The Questions of Bhadrapala the Merchant

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The Questions of Bhadrapala the Merchant (Skt. Bhadra­pāla­śreṣṭhi­paripṛcchā; Tib. ཚོང་དཔོན་བཟང་སྐྱོང་གིས་ཞུས་པ་, tsong pön zang kyong gi shyüpa, Wyl. tsong dpon bzang skyong gis zhus pa) — in this sutra the merchant Bhadrapala asks the Buddha to explain what consciousness is, and what happens to it when one dies and is reborn. In his response the Buddha relies heavily on the use of analogies drawn from nature. The sutra also reflects common cultural beliefs of ancient India, such as spirit possession. In addition, it presents graphic and vividly contrasting descriptions of rebirth in the realms of the gods for those who have lived meritorious lives and in the realms of hell for those who lack merit.[1]


The Tibetan translation of this sutra can be found in the Heap of Jewels section of the Tibetan Kangyur, Toh 83

  • English Translation:

The Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant


  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha.