Maitreya’s Setting Out

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Maitreya’s Setting Out (Skt. Maitreyaprasthāna; Tib. བྱམས་པ་འཇུག་པ།, Wyl. byams pa ’jug pa) — a sutra in which Buddha Shakyamuni first narrates events from a past life of the bodhisattva Maitreya when he was born as a king and for the first time gave rise to bodhichitta. Later, the Buddha recounts another past life of Maitreya—this time as a monk—and explains why he is known today as the bodhisattva Maitreya. These two narratives are interspersed with a series of Dharma teachings emphasizing the unborn nature of phenomena and the need to develop the view that transcends all reference points.

Despite his central role in the Mahayana tradition, there are very few canonical texts devoted exclusively to the bodhisattva career of Maitreya, and there are no extended hagiographies concerned with this figure. Considering this, Maitreya’s Setting Out is an important resource for anyone interested in Maitreya.[1]


This sutra appears to exist only in Tibetan. The Tibetan translation can be found in the General Sutra section of the Tibetan Dergé Kangyur, Toh 198. The colophon states that the translation was prepared by Yeshé Dé in collaboration with the Indian panditas Prajñavarman, Jinamitra and Surendrabodhi. We can therefore date the Tibetan translation to the late eighth to early ninth centuries.


  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.