these refuges

That one is freed from all suffering.

 

The Bhagavān gave teaching thus with those words, and those monks rejoiced, and openly praised what had been spoken by the Bhagavān.

THE GREAT SŪTRA KNOWN AS ‘THE TRANSCENDENT VICTORY BANNER’ IS COMPLETE.

 

Translated from the Tibetan by Erick Tsiknopoulos, June 2016.

Notes:

1. The final four stanzas are exactly the same as verses 189-192 (in the Pāli version) from the ‘Section on the Buddha’ (buddhavaggo) in the Dhammapada. Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation (1997) runs thus:

They go to many a refuge,

to mountains and forests,

to park and tree shrines:

people threatened with danger.

That’s not the secure refuge,

not the supreme refuge,

that’s not the refuge,

having gone to which,

you gain release

from all suffering & stress.

But when, having gone

to the Buddha, Dhamma,

& Sangha for refuge,

you see with right discernment

the four noble truths —

stress,

the cause of stress,

the transcending of stress,

& the noble eightfold path,

the way to the stilling of stress:

that’s the secure refuge,

that, the supreme refuge,

that is the refuge,

having gone to which,

you gain release

from all suffering & stress.

And Acharya Buddharakhita’s translation (1996) is as follows:

188. Driven only by fear, do men go for refuge to many places — to hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines.

189. Such, indeed, is no safe refuge; such is not the refuge supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one released from all suffering.

190-191. He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Teaching and his Order, penetrates with transcendental wisdom the Four Noble Truths — suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of suffering. [16]

192. This indeed is the safe refuge, this the refuge supreme. Having gone to such a refuge, one is released from all suffering.

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