The Dwellings of Bodhisattvas

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This sutra, The Dwellings of Bodhisattvas (Tib. བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་གནས། , Wyl. byang chub sems dpa'i gnas) is the thirty-eighth of the forty-five chapters in The Ornaments of the Buddhas. This chapter continues The Ornaments of the Buddhas’ series of dialogues that take place in Magadha not long after the Buddha’s awakening. It enumerates twenty-three dwelling places of bodhisattvas, giving the names of the bodhisattvas who reside in the first nine while omitting the names of those who reside in the remaining fourteen. Throughout The Ornaments of the Buddhas, the Buddha Shakyamuni remains silent, and it is through his blessings that other prominent bodhisattvas offer these teachings. The Dwellings of Bodhisattvas and the two preceding chapters are taught by a bodhisattva named King of Mind. In The Ornaments of the Buddhas, we find that the Buddha Shakyamuni who lived in our world is just one of countless manifestations of the Buddha Vairochana. Shakyamuni is even referred to as the Buddha Vairochana. Shakyamuni is simultaneously present in various locations in our universe—at the Bodhi tree, in the Trāyastriṃśa paradise of Shakra on the summit of Sumeru, in the Yāma and Tushita paradises high above Sumeru, and in the highest paradise in the realm of desire, the Paranirmitavaśavartin paradise. Not only is he said to be simultaneously present in all these locations in our own world system, he is also said to be simultaneously present in countless other worlds.

This proliferation of locations connected with the Buddha and his teachings allowed for Buddhist holy sites beyond India to assume greater significance. Notably, along with sites in northern India listed in this chapter we also find sites located in China, Kashmir, Gandhara, and Khaśa, here used as another name for the Central Asian city-state of Khotan that flourished during the first millennium ᴄᴇ. As with other canonical works that feature Khotan, including The Prophecy on Mount Gośṛṅga (Toh 357) and The Quintessence of the Sun (Toh 257), this reflects the importance of Khotan in the spread of Buddhism. It is notable that there are significant parallels between the sacred sites listed here in The Dwellings of Bodhisattvas and those found in the final chapter of The Quintessence of the Sun.[1]


The Tibetan translation of this sutra can be found in the Heap of Jewels section of the Tibetan Kangyur, Toh 44-38.


  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.